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  1. The Twins are closing in on 1,000 home runs at Target Field and plenty of memorable players have helped them reach this milestone. Here are the players that cracked the back-half of the top-10 and their biggest hits. 10. Jorge Polanco: 30 HR Polanco has become one of Minnesota's most valuable contributors, and he is one of 22 second basemen to hit more than 30 home runs in a season. During the 2019 season, Minnesota coughed up a ninth-inning lead only to have Polanco hit a walk-off in the tenth inning. 9. Joe Mauer: 32 HR Mauer wasn't known for his home run prowess and his best home run season came at the Metrodome. His first walk-off home run was worth the wait as it came in his 14th big-league season. 8. Josh Willingham: 33 HR Willingham's home run prowess gets a little lost because he played on some bad Twins teams. However, he hit one of the most valuable home runs in Target Field history. With the Twins down to their final out, Willingham sent the fans home happy. 7. Nelson Cruz: 36 HR What is left to say about Cruz? His Twins tenure was full of remarkable moments, and he seemed to be the glue behind Minnesota's record-breaking home run season. The Twins don't have a lot of good memories against the Yankees, but his walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman has to be one of the best. 6. Byron Buxton: 38 HR Buxton's long-term deal means he will continue to move up this list in the years ahead. However, he already hit a memorable home run during the 2022 season. His 469-foot moonshot was the longest walk-off home run in the StatCast era. Which one of these home runs stands out most to you? How high will Buxton get on this list before the end of his career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THE SERIES -Home Run Hitters: 11-15 View full article
  2. 10. Jorge Polanco: 30 HR Polanco has become one of Minnesota's most valuable contributors, and he is one of 22 second basemen to hit more than 30 home runs in a season. During the 2019 season, Minnesota coughed up a ninth-inning lead only to have Polanco hit a walk-off in the tenth inning. 9. Joe Mauer: 32 HR Mauer wasn't known for his home run prowess and his best home run season came at the Metrodome. His first walk-off home run was worth the wait as it came in his 14th big-league season. 8. Josh Willingham: 33 HR Willingham's home run prowess gets a little lost because he played on some bad Twins teams. However, he hit one of the most valuable home runs in Target Field history. With the Twins down to their final out, Willingham sent the fans home happy. 7. Nelson Cruz: 36 HR What is left to say about Cruz? His Twins tenure was full of remarkable moments, and he seemed to be the glue behind Minnesota's record-breaking home run season. The Twins don't have a lot of good memories against the Yankees, but his walk-off home run against Aroldis Chapman has to be one of the best. 6. Byron Buxton: 38 HR Buxton's long-term deal means he will continue to move up this list in the years ahead. However, he already hit a memorable home run during the 2022 season. His 469-foot moonshot was the longest walk-off home run in the StatCast era. Which one of these home runs stands out most to you? How high will Buxton get on this list before the end of his career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THE SERIES -Home Run Hitters: 11-15
  3. Every trade deadline, teams are declared winners or losers. So, how did the Twins fare on a whirlwind day? DH Nelson Cruz to Rays for RHPs Joe Ryan and Drew Stotman Many of the Twins' moves project to have positive results. On an expiring contract, Nelson Cruz was dealt for two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. There are plenty of questions about the team’s rotation for 2022, so adding two more pitchers to the mix can only help the organization’s pitching depth. The Cruz deal was far from the only one that made headlines. RHP Jose Berrios to Blue Jays for SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson José Berríos was dealt for a pair of top-100 prospects, which seems like a high price to pay for just over a year of Berríos. The Dodgers traded for starting pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner and received a similar trade package in return. Even the website, Baseball Trade Values believes the Blue Jays overpaid. LHP J.A. Happ to Cardinals for RHP John Gant and LHP Evan Sisk Speaking of teams that overpaid, the Twins found a taker for JA Happ, as the Cardinals were willing to trade for him. He’s been bad for most of the season, and his recent numbers don’t point to him improving. It seemed more likely for the Twins to designated him for assignment instead of finding a trade partner, but it was a crazy trade deadline, to say the least. RHP Hansel Robles to Red Sox for RHP Alex Scherff Robles, like Cruz, was on an expiring contract and plenty of contenders were looking for relief help. Minnesota signed Robles for $2 million this off-season and he's had some up-and-down moments as part of a Twins bullpen that has struggled for the majority of the season. Relief pitching can be fickle and Boston hopes Robles can find some of his previous successes. From Minnesota's perspective, the front office has to be happy to get any value back for a player that wasn't part of the team's long-term plans. Who Wasn't Traded? Not every part of the trade deadline was positive for the Twins. Minnesota had multiple players on expiring contracts that stayed with the team, including Michael Pineda and Andrelton Simmons. Pineda is the biggest head-scratcher as the trade market seemed hot for starting pitching. As the smoke cleared, the front office said the right things, but there doesn’t seem to be much value in keeping him around until season’s end. There were plenty of other rumors circulating on Friday, including some big names for the Twins. There was a chance of a Byron Buxton deal with multiple teams interested in the centerfielder. For good reasons, Minnesota’s price was likely high, and there will still be an opportunity to revisit trades this winter. There may also be a chance to revisit a contract extension with Buxton, especially with the young core the organization has built in the minor leagues. Another missed opportunity was parting ways with Josh Donaldson, as his name had been out in the rumor mill throughout the last few weeks. Minnesota signed Donaldson to his four-year deal, knowing that he may decline toward the backend of the contract. He has been relatively healthy this year and producing as one of the league’s best third basemen. This trade deadline might have been his peak trade value, especially since it’s tough to imagine the Twins contending in 2022. Overall, this might go down as a franchise-altering day in Twins history. However, there were some missed opportunities along the way. Now it might be a couple of years before fans know if the team indeed won or lost the 2021 trade deadline. Do you think the Twins were winners or losers at the trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, and Mitch Garver are no longer with the Minnesota Twins. Does that mean Twins fans should be worried about DH production this season? In recent years, Nelson Cruz was penciled in as the team's primary designated hitter, and he performed at a high level in this role. Throughout the offseason, the Twins planned to rotate through various players in the DH role, but there has been a roster turnover since the lockout ended. Here are some of the names expected to fill the DH role in 2022. Gary Sánchez 2021 Stats: .204/.307/.423 (.730), 13 2B, 23 HR, 121 K, 117 G It seems likely for Sánchez to get the majority of his at-bats in the DH role this season because he is atrocious behind the plate. Sánchez has played 74 games as a DH for his career while hitting .224/.306/.469 (.775) with 11 doubles and 19 home runs. If Ryan Jeffers misses time or struggles, Sánchez will be pressed into service behind the plate. He's also in his final year of team control, and he likely wants to hit the market known for being a catcher and not just as a DH. There is an outside chance that Minnesota will include Sánchez in a trade before Opening Day, and then the team will have to turn to other DH options. Miguel Sanó 2021 Stats: .223/.312/.466 (.778), 24 2B, 30 HR, 183 K, 135 G Expectations were for Sanó to be used more regularly at the DH spot this season with Cruz out of the picture. Since switching to first base, he's made marginal defensive improvements, but SABR's SDI ranks him as the second-worst defensive first baseman. Also, Sanó isn't a stranger to the DH position as he's played nearly as many games at DH (155) as first base (195). He has a .753 OPS as the DH for his career, which is lower than when he plays a defensive position. Minnesota has a $14 million team option attached to Sanó with a $2.75 million buyout for next season. That's a steep price to pay for someone that has shifted to a more regular DH role. Brent Rooker 2021 Stats: .201/.291/.397 (.688), 10 2B, 9 HR, 70 K, 58 G Rooker has run out of things to prove in the minor leagues as he has a .932 OPS in nearly an entire season at Triple-A. The 27-year-old was used sporadically at the big-league level in 2020-21, and a DH role might be his best shot to earn a permanent role. Last season, he lost out on an Opening Day roster spot because the team was concerned with his defensive ability in the outfield. Those concerns likely remain, but Rooker is already behind the aforementioned names, and he may be relegated to a bench role this season. Other Options All three players mentioned seem to fit the prototypical DH mold, but others on the Twins roster will have the opportunity to fill the DH spot. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has preached a mantra around giving players adequate rest, including moving a regular position player to the DH role for the day. Four outfielders currently project to make the Opening Day roster, so one of those players could fill in at DH on any given day. Besides the outfielders, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco have played through in-season injuries in the past. A day at DH may take some of the wear and tear off their knees (Arraez) and ankles (Polanco). Jose Miranda is also coming off a tremendous season, but he doesn't have a clear roster spot this spring. Would the team consider bringing him up to get at-bats in a DH role? Some other powerful prospects like Matt Wallner and Aaron Sabato are also working their way towards Target Field. Minnesota's DH plan seemed much clearer at the beginning of the offseason, but those plans have changed. Now, these options seem worse than the Twins' production out of the DH spot with Cruz. Should Twins fans be worried about production from the DH spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  5. In recent years, Nelson Cruz was penciled in as the team's primary designated hitter, and he performed at a high level in this role. Throughout the offseason, the Twins planned to rotate through various players in the DH role, but there has been a roster turnover since the lockout ended. Here are some of the names expected to fill the DH role in 2022. Gary Sánchez 2021 Stats: .204/.307/.423 (.730), 13 2B, 23 HR, 121 K, 117 G It seems likely for Sánchez to get the majority of his at-bats in the DH role this season because he is atrocious behind the plate. Sánchez has played 74 games as a DH for his career while hitting .224/.306/.469 (.775) with 11 doubles and 19 home runs. If Ryan Jeffers misses time or struggles, Sánchez will be pressed into service behind the plate. He's also in his final year of team control, and he likely wants to hit the market known for being a catcher and not just as a DH. There is an outside chance that Minnesota will include Sánchez in a trade before Opening Day, and then the team will have to turn to other DH options. Miguel Sanó 2021 Stats: .223/.312/.466 (.778), 24 2B, 30 HR, 183 K, 135 G Expectations were for Sanó to be used more regularly at the DH spot this season with Cruz out of the picture. Since switching to first base, he's made marginal defensive improvements, but SABR's SDI ranks him as the second-worst defensive first baseman. Also, Sanó isn't a stranger to the DH position as he's played nearly as many games at DH (155) as first base (195). He has a .753 OPS as the DH for his career, which is lower than when he plays a defensive position. Minnesota has a $14 million team option attached to Sanó with a $2.75 million buyout for next season. That's a steep price to pay for someone that has shifted to a more regular DH role. Brent Rooker 2021 Stats: .201/.291/.397 (.688), 10 2B, 9 HR, 70 K, 58 G Rooker has run out of things to prove in the minor leagues as he has a .932 OPS in nearly an entire season at Triple-A. The 27-year-old was used sporadically at the big-league level in 2020-21, and a DH role might be his best shot to earn a permanent role. Last season, he lost out on an Opening Day roster spot because the team was concerned with his defensive ability in the outfield. Those concerns likely remain, but Rooker is already behind the aforementioned names, and he may be relegated to a bench role this season. Other Options All three players mentioned seem to fit the prototypical DH mold, but others on the Twins roster will have the opportunity to fill the DH spot. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has preached a mantra around giving players adequate rest, including moving a regular position player to the DH role for the day. Four outfielders currently project to make the Opening Day roster, so one of those players could fill in at DH on any given day. Besides the outfielders, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco have played through in-season injuries in the past. A day at DH may take some of the wear and tear off their knees (Arraez) and ankles (Polanco). Jose Miranda is also coming off a tremendous season, but he doesn't have a clear roster spot this spring. Would the team consider bringing him up to get at-bats in a DH role? Some other powerful prospects like Matt Wallner and Aaron Sabato are also working their way towards Target Field. Minnesota's DH plan seemed much clearer at the beginning of the offseason, but those plans have changed. Now, these options seem worse than the Twins' production out of the DH spot with Cruz. Should Twins fans be worried about production from the DH spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. When Derek Falvey was brought into the Twins organization, it was with a belief he would develop a pitching pipeline similar to what he did in Cleveland. While we haven’t yet seen that bear fruit, this front office has seen success on the trade market. A perfect storm post-lockout could be brewing, knowing what the organization needs, and seeing where we’re at this offseason. The Minnesota Twins' starting rotation is in shambles at this point. Dylan Bundy is the only starter signed before the lockout, and Carlos Rodon is the only realistic upper-tier target that still seems plausible. With those parameters, it seems a good bet that the Twins turn to the trade market, a place they’ve been expected to dabble all along. For Falvey, this is probably the optimal outcome. While free agency has been a malady of misses, the trade front has actually worked out well for this front office. I’m still baffled how an aging Nelson Cruz was parlayed for two legitimate arms, and that was after the Jake Odorizzi trade had already tipped the scales against the Rays for Minnesota. Throw in getting a haul for Jose Berrios when the organization had decided against extending him, and you have to be happy with the results. Looking at the prospect rankings and, more importantly, the organizational location for Minnesota, it’s clear they need external help. The Twins farm system shows up consistently at the bottom of the teens, and outside of Jordan Balazovic, there isn’t an arm on the farm that’s a top 100 talent and ready to immediately contribute. An explanation for much of the feelings regarding the Twins system relates to the missed time the past few seasons. The depth is there, while the floor currently trumps many of the ceilings. Parlaying a few arms into one big one could be the ideal action plan. Oakland has plenty of arms on the block, and stud Frankie Montas is among the best of them. Cincinnati could be a willing partner with either Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, or Tyler Mahle. Houston might be willing to flip Odorizzi back to Minnesota. There is any number of possibilities for the front office to explore. It would be wise to assume that frameworks have been discussed before the lockout, and things should come together quickly when we get a resumption. If and when Minnesota swings a deal, there should be a level of trust built from how Falvey has constructed previous swaps. There’s going to be hurt in prospect capital, especially for a top-level arm, but betting on the Twins knowing their talents and the warts they may have is an earned belief. An ideal trade has both sides winning when the deal is struck, but Minnesota continuing to come out on top, in the long run, is something every fan can get on board with. Derek Falvey needs to keep stacking the positive results in that category. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  7. The Minnesota Twins' starting rotation is in shambles at this point. Dylan Bundy is the only starter signed before the lockout, and Carlos Rodon is the only realistic upper-tier target that still seems plausible. With those parameters, it seems a good bet that the Twins turn to the trade market, a place they’ve been expected to dabble all along. For Falvey, this is probably the optimal outcome. While free agency has been a malady of misses, the trade front has actually worked out well for this front office. I’m still baffled how an aging Nelson Cruz was parlayed for two legitimate arms, and that was after the Jake Odorizzi trade had already tipped the scales against the Rays for Minnesota. Throw in getting a haul for Jose Berrios when the organization had decided against extending him, and you have to be happy with the results. Looking at the prospect rankings and, more importantly, the organizational location for Minnesota, it’s clear they need external help. The Twins farm system shows up consistently at the bottom of the teens, and outside of Jordan Balazovic, there isn’t an arm on the farm that’s a top 100 talent and ready to immediately contribute. An explanation for much of the feelings regarding the Twins system relates to the missed time the past few seasons. The depth is there, while the floor currently trumps many of the ceilings. Parlaying a few arms into one big one could be the ideal action plan. Oakland has plenty of arms on the block, and stud Frankie Montas is among the best of them. Cincinnati could be a willing partner with either Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo, or Tyler Mahle. Houston might be willing to flip Odorizzi back to Minnesota. There is any number of possibilities for the front office to explore. It would be wise to assume that frameworks have been discussed before the lockout, and things should come together quickly when we get a resumption. If and when Minnesota swings a deal, there should be a level of trust built from how Falvey has constructed previous swaps. There’s going to be hurt in prospect capital, especially for a top-level arm, but betting on the Twins knowing their talents and the warts they may have is an earned belief. An ideal trade has both sides winning when the deal is struck, but Minnesota continuing to come out on top, in the long run, is something every fan can get on board with. Derek Falvey needs to keep stacking the positive results in that category. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. During the Covid-shortened 2020 season, MLB implemented the DH in the National League to see how it would work. It was also done for health reasons and to protect pitchers. Were the changes made in 2020 masked as a "benefit" for the players but lining the owners' pockets. It’s understood that owners want the DH to protect their pitchers, but they do not want to pay for what that would mean. If they want to pay pitchers more and protect them, having another player to pay is the only option. The effect is twofold. First, it's 15 more jobs for which MLB owners wouldn't have to pay premium prices. The National League would then have to pay a decent salary for a decent hitter. Or a position player would have to move into the DH role. So, which is more important to the owners? Are they protecting the pitcher or saving money? The Twins are not strangers to the designated hitter. The American League began playing with a DH nearly 50 years ago. It would not make a difference to the AL teams if Major League Baseball implemented the universal designated hitter. The managers know who they have, what they need, where their strengths and weaknesses are in the lineup. With that stated, bringing on a designated hitter from outside the organization is not in the Twins' best interest (sorry, Nelson Cruz fans). The Twins need a hitter that they can rely on to hit, bring in runners and get on base themselves. After Nelson Cruz was traded, the Twins used several different players as DH, particularly a hobbling Josh Donaldson. When using position players from the roster, while the DH can give a player a break, a team runs the risk of more injuries and fewer players to DH. Players are more likely to get hurt playing their position playing the field, which would remove them from playing DH, putting it on someone else. Having a full-time or tandem DH is what makes sense. It is common knowledge that the front office will find ways to save every penny they can. $30-40 Million left in revenue to spend is a fair chunk of change. However, if the Twins use someone already on the roster, they can use that money to bring in the pitching they desperately need. So what do the Twins do at the designated hitter spot? I am glad you asked. **Takes audible deep breath** Miguel Sano. Hear me out. There is a great divide in the Minnesota fanbase over Sano's ability to hit. He is a very streaky hitter. Last season, he reached 1,000 strikeouts in the fewest games (661) in MLB history. He lacked plate discipline at times. If he sees a ball in his zone, he swings at it. Pitchers are not afraid to pitch to him because of his strikeouts and lack of consistent content. However, they also know that he can hit a ball-into-next week if his timing is right. During the 2019 season, the newly-acquired Nelson Cruz saw Sano struggling and took an interest in helping him improve his plate appearances. Cruz invited Sano to meet with him and hitting coaches Edgar Varela and Rudy Hernandez, who Cruz frequently used to help him improve his hitting and technique. Sano put in the hard work, not shying away from asking questions and even calling Valera or Hernandez to discuss mechanics when they weren't meeting. In 2019 Sano had an outstanding season. His contact was harder, balls went farther and faster off the bat. His stance, timing, and mechanics also improved. His ability to be patient and read pitchers became an asset. Nelson Cruz had not only stepped in as a father figure but also as a friend and a coach. Sano may not have had a 'record-breaking year' in 2021; in fact, he was streaky at best throughout the first half of the season, but because Alex Kirilloff kept getting hurt, Sano stayed in the lineup and worked hard to stay where he was. Last season, Sano had a career-low strikeout percentage (32.3%). He relied on his timing and mechanics shown to him by Cruz and the coaches to help him drive in 75 runs and launch 30 home runs into the stands. Sano made significant improvements to his plate appearances, and he is not the greatest at first base. Taking him off of first base would not be a loss for the Twins. Sano has firm control of his swing, and even in Twins losses, his presence adds excitement to the game and runs to the board. Sano easily is the best choice for a full-time designated hitter. There could be an argument for Josh Donaldson joining in tandem due to his already high-cost contract and consistent hitting. Donaldson may need a break from third base, and a rotating DH position for him wouldn't be out of the question. Donaldson is one of the best hitters on the team for the Twins, he has a batting average of .247 and an equally impressive OPS of .827, but has pre-existing injury conditions and he has a consistently declining batting average. Miguel Sano has less time on Injured Reserve and would be on the roster more consistently than Donaldson. Sano was shown how to get the most out of an at-bat by the best-designated hitter in the league, and he was also not afraid to put in the work to improve. His batting average may be lower than Donaldson’s, but this past season, in 2021, he had more at-bats of any year - showing that he is consistently on the roster more. When Nelson Cruz left on July 22, 2021, Sano quite literally slid into Cruz's pants and poured his heart and work ethic into his plate appearances to show the clubhouse and the fans that in his final season (before the 2023 club option), this is where he deserves to be. Who's on first? So naturally, the next question would be who would play first base? The Twins have moved players up and down from St. Paul to see what fits. There has been success with Alex Kirilloff. First base and the outfield have a few players that could easily take over that position and even leave room to bring up a St. Paul player if needed to another position. Alex Kirilloff has proven to be an asset to the Twins 40-man roster. Kirilloff was drafted 15th overall in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft. He was a hot commodity, and the organization knew it. He has spent his entire career from the minors to the majors with the Twins organization rotating between the corner outfield positions and first base, showing that he has some versatility. Kirilloff is a good outfielder but is best served at first base, and he could potentially be a gold glove contender. Last season, he showed that he deserves to be in the big leagues. In 215 at-bats, Kirilloff hit .251 with eight home runs and a .722 OPS. Barring any complications from his wrist surgery, this writer believes Kirilloff would make an outstanding first baseman. The Twins have an arsenal of players at their disposal for not only the lineup, but it also leaves the ability to move players around and still have depth. The Twins farm system was ranked number 12out of 30 by MLB Pipeline. Alex Kirilloff was ranked number 26 in the top 100 prospects by MLB Pipeline a year ago and was the Twins Daily top prospect. The farm system is doing the work that the Twins need to create a strong team that will hopefully take them to the postseason. What do you think the Twins should do at the Designated Hitter position in 2022? View full article
