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The Twinkie Town staff’s unofficial off-season predictions

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Peering into our crystal balls, yet again....

Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

With the off-season just around the corner, I thought I’d like to make some predictions of my own and see what the other folks around Twinkie Town thought about how the Twins off-season will go down.

  1. Which position would you like to see the front office address the most this offseason?

Jonathan Gamble: The Twins biggest need is to address the pitching staff, full stop. With one starter under contract for next year, I believe the Twins go out and get some help for the rotation. The bullpen has a solid foundation right now, but an elite piece or two could really take the group to the next level.

TJ Gorsegner: The obvious answer here is “starting pitchers” and that isn’t wrong. It’s also lazy and I don’t want to draw comparisons to Joe Mauer here, do I? So, lets go another direction. The top priorities outside of starters should be a second catcher, a first baseman, and a couple relievers.

Mitch Garver has the primary catcher role probably locked down, but Jason Castro is a free agent, and is probably worth more to another team than he will be to the Twins -- he could probably be the primary guy someplace. Willians Astudillo is unproven at best as a full-ish time catcher, and he loses a lot of his flexibility if you are worried about him being the guy behind the plate.

C.J. Cron certainly wasn’t a liability at first this season, but this is the easiest position for the Twins to upgrade, and they may-or-may-not decide he is worth the cost.

The Twins also need to add a couple relievers. Taylor Rogers is locked into a closer role right now, but the bridge to him is still rather shaky. The guys they cobbled together performed well down the stretch, but are largely untested. If I’m the Twins, I’ll be adding two highly regarded set-up men this offseason.

Matt Monitto: Starting pitching. I foresee unanimity here.

Tawny Jarvi: Starting pitching is the boring answer and also the only actual valid answer.

Kyle Edelbrock: Starting pitching

Alex Berger: HOT TAKE! The Twins need pitching. Starting pitching, to be more specific. The bullpen next year looks more solid than at the beginning of the year last season (adding Romo and Dyson helped quite a bit), but I wouldn’t be shocked to see the addition of another bullpen arm or two. However, the Twins need to go out and get at least two top tier starters to be a truly threatening team in 2020 (guys like Cole, Bumgarner, Strasburg, etc.). If the Twins spent less than $70 million on pitching this winter I would be disappointed.

Cole Schuessler: A #1 starting pitcher, a #2 starting pitcher, a #3 starting pitcher...well, you get the idea. The Twins have Berrios locked and loaded for next year but I’m thinking that they will have to fill at least a couple of spots in the rotation in the offseason.

Brandon Brooks: I’ll go with the obvious pick here and say the starting rotation.

John von Mosch: I think pitching rotation is the obvious glaring need. Backup catcher is the other one if the Twins don’t re-sign Jason Castro.

2. How many starting pitchers from the 2019 rotation will be returning for 2020? Who will they be?

Jonathan: I’d expect three to return. Berrios is under contract, so he will be back (hopefully with a shiny new extension). Beyond him, I think that the Twins will make Jake Odorizzi a priority after his career year. Odorizzi has also made it known that he has loved his time in the organization. The third guy I believe they will bring back is Michael Pineda, who spent most of the second half of the season as the team’s most dependable starter before his suspension. That would mean the Twins will turn down Perez’s option and let Kyle Gibson walk. It has been a long ride with Gibson, but he might have closed the book on himself this past season.

TJ: If you mean the five guys the Twins started the season with, I’m going to go with three-and-a-half. Obviously Jose Berrios is one of them, and I can’t think of a logical scenario that doesn’t involve Jake Odorizzi and the Twins reuniting, given how happy both sides supposedly are with each other. Odorizzi is also one of the best available arms this offseason, at least top-fifteen, and the Twins need arms badly. I also really like Kyle’s idea from the other day of offering the QO to Michael Pineda, with the understanding it would be pro-rated. He was sneaky-good at the end of the season, and would be worth another chance. I say and-a-half because I believe there is a role for Kyle Gibson in organization, but probably not in the rotation. I suspect they offer him a contract, but perhaps his expectations of a role would be the deal breaker.

If Pineda does not come back to the Twins, I think there is a reasonable chance they keep Perez around. He’s not great, but he’s a decent bargain on his current contract, and again, the Twins need some innings. I also think that we will see both Smeltzer and Dobnak start games for the Twins, but not in the opening day rotation.

Matt: Assuming you mean the most common rotation of Berríos/Odorizzi /Pineda/Gibson/Pérez, I think the first three will be kept (knowing that Pineda is under suspension to start the year). If you include other players who made starts – Thorpe, Stewart, Smeltzer, Dobnak – I expect all but Stewart to at least remain on the team to start spring. It’s too early for a 25-man (oh right, 26-man) prediction though.

Tawny: Probably just Berrios, though I think there is a (very) small chance Odorizzi or Pineda or Gibson get and accept a Q.O.

