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  1. Despite an opportunity to hit the open market after the 2019 season, Jake Odorizzi returned to the Twins on a $17.8 million qualifying offer. It ended up being below market value and could be even more of a coup if Odorizzi continues trending towards the impact arm this rotation covets. One of the best moves the new regime has made since taking over was flipping middle infield prospect Jermaine Palacios to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Odo. Palacios is 23 years old, still at Double-A, and hasn’t posted an OPS north of .600 since 2017. Jake meanwhile had a career year in 2019, has wholeheartedly embraced data, and could be on the verge of a next step the pushes him into the upper echelon. Coming off his first All-Star appearance in 2019, Odorizzi posted a 3.51 ERA bolstered by a 3.36 FIP. His 10.1 K/9 was nearly two notches above his career norms, and his 1.208 WHIP was the lowest it’s been since 2016. Despite the Bugs Bunny baseball, the fly ball specialist posted a career low 0.9 HR/9. His 45% career fly ball rate translated into a career low 3.5% HR/FB ratio despite a career high 42% hard hit rate. How did all that come together? Well, Jake made some key strides in other areas obviously. His 93-mph average velocity was nearly two ticks up from 2018. At 29-years-old, he was adding oomph, and he’s been an early adopter of new technology. With that heavier fastball he was able to post a 12.7% whiff rate (career best) and batters made contact just 74% of the time against him. Assuming consistent gains is an inexact science. While peak performance falls along different places on a bell curve, Odorizzi’s age 30 season should drop within the realm of peak performance. Looking for competitive advantages as he has been vocal about doing, alongside an infrastructure designed to push the envelope, there should be a perfect storm for Odorizzi and Wes Johnson to marry. ZiPS projects Odorizzi to be right in line with Jose Berrios at the top of Minnesota’s rotation. His 109 ERA+ would lead the team among players on the Opening Day roster, and a 9.5 K/9 suggests a belief in 2019 performance. A 4.09 ERA would be a step backwards, but the 4.02 FIP holds a level of consistency across the board. Ultimately Jake has put together back-to-back seasons with a 3.00 ERA just once in his career, and the later was a step off the former. At this point though, I think it’s safe to say we’re dealing with a redesigned set of inputs. Add in the fact that Odorizzi is once again pitching for a contract working on just a one-year deal and squeezing more out of that next opportunity is a very clear goal. I think you can make a very easy argument that the Twins have a great level of starting pitching depth overall. The focus has always been on acquiring or developing the top tier arm. It’s assumed that Jose Berrios would embody that reality, and that’s a good bet, but Jake Odorizzi being right there with him seems equally as promising. Zack Wheeler was the guy everyone understandably looked the part of a projectable arm entering this winter. Minnesota brought back the guy that outpitched him and has plenty of momentum in his corner as well. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  2. Dan Hayes wrote a story on Tuesday at The Athletic that focused on the acquisitions of Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. The former is a top-notch arm that struggles to stay healthy, and the latter represents a solid addition to the floor of the starting rotation. What neither of them accomplish is the impact pitching that Minnesota suggested they were targeting. Thad Levine told Hayes, “The one thing we’ve learned over the years is that you can’t just have a Plan A. Tomorrow’s Plan B becomes the next day’s Plan A.” Derek Falvey went on to suggest he “may rue the day I ever mentioned that (impact) as a singular word.” More swiftly than a dancing Michael Jackson, Minnesota’s top duo is moonwalking their opening comments backwards. There is truth to Falvey’s suggestion that the current Twins roster has impact all over it. They won 101 games, returned a significant amount of talent, and have added to the point where they are better now than when the season ended. All of that is true, but the goal this winter should be to expand upon the opportunity currently in front of them. You can’t fault the Twins for being shut out by uninterested free agents. Gerrit Cole wasn’t coming here, and Stephen Strasburg wanted a Washington reunion. Madison Bumgarner told everyone "No" because he loves his horses, and Zack Wheeler preferred family ties (although the Twins offer being $18MM short probably made that decision easier). Where blame can start to be placed is when obvious opportunity is met with only moderate execution. Enter Josh Donaldson. As Levine suggested, the Twins plans have now shifted. The starting pitching market is largely bare, and unless they’re going to swing a trade (they still should), Hill and Bailey represent the lone new additions. Upgrading elsewhere makes sense, and the former Braves third basemen is an ideal fit for the Bomba Squad. With C.J. Cron onto Detroit, Rocco Baldelli is tasked with designating a new first basemen. Miguel Sano has proven limited, especial going to his left at third base, and would be an ideal candidate to make the switch. Generating 15 DRS a year ago, Donaldson would provide a defensive boon in the infield, and it’s a unit that needs to take a significant step forward. Throw in his .900 OPS from 2019 and you’ve got the makings of a superstar. Reports suggest that Donaldson has at least three four-year offers, coming from Minnesota, Washington, and Atlanta. He’s had the Twins ask for over two weeks though, and that’s where my problem lies. The Nationals are synonymous for deferrals, so it’s fair to assume that could be prohibiting them from being in contention. Atlanta is best positioned geographically, and it was said the third basemen was simply waiting on a guaranteed fourth year from his hometown club. Dangling in front of him is the Twins payday that’s not quite good enough to make a decision. Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday night that Donaldson is waiting for a team to hit his number, believed to be near $110 million. There's possibility Donaldson is angling for Atlanta to be his destination while increasing the take; after all suggestions indicate the Braves will get an opportunity to match before this is done. What also is apparent through Ronsethal's report is that Minnesota isn't there. Expected to be around the 4yr/$100MM range, the Twins leave it to chance to dictate an outcome. Derek Falvey should be on the phone with MVP Sports Group offering up $120 million over four and calling it a day. We can discuss value forever, and there's inherent risk any time you sign a big-dollar free agent. The reality though, is that injury concerns don't subside simply because you end negotiations at $100 million. Also, after pivoting to this plan, are you really interested in going to Plan C because the cost of what amounts to a relief arm ($5 million AAV over the four years) is too much? It’s probably unfair to be frustrated about simply being "in" on free agents. That’s going to happen, and you’re not completely interested in every player you’ve been tied to. Minnesota has been set on two players this offseason however, and they’re now in jeopardy of losing the second because of playing the value game. At some point need and opportunity should factor into the discussion, and by the time Falvey and Levine get there this time around, it may be too late. This offseason would presently be graded as a “C” which is fine if you’re ok with status quo. Looking to take the next step, and truly capitalize on your opportunity, pushing for an “A” is a must. There’s one bullet left, but you actually have to take the shot. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Make no mistake, as good as the Twins front office has been, they are absolute wordsmiths. Having walked back their original plan this offseason, they are now facing a situation where they could be shut out of necessary roster additions. With only final touches remaining, it’s time to get serious about stepping up.Dan Hayes wrote a story on Tuesday at The Athletic that focused on the acquisitions of Rich Hill and Homer Bailey. The former is a top-notch arm that struggles to stay healthy, and the latter represents a solid addition to the floor of the starting rotation. What neither of them accomplish is the impact pitching that Minnesota suggested they were targeting. Thad Levine told Hayes, “The one thing we’ve learned over the years is that you can’t just have a Plan A. Tomorrow’s Plan B becomes the next day’s Plan A.” Derek Falvey went on to suggest he “may rue the day I ever mentioned that (impact) as a singular word.” More swiftly than a dancing Michael Jackson, Minnesota’s top duo is moonwalking their opening comments backwards. There is truth to Falvey’s suggestion that the current Twins roster has impact all over it. They won 101 games, returned a significant amount of talent, and have added to the point where they are better now than when the season ended. All of that is true, but the goal this winter should be to expand upon the opportunity currently in front of them. You can’t fault the Twins for being shut out by uninterested free agents. Gerrit Cole wasn’t coming here, and Stephen Strasburg wanted a Washington reunion. Madison Bumgarner told everyone "No" because he loves his horses, and Zack Wheeler preferred family ties (although the Twins offer being $18MM short probably made that decision easier). Where blame can start to be placed is when obvious opportunity is met with only moderate execution. Enter Josh Donaldson. As Levine suggested, the Twins plans have now shifted. The starting pitching market is largely bare, and unless they’re going to swing a trade (they still should), Hill and Bailey represent the lone new additions. Upgrading elsewhere makes sense, and the former Braves third basemen is an ideal fit for the Bomba Squad. With C.J. Cron onto Detroit, Rocco Baldelli is tasked with designating a new first basemen. Miguel Sano has proven limited, especial going to his left at third base, and would be an ideal candidate to make the switch. Generating 15 DRS a year ago, Donaldson would provide a defensive boon in the infield, and it’s a unit that needs to take a significant step forward. Throw in his .900 OPS from 2019 and you’ve got the makings of a superstar. Reports suggest that Donaldson has at least three four-year offers, coming from Minnesota, Washington, and Atlanta. He’s had the Twins ask for over two weeks though, and that’s where my problem lies. The Nationals are synonymous for deferrals, so it’s fair to assume that could be prohibiting them from being in contention. Atlanta is best positioned geographically, and it was said the third basemen