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  1. "The rush of acquiring and sending away assets is unbeatable. We’re hooked, baby,” said a manic Falvey. The pace of the Twins offseason went from zero to 100 once the lockout ended, with a flurry of moves by Minnesota’s management duo (President of Baseball Ops Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine) leading to a radically different opening day lineup. And the pace has not slowed down. Shortly after moving closer Taylor Rogers and prospect Brent Rooker to the Padres for pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan, the team announced that they traded team mascot TC Bear to the Jacksonville (FL) Zoo and Gardens. In return, they’re receiving a significant number of snakes, reptiles, and other creatures. “I’m just going to come right out and say that I don’t know what we’re going to do with a half-dozen Burmese pythons,” said Falvey. “But we hadn’t made a trade in a good 2-3 hours, and the rush of acquiring and sending away assets is unbeatable. We’re hooked, baby!” Levine, who said he hasn’t slept since Monday afternoon, was equally enthused if unclear about the trade. “Do you know if a monitor lizard is cool with letting relievers ride him out of the bullpen,” said Levine. “I don’t want to get on PETA’s radar, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know where we’re going to put him otherwise. GOD I LOVE TRADING, CAN’T BEAT IT.” Neither Falvey nor Levine would comment on the fact that TC Bear is not a real bear, but in fact a person in a pretend bear costume who is being sent to a zoo to live among real bears that will likely visit mind-bending violence upon him. “He’s dealing with it as best he can,” said a source close to the man who wears the costume. “Is it as bad as when (former Twin) Andrelton Simmons demanded to speak to the mayor of the talking bear village where TC Bear lives about repealing their mask mandate? No. Still, the threat of mauling is one he takes seriously.” The team says there are no further moves in the offing, and rumors that Minnesota is trading an old Metrodome urinal trough for a shoebox of expired prescription drugs are unfounded but they're very open to it and would throw in a gently-used Mike Maksudian. View full article
  2. The pace of the Twins offseason went from zero to 100 once the lockout ended, with a flurry of moves by Minnesota’s management duo (President of Baseball Ops Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine) leading to a radically different opening day lineup. And the pace has not slowed down. Shortly after moving closer Taylor Rogers and prospect Brent Rooker to the Padres for pitchers Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan, the team announced that they traded team mascot TC Bear to the Jacksonville (FL) Zoo and Gardens. In return, they’re receiving a significant number of snakes, reptiles, and other creatures. “I’m just going to come right out and say that I don’t know what we’re going to do with a half-dozen Burmese pythons,” said Falvey. “But we hadn’t made a trade in a good 2-3 hours, and the rush of acquiring and sending away assets is unbeatable. We’re hooked, baby!” Levine, who said he hasn’t slept since Monday afternoon, was equally enthused if unclear about the trade. “Do you know if a monitor lizard is cool with letting relievers ride him out of the bullpen,” said Levine. “I don’t want to get on PETA’s radar, but I’ll be honest, I don’t know where we’re going to put him otherwise. GOD I LOVE TRADING, CAN’T BEAT IT.” Neither Falvey nor Levine would comment on the fact that TC Bear is not a real bear, but in fact a person in a pretend bear costume who is being sent to a zoo to live among real bears that will likely visit mind-bending violence upon him. “He’s dealing with it as best he can,” said a source close to the man who wears the costume. “Is it as bad as when (former Twin) Andrelton Simmons demanded to speak to the mayor of the talking bear village where TC Bear lives about repealing their mask mandate? No. Still, the threat of mauling is one he takes seriously.” The team says there are no further moves in the offing, and rumors that Minnesota is trading an old Metrodome urinal trough for a shoebox of expired prescription drugs are unfounded but they're very open to it and would throw in a gently-used Mike Maksudian.
  3. Fort Myers, FL - The Minnesota Twins started their morning in Fort Myers by settling into an auditorium in the Academy. LaTroy Hawkins, Rod Carew, Royce Lewis, and a host of media were present. Scott Boras entered, then did Minnesota’s front office and other dignitaries. Everyone was there for the man of the hour, Carlos Correa. As he put on that #4 jersey, it became official; he’s a Minnesota Twin. If there were two takeaways from this morning’s press conference, Carlos Correa was impressed with Twins leadership and that he’s here to win. Derek Falvey noted his appreciation of the support from ownership in saying, “A momentous day like this, a significant contract like this with a player of Carlos’s stature only happens with the partnership and support of ownership.” Leadership starts at the top, and Correa noted the warmth he felt in an initial Zoom call with Falvey and new manager Rocco Baldelli. “I talked to Rocco, I talked to Derek and Thad, and they made me feel like this was the place for me to be. They made me feel like this was going to be my next home. And when I got off the Zoom call, I told Scott, let’s make it happen. And I told my wife to start packing.” Communication is a big thing for Correa, and in talking through his desires to be in Minnesota, he continued to communicate a desire for winning. Going to a place where he could win was necessary, and there’s no ambiguity as to whether he feels the Twins are a team capable. “I told Rocco, and I told Derek, we’re not seeing this like a one-year thing, we’re seeing this as I want to build a championship culture in this organization, I want to show you guys what I can do, what I can bring to the table, so we can have a long-term relationship at some point.” While there is an opt-out following the first year, Correa’s agent Scott Boras sees this as an opportunity for Carlos to do damage in a place he’s been very successful. “He had told me, 'these are some of the places I see the ball really well.' When he mentioned Minnesota and I went and looked up, and I said, wow, he just has a very small 1.200 OPS over there… I know this, all the AL Central, the Twins have a new explosion weapon, C4.” Correa has played for some great managers in A.J. Hinch and Dusty Baker. Knowing that communication is so vital between the leader of the team and a leader in the clubhouse, it was exciting to hear how glowingly the new shortstop talked of his skipper. “For me, it was just the vibes I got and how they made me feel, especially talking to Rocco and hearing so many great things about him from all the players that played for him. I want to be in a place where I want to feel like I can communicate with my manager, and my manager's going to have my back all the time. That's exactly what I got from Rocco, and he's the guy I'm going to be working closest with. When I feel like I have a manager that I can trust, and I can communicate with, for me, that's a game-changer." A critical focal point remained as the conversation drew on for Correa and the Twins. This was going to be a partnership about winning. Correa has been in situations where the results have taken time, but he’s also experienced the pinnacle of a World Series ring. He said, “The conversations we had were about two and a half hours…it was all about winning. When I get that from them, that makes me excited because I want to take up that challenge. It was not long ago that I was playing for an organization that was last in the big leagues the year before I got there—losing 100-plus games. I know what it takes to build a championship culture within the clubhouse. It starts within the clubhouse and all the way up to the front office. I see that here with the talent that we have, and I see that we can get so much better in order for us to accomplish that goal to ultimately win a championship." Correa was taken the pick before Minnesota Twins Byron Buxton in the 2012 draft. He’s excited to play up the middle with him and has a history of playing alongside him in showcases as they were growing up. He fondly remembers the pre-draft process in Minnesota, “A 17-year-old hitting tanks in Target Field felt pretty cool.” It may be surprising that the Twins are landing such a supreme talent, but Boras thinks that will become more part of the norm. Taking over Correa’s free agency in January after his previous representation went through changes, Boras noted that Minnesota is a place he has young guys like Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Austin Martin. Also, in talking about the vast revenues clubs see before the season even starts, he shared a belief talent acquisition will change, saying, “The truth of it is, you’re going to see franchises sign a franchise player, maybe the top franchises will sign two or three. That kind of thing. You’re going to see that with regularity in the game because frankly, it’s a component that is necessary for winning.” At the end of the day, it’s more than apparent that Carlos Correa is extremely excited to be in Minnesota and believes in the ability to lead this organization to a championship and have the leadership in place to supplement him getting there. After a few days focused on public relations, it was back to business for the talented shortstop. He took live at-bats for the first time since the World Series, and he said he hopes to see game action for Minnesota by this weekend. While we may still be pinching ourselves, this is now very much real life. The Twins hauled in a big fish, and it seems like he wants to be here to stay. 