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  1. Maybe more than any other time in recent history, the Minnesota Twins seem to have legitimate pitching depth. They still are probably looking for another top-tier starter to cement the group, but there are options. Among them, 2022 rookie Joe Ryan emerged, but only in certain situations. What version of Ryan can Minnesota expect in 2023? Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports When Derek Falvey and Thad Levine decided to flip Nelson Cruz at the 2021 trade deadline, there was little downside. He was trending downward and not getting younger. While the Tampa Bay Rays often have a plethora of strong prospects, it’s not often they move one that works out against them. Although Joe Ryan may have faced a roster crunch in Tampa, he immediately burst onto the scene for the Twins. In just five big-league starts in 2021, Ryan looked the part of a big-league arm. There were definitely bumps along the way, but it was assumed he’d be a part of the 2022 Opening Day rotation. Even after acquiring Sonny Gray, Rocco Baldelli decided that it would be Ryan who made the first start of 2022. When the dust settled last year, Ryan put up a strong 3.55 ERA and was arguably the team’s healthiest arm. Hidden behind the strong numbers are an opportunity for more, however, and unlocking that in 2023 could be key. There was reason to believe that Ryan had another step up from the limited sample in 2021. Despite not being a velocity-reliant pitcher, he posted a 3.43 FIP and 10.1 K/9. Last season his 3.99 FIP was a bit worse, but he still tallied a solid 9.2 K/9 and worked around the longball. The former Tampa prospect has done a great job forcing opposing batters into situations where he can emerge victorious, and it’s helped to strengthen his overall production. What remains to be seen is whether Ryan can put it together against stiff competition. It is fair to note that the AL Central may be the worst division in baseball. Cleveland took the trophy despite being seen as an afterthought. Chicago should have been better but should now be on a downswing. Both the Tigers and Royals have promise, but it remains to be seen how quickly they can put it together. In short, the division will continue to be advantageous for the Twins hurler. Outside of it is another issue entirely. Facing a World Series winning Astros team in May, Ryan gave up four runs and recorded just 12 outs. Seattle got him for another four runs in just 4 2/3 innings during June before the Padres put up a 10-spot to round out July. In August, he gave up six runs (five earned) to the Dodgers, and the Yankees knocked him out after four runs in four innings in September. Against teams with winning records, things didn’t go so well. The easiest way to break that down is to suggest that better lineups are harder to pitch against. That should be obvious, but that is where Ryan needs to find tweaks to his approach over the winter. As Minnesota again has postseason aspirations, those are the teams they must beat, and the same teams they’ll face over the course of an elimination series. It’s probably not fair to believe Ryan will ever have the makings of an ace given his stuff. He certainly could be a solid number three starter though, and what keeps him being more than a back-end arm is competing no matter who steps into the box. Another step forward in 2023 would be huge for the Twins youngster, and it would go a long way towards helping to carry a rotation that needs arms to step up. View full article
  2. When Derek Falvey and Thad Levine decided to flip Nelson Cruz at the 2021 trade deadline, there was little downside. He was trending downward and not getting younger. While the Tampa Bay Rays often have a plethora of strong prospects, it’s not often they move one that works out against them. Although Joe Ryan may have faced a roster crunch in Tampa, he immediately burst onto the scene for the Twins. In just five big-league starts in 2021, Ryan looked the part of a big-league arm. There were definitely bumps along the way, but it was assumed he’d be a part of the 2022 Opening Day rotation. Even after acquiring Sonny Gray, Rocco Baldelli decided that it would be Ryan who made the first start of 2022. When the dust settled last year, Ryan put up a strong 3.55 ERA and was arguably the team’s healthiest arm. Hidden behind the strong numbers are an opportunity for more, however, and unlocking that in 2023 could be key. There was reason to believe that Ryan had another step up from the limited sample in 2021. Despite not being a velocity-reliant pitcher, he posted a 3.43 FIP and 10.1 K/9. Last season his 3.99 FIP was a bit worse, but he still tallied a solid 9.2 K/9 and worked around the longball. The former Tampa prospect has done a great job forcing opposing batters into situations where he can emerge victorious, and it’s helped to strengthen his overall production. What remains to be seen is whether Ryan can put it together against stiff competition. It is fair to note that the AL Central may be the worst division in baseball. Cleveland took the trophy despite being seen as an afterthought. Chicago should have been better but should now be on a downswing. Both the Tigers and Royals have promise, but it remains to be seen how quickly they can put it together. In short, the division will continue to be advantageous for the Twins hurler. Outside of it is another issue entirely. Facing a World Series winning Astros team in May, Ryan gave up four runs and recorded just 12 outs. Seattle got him for another four runs in just 4 2/3 innings during June before the Padres put up a 10-spot to round out July. In August, he gave up six runs (five earned) to the Dodgers, and the Yankees knocked him out after four runs in four innings in September. Against teams with winning records, things didn’t go so well. The easiest way to break that down is to suggest that better lineups are harder to pitch against. That should be obvious, but that is where Ryan needs to find tweaks to his approach over the winter. As Minnesota again has postseason aspirations, those are the teams they must beat, and the same teams they’ll face over the course of an elimination series. It’s probably not fair to believe Ryan will ever have the makings of an ace given his stuff. He certainly could be a solid number three starter though, and what keeps him being more than a back-end arm is competing no matter who steps into the box. Another step forward in 2023 would be huge for the Twins youngster, and it would go a long way towards helping to carry a rotation that needs arms to step up.
  3. Needing help on the starting pitching front, the Minnesota Twins teamed up with the Cincinnati Reds at the 2022 trade deadline to acquire Tyler Mahle. He made just four starts for Minnesota before succumbing to a season-ending injury, but how good can he be with a clean bill of health? Image courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports There’s no denying that the Twins and Reds front office have found favor with one another. After dealing for Sonny Gray prior to the 2022 season, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine sent, Steve Hajjar, Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand to Cincinnati in exchange for Tyler Mahle. Heck, the two sides continued making moves this offseason when Casey Legumina was flipped for Kyle Farmer. It’s clear the two organizations see ways to help one another. Although Mahle was unable to provide much of a boost for Minnesota down the stretch as he dealt with a shoulder injury, the hope is that he enters Spring Training at 100% and ready to go. If that is the case, then there’s a lot of excitement to dream on should the Twins be able to unlock the talent. Over the previous three seasons coming into 2022, Mahle owned a 3.95 ERA with the Reds, and it was backed by a 3.84 FIP. His 10.2 K/9 was plenty exciting, and he was producing at that level despite allowing a 1.2 HR/9 playing in the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. In over 400 innings with Cincinnati last season, his 4.40 ERA equated to a career best 3.60 FIP. Although the velocity dipped slightly to a 93 mph average, he maintained strong chase and whiff rates. Plenty of the excitement surrounding Mahle has long been tied to expected numbers. He has controlled hitters and found himself unlucky at times. That could be a byproduct of playing in a less-than-ideal stadium, or pitching in front of bad teams. Either way, there’s a path to unlocking more if the Twins can figure him out. In Mahle, Minnesota was looking for a pitcher under team control that they can work with and attempt to find another level. The former Reds starter isn’t a free agent until 2024, and this may be a decent time for the sides to hammer out an extension if they so choose. Although the shoulder issue popped up last season, Mahle threw 180 innings in 2021. Suggesting a pitcher can be an ace is tough. While each team has their best arm, there’s probably only 10 or so arms across the entirety of the game that earn the definition of true Ace. Even at his best, Mahle becoming peak Justin Verlander seems unlikely. He could, and maybe even should, outperform anyone on the Twins staff though and that then allows a more nuanced conversation to happen. We won’t see the best of Mahle until he’s healthy, but if the Twins spend the offseason making sure he is, then helping to unlock what the numbers say is there gets increasingly more exciting. View full article
  4. There’s no denying that the Twins and Reds front office have found favor with one another. After dealing for Sonny Gray prior to the 2022 season, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine sent, Steve Hajjar, Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand to Cincinnati in exchange for Tyler Mahle. Heck, the two sides continued making moves this offseason when Casey Legumina was flipped for Kyle Farmer. It’s clear the two organizations see ways to help one another. Although Mahle was unable to provide much of a boost for Minnesota down the stretch as he dealt with a shoulder injury, the hope is that he enters Spring Training at 100% and ready to go. If that is the case, then there’s a lot of excitement to dream on should the Twins be able to unlock the talent. Over the previous three seasons coming into 2022, Mahle owned a 3.95 ERA with the Reds, and it was backed by a 3.84 FIP. His 10.2 K/9 was plenty exciting, and he was producing at that level despite allowing a 1.2 HR/9 playing in the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. In over 400 innings with Cincinnati last season, his 4.40 ERA equated to a career best 3.60 FIP. Although the velocity dipped slightly to a 93 mph average, he maintained strong chase and whiff rates. Plenty of the excitement surrounding Mahle has long been tied to expected numbers. He has controlled hitters and found himself unlucky at times. That could be a byproduct of playing in a less-than-ideal stadium, or pitching in front of bad teams. Either way, there’s a path to unlocking more if the Twins can figure him out. In Mahle, Minnesota was looking for a pitcher under team control that they can work with and attempt to find another level. The former Reds starter isn’t a free agent until 2024, and this may be a decent time for the sides to hammer out an extension if they so choose. Although the shoulder issue popped up last season, Mahle threw 180 innings in 2021. Suggesting a pitcher can be an ace is tough. While each team has their best arm, there’s probably only 10 or so arms across the entirety of the game that earn the definition of true Ace. Even at his best, Mahle becoming peak Justin Verlander seems unlikely. He could, and maybe even should, outperform anyone on the Twins staff though and that then allows a more nuanced conversation to happen. We won’t see the best of Mahle until he’s healthy, but if the Twins spend the offseason making sure he is, then helping to unlock what the numbers say is there gets increasingly more exciting.
