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Let's Say the Twins Have $40 Million to Spend -- How Would You Spend It?
Cot’s Contracts has the Minnesota Twins penciled in at about $88.5 million in payroll commitments for the 2021 season at this point, though that considers the remaining 14 roster spots that are technically “open” going to players who make roughly the MLB minimum.
Some of those spots will be filled by guys making the minimum; some of them will not.
They have about $10 million earmarked for that spot, so for the sake of discussion, we’ll say the Twins are at about $80ish million hard committed with the cheaper guys filling in the blanks.
That leaves us with around $40 million left to fill out the roster if the Twins are going to come near the payroll they were slated to have going into the 2020 season.
And maybe we’re overblowing how much teams will cut payrolls. A handful of players have already signed at what feels like fair market rate or better, and while teams didn’t make any revenue from fans in the stands, they also paid out far less than full 2020 salaries.
A lot will hinge, I suppose, on how much teams trust that the vaccines to come will get the pandemic under control to the point that they can ramp up bringing fans back.
All of that is to say that we’re going with $40 million to keep the number round and easy to add up to, but it could honestly fluctuate a few million or more in any direction.
We don’t have to get too specific.
So I put out the bat signal to see how fans would spend that $40 million — via adding free agents or the net value added/cleared in a trade — and got a wide range of answers.
I thought it might be fun to post some of them and discuss how I feel each of them looks. If nothing else, I think Access Twins can set itself apart from other publications by being a little more interactive, so if you enjoy the format please feel free to let me know.
Here are your submissions:
First of all, I like the confidence of the screen name. Anyway, I just don’t see a path to the Twins signing Bauer this offseason. I just don’t think they’re going to buy high on a guy whose spin rate rose as much as his did — which he basically admitted openly that he would be capable of doing with pine tar — in what amounted to the perfect storm: a small sample size walk year with very little reason not to get funky with a big payout at stake.
I think Bauer is going to be good moving forward, and I know Derek Falvey loves him, but his last three years have been more good than “$30-plus million per year” great: 3.18 ERA in 461.1 innings, 3.38 FIP, 11.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9.
Make no mistake, even with a tough stretch in Cincinnati in 2019, that’s still the best pitcher available this winter and it’s probably not by a small margin.
I also think this is more likely to be a “spread it around” winter for the Twins, who probably need to add at least one DH/COF hitter (Nelson Cruz, or otherwise), at least one and probably two infielders, at least one starting pitcher and probably two relievers.
I don’t hate this at all. I’m not sure I want to spend $17 million on two guys who could very, very possibly only throw a handful of innings next year but they’re the buy-low gambles the Twins can afford to make — especially with Randy Dobnak in the mix to take whatever rotation spot one of those two isn’t filling at the moment.
I’ve made no mystery my affinity for Hernandez, whose ability to play a handful of positions and hit lefties well is a good fit for this team, though I can’t help but see you haven’t added a shortstop in this mix — and the Twins almost certainly have to do that.
Hernandez has only played about 80 innings at short over the last two seasons, so I’m not sure he’s a viable option there as insurance to Jorge Polanco.
For me, it’s going to be hard to nail down specific relievers as fits for this team. I sort of like the idea of a bullpen that has many facets, like a funky righty or lefty along with guys of varying velocities and pitch mixes.
Clippard’s reliance on his offspeed stuff — and even a fastball that’s in the lower 90s — provided nice balance to guys who threw harder like Trevor May and guys who relied more on breaking stuff like Matt Wisler and Tyler Duffey.
This has a distinct “run it back” feel but unless The Beave is going to fill in at shortstop, I just don’t see any reason to tender him that deal.
I think that’s more than Schoop is going to get in this market — even after a good season in 2020 — but if you shave off a cool mill or so, you can bring back Ehire Adrianza and really get the band back together.
This is a fine, if unexciting offseason.
There’s a lot going on here.
I think you can justify four relievers, though I’m not sure they’ll want that many as they try to run a few guys up and down to see who sticks and who doesn’t (Edwar Colina, Jhoan Duran, Dakota Chalmers and others). I like the list of guys, though.
I think you’d have to swap out one of La Stella or Miller for someone with a more traditional shortstop background. The Twins can’t promise enough playing time to two guys who are coming off solid seasons last year — and it doesn’t really help them to cloud that space up with guys who don’t offer enough versatility to see the field every day.
I think the Kluber move is fine and I really like the Paxton move, though. I don’t know that it matters but Paxton would give them a lefty in the rotation, and combined you should be able to expect one or the other — if not both — to give you fairly good value.
I think you can get Adrianza for less, but Cruz will cost more. I like the rest of it, as Rosenthal-Bradley-Duffey-Rogers would provide a formidable quartet at the end of games, and I’m a big fan of running it back with Odorizzi — who I enjoy not only as a pitcher but also person to talk about baseball with.
I like the idea of Urena, and I suspect you’d want him as either rotation insurance and/or a bullpen-type who can get with Wes Johnson to mess with his pitch mix a bit.
I’m surprised, knowing you, that you didn’t go after Ryne Stanek here.
Needs a shortstop, but again I think $1 million for Adrianza would be easy enough to find in the margins. Can the Twins promise enough playing time to La Stella to make it worth it for him? Maybe having him play 1B-2B-3B while mixing and matching with guys like Miguel Sano and Josh Donaldson DH’ing semi-frequently? Would you let Schwarber play some left field? I think I would.
This is good, though.
I think Hernandez will come more cheaply, and I think that money can — again — be funneled toward a cheap shortstop like Adrianza or Freddy Galvis. I think Bradley is a worthwhile addition — and I’m not totally sure why he was non-tendered. I know his velocity was down a little bit, but he also slashed his walks and homers, so there were as many good indicators for him in 2020 than bad.
