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SBNation MLB offseason simulation 2020: The Shadow Twins tackle the unknown

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How did TJ do as a GM this year?

Wild Card Round - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Two Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

So, What the heck is this?

Some of you might remember this exercise from years past. Every year, our friends at Royal Review, (primarily Max, their fearless leader,) put on a mock offseason. In the course of three days, SBNation writers and community members, each representing one of the 30 MLB teams, exchange hundreds of emails and slack messages to negotiate with free agents, set up trades, and generally step into the shoes of their team’s GM. I’ve been representing the Twins for the past few years, and hopefully did a good job this season. The most notable things we depart from reality on are that there are no extensions given to players already under team control, and we don’t worry about 40-man roster or rule-5 draft implications.

The ground rules can be found here.

Last year’s summary can be found here.

Budgets

For the sake of this exercise, a “payroll freeze” from last year was assumed. That means I was budgeted to spend about $128 million. Last year’s actual numbers for the Twins were about $132 million (before pro-ration) actual and about $158 in Luxury Tax payroll. Based on these comments from Jim Pohlad, I felt comfortable spending up to about that amount.

Strategy

This year, I looked at the Twins as a team in the heart of a contention window. While they are still a small(er) market team, and the money just isn’t there on free agents, we certainly aren’t going to be selling a lot of assets. The Twins need a few holes filled, but will be returning most of their 2020 starters. I will be attempting to shop Eddie Rosario, as I believe that $12.9 million is going to be a bit steep, since Kirilloff or Rooker can likely take over in the outfield. We need pitchers, both starters and relievers. A top-end starter is a luxury, but is a goal, yet we also need depth. Additionally, the Twins lost some key pieces of the bullpen, and therefore will be seeking reinforcements there as well. The other big need is a utility guy or two to back up our infielders.

How it all played out

Move 1: Decline Sergio Romo’s option

Just like the real Twins, I’m operating a bit of a tight budget, and $5 million for a good-but-not-great 37-year old reliever just wasn’t in the budget. That said, I did offer Romo a pretty fair deal at the same time. I offered him a one-year deal with a base salary of $2 million, plus an additional $500k for every ten saves, up to 40. In other words, if he becomes the team’s primary closer, he could potentially earn up to $4 million dollars. More likely, he’d be in line to pick up a couple levels, but not all, of that bonus money. He picked up a total of 25 saves for the 2018 Rays and a combined 20 saves for the 2019 Marlins and Twins. In 2020, he saved five of sixty games, the equivalent of about 14 in a full season.

Move 2: Trade Mitch Garver to TBR for Joe Ryan, Josh Fleming, and Esteban Quiroz

While I’m a big Garver fan in real life, and this feels a bit like selling low, its a pretty decent deal and I’m going to put my eggs into the Ryan Jeffers basket. I didn’t necessarily go in with that as the plan, but a strong catcher market opened up quickly, and I took advantage. Joe Ryan is right-hander who has made it as high as Double-A with five pitches in his arsenal. He projects to arrive in 2022 and was the #9 prospect for the Rays. Here is the scouting report. Josh Fleming made a handful of starts in 2020 for the Rays, and looks like Devin Smeltzer with more upside. He was the #28 prospect for the Rays, and the scouting report is here. Esteban Quiroz helps solve our utility-player hole. A product of the Mexican League, he is primarily a second baseman, but can also play on the left side of the infield. He’s MLB-ready, and is ranked as the Rays’ #30 prospect. Here is his scouting report. This trade does save me a few dollars, as Garver’s $1.9 million arbitration salary is being replaced by league-minimum deals. Overall, the Baseball Trade Simulator rated this as a win for us, with the value coming back at 19.8 vs the value leaving at 14.4.

Poll

Grade this trade: Mitch Garver for Joe Ryan, Josh Fleming, and Esteban Quiroz

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    A
    (13 votes)
  • 33%
    B
    (36 votes)
  • 37%
    C
    (40 votes)
  • 10%
    D
    (11 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (7 votes)
107 votes total Vote Now

Free agent targets and offers

Alex Avila: two years at $3.5m/$5.5m
Brock Holt: one year at $3.75m, club option at $5m/500k buyout.