was simply waiting on a guaranteed fourth year from his hometown club. Dangling in front of him is the Twins payday that’s not quite good enough to make a decision. Ken Rosenthal reported on Friday night that Donaldson is waiting for a team to hit his number, believed to be near $110 million. There's possibility Donaldson is angling for Atlanta to be his destination while increasing the take; after all suggestions indicate the Braves will get an opportunity to match before this is done. What also is apparent through Ronsethal's report is that Minnesota isn't there. Expected to be around the 4yr/$100MM range, the Twins leave it to chance to dictate an outcome. Derek Falvey should be on the phone with MVP Sports Group offering up $120 million over four and calling it a day. We can discuss value forever, and there's inherent risk any time you sign a big-dollar free agent. The reality though, is that injury concerns don't subside simply because you end negotiations at $100 million. Also, after pivoting to this plan, are you really interested in going to Plan C because the cost of what amounts to a relief arm ($5 million AAV over the four years) is too much? It’s probably unfair to be frustrated about simply being "in" on free agents. That’s going to happen, and you’re not completely interested in every player you’ve been tied to. Minnesota has been set on two players this offseason however, and they’re now in jeopardy of losing the second because of playing the value game. At some point need and opportunity should factor into the discussion, and by the time Falvey and Levine get there this time around, it may be too late. This offseason would presently be graded as a “C” which is fine if you’re ok with status quo. Looking to take the next step, and truly capitalize on your opportunity, pushing for an “A” is a must. There’s one bullet left, but you actually have to take the shot. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  4. Last night the baseball world watched in awe of the contract that Gerrit Cole was handed by the New York Yankees. He signed the for the largest AAV and total contract value ever given to a pitcher. New York spending money isn’t surprising at all, but there’s a tickle down effect and how it impacts a team like the Twins remains to be seen. It’s a great thing that the Minnesota Twins have significant funds and a real opportunity ahead of them. What is less than great is there’s only so many desirable commodities. When Cole came off the board, teams like the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels immediately pivoted to the likes of Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Just hours before, those arms looked like targets Minnesota may be able to wrangle in. Now, the competition just became more fierce. This exact scenario is one that we can consider during the regular season as well. Although many teams like to wait until closer to the deadline providing an ability to determine their fate, acquiring organizations obviously benefit by earlier action. We can assume somewhat of a premium is paid for early swaps, but the desired result could outweigh that cost when it results in additional wins. During the offseason games aren’t being immediately impacted, but the game of musical chairs gets more intense with each spot pulled from the circle. Zack Wheeler went from reports suggesting he’d accept something south of $100 million to signing for $18 million north of it. That contract upped Madison Bumgarner’s ask, and both Stephen Strasburg and Cole being gone dwindled the list of worthy assets. Does all of that equate to an opportunity being missed? We’ll never directly know what contract negotiations sound like on an individual basis, but early action could seem to hold some weight. Rather than being worried about setting the market to high, a team could be sitting pretty having nabbed their desired talent prior to feeling pressure of commodities being unavailable. A team like the Twins is now faced with the proposition of outbidding either Los Angeles franchise if Ryu or Bumgarner was their man, and that creates a higher level of stress than was initially desired. Although we’re discussing these principles within the realm of baseball, it’s applicable across so many facets of life. As human beings we’re all out for our best interests and looking to snipe a deal. Is the coupon at Target going to save us the most money, or should we save the additional five miles by going to Walmart and buying it first? The fear of missing out can cause us to make rash decisions but being comfortable in our evaluations may afford the opportunity to overlook the result. I’d imagine Derek Falvey and Thad Levine aren’t going to tip their hand as to which pitching assets they had ranked highest. Maybe everyone was lumped together and they truly do not care who winds up in Twins Territory, a true test of their internal development staff. We can draw some conclusions or generate educated guesses once all the chips are on the table, but the waiting and guessing game is all we have for now. In a vacuum it seems the Twins may be best suited to approach a high value target with a strong offer and a deadline. Maybe it doesn’t work that way and maybe they tried, but maybe being the one without a dance partner at the end of the song isn’t so great either. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  5. Recently the Philadelphia Phillies inked Zack Wheeler to a five-year deal, and in losing out on a highly coveted free agent starting pitcher a good portion of the Twins fanbase lost their collective minds. What if we’re going about this all wrong though, and the expectations need to be shifted?The more I worked through my own disappointment regarding the reality that Wheeler would not be coming to Twins Territory, the more I concluded that my expectations are largely built on straightforward belief. The Twins have a substantial amount of unallocated cash flow to deal with. They also have a very distinct area of need, even before considering corner infield and backup catcher. From there it’s pretty simple to assume that pieces are plugged in following a linear decision-making process and that it resembles the simplicity of a puzzle coming together. One of the greatest impressions this front office has made on me since taking over however, is the depth and talent within an infrastructure that supports all the club does. From fresh and progressive coaches and coordinators in the player development realm, to outside-the-box thinkers on the big-league side, everything about the way Minnesota is building looks different than ever before. Rather than simply operating from the standpoint that Madison Bumgarner is now the best available talent with a logical degree of signability, Minnesota is likely considering previously glossed-over factors. Wes Johnson has brought a wealth of knowledge and information, but which arms will be most open to latching onto it and utilizing suggestions. Does the loss of assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner pose challenges in the relay or dissemination of information? Are there talented players that simply won’t fit within the confines of how the Twins work toward performance growth? I think that may be true now more than ever, and it’s beyond just a changing culture. With so much money, and plenty of holes yet to fill, finding angst in who or what opportunities Minnesota passes on in December or January is a losing proposition. This free agent cycle has certainly started better than those in years past, and that gives us a bit of belief that the offseason will truly conclude before spring training begins. Until that dust settles though, there isn’t much reason to make conclusive statements on the pending number of transactions. Although the Twins are going to be building to repeat as AL Central Division winners and sustain a high level of performance, we should be trying to find the takeaways from each addition that they make. There’s a high level of intrigue regarding who steps in to important roles vacated by Hefner and Derek Shelton. There’s an even higher level of intrigue regarding the free agents or trade acquisitions and what their profiles tell us about how Minnesota assesses them internally. Maybe I’m reaching a bit too far into the realms of uncertainty here, but I think the takeaway from the next few months will be an additional understanding of what this front office is trying to construct. The Twins have overhauled a process and blueprint and have positioned themselves to be a force for the foreseeable future. Finding the right pieces to capitalize on that, both coaching and players, is more about spending on the right assets than the expected ones. Certainly, there’s an intersection of those two narratives combining forces, but part of this whole process will be understanding which situations that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine find worthy of pulling the trigger on. Sign me up for the shopping spree, but we already know that needs to take place. To whom the checks are written and what they tell us going forward is the chapter I’m excited to read. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY - Wheeler’s Gone, But Bumgarner Would Give the Twins Plenty to Work With - Twins Announce Plans to Extend Netting at Target Field - Twins Making Sweeping Changes on the Diamond Click here to view the article