  9. It’s understood that owners want the DH to protect their pitchers, but they do not want to pay for what that would mean. If they want to pay pitchers more and protect them, having another player to pay is the only option. The effect is twofold. First, it's 15 more jobs for which MLB owners wouldn't have to pay premium prices. The National League would then have to pay a decent salary for a decent hitter. Or a position player would have to move into the DH role. So, which is more important to the owners? Are they protecting the pitcher or saving money? The Twins are not strangers to the designated hitter. The American League began playing with a DH nearly 50 years ago. It would not make a difference to the AL teams if Major League Baseball implemented the universal designated hitter. The managers know who they have, what they need, where their strengths and weaknesses are in the lineup. With that stated, bringing on a designated hitter from outside the organization is not in the Twins' best interest (sorry, Nelson Cruz fans). The Twins need a hitter that they can rely on to hit, bring in runners and get on base themselves. After Nelson Cruz was traded, the Twins used several different players as DH, particularly a hobbling Josh Donaldson. When using position players from the roster, while the DH can give a player a break, a team runs the risk of more injuries and fewer players to DH. Players are more likely to get hurt playing their position playing the field, which would remove them from playing DH, putting it on someone else. Having a full-time or tandem DH is what makes sense. It is common knowledge that the front office will find ways to save every penny they can. $30-40 Million left in revenue to spend is a fair chunk of change. However, if the Twins use someone already on the roster, they can use that money to bring in the pitching they desperately need. So what do the Twins do at the designated hitter spot? I am glad you asked. **Takes audible deep breath** Miguel Sano. Hear me out. There is a great divide in the Minnesota fanbase over Sano's ability to hit. He is a very streaky hitter. Last season, he reached 1,000 strikeouts in the fewest games (661) in MLB history. He lacked plate discipline at times. If he sees a ball in his zone, he swings at it. Pitchers are not afraid to pitch to him because of his strikeouts and lack of consistent content. However, they also know that he can hit a ball-into-next week if his timing is right. During the 2019 season, the newly-acquired Nelson Cruz saw Sano struggling and took an interest in helping him improve his plate appearances. Cruz invited Sano to meet with him and hitting coaches Edgar Varela and Rudy Hernandez, who Cruz frequently used to help him improve his hitting and technique. Sano put in the hard work, not shying away from asking questions and even calling Valera or Hernandez to discuss mechanics when they weren't meeting. In 2019 Sano had an outstanding season. His contact was harder, balls went farther and faster off the bat. His stance, timing, and mechanics also improved. His ability to be patient and read pitchers became an asset. Nelson Cruz had not only stepped in as a father figure but also as a friend and a coach. Sano may not have had a 'record-breaking year' in 2021; in fact, he was streaky at best throughout the first half of the season, but because Alex Kirilloff kept getting hurt, Sano stayed in the lineup and worked hard to stay where he was. Last season, Sano had a career-low strikeout percentage (32.3%). He relied on his timing and mechanics shown to him by Cruz and the coaches to help him drive in 75 runs and launch 30 home runs into the stands. Sano made significant improvements to his plate appearances, and he is not the greatest at first base. Taking him off of first base would not be a loss for the Twins. Sano has firm control of his swing, and even in Twins losses, his presence adds excitement to the game and runs to the board. Sano easily is the best choice for a full-time designated hitter. There could be an argument for Josh Donaldson joining in tandem due to his already high-cost contract and consistent hitting. Donaldson may need a break from third base, and a rotating DH position for him wouldn't be out of the question. Donaldson is one of the best hitters on the team for the Twins, he has a batting average of .247 and an equally impressive OPS of .827, but has pre-existing injury conditions and he has a consistently declining batting average. Miguel Sano has less time on Injured Reserve and would be on the roster more consistently than Donaldson. Sano was shown how to get the most out of an at-bat by the best-designated hitter in the league, and he was also not afraid to put in the work to improve. His batting average may be lower than Donaldson’s, but this past season, in 2021, he had more at-bats of any year - showing that he is consistently on the roster more. When Nelson Cruz left on July 22, 2021, Sano quite literally slid into Cruz's pants and poured his heart and work ethic into his plate appearances to show the clubhouse and the fans that in his final season (before the 2023 club option), this is where he deserves to be. Who's on first? So naturally, the next question would be who would play first base? The Twins have moved players up and down from St. Paul to see what fits. There has been success with Alex Kirilloff. First base and the outfield have a few players that could easily take over that position and even leave room to bring up a St. Paul player if needed to another position. Alex Kirilloff has proven to be an asset to the Twins 40-man roster. Kirilloff was drafted 15th overall in the first round of the 2016 MLB draft. He was a hot commodity, and the organization knew it. He has spent his entire career from the minors to the majors with the Twins organization rotating between the corner outfield positions and first base, showing that he has some versatility. Kirilloff is a good outfielder but is best served at first base, and he could potentially be a gold glove contender. Last season, he showed that he deserves to be in the big leagues. In 215 at-bats, Kirilloff hit .251 with eight home runs and a .722 OPS. Barring any complications from his wrist surgery, this writer believes Kirilloff would make an outstanding first baseman. The Twins have an arsenal of players at their disposal for not only the lineup, but it also leaves the ability to move players around and still have depth. The Twins farm system was ranked number 12out of 30 by MLB Pipeline. Alex Kirilloff was ranked number 26 in the top 100 prospects by MLB Pipeline a year ago and was the Twins Daily top prospect. The farm system is doing the work that the Twins need to create a strong team that will hopefully take them to the postseason. What do you think the Twins should do at the Designated Hitter position in 2022?
  10. Under the Falvey-Levine regime, the Twins followed a similar offseason strategy. That strategy doesn't benefit the front office's short-term goals in a lockout-shortened winter. As a disappointing 2021 season came to a close, Minnesota's front office faced plenty of questions about the club's future direction. With the team's current roster make-up, it's clear the club doesn't want to enter a long rebuilding phase. Plus, there are multiple reasons why it is a terrible time to try and rebuild. "I fully anticipate, this offseason, we're going to try to find a way to get better for '22 and beyond," Derek Falvey told reporters. "I've approached each of the last three offseasons, really even going back after '17, with an approach: 'How do we find a way to get better now and in the future?' We talk about sustainability. In order to do that, you have to keep an eye on short-term and long-term." Patience and attempts to find good value have been the critical factors in many of the team's offseason moves under the current regime. That strategy has played itself out in recent years. 2021 Offseason Key Moves: Nelson Cruz, Andrelton Simmons, Alexander Colomé, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker Minnesota's five most significant moves last winter came after the start of the new year. The Twins were patient with Cruz as he tested the market, but the NL not having the designated hitter limited his potential landing spots. Simmons was one of the best available free agent shortstops, but the Twins only turned to Simmons after Marcus Semien signed with Toronto. Semien finished third in the AL MVP vote, and Simmons had a career-worst season. The trio of free-agent pitchers signed by the Twins seemed like cheap deals at the time, but there was little upside involved. In hindsight, all three contracts ended up being poor as both starting pitchers were out of the organization by the season's end. Colomé improved throughout the year, but his terrible first month put the Twins into a hole from which they couldn't recover. 2020 Offseason Key Moves: Josh Donaldson, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi, Homer Bailey, Sergio Romo, Alex Avila, Rich Hill, Tyler Clippard This was a massive offseason with Minnesota spending north of $150 million and trading for Kenta Maeda. Like other offseasons, things didn't go exactly as planned. Rumors were linking the Twins to some of the top free-agent pitchers, but none of those deals worked out for various reasons. Luckily, the front office pivoted and signed Josh Donaldson to the biggest free-agent contract in team history. Donaldson's deal fell to the Twins after other free agents went by the wayside. Bailey and Hill's contracts followed a similar pattern of the front office looking for cheaper one-year deals, but once again, there was little upside involved with either arm. As with previous offseasons, Minnesota waited for other teams to make moves, and they examined what was still available. Names at the top of the team's wish list were already signed, so the club had to shift to a different strategy. 2019 Offseason Key Moves: Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Jonathan Schoop, Martin Perez, C.J. Cron Signing Cruz became one of the best free-agent moves in franchise history. He immediately impacted the line-up and helped transform the Twins into the Bomba Squad. At the time, Gonzalez looked like an intriguing signing after his impact on the Astros World Series run. Schoop and Cron projected to add some pop to the line-up, and Perez was a rotational boost. The AL Central was wide open, but the team only made marginal moves. All of the acquisitions provided a boost to the team, and the team went on to win over 100-games. However, Minnesota followed a similar offseason plan as they waited out the market and signed players late into the winter. At the time, Falvey and Levine made it clear that they believed in the club's core. That mantra may hold true for the 2022 offseason, but it's tough to be overconfident in the current core. It's hard to argue with the front office's strategy since the team has won two division titles in the last three years. However, the lockout impacts Minnesota's ability to sign players later in the cycle. The new CBA may also add a wrinkle to the team's offseason plans as there is a potential to add a payroll floor. If this happens, small payroll teams will be looking to add players that have typically been Minnesota's fallback options. Do you feel the front office's off-season strategy doesn't work this winter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  11. As a disappointing 2021 season came to a close, Minnesota's front office faced plenty of questions about the club's future direction. With the team's current roster make-up, it's clear the club doesn't want to enter a long rebuilding phase. Plus, there are multiple reasons why it is a terrible time to try and rebuild. "I fully anticipate, this offseason, we're going to try to find a way to get better for '22 and beyond," Derek Falvey told reporters. "I've approached each of the last three offseasons, really even going back after '17, with an approach: 'How do we find a way to get better now and in the future?' We talk about sustainability. In order to do that, you have to keep an eye on short-term and long-term." Patience and attempts to find good value have been the critical factors in many of the team's offseason moves under the current regime. That strategy has played itself out in recent years. 