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  1. It's hard to erase the mess that was the 2021 Minnesota Twins from our collective memories. It was bad. The 2022 Minnesota Twins have a chance to be great. In this piece, we lay out some pathways for the Twins to finish their roster construction ahead of a new season and the outcomes they might produce. The availability heuristic is humanities’ tendency to use information that comes to mind quickly when making decisions, inferences, or predictions. Also known as recency bias, the concept is pervasive in sports. Try, for example, convincing yourself that the Vikings could do anything except sign a defensive tackle the minute free agency opens, it’s almost impossible. Baseball is no different than other sports in this regard. Consider the Twins' win-loss record over the last decade and it's easy to see why fans take a ‘what have you done for me lately’ approach to the team. This applies in numerous ways to Minnesota. It’s easy to assume that the White Sox will run away with a poor AL Central in 2022 after the Twins collapse in 2021, and they might. Take a peek under the hood, however, and the Twins are poised to compete. Let’s dig in. Baseball Prospectus dropped its initial PECOTA standings on Tuesday. If you’re not familiar, PECOTA is Baseball Prospectus’ projection system, that is used to simulate end-of-season records for all 30 teams. As of March 15th, PECOTA has the Twins finishing second in the Central at 84-78, not so terribly far behind the 91-71 White Sox. First of all, wow. I am deep in the weeds on Twins Twitter. It’s been understandably sour this offseason. Let’s ground ourselves in the fact that this team, as currently constructed, is a .500 team. Even though a large part of this stems from the Twins getting to play a lot of games against pretty bad teams, it still feels pretty hard to accept, given the Twins have just traded their best two right-handed hitters in Josh Donaldson and Mitch Garver. Garver was a fan favorite and will be sorely missed. Donaldson was divisive and is probably undergoing mediation with Gerritt Cole in the parking lot of the Yankees spring training complex in Tampa. Jokes aside, we know the Twins still have plenty of work to do this offseason. I wrote this winter about the Twins' pursuit of a 40-WAR team in 2022, so let’s look at some possible remaining paths and what outcomes they might result in. The Twins currently sit in 16th with a cumulative fWAR of 36.3 (although this is changing by minute). Let’s examine some possible next steps for the Twins and how they might us towards that magical 40 fWAR mark. For the purposes of these pathways, I’m ignoring the bullpen for a couple of reasons; relief pitching doesn’t lend itself well to fWAR, and I ain’t got time for that. So, here goes. Pathway 1: Acquire an Elite Shortstop and an Elite Starting Pitcher Twins sign SS Trevor Story: 4.5 fWAR Twins trade for SP Frankie Montas: 3.2 fWAR This would net the Twins around 7 additional fWAR and bring them to around a 43 fWAR projection. That’s well within playoff range, but also still a distance from the White Sox mark of 47 fWAR. This is a team ready to challenge for the division and certainly compete for a wild card spot. Pathway 2: Acquire an Elite Starting Pitcher and Mediocre Shortstop Twins trade for SP Frankie Montas: 3.2 fWAR Twins trade for SS Elvis Andrus: 0.9 fWAR In this package trade, the Twins acquire Montas and Andrus together, Andrus as a salary dump for Oakland. This would bring the Twins to a 40.5 fWAR and they likely compete for a wild card spot. Pathway 3: Acquire a Mediocre Starting Pitcher and Elite Shortstop The Twins sign SP Michael Pineda: 1.8 fWAR The Twins sign SS Trevor Story: 4.5 fWAR This is where we see the value of potentially adding Story for the Twins. This path would bring the Twins to a projection of 42.6 fWAR before any additional outfield, right-handed bat, and bullpen enhancements. In short, Trevor Story is by far the highest leverage player the Twins have a realistic chance of adding. Pathway 4: Mediocre Everything The Twins sign SP Michael Pineda: 1.8 fWAR The Twins trade for SS Elvis Andrus: 0.9 fWAR I’m not suggesting the Twins would or should do this, I’m merely using it as an example as Andrus offers very little for 2022. In the ‘bare minimum’ pathway, the Twins get to 39.0 fWAR. After the tumult of trading Garver, flipping Kiner-Falefa to the Yankees, and trading away Donaldson, combined with the acquisition of Gray, this would be a brutal disappointment. Again, it’s just an example to underscore the divergence of the paths ahead for the Twins. The Twins are in a much better spot for 2022 than we are conditioned to think. How much they are willing to risk moving forwards will determine if this years’ team is likely to be average, or has a chance to be great. View full article
  2. Rumors about the Twins pursuing shortstop Trevor Story in free agency has rendered a large portion of Twins fans excited. However, every time a former Colorado Rockie draws interest from other teams, some fans will inevitably point out the “Coors Effect.” Should that really dissuade the Twins from signing Story? First and foremost, I believe it’s crucial to get as much important information about this topic as possible out in the open. People shouldn’t just stick to shallow common-places when there’s so much in-depth information and analysis out there. That’s especially true when it comes to the effects of altitude in baseball. In this brilliant 2020 article, Rox Pile’s Kevin Larson buts the myth that hitters at Coors Field only succeed because of the altitude. I’ll be quoting a few parts of that article here, but I think everyone would learn a lot if they read the whole thing. Basically, Larson advises people to do two things when analyzing players' performances at Coors: Take into account the unique circumstances Rockies hitters live through, having to adjust to different pitcher approaches in Denver and on the road; Ignore the traditional stats splits and focus on Park Adjusted stats, like wRC+, OPS+, and DRC+, which can paint the big picture more nicely; Then, Larson goes on to provide several examples of both hitters who improved their wRC+ after leaving the Rockies, but also the contrary, players whose offensive productivity decreased after they joined the Rockies from other teams. Can you guess a former Twin, winner of an MVP in Minnesota, who falls in that last category? The bottom line is, things aren’t as simple as “hitters won’t succeed after leaving Coors.” Trevor Story's traditional splits sure don’t look good, but that shouldn’t be a reason not to bring him to Minnesota. Not only would the Twins be giving up on a potentially above-average right-handed hitter, but they would be bailing on one of the best defenders in the game. One of the best examples of former Rockies who succeeded elsewhere is second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who was signed by the Yankees in 2019 and has since won two Silver Slugger awards and received MVP votes in two seasons (finishing third in 2020). Take a look at some of his numbers. DJ LeMahieu's splits during his time with the Rockies (2012-2018), per Fangraphs: Home .329/.386/.447 (.834) .374 wOBA 96 wRC+ 13.4% K% 8.6% BB% Away .267/.314/.367 (.681) .298 wOBA 84 wRC+ 17.0% K% 6.2% BB% DJ LeMahieu as a Yankee, overall (since 2019), per Fangraphs: .307/.370/.461 (.831) .356 wOBA 126 wRC+ 13.2% K% 8.8% BB% The same way the belief that “Coors hitters do badly once they leave Colorado” shouldn’t be a rule, LeMahieu’s example isn’t a rule either. Former Rockies cornerstone third baseman Nolan Arenado, for instance, didn’t improve his numbers the same way LeMahieu did. However, his overall numbers in St. Louis didn’t get worse either. They were actually slightly better than his road numbers while with the Rockies. Nolan Arenado's splits during his time with the Rockies (2013-2020), per Fangraphs: Home .322/.376/.609 (.985) .409 wOBA 129 wRC+ 13.7% K% 8.0% BB% Away .263/.322/.471 (.793) .334 wOBA 108 wRC+ 16.3% K% 7.8% BB% Nolan Arenado as a Cardinal, overall (since 2021), per Fangraphs: .255/.312/.494 (.807) .336 wOBA 113 wRC+ 14.7% K% 7.7% BB% In conclusion, Trevor Story’s splits shouldn’t dissuade the Twins from trying to sign him. As someone who follows the Rockies very closely, I can attest to how talented and hard-working he is, and also how fun it is to watch him play every night. 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
  3. The Minnesota Twins are reportedly interested in former Colorado Rockies shortstop and current free agent Trevor Story. There's been a lot of analysis on how much his bat will play leaving Coors Field, but I wanted to take some time to highlight his impressive overall defensive metrics. Being so solid with the glove means Story has a high floor.
  4. The Minnesota Twins are reportedly interested in former Colorado Rockies shortstop and current free agent Trevor Story. There's been a lot of analysis on how much his bat will play leaving Coors Field, but I wanted to take some time to highlight his impressive overall defensive metrics. Being so solid with the glove means Story has a high floor. View full video
  5. The availability heuristic is humanities’ tendency to use information that comes to mind quickly when making decisions, inferences, or predictions. Also known as recency bias, the concept is pervasive in sports. Try, for example, convincing yourself that the Vikings could do anything except sign a defensive tackle the minute free agency opens, it’s almost impossible. Baseball is no different than other sports in this regard. Consider the Twins' win-loss record over the last decade and it's easy to see why fans take a ‘what have you done for me lately’ approach to the team. This applies in numerous ways to Minnesota. It’s easy to assume that the White Sox will run away with a poor AL Central in 2022 after the Twins collapse in 2021, and they might. Take a peek under the hood, however, and the Twins are poised to compete. Let’s dig in. Baseball Prospectus dropped its initial PECOTA standings on Tuesday. If you’re not familiar, PECOTA is Baseball Prospectus’ projection system, that is used to simulate end-of-season records for all 30 teams. As of March 15th, PECOTA has the Twins finishing second in the Central at 84-78, not so terribly far behind the 91-71 White Sox. First of all, wow. I am deep in the weeds on Twins Twitter. It’s been understandably sour this offseason. Let’s ground ourselves in the fact that this team, as currently constructed, is a .500 team. Even though a large part of this stems from the Twins getting to play a lot of games against pretty bad teams, it still feels pretty hard to accept, given the Twins have just traded their best two right-handed hitters in Josh Donaldson and Mitch Garver. Garver was a fan favorite and will be sorely missed. Donaldson was divisive and is probably undergoing mediation with Gerritt Cole in the parking lot of the Yankees spring training complex in Tampa. Jokes aside, we know the Twins still have plenty of work to do this offseason. I wrote this winter about the Twins' pursuit of a 40-WAR team in 2022, so let’s look at some possible remaining paths and what outcomes they might result in. The Twins currently sit in 16th with a cumulative fWAR of 36.3 (although this is changing by minute). Let’s examine some possible next steps for the Twins and how they might us towards that magical 40 fWAR mark. For the purposes of these pathways, I’m ignoring the bullpen for a couple of reasons; relief pitching doesn’t lend itself well to fWAR, and I ain’t got time for that. So, here goes. Pathway 1: Acquire an Elite Shortstop and an Elite Starting Pitcher Twins sign SS Trevor Story: 4.5 fWAR Twins trade for SP Frankie Montas: 3.2 fWAR This would net the Twins around 7 additional fWAR and bring them to around a 43 fWAR projection. That’s well within playoff range, but also still a distance from the White Sox mark of 47 fWAR. This is a team ready to challenge for the division and certainly compete for a wild card spot. Pathway 2: Acquire an Elite Starting Pitcher and Mediocre Shortstop Twins trade for SP Frankie Montas: 3.2 fWAR Twins trade for SS Elvis Andrus: 0.9 fWAR In this package trade, the Twins acquire Montas and Andrus together, Andrus as a salary dump for Oakland. This would bring the Twins to a 40.5 fWAR and they likely compete for a wild card spot. Pathway 3: Acquire a Mediocre Starting Pitcher and Elite Shortstop The Twins sign SP Michael Pineda: 1.8 fWAR The Twins sign SS Trevor Story: 4.5 fWAR This is where we see the value of potentially adding Story for the Twins. This path would bring the Twins to a projection of 42.6 fWAR before any additional outfield, right-handed bat, and bullpen enhancements. In short, Trevor Story is by far the highest leverage player the Twins have a realistic chance of adding. Pathway 4: Mediocre Everything The Twins sign SP Michael Pineda: 1.8 fWAR The Twins trade for SS Elvis Andrus: 0.9 fWAR I’m not suggesting the Twins would or should do this, I’m merely using it as an example as Andrus offers very little for 2022. In the ‘bare minimum’ pathway, the Twins get to 39.0 fWAR. After the tumult of trading Garver, flipping Kiner-Falefa to the Yankees, and trading away Donaldson, combined with the acquisition of Gray, this would be a brutal disappointment. Again, it’s just an example to underscore the divergence of the paths ahead for the Twins. The Twins are in a much better spot for 2022 than we are conditioned to think. How much they are willing to risk moving forwards will determine if this years’ team is likely to be average, or has a chance to be great.