  5. For the umpteenth time in Twins history, the beginning of free agency opens up one dominating question: will the Twins acquire a top-tier starting pitcher? Cavemen have etched the question on walls, and if one listens closely enough, the stars cry out the same chorus, lamenting Minnesota’s lack of elite starters. Image courtesy of Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports The Twins have yet to answer with an unquestionable “yes.” Kenta Maeda was close, but he disappointed in 2021 before undergoing Tommy John surgery; Sonny Gray nearly reached the “elite” platform, but nicks and bruises have limited him to a solidly secondary tier; Tyler Mahle faltered before earning a chance to prove himself. In each case, the pitcher flashed potential, perhaps hinting that an elite starter existed underneath their skin, but none have yet fulfilled that potential. The issue nags on. Minnesota’s starting rotation looks good enough if you don’t squint too hard and if someone turns off the injury setting, but it’s not a squad that compares favorably to the collection of arms elite teams like the Astros can boast. Part of the problem is development; the Twins have lagged behind the best teams in turning their homegrown draft picks into feared arms, and they have not cracked the code in revealing the true potential of other teams’ perpetual under-performers. They tried with Chris Paddack—perhaps they almost succeeded—but his elbow broke again, and the Twins could only claim a failed gamble. With the exception of Ryan Pressly, they haven’t become a victim of pitching pick-pocketing, but their best heist to date is Joe Ryan. As for those draft picks, José Berríos pitched some of the finest seasons this side of Johan Santana, but he never embraced his ace potential, instead finding respectable success as an inconsistent yet talented #2. No other draft pick compares to him. A flurry of Terry Ryan prospects—most notably Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, and Adalberto Mejía—tried and failed to succeed; Twins pitchers drafted by the new regime have yet to impact the franchise. The team turned to free agency. Michael Pineda gave Minnesota a few quality years, but the team has primarily followed a distinct pattern of whiffing on the big names—most notably Yu Darvish and Zack Wheeler—while signing cheap starters who performed like cheap starters. Maybe one could claim 2019 Martín Pérez as a win, but doing so proves how fruitless the Twins have been with starters in free agency under Derek Falvey; a playoff team needs more than a lopsided 1.9 fWAR season from a pitcher who didn’t take the mound in the postseason that year. Until the Twins break the mold, Andrew Heaney is the best they can do. Heaney is a perfect Twin: a troubled starter with great stuff and a devastating penchant for giving up jackhammer levels of loud contact. Heaney finally realized his strikeout potential in 2022, punching out 35.5% of hitters in a dominating season that culminated in a 3.10 ERA, even better peripherals, and just 14 starts due to a variety of health problems. Injuries wilted his excellence, and the Dodgers could only squeeze six innings out of Heaney in two outings, limiting him to just 1.1 fWAR despite the great pitching. In the current free agent context—one Nick Nelson noted could be especially troublesome for a team looking for an ace—the Twins’ likely option will be praying for Heaney’s health. They could sign Carlos Rodón, but their history says they won’t do that. If—probably, when—the best arms sign elsewhere, Minnesota will look at Heaney, talk themselves into his incredible upside, and bet against reason that this is the year he finally stays healthy. View full article
  6. The Twins have yet to answer with an unquestionable “yes.” Kenta Maeda was close, but he disappointed in 2021 before undergoing Tommy John surgery; Sonny Gray nearly reached the “elite” platform, but nicks and bruises have limited him to a solidly secondary tier; Tyler Mahle faltered before earning a chance to prove himself. In each case, the pitcher flashed potential, perhaps hinting that an elite starter existed underneath their skin, but none have yet fulfilled that potential. The issue nags on. Minnesota’s starting rotation looks good enough if you don’t squint too hard and if someone turns off the injury setting, but it’s not a squad that compares favorably to the collection of arms elite teams like the Astros can boast. Part of the problem is development; the Twins have lagged behind the best teams in turning their homegrown draft picks into feared arms, and they have not cracked the code in revealing the true potential of other teams’ perpetual under-performers. They tried with Chris Paddack—perhaps they almost succeeded—but his elbow broke again, and the Twins could only claim a failed gamble. With the exception of Ryan Pressly, they haven’t become a victim of pitching pick-pocketing, but their best heist to date is Joe Ryan. As for those draft picks, José Berríos pitched some of the finest seasons this side of Johan Santana, but he never embraced his ace potential, instead finding respectable success as an inconsistent yet talented #2. No other draft pick compares to him. A flurry of Terry Ryan prospects—most notably Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, and Adalberto Mejía—tried and failed to succeed; Twins pitchers drafted by the new regime have yet to impact the franchise. The team turned to free agency. Michael Pineda gave Minnesota a few quality years, but the team has primarily followed a distinct pattern of whiffing on the big names—most notably Yu Darvish and Zack Wheeler—while signing cheap starters who performed like cheap starters. Maybe one could claim 2019 Martín Pérez as a win, but doing so proves how fruitless the Twins have been with starters in free agency under Derek Falvey; a playoff team needs more than a lopsided 1.9 fWAR season from a pitcher who didn’t take the mound in the postseason that year. Until the Twins break the mold, Andrew Heaney is the best they can do. Heaney is a perfect Twin: a troubled starter with great stuff and a devastating penchant for giving up jackhammer levels of loud contact. Heaney finally realized his strikeout potential in 2022, punching out 35.5% of hitters in a dominating season that culminated in a 3.10 ERA, even better peripherals, and just 14 starts due to a variety of health problems. Injuries wilted his excellence, and the Dodgers could only squeeze six innings out of Heaney in two outings, limiting him to just 1.1 fWAR despite the great pitching. In the current free agent context—one Nick Nelson noted could be especially troublesome for a team looking for an ace—the Twins’ likely option will be praying for Heaney’s health. They could sign Carlos Rodón, but their history says they won’t do that. If—probably, when—the best arms sign elsewhere, Minnesota will look at Heaney, talk themselves into his incredible upside, and bet against reason that this is the year he finally stays healthy.
  7. Realistically the Minnesota Twins have enough starters to fill out their starting rotation in 2023. That’s something they haven’t been able to say in recent seasons. While they could use another top-tier arm, the reality is they may need to count on depth much more than you’d like behind the top five. Image courtesy of © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports Rocco Baldelli has to be feeling good about having some starting pitchers put down in ink. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine haven’t stocked the Minnesota rotation with a high-level of talent in recent years, largely opting for upside plays. Now the Twins have at least a few arms that should be seen as high-level talent, but to what extent can any of the arms Minnesota employs be counted on? Sonny Gray It’s become a trend for starting pitchers to contribute less innings in recent seasons. Bullpens have emerged as a force late in games, and that’s going to limit the length for any starting arm. That said, Gray threw just 119 2/3 innings during his first year with the Twins, his lowest total of his career. He dealt with hamstring problems throughout the year, and while he did look like a staff ace at times, he was also unavailable in key moments. Tyler Mahle Acquired at the trade deadline from the Cincinnati Reds, Mahle has the makings of a true ace. His underlying metrics are eye-popping, and seeing him take a step forward is hardly a lofty expectation. He did deal with shoulder issues earlier in the summer however, and they then popped up again with Minnesota. The Twins got just 16 1/3 innings from their newly acquired talent, and he couldn’t make it through more than two innings in his final outing of the season. He’d been relatively healthy prior to 2022, but shoulder issues are never good for a pitcher. Kenta Maeda The Twins got a near-Cy Young winner in 2020 when Maeda posted a 2.70 ERA during the truncated season. He then threw just over 100 innings in 2021 and posted a 4.66 ERA. Having undergone Tommy John surgery and not making it back for 2022, it will have been nearly two years since Maeda last pitched in a big league game. Sure, there’s lots to like here and the track record on UCL surgeries isn’t what it once was, but Maeda will be 35 next season and the question marks couldn’t be larger. Joe Ryan You can certainly make the argument that there’s questions as to whether Ryan can handle good lineups as he struggled against stiff competition for most of 2022. What is much more certain is that the former Tampa Bay Rays prospect appears to be a pillar of health. He has remained a constant on the field since becoming a big leaguer, and while he’s probably more a number three starter than anything else, you can count on him to take the ball every fifth day. Bailey Ober Minnesota came up with some found money in developing Ober as a strong starter despite being a 12th round draft pick. He’s never pitched more than 92 1/3 innings during any pro season however, and has consistently been able to give much less. Injuries have been a consistent theme during the course of his career, and while effective, he’s largely been unavailable. Josh Winder Similar to Ober, Winder has only sparingly shown an ability to be available. He threw 125 2/3 innings during his first full professional season in 2019, and then failed to top 90 innings in either of the two seasons since. Winder is a good depth arm that can back up the end of a good rotation, but he’s certainly a question mark to remain healthy. Chris Paddack Acquired from the San Diego Padres in the Taylor Rogers trade, it was Paddack that drew Minnesota’s attention more than Emilio Pagan. Unfortunately he was available for a depressed price because of his injury concern. He’s now undergone a second Tommy John surgery, and won’t be back until mid-summer at the earliest. He looked sharp in his limited exposure for Minnesota, but counting on him in any real capacity is tough. Beyond those names there’s the group including Simeon Woods Richardson and Louie Varland. The Twins hope to have some of their pipeline produce in 2023 and beyond. Maybe Jordan Balazovic can find whatever he lost a season ago, and maybe there’s another guy or two that pop up to become relevant. The reality is, while Minnesota needs a top-tier arm to start a playoff game, they probably need one simply because of the uncertainty that surrounds who will be available, and for how long, in 2023. View full article