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. If there were two takeaways from this morning’s press conference, Carlos Correa was impressed with Twins leadership and that he’s here to win. Derek Falvey noted his appreciation of the support from ownership in saying, “A momentous day like this, a significant contract like this with a player of Carlos’s stature only happens with the partnership and support of ownership.” Leadership starts at the top, and Correa noted the warmth he felt in an initial Zoom call with Falvey and new manager Rocco Baldelli. “I talked to Rocco, I talked to Derek and Thad, and they made me feel like this was the place for me to be. They made me feel like this was going to be my next home. And when I got off the Zoom call, I told Scott, let’s make it happen. And I told my wife to start packing.” Communication is a big thing for Correa, and in talking through his desires to be in Minnesota, he continued to communicate a desire for winning. Going to a place where he could win was necessary, and there’s no ambiguity as to whether he feels the Twins are a team capable. “I told Rocco, and I told Derek, we’re not seeing this like a one-year thing, we’re seeing this as I want to build a championship culture in this organization, I want to show you guys what I can do, what I can bring to the table, so we can have a long-term relationship at some point.” While there is an opt-out following the first year, Correa’s agent Scott Boras sees this as an opportunity for Carlos to do damage in a place he’s been very successful. “He had told me, 'these are some of the places I see the ball really well.' When he mentioned Minnesota and I went and looked up, and I said, wow, he just has a very small 1.200 OPS over there… I know this, all the AL Central, the Twins have a new explosion weapon, C4.” Correa has played for some great managers in A.J. Hinch and Dusty Baker. Knowing that communication is so vital between the leader of the team and a leader in the clubhouse, it was exciting to hear how glowingly the new shortstop talked of his skipper. “For me, it was just the vibes I got and how they made me feel, especially talking to Rocco and hearing so many great things about him from all the players that played for him. I want to be in a place where I want to feel like I can communicate with my manager, and my manager's going to have my back all the time. That's exactly what I got from Rocco, and he's the guy I'm going to be working closest with. When I feel like I have a manager that I can trust, and I can communicate with, for me, that's a game-changer." A critical focal point remained as the conversation drew on for Correa and the Twins. This was going to be a partnership about winning. Correa has been in situations where the results have taken time, but he’s also experienced the pinnacle of a World Series ring. He said, “The conversations we had were about two and a half hours…it was all about winning. When I get that from them, that makes me excited because I want to take up that challenge. It was not long ago that I was playing for an organization that was last in the big leagues the year before I got there—losing 100-plus games. I know what it takes to build a championship culture within the clubhouse. It starts within the clubhouse and all the way up to the front office. I see that here with the talent that we have, and I see that we can get so much better in order for us to accomplish that goal to ultimately win a championship." Correa was taken the pick before Minnesota Twins Byron Buxton in the 2012 draft. He’s excited to play up the middle with him and has a history of playing alongside him in showcases as they were growing up. He fondly remembers the pre-draft process in Minnesota, “A 17-year-old hitting tanks in Target Field felt pretty cool.” It may be surprising that the Twins are landing such a supreme talent, but Boras thinks that will become more part of the norm. Taking over Correa’s free agency in January after his previous representation went through changes, Boras noted that Minnesota is a place he has young guys like Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Austin Martin. Also, in talking about the vast revenues clubs see before the season even starts, he shared a belief talent acquisition will change, saying, “The truth of it is, you’re going to see franchises sign a franchise player, maybe the top franchises will sign two or three. That kind of thing. You’re going to see that with regularity in the game because frankly, it’s a component that is necessary for winning.” At the end of the day, it’s more than apparent that Carlos Correa is extremely excited to be in Minnesota and believes in the ability to lead this organization to a championship and have the leadership in place to supplement him getting there. After a few days focused on public relations, it was back to business for the talented shortstop. He took live at-bats for the first time since the World Series, and he said he hopes to see game action for Minnesota by this weekend. While we may still be pinching ourselves, this is now very much real life. The Twins hauled in a big fish, and it seems like he wants to be here to stay. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Fans and journalists alike learned a valuable lesson early Saturday morning — namely that sleep is for the weak of will — as many awoke to the one good piece of news going on at the moment: Carlos Correa is a Minnesota Twin. Correa, who had only been linked to the Twins in the most daydreamy of scenarios (if that), put pen to paper on a 3-year, $105.3 million contract, making him the highest-paid infielder in MLB history. He will immediately slot in as the team’s starting shortstop and help form one of the league’s most dynamic up-the-middle trios alongside Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton. The 2012 No. 1 overall pick lived up to the hype during his seven seasons with the Houston Astros, slashing .277/.356/.481 and slugging 133 home runs, culminating in a 5.8 fWAR performance last summer that netted him a top five finish in MVP voting. But his excellence isn’t secluded to the plate. He’s also pretty proficient with the glove, registering 12 outs above average in 2021 and 27 since Statcast was implemented in 2016. (He won the American League’s Platinum Glove last summer, joining Buxton as the only Twins to have brought home the award.) To put it bluntly: In a league replete with shortstop talent, Correa is without question among the best, if not the best all around. Baseball is not like other sports in that a supreme individual talent can single-handedly carry a team into World Series contention. One need not look any further than the Los Angeles Angels for proof. However, the signing of Correa lends even further credence to the Twins’ belief that they can compete not only for an American League Central title, but perhaps more this season. Correa’s signing coupled with the trades for Sonny Gray, Gio Urshela, and Gary Sanchez has transformed the Twins from a team with two starting pitchers and no clear plan for the future to one that is perhaps a single piece away from being a true threat in the A.L. And with rumors swirling that they have significant interest in Oakland A’s pitchers Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea — both of whom figure to be very gettable at the moment — that single piece may soon arrive. The Twins now boast a lineup consisting of three players — the aforementioned Buxton, Correa, and Polanco — who registered at least 3.9 fWAR last season, with Sanchez, Urshela, and Max Kepler having accomplished the feat in the past as well. Add in promising youngsters Alex Kirilloff, Ryan Jeffers, and Trevor Larnach as well as the ever-steady Luis Arraez and the Twins could have a lineup on par or greater than 2019’s much-beloved Bomba Squad. However, their offseason remains incomplete. The Twins still need to add at least one more starting pitcher as well as a bullpen arm or two. They could also use another veteran catcher to supplement Jeffers and Sanchez, neither of whom is considered a sure thing at the moment. At this point, there is little reason why the Twins shouldn't open the gates to their farm system to usher in a Montas-caliber pitcher. While they lack elite truly elite prospects — though many have made the argument that Austin Martin is — the overall depth of the Twins' system is undoubtedly enticing to other teams. They could part with multiple of their top 10 prospects and still be full of talent. As such, this is the exact moment in which they should be aggressively shopping their minor league prospects and it would come as a bit of a shock if they weren't. But despite the prolonged nature of the offseason and the periods of wondering what the heck they were up to, the patience of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine once again paid off. The Twins have their shortstop (albeit perhaps for only one season). The Twins have their top-end starting pitcher (and perhaps another on the way). The Twins have had a great offseason. Now all that can be done is to wait to see how they tie a bow on it all. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here View full article
  6. Correa, who had only been linked to the Twins in the most daydreamy of scenarios (if that), put pen to paper on a 3-year, $105.3 million contract, making him the highest-paid infielder in MLB history. He will immediately slot in as the team’s starting shortstop and help form one of the league’s most dynamic up-the-middle trios alongside Jorge Polanco and Byron Buxton. The 2012 No. 1 overall pick lived up to the hype during his seven seasons with the Houston Astros, slashing .277/.356/.481 and slugging 133 home runs, culminating in a 5.8 fWAR performance last summer that netted him a top five finish in MVP voting. But his excellence isn’t secluded to the plate. He’s also pretty proficient with the glove, registering 12 outs above average in 2021 and 27 since Statcast was implemented in 2016. (He won the American League’s Platinum Glove last summer, joining Buxton as the only Twins to have brought home the award.) To put it bluntly: In a league replete with shortstop talent, Correa is without question among the best, if not the best all around. Baseball is not like other sports in that a supreme individual talent can single-handedly carry a team into World Series contention. One need not look any further than the Los Angeles Angels for proof. However, the signing of Correa lends even further credence to the Twins’ belief that they can compete not only for an American League Central title, but perhaps more this season. Correa’s signing coupled with the trades for Sonny Gray, Gio Urshela, and Gary Sanchez has transformed the Twins from a team with two starting pitchers and no clear plan for the future to one that is perhaps a single piece away from being a true threat in the A.L. And with rumors swirling that they have significant interest in Oakland A’s pitchers Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea — both of whom figure to be very gettable at the moment — that single piece may soon arrive. The Twins now boast a lineup consisting of three players — the aforementioned Buxton, Correa, and Polanco — who registered at least 3.9 fWAR last season, with Sanchez, Urshela, and Max Kepler having accomplished the feat in the past as well. Add in promising youngsters Alex Kirilloff, Ryan Jeffers, and Trevor Larnach as well as the ever-steady Luis Arraez and the Twins could have a lineup on par or greater than 2019’s much-beloved Bomba Squad. However, their offseason remains incomplete. The Twins still need to add at least one more starting pitcher as well as a bullpen arm or two. They could also use another veteran catcher to supplement Jeffers and Sanchez, neither of whom is considered a sure thing at the moment. At this point, there is little reason why the Twins shouldn't open the gates to their farm system to usher in a Montas-caliber pitcher. While they lack elite truly elite prospects — though many have made the argument that Austin Martin is — the overall depth of the Twins' system is undoubtedly enticing to other teams. They could part with multiple of their top 10 prospects and still be full of talent. As such, this is the exact moment in which they should be aggressively shopping their minor league prospects and it would come as a bit of a shock if they weren't. But despite the prolonged nature of the offseason and the periods of wondering what the heck they were up to, the patience of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine once again paid off. The Twins have their shortstop (albeit perhaps for only one season). The Twins have their top-end starting pitcher (and perhaps another on the way). The Twins have had a great offseason. Now all that can be done is to wait to see how they tie a bow on it all. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here