  6. The more I worked through my own disappointment regarding the reality that Wheeler would not be coming to Twins Territory, the more I concluded that my expectations are largely built on straightforward belief. The Twins have a substantial amount of unallocated cash flow to deal with. They also have a very distinct area of need, even before considering corner infield and backup catcher. From there it’s pretty simple to assume that pieces are plugged in following a linear decision-making process and that it resembles the simplicity of a puzzle coming together. One of the greatest impressions this front office has made on me since taking over however, is the depth and talent within an infrastructure that supports all the club does. From fresh and progressive coaches and coordinators in the player development realm, to outside-the-box thinkers on the big-league side, everything about the way Minnesota is building looks different than ever before. Rather than simply operating from the standpoint that Madison Bumgarner is now the best available talent with a logical degree of signability, Minnesota is likely considering previously glossed-over factors. Wes Johnson has brought a wealth of knowledge and information, but which arms will be most open to latching onto it and utilizing suggestions. Does the loss of assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner pose challenges in the relay or dissemination of information? Are there talented players that simply won’t fit within the confines of how the Twins work toward performance growth? I think that may be true now more than ever, and it’s beyond just a changing culture. With so much money, and plenty of holes yet to fill, finding angst in who or what opportunities Minnesota passes on in December or January is a losing proposition. This free agent cycle has certainly started better than those in years past, and that gives us a bit of belief that the offseason will truly conclude before spring training begins. Until that dust settles though, there isn’t much reason to make conclusive statements on the pending number of transactions. Although the Twins are going to be building to repeat as AL Central Division winners and sustain a high level of performance, we should be trying to find the takeaways from each addition that they make. There’s a high level of intrigue regarding who steps in to important roles vacated by Hefner and Derek Shelton. There’s an even higher level of intrigue regarding the free agents or trade acquisitions and what their profiles tell us about how Minnesota assesses them internally. Maybe I’m reaching a bit too far into the realms of uncertainty here, but I think the takeaway from the next few months will be an additional understanding of what this front office is trying to construct. The Twins have overhauled a process and blueprint and have positioned themselves to be a force for the foreseeable future. Finding the right pieces to capitalize on that, both coaching and players, is more about spending on the right assets than the expected ones. Certainly, there’s an intersection of those two narratives combining forces, but part of this whole process will be understanding which situations that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine find worthy of pulling the trigger on. Sign me up for the shopping spree, but we already know that needs to take place. To whom the checks are written and what they tell us going forward is the chapter I’m excited to read. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY - Wheeler’s Gone, But Bumgarner Would Give the Twins Plenty to Work With - Twins Announce Plans to Extend Netting at Target Field - Twins Making Sweeping Changes on the Diamond
  7. Minnesota’s Advantages The Twins certainly seem to be on the cusp of something big with a rising young core and other supplemental veteran pieces. Last season, the team had a historically good offense and better pitching could have been the difference between a first-round exit and a long playoff run. Minnesota has Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi penciled into the rotation and this could be intriguing to perspective pitchers. Wheeler could view the Twins as launching point for the rest of his career. He could sign a short-term deal for a significant amount of money to help build his value. He won’t turn 30 until next May and some pitchers continue pitch well into their mid- to late-30s. Wheeler could improve himself in Minnesota before moving onto another club. Other Team’s Advantages Minnesota hasn’t made it out of the first round of the playoff since 2002 so a pitcher might want to sign on with a different team to have the opportunity move further into the playoffs. Also, the Twins don’t exactly have a lot of starting pitching depth at this point. There are plenty of minor league pitchers that earned opportunities last season, but there weren’t any pitchers that proved they should be guaranteed a rotation spot. The American League Central Division is also at a crossroads after dominating years from the Cleveland Indians. Cleveland won three consecutive division titles on the heels of a Kansas City World Series title and four straight Detroit division titles. Minnesota had been irrelevant for most of the decade and this might not exactly attract free agent arms to the Twin Cities. Free Agent Fit There are much bigger names on the free agent market like Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg. While the other teams are fighting over those two pitchers, the Twins could sweep in and sign Wheeler. Cole and Strasburg are coming off historically good seasons and they will get paid like front-line starters. However, Wheeler might not be seen as on the same level and this could allow other teams to sign him for a lesser value. According to reports, the Twins have already begun discussions with Wheeler and his camp. Wheeler averaged a career-high 96.1 mph with his fastball, and this helped him to collect nearly 200 strikeouts and a career-high 3.9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. With the help of Minnesota’s coaches, he might be able to make the next step and become an All-Star caliber pitcher. His strikeout percentage was lower than pitchers like Jose Berrios, Zack Greinke, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, but all of those players made an All-Star appearance. Fangraphs believes his fastball has more potential because of its horizontal break and his slider is also has room to grown. The potential is there for Wheeler to become the ace of a staff or at minimum, supplement the other pitchers that are already at the top of a rotation. Is Wheeler someone the Twins like well enough to outbid other teams? Would Wheeler be willing to come to Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. Jake Odorizzi didn’t experience much of free agency, having accepted the Twins qualifying offer of $17.8 million. Minnesota immediately secured one of the better available arms and did so with a high level of familiarity. Now they still should be attempting to sign one of the top free agent arms available, but with a plethora of prospects at their disposal, swinging a trade makes a ton of sense. https://twitter.com/jeremynygaard/status/1197322836307857408 When the club made five additions to their 40-man roster, protecting those players from being subject to the Rule 5 draft, there was a handful of takeaways regarding the names in play. Four of the five guys added were acquired via trade in the last calendar year. Getting significant value from veterans like Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Ryan Pressly, and Fernando Rodney only solidified how well the front office had done in identifying talent. Although they parted with good big leaguers, they did so while outside of a competitive window and by nailing the return. It’s absolutely true that not all prospects pan out, and development isn’t linear, but realizing these commodities needing to be protected and were on a big-league trajectory less than a year later is a significant development. It’s one thing to acquire additional team control or roster flexibility but doing so while also making sure to identify usable and high-performing assets is not an easy task. We may have known the return was strong through production on the farm over the last year, but Wednesday night’s decisions solidified it for us. Going forward, the acumen displayed by Falvey and Levine will be integral to the next step Minnesota takes. On the free agent market, the expectation is that both Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg would have little interest in the Twins. Zack Wheeler and Madison Bumgarner are hardly slouches, but through a player swap, the front office can hope to identify their own version of an ace. Regardless of the name on the back of the jersey, any top tier arm is going to have a league’s worth of options on a yearly basis. When making a deal with another club, it’s a one-on-one discussion that revolves around player development and the knowledge you possess in both what you currently have and who you hope to acquire. At this point in Minnesota’s competitive arc they aren’t in a position to piece out veterans for prospects. Although a big leaguer could be moved, the emphasis will be on a return that strengthens the major league roster. Finding assets that improve postseason posturing is the plan and doing so while mixing the ideal exchange is something every Twins fan should deem the front office capable of. There was a time that the Twins made reactionary moves to trade for positional needs or up-and-coming prospects. Now the Twins should be seen as an organization that can both identify and execute swaps that both help and don’t substantially hurt the overall goals of the club. I don’t foresee Royce Lewis or Alex Kirilloff going anywhere in the immediate future, but you can bank on Minnesota’s brain trust having an iron clad blueprint when working out any deal on the horizon. Knowing how important and valuable that avenue of asset addition is, it’s a skill that puts another feather in the cap of a front office responsible for an exceptional turnaround. More from Twins Daily Jhoan Duran Headlines Twins Roster Additions Should the Twins Look to Add to the Bullpen? Every Team Wants Zack Wheeler
  9. Every team in baseball should be salivating at the thought of adding either Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg to their starting rotation. Young aces simply don’t hit the free agent market often, and when they do the costs will be substantial. Minnesota can afford either (and even both), but I’d expect Cole to look at the West Coast or New York, while Strasburg returns to D.C. with on a hefty raise. That doesn’t mean all is lost for the Twins, but how they react is where this narrative begins. Going into 2019 the front office suggested a wait and see approach that was built on the premise of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano establishing their value. The former looks the part of a star (when healthy), and the latter showed he’s one of the best power hitters in the game. Neither of them was a linchpin in the 101-win season though, and Rocco Baldelli got strong performance by utilizing the full sum of his parts. Buxton and Sano can be key cogs, but the winning was as much alongside them as opposed to being because of them. Now with an established infrastructure of developmental talent, a big-league roster capable of competing with anyone, and opportunity as abundant as it may ever be, it’s time to follow in the footsteps of recent World Series winners and begin to capitalize on the window. I’d hardly be shocked if the win total takes a slight step backwards, but the goal is an extended presence into October. Here’s how that happens in 2020: 1. Cron is the odd man out in arbitration deals. After a nagging thumb injury in 2019, Cron should be all systems go in 2020. He was great before the thumb issue flared up, and I certainly have no problem with the Twins offering him an arbitration deal. Unfortunately, this projection includes a roster crunch, so C.J. becomes the lone arbitration-eligible player to not be tendered a new deal. 2. Make Anthony Rendon the big splash paying him $33 million for eight years. Last offseason I liked the idea of Josh Donaldson coming to the Twins. He was a former superstar and could be had at a discount. Going home to Georgia he had a very good bounce-back year. With plenty of money to spend, and the top two pitchers likely off the board, the next superstar opportunity is a better one. Anthony Rendon is an MVP-level talent, has been incredibly consistent, and joins one of the best lineups in baseball. I’m not sure Miguel Sano needs to move across the diamond yet, but there’s no reason this isn’t a good enough opportunity for him to do so. 3. Sign Zack Wheeler to a four-year, $72 million contract. At the top of Minnesota’s impact pitching list should be Zack Wheeler. Hiss secondary numbers are drool-inducing, and he’s already got plenty of velocity for Wes Johnson to work with. Allowing the Twins pitching coach to pull more from the 29-year-old and Baldelli would have a very impressive one-two punch at the top of his rotation. 