2021 Offseason Key Moves: Nelson Cruz, Andrelton Simmons, Alexander Colomé, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker Minnesota's five most significant moves last winter came after the start of the new year. The Twins were patient with Cruz as he tested the market, but the NL not having the designated hitter limited his potential landing spots. Simmons was one of the best available free agent shortstops, but the Twins only turned to Simmons after Marcus Semien signed with Toronto. Semien finished third in the AL MVP vote, and Simmons had a career-worst season. The trio of free-agent pitchers signed by the Twins seemed like cheap deals at the time, but there was little upside involved. In hindsight, all three contracts ended up being poor as both starting pitchers were out of the organization by the season's end. Colomé improved throughout the year, but his terrible first month put the Twins into a hole from which they couldn't recover. 2020 Offseason Key Moves: Josh Donaldson, Kenta Maeda, Michael Pineda, Jake Odorizzi, Homer Bailey, Sergio Romo, Alex Avila, Rich Hill, Tyler Clippard This was a massive offseason with Minnesota spending north of $150 million and trading for Kenta Maeda. Like other offseasons, things didn't go exactly as planned. Rumors were linking the Twins to some of the top free-agent pitchers, but none of those deals worked out for various reasons. Luckily, the front office pivoted and signed Josh Donaldson to the biggest free-agent contract in team history. Donaldson's deal fell to the Twins after other free agents went by the wayside. Bailey and Hill's contracts followed a similar pattern of the front office looking for cheaper one-year deals, but once again, there was little upside involved with either arm. As with previous offseasons, Minnesota waited for other teams to make moves, and they examined what was still available. Names at the top of the team's wish list were already signed, so the club had to shift to a different strategy. 2019 Offseason Key Moves: Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Jonathan Schoop, Martin Perez, C.J. Cron Signing Cruz became one of the best free-agent moves in franchise history. He immediately impacted the line-up and helped transform the Twins into the Bomba Squad. At the time, Gonzalez looked like an intriguing signing after his impact on the Astros World Series run. Schoop and Cron projected to add some pop to the line-up, and Perez was a rotational boost. The AL Central was wide open, but the team only made marginal moves. All of the acquisitions provided a boost to the team, and the team went on to win over 100-games. However, Minnesota followed a similar offseason plan as they waited out the market and signed players late into the winter. At the time, Falvey and Levine made it clear that they believed in the club's core. That mantra may hold true for the 2022 offseason, but it's tough to be overconfident in the current core. It's hard to argue with the front office's strategy since the team has won two division titles in the last three years. However, the lockout impacts Minnesota's ability to sign players later in the cycle. The new CBA may also add a wrinkle to the team's offseason plans as there is a potential to add a payroll floor. If this happens, small payroll teams will be looking to add players that have typically been Minnesota's fallback options. Do you feel the front office's off-season strategy doesn't work this winter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. It seems like a disappointing 2021 for the team has spilled into feelings of disappointment toward players who don’t deserve it. Josh Donaldson is perhaps the best example of this. Even for die-hard Twins fans, it’s easy to miss how impressive Donaldson still was in 2021. 2020 was admittedly a bad start to the four-year, $92m contract the Twins gave Josh Donaldson after whiffing on a big-name starting pitcher the offseason before. The former MVP missed more than half of the 60-game season with injuries including the best of three playoff series that ended in a whimper from the offense. Per game, however, Donaldson was the same star hitter he always has been, and he showed that across a much bigger body of work in 2021. For those unfamiliar with MLBs use of Statcast measurements, these numbers read in percentiles, meaning Donaldson is in the 99th percentile in average exit velocity, 95th percentile in barrel percentage, etc. In most offensive measurements, Donaldson’s raw skills were among the top 5-10% in all of baseball. For a season many considered disappointing, I think such a strong showing deserves some context. As you can see, Donaldson actually bested fan-favorite Nelson Cruz in many raw measurements in 2021 according to Statcast. It’s interesting to look at considering one of these players is discussed as the cornerstone of whatever lineup he’s in while the other is being discussed as a possible salary dump. Why might that be? 2020 Left a Bitter Taste 2020 was a season that likely had the front office wishing for a do-over on the largest free-agent contract the team had ever handed out. There was an understandable amount of frustration as the biggest addition to the team was nowhere to be seen for most of a season where the Twins captured their second consecutive division title only to be swept out of the playoffs once again. To make matters worse, those feelings of frustration had gasoline thrown onto the fire when Donaldson injured his hamstring on opening day 2021 and missed a chunk of time. For many, their minds were made up. Donaldson’s availability down the stretch was an incredible accomplishment, however, and showed that while his injury concerns are very much a reality, he’s still capable of being an everyday player across a full season. To once again make a Cruz vs. Donaldson comparison, DH Nelson Cruz played in 140 games compared to Donaldson’s 135 in 2021 which may surprise even the biggest Twins fans to hear. 2021 Was Unlucky The ongoing joke in 2021 was the continued use of the phrase “bad luck” as so much went wrong that it’s impossible to chalk it all up to misfortune. For Donaldson however, we have Statcast measurements saying his raw offensive ability hasn’t declined at all at age 35. His .247 average was much lower than his .268 expected batting average. His .475 slugging percentage was much lower than his .541 expected slugging. He also hit four fewer home runs than expected given the way he impacts the ball. His speed on the bases may be a partial explanation for these discrepancies but his hampered legs can only explain away a portion of these gaps in expected performance. If you aren’t a believer in expected stats, it’s still difficult to look back and be disappointed in his body of work that included a triple slash of .247/.352/.475, good for 24% above league average. Repeating that line would be just fine for 2022, but he appears to still have the physical capabilities to garner MVP votes if he can remain on the field as he did in 2021. So why point out Donaldson’s impressive performance in 2021? To be honest, he doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves. His impact would have essentially erased a disappointing 2020 in the eyes of fans had he performed exactly the same and the team hadn’t crumbled. Statcast says he could have performed even better. He’s talked about like he’s over the hill and his contract needs to be dumped before it’s too late so the Twins can improve. In reality, however, Donaldson is probably one of the three most important pieces of the Twins offense in 2022. Without Nelson Cruz, Donaldson is an important figure on the team not just on the field, but as a veteran-hitting savant who can have a huge impact on the upcoming prospects. It’s entirely possible that Donaldson’s health in 2022 could go the way of 2020 rather than 2021. That being said, at bat for at bat there still aren’t a ton of players you want in the heart of your lineup over Josh Donaldson, and he’s still a tantalizing talent that should have Twins fans looking forward to the beginning of the 2022 season. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  13. 2020 was admittedly a bad start to the four-year, $92m contract the Twins gave Josh Donaldson after whiffing on a big-name starting pitcher the offseason before. The former MVP missed more than half of the 60-game season with injuries including the best of three playoff series that ended in a whimper from the offense. Per game, however, Donaldson was the same star hitter he always has been, and he showed that across a much bigger body of work in 2021. For those unfamiliar with MLBs use of Statcast measurements, these numbers read in percentiles, meaning Donaldson is in the 99th percentile in average exit velocity, 95th percentile in barrel percentage, etc. In most offensive measurements, Donaldson’s raw skills were among the top 5-10% in all of baseball. For a season many considered disappointing, I think such a strong showing deserves some context. As you can see, Donaldson actually bested fan-favorite Nelson Cruz in many raw measurements in 2021 according to Statcast. It’s interesting to look at considering one of these players is discussed as the cornerstone of whatever lineup he’s in while the other is being discussed as a possible salary dump. Why might that be? 2020 Left a Bitter Taste 2020 was a season that likely had the front office wishing for a do-over on the largest free-agent contract the team had ever handed out. There was an understandable amount of frustration as the biggest addition to the team was nowhere to be seen for most of a season where the Twins captured their second consecutive division title only to be swept out of the playoffs once again. To make matters worse, those feelings of frustration had gasoline thrown onto the fire when Donaldson injured his hamstring on opening day 2021 and missed a chunk of time. For many, their minds were made up. Donaldson’s availability down the stretch was an incredible accomplishment, however, and showed that while his injury concerns are very much a reality, he’s still capable of being an everyday player across a full season. To once again make a Cruz vs. Donaldson comparison, DH Nelson Cruz played in 140 games compared to Donaldson’s 135 in 2021 which may surprise even the biggest Twins fans to hear. 2021 Was Unlucky The ongoing joke in 2021 was the continued use of the phrase “bad luck” as so much went wrong that it’s impossible to chalk it all up to misfortune. For Donaldson however, we have Statcast measurements saying his raw offensive ability hasn’t declined at all at age 35. His .247 average was much lower than his .268 expected batting average. His .475 slugging percentage was much lower than his .541 expected slugging. He also hit four fewer home runs than expected given the way he impacts the ball. His speed on the bases may be a partial explanation for these discrepancies but his hampered legs can only explain away a portion of these gaps in expected performance. If you aren’t a believer in expected stats, it’s still difficult to look back and be disappointed in his body of work that included a triple slash of .247/.352/.475, good for 24% above league average. Repeating that line would be just fine for 2022, but he appears to still have the physical capabilities to garner MVP votes if he can remain on the field as he did in 2021. So why point out Donaldson’s impressive performance in 2021? To be honest, he doesn’t get the appreciation he deserves. His impact would have essentially erased a disappointing 2020 in the eyes of fans had he performed exactly the same and the team hadn’t crumbled. Statcast says he could have performed even better. He’s talked about like he’s over the hill and his contract needs to be dumped before it’s too late so the Twins can improve. In reality, however, Donaldson is probably one of the three most important pieces of the Twins offense in 2022. Without Nelson Cruz, Donaldson is an important figure on the team not just on the field, but as a veteran-hitting savant who can have a huge impact on the upcoming prospects. It’s entirely possible that Donaldson’s health in 2022 could go the way of 2020 rather than 2021. That being said, at bat for at bat there still aren’t a ton of players you want in the heart of your lineup over Josh Donaldson, and he’s still a tantalizing talent that should have Twins fans looking forward to the beginning of the 2022 season. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  14. It's hard to fathom that former AL Central staple Zack Greinke will be entering his 19th season in Major League Baseball in the 2022 season. At 38, the crafty veteran still has gas left in the tank and could prove to be a valuable asset for a Twins rotation that is flooded with youth. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically. View full article
  15. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically.