  7. With recent reports of a playoff expansion all but assured, the Twins have more reason to compete in 2022. Maybe the idea that the Twins had little chance in a five-team American League playoff field was accurate. But if it was, it wasn’t a slam dunk proclamation, and with an extra team (or two) added, there are no excuses left for this front office. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have preached a desire for “sustained success” during their tenure running the Twins. They felt the breeze from a wide-open contention window following a two-year run where the Twins led the American League in regular-season wins. Many believe the team shouldn’t even try to get better one offseason later. It’s an understandable viewpoint. The American League is ratcheting up, even more so than what we’re accustomed to. The East has four legitimate World Series contenders, with the Mariners in the West looking to knock off the powerhouse Astros. In the Central, the White Sox sit at the peak of their powers, with the Tigers and Royals hoping to take steps forward. It won’t be easy. The belief that the Twins, coming off a horrifically disappointing 73-win season *can’t* improve enough to win is giving too much slack to this front office. Ownership hired them to build a sustainable winner, a team that would compete every year. They failed in 2021. Does that mean a “punt” in 2022 should be easily forgiven and understood? I’m not convinced. Listen, I understand there's a pitching pipeline coming. I cover the Minor League system on a daily basis, and I'm equally excited. Why does investing in the 2022 team automatically take away from the future? There's a happy medium here. The Twins signed Josh Donaldson to a four-year, $92 million contract to compete for the duration. They traded Brusdar Graterol for Kenta Maeda to solidify a rotation needing assistance. They extended Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Miguel Sanó to build around. Did they really extend Byron Buxton just to waste his age-28 season? Deciding to throw away an entire season by not making impactful additions is not acceptable, especially with an expanded postseason. Why build all of that financial flexibility? For nothing? The Boston Red Sox won 24 out of 60 games in the shortened 2020 season. That followed an incredibly disappointing follow-up to a dominant World Series run, one that looked to set the tone for years to come. Instead of folding for 2021, the team invested by signing Kiké Hernández and Hunter Renfroe and trading for Adam Ottavino. Those moves weren’t earth-shattering, as the Red Sox had the offensive pieces in place to score runs in bunches. The rotation looked bleak, with Eduardo Rodríguez still recovering from myocarditis, Nick Pivetta struggling mightily in 2020, and Nathan Eovaldi throwing just 116 combined innings over the prior two seasons. Boston didn’t throw in the towel. They gave themselves a fighting chance, relied on a potent offense, and eventually appeared in the ALCS. I agree the Twins shouldn’t trade away the entire future, but they can give themselves a chance in a six or seven-team field with the right moves. This current Twins roster has little upside, but the floor is high enough offensively that the team could surprise this summer with substantial additions. It’s disheartening that the pain of the 2021 season eliminated this reality from so many minds. We shouldn’t let it. Don’t let this front office off the hook. They were brought in to build a consistent winner. The jury is out whether they'll stick to their word. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook , or email View full article
  8. It’s hard to believe we’re nearing the 10 year anniversary of the Twins selecting Byron Buxton with the #2 overall pick in the 2012 draft. But, at the same time, considering the journey of Buxton’s career and the crazy times we’ve lived through recently, it also seems like it was forever ago. With the draft season just starting to get going, we’re going to take a week to look back to 2012 (and before) and pull back the covers on what all went into making Byron Buxton a Minnesota Twin. Twins Daily had a chance to talk recently with Jack Powell, the area scout responsible for signing Buxton. Powell gives us a front-row seat to everything that happened. “I first saw Byron at East Cobb during the summer going into his junior year of high school and didn’t know who he was,” Powell explained. “But I noticed his body and the way he threw the ball in long toss. Then warming up and running sprints. The way he swung a bat and got out of the box. I knew this kid was going to be special.” That first look put Buxton on the Twins' radar, but due to the lack of draftable talent in his area, Powell didn’t get to see Buxton at all during his junior baseball season. It was also known that Buxton was being recruited to play football and baseball at the University of Georgia and, at the time, it wasn't clear that Buxton would choose the diamond. “Then I saw him again at East Cobb Pro with (Twins scout Tim) O’Neill going into his senior year. For as good as he looked the year before, this time he looked even better. Byron could just dial it up.” “We went back to watch him play football that fall, and he switched between playing quarterback and wide receiver. I think his first three catches went for touchdowns,” Powell chuckled, “Who knows, he would probably have made the NFL if he wanted to.” A contingent of Twins personnel, including Powell, O’Neill, and former scouting director Deron Johnson, met with Buxton and his parents and Powell left that meeting impressed. “There was just something different about him. He had great parents, very supportive. He was so quiet and unassuming. It definitely took him a while to get to know people and open it. But I’ll never forget during that first meeting, I watched him out on the driveway playing pickup basketball with a big group of neighborhood kids. They were probably 8-12 years old. He was so great with them. He’d let them score and then tell them, ‘I’ll remember that.’ He made those kids feel great.” Unlike the previous year, Powell spent “all spring” watching Buxton play. “I’ll never forget at one of his games, I was taking video and Byron hit an absolute missile. I sent it to DJ and he called me right away and said, ‘Are you trying to kill me!?’ I didn’t know what he meant and he says, ‘I watched that video and almost wrecked.’” The excitement of potentially adding Buxton had spread throughout the organization. “We saw him at least a half dozen times. We were sold. (General Manager) Terry (Ryan) was sold.” The last day of Buxton’s high school career came as a doubleheader in the state championship. “Byron pitched the first game. He was 94-98 mph off the mound and am pretty sure he hit a home run. In the second game, he was in centerfield, catching everything and making highlight plays. He hit a line drive so hard past the second baseman, the kid didn’t even have time to put his glove up. He absolutely dominated that day.” But there was still time to go before the draft and, of course, the Twins were drafting second and didn’t know if Buxton would still be available. “We knew the Astros were considering Byron and Carlos Correa. We didn’t know who they would take. We knew that we would take Byron if he was available. We, the Twins, have a good working relationship with Byron’s agent, Al Goetz, and felt that we could get the deal done if he got to us. Al has been so great for Byron and his family.” The Twins got their wish. The Astros took Correa. “It’s been fun watching Byron now and seeing how much he’s improved his game. Injuries and luck are part of baseball and Byron hasn’t had great luck, but we’re going to see peak Byron Buxton this year. As guys mature they learn their limits. Rocco has done a great job helping Byron understand that he doesn’t always have to try to move the outfield wall. As Byron ages, his game may change, but he’s going to be better from this point forward.” When asked about Buxton’s names being in trade rumors over the past year, Powell said, “I never had the first feeling we’d trade him…unless someone was offering the ‘27 Yankees. Everyone understands how impactful Byron is.” And not only did the Twins hold onto Buxton, but they also wrapped him up for the next seven years with a $100 million contract. Buxton invited Powell to Target Field to celebrate that moment with him. “I’m so grateful that Byron and Derek (Falvey) and Thad (Levine) made that happen. He’s come so far since being the best high school player I’ve scouted since Josh Hamilton.” There were a few players that Powell mentioned as comparisons for the then-high school phenom: Eric Davis, Andruw Jones, and Hamilton. “They were all players with phenomenal tools who could carry teams. Davis took the Reds to the World Series. We saw Hamilton do it in Texas and Cincinnati. And it’s a shame that Jones isn’t in the Hall of Fame.” Speaking of Andruw Jones, Powell mentions his son, Druw as one of the “impactful players” that he hopes to see available when the Twins are on the clock, picking 8th in the 2022 draft. There are other prep players that he has seen in his area. “Druw reminds me of Buxton. Elijah Green has a little more swing-and-miss in his game right now than Buxton did in high school. Termarr Johnson is another one. They’re all going to be impactful players.” Like with Buxton, it’s going to be a wait-and-see when it comes to who’s available when the draft eventually happens. “I’ll see a couple hundred games between March 1 and July 1. Practices. Workouts. I’m not sure any of those three (mentioned above) will be available, but anything can happen between now and the draft.” And a lot of things will. For now, though, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we get to see Byron Buxton patrolling Target Field again soon… and a lot over the next seven years. View full article