4. Sign Jake Odorizzi to a three-year, $36 million contract. The Twins smartly handed Odorizzi a qualifying offer. He could take that and return at $17.8 million which would be just fine. It may also ward off some competition for his services, keeping the bidding on a longer-term deal. Two-years doesn’t seem enticing for the former Rays hurler if the alternative is a gaudy one-year pact, so go three and bolster the middle of the group. 5. Trade Eddie Rosario and Jhoan Duran to the Colorado Rockies for Jon Gray. Under team control for two more years, the former third overall pick is where I’m setting my sights in a swap for the Minnesota outfielder. Rosario can probably hit a boatload of bombas in the Rockies, while Gray can be expected to build on a career year in 2019. His FIP has suggested there’s more than the ERA has told us for a few years, and while the walks could be reduced, the strikeout stuff is going to play anywhere. At worst you’ve got a number four starter, and the upside is a guy to contend with Wheeler and Jose Berrios at the top. Duran was the main piece in the Eduardo Escobar deal, and he looked impressive during his first full season in the organization. 6. Sign Alex Gordon to a one-year, $2 million contract. Prioritizing defense is a must for the Twins in 2020. With Eddie Rosario gone, adding another plus-glove into the outfield mix as depth makes a lot of sense. Gordon isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still above average in the field and can play left as often as Marwin Gonzalez is elsewhere. Ideally, I’d like some center field depth, but I’d tell Max Kepler and Jake Cave to be as prepared as possible coming into spring training. Gordon is done with his massive Royals payday, and the $4 million buyout should reduce his 2020 ask as well. 7. Sign Robinson Chirinos to a one-year, $6 million contract. I’d be fine with Jason Castro returning on this same exact deal, if he’s open to it. Chirinos is an excellent backstop with a strong bat, and seemingly an impressive clubhouse presence. He recently wrapped up a season coming just shy of winning a World Series and could help push Minnesota toward that same exact goal. 8. Sign Drew Pomeranz and Sergio Romo to one-year deals for $3.5 and $3 million. The former gives Minnesota a second lefty option in the pen, and his former starting experience should allow for some length as well. A reunion with Romo would work in the clubhouse, and his slider is still as devastating as ever. Neither represent earth-shattering pen arms, but this is the easiest avenue toward improvement. Summary The most prolific power offense in the history of baseball returns in 2020, but with an added boost. Eddie Rosario ends up being dangled to acquire pitching but getting the best position player on the market makes up for that and then some. Rendon’s bat plays, and his glove may be even more important. I like Marwin in the outfield more than on the dirt, and Alex Gordon provides a defense-first bench option that the Twins haven’t had. Yes, the outfield prospects are close, but there’s still a clear path to playing time, and the Opening Day roster starts in a very good place. From a pitching perspective it’s a season of change. Odorizzi is back with Berrios, but the impact is felt from outside the organization. Wheeler represents a second bullet for Minnesota to mold into an ace, and he can bolster the top of the staff even if he doesn’t get there. Gray should benefit from leaving the Rockies, and a better organization can most certainly take his stuff up another level. I struggled with the idea of giving Brusdar Graterol a rotation spot out of the gate. He has never pitched more than 102 innings in a season, is coming off just 61 in 2019, and is still just 21-years-old. Ideally, he starts at Triple-A and settles back into starting. That said, I like his arm a good deal better than any fringe fifth starter, and if Minnesota deems that he beats out the likes of Lewis Thorpe then take off the training wheels. If there’s a weak spot to this roster it’s the same area 2019 started out with. The relief corps is composed of internally developed arms, which is only a strength if regression is to be denied. Rogers, May, Duffey, and Littell all return as near certainties. Stashak earned himself an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, and Devin Smeltzer could be a nice long man in relief. Free agents, one returning, complete the group and Pomeranz looks to have some serious upside. Should the Twins find themselves cycling through arms too often out of the pen, or if there’s a lack of production, relief arms at the deadline are among the most easily acquirable commodities. When the dust settles this puts the Opening Day payroll at $143.4 million. That’s almost a $30 million jump from 2019, and a step up from the previous high-water mark in 2018 as well. This is the time to build, and this plan leaves the Twins with opportunity to add more in 2021 and puts forth a very strong group to defend their AL Central Division title. ~~~ What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long.
  10. There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins greatest need this offseason is pitching. The front office has stated their focus will be on arms defined as “impact” and filling out a rotation that’s virtually empty is a must. With the premiere arms having plenty of suitors, the Twins could turn to what they did best in 2019.Every team in baseball should be salivating at the thought of adding either Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg to their starting rotation. Young aces simply don’t hit the free agent market often, and when they do the costs will be substantial. Minnesota can afford either (and even both), but I’d expect Cole to look at the West Coast or New York, while Strasburg returns to D.C. with on a hefty raise. That doesn’t mean all is lost for the Twins, but how they react is where this narrative begins. Going into 2019 the front office suggested a wait and see approach that was built on the premise of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano establishing their value. The former looks the part of a star (when healthy), and the latter showed he’s one of the best power hitters in the game. Neither of them was a linchpin in the 101-win season though, and Rocco Baldelli got strong performance by utilizing the full sum of his parts. Buxton and Sano can be key cogs, but the winning was as much alongside them as opposed to being because of them. Now with an established infrastructure of developmental talent, a big-league roster capable of competing with anyone, and opportunity as abundant as it may ever be, it’s time to follow in the footsteps of recent World Series winners and begin to capitalize on the window. I’d hardly be shocked if the win total takes a slight step backwards, but the goal is an extended presence into October. Here’s how that happens in 2020: 1. Cron is the odd man out in arbitration deals. After a nagging thumb injury in 2019, Cron should be all systems go in 2020. He was great before the thumb issue flared up, and I certainly have no problem with the Twins offering him an arbitration deal. Unfortunately, this projection includes a roster crunch, so C.J. becomes the lone arbitration-eligible player to not be tendered a new deal. 2. Make Anthony Rendon the big splash paying him $33 million for eight years. Last offseason I liked the idea of Josh Donaldson coming to the Twins. He was a former superstar and could be had at a discount. Going home to Georgia he had a very good bounce-back year. With plenty of money to spend, and the top two pitchers likely off the board, the next superstar opportunity is a better one. Anthony Rendon is an MVP-level talent, has been incredibly consistent, and joins one of the best lineups in baseball. I’m not sure Miguel Sano needs to move across the diamond yet, but there’s no reason this isn’t a good enough opportunity for him to do so. 3. Sign Zack Wheeler to a four-year, $72 million contract. At the top of Minnesota’s impact pitching list should be Zack Wheeler. Hiss secondary numbers are drool-inducing, and he’s already got plenty of velocity for Wes Johnson to work with. Allowing the Twins pitching coach to pull more from the 29-year-old and Baldelli would have a very impressive one-two punch at the top of his rotation. 4. Sign Jake Odorizzi to a three-year, $36 million contract. The Twins smartly handed Odorizzi a qualifying offer. He could take that and return at $17.8 million which would be just fine. It may also ward off some competition for his services, keeping the bidding on a longer-term deal. Two-years doesn’t seem enticing for the former Rays hurler if the alternative is a gaudy one-year pact, so go three and bolster the middle of the group. 5. Trade Eddie Rosario and Jhoan Duran to the Colorado Rockies for Jon Gray. Under team control for two more years, the former third overall pick is where I’m setting my sights in a swap for the Minnesota outfielder. Rosario can probably hit a boatload of bombas in the Rockies, while Gray can be expected to build on a career year in 2019. His FIP has suggested there’s more than the ERA has told us for a few years, and while the walks could be reduced, the strikeout stuff is going to play anywhere. At worst you’ve got a number four starter, and the upside is a guy to contend with Wheeler and Jose Berrios at the top. Duran was the main piece in the Eduardo Escobar deal, and he looked impressive during his first full season in the organization. 