Kyle: Two, hopefully: Odorizzi and Pineda [along with Berrios].

Alex: Two. As I’m sure was mentioned before myself, Jose Berrios is the only true starting pitcher under contract (although I am a huge believer that both Smeltzer and Graterol will eventually be starting pitchers), and he should be the #1 or #2 guy in the rotation this year. Jake Odorizzi will resign for a 3-4 year deal in the $50m range and be the #3 or #4. The Twins will then look towards the free agent market and trades to complete the bullpen.

Cole: I think Michael Pineda will be the only member of the rotation back for 2020. My guess is that Jake Odorizzi goes after a multi-year deal in free agency (3+ years) while Pineda may take the qualifying offer or sign for a shorter deal. Perez is out due to a poor second half, and I also believe that the Twins will end up passing on Gibson’s services as well.

Brandon: Out of the main rotation, Berrios, Odorizzi, and Pineda.

John: Three: Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, and Michael Pineda.

3. Who will be the three biggest free agent signings by the Twins this offseason?

Jonathan: While I would like to say Gerrit Cole will be one of them, I don’t believe the Twins could write a check big enough to sign him, unfortunately.

Therefore, I believe the Twins will be all in on Zack Wheeler, who’s the next best thing after Cole and Strasburg. He’s a solid #2 with potential to improve under Wes Johnson’s tutelage (think another Berrios). Along with Wheeler, I think the Twins will do their best to lock down Will Smith, a reliever they were rumored to be in on during deadline time. He could help take the bullpen from good to elite. Third, I’d expect the Twins to sign Wade Miley. He’s in the next tier of free agents below Wheeler. Why I like Miley above the rest: he’ll be coming from the Astros. The Astros have got something going with their pitching down in Houston. Miley makes sense anyways, but if he could bring some of the Astros pitching secrets up to Minnesota, he could be a boon to the whole staff.

TJ: Do internal guys count? I’m going to count them, because I think Jake Odorizzi will be one of the biggest. I also think someone like Will Smith or Sergio Romo will be on that list, and I do think the third will be a starter. I doubt the Twins will win the derby to get Cole or Strausberg. Ideally, I’d like to see them in on Zack Wheeler as a consolation prize. More realistically, It will probably be someone in the Wade Miley/Brett Anderson/Rick Porcello category.

Matt: Excluding pending Twins free agents: Zack Wheeler, Wade Miley, Will Smith.

Tawny: Not Gerrit Cole. It won’t happen. Maybe Bumgarner, Odorizzi, aaaaand Peter Bourjous to make Jesse happy. (I expect a back-up center fielder and/or a corner outfielder stopgap to be signed if Rosario is traded but I have no idea who the most likely choice is. Hunter Pence or some shit.)

Kyle: Zack Wheeler

Alex: Gerrit Cole, Madison Bumgarner, and Jake Odorizzi. I may be taking a shortcut choosing a current Twin, but getting Odorizzi back would be a huge get for this Twins club. For the other two, offer Cole upwards of $35 million per year and offer Bumgarner the rest of the money you have left. I think the Twins will get Cole (MarGo will be a key part in that), but if he does indeed go to a large market team, the Twins would go after Steven Strasburg. It’s a pipe dream of a pipe dream, but imagine a rotation of Gerrit Cole, Jose Berrios, Mike Minor, Madison Bumgarner, and Jake Odorizzi…

Cole: I would love to say that the Twins will acquire two of the top five starting pitchers on the market, but unfortunately I don’t think it will happen. So my prediction is that the Twins will sign Zack Wheeler, Wade Miley, and Collin McHugh. Wheeler is definitely the biggest signing of the three, but I think Miley and McHugh could be positive acquisitions as well. Miley had a 3.09 prior to an awful September, and McHugh could be solid multi-inning guy with a veteran presence and playoff experience.

Brandon: Zack Wheeler as the main signing, Arodys Vizcaino as the flyer, and Brian Dozier as the surprise acquisition.

John: Gerrit Cole, Felix Hernandez, and Chris Iannetta. Book it.

4. What team will Eddie Rosario be playing for in 2020?

Jonathan: I believe that Rosario will be on the Twins for Opening Day. However, I would not expect the Twins to make an attempt to extend his contract, and I would not be surprised if he finds himself on a new team in a possible swap for relief pitching by the deadline. Kirilloff could be ready by then, and I suspect the Twins will have signed a fourth outfielder who is more competent than Jake Cave before the season starts.

TJ: The Twins. I hate this line of thinking. Rosario isn’t worth enough to get a starter that will make a difference. Any team that is still rebuilding will want someone younger, and any team that is competitive won’t give up a good enough pitcher. Maybe he would be part of a package, but I think the Twins would be better off keeping Rosario, and trading from the farm system if that’s the route they go.