  9. With the draft season just starting to get going, we’re going to take a week to look back to 2012 (and before) and pull back the covers on what all went into making Byron Buxton a Minnesota Twin. Twins Daily had a chance to talk recently with Jack Powell, the area scout responsible for signing Buxton. Powell gives us a front-row seat to everything that happened. “I first saw Byron at East Cobb during the summer going into his junior year of high school and didn’t know who he was,” Powell explained. “But I noticed his body and the way he threw the ball in long toss. Then warming up and running sprints. The way he swung a bat and got out of the box. I knew this kid was going to be special.” That first look put Buxton on the Twins' radar, but due to the lack of draftable talent in his area, Powell didn’t get to see Buxton at all during his junior baseball season. It was also known that Buxton was being recruited to play football and baseball at the University of Georgia and, at the time, it wasn't clear that Buxton would choose the diamond. “Then I saw him again at East Cobb Pro with (Twins scout Tim) O’Neill going into his senior year. For as good as he looked the year before, this time he looked even better. Byron could just dial it up.” “We went back to watch him play football that fall, and he switched between playing quarterback and wide receiver. I think his first three catches went for touchdowns,” Powell chuckled, “Who knows, he would probably have made the NFL if he wanted to.” A contingent of Twins personnel, including Powell, O’Neill, and former scouting director Deron Johnson, met with Buxton and his parents and Powell left that meeting impressed. “There was just something different about him. He had great parents, very supportive. He was so quiet and unassuming. It definitely took him a while to get to know people and open it. But I’ll never forget during that first meeting, I watched him out on the driveway playing pickup basketball with a big group of neighborhood kids. They were probably 8-12 years old. He was so great with them. He’d let them score and then tell them, ‘I’ll remember that.’ He made those kids feel great.” Unlike the previous year, Powell spent “all spring” watching Buxton play. “I’ll never forget at one of his games, I was taking video and Byron hit an absolute missile. I sent it to DJ and he called me right away and said, ‘Are you trying to kill me!?’ I didn’t know what he meant and he says, ‘I watched that video and almost wrecked.’” The excitement of potentially adding Buxton had spread throughout the organization. “We saw him at least a half dozen times. We were sold. (General Manager) Terry (Ryan) was sold.” The last day of Buxton’s high school career came as a doubleheader in the state championship. “Byron pitched the first game. He was 94-98 mph off the mound and am pretty sure he hit a home run. In the second game, he was in centerfield, catching everything and making highlight plays. He hit a line drive so hard past the second baseman, the kid didn’t even have time to put his glove up. He absolutely dominated that day.” But there was still time to go before the draft and, of course, the Twins were drafting second and didn’t know if Buxton would still be available. “We knew the Astros were considering Byron and Carlos Correa. We didn’t know who they would take. We knew that we would take Byron if he was available. We, the Twins, have a good working relationship with Byron’s agent, Al Goetz, and felt that we could get the deal done if he got to us. Al has been so great for Byron and his family.” The Twins got their wish. The Astros took Correa. “It’s been fun watching Byron now and seeing how much he’s improved his game. Injuries and luck are part of baseball and Byron hasn’t had great luck, but we’re going to see peak Byron Buxton this year. As guys mature they learn their limits. Rocco has done a great job helping Byron understand that he doesn’t always have to try to move the outfield wall. As Byron ages, his game may change, but he’s going to be better from this point forward.” When asked about Buxton’s names being in trade rumors over the past year, Powell said, “I never had the first feeling we’d trade him…unless someone was offering the ‘27 Yankees. Everyone understands how impactful Byron is.” And not only did the Twins hold onto Buxton, but they also wrapped him up for the next seven years with a $100 million contract. Buxton invited Powell to Target Field to celebrate that moment with him. “I’m so grateful that Byron and Derek (Falvey) and Thad (Levine) made that happen. He’s come so far since being the best high school player I’ve scouted since Josh Hamilton.” There were a few players that Powell mentioned as comparisons for the then-high school phenom: Eric Davis, Andruw Jones, and Hamilton. “They were all players with phenomenal tools who could carry teams. Davis took the Reds to the World Series. We saw Hamilton do it in Texas and Cincinnati. And it’s a shame that Jones isn’t in the Hall of Fame.” Speaking of Andruw Jones, Powell mentions his son, Druw as one of the “impactful players” that he hopes to see available when the Twins are on the clock, picking 8th in the 2022 draft. There are other prep players that he has seen in his area. “Druw reminds me of Buxton. Elijah Green has a little more swing-and-miss in his game right now than Buxton did in high school. Termarr Johnson is another one. They’re all going to be impactful players.” Like with Buxton, it’s going to be a wait-and-see when it comes to who’s available when the draft eventually happens. “I’ll see a couple hundred games between March 1 and July 1. Practices. Workouts. I’m not sure any of those three (mentioned above) will be available, but anything can happen between now and the draft.” And a lot of things will. For now, though, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that we get to see Byron Buxton patrolling Target Field again soon… and a lot over the next seven years.
  10. Maybe the idea that the Twins had little chance in a five-team American League playoff field was accurate. But if it was, it wasn’t a slam dunk proclamation, and with an extra team (or two) added, there are no excuses left for this front office. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have preached a desire for “sustained success” during their tenure running the Twins. They felt the breeze from a wide-open contention window following a two-year run where the Twins led the American League in regular-season wins. Many believe the team shouldn’t even try to get better one offseason later. It’s an understandable viewpoint. The American League is ratcheting up, even more so than what we’re accustomed to. The East has four legitimate World Series contenders, with the Mariners in the West looking to knock off the powerhouse Astros. In the Central, the White Sox sit at the peak of their powers, with the Tigers and Royals hoping to take steps forward. It won’t be easy. The belief that the Twins, coming off a horrifically disappointing 73-win season *can’t* improve enough to win is giving too much slack to this front office. Ownership hired them to build a sustainable winner, a team that would compete every year. They failed in 2021. Does that mean a “punt” in 2022 should be easily forgiven and understood? I’m not convinced. Listen, I understand there's a pitching pipeline coming. I cover the Minor League system on a daily basis, and I'm equally excited. Why does investing in the 2022 team automatically take away from the future? There's a happy medium here. The Twins signed Josh Donaldson to a four-year, $92 million contract to compete for the duration. They traded Brusdar Graterol for Kenta Maeda to solidify a rotation needing assistance. They extended Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Miguel Sanó to build around. Did they really extend Byron Buxton just to waste his age-28 season? Deciding to throw away an entire season by not making impactful additions is not acceptable, especially with an expanded postseason. Why build all of that financial flexibility? For nothing? The Boston Red Sox won 24 out of 60 games in the shortened 2020 season. That followed an incredibly disappointing follow-up to a dominant World Series run, one that looked to set the tone for years to come. Instead of folding for 2021, the team invested by signing Kiké Hernández and Hunter Renfroe and trading for Adam Ottavino. Those moves weren’t earth-shattering, as the Red Sox had the offensive pieces in place to score runs in bunches. The rotation looked bleak, with Eduardo Rodríguez still recovering from myocarditis, Nick Pivetta struggling mightily in 2020, and Nathan Eovaldi throwing just 116 combined innings over the prior two seasons. Boston didn’t throw in the towel. They gave themselves a fighting chance, relied on a potent offense, and eventually appeared in the ALCS. I agree the Twins shouldn’t trade away the entire future, but they can give themselves a chance in a six or seven-team field with the right moves. This current Twins roster has little upside, but the floor is high enough offensively that the team could surprise this summer with substantial additions. It’s disheartening that the pain of the 2021 season eliminated this reality from so many minds. We shouldn’t let it. Don’t let this front office off the hook. They were brought in to build a consistent winner. The jury is out whether they'll stick to their word. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook , or email