  8. Rocco Baldelli has to be feeling good about having some starting pitchers put down in ink. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine haven’t stocked the Minnesota rotation with a high-level of talent in recent years, largely opting for upside plays. Now the Twins have at least a few arms that should be seen as high-level talent, but to what extent can any of the arms Minnesota employs be counted on? Sonny Gray It’s become a trend for starting pitchers to contribute less innings in recent seasons. Bullpens have emerged as a force late in games, and that’s going to limit the length for any starting arm. That said, Gray threw just 119 2/3 innings during his first year with the Twins, his lowest total of his career. He dealt with hamstring problems throughout the year, and while he did look like a staff ace at times, he was also unavailable in key moments. Tyler Mahle Acquired at the trade deadline from the Cincinnati Reds, Mahle has the makings of a true ace. His underlying metrics are eye-popping, and seeing him take a step forward is hardly a lofty expectation. He did deal with shoulder issues earlier in the summer however, and they then popped up again with Minnesota. The Twins got just 16 1/3 innings from their newly acquired talent, and he couldn’t make it through more than two innings in his final outing of the season. He’d been relatively healthy prior to 2022, but shoulder issues are never good for a pitcher. Kenta Maeda The Twins got a near-Cy Young winner in 2020 when Maeda posted a 2.70 ERA during the truncated season. He then threw just over 100 innings in 2021 and posted a 4.66 ERA. Having undergone Tommy John surgery and not making it back for 2022, it will have been nearly two years since Maeda last pitched in a big league game. Sure, there’s lots to like here and the track record on UCL surgeries isn’t what it once was, but Maeda will be 35 next season and the question marks couldn’t be larger. Joe Ryan You can certainly make the argument that there’s questions as to whether Ryan can handle good lineups as he struggled against stiff competition for most of 2022. What is much more certain is that the former Tampa Bay Rays prospect appears to be a pillar of health. He has remained a constant on the field since becoming a big leaguer, and while he’s probably more a number three starter than anything else, you can count on him to take the ball every fifth day. Bailey Ober Minnesota came up with some found money in developing Ober as a strong starter despite being a 12th round draft pick. He’s never pitched more than 92 1/3 innings during any pro season however, and has consistently been able to give much less. Injuries have been a consistent theme during the course of his career, and while effective, he’s largely been unavailable. Josh Winder Similar to Ober, Winder has only sparingly shown an ability to be available. He threw 125 2/3 innings during his first full professional season in 2019, and then failed to top 90 innings in either of the two seasons since. Winder is a good depth arm that can back up the end of a good rotation, but he’s certainly a question mark to remain healthy. Chris Paddack Acquired from the San Diego Padres in the Taylor Rogers trade, it was Paddack that drew Minnesota’s attention more than Emilio Pagan. Unfortunately he was available for a depressed price because of his injury concern. He’s now undergone a second Tommy John surgery, and won’t be back until mid-summer at the earliest. He looked sharp in his limited exposure for Minnesota, but counting on him in any real capacity is tough. Beyond those names there’s the group including Simeon Woods Richardson and Louie Varland. The Twins hope to have some of their pipeline produce in 2023 and beyond. Maybe Jordan Balazovic can find whatever he lost a season ago, and maybe there’s another guy or two that pop up to become relevant. The reality is, while Minnesota needs a top-tier arm to start a playoff game, they probably need one simply because of the uncertainty that surrounds who will be available, and for how long, in 2023.
  9. Many consider Sonny Gray the Twins' best pitcher, so what will it cost to keep him in Minnesota? Does a long-term extension make sense for both parties? Image courtesy of Lon Horwedel, USA Today Sports Minnesota has multiple items on its offseason checklist, including finding a shortstop, upgrading the offense, and adding to the bullpen. It's also the time of year when teams can approach players about long-term extensions. The Twins have kept their payroll clean for multiple years into the future, and now is the time to capitalize on the organization's flexibility. 2022 Recap: Minnesota traded for Sonny Gray and Francis Peguero during the last offseason by parting with their 2021 first-round pick, Chase Petty. At the time, it was easy to see the logic from the Twins' perspective. Petty was multiple years away from impacting the big-league level, and high school arms are never a guarantee. Gray was an established veteran with multiple years of team control. Minnesota's winning window was still open, and Gray helped solidify the top of the rotation. Gray's first season in Minnesota didn't go perfectly, but he was near the top of the team in multiple pitching categories. In 24 starts, he posted a 3.08 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP and a 117-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Some minor injuries hampered him at different points and limited him to his fewest number of starts since 2016 outside of the COVID shortened campaign. His improved on field performance might be related to changes instituted after he joined the Twins organization. For the first time in three seasons, Gray's four-seam fastball was his most utilized pitch. In 2021, he used his sinker nearly 30% of the time, while his curveball was his most utilized pitch in the shortened 2020 season. During the 2022 season, he utilized all three pitches over 24% of the time. Batters posted a wOBA above .300 when facing his four-seamer and sinker, but his curveball resulted in a .232 wOBA and a 25 Whiff%. All three of his top pitches resulted in a negative run value for opponents for the first time since 2019. Current Contract: Gray's current contract was completed as part of his trade to the Reds from the Yankees. With Minnesota exercising the final option year, the contract's total value will be five years and $50.7 million. He has never reached free agency even though he has ten years in the big leagues as part of four organizations. He's made over $60 million in his career, and next off-season will be his first chance to hit the free agent market. Contract Proposal: The 2023 season may add clarity for the Twins to decide if they want to try and extend Gray. Minnesota is likely fine paying the 33-year-old an annual salary of around $12 million if he continues to perform. Last winter, Steven Matz signed for four years and $44 million, while Yusei Kikuchi inked a three-year, $36 million deal. Both those pitchers are younger than Gray, but his track record is better. Gray and the Twins will have to find a middle ground that balances his age and the length of the contract. As baseball moves further from the pandemic, player contracts will start rising again because of a revenue influx. Paying $12-14 million per season for an aging Gray isn't the worst proposition, especially as $100 million contracts are handed out to the top-tier starters. Gray also might be more willing to stay in Minnesota depending on what the club adds during the rest of this off-season. He also voiced some frustration last season about not going deeper into games, but starting pitcher usage continues to evolve. Does a three-year, $40 million contract keep Gray in Minnesota, or will it cost more than that? How high would you be willing to go for a starter entering their mid-30s? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  10. Minnesota has multiple items on its offseason checklist, including finding a shortstop, upgrading the offense, and adding to the bullpen. It's also the time of year when teams can approach players about long-term extensions. The Twins have kept their payroll clean for multiple years into the future, and now is the time to capitalize on the organization's flexibility. 2022 Recap: Minnesota traded for Sonny Gray and Francis Peguero during the last offseason by parting with their 2021 first-round pick, Chase Petty. At the time, it was easy to see the logic from the Twins' perspective. Petty was multiple years away from impacting the big-league level, and high school arms are never a guarantee. Gray was an established veteran with multiple years of team control. Minnesota's winning window was still open, and Gray helped solidify the top of the rotation. Gray's first season in Minnesota didn't go perfectly, but he was near the top of the team in multiple pitching categories. In 24 starts, he posted a 3.08 ERA with a 1.29 WHIP and a 117-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Some minor injuries hampered him at different points and limited him to his fewest number of starts since 2016 outside of the COVID shortened campaign. His improved on field performance might be related to changes instituted after he joined the Twins organization. For the first time in three seasons, Gray's four-seam fastball was his most utilized pitch. In 2021, he used his sinker nearly 30% of the time, while his curveball was his most utilized pitch in the shortened 2020 season. During the 2022 season, he utilized all three pitches over 24% of the time. Batters posted a wOBA above .300 when facing his four-seamer and sinker, but his curveball resulted in a .232 wOBA and a 25 Whiff%. All three of his top pitches resulted in a negative run value for opponents for the first time since 2019. Current Contract: Gray's current contract was completed as part of his trade to the Reds from the Yankees. With Minnesota exercising the final option year, the contract's total value will be five years and $50.7 million. He has never reached free agency even though he has ten years in the big leagues as part of four organizations. He's made over $60 million in his career, and next off-season will be his first chance to hit the free agent market. Contract Proposal: The 2023 season may add clarity for the Twins to decide if they want to try and extend Gray. Minnesota is likely fine paying the 33-year-old an annual salary of around $12 million if he continues to perform. Last winter, Steven Matz signed for four years and $44 million, while Yusei Kikuchi inked a three-year, $36 million deal. Both those pitchers are younger than Gray, but his track record is better. Gray and the Twins will have to find a middle ground that balances his age and the length of the contract. As baseball moves further from the pandemic, player contracts will start rising again because of a revenue influx. Paying $12-14 million per season for an aging Gray isn't the worst proposition, especially as $100 million contracts are handed out to the top-tier starters. Gray also might be more willing to stay in Minnesota depending on what the club adds during the rest of this off-season. He also voiced some frustration last season about not going deeper into games, but starting pitcher usage continues to evolve. Does a three-year, $40 million contract keep Gray in Minnesota, or will it cost more than that? How high would you be willing to go for a starter entering their mid-30s? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  11. As crazy as the season was, the off-season seems even crazier and filled with more drama. While fans want the front office to land Carlos (Correa), bringing in the other Carlos (Rodón) would make the most sense for the club and could solidify the Twins starting rotation. Image courtesy of Stan Szeto, USA Today The jury is still out on the starting rotation for the Twins, but it looks like Sonny Gray is the anchor, with Joe Ryan, Kenta Maeda, Bailey Ober, and Tyler Mahle penciled into spots with question marks. If the team experiences anything like they did last season, injuries always loom heavily with this club. Taking on one more starter would benefit the club immensely, especially with uncertainty about Kenta Maeda's health and how he might pitch following surgery. Even with Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan at the top of the rotation, Carlos Rodon would easily be the team's ace, something that the Twins have not had of late. Jose Berrios was the closest the Twins have come to an ace in a long time, and the fans and club need more at the top of their rotation if they want to compete. With the Giants in 2022, Rodón had a 2.88 ERA and led the majors with a 2.25 FIP. He finished second in the National League with 237 strikeouts and hit double-digits 11 times, a franchise record. Rodón made a career-high 31 starts, putting aside (at least for now) the concerns about his shoulder that limited his market a year ago. 2022 was his best season since entering the majors. At 29 years old, his market this offseason should include a lot of teams. Watching pitchers like Jacob de Grom, Justin Verlander, and C.C. Sabathia, Rodón has the potential to continue for several seasons, provided he can stay healthy. His contract last offseason was a two-year $44 million deal with the Giants, but it included an opt-out clause that he took advantage of after the season. Since 2015, he has outperformed his contract and is worth more than what he made. The team that signs him this offseason will give up a draft pick as San Francisco made him a qualifying offer, which he declined. However, that should not stop him from getting at least four years with an average annual value of over $25 million. He pitched for a long time with the White Sox and knows the AL Central Division. However, it can be assumed that Rodon will be courted by nearly every team that intends to contend for a playoff spot in 2023 and beyond. As the non-tender deadline creeps up, additional players will become available. Several pitchers could potentially fill the Twins need, but Rodón would be a good fit in the league, division, and clubhouse. View full article
  12. The jury is still out on the starting rotation for the Twins, but it looks like Sonny Gray is the anchor, with Joe Ryan, Kenta Maeda, Bailey Ober, and Tyler Mahle penciled into spots with question marks. If the team experiences anything like they did last season, injuries always loom heavily with this club. Taking on one more starter would benefit the club immensely, especially with uncertainty about Kenta Maeda's health and how he might pitch following surgery. Even with Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan at the top of the rotation, Carlos Rodon would easily be the team's ace, something that the Twins have not had of late. Jose Berrios was the closest the Twins have come to an ace in a long time, and the fans and club need more at the top of their rotation if they want to compete. With the Giants in 2022, Rodón had a 2.88 ERA and led the majors with a 2.25 FIP. He finished second in the National League with 237 strikeouts and hit double-digits 11 times, a franchise record. Rodón made a career-high 31 starts, putting aside (at least for now) the concerns about his shoulder that limited his market a year ago. 2022 was his best season since entering the majors. At 29 years old, his market this offseason should include a lot of teams. Watching pitchers like Jacob de Grom, Justin Verlander, and C.C. Sabathia, Rodón has the potential to continue for several seasons, provided he can stay healthy. His contract last offseason was a two-year $44 million deal with the Giants, but it included an opt-out clause that he took advantage of after the season. Since 2015, he has outperformed his contract and is worth more than what he made. The team that signs him this offseason will give up a draft pick as San Francisco made him a qualifying offer, which he declined. However, that should not stop him from getting at least four years with an average annual value of over $25 million. He pitched for a long time with the White Sox and knows the AL Central Division. However, it can be assumed that Rodon will be courted by nearly every team that intends to contend for a playoff spot in 2023 and beyond. As the non-tender deadline creeps up, additional players will become available. Several pitchers could potentially fill the Twins need, but Rodón would be a good fit in the league, division, and clubhouse.
  13. The Twins parted ways with free agents, cleared space on the 40-man roster, and set the stage for an offseason primed with ample flexibility and a wide range of possibilities. Here's where things stand as we get started. Eight Twins Players Become Free Agents The end of the World Series triggered the official commencement of the offseason, meaning that the following players automatically entered the free agent market: Michael Fulmer, RHP Gary Sánchez, C Sandy León, C Billy Hamilton, OF Aaron Sanchez, RHP Aside from Fulmer, a solid deadline pickup for the bullpen, and Sánchez, who ended up being the team's primary catcher, these are all random midseason veteran pickups who played roles for the team out of sheer desperation. No big losses, although Fulmer will be an interesting target to pursue. Elsewhere, Carlos Correa opted out of his contract as expected. He'll hit free agency once again in search of a monster deal eclipsing $300 million. I wrote about what it will take to re-sign him as part of a three-part "Future of Shortstop" chapter of the Offseason Handbook. Anyone with a Twins Daily account can download that chapter for free. Finally, there were three players whose team options the club elected to decline, all as expected: Miguel Sanó, 1B ($2.75M buyout) Dylan Bundy, RHP ($1M buyout) Chris Archer, RHP ($750K buyout) Bundy and Archer were underwhelming bargain-bin free agent signings for the back of the rotation. Sanó's legacy with the Twins is, of course, much more lengthy and complicated. Probably worthy of a deeper examination in time. But for now, what matters for now is the way it ended: with the Twins paying $2.75 million to be done with him. Twins Pick Up Sonny Gray's Option There was one team option that the Twins were more than happy to pick up: Gray will be back next year at a $12.7 million salary. This was a no-brainer and a big part of the reason Minnesota was willing to give up Chase Petty for the veteran right-hander. Gray currently projects as the standalone #1 starter on the 2023 staff. Improving upon that situation should be a top priority for the front office this winter. Will they make an offseason addition who surpasses the Sonny Gray Threshold? We explored free agents and trade targets who could provide a legitimate top-of-rotation upgrade in the Starting Pitchers chapter of the Offseason Handbook, available to Caretakers. 40-Man Roster Shuffling Clears Room In addition to letting several players loose into free agency, the Twins also cleared up some 40-man roster room through waivers and outrights. Here's a quick rundown to catch you up: LHP Danny Coulombe was outrighted from the 40-man roster and assigned to the Saints. So were LHP Devin Smeltzer and RHP Jhon Romero. C Caleb Hamilton was claimed off waivers by Boston. SS Jermaine Palacios was claimed off waivers by Detroit. OF Jake Cave was claimed off waivers by Baltimore. All of these many removals from the 40-man were offset by a litany of players being removed from the injured list at year's end, so the Twins end up with 37 players currently rostered as illustrated in the grid below. Highlighted in red are eight clear candidates for removal, via non-tender or waiving, so the Twins will have no trouble finding room for new additions. The deadline to make contract tender decisions on arbitration-eligible players falls on November 18th – next Thursday. On that date we'll learn whether we can lock in or remove a few of those red-shaded names above, including Gio Urshela, Kyle Garlick, Emilio Pagan and Cody Stashak. Internal Promotions Impact MLB Coaching Staff As a result of a series of internal personnel shifts announced by the team this past week, a new member has been added to the major-league coaching staff for 2023: Derek Shohon, who served as the hitting coach for Class-AA Wichita last year – overseeing the breakouts of prospects Matt Wallner and Edouard Julien, among others – will join the Twins as an assistant hitting coach alongside incumbents David Popkins and Rudy Hernandez. Some other moves of note: Drew MacPhail, son of former Twins GM Andy MacPhail, takes over as farm director. Alex Hassan, previously in that role, is now vice president of hitting development and procurement. Former run creation coordinator Frankie Padulo transitions into the assistant director of player development role formerly held by MacPhail. Brian Maloney was promoted to director of minor league and high performance operations, and Amanda Daley was promoted to director of player education. Roster and Payroll Projection: v1 Here's an overview of where the projected roster and payroll currently stand, under the assumption that Urshela and Garlick are tendered, and Pagan is not. (Far from guaranteed on any count.) The biggest existential priorities, as you can see, are finding a starting shortstop (and his backup), filling the catcher vacancy, and adding impact arms. They've got nearly $50 million to spend merely to get back to the 2022 payroll level, so needless to say there's a world of possibilities ahead. As a reminder, you can explore options at these key positions of need by downloading available chapters of the Offseason Handbook, and you can use our roster-building tool to forge your own Twins blueprint. View full article