  6. First and foremost, I believe it’s crucial to get as much important information about this topic as possible out in the open. People shouldn’t just stick to shallow common-places when there’s so much in-depth information and analysis out there. That’s especially true when it comes to the effects of altitude in baseball. In this brilliant 2020 article, Rox Pile’s Kevin Larson buts the myth that hitters at Coors Field only succeed because of the altitude. I’ll be quoting a few parts of that article here, but I think everyone would learn a lot if they read the whole thing. Basically, Larson advises people to do two things when analyzing players' performances at Coors: Take into account the unique circumstances Rockies hitters live through, having to adjust to different pitcher approaches in Denver and on the road; Ignore the traditional stats splits and focus on Park Adjusted stats, like wRC+, OPS+, and DRC+, which can paint the big picture more nicely; Then, Larson goes on to provide several examples of both hitters who improved their wRC+ after leaving the Rockies, but also the contrary, players whose offensive productivity decreased after they joined the Rockies from other teams. Can you guess a former Twin, winner of an MVP in Minnesota, who falls in that last category? The bottom line is, things aren’t as simple as “hitters won’t succeed after leaving Coors.” Trevor Story's traditional splits sure don’t look good, but that shouldn’t be a reason not to bring him to Minnesota. Not only would the Twins be giving up on a potentially above-average right-handed hitter, but they would be bailing on one of the best defenders in the game. One of the best examples of former Rockies who succeeded elsewhere is second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who was signed by the Yankees in 2019 and has since won two Silver Slugger awards and received MVP votes in two seasons (finishing third in 2020). Take a look at some of his numbers. DJ LeMahieu's splits during his time with the Rockies (2012-2018), per Fangraphs: Home .329/.386/.447 (.834) .374 wOBA 96 wRC+ 13.4% K% 8.6% BB% Away .267/.314/.367 (.681) .298 wOBA 84 wRC+ 17.0% K% 6.2% BB% DJ LeMahieu as a Yankee, overall (since 2019), per Fangraphs: .307/.370/.461 (.831) .356 wOBA 126 wRC+ 13.2% K% 8.8% BB% The same way the belief that “Coors hitters do badly once they leave Colorado” shouldn’t be a rule, LeMahieu’s example isn’t a rule either. Former Rockies cornerstone third baseman Nolan Arenado, for instance, didn’t improve his numbers the same way LeMahieu did. However, his overall numbers in St. Louis didn’t get worse either. They were actually slightly better than his road numbers while with the Rockies. Nolan Arenado's splits during his time with the Rockies (2013-2020), per Fangraphs: Home .322/.376/.609 (.985) .409 wOBA 129 wRC+ 13.7% K% 8.0% BB% Away .263/.322/.471 (.793) .334 wOBA 108 wRC+ 16.3% K% 7.8% BB% Nolan Arenado as a Cardinal, overall (since 2021), per Fangraphs: .255/.312/.494 (.807) .336 wOBA 113 wRC+ 14.7% K% 7.7% BB% In conclusion, Trevor Story’s splits shouldn’t dissuade the Twins from trying to sign him. As someone who follows the Rockies very closely, I can attest to how talented and hard-working he is, and also how fun it is to watch him play every night. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. The Twins have a lot to sort out when free agency reopens, but they need to establish a base to their offseason after failing to do so before the lockout. Three moves in particular would go a long way in improving the roster across the board and could be the beginning of a return to contention. Sign Yusei Kikuchi to a 2 year, $25m deal Kikuchi isn’t necessarily the best pitcher left in free agency, but the left-hander would make a great addition to the Twins rotation. At 30 years old, Kikuchi hasn’t been all that good in his three years in the league with over 350 innings and an ERA around 5.00. The lefty has obvious talent, however, averaging over 95mph on the fastball in 2021 with a wicked slider that resulted in dominant stretches. Kikuchi wouldn’t break the bank and has number 2-3 upside, but even as is he would go a long way in rehabbing a pitching needy roster. Striking out a batter per inning with a mid 4s ERA as he did in 2021 would slot in just fine, and coming near the 160 innings he’s averaged in his career would make a huge impact on a rotation that expects some young additions during the season. Even if there isn’t a tweak to be made, Kikuchi is the type of pitcher the Twins should be throwing money at for multiple years. Sign Richard Rodriguez to a 1 year, $3m deal I’ve long wanted to see Richard Rodriguez in a Twins jersey. It turned out paying up would have been a mistake, as Rodriguez turned into a bit of a pumpkin in 2021. His strikeout rate dropped by an incredible 20% despite nearly identical velocities year over year. The former Pirate’s closer lost effectiveness with his slider which led to his being non-tendered after a trade to Atlanta. He did still manage a sub 3.00 ERA, however. Relievers are volatile, but Rodriguez has shown no physical red flags at 31 years old which makes you wonder whether there’s just a small adjustment to make to his once dominant breaking ball. It would be a similar deal to what the Twins gave Hansel Robles in 2021, although Rodriguez is coming off a year where he was still a useful reliever. The right-hander was quietly one of the better closers in baseball in 2020 and could help lead a bullpen that will see several young arms debut and battle for jobs. Sign Trevor Story for to a 4 year, $92m deal The game of musical chairs is coming to an end in the free agent shortstop market, and Story may run out of options. With less leverage, Story shouldn’t need the 5+ year deals we’ve seen this offseason that the Twins are unlikely to sign. Still just 29, the Twins would still get Story in the prime of his career. Without a clear-cut shortstop on the way, Story would fill this historically problematic position for the foreseeable future rather than kicking the can down the road with another one year Andrelton Simmons type. In what was certainly a down year in 2021, Story still accumulated 3.5 Wins Above Replacement, which would have been third in Minnesota behind Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco. He’s still always capable of a 30 home run, 30 steal season with a respectable on base ability and never having hit below .250. The right-handed slugger would be a huge addition to the already great lineup. Adding such a big bat would make the trade of another established hitter for pitching much easier to swallow. The Twins have much more work to do than just three moves, but these three in particular offer a good amount of floor as well as a ton of upside. The bullpen and offense/defense would considerably improve, and the hole in the rotation would shrink by adding an arm that could have a surprising payoff. As we all get fed up with the lockout that has no end in sight, there’s little left to do but dream on the flurry of moves that will absolutely follow. Are there any moves you’d like to see the Twins prioritize? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  8. Sign Yusei Kikuchi to a 2 year, $25m deal Kikuchi isn’t necessarily the best pitcher left in free agency, but the left-hander would make a great addition to the Twins rotation. At 30 years old, Kikuchi hasn’t been all that good in his three years in the league with over 350 innings and an ERA around 5.00. The lefty has obvious talent, however, averaging over 95mph on the fastball in 2021 with a wicked slider that resulted in dominant stretches. Kikuchi wouldn’t break the bank and has number 2-3 upside, but even as is he would go a long way in rehabbing a pitching needy roster. Striking out a batter per inning with a mid 4s ERA as he did in 2021 would slot in just fine, and coming near the 160 innings he’s averaged in his career would make a huge impact on a rotation that expects some young additions during the season. Even if there isn’t a tweak to be made, Kikuchi is the type of pitcher the Twins should be throwing money at for multiple years. Sign Richard Rodriguez to a 1 year, $3m deal I’ve long wanted to see Richard Rodriguez in a Twins jersey. It turned out paying up would have been a mistake, as Rodriguez turned into a bit of a pumpkin in 2021. His strikeout rate dropped by an incredible 20% despite nearly identical velocities year over year. The former Pirate’s closer lost effectiveness with his slider which led to his being non-tendered after a trade to Atlanta. He did still manage a sub 3.00 ERA, however. Relievers are volatile, but Rodriguez has shown no physical red flags at 31 years old which makes you wonder whether there’s just a small adjustment to make to his once dominant breaking ball. It would be a similar deal to what the Twins gave Hansel Robles in 2021, although Rodriguez is coming off a year where he was still a useful reliever. The right-hander was quietly one of the better closers in baseball in 2020 and could help lead a bullpen that will see several young arms debut and battle for jobs. Sign Trevor Story for to a 4 year, $92m deal The game of musical chairs is coming to an end in the free agent shortstop market, and Story may run out of options. With less leverage, Story shouldn’t need the 5+ year deals we’ve seen this offseason that the Twins are unlikely to sign. Still just 29, the Twins would still get Story in the prime of his career. Without a clear-cut shortstop on the way, Story would fill this historically problematic position for the foreseeable future rather than kicking the can down the road with another one year Andrelton Simmons type. In what was certainly a down year in 2021, Story still accumulated 3.5 Wins Above Replacement, which would have been third in Minnesota behind Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco. He’s still always capable of a 30 home run, 30 steal season with a respectable on base ability and never having hit below .250. The right-handed slugger would be a huge addition to the already great lineup. Adding such a big bat would make the trade of another established hitter for pitching much easier to swallow. The Twins have much more work to do than just three moves, but these three in particular offer a good amount of floor as well as a ton of upside. The bullpen and offense/defense would considerably improve, and the hole in the rotation would shrink by adding an arm that could have a surprising payoff. As we all get fed up with the lockout that has no end in sight, there’s little left to do but dream on the flurry of moves that will absolutely follow. Are there any moves you’d like to see the Twins prioritize? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  9. In December, I wrote about Kris Bryant and what his bat may bring to the Minnesota Twins lineup. Not long after, Matthew Taylor wondered about the club going all-in on offense. Nick Nelson recently wrote about the Twins simple solution at shortstop, but it comes with pitfalls. Why not imagine Trevor Story in Minnesota? The first fact we’re dealing with is that Rocco Baldelli needs a shortstop. As The Athletic’s Dan Hayes pointed out, Jorge Polanco would not appear to be a desirable choice. Even if it weren’t for the ankle injury concerns, there’s the reality that he’s just simply not good defensively at the position. Taking him from a place of strength at second base and causing a step backward in the field at two spots (when inserting Luis Arraez) would be suboptimal. The second fact is that waiting on prospects is a very tricky proposition. I believe Royce Lewis will return in 2022 and make the time missed look like a minor speed bump. That said, I’m still not convinced he’s a shortstop at the Major League level, and I think it’s fair to assess that Minnesota believes Austin Martin isn’t ticketed for that role either. In that scenario, both of the Twins top prospects up the middle would be looking at the outfield or elsewhere when it comes to playing time. Prospects can force a club’s hand and work their way in, but holding a position for them isn’t always the best path towards success. The third fact is that while Derek Falvey has money to spend, it will not be enough for Carlos Correa. Even before joining forces with Scott Boras this offseason, the former Astros shortstop was said to be looking for a $300 million deal. The New York Yankees need a shortstop, and Correa’s price tag immediately makes them a logical fit. As the premier option on the open market, it makes sense that he’d go where the highest payday can be achieved. So, what about Story then? ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle ranked the fits for Trevor Story back at the end of December and called the Twins a “two-star fit.” His two caveats to spending on the spot are Lewis’ return and the need to spend on starting pitching. We discussed Lewis above, and shy of spending for Carlos Rodon, Minnesota isn’t going to be able to spend on pitching through free agency. As Matthew Braun recently pointed out, Minnesota has largely failed Josh Donaldson. After inking him to a franchise-record deal, there’s been little done to supplement that talent throughout his contract. With two years left, signing Story to a five-year pact would be the right foot forward in terms of that narrative. After becoming a two-time All-Star in 2019, Story has seen declining offensive numbers each of the past two seasons. He was barely above league average in 2021, posting a 103 OPS+, and he failed to eclipse the 30 homer plateau. Every time you play your home games at Coors Field, you’ll warrant talk about splits, and it’s fair to note Story’s .752 OPS on the road is well below the .972 OPS at home. However, as a righty, the left-field line at Target Field could play to his pull tendencies. The slight decline could also lend itself to a more manageable number on the dotted line. I don’t think Story is a must for Minnesota, but there’s no denying the shortstop position is integral amongst the infield. I’d bank on the Twins trading for their frontline starter, which will eat up some capital, but spending still will fall short. Rather than taking the risk on an expensive arm, being more calculated while throwing dollars at a 29-year-old offensive star seems to fit well. I don’t want to see Polanco relocated across the diamond, and I’m out on Andrelton Simmons or Jose Iglesias even at the lowest dollar amount. Do something to move the needle. Adding Story would accomplish that. Where are you at on Trevor Story? If Minnesota can't spend on pitching, how interested are you in the dollars going to a shortstop? Comment below. 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
  10. The first fact we’re dealing with is that Rocco Baldelli needs a shortstop. As The Athletic’s Dan Hayes pointed out, Jorge Polanco would not appear to be a desirable choice. Even if it weren’t for the ankle injury concerns, there’s the reality that he’s just simply not good defensively at the position. Taking him from a place of strength at second base and causing a step backward in the field at two spots (when inserting Luis Arraez) would be suboptimal. The second fact is that waiting on prospects is a very tricky proposition. I believe Royce Lewis will return in 2022 and make the time missed look like a minor speed bump. That said, I’m still not convinced he’s a shortstop at the Major League level, and I think it’s fair to assess that Minnesota believes Austin Martin isn’t ticketed for that role either. In that scenario, both of the Twins top prospects up the middle would be looking at the outfield or elsewhere when it comes to playing time. Prospects can force a club’s hand and work their way in, but holding a position for them isn’t always the best path towards success. The third fact is that while Derek Falvey has money to spend, it will not be enough for Carlos Correa. Even before joining forces with Scott Boras this offseason, the former Astros shortstop was said to be looking for a $300 million deal. The New York Yankees need a shortstop, and Correa’s price tag immediately makes them a logical fit. As the premier option on the open market, it makes sense that he’d go where the highest payday can be achieved. So, what about Story then? ESPN’s Bradford Doolittle ranked the fits for Trevor Story back at the end of December and called the Twins a “two-star fit.” His two caveats to spending on the spot are Lewis’ return and the need to spend on starting pitching. We discussed Lewis above, and shy of spending for Carlos Rodon, Minnesota isn’t going to be able to spend on pitching through free agency. As Matthew Braun recently pointed out, Minnesota has largely failed Josh Donaldson. After inking him to a franchise-record deal, there’s been little done to supplement that talent throughout his contract. With two years left, signing Story to a five-year pact would be the right foot forward in terms of that narrative. After becoming a two-time All-Star in 2019, Story has seen declining offensive numbers each of the past two seasons. He was barely above league average in 2021, posting a 103 OPS+, and he failed to eclipse the 30 homer plateau. Every time you play your home games at Coors Field, you’ll warrant talk about splits, and it’s fair to note Story’s .752 OPS on the road is well below the .972 OPS at home. However, as a righty, the left-field line at Target Field could play to his pull tendencies. The slight decline could also lend itself to a more manageable number on the dotted line. I don’t think Story is a must for Minnesota, but there’s no denying the shortstop position is integral amongst the infield. I’d bank on the Twins trading for their frontline starter, which will eat up some capital, but spending still will fall short. Rather than taking the risk on an expensive arm, being more calculated while throwing dollars at a 29-year-old offensive star seems to fit well. I don’t want to see Polanco relocated across the diamond, and I’m out on Andrelton Simmons or Jose Iglesias even at the lowest dollar amount. Do something to move the needle. Adding Story would accomplish that. Where are you at on Trevor Story? If Minnesota can't spend on pitching, how interested are you in the dollars going to a shortstop? Comment below. 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 Minnesota Twins' need for starting pitching has been well-documented, but what if the Twins pivoted and went all-in on offense? The Minnesota Twins have long struggled to acquire top-end starting pitching. This was the case with prior Twins’ front offices and has been the case under Falvey/Levine’s leadership. Whether it is because of injuries (Kenta Maeda) or poor evaluation (J.A. Happ), betting on starting pitchers is extremely risky as the Twins have seen play out season after season. After getting largely shut out from the first wave of free agent starting pitchers, the Twins have now found themselves in a spot where they need to sign Carlos Rodón, trade for starting pitching (they shouldn’t), or be in for another long season with a better shot of fighting for the number one pick in the draft than a playoff spot. But what if there is another direction that the Twins could go? What if the Twins went all in on offense? While there is a shortage of impact starting pitching left on the free agency market, there are no shortage of bats. This surplus of bats on the market could present an opportunity for the Twins to pivot, settle for back-of-the-rotation arms, and instead go heavy on bats to bolster up what is already a strength of the Minnesota Twins. Names like Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Nicolas Castellanos, and Michael Conforto are all all-star bats and are all still available as free agents. Not only is there a nice supply of big bats left on the free agent market, but the Twins have a need to fill multiple holes in their lineup as well, including shortstop, outfield and (potentially) designated hitter. The Minnesota Twins committed to Byron Buxton this offseason with a seven year contract. Additionally, the Twins have the young bats of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin ready to contribute for the next decade as well. An intriguing path for the Minnesota Twins to take would be for them to sign even more bats, completely lean into their offense and take on the identity of a bat-first team that will out-hit all of its opponents for years to come. Assuming that the Twins have $55M to spend this offseason, they would have the funds to bring in two superstar bats this offseason like Trevor Story and Kris Bryant. They could then fill out the rest of their team with fringe starting pitching, or trade Max Kepler and a marginal prospect for a moldable arm. Yes, this would leave the Twins with quite the shaky starting rotation, but with a lineup core of Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, and Alex Kirilloff, on top of Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco. John Bonnes could be pitching for the Minnesota Twins and they’d be in good shape with that potent lineup. I mean..just look at this team: You hear about football teams that take on an offensive identity and out-score their opponents in order to win games, but you hardly find that in baseball. The Twins are in a position that they could go all in on offense and outscore the rest of the league by producing fireworks all Summer at Target Field. What do you think? View full article
  12. The Minnesota Twins have long struggled to acquire top-end starting pitching. This was the case with prior Twins’ front offices and has been the case under Falvey/Levine’s leadership. Whether it is because of injuries (Kenta Maeda) or poor evaluation (J.A. Happ), betting on starting pitchers is extremely risky as the Twins have seen play out season after season. After getting largely shut out from the first wave of free agent starting pitchers, the Twins have now found themselves in a spot where they need to sign Carlos Rodón, trade for starting pitching (they shouldn’t), or be in for another long season with a better shot of fighting for the number one pick in the draft than a playoff spot. But what if there is another direction that the Twins could go? What if the Twins went all in on offense? While there is a shortage of impact starting pitching left on the free agency market, there are no shortage of bats. This surplus of bats on the market could present an opportunity for the Twins to pivot, settle for back-of-the-rotation arms, and instead go heavy on bats to bolster up what is already a strength of the Minnesota Twins. Names like Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Nicolas Castellanos, and Michael Conforto are all all-star bats and are all still available as free agents. Not only is there a nice supply of big bats left on the free agent market, but the Twins have a need to fill multiple holes in their lineup as well, including shortstop, outfield and (potentially) designated hitter. The Minnesota Twins committed to Byron Buxton this offseason with a seven year contract. Additionally, the Twins have the young bats of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin ready to contribute for the next decade as well. An intriguing path for the Minnesota Twins to take would be for them to sign even more bats, completely lean into their offense and take on the identity of a bat-first team that will out-hit all of its opponents for years to come. Assuming that the Twins have $55M to spend this offseason, they would have the funds to bring in two superstar bats this offseason like Trevor Story and Kris Bryant. They could then fill out the rest of their team with fringe starting pitching, or trade Max Kepler and a marginal prospect for a moldable arm. Yes, this would leave the Twins with quite the shaky starting rotation, but with a lineup core of Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, and Alex Kirilloff, on top of Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco. John Bonnes could be pitching for the Minnesota Twins and they’d be in good shape with that potent lineup. I mean..just look at this team: You hear about football teams that take on an offensive identity and out-score their opponents in order to win games, but you hardly find that in baseball. The Twins are in a position that they could go all in on offense and outscore the rest of the league by producing fireworks all Summer at Target Field. What do you think?
