#AskBW (10/23): Let's Talk Offseason
Who's coming? Who's going? What? Why? When? Where?
Hey! Welcome to the first edition of #AskBW on Access Twins. If you’ve followed my work elsewhere, you may know I like to do these every now and then to make things a little more personal and to make myself more accessible to you, the readers.
And basically, that’s my goal with AT. While I want to maintain the journalistic standards I wish to adhere to, I also want this to be fun — and I think that’s a path I can sustain.
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I typically don’t do long intros for these types of posts, so let’s dive right in.
I’m feeling pretty good about my answer to this all of last winter, which was Ryan Jeffers. But you’ve put me on the spot — I haven’t thought about this prior to now.
I want to say Royce Lewis and I think the easy answer might be him, so I’ll go with Jhoan Duran. I think he gets the slight edge over Jordan Balazovic due to how much time he spent at the alternate training site, and I also think he’s more apt to be eased in as a reliever early on than Balazovic is.
And yes, that was the best podcast I’ve joined, haha.
I wrote an entire post on Marco Gonzales, but that was more about prudence and adhering to the process I think Derek Falvey and Thad Levine ascribe to.
If I’m choosing a pitcher in the wild for the Twins to trade for….? Hmm. Let’s go two ways here. Among those who are actually possible, I’ll say Angels righty Dylan Bundy. I think the changes he made last season with the Angels are legit, and he’d give the Twins a formidable top-of-the-rotation type to add to Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda.
If we’re going absolutely off the rails, someone like Zac Gallen. He’s already so good (plus-1.5 fWAR in 72.0 innings as a 25-year-old in 2020) and he’d be under club control for five (!) more seasons.
I’ve heard from good sources the Twins were interested in him before, but it just didn’t work out. At this point, he’s staying put — but he’d be the guy to shoot for the stars for.
I don’t think there is. One might say a more dedicated training regimen, but I doubt such a thing exists for a player as outwardly intense as Donaldson. Hopefully, it isn’t a chronic issue. I also don’t know how much it batters, but it’s been both calves which have given him trouble going back to 2017.
The writing on the wall is this: the Twins will have to spend a fair portion of their budget on infield insurance for Donaldson this winter, be it someone like Jurickson Profar or someone around that caliber.
Not very much, I don’t think. It’s only a 23-game stretch and the 81 plate appearances are less than 10 percent of his career to this point. If you add Garver’s 23 tough games to what he did in 2019, his line in 116 games — not too far off what starting catchers usually play in a full season — he’d have hit .253/.343/.561.
I think he got in an early funk, didn’t get consistent playing time due to injury and never had time to get out of it — possibly mixed with some slump-related pressing. I don’t think it’s much of an issue.
I’m skeptical it’ll be full go when the season starts. I’m thinking something like NFL teams are doing now with very, very limited capacity to start the season, and once the weather warms up and we get fully out of cold and flu season, we can get a better grasp for where we are more than a year after this thing blew up. Of course, if the vaccination hits the market and is as effective as we hope, this could all be nonsense rather quickly. Here’s to holding out hope!
This is regards to #FutureTwin Kike Hernández, and I really do think they’ll give him a long look. I don’t think the price will be crazy, but he can’t be the backup shortstop. A lot of people who’ve done mock offseasons to this point have some combination of Hernandez and Travis Blankenhorn as the team’s backup infielders, but that’s simply untenable. Hernandez and Ehire Adrianza is a way more palatable pair, though it still doesn’t address their potential need for Donaldson insurance.
I didn’t cover games in person this year, so I’m not totally sure. I do know that a lot of players who’ve joined the Twins have told me it’s one of their favorite road cities — as long as it’s in the later months of the season (ha).
Yes. I’m in.
I think there’s a very real possibility it’s Trevor Larnach-Royce Lewis-Max Kepler. Byron Buxton is already a free agent after 2022, so I think either this winter or next is obviously the sweet spot for him to get some sort of extension. The problem is that those waters are still murky. He had a good season overall, but walked just twice for a .267 on-base percentage. But in general, he hit well and was a tremendous defender — though he somehow only stole two bases.
My money is on a deal getting done with Buxton and Alex Kirilloff moving to first base in the future, but I just wanted to lay out that potential spot with Buxton’s contract situation looming.
My official guess, however, is Larnach-Buxton-Kepler.
I don’t know. They don’t really have complementary skill sets. Both are very good right-handed hitters. Jeffers is going to be a very good defender but I don’t think he’s there quite yet. Garver has turned himself into a solid defender back there but probably doesn’t have a ton of room to get much better. Is this like if you have two starting-caliber players, you have no? I don’t know.
I think I’d see what Garver brings back in a trade — especially if it’s any sort of pitcher with some team control left — and then bring back Jason Castro to recreate the 1a-1b tandem like he had with Garver in 2019. It’s too much to put the entire job on Jeffers’ shoulders on Day 1 next year; Castro helps ease that transition — plus he hits from the other side of the plate.