  14. Eight Twins Players Become Free Agents The end of the World Series triggered the official commencement of the offseason, meaning that the following players automatically entered the free agent market: Michael Fulmer, RHP Gary Sánchez, C Sandy León, C Billy Hamilton, OF Aaron Sanchez, RHP Aside from Fulmer, a solid deadline pickup for the bullpen, and Sánchez, who ended up being the team's primary catcher, these are all random midseason veteran pickups who played roles for the team out of sheer desperation. No big losses, although Fulmer will be an interesting target to pursue. Elsewhere, Carlos Correa opted out of his contract as expected. He'll hit free agency once again in search of a monster deal eclipsing $300 million. I wrote about what it will take to re-sign him as part of a three-part "Future of Shortstop" chapter of the Offseason Handbook. Anyone with a Twins Daily account can download that chapter for free. Finally, there were three players whose team options the club elected to decline, all as expected: Miguel Sanó, 1B ($2.75M buyout) Dylan Bundy, RHP ($1M buyout) Chris Archer, RHP ($750K buyout) Bundy and Archer were underwhelming bargain-bin free agent signings for the back of the rotation. Sanó's legacy with the Twins is, of course, much more lengthy and complicated. Probably worthy of a deeper examination in time. But for now, what matters for now is the way it ended: with the Twins paying $2.75 million to be done with him. Twins Pick Up Sonny Gray's Option There was one team option that the Twins were more than happy to pick up: Gray will be back next year at a $12.7 million salary. This was a no-brainer and a big part of the reason Minnesota was willing to give up Chase Petty for the veteran right-hander. Gray currently projects as the standalone #1 starter on the 2023 staff. Improving upon that situation should be a top priority for the front office this winter. Will they make an offseason addition who surpasses the Sonny Gray Threshold? We explored free agents and trade targets who could provide a legitimate top-of-rotation upgrade in the Starting Pitchers chapter of the Offseason Handbook, available to Caretakers. 40-Man Roster Shuffling Clears Room In addition to letting several players loose into free agency, the Twins also cleared up some 40-man roster room through waivers and outrights. Here's a quick rundown to catch you up: LHP Danny Coulombe was outrighted from the 40-man roster and assigned to the Saints. So were LHP Devin Smeltzer and RHP Jhon Romero. C Caleb Hamilton was claimed off waivers by Boston. SS Jermaine Palacios was claimed off waivers by Detroit. OF Jake Cave was claimed off waivers by Baltimore. All of these many removals from the 40-man were offset by a litany of players being removed from the injured list at year's end, so the Twins end up with 37 players currently rostered as illustrated in the grid below. Highlighted in red are eight clear candidates for removal, via non-tender or waiving, so the Twins will have no trouble finding room for new additions. The deadline to make contract tender decisions on arbitration-eligible players falls on November 18th – next Thursday. On that date we'll learn whether we can lock in or remove a few of those red-shaded names above, including Gio Urshela, Kyle Garlick, Emilio Pagan and Cody Stashak. Internal Promotions Impact MLB Coaching Staff As a result of a series of internal personnel shifts announced by the team this past week, a new member has been added to the major-league coaching staff for 2023: Derek Shohon, who served as the hitting coach for Class-AA Wichita last year – overseeing the breakouts of prospects Matt Wallner and Edouard Julien, among others – will join the Twins as an assistant hitting coach alongside incumbents David Popkins and Rudy Hernandez. Some other moves of note: Drew MacPhail, son of former Twins GM Andy MacPhail, takes over as farm director. Alex Hassan, previously in that role, is now vice president of hitting development and procurement. Former run creation coordinator Frankie Padulo transitions into the assistant director of player development role formerly held by MacPhail. Brian Maloney was promoted to director of minor league and high performance operations, and Amanda Daley was promoted to director of player education. Roster and Payroll Projection: v1 Here's an overview of where the projected roster and payroll currently stand, under the assumption that Urshela and Garlick are tendered, and Pagan is not. (Far from guaranteed on any count.) The biggest existential priorities, as you can see, are finding a starting shortstop (and his backup), filling the catcher vacancy, and adding impact arms. They've got nearly $50 million to spend merely to get back to the 2022 payroll level, so needless to say there's a world of possibilities ahead. As a reminder, you can explore options at these key positions of need by downloading available chapters of the Offseason Handbook, and you can use our roster-building tool to forge your own Twins blueprint.
  15. The Minnesota Twins have made their first move of the offseason, one that should come as a surprise to no one, by picking up an option on Sonny Gray’s 2023 contract for $12.5 million. Unless a long-term deal is reached before then, Gray will become a free agent at the end of 2023 season. Jon Heyman of the New York Post first reported the scoop. If the Twins do not plan on signing any free agent starters (which should not - and will not - be the case), Gray will almost certainly be considered for the top slot of the rotation for 2023. There was little thought within stories from the front office or the Twins community at large that the Twins would part ways with the pitcher. Gray made 24 starts over the 2022 season, pitching just shy of 120 innings. His 3.08 ERA and 1.13 WHIP were the best since 2019. Although his strikeout rate was down, Gray managed to keep his walks to the minimum and generally got out of a number of dangerous jams this season that made him one of the more reliable pitchers on the mound. Of his 24 attempts, Gray posted nine quality starts, defined as six completed innings with three or less runs. He remains particularly strong against left-handed batters, holding them to a .202 BA this season. The question remains whether the Twins may attempt a long-term extension with the pitcher or keep his option open as a trade deadline candidate if the season runs away from the Twins as it did in 2021. Gray’s 119 2/3 innings was the lowest since 2017 in Oakland, dealing with multiple IL stints this season due to lower back soreness. However, the Twins new athletic trainer Nick Paparesta worked with Gray during his time in Oakland. Questions about injuries and recoveries will hang over Gray as much as the entire rotation and thus may play a role in whether such extensions are offered. The Minnesota Twins traded for Gray right after the end of Major League Baseball’s lockout on the players during negotiations for a Collective Bargaining Agreement, giving away their 2021 first-round draft pick Chase Petty to the Cincinnati Reds. Between his strong stuff and age, Gray has formed something of a veteran leader among a pitching staff to likely be dependent on rookies. Although no one could expect otherwise, Twins fans should welcome another year of the ace on the mound. With the World Series now complete, impending free agents are now free agents. Gray is one of several Twins players with a club option for 2023. It is certain that the Twins will not pick up Miguel Sano's option for 2023. And Carlos Correa will formally announce his decision to opt-out of his contract soon too. The news became official on Monday when the Twins announced that Gray's option was picked up. Also, the Twins declined the options on Chris Archer, Dylan Bundy and Miguel Sano.
  16. Only hours after the end of the World Series, the Twins have made the first off season news by keeping Sonny Gray. Monday Update: The Twins made the Gray decision official. They also announced that they have declined the 2023 options for RHPs Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy, and infielder Miguel Sano. Image courtesy of Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports The Minnesota Twins have made their first move of the offseason, one that should come as a surprise to no one, by picking up an option on Sonny Gray’s 2023 contract for $12.5 million. Unless a long-term deal is reached before then, Gray will become a free agent at the end of 2023 season. Jon Heyman of the New York Post first reported the scoop. If the Twins do not plan on signing any free agent starters (which should not - and will not - be the case), Gray will almost certainly be considered for the top slot of the rotation for 2023. There was little thought within stories from the front office or the Twins community at large that the Twins would part ways with the pitcher. Gray made 24 starts over the 2022 season, pitching just shy of 120 innings. His 3.08 ERA and 1.13 WHIP were the best since 2019. Although his strikeout rate was down, Gray managed to keep his walks to the minimum and generally got out of a number of dangerous jams this season that made him one of the more reliable pitchers on the mound. Of his 24 attempts, Gray posted nine quality starts, defined as six completed innings with three or less runs. He remains particularly strong against left-handed batters, holding them to a .202 BA this season. The question remains whether the Twins may attempt a long-term extension with the pitcher or keep his option open as a trade deadline candidate if the season runs away from the Twins as it did in 2021. Gray’s 119 2/3 innings was the lowest since 2017 in Oakland, dealing with multiple IL stints this season due to lower back soreness. However, the Twins new athletic trainer Nick Paparesta worked with Gray during his time in Oakland. Questions about injuries and recoveries will hang over Gray as much as the entire rotation and thus may play a role in whether such extensions are offered. The Minnesota Twins traded for Gray right after the end of Major League Baseball’s lockout on the players during negotiations for a Collective Bargaining Agreement, giving away their 2021 first-round draft pick Chase Petty to the Cincinnati Reds. Between his strong stuff and age, Gray has formed something of a veteran leader among a pitching staff to likely be dependent on rookies. Although no one could expect otherwise, Twins fans should welcome another year of the ace on the mound. With the World Series now complete, impending free agents are now free agents. Gray is one of several Twins players with a club option for 2023. It is certain that the Twins will not pick up Miguel Sano's option for 2023. And Carlos Correa will formally announce his decision to opt-out of his contract soon too. The news became official on Monday when the Twins announced that Gray's option was picked up. Also, the Twins declined the options on Chris Archer, Dylan Bundy and Miguel Sano. View full article
