Is He a Fit for the Twins?
You asked, I answered!
The 2020-21 MLB offseason is moving at a glacial pace. In that sense, it’s giving us more time to get the #content out.
But it’s also creating discontent among fans — especially those who are antsy after seeing how exciting an NBA offseason that began and ended in the span of just a few weeks.
Instead, we’re under 50 days until teams would normally have pitchers and catchers report to spring training with precious few players having signed for 2021 and beyond.
What that does is make it sort of difficult to figure out exactly what direction the Minnesota Twins will take. They’ve signed exactly one big-league free agent — reliever Hansel Robles.
Teams sign relievers to one-year deals all the time. In fact, the Twins have famously only ever signed a reliever to a multi-year deal once — Addison Reed — and lots of teams sign guys like this.
Since there’s still plenty of room for the Twins to take a specific direction, it’s easier to look at individual players and ruminate on if we think they’d be a fit.
So let’s do that!
I really, really see Bryant as a unique fit for this team. He gives them more balance from the right-hand side. He can play in the outfield. He can obviously play third base — and give them valuable Josh Donaldson insurance. He’s even played 120.1 error-free innings at first base — at least somewhat intimating he could hang over there, too.
Figuring out a trade value could be tricky. It really is sort of inexplicable that the Cubs tendered him a contract for next year yet traded Yu Darvish for what appears to be a fairly modest offer. But in all honesty, we don’t know how the rest of MLB values a 34-year-old ace with just a touch under $60 million owed to him.
Still — Bryant is coming off a dreadful 2020 season (73 OPS+) and there’s a definite divide between the first three years of his career (141 OPS+) and the last three (121). MLB Trade Rumors projects him for a salary just shy of $19 million this season.
Bryant turns 29 just after the new year, and has dealt with just enough injuries that a return to form wouldn’t be all that crazy. And with one year left on his deal, Bryant is the perfect risk/reward proposition for any team willing to take the plunge on his salary.
Mike Ferrin of MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM floated the idea that Bryant could be dealt for Starlin Castro of the Nationals and it was met with round mocking and eye-rolling.
Given what we know now, it probably isn’t that unrealistic.
Do the Twins have enough to make a trade like this? Absolutely. It would be a good idea, too.
Baez, who is projected for around $10-11 million, could be a bit trickier. Like Bryant, he’s coming off a terrible season and is eligible for free agency after 2021.
Baez is what Eddie Rosario would be capable of if Eddie was a dazzling defensive shortstop. Alas, he is not.
Baez never walks and strikes out quite a bit, but he’s — as noted — a terrific defender at short with big-time power and some speed besides. He would be immensely fun to watch on a regular basis and would also frustrate less than Rosario did, but it’s unclear if he’s the kind of hitter the Twins would value with his complete lack of on-base skills.
It’s not a bad idea and I’m in general on board with the Twins adding a shortstop — who is Jose Berrios’ brother in law, by the way — but I’m just not certain I see a fit here.
This makes a ton of sense. I’m more convinced now than before that the Pirates would move him, but that’s more so because they moved Josh Bell when his value wasn’t particularly high rather than holding onto him to see if he bounced back at all in 2021.
Now with that said, Bell is slated to make somewhere in the neighborhood of $5-7 million in arbitration. Do teams typically trade for a first baseman at the deadline?
Starting pitching is a completely different beast. Musgrove is slated to make about $3-4 million and has two more seasons of club control. On the surface, it might not seem like there’s a ton to love here. Musgrove has a career 4.33 ERA in just a touch under 500 MLB innings. He’s struck out just shy of a batter per inning in an era where almost everyone is doing that. He’s not extraordinarily good at keeping the ball in the ballpark.
Where Musgrove entices people is that his strikeout rate spiked this season (12.5 K/9!) and he also induces grounders at a league-average rate. He has really solid stuff, and his swinging-strike rate of 11.7 percent forecasts the potential of an even bigger breakout looming.