  13. Some of the top free-agent shortstops have already signed, and the Minnesota Twins still have a hole at the position. Let's revisit the top-five remaining free-agent shortstop options for the Twins. Last winter, Minnesota was rumored to be interested in infielders like Marcus Siemen and Didi Gregorious. Both players signed with other clubs, and the Twins turned to Andrelton Simmons on an $11 million deal. At the time, Minnesota touted the agreement as a way for the team to improve defensively. Simmons lived up to his defensive reputation, but he hit new career lows in many offensive categories. The Twins are also in an intriguing position when it comes to the shortstop position. Both of the team's top prospects, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin, have played shortstop in the minor leagues. However, neither player is guaranteed to stick at shortstop for the long term. Each of the players below is still available with the league's shutdown now at hand. Included with each player is his projected salary, according to the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook. 5. Andrelton Simmons TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3 million/season Twins fans may not want to hear it, but bringing Simmons back can make a lot of sense for the club. Offensively, he is coming off his worst big-league season, and that is going to significantly reduce his cost. His defensive skills are still near the top of the league and that might be beneficial to whomever the club has in the rotation. 4. Freddy Galvis TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3 million/season Galvis is a below-average offensive player who is coming off a career-best awful season (91 OPS+). In 104 games last season, he got on base over 30% of the time, and he collected 30 extra-base hits. Defensively, he's not at the same level as Simmons, but he can hold his own at shortstop. There are some rumblings that he may be headed to Japan, but he seems like a player that is good enough to get a big-league deal for 2022. Galvis may be a good fill-in option until Lewis or Martin is ready to take the reins. 3. Jonathan Villar TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $5 million/season Villar doesn't have the defensive chops of some of the other players on this list, but the Mets used him at shortstop for a good chunk of the 2021 campaign. Last season, he posted a 102 OPS+ with 38 extra-base hits in 142. He's better than Galvis offensively and worse on defense. Villar can be acquired on a cheaper deal than the team paid for Simmons last winter. 2. Trevor Story TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $22 million/season Story is one of the top-tier shortstops he's projected to make over $100 million this winter. Colorado surprisingly didn't trade him at last year's trade deadline and instead decided to make him the qualifying offer. Among National League shortstops, he ranked third according to SABR's Defensive Index. Story is a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner that is one of the game's best shortstops. It would be great for the Twins to outbid other teams, but many large-market teams are looking for a shortstop upgrade. 1. Carlos Correa TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $30 million/season Correa is one of baseball's best players, and there's a good chance his contract will be close to $300 million. He's hitting free agency at a relatively young age (27), and his contract will lock him up for the entirety of his prime. Correa ranked as the best defender in the American League last season, and he has plenty of playoff experience. Twins fans can dream of a Correa/Polanco middle infield combo, but it doesn't seem likely for the team to allot that much money to one player for a decade. Do you think the Twins will be able to add any of these shortstops? 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 emai View full article
  14. Last winter, Minnesota was rumored to be interested in infielders like Marcus Siemen and Didi Gregorious. Both players signed with other clubs, and the Twins turned to Andrelton Simmons on an $11 million deal. At the time, Minnesota touted the agreement as a way for the team to improve defensively. Simmons lived up to his defensive reputation, but he hit new career lows in many offensive categories. The Twins are also in an intriguing position when it comes to the shortstop position. Both of the team's top prospects, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin, have played shortstop in the minor leagues. However, neither player is guaranteed to stick at shortstop for the long term. Each of the players below is still available with the league's shutdown now at hand. Included with each player is his projected salary, according to the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook. 5. Andrelton Simmons TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3 million/season Twins fans may not want to hear it, but bringing Simmons back can make a lot of sense for the club. Offensively, he is coming off his worst big-league season, and that is going to significantly reduce his cost. His defensive skills are still near the top of the league and that might be beneficial to whomever the club has in the rotation. 4. Freddy Galvis TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3 million/season Galvis is a below-average offensive player who is coming off a career-best awful season (91 OPS+). In 104 games last season, he got on base over 30% of the time, and he collected 30 extra-base hits. Defensively, he's not at the same level as Simmons, but he can hold his own at shortstop. There are some rumblings that he may be headed to Japan, but he seems like a player that is good enough to get a big-league deal for 2022. Galvis may be a good fill-in option until Lewis or Martin is ready to take the reins. 3. Jonathan Villar TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $5 million/season Villar doesn't have the defensive chops of some of the other players on this list, but the Mets used him at shortstop for a good chunk of the 2021 campaign. Last season, he posted a 102 OPS+ with 38 extra-base hits in 142. He's better than Galvis offensively and worse on defense. Villar can be acquired on a cheaper deal than the team paid for Simmons last winter. 2. Trevor Story TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $22 million/season Story is one of the top-tier shortstops he's projected to make over $100 million this winter. Colorado surprisingly didn't trade him at last year's trade deadline and instead decided to make him the qualifying offer. Among National League shortstops, he ranked third according to SABR's Defensive Index. Story is a two-time All-Star and Silver Slugger winner that is one of the game's best shortstops. It would be great for the Twins to outbid other teams, but many large-market teams are looking for a shortstop upgrade. 1. Carlos Correa TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $30 million/season Correa is one of baseball's best players, and there's a good chance his contract will be close to $300 million. He's hitting free agency at a relatively young age (27), and his contract will lock him up for the entirety of his prime. Correa ranked as the best defender in the American League last season, and he has plenty of playoff experience. Twins fans can dream of a Correa/Polanco middle infield combo, but it doesn't seem likely for the team to allot that much money to one player for a decade. Do you think the Twins will be able to add any of these shortstops? 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 emai
  15. The Minnesota Twins will be in the market for an answer at shortstop again in 2022. With Andrelton Simmons gone, they’ll inevitably have someone new covering the position. So, who will it be? Assuming Minnesota doesn’t decide to slide second basemen Jorge Polanco, back across the diamond, they’ll need an answer at shortstop for the upcoming season. Polanco going back to his old position would allow Luis Arraez to start and an avenue for consistent playing time geared towards Jose Miranda. That said, it’d also be a decision in reverse with Polanco having been moved off the position in an attempt to avoid his defensive deficiencies there. Having lost the 2021 season due to a torn ACL, Royce Lewis won’t be an option out of the gate, and Austin Martin looks more the part of an outfielder than an infielder. Fortunately for Derek Falvey, this free-agent crop is littered with good shortstop options. So, let’s rank them by considering a fit and potential contract. 5. Marcus Semien What a difference a year makes. Last offseason, the Twins were runner-up for Semien’s services before he chose the Toronto Blue Jays. At that time, the longtime Athletics infielder was coming off a .679 OPS in 2020. Fast-forward to where we are now, and he posted an .873 OPS with a career-high 45 home runs. Semien isn’t going to win the MVP, that’s ticketed for Shohei Ohtani, but he’ll be in the top five and could finish right behind teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As a first-time All-Star, Semien just recently turned 31-years-old. He’s going to get paid and should be looking for no less than a four-year deal. Right now, that isn’t going to fit into the Twins plans given the uncertainty of Lewis’s future role. Coming off such a poor season, that type of commitment could pigeonhole Minnesota negatively in the immediate future. 4. Corey Seager If there’s a guy in this group that doesn’t change teams, I will bet on it being Seager. A second straight season with an OPS north of .900, the Dodgers shortstop has established himself as one of baseball’s best players. He’ll be 28-years-old next season and has spent his entire seven-year career with Los Angeles. Finding something in the range of six to eight years would seem suitable for him, and that’s not going to come cheap. After acquiring Trea Turner at the deadline this season, it would make sense for the Dodgers to run it back with their up-the-middle-duo. The Dodgers are also set to lose Chris Taylor to free agency this offseason, and some of that blow could be cushioned by retaining the services of Seager. He’s been so good for so long, and it’s plenty logical that his prime remains in front of him. 3. Carlos Correa Having just turned 27-years-old, Correa is the youngest option on this list, and he’s quite possibly the most talented. Injury concerns have been a part of his past, by the Astros shortstop did play in 148 games this season. His .850 OPS was not a career-high, but the 26 long balls were. Correa has the cheating scandal tied to him, but it’s clear that the talent is there with or without additional help. A serious on-base threat, Correa has posted a least a 124 OPS+ in five of his seven big-league seasons. He presents the combination of contact, power, and plus-defensive ability, which only enhances his premium at the position. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets a bigger deal than Seager or Semien, but I think that could go either way, and I believe he’s the best bet for future success. 2. Trevor Story Once assumed to be ticketed out of Colorado at any point during the 2021 season, Story hung on and finished the year there. His .801 OPS was the second-lowest tally of his career, and his 24 dingers matched the lowest full-season totally of his career. Still posting a 103 OPS+, he was above league average, but there’s nothing about 2021 that substantially increased his earning potential. This is Story’s big chance for a long-term payday as well, which would seem counter-productive to the Twins plans. That said, if he’s open to a one-year deal in hopes of increasing his value, that’s where Minnesota should look to pounce. He, too, combines strong defense with contact and power, making the offensive addition equally as enticing. 1. Javier Baez This looked like a better fit when Minnesota still employed Baez’s brother-in-law, Jose Berrios. That said, the soon-to-be 29-year-old still fits wonderfully for the Twins. He’s an elite defender that should be looking to regain some positive momentum on a one-year deal, and Minnesota can afford to pay him handsomely over a single season. Baez posted a lackluster .775 OPS with the Chicago Cubs but turned it on to the tune of a .886 mark in 47 games with the New York Mets. His actual production is probably somewhere in the middle of that, but he should trend above the career .783 OPS as he enters his prime. Javy is an elite defender, can play on both sides of second base if needed and would be a great teacher for Minnesota’s blossoming infield talent. A fan and clubhouse favorite, this is where I’d throw my money if I held the Twins bankroll. 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