  16. The Minnesota Twins turned their front office over to Derek Falvey in October of 2016. After participating in his first offseason, the first club of record played during the 2017 season. In five years leading the organization, Falvey has orchestrated three postseason appearances. What are the moves he’s made to get there? Saddled with Paul Molitor to start his tenure, Falvey tabbed Rocco Baldelli as manager before the 2019 season. A breath of fresh air and a new perspective, Baldelli represented a complete change from the Twins' old guard. While the losing in October hasn’t ceased yet, the club has stockpiled a plethora of solid prospects and could be on the verge of another sustained run. Here’s one writer's opinion of the five best moves Minnesota has made during Derek Falvey’s tenure: 5. Nelson Cruz Signing (Twice) Looking to add thump to their lineup, Falvey inked the long-time designated hitter to a one-year deal worth $14 million (and a second-year option at $12 million). At 38-years-old, there was cause for concern, and he was coming off a slide posting just an .850 OPS for the Mariners. His services were hotly contested, and he wound up being a catalyst for the Bomba Squad. Cruz’s 1.031 OPS was a career-best, and he finished 9th in the American League MVP voting after blasting 41 dingers. His value was estimated as being worth more than $34 million that season by Fangraphs. 4. Nelson Cruz Trade After bringing Cruz back on a one-year deal for $13 million, Minnesota saw the writing on the wall as they slipped down the AL Central standings in 2021. Having posted a .907 OPS through 85 games for the Twins, Cruz was still productive at 40. Despite half of the sport not using the designated hitter, and even fewer teams needing one, Falvey orchestrated a coup in a deal from the Tampa Bay Rays. Acquiring Team USA ace and top-100 prospect Joe Ryan for a few months of Cruz would’ve been great on its own. Minnesota also netted Drew Strotman (a recent Twins Spotlight guest), another strong pitching prospect, and despite Cruz’s greatness here, they couldn’t have packed his bags fast enough for that return. 3. Michael Pineda Signing Signing someone while injured is always a tricky situation, but that’s what Falvey opted to do with Michael Pineda. Needing starting arms, the Twins came to an agreement with the former Yankees starter while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2018. Paying him just $10 million over two years, Minnesota got to monitor Pineda’s rehab and set him up to be a rotation mainstay for them in 2019. He turned in a strong 4.01 ERA and was among the many reasons the club was so good. In 2019 alone, Fangraphs valued Pineda’s production north of $20 million. Pineda has been unquestionably the best free-agent move on the pitching front from this front office, taking steps forward in each of the next two seasons. 2. Jorge Polanco Extension After a career-best .773 OPS in 2018, Minnesota decided to lock Polanco up long term. He was signed to a five-year deal with two additional options. The guaranteed portion was for just $25.75 million, or $5.15 million per year. Polanco became a first-time All-Star in 2019, posting an .841 OPS and generating MVP votes for the first time in his career. His 2020 was a slide backward as he dealt with nagging ankle issues, but a switch to second base and a clean bill of health had him rebounding to an .826 OPS in 2021, and he launched a career-best 33 homers. Polanco is among the best second basemen in baseball, and this contract looks like one of the most team-friendly deals across the entire sport. 1. Byron Buxton Extension This one takes the top spot mainly for the impact it could have and would have had it not gotten done. Buxton is a generational talent, and the only thing that has sapped his earning potential is the ability to stay on the field. Now signed to a seven-year, $100 million contract, Buxton looks to expand upon three seasons totaling an .897 OPS. He’s arguably the best defensive outfielder in the game and has come into his power potential; the speed asset to his game is just a cherry on top. Minnesota needed to get this done, and now both parties stand to benefit plenty from one another. What are some of the moves made under Derek Falvey that you would place here? Is there a favorite I missed? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  17. Saddled with Paul Molitor to start his tenure, Falvey tabbed Rocco Baldelli as manager before the 2019 season. A breath of fresh air and a new perspective, Baldelli represented a complete change from the Twins' old guard. While the losing in October hasn’t ceased yet, the club has stockpiled a plethora of solid prospects and could be on the verge of another sustained run. Here’s one writer's opinion of the five best moves Minnesota has made during Derek Falvey’s tenure: 5. Nelson Cruz Signing (Twice) Looking to add thump to their lineup, Falvey inked the long-time designated hitter to a one-year deal worth $14 million (and a second-year option at $12 million). At 38-years-old, there was cause for concern, and he was coming off a slide posting just an .850 OPS for the Mariners. His services were hotly contested, and he wound up being a catalyst for the Bomba Squad. Cruz’s 1.031 OPS was a career-best, and he finished 9th in the American League MVP voting after blasting 41 dingers. His value was estimated as being worth more than $34 million that season by Fangraphs. 4. Nelson Cruz Trade After bringing Cruz back on a one-year deal for $13 million, Minnesota saw the writing on the wall as they slipped down the AL Central standings in 2021. Having posted a .907 OPS through 85 games for the Twins, Cruz was still productive at 40. Despite half of the sport not using the designated hitter, and even fewer teams needing one, Falvey orchestrated a coup in a deal from the Tampa Bay Rays. Acquiring Team USA ace and top-100 prospect Joe Ryan for a few months of Cruz would’ve been great on its own. Minnesota also netted Drew Strotman (a recent Twins Spotlight guest), another strong pitching prospect, and despite Cruz’s greatness here, they couldn’t have packed his bags fast enough for that return. 3. Michael Pineda Signing Signing someone while injured is always a tricky situation, but that’s what Falvey opted to do with Michael Pineda. Needing starting arms, the Twins came to an agreement with the former Yankees starter while he was recovering from Tommy John surgery in 2018. Paying him just $10 million over two years, Minnesota got to monitor Pineda’s rehab and set him up to be a rotation mainstay for them in 2019. He turned in a strong 4.01 ERA and was among the many reasons the club was so good. In 2019 alone, Fangraphs valued Pineda’s production north of $20 million. Pineda has been unquestionably the best free-agent move on the pitching front from this front office, taking steps forward in each of the next two seasons. 2. Jorge Polanco Extension After a career-best .773 OPS in 2018, Minnesota decided to lock Polanco up long term. He was signed to a five-year deal with two additional options. The guaranteed portion was for just $25.75 million, or $5.15 million per year. Polanco became a first-time All-Star in 2019, posting an .841 OPS and generating MVP votes for the first time in his career. His 2020 was a slide backward as he dealt with nagging ankle issues, but a switch to second base and a clean bill of health had him rebounding to an .826 OPS in 2021, and he launched a career-best 33 homers. Polanco is among the best second basemen in baseball, and this contract looks like one of the most team-friendly deals across the entire sport. 1. Byron Buxton Extension This one takes the top spot mainly for the impact it could have and would have had it not gotten done. Buxton is a generational talent, and the only thing that has sapped his earning potential is the ability to stay on the field. Now signed to a seven-year, $100 million contract, Buxton looks to expand upon three seasons totaling an .897 OPS. He’s arguably the best defensive outfielder in the game and has come into his power potential; the speed asset to his game is just a cherry on top. Minnesota needed to get this done, and now both parties stand to benefit plenty from one another. What are some of the moves made under Derek Falvey that you would place here? Is there a favorite I missed? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. Usually when guys are in their late 30s and 40s playing baseball in Minnesota, you can find them playing for teams like the Miesville Mudhens or the Cold Spring Springers, not the Minnesota Twins. Take a look at the best seasons by Twins players 35 and older. As players age, their physical abilities deteriorate and they often can not play as well as they used to play.. So when a player 35 or older has a great season, it is remarkable. Veterans are usually good locker room presences and leaders for younger players, but if they can also be one of the best players on the team, that is an added bonus. In this article, we will look at the top five seasons by hitters in Twins history over the age of 35. If a player has multiple great seasons over the age of 35, I picked their best one. All of the players on this list have had illustrious careers and while their production in these seasons wasn’t as high as they had in their primes, they still were very impactful players on their teams. 5. Josh Donaldson, 2021 - 2.2 fWAR When Josh Donaldson made news in 2021, it was for sparking a sticky controversy with White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito and for feuding with Gerrit Cole. Despite being one of the most controversial players in baseball, Josh Donaldson has also been one of the best. Since 2013, he has the third highest WAR in all of baseball, trailing only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. In Donaldson’s prime, he was a 6-8 WAR player, winning AL MVP in 2015 and finishing in the top 10 four times. In 2021, he was only worth 2.2 WAR, making him the third best player on the Twins behind Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco. Donaldson hit .247/.352/.475 (.827) in 135 games. He had a wRC+ of 124, meaning he was 24 percent better than league average at creating runs for his team. He also had a keen eye at the plate, leading the Twins with 74 walks. When you dive deeper into the numbers, Donaldson was even more impressive. He ranked 4th in MLB in average exit velocity (94.1), 3rd in Barrels per plate appearance (11.2 percent), and 11th in hard hit rate. Below are his Baseball Savant percentile rankings. In nearly all of the offensive categories, Donaldson ranked in the top 10 percent of all hitters. This is incredible for a player who is 35 years old. As Donaldson ages, he will get more time in the DH role as the Twins look to younger players like Luis Arraez and Jose Miranda to occupy third base to keep Donaldson’s bat in the lineup more regularly. Donaldson had a good 2021 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his production improve in 2022 as a 36 year old. 4. Paul Molitor, 1996 - 2.5 fWAR After an outstanding career in Milwaukee and Toronto, Hall-of-Famer and native Minnesotan Paul Molitor returned to play in his homeland for the final three years of his career. As is the case with most veterans, Molitor was mostly a designated hitter in his tenure with the Twins. During his career, Molitor’s versatility was one of his best assets so confining him to DH took a lot of his value away. Still, the future Twins manager was able to post 2.5 WAR in 1996, his first season with the Twins. In Molitor’s prime, he was consistently a 4-6 win player for the Brewers and Blue Jays. He won the World Series in 1993 with the Blue Jays and was named World Series MVP, going 11-for-24 with five extra base hits, seven RBI, three walks, and no strikeouts in six games. He also tied the World Series record for most runs in a series with 10 runs scored. In 1996, Molitor hit .341/.390/.468 (.858) for a 114 wRC+. Molitor led the American League with 225 hits, which is the third most for a single season in Twins history. He also drove in 113 runs and hit 41 doubles in that year. During that season he became the first player to hit a triple for his 3000th career hit. Molitor was a great veteran addition to a Twins team that needed some guidance. 3. Jim Thome, 2010 3.1 fWAR As a player who spent the majority of his career with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, Twins fans did not associate Jim Thome with good memories. In his career against the Twins, Thome hit an ungodly .314/.415/.635 (1.049) with 61 home runs in 196 games. In 2010, the Twins decided that if you can’t beat him, join him, so they signed Thome to a one year deal worth $1.5 million. In his age 39 season, Thome was outstanding. He appeared in 108 games and hit .283/.412/.627 (1.039) for a 177 wRC+. Among players 39 and older who appeared in 100 or more games, the only players in MLB history with a higher OPS than Thome were Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron. Thome posted 3.1 WAR in only 108 games despite only playing DH. The only primary DH’s in MLB history with more WAR in a similar amount of games are Yordan Alvarez and David Ortiz. Thome hit his 600th career home run with the Twins in 2011, but his signature moment as a Twin was this walk-off home run he hit in August of 2010, the first walk-off homer in Target Field history. Thome was also an outstanding clubhouse presence, being named the nicest player in baseball by his fellow players, a nice touch on an outstanding career. 