Yesterday morning the Minnesota Twins announced the signing of two veteran starting pitchers; Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. The two additions may have left fans thinking “is this it?” These two signings come in an off season where the main talking point has been the “impact pitching” the front office promised to acquire. Bailey and Hill don’t exactly fit that label. Bailey is basically a new Kyle Gibson and Hill will be out until at least June.
Unfortunately for the Twins, they missed out on all the top free agent starters (Wheeler, Bumgarner, Ryu, Cole, Strasburg, and Keuchel) which appeared to be “Plan A” and they have now had to shift over to “Plan B” which includes the depth pieces like Bailey and Hill.
So far this backup plan seems to rely heavily on being able to land Josh Donaldson to play third base. The Twins reportedly have a four year offer out to him, but it doesn’t seem like Minnesota is the most likely destination for JD to land, with Atlanta being his preferred landing spot.
While adding Donaldson would be an excellent move, there were still holes to fill elsewhere on the team and the main one that the Twins may have finalized is their rotation. The Twins now have Berrios, Odorizzi, Bailey, Pineda, Hill, and a few young guys who will pitch in 2020. If everyone is healthy that is a solid rotation, but it is missing that big name we all were hoping to see. It is a rotation that still lacks the guy you can confidently hand the ball to in game two or three of the ALDS.
An argument can be made for Rich Hill to be that guy, but he is coming off elbow surgery at age 39. Despite the age and the health issues, he has still ranked 17th in FIP over the last four seasons combined. A lot has to go right, but it’s a low risk high reward type of move.
There is definitely still time for more acquisitions and it’s possible the Twins could trade for a top starter, but based on some Tweets I find it unlikely they add any improvements to the rotation.
For now the focus seems to be Donaldson. Don't know after that but it doesn't seem likely they'd ticket a big pitcher given that at full strength they'll have 5 vets by June if it all goes to plan.— Dan Hayes (@DanHayesMLB) December 31, 2019
Falvey said he would anticipate the Twins focusing on adding a position player to the club with the specific position still in question depending on how conversations go. They're still continuing to stay engaged in the pitching market, too.— Betsy Helfand (@betsyhelfand) December 31, 2019
The message I got from these tweets is the Twins will not be looking to add a true impact upgrade to their rotation. They obviously like the guys they have and the depth they have built up and are now tuning their attention to Donaldson.
The off season grade for the Twins probably sits around a C+/C right now. They brought back Odorizzi and Pineda on two team friendly deals to solidify the middle of their rotation. Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, and Matt Wisler are nice pieces for the bullpen and Alex Avila is a solid backup catcher. If they go sign Josh Donaldson and someone like Alex Wood then their grade instantly jumps up a full letter to at least a B+, so there is still time to improve the team. The issue I have with that is that if Donaldson goes elsewhere, it will be extremely difficult to have a great off season.
If Donaldson does end up signing elsewhere, which is likely, the Twins will turn to someone like Eric Thames or Mitch Moreland to fill the role JD would have taken. Hopefully ,if that happens, then the Twins will use the prospects they have a surplus of to swing a big trade for a starting pitcher.
Let me know in the comments what you thought of the signings, and what you think of the rest of the off season. This team is extremely similar to the one from last year. No huge improvements and no huge downgrades.