Move 3: Alex Avila signs 2 year, $9 million deal.

With Garver now in Tampa, the Twins needed a platoon partner for Jeffers, and chose to stick with someone they know. Avila isn’t the strongest hitting catcher, but he isn’t a massive liability. From all accounts, he seemed to be well-liked within the organization. The breakdown on this deal gives the Twins a little flexibility through this season. Making Willians Astudillo the third catcher also means he can play elsewhere in the field if needed. I might have saved a little money on a catcher if I waited, but for the price premium I might have paid, it was worth it to get my man.

Free agent target and offer

Jake Odorizzi: one year at $7.5 million

Move 4: Twins trade Lewis Thorpe and Edwar Colina to Cubs for Alec Mills

Yeah, the guy that threw a no-hitter this season. That means he’s destined for greatness, or something. But in reality, he’s a solid, young, cheap pitcher. He’s been successful out of both the rotation and the bullpen, and while they were down this year, his strikeout numbers in the past were phenomenal, which is something the Twins could surely use. They give up Lewis Thorpe, who seems to need a change of scenery, and Edwar Colina. I am high on Colina in real life, but with the rules of the simulation, I was willing to give up a little more than I might otherwise, since it makes the short-term more important. This trade happened after somewhat significant back-and-forth, and while the trade value simulator suggests that I lost this trade slightly (1.7 to 2.1,) but its close to even, and better fits my needs.

Poll

Grade this trade: Lewis Thorpe and Edwar Colina for Alec Mills

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    A
    (18 votes)
  • 31%
    B
    (28 votes)
  • 32%
    C
    (29 votes)
  • 11%
    D
    (10 votes)
  • 5%
    F
    (5 votes)
90 votes total Vote Now

Free agent target and offer

Jake Odorizzi has another offer for 1 year, $9 million. We counter at 1/$10 million, and that is as high as we go, for better or worse.
Tyler Clippard: 1 year, $2.75 million.

Move 5: Twins sign Jake Odorizzi to a 2 year, $18 million deal.

Okay, I lied. I made another counteroffer. Odorizzi was offered 2/$16m, so I countered again. Odorizzi will make $8 million in 2021, and $10 million in 2022. If he comes back to even a reasonable ghost of his 2019 form, this should be a good deal for the Twins.

Poll

Grade this signing: Jake Odorizzi to 2 years, $18 million

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    A
    (36 votes)
  • 40%
    B
    (38 votes)
  • 10%
    C
    (10 votes)
  • 6%
    D
    (6 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (4 votes)
94 votes total Vote Now

Free agent target and offer

Matt Magill: minor league deal, with an invite to camp
Trevor May: three years, $13.5 million total. Structured as $3m/4.5m/6m.
Nelson Cruz: two years (total) $23 million. Year one worth $10 million. Year two (option year) worth $13 million, vests at 450 PA, otherwise its a team option

Move 6: Twins sign Matt Magill to a minor league contract.

When Magill was non-tendered by Seattle, he seemed a natural fit. A player that the Twins know well, who has found success elsewhere. For the right price, its a natural reunion, since we need relievers. A minor league deal is the right price.

Move 7: Twins sign Brock Holt to 1 year, $3.75 million deal, with club option for 2022 at $5 million

Holt is a veteran who fits into the Marwin Gonzalez utility role at a lot lower cost. He can play third, outfield, second, or in an emergency, short. He can also hit well.

Poll

Grade this signing: Brock Holt to 1 year, $3.75 million plus an option

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    A
    (17 votes)
  • 45%
    B
    (36 votes)
  • 21%
    C
    (17 votes)
  • 10%
    D
    (8 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (1 vote)
79 votes total Vote Now

(non)Move: Trevor May signs with Oakland

I wasn’t going to beat 2/$14 million, can you blame me?

Move 8: Twins non-tender Eddie Rosario

I really, really tried to trade him, and get something, but I just couldn’t. I also couldn’t stomach paying him $12.9 million. He ended up getting 4 years, $45 million from the Red Sox.

Move 9: Twins trade Keoni Cavaco to Baltimore for Tanner Scott

Scott is a pretty-darn-good left-handed reliever. Did I overpay slightly on the prospect, maybe, but I got a guy that helps fill a Trevor May shaped hole, on a pre-arb salary.