6. Sign Alex Gordon to a one-year, $2 million contract. Prioritizing defense is a must for the Twins in 2020. With Eddie Rosario gone, adding another plus-glove into the outfield mix as depth makes a lot of sense. Gordon isn’t the player he once was, but he’s still above average in the field and can play left as often as Marwin Gonzalez is elsewhere. Ideally, I’d like some center field depth, but I’d tell Max Kepler and Jake Cave to be as prepared as possible coming into spring training. Gordon is done with his massive Royals payday, and the $4 million buyout should reduce his 2020 ask as well. 7. Sign Robinson Chirinos to a one-year, $6 million contract. I’d be fine with Jason Castro returning on this same exact deal, if he’s open to it. Chirinos is an excellent backstop with a strong bat, and seemingly an impressive clubhouse presence. He recently wrapped up a season coming just shy of winning a World Series and could help push Minnesota toward that same exact goal. 8. Sign Drew Pomeranz and Sergio Romo to one-year deals for $3.5 and $3 million. The former gives Minnesota a second lefty option in the pen, and his former starting experience should allow for some length as well. A reunion with Romo would work in the clubhouse, and his slider is still as devastating as ever. Neither represent earth-shattering pen arms, but this is the easiest avenue toward improvement. Summary The most prolific power offense in the history of baseball returns in 2020, but with an added boost. Eddie Rosario ends up being dangled to acquire pitching but getting the best position player on the market makes up for that and then some. Rendon’s bat plays, and his glove may be even more important. I like Marwin in the outfield more than on the dirt, and Alex Gordon provides a defense-first bench option that the Twins haven’t had. Yes, the outfield prospects are close, but there’s still a clear path to playing time, and the Opening Day roster starts in a very good place. Download attachment: Lineup.PNG From a pitching perspective it’s a season of change. Odorizzi is back with Berrios, but the impact is felt from outside the organization. Wheeler represents a second bullet for Minnesota to mold into an ace, and he can bolster the top of the staff even if he doesn’t get there. Gray should benefit from leaving the Rockies, and a better organization can most certainly take his stuff up another level. I struggled with the idea of giving Brusdar Graterol a rotation spot out of the gate. He has never pitched more than 102 innings in a season, is coming off just 61 in 2019, and is still just 21-years-old. Ideally, he starts at Triple-A and settles back into starting. That said, I like his arm a good deal better than any fringe fifth starter, and if Minnesota deems that he beats out the likes of Lewis Thorpe then take off the training wheels. Download attachment: Rotation.PNG If there’s a weak spot to this roster it’s the same area 2019 started out with. The relief corps is composed of internally developed arms, which is only a strength if regression is to be denied. Rogers, May, Duffey, and Littell all return as near certainties. Stashak earned himself an opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, and Devin Smeltzer could be a nice long man in relief. Free agents, one returning, complete the group and Pomeranz looks to have some serious upside. Should the Twins find themselves cycling through arms too often out of the pen, or if there’s a lack of production, relief arms at the deadline are among the most easily acquirable commodities. Download attachment: Bullpen.PNG When the dust settles this puts the Opening Day payroll at $143.4 million. That’s almost a $30 million jump from 2019, and a step up from the previous high-water mark in 2018 as well. This is the time to build, and this plan leaves the Twins with opportunity to add more in 2021 and puts forth a very strong group to defend their AL Central Division title. ~~~ What would your blueprint look like for the Twins this winter? Download your copy of the Offseason Handbook and use it to construct a champion. Share your vision for discussion in our Create a Blueprint forum thread. Meanwhile, stay tuned to TD as our writers will be formulating offseason plans from different perspectives all week long. Click here to view the article
  11. The case for Bumgarner: Bumgarner is one of the most prominent names in MLB, and for good reason. He was drafted by the Giants with the 10th overall pick in the 2007 Amateur Draft as an 18-year-old. Bumgarner quickly moved up the system, debuting in 2008 at Class-A and pitching 10 innings in the big leagues by 2009. Bumgarner started in 18 games in 2010 with a 3.00 ERA in 111 innings. That breakout season was a bridge to six straight dominant campaigns as Bumgarner appeared in four All-Star games and finished in the top 10 for the Cy Young each of those years. This stretch included three championships and a World Series MVP Award in 2014. For the first time since 2010, Bumgarner started less than 30 games in 2017 after a dirt bike accident sprained the AC joint in his left shoulder. Bad luck struck again in 2018 when a line drive drilled his throwing hand. Bumgarner nearly matched his combined total of 38 starts between those two years with 34 in 2019. In his illustrious 11-year career, Bumgarner has never posted an ERA above the 3.90 mark he had in 2019. Consistency is perhaps his greatest asset, and Bumgarner is still just 30-years-old. There seems to be an assumption that Bumgarner has less left to give. His average pitch velocity actually increased in 2019: With Bumgarner also comes postseason experience and October mystic. Bumgarner is 8-3 with a 2.11 ERA in 102 1/3 playoff innings. It is unwise to hang your hat on this, but there is absolutely a bulldog mentality and calm demeanor that gives Bumgarner an edge when the stakes are highest. The case for Zack Wheeler: One of the most enticing names of the offseason, Wheeler enters free agency after two phenomenal seasons with the Mets. Wheeler was selected by the Giants with the 6th overall pick in the 2009 Amateur Draft. Wheeler was traded to New York for Carlos Beltran at the 2011 deadline. Wheeler was called up in May of 2013 and looked great in his first two seasons, posting a 3.50 ERA across 285 1/3 innings. In the spring of 2015, Wheeler had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow and was sidelined for the next two years. Wheeler returned in 2017 and was clearly rusty as he allowed 50 runs in just 86 1/3 innings. Full recovery showed in 2018 and Wheeler heaved his way to a sterling 3.25 FIP and 12-7 record, right back on track. Wheeler followed up his bounceback season with a 3.48 FIP and 195 strikeouts in 195 1/3 innings in 2019. Unlike Bumgarner, Wheeler is an overpowering pitcher with a fastball that averaged 96.7 MPH last year. He is throwing as hard as ever and has a nice complement of pitches. Here is how Wheeler mixed up his offerings compared to 2018 and the seasons prior to Tommy John surgery: For the Twins, Wheeler may have an edge over Bumgarner as he is dominant against right-handed batters. Righties hit just .245/.274/.360 off him in 2019. With the American League Central loaded with right-handed sluggers such as Franmil Reyes, Eloy Jimenez, and Jorge Soler, Wheeler could give an added advantage to Minnesota. Who should get the final rose? Both of these guys are proven, but Bumgarner offers stability and consistency that Wheeler does not. On the contrary, Wheeler holds upside that could turn him into a superstar, while Bumgarner has possibly reached his 95th percentile of production. With either, the Twins are getting a serious upgrade to the staff and each guy brings different assets and limitations to the table. Let’s take a look at how closely they compared in 2019: Who should the Twins get? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. More from Twins Daily Exploring Five Twins Extension Candidates Important Dates for the 2020 Offseason Eyeing This Year's Most Intriguing Free Agent
  12. In January 2019, Thad Levine answered a question at Twins Fest: "The best time to acquire players of that magnitude is when your window to win is wide open, not when you got your fingers underneath the window and you're trying to jam the window open. I want to do it when we're projected to win the Central and we're ready to put our foot on someone's throat". After a fantastic 2019 season ending in a disappointing fashion, Derek Falvey addressed the media and is quoted as saying "We're going to target impact pitching". Well, time to put up or shut up, Falvine. I put together what I believe should be a realistic outcome for the 2020 offseason based on the above statements from the front office. 1. Leave the historic 2019 offense alone In this plan, I didn't change anything with the offense that set a MLB record for home runs. This includes picking up CJ Cron's option. As long as the team is healthy, they should have no problem scoring runs. Maybe the biggest move was the one not made - trading Eddie Rosario. I don't think the Twins (nor the fans) are going to like what the return for Rosario would be. Keeping the unofficial captain of this team intact will keep the offense rolling. Hopefully a healthy ankle will help him move around the outfield better improving on his down defensive metrics. I am hopeful Eddie might even take a step forward in 2020. 2. Beef up the bullpen The one silver lining in the Sam Dyson injury is that the Twins were forced to use other arms in high leverage situations down the stretch. They discovered Tyler Duffey and Zack Littell could be solid pieces in late innings. Adding to an already promising mix with Will Harris (2/$16M contract) and Drew Pomeranz (2/$7mil contract) will give Rocco plenty of options in 2020. Will Harris quitely had a 2019 season with a 1.50 ERA and 9.30 K/9 in 60 innings. Oh, and he has appeared in 23 postseason games - 12 of which came this year during the Astros World Series run. His age (35 on opening day) could be one cause for concern. A two year deal feels right, here. Drew Pomeranz is an interesting one. An absolute disaster in 2018 and most of 2019 makes this signing questionable. However, 26 innings of lights out baseball in Milwaukee make it seem like there may be more potential here. He has increased his velocity after a permanent move to the bullpen, has always been lights out vs lefties, and now will be working with Wes Johnon. Sign. Me. Up. Pair him with Taylor Rogers and we could be looking at a bullpen that is a nightmare for opposing managers playing matchups. Pomeranz would come at a discount, of course. 