This year, his swinging-strike rate spiked to an elite 14.4 percent, and he throws a ton of sliders. That slider has a career swinging-strike rate of 17.1 percent (22.1 percent in 2020) and induces grounders at a healthy 45.6 percent rate.
This just feels like a match made in heaven. Musgrove won’t necessarily be the next Gerrit Cole rescued from Pittsburgh — and to be sure, Cole was much better there than Musgrove has been — but he could definitely make the same sort of leap, which could make him a legit No. 1-2 option on a contending ball club.
The Twins have shown a far stronger likelihood to make a trade for a player like this — such as Kenta Maeda a year ago — rather than pay the going rate for a pitcher who is all the way atop their game (such as Maeda right now).
I could see some steam here.
It would be awfully difficult to find a reliever I couldn’t get behind the Twins signing. Now with that said, what kind of deal is Rosenthal looking for? Multiple years for a guy who has really struggled with his command in previous seasons, didn’t pitch at all in 2018 and pitched poorly in 2019 might be a tough sell.
Rosenthal throws hard, throws a slider and strikes people out. With that said, if he wants a multi-year deal, the Twins will almost certainly look elsewhere.
A two-year deal might be the sweet spot for both sides here. Richards turns 33 in May. He’ll want some security but will find it hard to come by given his track record of injury issues mixed with his age. With that said, he had a really strong season with the Padres last season — plus-0.7 fWAR in 51.1 innings, 8.1 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 and respectable rates across the board — and he still throws just as hard as he ever did, including his breakout 2014 season in which he was a 4.3-win player via Fangraphs.
San Diego won’t be bringing him back after the spree they’ve gone on, and he won’t cost top dollar — especially not relative to how good he could be in the right spot. He may not be the kind of guy to move deep into his career throwing darts like Charlie Morton, but there are worse gambles with much lower ceilings than Richards.
I like this one a lot.
There’s nothing to hate here except maybe the cost to acquire him. Story is a career .277/.343/.535 hitter, which is impressive even with a guy playing half his games at Coors Field. And as we’ve seen in recent seasons with guys like DJ LeMahieu, the hangover effect is a bit overstated.
Story is, however, an impending free agent — and part of the vaunted shortstop class of next winter with Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor, Baez and Corey Seager, among others. He hits, he runs and he fields with the best of them — and will deservedly want to be paid like it, too.
Will he even allow an acquiring team to consider offering him an extension? That’ll have to be worked out in the interim, but as far as acquiring the player? That’s a great target.
We still haven’t really seen what a big trade would look like from the Falvey/Levine regime standpoint when it comes to acquiring the higher-end talent. This could be that opportunity — and again, I’m on board with the idea that they could trade for a shortstop. The Rockies already have their likely heir apparent at short in Brendan Rodgers, besides. He’s struggled in a couple of brief shots of espresso in the big leagues, but he’s still a big-time prospect.
Semien would be a good bridge shortstop if he’s willing to sign a two-year deal. From there, the Twins could move Jorge Polanco around and still keep short warm for Royce Lewis, who for all we know could also be the future center fielder if Byron Buxton jets in free agency in a couple of years.
Semien is a very good defender, and while his bat regressed back to career numbers a bit in 2020, there were some gains in 2019 that are worth examining further. Sure, the homers can be chalked up to a juiced baseball, but he walked 11.6 percent of the time and fanned just 13.7 percent of the time — both, by far, career bests.
A one year deal puts Semien square in the middle of a crowded shortstop class next winter. A two-year deal leaves him 32 when he hits free agency again. A three-year or longer deal, well….who is offering those this winter?
Semien at a 2020 price for somewhere between 2019-20 production could be a nice find.
If you assume he could split the difference between the two, he’d hit .270/.354/.486 (128 OPS+) with a per 162-game average of 31 homers, 87 RBIs, 85 walks and double-digit steals.
That’s a hell of a ballplayer.
I don’t see it. He’s an absolute masher who plays better defense than people realize, but he’ll want multiple years and big money to play in spots (outfield or DH) where the Twins aren’t likely willing to offer.