Free Agent targets and offers

Ehire Adrianza, MiLB deal
Marcus Stroman, 6 years, 92.5 million.
I asked about Trevor Bauer, he was looking at 5/$150, so declined to get involved in that situation.

Move 10: Twins sign Ehire Adrianza to a minor league deal.

The price was right.

Move 11: Twins sign Sergio Romo to one year, $2 million contract

Filling a Sergio Romo shaped hole in the bullpen, with Sergio Romo. Even if he isn’t quite as effective, he brings an edge and a competitive fire that I love. If Romo becomes our closer, he can make up to four million with the incentives. As a reminder, he gets an extra 500k per ten saves, up to 40 total saves.

Poll

Grade this signing: Sergio Romo to 1 year, $2 million plus incentives

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    A
    (22 votes)
  • 37%
    B
    (31 votes)
  • 17%
    C
    (14 votes)
  • 12%
    D
    (10 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (5 votes)
82 votes total Vote Now

(Non)Move: Marcus Stroman signs with the Mets for 6 years, $102 million

No thanks.

(Non)Move: Trevor Bauer signs with the Padres for 6 years, $215 million

No thanks, again.

Free agent target and offer:

Mike Minor: 3 years, $39 million

Move 12: Minor signs

The deal above went through. Minor wasn’t my first, or second choice, but I wanted a veteran anchor for my rotation, and he provides that. A rougher-than-usual 2020 depressed his value a bit. Since James Paxton, Robbie Ray, and Charlie Morton all signed before this, Minor was among the best arms left on the market. He was a 2019 All-Star, and received votes for the Cy Young award that season. Had I known how little Masahiro Tanaka would receive (2 years, $21 million from the White Sox) I would have looked at going that way instead, but we were all stunned by that deal.

Poll

Grade this signing: Mike Minor for 3 years, $39 million

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    A
    (8 votes)
  • 40%
    B
    (31 votes)
  • 30%
    C
    (23 votes)
  • 11%
    D
    (9 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (5 votes)
76 votes total Vote Now

Move 13: Twins trade LaMonte Wade Jr and Cole Sands to the San Francisco Giants for Tyler Rogers

Major league baseball needs a set of twins to play for the Twins, right? The right-handed Rogers brother has become a pretty reliable middle-innings option, and basically fills out my bullpen. He’s also fairly low cost. Wade had become expendable with the development of Rooker and Kirilloff, not to mention the other guys coming up the system, and Sands was the cost of doing business.

Poll

Grade this trade: Cole Sands and LaMonte Wade Jr for Tyler Rogers

This poll is closed

  • 30%
    A
    (25 votes)
  • 31%
    B
    (26 votes)
  • 27%
    C
    (23 votes)
  • 4%
    D
    (4 votes)
  • 6%
    F
    (5 votes)
83 votes total Vote Now

Move 14: Twins sign Nelson Cruz to a 1 year deal at $10 million, with a vesting option

This is the deal I offered Cruz earlier, so the option vests for 2022 at a very attainable 450 PA, otherwise it becomes a team option. I view Rosario and Cruz as essentially interchangeable at this point, given the other outfield options.

Move 15: Twins sign Glenn Sparkman to a MiLB deal

Why not, he’s been okay in the past, and just adds bullpen depth. The Twins know him pretty well, since he comes from the Royals organization. If nothing else, it will let Tawny make even more “Sparkman” puns.

Move 15: Twins sign Mike Fiers to a MiLB deal

Again, a bit of a “why not” signing. In this case, I simply didn’t want to see him end up blackballed for his role in exposing the Astros, so I offered him something. I doubt my fellow GMs were blackballing him, I assume I was simply the first to make an offer, but that was the logic. He’s also been a pretty decent innings-eater for a few years, so not the worst player to have in the organization if injury decimates the rotation.

Move 16: Twins trade Nick Gordon to the Yankees for Luis Cessa

This will be the move that bites me in the ass. Everyone knows that players the Twins give up on go on to great success in pinstripes. Still when the Yankees GM offered me a cheap reliever for a utility guy, its a move that makes sense, in the context of the way this team was constructed. I won’t have a ton of flexibility in my bullpen in terms of guys with options, but this is also the best on-paper bullpen the Twins have had in while, I think. This team only competes on paper.

