Minnesota Twins Free Agency Wishlist
Fresh off a 101 win season, the Minnesota Twins head to the offseason with a fantastic core to build around. American League Manager of the Year Rocco Baldelli ran out a record-setting lineup, and their pitching was better than it has been in years. They were also swept out of the ALDS by the New York Yankees and clearly have to make moves to jump into the conversation of legitimate World Series contenders. Fortunately, there are many free agents available that could help the Twins make that jump. Here are five free agents the Minnesota Twins should be targeting this offseason.
While José Berríos is on the verge of becoming an ace, the Twins need another frontline starter. Berríos is currently the only member of last year’s rotation still under contract, leaving the front office with plenty of flexibility. Zack Wheeler is the best starting pitcher available that won’t break the bank. He had a very good season in 2019, posting a 3.96 ERA across 195 1/3 innings. His peripheral numbers are even better, with a 3.48 FIP and 3.9 K/BB ratio. While many fans will be clamoring for Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg, the Twins will avoid handing out a mega-contract that they will surely demand. Wheeler is projected by MLB Trade Rumors to command a five year, $100 million deal. That’s a price the Twins could afford, and pairing the 29-year-old with Berríos would give them a very good front of their rotation.
Jake Odorizzi was solid for the Twins in 2018 but had an All-Star caliber campaign this year. The Twins and Odorizzi should both be very interested in agreeing to a long term contract this offseason. Like Wheeler, Odorizzi had a very good ERA (3.51) and even better FIP (3.36). He also had career-best strikeout numbers, with a 10.1 K/9 and 3.36 K/BB. He is projected to get a three year, $51 million deal, so the Twins could potentially bring him back and still sign Wheeler. As an added bonus, Odorizzi would not cost the Twins a draft pick like the other pitchers in this tier. With Berríos, Wheeler, and Odorizzi locked down, the Twins could then fill out the last few spots in the rotation with younger internal options.
Another option for the Twins to address their pitching needs is via trade. Eddie Rosario has been pegged as a potential trade chip due to the team’s depth in the corner outfield spots. If Rosario is traded, the Twins would be smart to bring in Avisail Garcia. The Twins are plenty familiar with Garcia, given that he played with both the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox. He has the tools to be a star corner outfielder, with lots of power and a great arm, but has never quite put it all together besides an All-Star campaign in 2017. The 28-year-old is coming off a season where he posted a .796 OPS with 72 RBIs. Garcia also improved his defense this year, with a career-high DRS of two. Those numbers, and the fact that he provides a relatively cheap right-handed outfield bat make him an intriguing piece for Minnesota.
Mitch Garver and Jason Castro were arguably the best pair of catchers that any big league team featured in 2019. While there may be some regression, the Twins would be smart to retain that pairing. Garver, a right-handed hitter, and Castro, a lefty, make ideal platoon partners for each other. The fact that Garver is more of a bat-first catcher while Castro’s defense is his calling card make the partnership even better. Castro himself is no slouch offensively, though. He slashed .232/.332/.435 with 13 home runs in 79 games. His OPS+ of 101 is the equivalent of a league-average hitter at an offensively challenged position. Castro is also regarded as an above-average pitch framer, and his veteran status helps him handle a staff well. A short term deal would suit both parties well.
The Twins’ bullpen took major strides forward in 2019 but still lacks a second reliable lefty after Taylor Rogers. Signing Drew Pomeranz would instantly fix that problem and give them another late-inning option. Pomeranz posted a 4.85 ERA last season, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story. After struggling as a starter for the San Francisco Giants, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers and was dominant as a reliever. In 26 1/3 innings out of the bullpen, he pitched to a 2.39 ERA and 5.63 K/BB. Pomeranz would likely command a multi-year deal, which is always concerning for a reliever, but he’s got good stuff and will be just 31 next year, so he could prove to be worth it. A bullpen featuring Rogers, Pomeranz, Trevor May, and Tyler Duffey would be solid for next year’s postseason run.