  11. The Chicago White Sox have been the talk of the AL Central for each of the past two years now. Despite the Minnesota Twins winning the division in 2020, the up and comers drew excitement. Now needing someone to knock them off, the first ZiPS projections suggest a competitive group. Last season, the AL Central was a case of the haves and have nots. Both Chicago and Minnesota were expected to contend while Cleveland sat in no man's land, and Detroit and Kansas City floundered. It was easy to see that the Tigers were building something under A.J. Hinch, and the Royals have a glut of exciting talent ready to help at the big-league level. Because baseball is locked out and transactions are frozen, we don’t know how rosters will finalize, but there’s plenty to draw off now. ZiPS sees the White Sox as the cream of the crop again, which should be expected. The 88 win total is a good spot, given the projection system. With room to fluctuate on both sides, it’s fair to assess the AL Central Division winner will again come in with a win total in the low-90s. From there, every other team is within four games of each other, and no one has a win total of fewer than 74 games. How these clubs are constructed currently is what makes this interesting. Chicago might have already spent on most of their additions in adding Kendall Graveman and re-signing Leury Garcia. They will actively look to shop Craig Kimbrel, but the return doesn’t likely make them a better team. It’s anyone’s guess what the Guardians do as they haven’t spent money and are going the wrong way. Detroit made their big splash in paying for Javier Baez, and the Royals will probably rely more internally than anything. That leads us to the Twins. Minnesota is currently projected for 75 wins, and that’s with at least two openings in the rotation and a shortstop needing to be addressed. I think it’s a good bet to plan on Derek Falvey acquiring a starter via trade, and then signing someone like Michael Pineda, Zack Greinke, or another veteran presence is a good step forward. Minnesota still has $50 million or more to spend, and being valued as such with the present roster is a testament to the lineup. There’s no denying that the Twins should hit. They have one of the better lineups in baseball when things are clicking, and adding a healthy Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach should only help cement that reality. Rocco Baldelli’s club will go as far as the pitching staff allows it to, and that group will be as capable as the dollars or acquisition cost is stretched towards. A year ago, the AL Central might have been the weakest division in baseball, but in 2022 it may wind up being the group with the most parity. Some of those teams on the bottom have strong farm systems ready to bear fruit, and that’s only going to ratchet up their overall competitiveness. Right now, the Twins are in a good place that allows them to put 2021 in the rearview mirror, but they must be committed to making that season little more than a blip on the radar. Transactions will come quickly once the lockout is lifted, but how many wins the Twins can add from them will directly correlate to the quality of each move. View full article
  12. Last season, the AL Central was a case of the haves and have nots. Both Chicago and Minnesota were expected to contend while Cleveland sat in no man's land, and Detroit and Kansas City floundered. It was easy to see that the Tigers were building something under A.J. Hinch, and the Royals have a glut of exciting talent ready to help at the big-league level. Because baseball is locked out and transactions are frozen, we don’t know how rosters will finalize, but there’s plenty to draw off now. ZiPS sees the White Sox as the cream of the crop again, which should be expected. The 88 win total is a good spot, given the projection system. With room to fluctuate on both sides, it’s fair to assess the AL Central Division winner will again come in with a win total in the low-90s. From there, every other team is within four games of each other, and no one has a win total of fewer than 74 games. How these clubs are constructed currently is what makes this interesting. Chicago might have already spent on most of their additions in adding Kendall Graveman and re-signing Leury Garcia. They will actively look to shop Craig Kimbrel, but the return doesn’t likely make them a better team. It’s anyone’s guess what the Guardians do as they haven’t spent money and are going the wrong way. Detroit made their big splash in paying for Javier Baez, and the Royals will probably rely more internally than anything. That leads us to the Twins. Minnesota is currently projected for 75 wins, and that’s with at least two openings in the rotation and a shortstop needing to be addressed. I think it’s a good bet to plan on Derek Falvey acquiring a starter via trade, and then signing someone like Michael Pineda, Zack Greinke, or another veteran presence is a good step forward. Minnesota still has $50 million or more to spend, and being valued as such with the present roster is a testament to the lineup. There’s no denying that the Twins should hit. They have one of the better lineups in baseball when things are clicking, and adding a healthy Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach should only help cement that reality. Rocco Baldelli’s club will go as far as the pitching staff allows it to, and that group will be as capable as the dollars or acquisition cost is stretched towards. A year ago, the AL Central might have been the weakest division in baseball, but in 2022 it may wind up being the group with the most parity. Some of those teams on the bottom have strong farm systems ready to bear fruit, and that’s only going to ratchet up their overall competitiveness. Right now, the Twins are in a good place that allows them to put 2021 in the rearview mirror, but they must be committed to making that season little more than a blip on the radar. Transactions will come quickly once the lockout is lifted, but how many wins the Twins can add from them will directly correlate to the quality of each move.
  13. 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
  14. 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
  15. “ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE MILLION?! DOLLARS?!,” an angry Pohlad replied. “For ONE pitcher? Did I not just give you four million dollars for Dylan Bundy?!” Interior: Target Field. It is December 24th. The snow is falling. It is dark outside and the staff is working in candlelight. A Houston Astros-logoed trash can burns in the corner of the room for heat. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are at their desks, tired and nodding off, poring over the Bill James Handbook from 2018 and a back issue of Baseball America from 2017, looking for pitchers. Always looking for pitchers. An old, chipped rotary phone across the room rings. Falvey stands up, blows warm air on his hands and picks up the receiver. “Well, that certainly is a great deal for us,” Falvey exclaims before his face suddenly drops. “I just don’t think Mr. Pohlad will go for it, certainly not around Christmastime when budgets are even tighter.” Falvey listens to the voice on the other end of the phone before agreeing to ask his boss about this proposition. He tentatively approaches Levine and whispers into his ear. As he listens, Levine begins to perk up and get excited. He agrees that Falvey should approach Mr. Pohlad about this proposition and even offers to accompany him to Pohlad’s office. Behind a cracked door, Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad sits at a large desk in his office. He is carefully counting receipts from hot dog sales and entering them into a primitive counting machine. There is a knock at the door. “WHO IS IT,” Pohlad’s voice booms from behind the door. “It’s us, Thad and Derek, sir,” Levine sheepishly replies. “WELL COME IN, YOU ARE LETTING ALL THE HEAT OUT OF THE OFFICE,” Pohlad impatiently replies. Falvey and Levine hesitate, with each of them wanting the other to enter the room first. Finally, Levine sighs and heads inside, trailed by Falvey. They approach the desk holding a notebook. “Good evening sir and Merry Christmas,” Lavine says before cringing as he hears Pohlad’s response begin to leave his lungs…. “CHRISTMAS?! THE SEASON OF GIVING?! BAH HUMBUG!.” Pohlad snarls through gritted teeth. “I CAN’T STAND THE THOUGHT OF SPENDING THE MONEY I WORKED SO HARD TO EARN. “Do you see these hot dog receipts? EVERY one of these hot dogs sold for $8. Do you know how much they cost us? One dollar!,” Pohlad said with a devilish grin on his face. “Now THAT’s the kind of GIVING I like, people GIVING me their money for MY hot dogs. I call it ‘the Target Field Experience,’” he said before trailing off into a soft cackle. “Never mind that, what is it that you interrupted me for?” “Well, sir, you see, free agency has been really wild this year, and a lot of the top pitchers have already gone off the board…..” Levine began, but he was cut off immediately by a furious Pohlad. “TOP pitchers? TOP?!? Haven’t I already explained to you that we cannot AFFORD TOP PITCHERS,” Pohlad raged. “That’s why I got you the Bill James Handbook from 2018 at a garage sale. You are to find pitchers who performed well during that season and figure out how to make them good again.” “Yes, sir, I understand, but I just got off of the phone with the agent for Kevin Gausman and he wants to sign with the Twins… it’s a Christmas miracle!” Falvey said. “He is willing sign for five years and $125 million… it’s a bargain for us---“ “ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE MILLION?! DOLLARS?!,” an angry Pohlad replied. “For ONE pitcher? Did I not just give you four million dollars for Dylan Bundy?!” “Yes, sir, you did and that was very, very generous of you,” Levine said. “However, Gausman is a major upgrade over the pitchers we have now and a proven commodity.” Mr. Pohlad frowned and pointed his finger toward the door. “We are a small market club, Derek, and I don’t appreciate you coming in here trying to convince me to spend money we certainly don’t have here.” “But, sir, the fans would really…,” Falvey begins before he is shouted down by Pohlad. “The FANS?! The FANS?!,” Pohlad yells. “The FANS are lucky to have a baseball team at all! I will hear no more of this about the FANS! “The FANS are expected to buy tickets, a jersey to wear to the game, a $12 beer and $8 hot dog and just be happy to be outside watching baseball. ‘Your ticket to summer,’ remember?” Pohlad stands up, puts on his overcoat and summons his butler, Rudy. Rudy emerges from a side room and helps Pohlad put on his gloves, hat and shoes. Falvey and Levine watch out the window as Pohlad climbs into his Porsche and heads to his home in Edina. Falvey and Levine watch to make sure Pohlad is gone then carefully pack up their supplies to head home for the holidays. Falvey puts a grocery-bag book cover on the Bill James Handbook and Levine carefully puts out the fire in the Astros trash can. “Merry Christmas, Thad, “ Falvey says. “Merry Christmas, Derek,” Levine replies. Check back for Part 2, coming soon! View full article