Matt: I hadn’t seen anything about a potential Rosario trade until the comments to my article the other day and now I’m seeing it all over. I’m going to say, for now, the Twins.

Tawny: The Mets.

Kyle: Probably the Twins

Alex: The Texas Rangers. As much as I love Eddie and his bat, both Arraez and Gonzalez played outfield last season and the Twins need as much solid pitching as they can get. Trade Rosario and prospects/cash considerations (or both) for starting pitcher Mike Minor to fully superpower the rotation.

Cole: The Twins. I don’t think that Falvine will trade Rosario on the cheap, and I don’t know if they’ll find a trade suitor to fulfill any of the needs of the MLB team. The only big hole that is obvious for the Twins’ MLB roster is starting pitching, and I don’t know if there is a starter that the Twins could trade Rosario for that would be worth their while. Maybe if they attach a few prospects along with Rosario in a trade he may be dealt, but I think it is more than likely he will be on the team next year.

Brandon: The St. Paul Saints. (Er, scratch that. Let’s just make it the Twins.)

John: Minnesota Twins.

5. What will the Twins payroll be on Opening Day 2020?

Jonathan: The Twins will eclipse $140 million in payroll before the season. The front office indicated before 2019 they were waiting for the current core to prove they were worth building around, and they have done so. Even just since the season ended, they’ve said they are going to be aggressive in free agency, and I fully expect them to follow up on that.

TJ: Right now it’s looking to be $70-80 million-ish, before adding in free agents. I suspect the Twins tack on another roughly $40 million in starting pitching, probably no more than $10 million for relievers, and probably no more than $10-15 million for another catcher and maybe a first baseman. So lets say between $130 and $150 million is reasonable, and set our projection right in the middle at $140 million. If it’s below about $110 million, we can start “same old cheap Twins” talk back up.

Matt: $112,067,144.73

Tawny: I would expect over the 130mm mark from 2018. Probably 140-160 Million, leaning far more towards the 140 side.

Kyle: $135 million

Alex: After what will hopefully be an eventful offseason, the Twins will most likely be looking at a payroll of ~$135 million, with about $75-80 million of that spent on pitching.

Cole: 135 million. Ideally this would be higher, but one of the ideals Falvine has shown throughout their time in the Twins front office is that they don’t overpay, whether that be for free agents or in trades. While it will be great for them to ink Cole, Bumgarner and Strasburg, I don’t think they will be able to draw any of those three pitchers to Minnesota, and I think the payroll will end up being pretty moderate again next year to the chagrin of some Twins fans.

Brandon: I’ll make what might be a controversial call here and predict no increase in the team payroll. I think it will stick right around the ~$125 mil mark, although I think the money saved on all our departing free agents’ contracts will be spent on one or two bigger fish.

John: $145 million.

6. Any other predictions for the offseason?

Jonathan: The Twins will resign Sergio Romo and sign at least one other reliever (besides Will Smith). They’ll let Schoop walk, and they’ll roll with Cron as their Opening Day first basemen (due to a thin free agency market at first as much as anything).

I think they’ll sign one of Corey Dickerson or Avisail Garcia as a fourth outfielder.

Keep an eye on whether the Cubs pick up Jose Quintana’s option, as he would be another solid option for the Twins on the starting pitching market.

TJ: I think it will be another slow, drawn out affair. The Twins will have a couple of pitching decisions sorted by Christmas, but I won’t be shocked if we are still discussing the last rotation spot come mid-February. I also think the Twins will sign at least one guy that surprises us in a good way that they were in on, and a lot of guys that we didn’t even know existed. I also predict that at least one of Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, or Eddie Rosario gets a new contract this offseason.

Matt: Twins fans migrate to U.S. Bank Stadium, having not consumed their fill of disappointment. Kasota gold remains on the team uniforms.

Tawny: Brandon Kintzler reunion. Twinkie Town finally trades Joel Hernandez for cash considerations.

Kyle: The Twins make a trade no one was expecting

Alex: The Indians will start a rebuild, the Royals/Tigers will keep selling, and the White Sox will make moves to get into position for a Wild Card run.

Cole: The Twins trade for at least one starting pitcher. The Twins have one of the top farm systems in all of baseball, and have a decent amount of depth in the minor league ranks as well. Most of their prospect talent is probably is probably on the position player side of things as well, and with an established young core in the big leagues, it seems like it would be wise to consider trading some hitting prospects for MLB pitching talent.

Brandon: Everyone will be disappointed, and the Twins will go on to win 98 games.

John: Terry Mulholland will be hired to be guy in the T.C. Bear mascot. Berrios will sign an extension.

As you can see, all of your beloved Twinkie Town writers have different opinions about how the off-season will go down, but there is one common thread: we need pitching. Hopefully Falvine will pull off some great moves to address this weakness and have the team ready to go on a playoff run next year.

What are some of your off-season predictions? Let us know below!