Poll

Grade this trade: Nick Gordon for Luis Cessa

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    A
    (16 votes)
  • 30%
    B
    (23 votes)
  • 34%
    C
    (26 votes)
  • 12%
    D
    (9 votes)
  • 1%
    F
    (1 vote)
75 votes total Vote Now

Free agent targets (all for MiLB deals)

Cameron Maybin
Jarrod Dyson
Daniel Descalso
Neil Walker
Ross Detwiler

Move 17: Twins sign Daniel Descalso and Ross Detwiler to MiLB deals

Pure depth moves here.

Move 18: Twins trade Cody Laweryson to Detroit for Cole Peterson

Or lottery tickets are swapped. Really this was just about shuffling depth around. Peterson is the kind of guy who might get a couple cups of coffee, might even get a season or two with a bad team, but isn’t about to change the game. He’s a glove-first middle infielder that reached triple-A in 2019, so he provides the Twins some depth in case of catastrophe in 2020, if Royce Lewis isn’t quite ready. Both these guys are so unlikely to be of value that they do not exist on the trade simulator. Maybe this move was just negotiated for fun.

Your 2021 Shadow Twins (projected)

MLB Position Players

RF: Max Kepler
CF: Byron Buxton
LF: Alex Kirilloff or Brent Rooker
1B: Miguel Sano
2B: Luis Arraez
3B: Josh Donaldson
SS: Jorge Polanco
C: Ryan Jeffers
DH: Nelson Cruz

MLB Bench

C Alex Avila
OF Jake Cave
IF/OF Brock Holt
IF Ehire Adrianza

MLB Starting Pitchers

RHP Kenta Maeda
RHP Jose Berrios
RHP Mike Minor
RHP Michael Pineda
RHP Jake Odorizzi

MLB Bullpen

LHP Taylor Rogers
RHP Tyler Duffey
RHP Sergio Romo
LHP Tanner Scott
RHP Tyler Rogers
RHP Matt Wisler
LHP Caleb Thielbar
RHP Luis Cessa

MILB Depth Players (I only plan this out so deep, so forgive me.)

OF Brent Rooker or OF Alex Kirilloff
OF Aaron Whitefield
OF Trevor Larnach
IF Esteban Quiroz
IF Daniel Descalso
IF Travis Blankenhorn
IF Royce Lewis
C Willians Astudillo

MILB Depth Starters (or bullpen)

RHP Randy Dobnak
LHP Josh Fleming
RHP Alec Mills
LHP Devin Smeltzer
RHP Mike Fiers

MILB Depth Bullpen

RHP Jorge Alcala
RHP Zach Littell
RHP Cody Stashak
LHP Ross Detwiler
RHP Matt Magill
RHP Glenn Sparkman

Total Payroll: $131,527,833 ——— Luxury Tax Payroll: $154,094,500

Poll

How many games would this roster likely win? (out of 162)

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    100+
    (11 votes)
  • 52%
    90-99
    (54 votes)
  • 31%
    80-89
    (32 votes)
  • 3%
    70-79
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Less than 69
    (2 votes)
103 votes total Vote Now

Farm System Changes

Losses

LHP Lewis Thorpe
RHP Chris Vallimont
3B Keoni Cavaco
OF LaMonte Wade Jr
IF Nick Gordon
RHP Cole Sands
RHP Cody Laweryson

Gains

RHP Joe Ryan
IF Cole Peterson

Notes

  • Seriously, no one wanted to trade for Eddie Rosario.
  • We did have some trade talks around Jorge Polanco, but just couldn’t find the common ground on prospects to get the deal done, even with looking for a three-team deal.
  • Another name that was a popular ask: Cody Stashak
  • There was a real impact of the unknown this year. The absolute top free agents got good money, but the value for many others was significantly depressed, and the contracts were much shorter than normal.

Poll

Overall, grade this simulated offseason

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    A
    (12 votes)
  • 46%
    B
    (39 votes)
  • 27%
    C
    (23 votes)
  • 7%
    D
    (6 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (3 votes)
83 votes total Vote Now