  16. Interior: Target Field. It is December 24th. The snow is falling. It is dark outside and the staff is working in candlelight. A Houston Astros-logoed trash can burns in the corner of the room for heat. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are at their desks, tired and nodding off, poring over the Bill James Handbook from 2018 and a back issue of Baseball America from 2017, looking for pitchers. Always looking for pitchers. An old, chipped rotary phone across the room rings. Falvey stands up, blows warm air on his hands and picks up the receiver. “Well, that certainly is a great deal for us,” Falvey exclaims before his face suddenly drops. “I just don’t think Mr. Pohlad will go for it, certainly not around Christmastime when budgets are even tighter.” Falvey listens to the voice on the other end of the phone before agreeing to ask his boss about this proposition. He tentatively approaches Levine and whispers into his ear. As he listens, Levine begins to perk up and get excited. He agrees that Falvey should approach Mr. Pohlad about this proposition and even offers to accompany him to Pohlad’s office. Behind a cracked door, Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad sits at a large desk in his office. He is carefully counting receipts from hot dog sales and entering them into a primitive counting machine. There is a knock at the door. “WHO IS IT,” Pohlad’s voice booms from behind the door. “It’s us, Thad and Derek, sir,” Levine sheepishly replies. “WELL COME IN, YOU ARE LETTING ALL THE HEAT OUT OF THE OFFICE,” Pohlad impatiently replies. Falvey and Levine hesitate, with each of them wanting the other to enter the room first. Finally, Levine sighs and heads inside, trailed by Falvey. They approach the desk holding a notebook. “Good evening sir and Merry Christmas,” Lavine says before cringing as he hears Pohlad’s response begin to leave his lungs…. “CHRISTMAS?! THE SEASON OF GIVING?! BAH HUMBUG!.” Pohlad snarls through gritted teeth. “I CAN’T STAND THE THOUGHT OF SPENDING THE MONEY I WORKED SO HARD TO EARN. “Do you see these hot dog receipts? EVERY one of these hot dogs sold for $8. Do you know how much they cost us? One dollar!,” Pohlad said with a devilish grin on his face. “Now THAT’s the kind of GIVING I like, people GIVING me their money for MY hot dogs. I call it ‘the Target Field Experience,’” he said before trailing off into a soft cackle. “Never mind that, what is it that you interrupted me for?” “Well, sir, you see, free agency has been really wild this year, and a lot of the top pitchers have already gone off the board…..” Levine began, but he was cut off immediately by a furious Pohlad. “TOP pitchers? TOP?!? Haven’t I already explained to you that we cannot AFFORD TOP PITCHERS,” Pohlad raged. “That’s why I got you the Bill James Handbook from 2018 at a garage sale. You are to find pitchers who performed well during that season and figure out how to make them good again.” “Yes, sir, I understand, but I just got off of the phone with the agent for Kevin Gausman and he wants to sign with the Twins… it’s a Christmas miracle!” Falvey said. “He is willing sign for five years and $125 million… it’s a bargain for us---“ “ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY FIVE MILLION?! DOLLARS?!,” an angry Pohlad replied. “For ONE pitcher? Did I not just give you four million dollars for Dylan Bundy?!” “Yes, sir, you did and that was very, very generous of you,” Levine said. “However, Gausman is a major upgrade over the pitchers we have now and a proven commodity.” Mr. Pohlad frowned and pointed his finger toward the door. “We are a small market club, Derek, and I don’t appreciate you coming in here trying to convince me to spend money we certainly don’t have here.” “But, sir, the fans would really…,” Falvey begins before he is shouted down by Pohlad. “The FANS?! The FANS?!,” Pohlad yells. “The FANS are lucky to have a baseball team at all! I will hear no more of this about the FANS! “The FANS are expected to buy tickets, a jersey to wear to the game, a $12 beer and $8 hot dog and just be happy to be outside watching baseball. ‘Your ticket to summer,’ remember?” Pohlad stands up, puts on his overcoat and summons his butler, Rudy. Rudy emerges from a side room and helps Pohlad put on his gloves, hat and shoes. Falvey and Levine watch out the window as Pohlad climbs into his Porsche and heads to his home in Edina. Falvey and Levine watch to make sure Pohlad is gone then carefully pack up their supplies to head home for the holidays. Falvey puts a grocery-bag book cover on the Bill James Handbook and Levine carefully puts out the fire in the Astros trash can. “Merry Christmas, Thad, “ Falvey says. “Merry Christmas, Derek,” Levine replies. Check back for Part 2, coming soon!
  17. Last week, I was ready to write this piece with three things the Twins could be tagged with failure for the offseason should the tasks remain incomplete. They extended Byron Buxton; that was a big number one. There’s still work to be done, and the heavy lifting is yet to come. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine needed to extend Byron Buxton. It was paramount for the franchise. The organization preached Target Field being a vehicle to keep homegrown talent, and Jose Berrios had already departed. Losing Buxton would’ve opened the door to the flip side of Joe Mauer’s situation, and having the power to negotiate singularly with a mega-talent on depressed dollars was unfathomable. Thankfully they pulled through and agreed. Seven years, $100 million. He’s here to stay. Now, what’s next? I’m the “freaking offseason” guy, and if there’s a way for Minnesota to have anything but this winter, it’s by failing to complete these two tasks: 1. Spending Must Remain Constant Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the Twins front office for the 2017 Major League Baseball season. The 2016 Twins were coming off a disastrous 103-loss campaign, and organizational upheaval was afoot. Roster turnover immediately began, and despite being saddled with Paul Molitor as an incumbent manager, the front office spent to the tune of $100.7 million, slightly behind the $104 million a year prior. A step backward is expected when competitiveness wanes. However, the opposite is true when you’re on an upswing, even when results are not necessarily indicative of expectations. After winning 85 games in 2017 and finishing second in the AL Central, Minnesota spent roughly $125 million for the 2018 season. A new franchise record payroll had been established. That team failed to live up to expectations. Despite finishing second in the division, they were 78-84 on the year. Falvey and Levine saw what they had and needed to push forward. Welcome to the Bomba Squad. The 2019 Twins pushed the payroll north of $125 million and were one of the best teams in franchise history. Setting a single-season record for home runs, this group was bounced early from the Postseason but looked poised for more. Covid then gave us a truncated 2020 season, and owners suggested revenues were down. While they may not have turned the same profit, the assumption should be that many organizations still operated in the green. The Twins signed veteran Josh Donaldson to a $100 million contract before Spring Training and essentially held serve from where their 2019 spend ended. For 2021 the commentary was about decreased payrolls for owners to make up the lost dollars. The Twins cut back to $118 million, just over a 5% decrease from the year prior. Regardless of the misstep in record, it’s clear that this club is on the precipice. Donaldson is here for two more seasons. Buxton has been locked up to a ridiculously affordable pact. The prospects are near the top of the system, and the graduations have all been meaningful ones. It’s time to take another step forward this season and push the bottom line. A bare minimum spend for Minnesota this season should be $130 million. Going to $135 or even $140 million makes a good deal of sense as well. They’d have to splurge pretty heavily to account for that amount, but the rotation remains bare, and a top free agent could certainly be had. That brings us to the second point. 2. Allocate the Berrios Dollars There’s no denying that Minnesota easily could’ve matched the seven-year, $131 million deal that Jose Berrios just got from the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s hardly bank-breaking and would’ve been an excellent opportunity to keep their homegrown talent. The problem seems to be in length; this front-office isn’t giving a pitcher anything over five years. So be it, that’s a fine and understandable stance considering the uncertainty that comes with arms (even if Berrios has been an incredibly durable one). What that means is the money needs to be ticketed elsewhere and on the same scale. $18 million per year is roughly what Berrios got from Toronto. I’m not interested in types like J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda combining to make that money. A true frontline starter has to be acquired in hopes of carrying Berrios’ load. Understandably, the name may come via trade, be under team control, and cost more in prospect capital than dollars. Should that be the case, a strong foot forward for starters number two and three should be shown. This front office has to be willing to overpay on shorter deals if they’re unwilling to hand out the length of their competitors. Last season the largest misstep was acquiring arms filling the back of the rotation rather than finding a middle-to-upper tier talent that could bolster the top half. Pineda would be a nice get to return, but he should be the worst starter they acquire. The goal needs to be setting Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan up for no more than a 4th and 5th option in a competition as we careen towards Opening Day. Falvey has established an infrastructure that supports talented arms when they’re available. Minnesota’s starters ranked 5th and 7th in 2020 and 2019 by fWAR, and that was without a splash for Wes Johnson. Go get him a great piece or two and let him work. Is there’s another area that’s a must this offseason for you to believe in the 2022 Twins chances? Any deal breakers for you? 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
