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The Twins should be more aggressive on waivers

With a new braintrust comes new strategies. I feel Derek Falvey and Thad Levine should take advantage of the waiver wire.

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins
Sam Fuld was one of the better waiver claims in recent Twins history. A more aggressive presence on waivers could lead to the team unearthing more diamonds in the rough.
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Just a couple days ago we learned that the Twins had claimed shortstop Ehire Adrianza off waivers from the Milwaukee Brewers. They became Adrianza’s third team of the offseason as he started with the San Francisco Giants, then was claimed by the Brewers, and currently appears that he will don a Twins jersey once spring training starts.

The Twins don’t really need a shortstop. Thanks to Brian Dozier’s continued presence on the roster, Jorge Polanco is still a shortstop. Eduardo Escobar also should be on the roster on Opening Day. Unless we want to argue that Adrianza is going to be a second backup infielder on the bench, I don’t see him staying on the active roster for very long. Without knowledge of new PBO Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine’s strategy, I’m hedging my bets that Adrianza won’t be on the 40-man roster when the calendar turns to April.

This will be an odd tangent but I promise that it circles back to relevance. Playing MLB: The Show and having an unhealthy obsession to make it as realistic as possible, I’ve scoured the MLB transactions page for years as I manually update the rosters daily. Every major league team claims players off waivers, but anecdotally I’ve noticed that three teams in particular have been active on the waiver wire: the Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Cubs.

Why might those teams be interested in the frequent turnover of their roster? Well, it’s to build organizational depth. These teams have recognized that the 25th roster spot (and 40th on the 40-man) are fungible assets and eminently replaceable. In terms of the Twins roster, that was the recent DFA of Pat Light - a hard-throwing reliever that lacks control.

The Twins have claimed players in the past - acquiring Neil Ramirez from the Cubs was an example from 2016 - but they seemed to only do it to fill a need. The three teams I mentioned before don’t claim players to fill holes, but rather to make marginal upgrades within the organization. Often, these teams don’t claim a player with the intent of them being a major league asset. Instead, the plan is to designate them for assignment almost immediately in the hopes that they’ll pass through waivers. If the plan is successful, the organization has cheaply acquired a new player without giving up much value to another team.

I’m not asking for the Twins to wheel and deal like those other teams, but the Terry Ryan and Bill Smith eras were rife with the seeming belief that waiver claims were only to be done out of necessity. I’d hope that Falvey and Levine are a little more willing to recognize that - though the benefit may be small - potential upgrades are always available. The acquisition of Adrianza is one example as the Twins currently lacked a slick-fielding shortstop. Though Escobar is adequate, Polanco clearly is not and Adrianza represents a safeguard if the two incumbents falter or get hurt. Likewise, there are always relievers and other position players that will become available throughout the winter and into the season. There’s no need to stay loyal to Danny Santana when there are plenty of similar (or better) players that will become available at little cost.

It’s still early to figure out the organizational strategy that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are pursuing, but I feel that utilizing the waiver wire will be an easy way to cheaply improve the Twins roster. With five of the past six years being utter disasters, the Twins shouldn’t be shunning the ability to make any improvements, no matter how small they may be.