  16. Assuming Minnesota doesn’t decide to slide second basemen Jorge Polanco, back across the diamond, they’ll need an answer at shortstop for the upcoming season. Polanco going back to his old position would allow Luis Arraez to start and an avenue for consistent playing time geared towards Jose Miranda. That said, it’d also be a decision in reverse with Polanco having been moved off the position in an attempt to avoid his defensive deficiencies there. Having lost the 2021 season due to a torn ACL, Royce Lewis won’t be an option out of the gate, and Austin Martin looks more the part of an outfielder than an infielder. Fortunately for Derek Falvey, this free-agent crop is littered with good shortstop options. So, let’s rank them by considering a fit and potential contract. 5. Marcus Semien What a difference a year makes. Last offseason, the Twins were runner-up for Semien’s services before he chose the Toronto Blue Jays. At that time, the longtime Athletics infielder was coming off a .679 OPS in 2020. Fast-forward to where we are now, and he posted an .873 OPS with a career-high 45 home runs. Semien isn’t going to win the MVP, that’s ticketed for Shohei Ohtani, but he’ll be in the top five and could finish right behind teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As a first-time All-Star, Semien just recently turned 31-years-old. He’s going to get paid and should be looking for no less than a four-year deal. Right now, that isn’t going to fit into the Twins plans given the uncertainty of Lewis’s future role. Coming off such a poor season, that type of commitment could pigeonhole Minnesota negatively in the immediate future. 4. Corey Seager If there’s a guy in this group that doesn’t change teams, I will bet on it being Seager. A second straight season with an OPS north of .900, the Dodgers shortstop has established himself as one of baseball’s best players. He’ll be 28-years-old next season and has spent his entire seven-year career with Los Angeles. Finding something in the range of six to eight years would seem suitable for him, and that’s not going to come cheap. After acquiring Trea Turner at the deadline this season, it would make sense for the Dodgers to run it back with their up-the-middle-duo. The Dodgers are also set to lose Chris Taylor to free agency this offseason, and some of that blow could be cushioned by retaining the services of Seager. He’s been so good for so long, and it’s plenty logical that his prime remains in front of him. 3. Carlos Correa Having just turned 27-years-old, Correa is the youngest option on this list, and he’s quite possibly the most talented. Injury concerns have been a part of his past, by the Astros shortstop did play in 148 games this season. His .850 OPS was not a career-high, but the 26 long balls were. Correa has the cheating scandal tied to him, but it’s clear that the talent is there with or without additional help. A serious on-base threat, Correa has posted a least a 124 OPS+ in five of his seven big-league seasons. He presents the combination of contact, power, and plus-defensive ability, which only enhances his premium at the position. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets a bigger deal than Seager or Semien, but I think that could go either way, and I believe he’s the best bet for future success. 2. Trevor Story Once assumed to be ticketed out of Colorado at any point during the 2021 season, Story hung on and finished the year there. His .801 OPS was the second-lowest tally of his career, and his 24 dingers matched the lowest full-season totally of his career. Still posting a 103 OPS+, he was above league average, but there’s nothing about 2021 that substantially increased his earning potential. This is Story’s big chance for a long-term payday as well, which would seem counter-productive to the Twins plans. That said, if he’s open to a one-year deal in hopes of increasing his value, that’s where Minnesota should look to pounce. He, too, combines strong defense with contact and power, making the offensive addition equally as enticing. 1. Javier Baez This looked like a better fit when Minnesota still employed Baez’s brother-in-law, Jose Berrios. That said, the soon-to-be 29-year-old still fits wonderfully for the Twins. He’s an elite defender that should be looking to regain some positive momentum on a one-year deal, and Minnesota can afford to pay him handsomely over a single season. Baez posted a lackluster .775 OPS with the Chicago Cubs but turned it on to the tune of a .886 mark in 47 games with the New York Mets. His actual production is probably somewhere in the middle of that, but he should trend above the career .783 OPS as he enters his prime. Javy is an elite defender, can play on both sides of second base if needed and would be a great teacher for Minnesota’s blossoming infield talent. A fan and clubhouse favorite, this is where I’d throw my money if I held the Twins bankroll. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. For the second consecutive off-season, Minnesota is in the market for a starting shortstop. Fans may want the team to spend big, but all of the top-tier free agents have flaws. Minnesota has the opportunity to make a big splash this winter by jumping in on (arguably) the best free-agent shortstop class in baseball history. It will cost the team a lot of money to be in the mix for the top-tier players. To put that in perspective, Francisco Lindor was supposed to be part of this free agent group, but he signed a 10-year, $341 million deal with the Mets. Each of these players comes with some red flags that interested clubs will need to consider. Carlos Correa (2022 Age: 27) 2021 Stats: 7.2 WAR, .279/.366/.485 (.850), 26 HR, 34 2B, 131 OPS+ As a 27-year old, Correa is reaching free agency at the prime of his career, and he is the top free agent in this winter’s crop of available players. It’s likely going to take $30 million per season for six years or more to sign Correa. Injuries have been part of his professional career, but he has played 99 games or more in five of his seven big-league seasons. There’s also a good chance he will need to move off shortstop as he continues to age. Flaws: Injury history Corey Seager (2022 Age: 28) 2021 Stats: 3.7 WAR, .306/.394/.521 (.915), 16 HR, 22 2B, 145 OPS+ Like Correa, injuries have been part of Seager’s story, including missing a good chunk of 2021 with a hand fracture. He’s played over 130 games in three of his six full big-league seasons. His 2020 playoff run was outstanding as he won the World Series and NLCS MVP. Teams that miss out on Correa will likely turn to Seager, but he is a year older and has missed more time in his big-league career. Flaws: Injury history Marcus Semien (2022 Age: 31) 2021 Stats: 7.1 WAR, .265/.334/.538 (.873), 45 HR, 39 2B, 133 OPS+ Minnesota was interested in signing Semien last winter, but he decided to go to Toronto. His season north of the border was memorable as he will likely finish in the top-5 for the AL MVP. He is the oldest shortstop among the top-tier free agents, and he played all of last year at second base. Last winter, he signed a one-year deal for $18 million, and he will be getting a pay raise in the months ahead. Flaws: Age Javier Baez (2022 Age: 29) 2021 Stats: 4.5 WAR, .265/.319/.494 (.813), 31 HR, 18 2B, 117 OPS+ Baez is certainly an exciting player, but he swings and misses a lot. He led the National League with 184 strikeouts, and he has struck out 144 or more times in each of the last four full seasons. As far as contracts go, he is projected to get a lower average value than the names above because his personality can rub people the wrong way. Can Josh Donaldson and Baez coexist in the same clubhouse? That might not be an experiment a team wants to explore. Flaws: Strikeouts, Volatility Trevor Story (2022 Age: 29) 2021 Stats: 4.2 WAR, .251/.329/.471 (.801), 24 HR, 34 2B, 103 OPS+ Story has been a 20-20 player throughout his professional career. He is also hitting free agency at a tough time as he is coming off a poor campaign by his standards. There are also concerns about how he will fare outside of Coors Field. At home, he hit .303/.369/.603 (.972) while on the road, he was limited to a .752 OPS. Flaws: Home/Road Splits To read more about these shortstops and other off-season options, make sure to pre-order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. Designed to serve as an essential companion for the Twins offseason ahead, this digital Handbook places you in the shoes of the general manager, equipping you with all the information you need to construct your own team-building blueprint (or predict what the real front office will do). Which flaws worry you the most? Will the Twins make offers to any of these players? 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
  18. Minnesota has the opportunity to make a big splash this winter by jumping in on (arguably) the best free-agent shortstop class in baseball history. It will cost the team a lot of money to be in the mix for the top-tier players. To put that in perspective, Francisco Lindor was supposed to be part of this free agent group, but he signed a 10-year, $341 million deal with the Mets. Each of these players comes with some red flags that interested clubs will need to consider. Carlos Correa (2022 Age: 27) 2021 Stats: 7.2 WAR, .279/.366/.485 (.850), 26 HR, 34 2B, 131 OPS+ As a 27-year old, Correa is reaching free agency at the prime of his career, and he is the top free agent in this winter’s crop of available players. It’s likely going to take $30 million per season for six years or more to sign Correa. Injuries have been part of his professional career, but he has played 99 games or more in five of his seven big-league seasons. There’s also a good chance he will need to move off shortstop as he continues to age. Flaws: Injury history Corey Seager (2022 Age: 28) 2021 Stats: 3.7 WAR, .306/.394/.521 (.915), 16 HR, 22 2B, 145 OPS+ Like Correa, injuries have been part of Seager’s story, including missing a good chunk of 2021 with a hand fracture. He’s played over 130 games in three of his six full big-league seasons. His 2020 playoff run was outstanding as he won the World Series and NLCS MVP. Teams that miss out on Correa will likely turn to Seager, but he is a year older and has missed more time in his big-league career. Flaws: Injury history Marcus Semien (2022 Age: 31) 2021 Stats: 7.1 WAR, .265/.334/.538 (.873), 45 HR, 39 2B, 133 OPS+ Minnesota was interested in signing Semien last winter, but he decided to go to Toronto. His season north of the border was memorable as he will likely finish in the top-5 for the AL MVP. He is the oldest shortstop among the top-tier free agents, and he played all of last year at second base. Last winter, he signed a one-year deal for $18 million, and he will be getting a pay raise in the months ahead. Flaws: Age Javier Baez (2022 Age: 29) 2021 Stats: 4.5 WAR, .265/.319/.494 (.813), 31 HR, 18 2B, 117 OPS+ Baez is certainly an exciting player, but he swings and misses a lot. He led the National League with 184 strikeouts, and he has struck out 144 or more times in each of the last four full seasons. As far as contracts go, he is projected to get a lower average value than the names above because his personality can rub people the wrong way. Can Josh Donaldson and Baez coexist in the same clubhouse? That might not be an experiment a team wants to explore. Flaws: Strikeouts, Volatility Trevor Story (2022 Age: 29) 2021 Stats: 4.2 WAR, .251/.329/.471 (.801), 24 HR, 34 2B, 103 OPS+ Story has been a 20-20 player throughout his professional career. He is also hitting free agency at a tough time as he is coming off a poor campaign by his standards. There are also concerns about how he will fare outside of Coors Field. At home, he hit .303/.369/.603 (.972) while on the road, he was limited to a .752 OPS. Flaws: Home/Road Splits To read more about these shortstops and other off-season options, make sure to pre-order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. Designed to serve as an essential companion for the Twins offseason ahead, this digital Handbook places you in the shoes of the general manager, equipping you with all the information you need to construct your own team-building blueprint (or predict what the real front office will do). Which flaws worry you the most? Will the Twins make offers to any of these players? 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