I don’t know; I just don’t understand trading for Bradley only to non-tender him. That’s why I don’t get paid the big bucks.
I like both Walker and Richards as guys who won’t cost as much as their raw talents would probably normally be worth if they were fully healthy in recent seasons. Grabbing two of those guys is a good hedge of one vs. the other and if both are healthy, well, that’s a good problem to have.
Opposing batters hit just .214/.293/.368 against Walker last season and he was just a touch under a strikeout per inning. For me, those are good indicators that he’s all the way back — or close to it — after throwing fewer than 150 big-league innings in each of the previous four seasons.
Opponents hit Richards a little better (.724 OPS) but that was largely due to lefties slashing .296/.364/.490 against him. That hasn’t been as big of an issue in his career, and is likely something a pitch mix tweak can suss out.
People I’ve talked to think Lewis is a bit farther away than this, but that doesn’t mean the rest of this isn’t solid. I don’t think that amount gets you Walker, though — and that’s probably more than Hernandez will get, I think.
Pillar would be a luxury as a high-end fourth outfielder who has some power and speed. Even if the on-base skills are lacking, he does enough with the rest of his skill set that he’d be a really nice addition. He’s also a career .286/.320/.464 hitter against lefties.
There are a few veteran one-year types I prefer to Lester, but his inclusion is largely inoffensive to me. I think I prefer Jose Quintana, but that’s why it’s your list and not mine!
This is another one that needs a shortstop. I love Profar as a fit on this team, but he probably has to come paired with an Adrianza or Galvis type. He’s barely played shortstop in recent seasons, and while part of that may be playing with Fernando Tatis Jr., it’s still a worthwhile concern if he can hang there anymore. Still, he’d make great infield insurance as well as in left field.
I like the two relievers you’ve picked up here and I think Rodon as a reclamation project has huge potential with very little risk.
I’m becoming increasingly skeptical they’ll bring Cruz back, but I think that’s about the figure it would take.
From your lips to Baby Jesus’ ears, my friend.
I’m not sure Semien will want a one-year deal with the influx of high-end shortstops hitting the market next year, but it’s a valid question. Would he rather hit the market next year coming off a good season with the potential that a lot of teams will be looking for shortstops and he could be firmly in that top tier?
Would he rather get a multi-year deal for something like 4/$48 this offseason to skip that logjam?
Will he, like you say, even consider a one-year pillow deal?
I’m not sure the Twins have room to add two infield talents like that if one of them can’t play in the outfield, though.
I think the DeSclafani idea is a good one — as is Kluber — but I think you need another reliever. I know they’ll be active in the minor-league bin — Derek Law and Ian Gibaut are already in it — but I think they’ll want at least two guys on MLB deals.
This needs a cheap shortstop but I think it’s a good crew. Take a mill or so off Hernandez’s deal for Adrianza and you’re all set. Greene had kind of a funky year with the Braves but his peripherals in the previous few seasons would leave me still very intrigued by him.
I like this a lot. Ideally the Twins would add an infielder who could play a little outfield too, but the idea of Simmons and Donaldson on the left side of that infield is really, really hard to ignore. If Rocco could still find 450 plate appearances for Polanco, it would be a great idea.
I have no issues with any of the pitching ideas. I think Holland’s slider-heavy profile makes a ton of sense here, and I could definitely see them going veteran-heavy while relying on in-house youngsters to fill in the blanks.
This is a solid list. I think I really like Stanek as the non-tender guy you’re talking about, and I suspect you can do everything you want here and stay under budget as well.
I think you could flip the Adrianza and Clippard contract figures, but it’s a solid quintet. If Trevor May only got $7.5 million per year, I’m not sure Colome will command $10 though. He’s good, but the strikeout stuff hasn’t been there. This wouldn’t exactly be sexy, but it would still leave the Twins firmly in the division mix for 2021.
If we think Miller can play short, then this works. I really like JBJ as a high-end fourth/semi-regular left fielder and the defense with Bradley-Buxton-Kepler would be *chef’s kiss* if the team isn’t handing the job to Kirilloff right away (which I think they might do).
I don’t know if Boxberger is good anymore or not, but he has that Jake McGee feeling to him where you might grab him for very little and he gives you 60 really strong innings — or flames out in mid-May. I love Bradley and Hand in this scenario, which means the reliance on Boxberger would be next to nothing to start the season.
Watching Rocco manage Peacock as a swingman would be fascinating. He’s been really, really good when he’s been healthy the last few years.
I think your bench bat is either Hernandez or Pillar and your lefty might have to be someone really cheap, like buying low on Sean Doolittle or grabbing someone like Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson, Tony Watson, Oliver Perez or Aaron Loup.
Brantley and Cruz would be good for the offense, but I think it might be a one-or-the-other scenario. I don’t think they’d want to block Kirilloff for that long — but I might be wrong! Brantley is one of the most underrated players of this generation, and he takes some terrific plate appearances. He would be a welcome addition on almost any team.
Love it. No muss; no fuss. High-end fliers in the rotation and bullpen, a backup shortstop and a good middle reliever. That’s how you get sh*t done.
OH! How about mine?
Schwarber/Grossman - $6m
Odorizzi/Paxton - $10m
Hernandez - $5m
Simmons - $10m
Doolittle - $2m
Wisler - $1m
Stanek - $750k
Some form of buy-low SP for up to $5-6m (DeSclafani/Arrieta/Hamels/Hill/Lester/Wood/etc)
Eight free agents is probably being idealistic, but this is all for fun, right? A couple of those guys could probably be had on minor-league deals with decent MLB guarantees if they make it, besides.