2. Harmon Killebrew, 1971 3.9 fWAR Killebrew was an outstanding player for the entirety of his career. He actually had two seasons that would’ve placed him on this list but I chose to go with the better of the seasons, 1971. Killebrew was already on his way to the Hall of Fame before he turned 35, having hit 487 home runs in his career. But in his age 35 season, Killebrew had a great season. By this time, Killebrew’s outfield days were behind him and he was splitting time between first base and third base. In 1971, Killebrew hit .254/.386/.464 (.850) for a wRC+ of 137. He led the American League in RBI (119) and walks (114). He was named to the final all-star game of his fantastic career. In late July of this year, Killebrew hit his 499th homer. For the next 16 games, Killebrew went into a slump, not able to hit his 500th. But in the 17th game, Killebrew hit home runs 500 and 501 at Metropolitan Stadium to cement his legacy as an all-time great. Killebrew was relieved, telling the Associated Press he could finally breathe a sigh of relief again. “When people keep asking you when you’re going to hit it, you try a bit harder. The only time I thought about it was when people were asking me about it”, said Killebrew. 1. Nelson Cruz, 2019 - 4.3 fWAR The ageless wonder, Nelson Cruz, was a fantastic signing for the Twins in the 2019 offseason. In his age 38 season, Cruz turned the Twins from a mediocre team into a 100 game winner. The Dominican slugger helped guide young Hispanic sluggers Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario to career highs in home runs. Cruz had such a profound impact on Sano that Sano decided to name Cruz the Godfather of his daughter. He also won the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award for all of the great work he does in the community. Along with his great leadership, Cruz was one of the best hitters in the league. In 2019, Cruz hit .311/.392/.639 (1.031) for a wRC+ of 164. His .639 slugging percentage was the best single season slugging percentage in Twins history. He hit 41 home runs and drove in 108 runs. He also led MLB in Barrels per Plate Appearance, Hard Hit Rate, and Average Exit Velocity. The combination of this means that he hit the ball harder than anyone else did more consistently than anyone else. This led to a lot of success for Cruz. Nelson Cruz had two more good seasons for the Twins before he was traded during his age 40 season to the Tampa Bay Rays for Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman. Cruz has a strong impact on baseballs and teammates, making him a great addition to any team. Conclusion Throughout the Twins history, they have had some great seasons by older players, proving that baseball isn’t always a young man’s game. Hopefully another great season by Donaldson next year can move him up on this list, but don’t look for many Twins to make this list in the near future as the Twins will try to get younger players more experience. Who did I miss on this list? What would you change about the order? Is Cruz the best power hitter in Twins history? Leave a comment below! Let me hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! View full article
  19. As players age, their physical abilities deteriorate and they often can not play as well as they used to play.. So when a player 35 or older has a great season, it is remarkable. Veterans are usually good locker room presences and leaders for younger players, but if they can also be one of the best players on the team, that is an added bonus. In this article, we will look at the top five seasons by hitters in Twins history over the age of 35. If a player has multiple great seasons over the age of 35, I picked their best one. All of the players on this list have had illustrious careers and while their production in these seasons wasn’t as high as they had in their primes, they still were very impactful players on their teams. 5. Josh Donaldson, 2021 - 2.2 fWAR When Josh Donaldson made news in 2021, it was for sparking a sticky controversy with White Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito and for feuding with Gerrit Cole. Despite being one of the most controversial players in baseball, Josh Donaldson has also been one of the best. Since 2013, he has the third highest WAR in all of baseball, trailing only Mike Trout and Mookie Betts. In Donaldson’s prime, he was a 6-8 WAR player, winning AL MVP in 2015 and finishing in the top 10 four times. In 2021, he was only worth 2.2 WAR, making him the third best player on the Twins behind Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco. Donaldson hit .247/.352/.475 (.827) in 135 games. He had a wRC+ of 124, meaning he was 24 percent better than league average at creating runs for his team. He also had a keen eye at the plate, leading the Twins with 74 walks. When you dive deeper into the numbers, Donaldson was even more impressive. He ranked 4th in MLB in average exit velocity (94.1), 3rd in Barrels per plate appearance (11.2 percent), and 11th in hard hit rate. Below are his Baseball Savant percentile rankings. In nearly all of the offensive categories, Donaldson ranked in the top 10 percent of all hitters. This is incredible for a player who is 35 years old. As Donaldson ages, he will get more time in the DH role as the Twins look to younger players like Luis Arraez and Jose Miranda to occupy third base to keep Donaldson’s bat in the lineup more regularly. Donaldson had a good 2021 and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his production improve in 2022 as a 36 year old. 4. Paul Molitor, 1996 - 2.5 fWAR After an outstanding career in Milwaukee and Toronto, Hall-of-Famer and native Minnesotan Paul Molitor returned to play in his homeland for the final three years of his career. As is the case with most veterans, Molitor was mostly a designated hitter in his tenure with the Twins. During his career, Molitor’s versatility was one of his best assets so confining him to DH took a lot of his value away. Still, the future Twins manager was able to post 2.5 WAR in 1996, his first season with the Twins. In Molitor’s prime, he was consistently a 4-6 win player for the Brewers and Blue Jays. He won the World Series in 1993 with the Blue Jays and was named World Series MVP, going 11-for-24 with five extra base hits, seven RBI, three walks, and no strikeouts in six games. He also tied the World Series record for most runs in a series with 10 runs scored. In 1996, Molitor hit .341/.390/.468 (.858) for a 114 wRC+. Molitor led the American League with 225 hits, which is the third most for a single season in Twins history. He also drove in 113 runs and hit 41 doubles in that year. During that season he became the first player to hit a triple for his 3000th career hit. Molitor was a great veteran addition to a Twins team that needed some guidance. 3. Jim Thome, 2010 3.1 fWAR As a player who spent the majority of his career with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox, Twins fans did not associate Jim Thome with good memories. In his career against the Twins, Thome hit an ungodly .314/.415/.635 (1.049) with 61 home runs in 196 games. In 2010, the Twins decided that if you can’t beat him, join him, so they signed Thome to a one year deal worth $1.5 million. In his age 39 season, Thome was outstanding. He appeared in 108 games and hit .283/.412/.627 (1.039) for a 177 wRC+. Among players 39 and older who appeared in 100 or more games, the only players in MLB history with a higher OPS than Thome were Barry Bonds and Hank Aaron. Thome posted 3.1 WAR in only 108 games despite only playing DH. The only primary DH’s in MLB history with more WAR in a similar amount of games are Yordan Alvarez and David Ortiz. Thome hit his 600th career home run with the Twins in 2011, but his signature moment as a Twin was this walk-off home run he hit in August of 2010, the first walk-off homer in Target Field history. Thome was also an outstanding clubhouse presence, being named the nicest player in baseball by his fellow players, a nice touch on an outstanding career. 2. Harmon Killebrew, 1971 3.9 fWAR Killebrew was an outstanding player for the entirety of his career. He actually had two seasons that would’ve placed him on this list but I chose to go with the better of the seasons, 1971. Killebrew was already on his way to the Hall of Fame before he turned 35, having hit 487 home runs in his career. But in his age 35 season, Killebrew had a great season. By this time, Killebrew’s outfield days were behind him and he was splitting time between first base and third base. In 1971, Killebrew hit .254/.386/.464 (.850) for a wRC+ of 137. He led the American League in RBI (119) and walks (114). He was named to the final all-star game of his fantastic career. In late July of this year, Killebrew hit his 499th homer. For the next 16 games, Killebrew went into a slump, not able to hit his 500th. But in the 17th game, Killebrew hit home runs 500 and 501 at Metropolitan Stadium to cement his legacy as an all-time great. Killebrew was relieved, telling the Associated Press he could finally breathe a sigh of relief again. “When people keep asking you when you’re going to hit it, you try a bit harder. The only time I thought about it was when people were asking me about it”, said Killebrew. 1. Nelson Cruz, 2019 - 4.3 fWAR The ageless wonder, Nelson Cruz, was a fantastic signing for the Twins in the 2019 offseason. In his age 38 season, Cruz turned the Twins from a mediocre team into a 100 game winner. The Dominican slugger helped guide young Hispanic sluggers Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario to career highs in home runs. Cruz had such a profound impact on Sano that Sano decided to name Cruz the Godfather of his daughter. He also won the 2021 Roberto Clemente Award for all of the great work he does in the community. Along with his great leadership, Cruz was one of the best hitters in the league. In 2019, Cruz hit .311/.392/.639 (1.031) for a wRC+ of 164. His .639 slugging percentage was the best single season slugging percentage in Twins history. He hit 41 home runs and drove in 108 runs. He also led MLB in Barrels per Plate Appearance, Hard Hit Rate, and Average Exit Velocity. The combination of this means that he hit the ball harder than anyone else did more consistently than anyone else. This led to a lot of success for Cruz. Nelson Cruz had two more good seasons for the Twins before he was traded during his age 40 season to the Tampa Bay Rays for Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman. Cruz has a strong impact on baseballs and teammates, making him a great addition to any team. Conclusion Throughout the Twins history, they have had some great seasons by older players, proving that baseball isn’t always a young man’s game. Hopefully another great season by Donaldson next year can move him up on this list, but don’t look for many Twins to make this list in the near future as the Twins will try to get younger players more experience. Who did I miss on this list? What would you change about the order? Is Cruz the best power hitter in Twins history? Leave a comment below! Let me hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  20. The 2021 season didn't go precisely as the Twins envisioned, but the calendar will shortly turn to 2022. Here is a look back at some of the biggest stories at Twins Daily over the last year. Below is a rundown of the back half of the top-20 stories here at Twins Daily over the last calendar year. Take a look back at some of the most significant events and stop back later to look at the top-10 stories. 20. José Berríos Traded to Blue Jays Published: July 30 Author: Matthew Taylor After the season went south, the José Berríos trade was one of the biggest stories of the year. Not only did it impact the second half of the 2021 season, but the trade also has ramifications felt into the current off-season as the team looks to rebuild the pitching staff. Minnesota was able to get two top-100 prospects, and the Blue Jays eventually signed Berríos to a long-term deal. 19. Trade Deadline Tracker: Twins' News and Rumor Roundup Published: July 29 Author: Matthew Taylor There's no question that Twins fans were interested in the 2021 trade deadline as Minnesota had multiple big-league assets tied into the rumor mill. One of the day's biggest stories was the Brewers trading for old friend Eduardo Escobar. Rumors also swirled about a potential José Berríos trade that happened the next day. 18. Nelson Cruz Saga Illuminates Shrewdness of Falvine Published: February 5 Author: Nash Walker Last winter, one of the team's most significant decisions was whether or not to bring back Nelson Cruz. Minnesota's front office was patient, and the National League never added the designated hitter. This left few contending teams in need of Cruz's services. Falvine got Cruz to sign on their terms, and he'd be part of another big story later in the year. 17. Potential Trade Packages for José Berríos Published: May 29 Author: Matthew Lenz Even at the end of May, it was clear the Twins would be in sell mode before the trade deadline. Not only did Matthew connect the Blue Jays as a potential suitor for a Berríos trade, but he also hit on one of the prospects the team got as part of the return. 16. Are the Twins About to Build a Radically Unconventional Pitching Staff? Published: November 11 Author: Nick Nelson The Twins didn't sign any of the top-tier free-agent starting pitchers, and this article gives insight into what the team might be planning. Thad Levine and the front office may consider a nontraditional approach to filling the rotation. When the lockout ends, this approach will be something to keep an eye on as the roster comes together. 15. End of the Line for Brent Rooker? Published: September 25 Author: Cody Pirkl Brent Rooker finished his age-26 season, and he has yet to put it all together at the big-league level. He has little left to prove at Triple-A, and now the question remains as to what his future may hold with the Twins moving forward. Can he be a bench option for the Twins in 2022, or has he reached the end of the line? 14. Twins Trade Nelson Cruz to the Rays for Two AAA Starting Pitchers Published: July 22 Author: Seth Stohs Tampa Bay didn't wait around until the trade deadline to make their move as they wanted Cruz on their roster for an extra week and a half. Even with Cruz on an expiring deal, the Twins acquired two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. It was Minnesota's first big trade before the deadline, and it wouldn't be their last move. 13. Do the Twins Already Have the Next Brian Dozier? Published: March 1 Author: Cody Christie Brian Dozier was a late bloomer that came through the Twins system to have some monster seasons at the plate. Nick Gordon made his debut in 2021, and he also fits into the late-bloomer category. He may never develop Dozier's power, but he seemed to fit nicely into a utility role in the season's second half. 12. Twins Finalize Opening Day Roster Published: March 29 Author: Seth Stohs Minnesota was coming off of back-to-back AL Central titles, so there was plenty of hope associated with the Opening Day roster. One of the team's final decisions was to keep Kyle Garlick over Rooker. Garlick led the team in home runs throughout the spring, so it took an impressive showing for him to make the squad. 