  19. When a team is successful, it’s only natural for other organizations to want to try and steal some of that success. That can come from hiring away other team’s front office personnel and coaches. The Twins have seen multiple coaches be snagged by other teams over the last handful of years, but the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine combo have stayed together at the top of the organization. However, they may not stay together forever. After just 21 games, the Colorado Rockies are looking for a new person to take over their general manager role. This is the first time since 2014 that Colorado is looking for a new general manager. Jeff Bridich resigned earlier in the week and it sounds like the club will wait until this winter to hire a permanent replacement. According to USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, Levine is “the leading candidate to become only the fourth Rockies’ GM in history.” Levine has ties to the Rockies organization as he served in a variety of roles with the club from 1999-2005 including senior director of baseball operations. He left for Texas after that and joined the Twins back in 2016. Colorado isn’t exactly an easy place to be a general manager. Just this winter, the former GM was forced to trade All-Star third baseman Nolan Arenado in a deal that included the Rockies paying $51 million of his remaining $199 million salary. Trevor Story, now the team’s best player, will be a free agent at season’s end. They also have one of the worst ranked farm systems in baseball, so there isn’t a lot of reason for optimism moving forward. Next season will be Colorado’s 30th and the team has never won a division title. Things aren’t looking that great for 2021 either as the team currently sits at 8-14, the lowest winning percentage in the National League. The Twins were coming off some rough seasons when Levine joined the organization, but they weren’t nearly as big of a mess as the current state of the Rockies. Other organizations have shown interest in Levine over the last three years. Back in 2018, the Mets were interested in interviewing Levine for their GM spot. This past offseason he was one of the top contenders for the President of Baseball Operations position in Philadelphia. He took his name out of the running for that job, because he was committed to his role with the Twins. In fact, he is signed with Minnesota through 2024. It seems likely for Levine to have a chance to take over his own front office at some point in the future. His name is going to continue to be floated out there for nearly every opening. There are clearly some connections to his time in Colorado, but the Rockies are a mess of a franchise. It doesn’t seem like the right opportunity, but that doesn’t mean Levine will be a Twin for life. Do you think Levine will seriously consider the Rockies job? Leave a COMMENT and join 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
  20. Injuries to top prospects can be frustrating to a fan base, especially for a player as highly touted as Royce Lewis. He was supposed to be the team’s shortstop of the future with the chance to take over that role at some point in 2022. His injury might end up being a blessing in disguise, because the Twins can take advantage of a rare plethora of free agent shortstops. In some offseasons the free agent shortstop class can be almost non-existent. This past winter saw multiple above average shortstops hit the market including Marcus Siemen, Didi Gregorius, and Simmons. Only Gregorius signed a multi-year deal, so Siemen and Simmons will have to compete with other star players for free agent deals (Age for 2022 season in parentheses). Francisco Lindor (28): Lindor was dealt out of the AL Central this winter and will spend the 2021 campaign with the Mets. It seems most likely for the Mets and their new ownership to work out a contract extension to lock-up Lindor. He’s one of baseball’s most marketable superstars and he already seems like a natural fit in the Big Apple. It’s going to cost north of $300 million to sign him and that is more money than the Twins are going to be willing to spend. Javier Baez (29): Last season, Baez struggled to the tune of a .598 OPS in over 235 plate appearances. However, in the previous four seasons he averaged 25 home runs and 30 doubles per year with a .822 OPS. On top of that, he’s one of baseball’s best defensive shortstops. There’s also a connection between Jose Berrios and Baez as they are brother in-laws and both hale from Puerto Rico. Maybe bringing Baez into the fold will encourage Berrios to sign an extension with Minnesota. Carlos Correa (27): Correa is the youngest player on this list, but he’s also missed time throughout his big-league career. In fact, the 2016 campaign was his lone season with more than 110 games played. There’s no denying his on-field production when he is on the field. He’s averaged a 5.2 WAR in every season where he has played 99 games or more. Also, he’s a well-rounded infielder as he finished second in SABR’s SDI among AL shortstops last season. The injury history might scare some teams away, but it can also bring down his free agent price. Trevor Story (29): Story debuted in 2016 and he’s done nothing but mash since that point. Among shortstops, he has the most home runs during that time-period even though he has fewer at-bats than the next three players behind him in the standings. Story isn’t as strong defensively as some of the others on this list, but he can more than hold his own. He ranks as the seventh best shortstop according to Defensive Runs Above Average since making his debut. Story might be a sneaky good player for the Twins to target next winter. Corey Seager (28): Seager’s star power has dwindled during his time in LA, especially with MVP winners Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger anchoring the line-up. Unfortunately, he missed nearly all the 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery, but he came back strongly and led the NL in doubles the next season. Last year, he posted career highs in batting average and slugging percentage as the Dodgers claimed the World Series title. Will LA be willing to let one of their best players leave in free agency because of the team’s other stars? Which player do you think would be the best fit in Minnesota? Will the team spend big on a shortstop even with Lewis returning from injury? 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
  21. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have shown a patience during their tenure with the Twins, and whether picking a right spot for a swap, or jumping in late on a free agent, they’ve been extremely calculated. The market as a whole has really worked to feel players out, and Minnesota’s front office should be expected to continue a similar process. This duo has had success on the trade market though and finding a dance partner matches up in plenty of key areas heading into the 2021 season. Knowing there’s both offense and pitching needs to address, here’s the top five players the Twins could trade for in order of impact. 1. Colorado Rockies Trevor Story Francisco Lindor was going to appear in this space as well, but he's reportedly headed to the New York Mets. A trade within the division of that magnitude always seemed unlikely anyways. Story can come over from the National League however, and would give the Twins one of the best hitting infielders in baseball. He's no slouch with the glove, but it's the power bat that puts up gaudy numbers as well. There's always a slight concern leaving the elevation of Coors Field, but D.J. LeMahieu has certainly had no issues. 2. Cincinnati Reds Luis Castillo or Sonny Gray Both from the same team, but with substantially different ramifications. Luis Castillo looks the part of a Cy Young pitcher waiting to happen. He’s just 28 and should be entering his prime, while having already evolved into a strikeout machine with some of the best peripherals in baseball. He’s under team control through the 2023 season, and you can expect to break the prospect bank in an attempt to acquire him. It seemed likely that a resurgence was to be expected for Gray once he got out of the Cracker Jack box that is Yankee Stadium. He’s ratcheted up the strikeout tallies each of the past two years but has always danced around some free passes. 31 and with a team option in 2023, Gray has more of a monetary commitment but is a pitcher that would see at least an equal payday on the open market. With the Reds clearly motivated to move assets, either option would represent a substantial rotation upgrade for the Twins. 3. Pittsburgh Pirates Joe Musgrove Down in the middle of the list only because of what he’s done thus far, Musgrove looks like a pitcher waiting to be rescued from the Pirates keep. He just recently turned 28 and isn’t a free agent until 2023. The strikeouts took a huge leap in 2020 and his FIP has always outperformed what the defense behind him has allowed. Matched with a mastermind pitching coach in the form of Wes Johnson, I’d hardly be shocked if Musgrove didn’t end up being one of the best arms in baseball. He’s not going to turn into Gerrit Cole, but he may be the next best thing. 4. Chicago Cubs Javier Baez or Kris Bryant If the Twins are intent on dealing for infield help, there’s no reason not to call the Chicago Cubs. Javier Baez had a dreadful 2020, but he was coming off two seasons of a combined .865 OPS prior to that. He’s a premier shortstop with an incredibly high ceiling at the plate. He’s not cheap in that he’ll make somewhere around $11 million in 2021, and he’s set to become a free agent after the year. Still, as a brother-in-law to Jose Berrios, pairing those two together in Minnesota could be a nice bit of roster construction. The allure for Bryant is more based around assumption than present reality. You absolutely have to believe he’s not cooked and that the shoulder will hold up. If that’s true, there’s an offensive stud here and he acts as insurance for both Josh Donaldson at third base, and Alex Kirilloff in left field. Despite seeming to have drawn ire for quite some time, 2020 was his first down year, and his health has been the chief concern. The former Rookie of the Year is a free agent following the season, but the Cubs selloff could make him more available than expected. 5. Colorado Rockies Jon Gray There was some belief that the Rockies may simply non-tender Gray and allow him to be a free agent. That didn’t happen and the former first round pick is back after posting a 6.69 ERA last season. The 4.18 FIP dating back to 2018 isn’t going to open many eyes, but that number was 3.46 through his first 58 MLB starts. Gray has been a consistent strikeout pitcher with a heavy fastball and a change of scenery could be what is necessary to unlock his full potential. German Marquez has figured it out in Colorado while Gray has not, plucking him a year before he heads into free agency could be a nice move with him banking on building value. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. Let’s forget for a second about WAR, launch angle, and exit velocity. Push your thoughts of FIP, xFIP, and BABIP to the side, and remember why we all got into baseball in the first place. It’s fun. So, I’ve compiled a short list of potential future Twins, and rated how fun they’d be in Minnesota from Boring to Very Fun. Enjoy. Javier Báez – Very Fun The Twins are in the market for a new shortstop and the Cubs seem to be in fire sale mode, so a move that sends Báez to Minnesota might be in both clubs’ best interests. And, simply put, Báez maxes out the fun meter. He’s a still relatively young, swagger-filled middle infielder that does amazing things in the field and sports a good amount of pop in his bat. Forget about his mediocre 2020 stats for a second – watching Báez play is fun because he has the look and the confidence of the best player on the field even if he really isn’t anymore. He’s been on the cover of The Show, something nobody else on this list can claim. And, I’ve kind of buried the lede here – the coolest part about El Mago (cool nickname too) are his tags. Trevor Story – Kinda Fun Trevor Story, another shortstop trade possibility, gets a Kinda Fun designation because, though he may be the best available option at short, he doesn’t boast the star power and flair of Báez and others. Don’t get me wrong – Story is a star; he’s great in the field and at the plate, but looking at his stats on baseball reference is almost more exciting that watching him play. It doesn’t help that he’s been marooned off in Colorado, but Story just doesn’t have that “it factor” or special skill that sets him above the other great shortstops in the league, at least in terms of fun-ness. He does have a pretty mean bat flip, but there’s no crazy tag compilation out there on YouTube, for example. He’ll be a very welcome addition to the Twins if he comes, but a middle-of-the-road rating on the fun meter feels right. Marcus Semien – Boring Marcus Semien is probably the best shortstop available on the free agency market, but there’s a reason a lot of Twins fans would rather give up young talent in a Báez or Story trade than simply sign the former Oakland shortstop. Signing Semien would just give off the feeling that they needed a shortstop and signed a shortstop, not the shortstop that anybody really wants. Semien has been a top-tier player in the past, but a pretty dismal 2020 makes him feel like a more expensive Jorge Polanco rather than a Polanco replacement, and spending on a player that does little to change the status quo is the opposite of fun. Perhaps if I allowed myself to make a joke about his last name, I could bump him up a few levels, but I’m not going to do that so he’s stays at Boring. Nelson Cruz – Fun Perhaps the Twins’ biggest question of the offseason is whether to bring Nelson Cruz back or not and, while our opinions may vary widely on whether it’s wise to spend on a 40-year-old DH, that’s not what I’m here to talk about. Nelson Cruz is fun. With Cruz, there’s no “shiny new car” feeling because he’s been in Minnesota for two years, but there’s a reason he’s been your dad’s favorite Twins player those two years. He’s been a star in the league for the better part of a decade and we love when stars come to Minnesota, especially when they lead the team to an MLB record for home runs. Even better, Cruz’s locker room personality is the driving force behind the “Bomba Squad” moniker and the team identity that’s the Twins last few years on of the most fun teams in the league. Marcell Ozuna – Fun Should the Twins decide against bringing back Cruz, Marcell Ozuna could serve as a long-term high-end option at DH. Though losing Cruz might be sad for many Twins fans, they’d be getting no downgrade in the fun department with Ozuna. He’s a big, muscular dude who wears a bright chartreuse arm sleeve and hits bombs. Massive bombs. In large quantities. Last year, Ozuna led the league in home runs and runs batted in and, though there are certainly more intelligent stats, big homer and RBI guys are very fun to have in the lineup. Advanced stats fans should like him too, as his exit velocity numbers and hard hit percentage were among the best in the league last year. The only thing keeping Ozuna from rising into the Very Fun tier is the possibility of a regression that could make him a Sanó-esque strikeout frustration. Trevor Bauer – Very Fun Now, the Twins odds acquiring the free agent ace and reigning NL Cy Young winner aren’t that great, but he falls into the Very Fun category, so it’s fun to imagine. Bauer is and always has been controversial, so he may not be every Twins fan’s cup of tea, but that’s exactly why I would love to have him so much. The guy who talks the most and angers the most people is exactly the type of guy you want on your team, as long as he’s playing well. And fresh off a Cy Young year, he’s certainly doing that. Above all else though, Bauer has a curious and innovative baseball mind that, as a fan, is fun to see on your favorite team. His appreciation for the craft of pitching is something that every Twins fan ought to be able to appreciate, even if some don’t like his attitude. Also – He’s a fun follow on YouTube. Sonny Gray – Not That Fun Gray, who was Bauer’s teammate last year in Cincinnati, would also be a good addition to the Twins rotation, but he’s not nearly as exciting. With a career ERA in the threes and a WHIP in the 1.2 range, Minnesota fans would probably be happy to have him, but we also managed to make Carl Pavano seem exciting. The fact is that, since he burst into the bigs as a rookie, nobody has ever called you excitedly to say “Hey, did you see what Sonny Gray did last night?!?!” unless they were a Yankees fan complaining about his poor performance in pinstripes. Gray seems like a fun guy to know and have in the locker room, but that doesn’t make him a fun player to watch. If he signs with Minnesota, he’ll be a mid-rotation out-getter more than a jersey-seller. Trevor Rosenthal – Kinda Fun The Twins haven’t had a true flamethrower in the bullpen (other than Brusdar Graterol’s 10 games) in a long while, but that’s what they would get by bringing in free agent reliever Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal looked on the brink of exiting the league not too long ago but was dominant down the stretch for the Padres last year, and he regularly touched triple-digit velocity. A dominant hard-throwing reliever is one of most exciting players to watch and have on your team, so Rosenthal, should he sign, would be a very entertaining player to have around. However, he’s only a year removed from being an out of control , and those guys are torturous to watch. I’ll hedge my bets and put him at Kinda Fun.
  23. As things stand right now the Minnesota Twins have what can be considered an incomplete 26-man roster. There’s work yet to be done, as there is for most teams in baseball, and the front office may find favor in one-year agreements for 2021. The reality right now is that teams are using the lack of traditional revenues as reasons to spend less for the 2021 Major League Baseball season. On top of that, there’s uncertainty regarding the 2022 season due to an expiring CBA and the previous history between the league and Players Association. While the Twins may see reduced payroll as a way forward in terms of financial flexibility, one-year deals may be an outlier allowing them to still maximize a competitive window. It’s a pretty hard sell for the Pohlad’s to suggest they are committed to winning while instructing Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to take their foot off the gas in the midst of developmental emergence. This organization signed their biggest free agent in history just last offseason, and not pairing him with more talent as the home-grown group has emerged would be a head-scratcher at best. While it wouldn’t necessarily reduce the bill for 2021, removing future monetary commitment is a practice that makes some sense this time around. Think back to 2018 for a moment. Minnesota made a splash with Spring Training already underway. In a less than ideal market for both players, the secured the services of Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison. Both players came in a bit disgruntled at the process they witnessed over the winter, and their output left plenty to be desired. At that time, the suggestion of hired hitman brought forth the discussion as to whether chemistry was ever truly able to be established. With a different set of parameters this time around, a similar plan could be truly beneficial. Thus far the only deal of consequence for Minnesota has been the acquisition of former Angels closer Hansel Robles on a one-year deal. Internally, he joins Michael Pineda as a free agent following the 2021 season. There’s a sunk cost already with Josh Donaldson, and then much of the Twins roster is on team-friendly extensions, or just into the arbitration process. In short, there’s not much of a massive monetary leap year over year from what’s already committed to. Enter the onslaught of one-year deals. Kris Bryant for $18 million, yep, sure. Trevor Story at the same price, why not. How about Sonny Gray for just over $10 million, or Jon Gray coming in just under $6 million. The reality is that while all of those players are substantially more costly than a prospect at the league minimum, the future financial fear is off the table. You could add Nelson Cruz and his $16 million ask to this group as well. The point isn’t that the money is inconsequential, but that you’d be maximizing your opportunity while still having flexibility in the seasons ahead. For years Major League organizations have seen record growth and financial dividends. 2020 provided an unprecedented halt to those trends, but the reality for the vast majority of the league is that a profit was still turned. Having the ability to regain that opportunity in the near future remains a priority for ownership, and this would give them a clear vision to see that come to fruition. Players in the final year of contracts, and especially those with hefty price tags, should not require a ransom be paid in exchange for their services. The Rockies Story is an elite talent, but plenty of Minnesota’s system should stay intact. Bryant would seemingly have even less of a required package, and the same could be said about Colorado’s Gray. I don’t know how Falvey and Levine will navigate these waters when they finally dip their oars in, but this seems like a plausible path forward. In a traditional cycle I’d be less interested in a team full of short-term reinforcements. If it means that talent is bolstered and payroll flexibility is still to be achieved, this could be a blueprint that satisfies all needs. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  24. Over the past couple of weeks, it has been rumored that the Twins are acting as a shark circling blood in the water. Waiting for an opportunity to make a big move like they did last offseason, it’s been anyone’s guess as to what that may be. Today it was reported that the move could come up the middle. Trevor Bauer is the premier free agent this winter, but shortstop talent is aplenty as well. Andrelton Simmons is a perennial Gold Glove type, while both Didi Gregorious and Marcus Semien bring a more balanced offering in a stopgap type situation. Ken Rosenthal reported today that Minnesota is considering moving Luis Arraez and shifting Jorge Polanco to second base. The question then becomes, who plays short? Arraez broke onto the scene in 2019 and immediately became a fan favorite that looked the part of a Tony Gwynn clone. With great command of the zone and an innate ability to make strong contact, multiple batting titles were projected for his future. Dealing with a slow start in 2020, and lingering knee issues, he finished the year off fine. It’s probably fair to describe him as virtually what we see being who he is. There’s going to be a high average, he won’t strike out, and he’s passable at best on defense. On its own, that works fine for Minnesota. The problem here is that Jorge Polanco is miscast as a shortstop. His arm strength is questionable, and while improved in 2020, his range is suspect. That’s easier to overlook when the power production is what it was in 2019, but he dealt with a nagging ankle issue last season and just underwent another surgery to correct it. There was some talk he could take over as Minnesota’s replacement for Marwin Gonzalez, but you’d probably be sacrificing lineup prowess in that scenario. Moving him to second base seems like a much more fluid fit. So, what happens at short? Royce Lewis is obviously seen as the heir, but there’s plenty of warts to dissect there. His 2019 was not good, and despite glowing reports from the CHS Field alternate site last season, 2020 featured no real game action. A handful of national names continue to suggest he’s not a fit at short long term, and a spot in centerfield makes more sense. That alone isn’t enough to bump him off the position now, but it might be worthy to consider him less than untouchable. At the current juncture two of the game’s best shortstops are on the trade market. Cleveland is going to move Francisco Lindor this offseason, and the Colorado Rockies should be sending Trevor Story out. Neither are under team control past 2022 and as always you have the Coors effect in play (.760 OPS away .994 OPS home) for Story. Both players are going to command an absolute premium and depending on what Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are willing to give up, the hope would likely be an extension works out following a swap. Despite lost revenues in 2020, the Minnesota Twins can’t afford to wait out their next move. The farm system has some very good top prospects, and the depth is also pretty solid. It’s this core however that the front office has been fine tuning, and the window to go all in is the immediate future. With Josh Donaldson having three years left on his mega deal, pairing him and the homegrown core should be of the utmost importance. What impact Royce Lewis or Jordan Balazovic have as key pieces two or three years from now could be the start of an entirely new competitive cycle. This front office can’t go all in and throw care to the wind, but they’ve also never shown a reason to believe that’s how they would operate. Donaldson seemed like a great fit for Minnesota all along last winter, and the Twins picked their spot to get the deal done. Nothing may be imminent on a big splash front right now, but the makings of smoke seem to be billowing and there’s plenty of reason to fan for some flame. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  25. There are six players in the big leagues who are 22 to 24 years old and hitting under .220 heading into Monday’s games. I thought it would be interesting to see if their teams have done anything about those players. Have they been demoted? Will they be demoted? Have they been moved in the lineup at all? I think I found some consistencies in the research. Dansby Swanson - 23 - SS - Atlanta Braves 2017 Stats*: .139/.162/.194 (.357) in 74 plate appearances over 18 games. Swanson was the first overall draft pick in the 2015 draft out of Vanderbilt. Inexplicably, Dave Stewart decided to trade the Georgia native to Atlanta (with two others) for Shelby Miller. The Braves called him up late last year. He played in 38 big league games, he hit .302/.361/.442 (.803) in 145 plate appearances. He had 34 strikeouts, but he also walked 13 times. Part of his struggles this season can be tied to his strikeout-to-walk rate. He has 19 strikeouts to go with just two walks. He began the 2017 season as Atlanta’s second-place hitter. He stayed in that spot for the first 14 games. He then got a day off. At that point he was in a 3-33 slump which dropped his average to .131. When he returned to the lineup this past weekend, he had been moved to the eighth spot. Swanson seems to be taking the struggles in stride. When he was given his one game off, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “When you’re going like this each at-bat is kind of a battle,” Swanson said. “I was just talking to some people about how, it’s like, they throw those perfect breaking balls on certain counts and they make certain pitches, and then when you do hit balls hard people seem to be standing right there and stuff. But you’ve got to do your best to not let that affect you — just because you’re not getting the result doesn’t mean you’re not doing the right thing. “This game, it’s hard. It’s just a weird concept because you can execute everything perfectly and not be successful, whereas in football if you run a play perfectly you’re going to be successful, or in basketball if you shoot the perfect shot it’s going in. It’s just funny how, in this (sport), you can take the perfect swing and it doesn’t matter. Nothing’s really in your control except your immediate action.” Tim Anderson - 24 - SS - Chicago White Sox 2017 Stats*: .179/.203/.254 (.457) in 69 plate appearances Anderson was the White Sox first-round pick in 2013 out of Community College. He was called up in mid-June and played in 99 games. He hit .283/.306/.432 (.738). Those that have watched the White Sox since his call up know what his issue can be. Throw him a breaking ball outside of the strike zone, and he’ll probably still swing at it. Last year, he saw just 3.7 pitches per plate appearance. This year, that number is down to just 3.3. But the White Sox obviously see him as a future star and leader on the team. . This spring, they locked him up to a six year, $25 million contract. With a couple of option years, the value of the contract could exceed $51 million. So, he’s probably got some leeway. He began the season by batting second the first seven games, and then he moved up to the leadoff spot for three games. After a day off, he has hit second four times and led off twice. Through 16 games, Rich Renteria has chosen to keep Anderson near the top of the order. Orlando Arcia - 22 - SS - Milwaukee Brewers 2017 Stats*: .210/.234/.306 (.541) in 64 plate appearances over the first 18 games Arcia was signed out of Venezuela. He is the younger brother of former Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia. He is known for his premiere defense at shortstop, which may surprise those of us who watched Oswaldo out in the outfield in Target Field. He was called up late last year and played in 55 games for the Brewers last year. He hit .219/.273/.358 (.631). The Brewers have him up primarily for his defense and are letting him grow into the offensive side of the game. That is shown, in part, by the fact that they have had him hitting eighth or even ninth in their lineup in each game he’s played. Brewers manager Craig Counsell recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Development is not a straight line," Counsell said. "Failure is part of it. You don’t know for who and when, but you know that there’s going to be struggles, and you have to get through those times. That’s when most of the learning happens and the biggest adjustments are going to happen." "Look, I don’t want to see guys struggle. It’s hard seeing guys struggle. But I know also a lot of good can come from the struggle, and that’s what I always remain hopeful about." Jose Peraza - 22 - 2B/SS - Cincinnati Reds 2017 Stats*: .216/.256/.257 (.513) in 78 plate appearances over 18 games Peraza actually made his MLB debut in 2015 when he played in seven games for the Dodgers before being involved in his second, three-team trade in his young career. It sent him to Cincinnati. In 2016, he hit .324/.352/.411 (.762) in 72 games and 256 plate appearances. He played around the infield, but mostly in the two middle spots. This year, he is off to a slow start. However, in all 18 games he has played, he has hit first or second. Chad Dotson from Redleg Nation doesn’t think that Peraza is in any danger of a demotion: As far as I know, there has been no public discussion about either sending Peraza down or dropping him in the lineup. In my opinion, it is highly unlikely that Peraza will be demoted. He’s still just 22 years old, and current management has reason to be patient with the young guys at the heart of the rebuild. This is a season for the Reds to see who they have and what they can do. Peraza will get a much longer leash than 3 weeks. (Plus, his defense has been good.) Trevor Story - 24 - SS - Colorado Rockies 2017 Stats*: .169/.270/.415 (.686) in 74 plate appearances over 19 games Story was the big story early last season. In his MLB debut last year, he hit two home runs. He had six home runs in his first four games. Unfortunately, his season ended after just 97 games due to injury, but he finished by hitting 21 doubles and 27 home runs. He hit .272/.341/.567 (.909). So, it’s clear that he isn’t off to the same kind of start as he was last year. However, he has continued to show the home run power. Rockies fans are surprised when Story hits a single so far this year. He started the season hitting fifth, and batted fourth or fifth each of the first seven games. Since then, he has hit primarily sixth, but also has three games where he’s batted seventh as well. So for now, he has been dropped a little in the lineup. Carlos Correa - 23 - SS - Houston Astros 2017 Stats*: .197/.286/.295 (.581) with 70 plate appearances in 16 games. Correa was the top pick in the 2012 MLB draft, one pick ahead of Byron Buxton. Correa was called up halfway through the 2015 season and hit 22 homers on his way to the AL Rookie of the Year. In 2016, he hit .274/.361/.451 (.811) with 36 doubles, 20 homers and 96 RBI. 2017 hasn’t started out real well for Correa. However, he has been the Astros cleanup hitter each game that he’s played this season, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. SUMMARY So what have we noticed from reviewing the six players above? Maybe you’ll think through some more, but here are a few things I noticed. If you go on Twitter or read comments sections, there are two distinct groups of fans for each of these players. There are the ones who want a guy demoted (or even just given up on), and there are those that will support said player as long as it takes. Here’s a good example from Twitter regarding Dansby Swanson: https://twitter.com/santoniobrown/status/855572705994846208 2.) Defense - you’ll notice that each of these players plays an up-the-middle position, and plays it well. While Buxton is the only outfielder, most of them are shortstops. Each is known for being a plus defender. 3.) Byron Buxton was the Twins #3 hitter on Opening Day. Having watched him play this spring, it was an aggressive, but understandable plan. Not because of any numbers he put up in spring training, but because of the quality of the at-bats that he was having. After struggling for five games, Paul Molitor moved him down the lineup and he’s primarily been batting ninth since. He’s been pinch-hit for three times and sat out a couple of games too. Swanson stayed in the second spot for 14 games before being moved down this weekend. Story has dropped from five to seven. But the rest have stayed in their spots. 4.) Online searching tells me that none of the other players are in any danger of being demoted, at least not in the near future. 5.) Patience is what is being preached. That’s not new. Player development is not linear. Not everyone develops at the same time. Sometimes being optioned helps. Sometimes a player needs to figure things out in the big leagues. 6.) Walk and strikeout rates are pretty consistently telling in seeing player struggles. I don’t think that surprises anyone. Players that have a better control of the strike zone have a tendency to avoid longer slumps, and they don’t get themselves out by swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Now, we don’t watch these other teams play as often as we watch the Twins. It’s also pretty certain from the stats and the strikeout rates that Buxton’s struggles have exceeded even those mentioned above. Personally, I would like to see the Twins continue to play Buxton most every day and let him try to work through this. Finally, here is a list of the 27 players who entered Monday’s game with a sub-.200 batting average. Jose Reyes - .104 Ryan Schimpf - .109 Jose Bautista - .132 Devon Travis - .136 Dansby Swanson - .139 Danny Valencia - .145 Curtis Granderson - .149 Travis Jankowski - .160 Mike Napoli - .162 Erick Aybar - .164 Trevor Story - .169 Alex Gordon - .169 Dexter Fowler - .169 Maikel Franco - .171 Scott Schebler - .175 Austin Hedges - .175 Tim Anderson - .179 Brett Gardner - .182 Jonathan Villar - .185 Rougned Odor - .187 Alcides Escobar - .190 Danny Espinosa - .191 Domingo Santana - .193 Adonis Garcia - .194 Justin Bour - .194 Carlos Gonzalez - .197 Carlos Correa - .197 It’s an interesting mix, isn’t it? There are young players and there are old players. There are some former All-Stars, and there are guys you had to look up to see what team they even play for. It’s easy to jump to conclusions early in a season even though we all know it’s a very small sample. But with Buxton, the question that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have to be asking themselves is: What is best for Byron Buxton’s long-term future? Learn in the big leagues or learn in AAA Rochester. The problem is, there is no way to know which answer is more correct than the other. Share your thoughts.
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