After a promising 2015 season that appeared to usher in a new era of Minnesota Twins baseball that was void of being a basement dweller in the AL Central, the 2016 season was anything but that. The Twins lost 103 games, causing baseball’s most loyal ownership group to move on from General Manager Terry Ryan. A new group will have to bring the team back from the depths of despair. Let’s take a look at some off-season moves that may help guide them to success once again.
Deal or No Deal?
It’s likely that second baseman Brian Dozier‘s value is never going to be higher than what it is currently. Although he is undoubtedly the leader of this team, lets face it, the Twins are in dire need of pitching. Dozier is unlikely to be part of the next winning team in Minnesota, so it would make perfect sense to trade him. If an organization comes calling with the right package of prospects and a pitcher at the center of the trade, the Twins absolutely should entertain the offer.
The Twins have six arbitration-eligible players this season. Assuming the club proceeds with all of them, these are the projections according to MLB Trade Rumors:
- 3B Trevor Plouffe – $8.2 million
- SP Hector Santiago – $8.6 million
- MR Brandon Kintzler – $2.2 million
- IF Eduardo Escobar – $2.9 million
- SP Kyle Gibson – $3.5 million
- RP Ryan Pressly – $1.1 million
It seems wise to be tendering all of them in the grand scheme of things. Plouffe is excellent insurance for Miguel Sano at third base and has the tools to play all over the diamond. He also hits lefties pretty well. It’s likely to get 300 plate appearances out of a guy like that. If things go well, it’s also possible to move him in the middle of the season.
Escobar can also play all over the infield and has good pop in his bat for a guy his size. Not only that, he is considered a good clubhouse guy who is well-liked among teammates and in the community. It’s also worth noting that he is good shortstop insurance.
Mostly the reason behind tendering Hector Santiago is not only wanting Jose Berrios to force the team’s hand during the season, but also how scarce the starting pitching market will be. That means the Twins could in theory spend all winter shopping Santiago around in trades with the plan that they’re also content to have him at the back of their rotation.
Free Agency, or Lack Thereof
The market is absolutely barren for teams looking to make additions at any price, let alone a reasonable one this off-season. The starting pitching is exceptionally bad. Teams are going to spend money, but it doesn’t mean it is going to be wisely spent.
With the Twins deciding to part ways with Kurt Suzuki, there’s a need to add a new catcher. The best option to replace Suzuki would be Jason Castro. He is a cheaper option and could help bridge the gap between some younger catchers in the Twins farm system. StatCorner lists him as their No. 4 pitch framer in the league last season. Whether or not Castro hits is minor compared to getting a defensive catcher who can go a long way in rejuvenating a pitching staff from the jump.
Carlos Gomez is coming off a couple of inconsistent seasons, but could make a lot of sense for the Minnesota Twins. He’ll come at a price far lower than he would have at any other point in his career. Catching Gomez on the proverbial rebound seems logical for the Twins, who could formulate a respectable outfield consisting of him, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler out there with Eddie Rosario who is more than capable of backing up all three spots.
Despite finishing with MLB’s worst record in 2016, the new Twins’ front office may feel that a complete demolition isn’t necessary. It’s possible to see the core of a contending team among the group. A return to contention in 2017 doesn’t seem especially likely unless they receive good fortune next year. However, with the right pitching moves, the 2018 season could be a good one for the Twins.