  17. Prior to the 2022 Major League Baseball season the Minnesota Twins owned a rotation in desperate need of an overhaul. A bad 2021 team used 16 different starting pitchers, more than three rotations worth, and the year ahead had to be a drastic change. The front office immediately opted for more of the same. Image courtesy of Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports Going into 2021, manager Rocco Baldelli was strapped with ineffective veterans Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ. The latter posted mediocre numbers with the New York Yankees in a truncated 2020, and hadn’t truly been good since 2018. The former wouldn’t know a clean bill of health if a doctor prescribed it, and while decent when healthy, was nothing short of a trainwreck for the Twins. In total, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine’s constructed roster saw a record 35 pitchers brought to the mound. Short starts were a constant due to ineffectiveness, and team mascot Willians Astudillo made four different appearances on the bump. Fast forward to free agency 2022 and Dylan Bundy was the first acquisition made by Minnesota. Bundy’s lone good season came during the 2020 debacle, and despite being a former 4th overall pick, he’s never looked the part of a legit starting arm. It was a fine back-of-the-rotation edition, but ultimately he made 29 starts and far too often in big spots. Doubling down on more of the same, the Twins opted for Chris Archer who had recently had Thoracic Outlet surgery and repaired a hip labrum. His 19 1/3 innings dating back to 2019 should’ve never had him beginning 2022 in anyone’s starting rotation. Falvey told reporters recently Minnesota wanted to ease him along, but things never got better. The Twins President of Baseball Operations said, “Our hope was that if we started a little slow with him … to be able to unleash that a little more through the course of the year,” Falvey said. “And we were just never able to get there. Then when we had other injuries, as a result of the other guys going down … we then ultimately had to continue to lean on Chris at that stage to make those starts.” Despite using a club record 38 pitchers in 2022, again because of poor performances both in the rotation and bullpen, a positive caveat was discovered depth. Louie Varland followed up a 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award by making it to the big leagues and grabbing his first game on the final day of the season. Simeon Woods Richardson, a piece acquired with Austin Martin from the Blue Jays when Minnesota sent out Jose Berrios, also took a turn in the majors. Add in the continued growth for Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and Josh Winder and you’ve got a solid set of depth starters. We won’t see Devin Smeltzer back in the organization next season as he opted to pursue opportunities elsewhere, but Cole Sands could continue to develop. There’s hope that Jordan Balazovic will return to form, and another big jump from Marco Raya, David Festa, or Blayne Enlow could put them in the conversation as well. In short, there are plenty of options to fill out the group. That puts pressure on Falvey and Levine to adequately allocate pitching funds this offseason. Whether on the open market or in trade, the time to bargain shop has come and gone. Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle are all capable top-half rotation pieces. Chris Paddack could be that too, assuming he comes back well mid-summer. No one else brought in can even flirt with the notion of slotting in behind that group. Aces are few and far between in baseball. Rarely do they hit the open market, and it’s always a bit of a dice roll as to which will thrive in a new situation. Minnesota isn’t an ideal market, but money talks and it’s time for the front office to speak with it. Another throw-in starter being signed to anything but a camp invite deal should be cause for significant ire. It’s time to add big or stop asking to be taken seriously. View full article
  18. The Twins already have rotation depth going into 2023, at least in terms of pure quantity. They don't need more bottom-of-rotation starters like Dylan Bundy or Chris Archer. What they need to do is acquire someone at or above what I call the 'Sonny Gray Threshold.' It'll be our guiding barometer as we assess the team's rotation strategy this offseason. Image courtesy of Lindsey Wasson-USA TODAY Sports I am of the opinion that it's a failure if the Twins go into 2023 with Sonny Gray as their standalone No. 1 starter. This might've been the underlying rationale behind adding Tyler Mahle at the deadline, but unfortunately, Mahle should be viewed as no more than a question mark and hopeful contributor for next year. You simply can't plan around a guy who threw 16 innings after being acquired, and finished on the injured list with an unresolved shoulder issue. Kenta Maeda, much like Mahle, is a pitcher who's shown top-of-rotation ability but can't be firmly depended upon for a whole lot. At age 35, with only 173 total innings under his belt over the past three seasons, the Twins may be best off placing him in a long relief or swingman role, as he often filled in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Gray himself was limited to just 120 innings in 2022, with multiple hamstring injuries disrupting a full season even by his modest standards for what one looks like. With all this instability near the top of the rotation, the Twins really need to add a proven, durable, high-caliber starter who would be a credible option to start a postseason game. They need near, or ideally above, the level of Gray. In the newest chapter of the Offseason Handbook, Reinforcing the Rotation, I took a look eight high-end free agents and 10 potential trade targets who arguably land at or above the Sonny Gray Threshold. I also broke down the internal pitching pipeline with a look at which prospects might be able to help, and when. It's all now available to download for Caretakers, who can also access our previously released Handbook installments covering the payroll and the future of shortstop. If you're not a Caretaker already, you can sign up here for as little as $6/month and get plenty of other perks including free entry to the Winter Meltdown (details coming soon!). Of course, there will also be plenty of free content available to everyone on the site this week a we take a collective deep dive into the Twins' starting pitching needs and options. Stay tuned and let's see if we can surpass the Sonny Gray Threshold. View full article
  19. Going into 2021, manager Rocco Baldelli was strapped with ineffective veterans Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ. The latter posted mediocre numbers with the New York Yankees in a truncated 2020, and hadn’t truly been good since 2018. The former wouldn’t know a clean bill of health if a doctor prescribed it, and while decent when healthy, was nothing short of a trainwreck for the Twins. In total, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine’s constructed roster saw a record 35 pitchers brought to the mound. Short starts were a constant due to ineffectiveness, and team mascot Willians Astudillo made four different appearances on the bump. Fast forward to free agency 2022 and Dylan Bundy was the first acquisition made by Minnesota. Bundy’s lone good season came during the 2020 debacle, and despite being a former 4th overall pick, he’s never looked the part of a legit starting arm. It was a fine back-of-the-rotation edition, but ultimately he made 29 starts and far too often in big spots. Doubling down on more of the same, the Twins opted for Chris Archer who had recently had Thoracic Outlet surgery and repaired a hip labrum. His 19 1/3 innings dating back to 2019 should’ve never had him beginning 2022 in anyone’s starting rotation. Falvey told reporters recently Minnesota wanted to ease him along, but things never got better. The Twins President of Baseball Operations said, “Our hope was that if we started a little slow with him … to be able to unleash that a little more through the course of the year,” Falvey said. “And we were just never able to get there. Then when we had other injuries, as a result of the other guys going down … we then ultimately had to continue to lean on Chris at that stage to make those starts.” Despite using a club record 38 pitchers in 2022, again because of poor performances both in the rotation and bullpen, a positive caveat was discovered depth. Louie Varland followed up a 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award by making it to the big leagues and grabbing his first game on the final day of the season. Simeon Woods Richardson, a piece acquired with Austin Martin from the Blue Jays when Minnesota sent out Jose Berrios, also took a turn in the majors. Add in the continued growth for Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and Josh Winder and you’ve got a solid set of depth starters. We won’t see Devin Smeltzer back in the organization next season as he opted to pursue opportunities elsewhere, but Cole Sands could continue to develop. There’s hope that Jordan Balazovic will return to form, and another big jump from Marco Raya, David Festa, or Blayne Enlow could put them in the conversation as well. In short, there are plenty of options to fill out the group. That puts pressure on Falvey and Levine to adequately allocate pitching funds this offseason. Whether on the open market or in trade, the time to bargain shop has come and gone. Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle are all capable top-half rotation pieces. Chris Paddack could be that too, assuming he comes back well mid-summer. No one else brought in can even flirt with the notion of slotting in behind that group. Aces are few and far between in baseball. Rarely do they hit the open market, and it’s always a bit of a dice roll as to which will thrive in a new situation. Minnesota isn’t an ideal market, but money talks and it’s time for the front office to speak with it. Another throw-in starter being signed to anything but a camp invite deal should be cause for significant ire. It’s time to add big or stop asking to be taken seriously.
  20. I am of the opinion that it's a failure if the Twins go into 2023 with Sonny Gray as their standalone No. 1 starter. This might've been the underlying rationale behind adding Tyler Mahle at the deadline, but unfortunately, Mahle should be viewed as no more than a question mark and hopeful contributor for next year. You simply can't plan around a guy who threw 16 innings after being acquired, and finished on the injured list with an unresolved shoulder issue. Kenta Maeda, much like Mahle, is a pitcher who's shown top-of-rotation ability but can't be firmly depended upon for a whole lot. At age 35, with only 173 total innings under his belt over the past three seasons, the Twins may be best off placing him in a long relief or swingman role, as he often filled in Los Angeles. Meanwhile, Gray himself was limited to just 120 innings in 2022, with multiple hamstring injuries disrupting a full season even by his modest standards for what one looks like. With all this instability near the top of the rotation, the Twins really need to add a proven, durable, high-caliber starter who would be a credible option to start a postseason game. They need near, or ideally above, the level of Gray. In the newest chapter of the Offseason Handbook, Reinforcing the Rotation, I took a look eight high-end free agents and 10 potential trade targets who arguably land at or above the Sonny Gray Threshold. I also broke down the internal pitching pipeline with a look at which prospects might be able to help, and when. It's all now available to download for Caretakers, who can also access our previously released Handbook installments covering the payroll and the future of shortstop. If you're not a Caretaker already, you can sign up here for as little as $6/month and get plenty of other perks including free entry to the Winter Meltdown (details coming soon!). Of course, there will also be plenty of free content available to everyone on the site this week a we take a collective deep dive into the Twins' starting pitching needs and options. Stay tuned and let's see if we can surpass the Sonny Gray Threshold.