I don’t know if he’ll sign for Taylor Rogers money ($6 million) or thereabouts, but if he would I think the Twins would have a good shot. I suspect he wants closer to $8-9 million and might get it based on how well he pitched last season. I’ve seen some chatter over his fastball velocity, but he throws more sliders than anything (Twins,,,,hello) and it’s not as though he’s prime Billy Wagner either. If he can sit 92-93 mph with the fastball to go along with his slider, he’s got value.
I’ve said a few times in this space but I think bringing back Odo makes a lot of sense. That was more true when I thought he might be more willing to sign a one-year deal, but I’ve seen some reports that his market has been fairly robust. Now that can mean teams are swarming to try buy low after what was essentially a lost season for the 30-year-old righty.
In that case, the Twins make sense to bring him back on an incentive-laden deal. I’ve said one year for $10 million with innings pitched incentives that can drive it up to $16-18 million or so would make a ton of sense, but I don’t know if the Twins would have to even go that high with the way the market is trudging along. The pitchers who have gotten paid already have gotten paid fairly well, but I’m not sure it’s smart money to expect that to continue all winter.
He wasn’t good in 2020 but he was back on the mound, and that was a huge first step. He throws about as hard as ever and throws a ton of sliders. If that doesn’t scream Minnesota Twins, I don’t know what else does. I’d probably bring him in as a swingman type to allow him to get back up to speed, but there’s a lot of potential here.
He’s an absolute stud who is 28 and has three years of club control left. Every team can use a guy like this — and you’d better be ready to back up the Brinks truck. For Falvey and Levine to do this, they’d have to break the mold a bit.
I don’t think it’ll happen — but it would be awesome for fans if it did.
Absolutely. We’ve seldom seen a truly healthy Paxton in the past, but he did throw 100-plus innings in each season from 2016-19. That’s not the ideal 180 that teams would like to get, but in an age with bullpens doing more than ever, it’s workable.
And when Paxton is on the mound, he can be really, really good. He had a 6.64 ERA (4.37 FIP) in 20.1 screwy innings with the Yankees this season, but in the previous four seasons, he was absolutely terrific:
I don’t hate it, especially if he plays fairly regularly in left field against lefties. With that said, however, I don’t really think I see a fit. mike
I get Zack Littell vibes with Mike Foltynewicz. I’m just not sure what happened there with either guy. As a minor-league flyer, there’d be no harm in it, but the Twins know better what is going on with these guys than we do.
I love the Quintana idea. It was a lost year for him in 2020 — and literally everyone else, right? — but he’s only going to be 32 next season and has steadily been at least a mid-rotation guy for the last half decade-plus before that. A one-year deal with an option would make some sense here to see if he can make it all the way back.
I mean it all depends on price, right? Gray is good, fairly young (31) and signed for as many as three more years at a very, very reasonable sum. As in, about half as much as Darvish and he’s more than three years younger.
You’d have to give up one of the big three for Gray. I don’t think that’d be popular. I’d hang my hat on a different Gray (Colorado’s Jon) or someone like Musgrove.
Brantley: Love it, especially since he won’t likely command a big contract. Would take them out of the Cruz running though, I think. He takes a really good plate appearance and can still play a respectable left field.
Bradley: I don’t see it. He’ll want to start.
Schoop: Maybe as a second infield addition, because they still need to get someone who can play shortstop. I don’t think they’d want to push Schoop into that role, though he has played a little there in the big leagues.
I love the idea. He’s a clubhouse favorite, and as long as he can still play even a passable shortstop he’d be a great fit for this team. He’s also coming off a down year, so the price wouldn’t be too prohibitive if the Twins expressed interest, I don’t think. Arizona’s direction is curious. They were terrible this season and don’t really have a clear path to contention — even before San Diego started loading up.
They have the potential for a really good rotation, but everywhere else is kind of patchy. Maybe Escobar — currently penciled in as Arizona’s starting third baseman — could be had this winter?