  18. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine needed to extend Byron Buxton. It was paramount for the franchise. The organization preached Target Field being a vehicle to keep homegrown talent, and Jose Berrios had already departed. Losing Buxton would’ve opened the door to the flip side of Joe Mauer’s situation, and having the power to negotiate singularly with a mega-talent on depressed dollars was unfathomable. Thankfully they pulled through and agreed. Seven years, $100 million. He’s here to stay. Now, what’s next? I’m the “freaking offseason” guy, and if there’s a way for Minnesota to have anything but this winter, it’s by failing to complete these two tasks: 1. Spending Must Remain Constant Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over the Twins front office for the 2017 Major League Baseball season. The 2016 Twins were coming off a disastrous 103-loss campaign, and organizational upheaval was afoot. Roster turnover immediately began, and despite being saddled with Paul Molitor as an incumbent manager, the front office spent to the tune of $100.7 million, slightly behind the $104 million a year prior. A step backward is expected when competitiveness wanes. However, the opposite is true when you’re on an upswing, even when results are not necessarily indicative of expectations. After winning 85 games in 2017 and finishing second in the AL Central, Minnesota spent roughly $125 million for the 2018 season. A new franchise record payroll had been established. That team failed to live up to expectations. Despite finishing second in the division, they were 78-84 on the year. Falvey and Levine saw what they had and needed to push forward. Welcome to the Bomba Squad. The 2019 Twins pushed the payroll north of $125 million and were one of the best teams in franchise history. Setting a single-season record for home runs, this group was bounced early from the Postseason but looked poised for more. Covid then gave us a truncated 2020 season, and owners suggested revenues were down. While they may not have turned the same profit, the assumption should be that many organizations still operated in the green. The Twins signed veteran Josh Donaldson to a $100 million contract before Spring Training and essentially held serve from where their 2019 spend ended. For 2021 the commentary was about decreased payrolls for owners to make up the lost dollars. The Twins cut back to $118 million, just over a 5% decrease from the year prior. Regardless of the misstep in record, it’s clear that this club is on the precipice. Donaldson is here for two more seasons. Buxton has been locked up to a ridiculously affordable pact. The prospects are near the top of the system, and the graduations have all been meaningful ones. It’s time to take another step forward this season and push the bottom line. A bare minimum spend for Minnesota this season should be $130 million. Going to $135 or even $140 million makes a good deal of sense as well. They’d have to splurge pretty heavily to account for that amount, but the rotation remains bare, and a top free agent could certainly be had. That brings us to the second point. 2. Allocate the Berrios Dollars There’s no denying that Minnesota easily could’ve matched the seven-year, $131 million deal that Jose Berrios just got from the Toronto Blue Jays. That’s hardly bank-breaking and would’ve been an excellent opportunity to keep their homegrown talent. The problem seems to be in length; this front-office isn’t giving a pitcher anything over five years. So be it, that’s a fine and understandable stance considering the uncertainty that comes with arms (even if Berrios has been an incredibly durable one). What that means is the money needs to be ticketed elsewhere and on the same scale. $18 million per year is roughly what Berrios got from Toronto. I’m not interested in types like J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda combining to make that money. A true frontline starter has to be acquired in hopes of carrying Berrios’ load. Understandably, the name may come via trade, be under team control, and cost more in prospect capital than dollars. Should that be the case, a strong foot forward for starters number two and three should be shown. This front office has to be willing to overpay on shorter deals if they’re unwilling to hand out the length of their competitors. Last season the largest misstep was acquiring arms filling the back of the rotation rather than finding a middle-to-upper tier talent that could bolster the top half. Pineda would be a nice get to return, but he should be the worst starter they acquire. The goal needs to be setting Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan up for no more than a 4th and 5th option in a competition as we careen towards Opening Day. Falvey has established an infrastructure that supports talented arms when they’re available. Minnesota’s starters ranked 5th and 7th in 2020 and 2019 by fWAR, and that was without a splash for Wes Johnson. Go get him a great piece or two and let him work. Is there’s another area that’s a must this offseason for you to believe in the 2022 Twins chances? Any deal breakers for you? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. Earlier this week, the Toronto Blue Jays extended former Twins pitcher Jose Berrios on a seven-year deal. On that same day, The Athletic reported an update in regards to Byron Buxton. Neither looks great for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. For years the Minnesota Twins organization has suggested that the goal would be to keep homegrown stars. Yes, they paid Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Miguel Sano. None of those deals were substantial, however. Instead of paying Jose Berrios, who was reportedly intent on reaching free agency, they flipped him for two top-100 prospects. Now with the Blue Jays handing out a seven-year deal worth $140 million, it’s clear that it wasn’t about paying Berrios, but probably more about how long they would. Despite Berrios suggesting he wanted to reach free agency, he was perhaps more interested in finding a deal that compensated him correctly. That’s where this begins to break down. Before getting into what the front office is trying to do, or more appropriately failing to do, we need to look at Buxton. Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal reported, “Talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million.” That’s an awful look for the front office as well. Seven years or not, Minnesota is looking to nickel and dime a superstar they are only invited to the table because he’s been injured. Assuming Buxton was a free agent, Minnesota wouldn’t be in the realm of his possible destinations, and if an injury bug hadn’t hit him, the price tag would be well north of $250 million. Trying to piece together a salary that goes long on years and short on average annual value for a talent like Buxton is the exact opposite of the message sent to Berrios. The needle Falvey and Levine are trying to thread is a seemingly hopeless one. They appear intent on avoiding long-term deals but also are expecting to play at or below market value. There’s no give and take in that negotiating style, and the alternative is one we’ve yet to hear them dabble in. Should you opt to avoid length, the result has to be higher than the market average annual value. No player will take fewer years for the same amount of money, but they might be lured by a more lucrative deal that makes up for the lacking security. There’s no denying that this front office has done a great job establishing a strong culture and organizational structure. Minnesota’s farm system may not be as loaded as it’s ever been, but it’s undoubtedly as deep. The developmental talent is there to push players towards realizing their potential, but there has not been a good enough job done supplementing the talent at the top. Now faced with the opportunity to keep some of their best, Falvey already chose to forgo length on one and is seemingly leaning towards passing up on dollars for the other. Should Minnesota sign a top-tier pitcher with the money ticketed for Berrios, then the addition of two top prospects makes a ton of sense as an alternative. There isn’t a situation where Buxton will be replaceable at a similar valuation, though, and skimping on dollars to contradict their length stance could be something that looks like a David Ortiz-esque mistake. It’s time to stop stepping toes in the water when filling out the roster and make more than one splash move, then suggesting it’s enough. 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
  20. For years the Minnesota Twins organization has suggested that the goal would be to keep homegrown stars. Yes, they paid Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Miguel Sano. None of those deals were substantial, however. Instead of paying Jose Berrios, who was reportedly intent on reaching free agency, they flipped him for two top-100 prospects. Now with the Blue Jays handing out a seven-year deal worth $140 million, it’s clear that it wasn’t about paying Berrios, but probably more about how long they would. Despite Berrios suggesting he wanted to reach free agency, he was perhaps more interested in finding a deal that compensated him correctly. That’s where this begins to break down. Before getting into what the front office is trying to do, or more appropriately failing to do, we need to look at Buxton. Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal reported, “Talks about an incentive-laden extension in July broke down because of the Twins’ unwillingness to push the potential total value to $100 million.” That’s an awful look for the front office as well. Seven years or not, Minnesota is looking to nickel and dime a superstar they are only invited to the table because he’s been injured. Assuming Buxton was a free agent, Minnesota wouldn’t be in the realm of his possible destinations, and if an injury bug hadn’t hit him, the price tag would be well north of $250 million. Trying to piece together a salary that goes long on years and short on average annual value for a talent like Buxton is the exact opposite of the message sent to Berrios. The needle Falvey and Levine are trying to thread is a seemingly hopeless one. They appear intent on avoiding long-term deals but also are expecting to play at or below market value. There’s no give and take in that negotiating style, and the alternative is one we’ve yet to hear them dabble in. Should you opt to avoid length, the result has to be higher than the market average annual value. No player will take fewer years for the same amount of money, but they might be lured by a more lucrative deal that makes up for the lacking security. There’s no denying that this front office has done a great job establishing a strong culture and organizational structure. Minnesota’s farm system may not be as loaded as it’s ever been, but it’s undoubtedly as deep. The developmental talent is there to push players towards realizing their potential, but there has not been a good enough job done supplementing the talent at the top. Now faced with the opportunity to keep some of their best, Falvey already chose to forgo length on one and is seemingly leaning towards passing up on dollars for the other. Should Minnesota sign a top-tier pitcher with the money ticketed for Berrios, then the addition of two top prospects makes a ton of sense as an alternative. There isn’t a situation where Buxton will be replaceable at a similar valuation, though, and skimping on dollars to contradict their length stance could be something that looks like a David Ortiz-esque mistake. It’s time to stop stepping toes in the water when filling out the roster and make more than one splash move, then suggesting it’s enough. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad might be the easiest grader in the world. He told the Pioneer Press' Charley Walters that he'd give Twins leadership -- Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and Rocco Baldelli -- an A+. View full video
  22. Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad might be the easiest grader in the world. He told the Pioneer Press' Charley Walters that he'd give Twins leadership -- Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and Rocco Baldelli -- an A+.