  21. Minnesota’s front office has focused on payroll flexibility, which means the team’s books are relatively clear for years into the future. Even with this flexibility, the 2023 season is shaping to be a make-it-or-break-it for the Twins. Image courtesy of Lindsey Wasson-USA TODAY Sports Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have stressed the importance of keeping the Twins’ winning window open as long as possible. To do this, the club has restrained from giving out long-term contracts, which gives the team payroll flexibility for multiple years. Minnesota has traded for multiple players to supplement the roster, and many contracts are up at the end of 2023. That makes next year a make-it-or-break-it season. Possible Free Agent Pitchers Following 2023 Sonny Gray: It will be a no-brainer for the Twins to pick up Gray’s $12 million team option for 2023, but that means he is heading to free agency after next season. Minnesota surrendered their 2021 first-round pick to acquire Gray for multiple seasons. He performed well in his first season with the Twins as he posted a 3.08 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP in 24 starts. Injuries impacted multiple Twins starters, and Gray pitched under 120 innings for the first time since 2016 due to multiple IL stints. Kenta Maeda: Maeda signed a unique contract when he came from Japan. The Dodgers saw some abnormalities in his physical, so he signed a very incentive-laden contract. He pitched over 760 big-league innings before needing Tommy John surgery. Some thought he could pitch out of the bullpen in 2022, but Minnesota fell out of the race, and there wasn’t a reason to rush him back. Now, Maeda will spend the winter preparing to rejoin the Twins’ rotation in the final year of his contract. Tyler Mahle: Fans were excited when the Twins made an aggressive trade deadline acquisition of Mahle. His Twins tenure started poorly as he dealt with shoulder issues that ended his season early. Minnesota hopes rest and recovery this offseason will help Mahle to return to his previous performance level. If Mahle can’t return to health, it will be a tough pill to swallow for the current front office. This regime has a history of acquiring potentially injured pitchers, and Mahle is another name on that list. Possible Free Agent Position Players Following 2023 Max Kepler: Kepler’s future with the Twins is up in the air, with one guaranteed year remaining on his contract. Outside of 2019, his offensive numbers have been below average, but he continues to be one of baseball’s best defenders in right field. He has a team option for $10 million for the 2024 season, and FanGraphs pegs his average value at over $16.1 million for 2022. The Twins also have three young outfielders that need time in corner outfield positions, so this might make Kepler more expendable over the next two seasons. Gio Urshela: Urshela was one of Minnesota’s best performers throughout the 2022 season. He posted a 121 OPS+ and ranked fourth on the team in WAR. Many will compare him to Josh Donaldson, and Urshela ranked better than Donaldson in many offensive categories. Urshela’s big-league development hasn’t followed a linear path, but he has carved out a niche as an above-average regular over the last four seasons. He will be 31 years old for all of next season, and the Twins will have younger options to plug in at third base in the years ahead. Minnesota has some decisions to make, with many vital players heading toward free agency. Will the club try to sign any of the above names to extensions? Will some be made qualifying offers? If Minnesota stumbles, can they be traded before next year’s deadline? All signs point to the 2023 season being a critical year for the office as they need the club to take a step in the right direction. View full article
  22. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have stressed the importance of keeping the Twins’ winning window open as long as possible. To do this, the club has restrained from giving out long-term contracts, which gives the team payroll flexibility for multiple years. Minnesota has traded for multiple players to supplement the roster, and many contracts are up at the end of 2023. That makes next year a make-it-or-break-it season. Possible Free Agent Pitchers Following 2023 Sonny Gray: It will be a no-brainer for the Twins to pick up Gray’s $12 million team option for 2023, but that means he is heading to free agency after next season. Minnesota surrendered their 2021 first-round pick to acquire Gray for multiple seasons. He performed well in his first season with the Twins as he posted a 3.08 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP in 24 starts. Injuries impacted multiple Twins starters, and Gray pitched under 120 innings for the first time since 2016 due to multiple IL stints. Kenta Maeda: Maeda signed a unique contract when he came from Japan. The Dodgers saw some abnormalities in his physical, so he signed a very incentive-laden contract. He pitched over 760 big-league innings before needing Tommy John surgery. Some thought he could pitch out of the bullpen in 2022, but Minnesota fell out of the race, and there wasn’t a reason to rush him back. Now, Maeda will spend the winter preparing to rejoin the Twins’ rotation in the final year of his contract. Tyler Mahle: Fans were excited when the Twins made an aggressive trade deadline acquisition of Mahle. His Twins tenure started poorly as he dealt with shoulder issues that ended his season early. Minnesota hopes rest and recovery this offseason will help Mahle to return to his previous performance level. If Mahle can’t return to health, it will be a tough pill to swallow for the current front office. This regime has a history of acquiring potentially injured pitchers, and Mahle is another name on that list. Possible Free Agent Position Players Following 2023 Max Kepler: Kepler’s future with the Twins is up in the air, with one guaranteed year remaining on his contract. Outside of 2019, his offensive numbers have been below average, but he continues to be one of baseball’s best defenders in right field. He has a team option for $10 million for the 2024 season, and FanGraphs pegs his average value at over $16.1 million for 2022. The Twins also have three young outfielders that need time in corner outfield positions, so this might make Kepler more expendable over the next two seasons. Gio Urshela: Urshela was one of Minnesota’s best performers throughout the 2022 season. He posted a 121 OPS+ and ranked fourth on the team in WAR. Many will compare him to Josh Donaldson, and Urshela ranked better than Donaldson in many offensive categories. Urshela’s big-league development hasn’t followed a linear path, but he has carved out a niche as an above-average regular over the last four seasons. He will be 31 years old for all of next season, and the Twins will have younger options to plug in at third base in the years ahead. Minnesota has some decisions to make, with many vital players heading toward free agency. Will the club try to sign any of the above names to extensions? Will some be made qualifying offers? If Minnesota stumbles, can they be traded before next year’s deadline? All signs point to the 2023 season being a critical year for the office as they need the club to take a step in the right direction.
  23. Imagine a pitcher who can touch 104 mph, throws strikes and combines it with elite offspeed stuff. The Twins have never had such an arm… until now. Twins Daily’s 2022 pick for Pitcher of the Year is rookie sensation Jhoan Duran. While the majority of the Twins’ bullpen struggled to close games, Duran was invaluable all season long. He led American League relievers in Win Probability Added (4.59), frequently facing the opponent’s best hitters in the highest leverage spots. Duran’s “clutch” score registered at 1.26, also the highest in the AL. If you looked only at Duran on the surface, you’d crown him as one of the best relievers in baseball. His incredible season was impressive without context. The context, however, is where the magic lies. Duran was a rookie thrust into the tightest spots for a team fighting for the playoffs. He had never pitched in relief before 2022, save for a couple games at Triple-A in 2019 and 2021. After working at the Twins' alternate site in 2020, Duran threw only 16 innings a season ago in St. Paul. He had a 5.06 ERA before an elbow injury shut down his season, putting his future in question. Duran dazzled in spring training and earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. Even the most optimistic believers in Duran’s incredible stuff couldn’t have predicted what came next. Among pitchers who threw at least 250 offerings in 2022, Duran’s four-seamer ranked first in average velocity (100.8). His splitter also paced the league at a ridiculous 96.4 mph. Duran unquestionably has the best raw stuff in Twins history and one of the most electrifying repertoires the game has ever seen. There have been plenty of young pitchers with electric arms but Duran’s command is the separator. His 27.4% strikeout-to-walk rate was tied for 10th among qualified relievers, ahead of Cleveland phenom Emmanuel Clase. Duran throws extremely hard and he throws strikes. That combo led to nearly three Wins Above Replacement at Baseball Reference. Duran worked through early pitch-selection pains and got better as the season went on. Only two AL relievers had a lower ERA than Duran in the second half (1.05), minimum of 25 innings. The rookie was also lights-out in front of the home crowd, posting a 0.83 ERA at Target Field, the lowest in a season in the park’s history. Handing your most pivotal bullpen spot to a rookie can be a risky proposition, given the pressure of that role. Duran was unfazed. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Duran held opponents to a 1-for-25 mark, with the lone hit a single. In high-leverage situations, opponents hit .180 with a .489 OPS. Duran’s pulse is impossible to see. Twins fans were understandably sad to see the team trade Eduardo Escobar at the 2018 deadline. The reward, however, looks to be potentially game-changing. Duran has instantly become one of the game’s best relievers and he’s under contract with the Twins through at least 2027. He’s a joy to watch. HONORABLE MENTIONS Sonny Gray The Twins traded their first-round pick from a year ago for Sonny Gray, who was very good when healthy in his first season as a Twin. Gray had trouble staying healthy and pitching deep into games, but his 3.08 ERA and 3.41 FIP show he’s still a frontline starter. Griffin Jax Also in his first season as a full-time reliever, Griffin Jax enjoyed a massive spike in velocity and effectiveness. Jax posted a solid 3.36 ERA in 65 games, regularly setting up Duran as the second-best reliever in the bullpen. Jax averaged over 95 mph with his four-seamer and produced a 37% whiff rate on his elite, high-spin slider. Caleb Thielbar Caleb Thielbar is another example of why we should trust the expected statistics. A ballooned ERA was backed by much better metrics early in 2022. Thielbar was outstanding in the second half with a 1.50 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 24 innings. The lefty filled in more than admirably for Taylor Rogers. Joe Ryan Joe Ryan set the Twins’ single-season rookie record for strikeouts, backed by a 3.55 ERA in a team-leading 147 innings. Ryan was exceptional down the stretch with a 2.81 ERA over his last nine starts. Still just a rookie, Ryan has been impressive for many of his now 32 starts in the big leagues. View full article