3. Sign a veteran backup catcher Martin Maldonado makes some sense here as a backup. Very poor offensively but a solid backstop. I would be open to other options here, such as Jason Castro on a one year deal, but am thinking he would want a chance to start somewhere else. I know Anaheim needs a catcher 4. Go find an "ace" starter and keep Jake Odorizzi OK, it's put up time, Falvine. Sign Zack Wheeler. When you said "impact pitching" - this is what it means. Not Kevin Correia or Mike Pelfrey which is some people's opinion of impact (*cough* Terry Ryan). Go get us a guy that is equal to, or, with the potential to be better than Jose Berrios. This free agent market is flush with solid top of the rotation targets that do not grow on trees, for the Minnesota farm system at least. I think Wheeler makes a lot of sense. A 5/$125M contract would be by far the biggest free agent contract in Twins history but, the time is now. There is no excuse. Get. It. Done. Zack Wheeler 2018-2019: Innings: 377 ERA: 3.65 K/9: 8.9 Yeah, I'd take that in this rotation. Other acceptable "ace" type pitchers - Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, Stephen Strasburg, or Hyun-jin Ryu Also, depending on the outcome of Odorizzi and his qualifying offer, the Twins have to find a way to bring him back. If he rejects, they have the upper hand compared to other teams. A three year deal sounds about right. Plus, Jake likes it here. His kids are Vikings fans now. I pray for them. 5. Bring in a vet presence to stablize rotation MLB.com reported that Cole Hamels is open to a one-year deal on a win now club. Hey, Cole! Over here! Come on out to Minnesota. Bringing in a veteran like Cole with playoff experience (and a connection to Thad Levine, might I add) will stabalize the rotation and give a solid 4 starters to run train on the AL Central in the regular season, plus be ready for any October opposing matchup. Hamels put up soild numbers as a Cub. He was lights out in the first half of 2019 but an injury derailed the mid point of his season, and it never really seemed like he recovered. A 2020 rotation of: 1. Wheeler 2. Berrios 3. Odorizzi 4. Hamels 5. Dobnak/Graterol Sounds like a winning recipe to me. A recipe that might not add up to 101 regular season wins again, but hey, it can't do worse in the playoffs! *This was not a dare, @BaseballGods* Total payroll: $141.5 million A Twins franchise record but very realistic. Anything lower than this, with the free agent pitching market as stacked as it is and a desperate need to fill the rotation, is an absolute insult to the fanbase. The improbable 2019 Twins magic season captured fan interest in Minnesota again. We got a taste of playoff baseball at Target Field for the first time in 9 years and we want more. The window is wide open. It's time for the Pohlad's and the front office to honor their promises and give us a team to dream on in 2020. Foot, meet throat. Time to stomp on the competition in the AL central and get back to the playoffs.
  13. Today officially marks the beginning of free agency for the 2020 Major League Baseball season. The Minnesota Twins have some serious work to do with four-fifths of their starting rotation up for grabs, and a 100-win season to replicate. Rocco Baldelli will be angling for a second straight AL Central Division title, and the goal for the foreseeable future in Twins Territory will be Postseason berths. While working through a full blueprint to outline a 25-man roster for the Twins I found myself getting hung up on a few key areas. I think we’re going to see a handful of moves that may come as a surprise, and rather than trying to pinpoint each, a better plan of action seemed to come with a top down view. While remaining somewhat specific, here’s how I’d handle things going into 2020: Start with the Rotation: Jose Berrios is locked in. I’d try to get him extended on a long-term deal again. Minnesota has approached his camp previously, but talks have not moved forward. He’s a few steps from a Cy Young arm, and at that point, he won’t have interest in avoiding the open market. Even if the Twins offer Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg significantly over market rate, I’d imagine both say no. Falvey should be all in on both arms, but the lure of a bigger market or home on the west coast probably proves too strong. This is where you pivot. Zack Wheeler is the best pitcher available in the Twins wheelhouse, and he’s a very good one. Make him a priority and get that done as soon as possible. Two 2019 options should also be leveraged as possible returnees. Minnesota should offer both Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda a qualifying offer. The former could turn that into a two or three year deal while the later could then be had at roughly $13 million accounting for his remaining suspension. The final rotation spot would then be filled out by a trade. There’s too much firepower on the Twins farm not to execute something, and Eddie Rosario represents an expendable big-league asset. Utilize the depth to go and get someone like Jon Gray, Joe Musgrove, or Matt Boyd. Aiming even higher to a proven commodity as Twins Daily’s Nick Nelson suggested might be interesting as well. Add to the Lineup: It’s fair to assume that regression is going to hit for the 2020 Twins. What’s also worth noting is that any changes to the baseball will have a widespread impact. Minnesota hit bombas because of a strong plate approach, and that will play regardless of what composition the baseball encompasses. That being said, a great deterrent to a step backwards offensively is adding more offense. The Twins have a boatload, something like $70 million, to spend this offseason. With Wheeler being the likely high-water mark on the mound, there’s going to be plenty to go around. Instead of overpaying similar candidates on the bump, choose the guy(s) that makes the most financial sense add allocate the funds towards high impact help elsewhere. I’ve talked myself into this, look at Anthony Rendon. The Twins could bring back C.J. Cron, and barring better wrist health, he should see a nice boost. They could also move Miguel Sano across the diamond and angle for a substantial upgrade at the hot corner with some intriguing options. Rendon is an MVP-type superstar and has plenty of good years ahead of him. I’m not as keen on 34-year-old Josh Donaldson as I was last year, because he’ll now want a multi-year deal, but that’s not a bad option either. If the Cubs are truly inclined to move Kris Bryant, and there’s a belief in his health, I’d absolutely explore that scenario as well. At the end of the day it comes down to this; if you can’t spend the money on pitching, you need to spend it elsewhere and aiming high is far better than adding quantity. Rounding out the offense would include an additional outfielder and a catcher. Whether or not Eddie Rosario is traded a guy that could be had on a one-year deal makes sense. I like the idea of Corey Dickerson as a corner outfielder with on-base skills and some pop. It doesn’t hurt that he’s also a very strong defender, which is a facet of the game Minnesota needs to improve on. Cameron Maybin is also somewhat intriguing with the ability to play some centerfield. Behind the plate you operate with Mitch Garver as the starter. He needs to play more often than he did in 2019, but there could be a decent amount of truth to him being at his best with significant rest. Pairing him with a nice defender that can also hit makes sense and going the route of former Houston Astro Robinson Chirinos is to my liking. He’s got good on base skills, hits better than a traditional catcher, and isn’t a hack behind the plate. Shore up the Bullpen: Coming out of the winter and into Spring Training there was nothing more problematic than Minnesota’s bullpen. It looked the part of a dumpster fire that was going to struggle getting anyone out. Then the development of some internal arms took place and Baldelli’s group was one of the best in baseball down the stretch. Zack Littell, Tyler Duffey, and Trevor May have all worked their way into a circle of trust. Wes Johnson will still need three or four other arms to complete the group, however. Rather than pushing Lewis Thorpe or Brusdar Graterol to the pen full time, bringing in some hired guns is the way to go. Sergio Romo should be welcomed back, but there’s no reason to pigeonhole that move either. Drew Pomeranz could be a nice second lefty, and any number of arms make sense to round out the group. Will Smith is the cream of the crop, but Will Harris and Jake Diekman types have purpose as well. To summarize how I’d plan I’ll say this: For the first time in a while, spend. The window is open, you know what you have, and the prospect depth is coming close to maturation. Whether you can land the big fish on the mound or not is always going to be tough with plenty of suitors and a less-than-ideal-destination, but those resources need to go elsewhere then. Minnesota should clear $140 million in payroll this winter, and $150 million is far from unrealistic. Do as much as you can on the mound, and then look to make the additional impact throughout the roster. Minnesota is no longer in a wait and see mode. The capability of youth has been understood, the veterans have provided plenty of production, and the circumstances are now on your side. There’s been complaints for years that have been somewhat misguided without that trifecta being a reality. In 2020, there’s nothing holding the organization back but itself, and it’s time to remove that barrier. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  14. Coming into last season Minnesota took a step backward in the payroll department. After being just shy of $130 million in 2017, they began 2018 with a $114 million tab suggesting that the next step was largely reliant on seeing what they then had. We are now in a position, for the first time in nearly a decade, that the Minnesota Twins know exactly what they have. This organization has a forward-thinking front office that has hired an infrastructure designed to push development. They have a manager capable of getting execution at the highest level. They have a prospect stream filled with both quality and quantity. Maybe most important, they are division winners with a clear path to opportunity both immediately and into the future. It is in that perfect storm that you can adequately gripe about payroll needing to be where revenues suggest it should be. Now let’s apply this to actual commodities and what the dollars represent. Despite making a silly suggestion that Zack Greinke didn’t win the Astros a World Series, the reality is that the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals played on the biggest stage because they both employed three pitchers that could trump virtually any competition. The Twins hit a boatload of bombas in 2019, and the lineup will continue to play, but the rotation must be filled with arms capable of competing against the upper echelon. For the first time in franchise history the Twins have handed out a qualifying offer (there was an argument to be made that a second could have been made) insuring Jake Odorizzi will agree to nothing worse than a one-year, $17.8 million deal. That’d be a strong start to free agency for Minnesota, but if he rejects the offer in the next nine days, working out a long-term deal with the help of draft pick compensation warding off other suitors would be a fine result as well. Different publications have tied Minnesota to a handful of options, but there have been suggestions of arms starting with Bumgarner and Wheeler, and trickling down from there. Although Falvey needs to be a player on the Cole and Strasburg market, they both could very well have more exciting destinations in play. Regardless of how the four rotation spots are accounted for, a final tally of something near $70 million should be enough to create a strong group. If Minnesota can’t allocate all their funds to the pitching market, then supplementing with an offensive addition is hardly an egregious ask. Holding back some of the discretionary dollars a year ago made some sense but making sure every effort possible is made for 2020 and beyond now should be in all systems go mode. There are more than a few ways for the Twins to tack on significant money while avoiding risk and poor contracts, and this is their opportunity to do it. $140 million would be a bit north of $10 million into the uncharted waters territory. While $135 million is a nice bump from 2019, the $140MM mark would likely land them just outside of the top 10. At this stage of the cycle Minnesota could comfortably be closer to $150MM than $130MM and things would be just fine. No matter how they get there though, the training wheels need to come off this time around. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. More from Twins Daily 2020 Offseason Handbook Available Now No Qualifying Offer? No Option? These 4 Players Could Interest the Twins 8 Players the Twins Need to Add to the 40-Man Roster