At least with Jorge Polanco’s woes, we could point back to ankle issues that have required surgery in each of the last two offseasons. With Garver, it was injury and playing-time related.
I think the answer to this is Miguel Sano, who all too often looked like he didn’t have a chance at the plate. I’m not a huge proponent of strikeouts mattering much for hitters in the big leagues, but they have to come in competitive at-bats. Sano struck out 90 times in 205 plate appearances, and in so many of those it looked like he never had a chance — especially after two strikes.
The pandemic-shortened season screwed with a lot of things — most notably, preparation for a season like this. That’s something Sano also had waylaid by his COVID battle during Summer Camp. But process-wise, he’s the one I’m most concerned about. If he isn’t getting on base, he’s got no value.
It’s a very, very difficult question. I think I’m leaning that the team probably needs to put that money elsewhere — again, probably toward infield protection against a Donaldson injury — but it’s just such a hard pill to swallow. Cruz means a ton to this team.
But he’s also going to be 41 next July. He wants a two-year deal. He’s not guaranteed in any way to produce on Day 1 in 2021, let alone Day 162 in 2022.
It’s such a hard decision — but one I suspect Falvey and Levine will make with conviction, and it’ll at least for the most part look wise.
Add an infielder
Trade for a starter
Find another Matt Wisler-type
Everything beyond that is kind of open-ended. If they non-tender Eddie Rosario, I think they may take a peek at the outfield market for a decent veteran who can bridge the gap to Kirilloff-Larnach out there.
But beyond that, the skeleton of the team is in place. I think it needs another vital organ or two — again, I’ll pound the drum for that infielder — but you can live without your spleen. They should really, really consider adding someone like Profar or a starting-caliber shortstop (I love Andrelton Simmons in that case) while making Polanco and/or Arraez their super-utility guy.
I don’t think so. If someone offers a really good young pitcher with three-plus years of control, I’m listening. Otherwise, nah.
I touched on it earlier, but I think it was a bit of a funk, no time to get out of it, sporadic playing time and a weird ramp up. He’ll be fine. Maybe not 2019 fine, but top 4-5 catcher in the AL fine.
I’m skeptical yet hopeful, if that makes sense. I don’t think it’ll be a full house, though.
They’ll try with Eddie, but the roughly $10 million question is if they’ll be able to. Did they try to last year? Because if they did and were unable to find a good offer, that’s not likely to change after another solid, but unspectacular season. If they could get a cost-controlled No. 4-5 starter for him, I think they’d jump at that.
I just don’t know who that would be. Kris Bubic from Kansas City, maybe? Adrian Houser? Would they ever be able to pry Jon Gray from the Rockies as I’ve bemoaned for a couple years now? I don’t know.
I don’t think so as far as Polanco’s concerned. The fact that he was playing hurt in 2020 makes it a tough move for a few reasons. For one, his play level diminished and that might cause some teams to be wary of moving much. Secondly, the Twins signed him to a very team-friendly deal. They probably don’t want to give that up. Thirdly, they don’t have anyone behind him yet. Lewis might be ready sooner rather than later, but that time isn’t right now.
I’d say 75-80. He won’t be up right away and I don’t think he’d play every single day after coming up. So if he comes up in June and plays more often than not, I think you still get a nice little sampling of Mr. Lewis in 2021. I think he should play second base — at least to start — though. There’s way less pressure there and it allows him to dip his feet into shallower water rather than dropping him right in. He’s an awfully toolsy player; sometimes it takes a while for those guys to click.
I think the issue as it pertained to the Twins and Yankees — the bulk of the streak — was that they never matched up very well. The Twins were a pitch-to-contact team and the Yankees were super disciplined and hit the sh*t out of the ball. That was never going to work.
But a big part of it is serendipity. The odds are staggering that this would happen, but it’s spanned so many players that a lot of it is just happenstance.
The weird dynamic is that the players have changed but the fans haven’t. So while fans have lived and died with each one, guys like Arraez were in elementary school the last time the Twins won a playoff game. It’s really hard for them to truly grasp the gravity of that.
I do think so, and as I wrote in my spicy takes a few weeks ago I think there’s still value there. They need to get a comparable talent at a position of need — again, hello infield and/or rotation — and it has to be a good value. They won’t sell low on him. There’s no reason to, even though he turns 30 next year.
I think everything stems from if they can re-sign Cruz. I think they’ll trade for rather than sign a starter. They’ll add at least one and probably two infielders for the bench — one who can help on a (nearly) daily basis and one who can hack short, probably Adrianza — and they’ll have to add at least a reliever or two with the possibility of losing Trevor May, Tyler Clippard and Sergio Romo (who has a contract option).
If they don’t sign Cruz and they dump Rosario, they probably have to add a fairly big bat. Maybe Michael Brantley? There’s a lot of uncertainty but I think they’ve given us reason enough to believe they have a plan here.
I think so. There’s just too money to be made and/or lost on something like this. We saw Sinclair and YouTube TV come to an 11th-hour agreement for the 2020 season that then was delayed a few months. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that again — in either fashion.