  24. While the majority of the Twins’ bullpen struggled to close games, Duran was invaluable all season long. He led American League relievers in Win Probability Added (4.59), frequently facing the opponent’s best hitters in the highest leverage spots. Duran’s “clutch” score registered at 1.26, also the highest in the AL. If you looked only at Duran on the surface, you’d crown him as one of the best relievers in baseball. His incredible season was impressive without context. The context, however, is where the magic lies. Duran was a rookie thrust into the tightest spots for a team fighting for the playoffs. He had never pitched in relief before 2022, save for a couple games at Triple-A in 2019 and 2021. After working at the Twins' alternate site in 2020, Duran threw only 16 innings a season ago in St. Paul. He had a 5.06 ERA before an elbow injury shut down his season, putting his future in question. Duran dazzled in spring training and earned a spot on the Opening Day roster. Even the most optimistic believers in Duran’s incredible stuff couldn’t have predicted what came next. Among pitchers who threw at least 250 offerings in 2022, Duran’s four-seamer ranked first in average velocity (100.8). His splitter also paced the league at a ridiculous 96.4 mph. Duran unquestionably has the best raw stuff in Twins history and one of the most electrifying repertoires the game has ever seen. There have been plenty of young pitchers with electric arms but Duran’s command is the separator. His 27.4% strikeout-to-walk rate was tied for 10th among qualified relievers, ahead of Cleveland phenom Emmanuel Clase. Duran throws extremely hard and he throws strikes. That combo led to nearly three Wins Above Replacement at Baseball Reference. Duran worked through early pitch-selection pains and got better as the season went on. Only two AL relievers had a lower ERA than Duran in the second half (1.05), minimum of 25 innings. The rookie was also lights-out in front of the home crowd, posting a 0.83 ERA at Target Field, the lowest in a season in the park’s history. Handing your most pivotal bullpen spot to a rookie can be a risky proposition, given the pressure of that role. Duran was unfazed. With two outs and runners in scoring position, Duran held opponents to a 1-for-25 mark, with the lone hit a single. In high-leverage situations, opponents hit .180 with a .489 OPS. Duran’s pulse is impossible to see. Twins fans were understandably sad to see the team trade Eduardo Escobar at the 2018 deadline. The reward, however, looks to be potentially game-changing. Duran has instantly become one of the game’s best relievers and he’s under contract with the Twins through at least 2027. He’s a joy to watch. HONORABLE MENTIONS Sonny Gray The Twins traded their first-round pick from a year ago for Sonny Gray, who was very good when healthy in his first season as a Twin. Gray had trouble staying healthy and pitching deep into games, but his 3.08 ERA and 3.41 FIP show he’s still a frontline starter. Griffin Jax Also in his first season as a full-time reliever, Griffin Jax enjoyed a massive spike in velocity and effectiveness. Jax posted a solid 3.36 ERA in 65 games, regularly setting up Duran as the second-best reliever in the bullpen. Jax averaged over 95 mph with his four-seamer and produced a 37% whiff rate on his elite, high-spin slider. Caleb Thielbar Caleb Thielbar is another example of why we should trust the expected statistics. A ballooned ERA was backed by much better metrics early in 2022. Thielbar was outstanding in the second half with a 1.50 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 24 innings. The lefty filled in more than admirably for Taylor Rogers. Joe Ryan Joe Ryan set the Twins’ single-season rookie record for strikeouts, backed by a 3.55 ERA in a team-leading 147 innings. Ryan was exceptional down the stretch with a 2.81 ERA over his last nine starts. Still just a rookie, Ryan has been impressive for many of his now 32 starts in the big leagues.
  25. With the dog days of the 2022 season upon us, the Twins play their last home game tomorrow against the White Sox. Baseball is a complex game...far from black and white, and calling this season a wash would be ignorant. Image courtesy of Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports Call this a cupcake article. Call it a blanket frosting over reality. Perhaps an escape from the truth. Part of the beauty of being a fan is riding the emotional roller coaster that comes along with the everyday affairs of your team. The wins foster jubilance and joy. The losses lament pain and vitriol. Yet emotions aside, there's an obligation to look at the reality. The 2022 Minnesota Twins will not make the MLB playoffs. Despite holding serve in the American League Central for a bulk of the season, injuries and lackluster play plagued one of the youngest teams in the league in a way that will most likely result in a bronze medal in what many consider baseball's weakest division. Disappointing? Absolutely. An utter failure? Far from it. Professional sports and baseball in particular are often viewed through a black and white, championship or bust lens. The fact the Twins won't be playing in October is certainly a shame...yet it would be foolish to not address the number of overwhelming successes that took place for the 2022 Twins, many of which were far from expected. Don't disseminate your disappointment, but acknowledge the good that took place. 1. Jose Miranda is Everything We Hoped For Jose Miranda had one of, if not the best season in Twins minor league history last year, slashing .344/.401/.572 (.973) between Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul. After 21 games with the Saints this year, Miranda was called up to Target Field. Each transition up the minor league ladder is an added layer of difficulty; it's no secret that the jump from Triple-A to the bigs is the most difficult, separating big leaguers from Four-A players. Miranda has shown that he belongs in the MLB, and that he can serve as a valuable asset for the Twins for years to come. After a slow month of May, Miranda shunned the doubters with 22 hits, 13 RBI, and a .306 batting average in the month of June. The power-packed corner infielder pumped up the noise in July with a .353/.405/.603 slash line. Miranda has slashed .273/.327/.764 through the season and has cemented himself as a leader in the Twins' offensive lineup. Just 24 years old, imagine what consistent middle of the lineup would like like with Buxton, (hopefully) Correa, and Miranda. The future is bright. 2. The Veteran the Twins Needed The Twins have struck out with veteran pitching acquisitions in years past. Not with Sonny Gray. Acquired prior to the season in exchange for 2021 top draft pick Chase Petty, Gray has served as the anchor for a young and often injury-ridden staff. Slated to start today's game, Gray is 8-5 on the season with a 3.08 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 24 starts. Like most other pieces of the pitching staff, Gray too has struggled with injuries throughout the course of the year. Still, the 32-year-old has remained quite consistent. Gray's May was especially dominant, going 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in five starts. With Joe Ryan finding his groove and Bailey Ober returning to health (not to mention the return of Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddock), Gray has the potential to be a cornerstone of a rock-solid starting pitching staff in 2022. Whether he's the ace or three/four man, Gray's consistency has and will continue to bolster a fairly inexperienced staff. 3. Smiles-a-Plenty...at Last You can't help but smile when you see Nick Gordon smile...and after the incredible 2022 season that he's had. Drafted as the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 Draft by the Twins, Nick Gordon was expected by many to make a splash as a marquee player early on in his career. Yet for various reasons, Gordon didn't hit his stride early on. It's a tough league and amounting to the expectations of the front office, fans, and media is hard, especially as a first round pick. Perhaps it made Gordon's 2022 season that much sweeter. Gordon has slashed .276/.323./.761 so far this season with 9 homers and 45 RBI. He's been a staple 'yes man' in the field, playing all over the place when his number is called. As at matter of fact, the same can be said at the plate. Flash G has batted everywhere from cleanup to the nine-hole in the order and has consistently produced results. Yes, there's room for improvement on the base paths, that will come with time. Yet at the end of the day, Gordon's story is one that all fans should appreciate alongside the fact that he's amounted into about as good of a utility-man as an organization can ask for. 4. An Ace in the Making People knew Joe Ryan was good when the Twins acquired him in the Nelson Cruz trade last season. The entire league now knows that Ryan can become one of the league's elite pitchers with a few tune ups in years to come. Ryan is sitting at 12-8 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.11 WHIP through 26 starts in 2022. He's proven to be the guy with the 'it factor' in the Twins' rotation; a rock-solid fastball, sneaky good breaking pitches, the ability to go long, and a swagger that cannot be underappreciated. Yes, one can bring up the fact that six of Ryan's losses have come against likely playoff teams and ten of his 12 wins have come against teams that won't be playing in October. Don't read into it too much. Yes, the bar has been set high...but it's because everyone sees the talent in the west-coast arm. And while high expectations can be great, let's remember that Joe Ryan is a rookie. He's got all the time in the world to develop and it will be fascinating to see what the 26-year-old amounts to in his hopefully storied career. 5. Hometown Products Shine in Fourth Quarter...and all Season Everyone loves a good hometown kid story...the Twins have seen three of them this season. Former North St. Paul RHP and Concordia-St. Paul alum Louie Varland was called up on September 7 to pitch against the Yankees in the Bronx. He was electric, allowing just two runs on three hits while striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings. Varland squared off against MVP candidate Shohei Ohtani in his Target Field debut on September 23, pitching a respectable 5 2/3 innings of seven-hit, three-run ball while striking out three. Forest Lake's Matt Wallner has been outstanding since being called up on September 17. The power hitter has nine hits (including two homers and two doubles) and six RBI in his first 37 at bats and crushed his first Target Field homer last night off of "old friend" Lance Lynn. Yes, Wallner will strikeout a lot, but that's still pretty impressive for a power hitter in his first 11 games. What's most impressive is the Wallner started last season at High-A Cedar Rapids and Varland started at Low-A Fort Myers...talk about progress! On top of all of that, Randolph, Minnesota native Caleb Thielbar has has an outstanding season in the bullpen. Set to start coaching Division II baseball for Augustana less than three years ago, Thielbar has tallied just 0.79 HR/9 and 2.86 BB/9 through 2022. His fastball is consistently touching 94 and 95 MPH and is still complemented by a picture-esque curveball that can go as low as the high 60's. What's your favorite moment from the 2022 Minnesota Twins season? Drop a comment below! View full article
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