11. Ranking the Top-5 Remaining Free Agent Starters Published: December 1 Author: Cody Christie Minnesota had yet to acquire any starting pitching outside of Dylan Bundy, with the lockout looming. There were some clear names at the top of the free-agent rankings, but things dropped off in a hurry. One of the players has already signed, but the other four players are still available if Minnesota wants to pursue them for 2022. Stop back and check out the top stories of the year. Which of these stories will you remember the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  21. Below is a rundown of the back half of the top-20 stories here at Twins Daily over the last calendar year. Take a look back at some of the most significant events and stop back later to look at the top-10 stories. 20. José Berríos Traded to Blue Jays Published: July 30 Author: Matthew Taylor After the season went south, the José Berríos trade was one of the biggest stories of the year. Not only did it impact the second half of the 2021 season, but the trade also has ramifications felt into the current off-season as the team looks to rebuild the pitching staff. Minnesota was able to get two top-100 prospects, and the Blue Jays eventually signed Berríos to a long-term deal. 19. Trade Deadline Tracker: Twins' News and Rumor Roundup Published: July 29 Author: Matthew Taylor There's no question that Twins fans were interested in the 2021 trade deadline as Minnesota had multiple big-league assets tied into the rumor mill. One of the day's biggest stories was the Brewers trading for old friend Eduardo Escobar. Rumors also swirled about a potential José Berríos trade that happened the next day. 18. Nelson Cruz Saga Illuminates Shrewdness of Falvine Published: February 5 Author: Nash Walker Last winter, one of the team's most significant decisions was whether or not to bring back Nelson Cruz. Minnesota's front office was patient, and the National League never added the designated hitter. This left few contending teams in need of Cruz's services. Falvine got Cruz to sign on their terms, and he'd be part of another big story later in the year. 17. Potential Trade Packages for José Berríos Published: May 29 Author: Matthew Lenz Even at the end of May, it was clear the Twins would be in sell mode before the trade deadline. Not only did Matthew connect the Blue Jays as a potential suitor for a Berríos trade, but he also hit on one of the prospects the team got as part of the return. 16. Are the Twins About to Build a Radically Unconventional Pitching Staff? Published: November 11 Author: Nick Nelson The Twins didn't sign any of the top-tier free-agent starting pitchers, and this article gives insight into what the team might be planning. Thad Levine and the front office may consider a nontraditional approach to filling the rotation. When the lockout ends, this approach will be something to keep an eye on as the roster comes together. 15. End of the Line for Brent Rooker? Published: September 25 Author: Cody Pirkl Brent Rooker finished his age-26 season, and he has yet to put it all together at the big-league level. He has little left to prove at Triple-A, and now the question remains as to what his future may hold with the Twins moving forward. Can he be a bench option for the Twins in 2022, or has he reached the end of the line? 14. Twins Trade Nelson Cruz to the Rays for Two AAA Starting Pitchers Published: July 22 Author: Seth Stohs Tampa Bay didn't wait around until the trade deadline to make their move as they wanted Cruz on their roster for an extra week and a half. Even with Cruz on an expiring deal, the Twins acquired two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. It was Minnesota's first big trade before the deadline, and it wouldn't be their last move. 13. Do the Twins Already Have the Next Brian Dozier? Published: March 1 Author: Cody Christie Brian Dozier was a late bloomer that came through the Twins system to have some monster seasons at the plate. Nick Gordon made his debut in 2021, and he also fits into the late-bloomer category. He may never develop Dozier's power, but he seemed to fit nicely into a utility role in the season's second half. 12. Twins Finalize Opening Day Roster Published: March 29 Author: Seth Stohs Minnesota was coming off of back-to-back AL Central titles, so there was plenty of hope associated with the Opening Day roster. One of the team's final decisions was to keep Kyle Garlick over Rooker. Garlick led the team in home runs throughout the spring, so it took an impressive showing for him to make the squad. 11. Ranking the Top-5 Remaining Free Agent Starters Published: December 1 Author: Cody Christie Minnesota had yet to acquire any starting pitching outside of Dylan Bundy, with the lockout looming. There were some clear names at the top of the free-agent rankings, but things dropped off in a hurry. One of the players has already signed, but the other four players are still available if Minnesota wants to pursue them for 2022. Stop back and check out the top stories of the year. Which of these stories will you remember the most? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. The Twins season is over, but change to the roster is just starting. There are three things that the Twins are able to do to start the off season out right. (Editor's Note: Before we get started, join me in welcoming Sherry to the front page. This is her first promoted article. You have likely seen some of her writing on the Twins Daily blog pages. In her first front page article, she's got some ideas for the Twins front office.) After an arduous baseball season from the Twins, the fans are left with one question: “what’s next?”. We have all been asking ourselves that question since the Twins took a nosedive in May. Plagued with injury and ailment, the Twins limped through the summer trying to find their stride while also bringing up and sending down player after player. There seemed to be no relief. As players such as Josh Donaldson, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, and Jorge Polanco healed and made their comeback so did the overall growth, demeanor and mindset of the team to finish out the season strong. While the Twins were nowhere near a run for the playoffs, let alone the Wild Card, they played as if they were and left the fans with a hopeful taste in their mouth as the season closed. So, what is next? There are a few things I can think of that will instantly make a difference. #1 No More Andrelton First things first, Andrelton Simmons' contract is officially up as soon as the World Series is complete! Let’s be honest, this was one of the worst Twins acquisitions, maybe not of all time, but for sure in the amount of time that I have been a fan, which is a fairly long time. I recall when the Twins gave him the contract, I was irate. I got blown to bits on Twitter for my “bad take” and he was a “gold glove winner”. (blah, blah, blah.) I am not an elite baseball mind, but I do have a serious appreciation for usable talent. Simmons was not that. Sure, on paper he looked good. His baseball-reference stats show that from 2016 through 2020 Simmons had a solid batting average. He was hitting .283 on average over those seasons, basically his tenure with the Angels. During those years he stayed above .250. As much as I didn't want to, I did count 2020 in the stats, but it was a shorter season, fewer games, so his batting average is going to look/be a little better. What caught my eye was his errors, he had 49 errors over four years. This year, Simmons was tied for sixth out of 22 shortstops in errors. I know that shortstops tend to make the most errors on the team, but I am not sure what made the Twins think that he was going to be anything but a train wreck. What made this even more frustrating was the fact that the Twins have players who could have played shortstop and got paid less. I am not advocating for Billy Beane baseball, but with assets like Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez and Nick Gordon, it was really disappointing to have someone like Simmons in the line up, especially in the second half. It's a collective sigh of relief that Simmons is becoming a free agent. #2 Rebuild the Rotation Next... to the mound. The pitching (or lack thereof) has been the biggest thorn in the Twins' side. Thanks to trades and bold moves the Twins acquired some young arms that are going to be around for quite awhile if the front office plays their cards right. Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, John Gant, Ralph Garza Jr, and Griffin Jax have breathed new life into the rotation, providing solid innings, more strikeouts and confidence that the front office may be actually understanding the assignment. The one thing that teams in the playoffs have is solid pitching. Having a good starting rotation and bullpen is important. There is less stress, leaving the line up to have enough energy to do their job and hit dingers. While there was a lot of anger due to trading Nelson Cruz, there has been less frustration with the pitching which came as a result of the trade. If there are going to be any changes in the rotation, acquiring at least two or three starters that they will leave in through the sixth inning would be beneficial. I am not sure what Rocco Baldelli and Wes Johnson thinks they are doing pulling guys in the sixth inning. This isn’t college baseball with a lot of depth. This is the big leagues, where guys are conditioned for longevity. The new guys that were brought in learned in a different system, potentially with different techniques and philosophies. Wes Johnson has not had a chance to them yet. The class of Free Agents looks like a platter for the next season and there is some amazing talent could be acquired, such as Zack Greinke, Clayton Kershaw Marcus Stroman, Noah Syndergaard, and Max Scherzer. While we all have differing opinions on who is less effective, any of these pitchers would be a good buy in a 2 or 3 starter spot while we look in house for our #1 starter. #3 Bring Back the Boomstick The third thing would be bringing back Nelson Cruz to finish beefing up the batting line up. Cruz will be a free agent after his playoff run with Tampa Bay. That was a trade that sucker-punch to the fan base. While I personally was sad to see him go, the trade was one that the front office could not pass up. The return is exactly what this team needed. I can’t imagine that bringing back Cruz was not brought up in the clubhouse prior to the trade, but the tears, hugs and words spoken by the team surrounding the trade mean his teammates would love for him to come back. He, like the rest of the squad, definitely struggled a bit in the beginning of the season. The 41-year-old has shown few signs of slowing down or falling apart outside a thumb sprain early in the season. Since being in Tampa Bay, he has continued to soar and could help get the Rays to the World Series. His presence with the bat and in the clubhouse are something you rarely find, and it may be a fight to get him back. We saw this with Miguel Sano. Nelson Cruz was a guiding force into Sano's performance with the bat, and it's one relationship that has created a life-long bond. In reality, Cruz’s numbers are too good to ignore, as well as his ability to bring a smile and cohesion to the clubhouse. His impact on Sano was so great that the day Cruz was traded, Sano honored him by wearing his pants in that night's game. “The pants brought Sano a little bit of luck. He went 1-for-3 with a walk, double and run scored in his Minnesota Twins’ 3-2 loss to the Angels” writes Jesse Johnson of USA Today Sports. One thing is for sure, Nelson Cruz has always been and will always be a class act, even going out of the way to meet the pitcher that took his place in the clubhouse. You can’t replace a person like that. These are just a few of the things that would help the team see not only a higher finish in the standings, but also the potential to return to the playoffs. I love the old adage - “Offense wins games, Defense wins championships." I believe it’s true. If the Twins would be able to get a solid pitching staff, a defense that was less messy, and consider bringing back Nelson Cruz, that would be a start to creating a winning team for the 2022 season. View full article