  15. Going into the offseason the Minnesota Twins are positioned knowing exactly what they need to add. With four openings in the starting rotation, pitching is going to be at the forefront. When the snow and ice thaw before next spring, how Rocco Baldelli’s club enters the 2020 season will largely depend on the receipt they carry to Fort Myers.Coming into last season Minnesota took a step backward in the payroll department. After being just shy of $130 million in 2017, they began 2018 with a $114 million tab suggesting that the next step was largely reliant on seeing what they then had. We are now in a position, for the first time in nearly a decade, that the Minnesota Twins know exactly what they have. This organization has a forward-thinking front office that has hired an infrastructure designed to push development. They have a manager capable of getting execution at the highest level. They have a prospect stream filled with both quality and quantity. Maybe most important, they are division winners with a clear path to opportunity both immediately and into the future. It is in that perfect storm that you can adequately gripe about payroll needing to be where revenues suggest it should be. Now let’s apply this to actual commodities and what the dollars represent. Despite making a silly suggestion that Zack Greinke didn’t win the Astros a World Series, the reality is that the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals played on the biggest stage because they both employed three pitchers that could trump virtually any competition. The Twins hit a boatload of bombas in 2019, and the lineup will continue to play, but the rotation must be filled with arms capable of competing against the upper echelon. For the first time in franchise history the Twins have handed out a qualifying offer (there was an argument to be made that a second could have been made) insuring Jake Odorizzi will agree to nothing worse than a one-year, $17.8 million deal. That’d be a strong start to free agency for Minnesota, but if he rejects the offer in the next nine days, working out a long-term deal with the help of draft pick compensation warding off other suitors would be a fine result as well. Different publications have tied Minnesota to a handful of options, but there have been suggestions of arms starting with Bumgarner and Wheeler, and trickling down from there. Although Falvey needs to be a player on the Cole and Strasburg market, they both could very well have more exciting destinations in play. Regardless of how the four rotation spots are accounted for, a final tally of something near $70 million should be enough to create a strong group. If Minnesota can’t allocate all their funds to the pitching market, then supplementing with an offensive addition is hardly an egregious ask. Holding back some of the discretionary dollars a year ago made some sense but making sure every effort possible is made for 2020 and beyond now should be in all systems go mode. There are more than a few ways for the Twins to tack on significant money while avoiding risk and poor contracts, and this is their opportunity to do it. $140 million would be a bit north of $10 million into the uncharted waters territory. While $135 million is a nice bump from 2019, the $140MM mark would likely land them just outside of the top 10. At this stage of the cycle Minnesota could comfortably be closer to $150MM than $130MM and things would be just fine. No matter how they get there though, the training wheels need to come off this time around. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. More from Twins Daily 2020 Offseason Handbook Available Now No Qualifying Offer? No Option? These 4 Players Could Interest the Twins 8 Players the Twins Need to Add to the 40-Man Roster Click here to view the article
  16. There should be no expense spared by the Minnesota front office this winter. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have suggested they’ll target impact pitching. Both Cole and Strasburg could be handed blank checks, and the end result may still be in them thumbing their nose at the prospect of playing in the Midwest. I’m very much a fan of what Zack Wheeler could be under the tutelage of Wes Johnson, but it’s the staff ace role that presents the most intrigue. Jose Berrios’ offseason workouts have become the thing of legend. From pulling trucks to flipping tires and doing rigorous beach circuits, there’s nothing that the Puerto Rican native won’t turn into an opportunity to break a sweat. This offseason though, the Twins have presented a new directive. As he left Twins Territory and headed home the plan was for a new training regimen to be instituted. While I have no idea what the specifics of that are, my guess would be that the intensity is likely decreased just a little bit. With the Twins pointed towards a division title as the 2019 season came to an end, Berrios went into August with a 2.80 ERA and capped off the year with a 3.68 mark. The final 10 starts included a 5.83 ERA and .835 OPS against. He surrendered 10 of his 26 homers and gave up an underwhelming 68 hits in 58.2 innings. Certainly, an ugly set of statistics, but it’s become relatively par for the (August) course for the 25-year-old. Now four years into his major league career Berrios owns a 5.96 August ERA and a 4.64 mark in September. Those months also include opposing slugging percentages of .811 and .741 respectively. Despite being from a much warmer climate, his career 3.69 ERA and .627 OPS against before May is light years more impressive. It doesn’t take much analysis to understand that the end of the season is when Berrios is at his absolute worst. From a conceptual standpoint I’d imagine that Minnesota’s plan for Jose this offseason is to find a routine that breeds sustainability. Rocco Baldelli doesn’t want to see his staff ace coming out of the gates flat, but he also needs to know that he’ll take the ball and be just as dominant down the stretch. Working on a routine that allows for endurance and an ability to avoid a breakdown will give pitching coach Wes Johnson a pitcher much more able to pave the way for the starting rotation. Avoiding velocity dips and ineffectiveness for significant periods, the pitcher Berrios was through July represented a talent worthy of Cy Young consideration. I don’t believe we’ve seen the best of Berrios yet, and that shouldn’t be groundbreaking given his youth. It’s on Minnesota to develop him toward taking the next step, and with Falvey’s track record in Cleveland, there should be belief they have the right man for the job. The Twins need to spend and acquire pitching this winter, but the sooner they can unlock their own ace, the better. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY The 2020 Offseason Handbook Is Now Available for Preorder! Dealing with Wheeler Gets Minnesota an Ace Twins Trade Targets: 4 Potential Starting Pitching Upgrades
  17. Everyone knows what the top of the market will look like. Gerrit Cole is going to command a return that could make even Mike Trout and Bryce Harper blush. He’s been nothing short of exceptional, just turned 29-years-old, and may still have another gear to reach. There’s no guarantee that Stephen Strasburg becomes the second premiere arm, but logic suggests he’ll opt out of the final four years and $100 million of his current deal. Every team in baseball should be tripping over themselves to offer these guys a payday. If the Twins aren’t in on them it’s a problem, but if they get turned down anyway, they’ll need to pivot. For the sake of this argument let’s assume that Derek Falvey offers either of those pitchers a blank check and neither takes the bait. All is not lost with Zack Wheeler still being in the picture. He’s not the arm either of those pitches is, and he is older than Cole, but the former Mets hurler may be the most underappreciated talent looking for a new home. A former first-round pick, Wheeler has been a model of consistency when healthy. In his three full seasons he’s pitched at least 180 innings with strong strikeout numbers and an ERA firmly in the mid-3’s. For New York in 2019 his ERA crept up to a 3.96 mark, but the 3.48 FIP suggests he was likely victimized by one of the worst defensive teams in baseball. Over the course of his career Wheeler has avoided the long ball and kept baserunners to a minimum. He’s not going to challenge for the league lead in strikeouts but the 195 in 2019 was a new career high. With the Mets he was consistently a 10% whiff rate thrower, and he’s expanded his chase rates each of the past two seasons. With an average fastball of 97.1 mph this past season, Wes Johnson should be salivating at the opportunity to take him to the next level. You can bet that the Twins have done a decent amount of background work on Wheeler already. They were in talks with Brodie Van Wagenen regarding Noah Syndergaard, and there’s no doubt that Zack’s name likely was added into the mix. Now costing only dollars, he doesn’t come with the price tag of coveted pieces from within the system. The ability to add a starter with his repertoire and upward projectability is a rare scenario, and one that Minnesota can’t miss on. Paying for pitching on the open market is largely a landmine of failed opportunity. Teams either find themselves looking to overextend for the best option or having to settle for a patchwork piece that doesn’t fit the mold. Developing pitching is the greatest path to sustainable success and being able to acquire someone like Wheeler who provides a fair mix of pay and future potential looks like a slam dunk. Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg represent the outlier opportunity to add one of the 5-10 aces in baseball to your staff. Someone like Wheeler gives the Twins an avenue to have two aces of their staff and allow them to battle each other for that top spot.