Lindor is the absolute pie-in-the-sky idea here. He’s a two-way shortstop who just turned 27. He’s literally in his prime, and by trading for him, you’d be stealing him from a divisional foe. Also, given the environment we’re seeing across the league, it’s possible he wouldn’t cost nearly as much as he might have a year ago — not only pre-pandemic but also with an added year of control on his deal.
But that’s also the stucco, to steal a phrase from Chris Berman.
If you trade for Lindor, you either have to be OK with him leaving in a year or you’ll have to find a way to pay him $200 million over the next eight years (probably more, honestly).
But from a talent standpoint, this is a terrific idea. From a roster construction standpoint, this is a terrific idea. From an “is it realistic” standpoint? Maybe not. But I, for one, love it.
I talked about Story earlier, but my affinity for the Jon version of Gray is widely known around these parts. He’s another guy who I think can take a Cole-esque leap upon being traded — and I think the Twins should be all over that.
Bauer isn’t happening.
Hand and Semien would be great ideas, but Bauer isn’t happening. I just don’t see any way.
He’s an unbelievable ballplayer but there isn’t an obvious fit on the roster. He’s going to get a deal worth $20-some million per year into his late 30s. The Twins won’t want any part of that.
I answered the others, but the idea of bringing Eddie Rosario back is interesting. I don’t think it’s going to happen, but let’s say his price drops to around $5 million? I don’t think it’s impossible, though I can’t imagine a guy like him wants to be a part-time player with his next contract at stake.
Hendricks has broken most modern pitching metrics because he’s so good, but I just don’t see him moving. He’s got three years at $14 million per with an option for 2024 — and I don’t see even the cost-cutting Cubs moving that for anything short of a massive haul.
I think Kluber makes a ton of sense. But that bin is pretty crowded. How healthy is he? Is he better than Jon Lester? I think so. Is he better than Jake Arrieta? I think so? Is he better than Quintana? I have no idea. But as far as the Twins as a fit for what Kluber wants to be? I think that’d be perfect.
Morton and Ray have already signed.
I love the Paxton idea. Is he better than Kluber? I think so, but this was a really rough year for both of them in different ways.
The Twins were in the mix for Walker a year ago — even before he put together a fairly strong season between the Mariners and Blue Jays. His market will be curious as well. He’s only 28; if he’s offered a long-term deal like four years and $40 million, does he take it? Does he take a two-year deal for less, hoping he puts enough of a stat line together to get a long-term deal at age 30?
And if the team picking him up thinks he’s a shooting star — and he just might be — what’s the sweet spot for them? Three years at a touch over $10 million? More?
To make a long story short, there are some risks involved with Walker and a bridge deal might make a lot of sense. If he’s willing to sign something that’s like two years and maybe $20-25 million, I think he’s going to have a lot of interest — Minnesota included.
I don’t hate the Profar idea, but he really hasn’t played shortstop much recently and he’s going to make too much money to be a team’s second utility guy. He’s a great player and he can play all over, but if he can’t play shortstop even semi-regularly I’m not sure there’s any fit.
We touched on Story, but I think Simmons could be a great idea. He’s likely to sign a short-term deal — similar caveats as Semien apply in terms of contract length — and if he doesn’t hit he’s still good enough defensively to help the team out overall.
And maybe that’s the best fit for a shortstop on this roster — someone who defensively can push Polanco off the position, but be pushed back by Jorge if they don’t hit. If Simmons can do his usual thing defensively and post a 95 wRC+, that has a ton of value. If he’s somewhere in the 80s, he’s a late-inning replacement and a guy you can get 200-250 plate appearances for over the course of the season.
He’s a terrific defender and can hit besides, but I just don’t see a fit. Maybe if they trade Luis Arraez, but if they do that it’s probably to open up second for Polanco and short for a free agent or someone they traded for.
The only one I haven’t touched on is Hernandez, and I think he’d be a really good fit. He can play all over, hit lefties and is a good clubhouse guy. My only question is how much short can he really play? If it isn’t much, he’ll have to be fairly inexpensive.