I think the Twins have done a good job with focusing on their talent in house, and now that we have a better idea of what we have, we can go out and spend some money on players to compliment our current lineup.
So let’s start with this offseason. Truthfully, for a small market team, I really think that you have to hold on to your chips until you know for sure what your needs are and then make a run at it. So as far as this coming offseason go, I would leave our lineup as it stands as opposed to bringing in new player in house. But if we are in contention at the trade deadline for next year, the Twins should go after relievers to seal up the bullpen.
We have seen this in recent years that solidifying your bullpen is the cheapest way to round out your pitching and teams like the Royals have shown that this can get you a World Series Ring.
The Top Relievers that will be available as possible rental options: David Robertson NYY Andrew Miller CLE Greg Holland COL Craig Kimbrel BOS Huston Street LAA
Realistically of these options I think that if we get our bids in early (while all the big market teams are going after Harper), I think we would have a good shot at Greg Holland and Huston Street and possibly Andrew Miller. BUT Andrew Miller of course will link back to my earlier article about the The Tribe’s Window and whether or not the owners recent spending surge (particularly with Edwin Encarnacion) is a trend of the future spending habits or ownership simply pushing their chips to the middle while they are spending low money on their arbitration deals of young stars like Francisco Lindor. Arbitration Contracts are the biggest key to the Indians having this much young talent under the same roof, but once those deals start to expire and they have to pay their young stars what they are truly worth, maybe they would have a looser grip on a closer like Andrew Miller who is on the wrong side of 30? Time will tell.
Now let’s talk contracts, lets say we we went after Holland, Street, and Miller not just as rental options but players to have on their payroll. As it sits right now, the Twins are about $13M under the league payroll average and since this will be the time to spend money, lets be realistic and say that ownership will be willing to start paying the average (but not a cent more). We will be free from paying Jaime Garcia and Ricky Nolasco contracts which, rounding down, would total to $16M. Then we have Joe Mauer’s contract that will finally be off the books, freeing up an additional $23M. Add that up and you free up $52M per year to spend on these three players. Going off healthy raises on these relievers’ current contracts while boosting their overall deal, I would allocate the money as follows…
Miller – $39M – ($13M/3 years) Holland – $30M – ($10M/3 years) Street – $30M – ($10M/3 years) ————————————————————- Leaving $19M left over for negotiating or saving
Now for me, I think Joe Mauer would come back for a bargain deal, but it would have to significantly less for that to be a good financial decision for the Twins. The advantage in resigning Mauer is that he has a great plate presence and leads the team in OBP. I would love having that around because Joe Mauer is a hitter who will age well because even when the bat speed goes, we will still have his presence at the plate. And I think he would stay because he is a Minnesota boy and I can’t see him wanting to dig up his roots and go somewhere else only to retire in Minnesota a couple years later.
But whether Mauer stays or goes, it is in these next 2 seasons where ownership needs to get competitive and secure a contract that will solidify our starting rotation. Chris Sale will be a free agent in 2020 but truthfully I can’t see the Red Sox NOT being in the playoff mix so I believe getting Chris Sale as a rental option is out.
If the option is there and the Giants have a similar season to the one they are having right now, we need to put ourselves in the conversation of acquiring Madison Bumgarner. He may be a rental option in 2019 but I would want to Twins to go hard for this pitcher and make an extended deal happen. And if it comes down to money, the Twins can do it.
By 2020, we will have a left over $19M if we get those three relievers listed above, and we will have freed up $13.2M from Phil Hughes’ contract which is absolutely plenty to be in the bidding for Bumgarner because that would give us a crazy $32.2M per year to spend on the starter (keeping in mind that the best pitcher – Clayton Kershaw makes almost $36M a year so that would easily put us in the running)! And then if the Bullpen is still needing work, we could use whatever salary we don’t spend on Bumgarner to grab another reliever like Dellin Bentances from NYY (pipe dream I know) or more realistically Will Harris from HOU.
Ervin Santana will be up for a contract extension in 2020 and we will have to see how things play out for Santana and cross that bridge down the road. But the same strategy applies for whatever money we don’t spend on Bumgarner we can put towards Santana.
Obviously these moves would transform our lineup, but even if ownership dropped this much money on bringing in complimentary talent, the Twins would still have their priority invested in the young players they are building around. The idea behind the 3 year contracts given to the relievers above is that it completely secures possible extensions of our young promise after their years of arbitration are up.
Players with their last year of arbitration contracts in 2021: Byron Buxton OF Max Kepler OF Miguel Sano OF/1B
Players with their last year of arbitration contracts in 2022: Jose Berrios SP
So in the next 3-4 years of getting these young stars at a discount, the Twins will be able to pay for a better supporting cast around them and when arbitration is up, they will then be free of the 3 year contracts listed above and be able to make informed decisions on where to best put their money leading into the next decade.
The Twins Ownership has been notorious for not spending money, but with this spending map listed above, the Twins would spend the league average for team payroll and they will be able to finally be competitive in free agency and make moves the compliment the young talent they currently have.