  18. Hey everyone, your favorite or probably least favorite duo is back with another podcast! This is our first official episode during what we expect to be a fun offseason, and we previewed it all here. We included some free agent targets, 40-man roster questions, building a rotation, and much more so check it out. Click this link to go to the Spotify playlist! https://open.spotify.com/episode/5tqjO8dYdn17IwPakSzpaR?si=y2DWE9h_S26GtGfBm_Smyg Time stamps 2:10 The baseball is different? 6:45 The offseason is here...what now? 14:15 Twins have some free agents 27:40 40-Man roster questions 42:00 discussing some free agent targets 55:00 Fan questions Alex Kirilloff or Rosario on opening day? Realistic starting rotation? Which SP is likely to sign with Twins A genie question
  19. Every year MLB Trade Rumors makes a list of the top 75 trade candidates in the days and weeks leading up to the July 31st trade deadline. They update the list multiple times as the deadline approaches and their final list was posted earlier today. As they alluded to in the post, “Essentially, we’re ordering players based upon our assessment of both their trade value and likelihood of being dealt.” How many of the top 75 trade candidates will be dealt before Wednesday? Could any of them end up in MinnesotaMinnesota’s needs are almost exclusively related to adding pitching and that means a good portion of the top-75 are position players and not viable trade options. According to MLBTR, Zack Wheeler (Mets) is ranked as the number one trade candidate. He’s a free agent at season’s end and the Mets aren’t going anywhere this season. Rumors swirling on Tuesday have the Astros as the favorite to land Wheeler. The Twins might be more interested in adding a non-rental pitcher to their starting rotation. Out of Minnesota’s current rotation, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda can all be free agents this off-season. This leaves players in MLBTR’s 5-7 range like Noah Syndergaard (Mets), Mike Minor (Rangers) and Robbie Ray (Diamondbacks). Would you trade Byron Buxton to get Syndergaard? All these teams have a chance to be in contention next year so it will likely take a high offer to pry these starters away from their current organizations. MLBTR’s finishes out their top-10 with controllable relievers like Shane Greene (Tigers), Edwin Diaz (Mets) and Felipe Vazquez (Pirates). It doesn’t seem likely for the Twins to be interested in these types of relievers because they will come with a hefty price tag. Relief pitching can be fickle so it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of prospect capital on players that might not produce in the coming years. Two intriguing relief options fall into the 14-15 range. Mychal Givens (Orioles) and Raisel Iglesias (Reds) have seen some struggles this year but the have shown some success in the past. Could Wes Johnson waive his magic wand and fix either of these two? Other rental relief arms come in at 19-25 in the rankings. Craig Stammen (Padres), Daniel Hudson (Blue Jays), Greg Holland (Diamondbacks), Francisco Liriano (Pirates), Chris Martin (Rangers), David Hernandez (Reds) and Jared Hughes (Reds) could all add something to Minnesota’s bullpen. Adding Liriano back to the Twins could be a fun reunion, especially if he can help the team win in October. His arm injury back in 2006 might have cost the Twins a long playoff run. Here are some of the other possible Twins targets: 30. Roenis Elias (Mariners): Has some closing experience in Seattle and could serve as another late inning relief option. 32. Zack Greinke (Diamondbacks): Twins are on his no trade list and he is owed a lot of money in the years ahead. If he waived his no-trade clause, he could cost fewer prospects because of the money left on his deal. 43. Kirby Yates (Padres): San Diego hasn’t had his name out in the rumor mill and there has even been talk of the Padres adding players at the deadline. Yates is one of the best relievers that could be available. 44. Andrew Chafin (Diamondbacks): His 11.1 SO/9 is his highest total since 2016 and his 3.2 BB/9 is a career best. Minnesota needs another lefty in the ‘pen and Chafin might make sense. There are plenty of other possible Twins additions on the top 75 list. What name(s) stand out to you? Could the Twins end up with multiple players on this list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Other Stories of Interest Is Alex Kirilloff Expendable? What Sergio Romo Brings to the Twins Bullpen The Making of Max Power Click here to view the article
  20. Minnesota’s needs are almost exclusively related to adding pitching and that means a good portion of the top-75 are position players and not viable trade options. According to MLBTR, Zack Wheeler (Mets) is ranked as the number one trade candidate. He’s a free agent at season’s end and the Mets aren’t going anywhere this season. Rumors swirling on Tuesday have the Astros as the favorite to land Wheeler. The Twins might be more interested in adding a non-rental pitcher to their starting rotation. Out of Minnesota’s current rotation, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda can all be free agents this off-season. This leaves players in MLBTR’s 5-7 range like Noah Syndergaard (Mets), Mike Minor (Rangers) and Robbie Ray (Diamondbacks). Would you trade Byron Buxton to get Syndergaard? All these teams have a chance to be in contention next year so it will likely take a high offer to pry these starters away from their current organizations. MLBTR’s finishes out their top-10 with controllable relievers like Shane Greene (Tigers), Edwin Diaz (Mets) and Felipe Vazquez (Pirates). It doesn’t seem likely for the Twins to be interested in these types of relievers because they will come with a hefty price tag. Relief pitching can be fickle so it doesn’t make sense to spend a lot of prospect capital on players that might not produce in the coming years. Two intriguing relief options fall into the 14-15 range. Mychal Givens (Orioles) and Raisel Iglesias (Reds) have seen some struggles this year but the have shown some success in the past. Could Wes Johnson waive his magic wand and fix either of these two? Other rental relief arms come in at 19-25 in the rankings. Craig Stammen (Padres), Daniel Hudson (Blue Jays), Greg Holland (Diamondbacks), Francisco Liriano (Pirates), Chris Martin (Rangers), David Hernandez (Reds) and Jared Hughes (Reds) could all add something to Minnesota’s bullpen. Adding Liriano back to the Twins could be a fun reunion, especially if he can help the team win in October. His arm injury back in 2006 might have cost the Twins a long playoff run. Here are some of the other possible Twins targets: 30. Roenis Elias (Mariners): Has some closing experience in Seattle and could serve as another late inning relief option. 32. Zack Greinke (Diamondbacks): Twins are on his no trade list and he is owed a lot of money in the years ahead. If he waived his no-trade clause, he could cost fewer prospects because of the money left on his deal. 43. Kirby Yates (Padres): San Diego hasn’t had his name out in the rumor mill and there has even been talk of the Padres adding players at the deadline. Yates is one of the best relievers that could be available. 44. Andrew Chafin (Diamondbacks): His 11.1 SO/9 is his highest total since 2016 and his 3.2 BB/9 is a career best. Minnesota needs another lefty in the ‘pen and Chafin might make sense. There are plenty of other possible Twins additions on the top 75 list. What name(s) stand out to you? Could the Twins end up with multiple players on this list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Other Stories of Interest Is Alex Kirilloff Expendable? What Sergio Romo Brings to the Twins Bullpen The Making of Max Power
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