  23. There’s no denying that 2021 has been a year of failed expectations for the Twins. Between ineffective performance and injuries, the team has fallen flat consistently. Looking at 2022, they have some big questions to answer. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will ultimately steer the direction of the 2022 club this offseason. It’s a very stripped-down roster compared to how this season started in terms of expectations, and how the front office decides to rebuild or retool is yet to be determined. However, there are still pieces in place, and answering questions about three key subjects could determine Minnesota’s outlook in the year ahead. Max Kepler Signed to an extension at the same time as Jorge Polanco, Kepler was given the larger contract. He responded by posting a career-best .855 OPS and was a key contributor on the Bomba Squad. In 155 games since he’s posted just a .737 OPS and 103 OPS+. To say he’s failed expectations would be putting it lightly. Still just 28 years old, Kepler does hope for a prime resurgence to be in front of him. Minnesota dreamed of a player ready to take a step forward, and they saw it for just a single season. Much of how the Twins were expected to compete in 2021 and beyond was reliant on the core of Kepler, Polanco, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton. Those players reaching the peaks of their potential at the same time was always the developmental hope. As pointed out by Twins Daily contributors Nash Walker and Tom Froemming, there’s a lot under the hood to like about Kepler. He’s a strong defender, and the inputs still suggest that production has room for positive regression. It’s getting late early, though, and the reality is results must follow. The Twins outfield could be crowded next season, with Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach joining Buxton and Kepler on more of a full-time basis. This winter, the front office may be tempted by dealing the German-born corner. What is the next step for Kepler, and does it happen with the Twins? Miguel Sano On the books for $9.25 million in 2022, Miguel Sano would seem to be in the Twins plans for the upcoming year fiscally. While there were times he looked essentially unplayable at the beginning of 2021, the reality is that he’s a hulking power hitter that’s always been susceptible to cold streaks. The timing wasn’t there out of the gate, but not playing him has often been fruitless. Since July 4, Sano has posted an .865 OPS, which has jumped up to an .895 OPS in September. He’s an asset at the dish while being a patient and potent slugger. The ability at first base leaves plenty to be desired, but there’s an argument to be made that keeps his head in the game rather than just having him hit. Presumably, the Twins won’t have a consistent designated hitter in 2022, which would seem optimal when it comes to roster construction. With Kirilloff worth taking time at first base and Josh Donaldson benefitting from days off in the field, rotating through bats makes sense. Where Miguel Sano fits into the Twins plans next season remains to be seen. Is he cast entirely as their designated hitter, how much time does he split with Kirilloff at first, and is the club more adequately prepared to ride with him through the low points? Starting Rotation Surprisingly the Twins bullpen has taken a positive turn down the stretch, and a unit that was a complete zero to start the year has produced in the latter half of the season. There are usable pieces there looking ahead to 2022, and even Alex Colome could wind up finding his option selected by Minnesota. When it comes to the rotation, the front office has its hands full. Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan look like future pieces, but counting on either of them to be the Opening Day starter seems like an acceptance of futility. Depth and quality would suggest a need for a higher ceiling option to be brought in, and where or how high Falvey aims should say plenty about the intentions for competitiveness. As was the case coming into 2021, Minnesota has plenty of top prospects on the pitching side. Many were shelved at different points throughout this season after having a year off in 2020, and relying on them as more than a bonus seems foolhardy. However, building a group punctuated with retread veterans shouldn’t be expected to move the needle much either. Derek Falvey’s calling card in coming to the Twins was pitching prowess, and while he’s helped develop some throughout the system, an overhaul like this will take some serious architecting. 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
  24. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will ultimately steer the direction of the 2022 club this offseason. It’s a very stripped-down roster compared to how this season started in terms of expectations, and how the front office decides to rebuild or retool is yet to be determined. However, there are still pieces in place, and answering questions about three key subjects could determine Minnesota’s outlook in the year ahead. Max Kepler Signed to an extension at the same time as Jorge Polanco, Kepler was given the larger contract. He responded by posting a career-best .855 OPS and was a key contributor on the Bomba Squad. In 155 games since he’s posted just a .737 OPS and 103 OPS+. To say he’s failed expectations would be putting it lightly. Still just 28 years old, Kepler does hope for a prime resurgence to be in front of him. Minnesota dreamed of a player ready to take a step forward, and they saw it for just a single season. Much of how the Twins were expected to compete in 2021 and beyond was reliant on the core of Kepler, Polanco, Miguel Sano, and Byron Buxton. Those players reaching the peaks of their potential at the same time was always the developmental hope. As pointed out by Twins Daily contributors Nash Walker and Tom Froemming, there’s a lot under the hood to like about Kepler. He’s a strong defender, and the inputs still suggest that production has room for positive regression. It’s getting late early, though, and the reality is results must follow. The Twins outfield could be crowded next season, with Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach joining Buxton and Kepler on more of a full-time basis. This winter, the front office may be tempted by dealing the German-born corner. What is the next step for Kepler, and does it happen with the Twins? Miguel Sano On the books for $9.25 million in 2022, Miguel Sano would seem to be in the Twins plans for the upcoming year fiscally. While there were times he looked essentially unplayable at the beginning of 2021, the reality is that he’s a hulking power hitter that’s always been susceptible to cold streaks. The timing wasn’t there out of the gate, but not playing him has often been fruitless. Since July 4, Sano has posted an .865 OPS, which has jumped up to an .895 OPS in September. He’s an asset at the dish while being a patient and potent slugger. The ability at first base leaves plenty to be desired, but there’s an argument to be made that keeps his head in the game rather than just having him hit. Presumably, the Twins won’t have a consistent designated hitter in 2022, which would seem optimal when it comes to roster construction. With Kirilloff worth taking time at first base and Josh Donaldson benefitting from days off in the field, rotating through bats makes sense. Where Miguel Sano fits into the Twins plans next season remains to be seen. Is he cast entirely as their designated hitter, how much time does he split with Kirilloff at first, and is the club more adequately prepared to ride with him through the low points? Starting Rotation Surprisingly the Twins bullpen has taken a positive turn down the stretch, and a unit that was a complete zero to start the year has produced in the latter half of the season. There are usable pieces there looking ahead to 2022, and even Alex Colome could wind up finding his option selected by Minnesota. When it comes to the rotation, the front office has its hands full. Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan look like future pieces, but counting on either of them to be the Opening Day starter seems like an acceptance of futility. Depth and quality would suggest a need for a higher ceiling option to be brought in, and where or how high Falvey aims should say plenty about the intentions for competitiveness. As was the case coming into 2021, Minnesota has plenty of top prospects on the pitching side. Many were shelved at different points throughout this season after having a year off in 2020, and relying on them as more than a bonus seems foolhardy. However, building a group punctuated with retread veterans shouldn’t be expected to move the needle much either. Derek Falvey’s calling card in coming to the Twins was pitching prowess, and while he’s helped develop some throughout the system, an overhaul like this will take some serious architecting. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. It’s easy to sit back and blame the front office or manager for the mess that has been the Minnesota Twins 2021 season. To do so rings hollow without context, and the time to learn has begun for future success. Former Twins World Series MVP brought up the idea that the organization has failed and changed direction due to the results of 2021. He’s not alone in suggesting that narrative, but to say such a result reflects organizational failure also conveniently ignores what took place the previous four years of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine’s tenure. There’s no denying that 2021 has gone poorly. Most importantly, the Twins pitching has fallen flat. The front office banked on J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker, and some mediocre bullpen additions to supplement a roster looking to rise. As injuries took their toll and ineffective play became prevalent, the entirety of the ship went up in flames. Looking back, though, this front office helped to architect a 26-win improvement and Postseason berth in their first season, as well as having won the division in back-to-back seasons before this year. 2019 will forever go down as among the best in franchise history, and the installment of Rocco Baldelli in 2019 has led to a .550 winning percentage through his first three seasons. Now that praises have been sung, and reality has been levied, it’s time for the trio to grow. For the first time in their tenure, Falvey and Levine fell short. They flopped on Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison previously, but this is a club that had heightened expectations, and virtually every acquisition or move of substance from this offseason went up in flames. Without embarking on a complete rebuild, they’ve traded the club’s ace and now could be without Kenta Maeda in the year ahead as well. The Twins don’t have the best farm system in baseball, and although they’ve been ranked closer to the middle, intriguing depth is there. Unfortunately, there’s been a host of arm injuries across baseball following the 2020 shutdown in the minors, and Minnesota’s best prospects have been hit especially hard. Falvey and Levine will need to work with internal staff to ensure those players' health and future projection while not relying solely on them for a return to relevance in 2022 and beyond. The duo will need to make a better showing than their track record has proven on the acquisition front. Unfortunately, free agency is often a field of landmines, but some teams avoid hitting them all, and Falvey will need to stop the string of consistent blowups. Spending should remain relatively intact, but supplementing the Twins back to the top won’t come entirely through the dollar on the open market. There should be belief in the infrastructure set up since Falvey and Levine have taken over. From baseball operations to the development and coaching staff, there are plenty of talented individuals guiding players down the right path. Putting moldable pieces in front of them should continue to be the goal, and the assumption is that the process will bear positive results. In the dugout, Rocco has his first chance to grow as well. Having dealt with adversity that everyone experienced in 2020 is different than fighting through a season in which results consistently left something to be desired. Baldelli has done well to connect with his players, and he’s been praised for decisions when things have gone right. Unfortunately, all of the coin flips went wrong to start the year, and he’s doubled down with some questionable steps at times since. For the former Rays star, the expectation should be that new faces (and possibly some younger ones) will filter into Target Field during the final month and into 2022. Baldelli will have to put his best foot forward when maximizing their potential while putting them in a position to best capitalize on the opportunity. Right now, the answers aren’t immediately evident, and this writer doesn’t pretend to have them all. That said, it will be on Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, and Rocco Baldelli to show they have the chops to find them. Everyone feels content when things are going well, but through adversity, you’re able to grow and presented with it for the first time that trio has their most significant opportunity yet. 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
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