  23. Adding offensive help may not be the highest priority for the Twins this offseason. Still the Twins may want to pursue one option for DH, and not just any option; a reunion with Nelson Cruz. Over the last two-and-a-half years, Nelson Cruz quickly became a fan favorite for Minnesota Twins fans and a leader both on and off the field for the Twins. Upsetting as it was for Twins fans to see him be traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in July, it was not unexpected. And so far, the return for Cruz from the Rays with Joe Ryan has looked promising for the Twins. Cruz once again joins the free agent market for the third time in the last four offseasons. The largest difference with this offseason compared to the previous when Cruz was a free agent is the possibility that 15 more teams could be in contention to sign him if the designated hitter is added into the National League in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. Until the results of the next CBA are announced, the Twins do remain one of the top American League teams in contention to go after Cruz. The other two AL teams that are looking to be contenders to sign Cruz this offseason are former teams of his as well; the Rays and Seattle Mariners. With these contenders in consideration for Cruz, the question that remains for all of them is who will be the most committed to offering Cruz the salary he deserves? Over the last three seasons, Cruz’s salary has ranged between the $12-$14 million range. MLB Trade Rumors has Cruz listed on their top 50 free agents with the prediction he will earn $12 million on his next contract. Spending wise, the Twins likely could afford Cruz for $12 million while still having the budget to pursue high-end free agent starting pitchers. Last offseason the Twins re-signed Cruz to a one-year $13 million contract. Not counting Cruz’s 2021 salary, the Twins also have $37.5 million freed up from players no longer on the roster. This includes players who were on one-year deals as well as the expiration of Michael Pineda’s contract. Affordability of Cruz is not a question for the Twins like it is for the Rays. The larger question for the Twins with re-signing Cruz, is if they still see him as a stronger presence for the team both inside the clubhouse and in their lineup? Cruz’s power numbers showed no sign of regressing in 2021 as he turned 41 in July. He hit 32 home runs, drove in 86 runs, and posted a .832 OPS. Cruz’s overall batting average dipped below .287 for only the second time since 2015, however, he only hit .226 in 55 games with the Rays. That may be a concern for some, but for someone going into their age 41-42 season, Cruz is still seen as an elite hitter. Even if Cruz does show some signs of regression, there is still hope that in the Twins lineup Cruz could hit anywhere from 25-30 home runs and drive in 75-90 runs with an OPS over .800. As a presence in the clubhouse, Cruz has unquestionably been the leader for many Twins players since he first arrived in Minnesota in 2019. Many players floated to him for advice over his two-and-a-half seasons in Minnesota. His bond with Miguel Sano has been crucial to Sano’s own success as a hitter. So much so that Cruz is the godfather of Sano’s first daughter. With the majority of starting position players from 2019-2021 still on the Twins, it may make sense for everyone’s benefit to reunite Cruz with his former teammates. Ruling out National League teams for now as they have not officially earned the DH role for the 2022 season, the Twins biggest competition to re-signing Cruz is Seattle. The Mariners have only four guaranteed contracts going into 2022 and their highest paid player is Marco Gonzalez at $5.75 million. The Mariners young up-and-coming players certainly could use the leadership of Nelson Cruz, and their offense would improve greatly toward another 90 win season with Cruz in it. The Twins top priority in free agency should remain starting pitching. However if they are to go after one batter this offseason, it should be a reunion with Cruz. The main thing currently that could keep the Twins from resigning Cruz is the Mariners having more payroll flexibility. If the Mariners or a National League team end up signing Cruz, the Twins still have plenty of DH options to work with, most notably Josh Donaldson as he saw more time there in 2021. Still, a reunion with Cruz would be a treat all around for the Twins clubhouse and their fans. What do you think? Should the Twins bring back Nelson Cruz in 2022? Comment below! FOR MORE TWINS CONTENT: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  24. Over the last two-and-a-half years, Nelson Cruz quickly became a fan favorite for Minnesota Twins fans and a leader both on and off the field for the Twins. Upsetting as it was for Twins fans to see him be traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in July, it was not unexpected. And so far, the return for Cruz from the Rays with Joe Ryan has looked promising for the Twins. Cruz once again joins the free agent market for the third time in the last four offseasons. The largest difference with this offseason compared to the previous when Cruz was a free agent is the possibility that 15 more teams could be in contention to sign him if the designated hitter is added into the National League in the next Collective Bargaining Agreement. Until the results of the next CBA are announced, the Twins do remain one of the top American League teams in contention to go after Cruz. The other two AL teams that are looking to be contenders to sign Cruz this offseason are former teams of his as well; the Rays and Seattle Mariners. With these contenders in consideration for Cruz, the question that remains for all of them is who will be the most committed to offering Cruz the salary he deserves? Over the last three seasons, Cruz’s salary has ranged between the $12-$14 million range. MLB Trade Rumors has Cruz listed on their top 50 free agents with the prediction he will earn $12 million on his next contract. Spending wise, the Twins likely could afford Cruz for $12 million while still having the budget to pursue high-end free agent starting pitchers. Last offseason the Twins re-signed Cruz to a one-year $13 million contract. Not counting Cruz’s 2021 salary, the Twins also have $37.5 million freed up from players no longer on the roster. This includes players who were on one-year deals as well as the expiration of Michael Pineda’s contract. Affordability of Cruz is not a question for the Twins like it is for the Rays. The larger question for the Twins with re-signing Cruz, is if they still see him as a stronger presence for the team both inside the clubhouse and in their lineup? Cruz’s power numbers showed no sign of regressing in 2021 as he turned 41 in July. He hit 32 home runs, drove in 86 runs, and posted a .832 OPS. Cruz’s overall batting average dipped below .287 for only the second time since 2015, however, he only hit .226 in 55 games with the Rays. That may be a concern for some, but for someone going into their age 41-42 season, Cruz is still seen as an elite hitter. Even if Cruz does show some signs of regression, there is still hope that in the Twins lineup Cruz could hit anywhere from 25-30 home runs and drive in 75-90 runs with an OPS over .800. As a presence in the clubhouse, Cruz has unquestionably been the leader for many Twins players since he first arrived in Minnesota in 2019. Many players floated to him for advice over his two-and-a-half seasons in Minnesota. His bond with Miguel Sano has been crucial to Sano’s own success as a hitter. So much so that Cruz is the godfather of Sano’s first daughter. With the majority of starting position players from 2019-2021 still on the Twins, it may make sense for everyone’s benefit to reunite Cruz with his former teammates. Ruling out National League teams for now as they have not officially earned the DH role for the 2022 season, the Twins biggest competition to re-signing Cruz is Seattle. The Mariners have only four guaranteed contracts going into 2022 and their highest paid player is Marco Gonzalez at $5.75 million. The Mariners young up-and-coming players certainly could use the leadership of Nelson Cruz, and their offense would improve greatly toward another 90 win season with Cruz in it. The Twins top priority in free agency should remain starting pitching. However if they are to go after one batter this offseason, it should be a reunion with Cruz. The main thing currently that could keep the Twins from resigning Cruz is the Mariners having more payroll flexibility. If the Mariners or a National League team end up signing Cruz, the Twins still have plenty of DH options to work with, most notably Josh Donaldson as he saw more time there in 2021. Still, a reunion with Cruz would be a treat all around for the Twins clubhouse and their fans. What do you think? Should the Twins bring back Nelson Cruz in 2022? Comment below! FOR MORE TWINS CONTENT: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. This year’s MLB free agent class is deep, especially in the areas the Minnesota Twins have the greatest needs. Here’s how I’d rank the top 50 free agents this offseason plus notes on some players I could see being particularly good fits on the Twins. Here’s my list, be sure to join in the discussion on who your favorite Twins targets would be down in the comments. 1. Carlos Correa, SS, Houston Astros 2. Corey Seager, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers 3. Freddie Freeman, 1B, Atlanta Braves 4. Marcus Semien, 2B/SS, Toronto Blue Jays It’s difficult for me to envision the Twins shopping at the top of the market, but they did show interest in Semien last winter. There are five great shortstop options available on this year’s free agent market and at 31-years-old, Semein is the oldest. Could this be a situation where there's more supply than demand? 5. Trevor Story, SS, Colorado Rockies 6. Nick Castellanos, OF/DH, Cincinnati Reds 7. Kevin Gausman, SP, San Francisco Giants 8. Max Scherzer, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers 9. Kris Bryant, OF/3B, San Francisco Giants 10. Marcus Stroman, SP, New York Mets Short-term fixes are not solving the Twins pitching problems. It would surprise me to see the Twins trade away José Berríos and immediately sign a pitcher to a long-term deal, but I think Stroman is the safest bet among starting pitchers on this year’s market. Some hurlers have higher upsides, but I love Stroman’s high floor. 11. Robbie Ray, SP, Toronto Blue Jays 12. Javier Baez, SS/2B, New York Mets 13. Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers 14. Noah Syndergaard, SP, New York Mets Cody Christie recently wrote about Syndergaard and Carlos Rodón as possible pitchers to take a gamble on, check it out. 15. Chris Taylor, OF/IF, Los Angeles Dodgers Do the Twins need a high-end utility man like Taylor? That a question Cody Pirkl pondered in a recent article. 16. Starling Marte, CF, Oakland Athletics 17. Carlos Rodón, SP, Chicago White Sox 18. Eduardo Rodriguez, SP, Boston Red Sox If his 4.74 ERA and 1.39 WHIP scare teams away, Rodriguez could be a great rotation target. His FIP was nearly a run and a half lower than his ERA and he had the highest BABIP among starting pitchers with at least 150 innings … by 37 points! E-Rod had a .363 BABIP despite being in the top 87th percentile in hard-hit rate. Rodriguez has been a common target around these parts, mentioned in recent articles from Nick Nelson, Cody Christie and Andrew Mahlke. 19. Raisel Iglesias, RP, Los Angeles Angels 20. Kyle Schwarber, OF/1B, Boston Red Sox 21. Kenley Jansen, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers 22. Jon Gray, SP, Colorado Rockies I like Gray as a fit for the Twins but question whether Colorado will let him out of their grasp. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s extended a qualifying offer tomorrow. The Rockies have discussed extensions with him recently and I expect them to be proactive about trying to bring him back. It’s just so difficult for them to land free agent pitchers. Gray has had positive things to say about the org, so I’m anticipating a reunion, unfortunately for the Twins. 23. J.D. Martinez, DH/OF, Boston Red Sox 24. Michael Conforto, OF, New York Mets 25. Brandon Belt, 1B, San Francisco Giants 26. Anthony Rizzo, 1B, New York Yankees 27. Justin Verlander, SP, Houston Astros Verlander is said to be seeking a multi-year deal, and after making just one start over the past two seasons, I have a hard time believing the top destination teams are going to be jumping at that. This Twins front office hasn’t been averse to adding aging players in the past (Nelson Cruz, Rich Hill, J.A. Happ), so I could see them kicking the tires on the future Hall of Famer. 28. Jorge Soler, OF/DH, Atlanta Braves 29. Avisail Garcia, OF, Milwaukee Brewers Pitching is clearly the Twins biggest need, followed by shortstop, but they could also use a right-handed bat. Garcia has obliterated lefties over his career, posting a .294/.363./.464 line (.827 OPS). Lucas Sheehafer recently wrote about the need for improvement out of left field, check it out. 30. Alex Wood, SP, San Francisco Giants 31. Anthony DeSclafani, SP, San Francisco Giants 32. Eduardo Escobar, 3B/2B, Milwaukee Brewers 33. Nelson Cruz, DH, Tampa Bay Rays 34. Eddie Rosario, OF, Atlanta Braves 35. Alex Cobb, SP, Los Angeles Angels You may know Cobb from such roles as the mystery player in my most recent article. 36. Mark Canha, OF, Oakland Athletics 37. Zack Greinke, SP, Houston Astros 38. Steven Matz, SP, Toronto Blue Jays 39. Michael Pineda, SP, Minnesota Twins Pineda has been a Twin for the past four years (though he spent the first rehabbing), could he be back for 2022? Not many free agents will view Minnesota as an attractive destination, but Big Mike loves it here. A reunion for his age-33 season would make a lot of sense for both sides. 40. Danny Duffy, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers 41. Corey Kluber, SP, New York Yankees 42. Corey Knebel, RP, Los Angeles Dodgers There are a number of relievers in this 40-50 range and several more who just missed my list. Knebel is the guy who intrigues me most. He missed the entire 2019 season recovering from Tommy John, then was terrible in a short sample in 2020. He missed three months of this season due to a back injury, but looked great from there and capped things off with an impressive postseason. 43. Kendall Graveman, RP, Houston Astros 44. Andrew McCutchen, OF, Philadelphia Phillies 45. Kyle Seager, 3B, Seattle Mariners 46. Collin McHugh, RP, Tampa Bay Rays 47. Yusei Kikuchi, SP, Seattle Mariners 48. Jonathan Villar, IF, New York Mets 49. Joc Pederson, OF, Atlanta Braves 50. Mark Melancon, RP, San Diego Padres See some surprises? Me too, actually. It’s funny, if you had me re-rank these guys a couple of weeks from now I’m sure I’d have a few things slightly different. This is a good, deep free agent class and there’s not a lot that separates some of these players. In the video below I called out some of the guys I felt were most likely I had too low. Who are your favorite potential Twins targets on this year’s free agent market? View full article
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