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Answering the off season questions

Where I remember the beginning of the offseason and what questions I had

MLB: Spring Training-Toronto Blue Jays at Minnesota Twins
Josh Donaldson: our major offseason addition
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

After a disappointing end to the 2019 Twins season, I had many questions about this off season and how the team was going to improve. Now that the off season is presumably over for us Twins fans (except for maybe an extension or two), I think it would be fun to think back on the questions that were floating around in my mind in early November and answer them.

Question 1: How will the boy geniuses address the rotation?

In November, the fans were throwing around names such as Zack Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner, Dallas Keuchel, and Hyun-Jin Ryu. Now, if you told me in November that none of those guys would be on the team in 2020, I would be mad at the Twins’ front office. Here’s the thing, though: All of those guys were given new contracts this season, and the average AAV of those guys’ new contracts is about 20 million a year. Our July/August rotation of Berrios/Odorizzi/Maeda/Pineda/Hill costs $37.825 million (minus incentives). That’s a really low price for an above-average rotation.

At the beginning of the off season, I can remember that the only “sure thing” in the rotation for 2020 was Jose Berrios. That meant that filling four spots in the rotation. Odorizzi accepted his qualifying offer, which meant two sure things. Then, Pineda signed a 2-year, 20-million dollar deal. His suspension will keep him out until May, which means that we’ll see another option until then. Then, after Ryu was snagged, they went and signed Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. Hill’s injured and will be out until July, so Berrios, Odorizzi and Bailey were our options for the beginning of the year.

That, plus Smeltzer/Dobnak/Thorpe wasn’t my idea of an average rotation, so I thought that Falvine had more up their sleeves, but I was losing hope. Then, in a turn of events we all remember well, the Twins participated in a trade with the Dodgers that sent Brusdar Graterol to LA, while Kenta Maeda headed to Minnesota. Now, our rotation automatically seemed so much better. To start the year, our rotation could look like this:

  1. Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.68 ERA)
  2. Jake Odorizzi (15-7, 3.51 ERA)
  3. Kenta Maeda (10-8, 4.04 ERA)
  4. Homer Bailey (13-9, 4.57 ERA)
  5. Randy Dobnak (2-1, 1.59 ERA)

Down the stretch, when Pineda and Hill get back, it looks like this:

  1. Jose Berrios (14-8, 3.68 ERA)
  2. Jake Odorizzi (15-7, 3.51 ERA)
  3. Kenta Maeda (10-8, 4.04 ERA)
  4. Michael Pineda (11-5, 4.01 ERA)
  5. Rich Hill (4-1, 2.45 ERA)

Again, that’s a really good, low/no risk rotation that’s set to get better down the stretch, and that’s what every playoff team wants. Again, we could take chances paying 20 million dollars a year to players with unknown futures, or we could do this, and I think the front office made the right decision.

Question 2: Will we make a big off season move? If so, who’ll it be?

Well, I thought at the beginning of the off season that the money would be used on a starting pitcher. But, in mid-January, after rumors emerged about a pursuit of Josh Donaldson, we heard that the front office was “pessimistic” about their chances to sign him. After a week and a half, though, it finally happened and Donaldson signed a 4-year, 92-million dollar contract.

This addition to the team will have a huge impact. For one, putting Donaldson at third and Sano at first will be a really solid defensive move. Also, it adds another 30 home run hitter to our lineup, which already has 5 of it’s own. And, as Jonathan said previously, he doesn’t pitch, and that’s OK. The rotation has been addressed sufficiently without needing to add a big, splashy move.

Question 3: What will we do to our bullpen?

Well, they did make some moves. First, they claimed Matt Wisler, who should be a good presence to have at the back of our bullpen. Second, they resigned Sergio Romo, who was really good in the end of 2019 and should be able to repeat himself this year. Lastly, they signed Tyler Clippard, who should play a large role in our bullpen.

These moves have made an already potent bullpen into one of the best in the league. With Matt Wisler, Cody Stashak, and Zack Littell playing solid back-end roles, Tyler Clippard and Tyler Duffey to play 6th and 7th-inning roles, Sergio Romo and Trevor May as setup men, and Taylor Rogers as our closer, I think it’s safe to say that our bullpen will be fairly dominant in 2020.

Question 4: What position player-related moves will be made?

Assuming they didn’t resign C.J. Cron, Jason Castro and Jonathan Schoop, I knew that we were going to make some changes. Schoop was internally replaceable, as Luis Arraez will start at second base. Cron’s roster spot will be occupied by Donaldson, as he’ll play third base and Miguel Sano will be at first. Garver took Castro’s job as starting catcher, and they signed Alex Avila to fill the vacancy at backup catcher.

With these changes in place, here’s my sample lineup for 2020:

  1. Max Kepler, RF
  2. Jorge Polanco, SS
  3. Nelson Cruz, DH
  4. Josh Donaldson, 3B
  5. Mitch Garver, C
  6. Miguel Sano, 1B
  7. Eddie Rosario, LF
  8. Luis Arraez, 2B
  9. Byron Buxton, CF

Bench: Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza, Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo/Jake Cave

This lineup is at least top-three in the MLB right now, and it will be very fun to watch them hit many bombas in 2020.

Question 5: Who’s going to get extended this off season?

Well, Miguel Sano got extended. His contract is 3 years and 30 million, and it includes a fourth-year option. He also says that he wants to spend his entire career in Minnesota. After Sano, the two obvious extension candidates are Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton. Other candidates include Eddie Rosario, Trevor May, Taylor Rogers and Mitch Garver. I’m not going to go in-depth about this topic because there will be plenty more to come for Twinkie Town on this topic

Overall for the off season I think that the front office did well, but only time will tell. (Haha that rhymes)