We are all holding out for some semblance of a Major League Baseball 2020 season, whether it’s a full 162-game slate or a shortened season. It’s been discussed far and wide about what a season of action would look like this year. Would there be fans? Would the games be played in empty stadiums? Do games need to be moved elsewhere? But something that does need to be discussed is the worst-case scenario: What if the 2020 season is cancelled?
Of course, nobody would want a cancelled season. With the times we live in now, it’s a possibility that no games would be played until 2021. So if this season does get scratched, how would it impact the Minnesota Twins roster?
Nine Twins players have the final year of their contract expire after 2020 or are finishing their final year of arbitration while one player has a club option. Who are those players? What impact would their leaving have on the organization?
Nelson Cruz can be argued as possibly the biggest name on that list. He’s in the second and final year of his deal before he possibly hits the free agent market. I say “possibly” because it’s been said before that Cruz is interested in taking it year-to-year regarding his availability and that he’s keen on staying in Minnesota. Boomstick is entering his age-40 season, but he’s still mashing like he’s JI- Jim Thome. If he decides to call it quits or find a different team, the Twins have viable options in Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sano to share time as the DH with a couple of utility players filling in. (We’ll get to that in a bit.) If he stays, who’s going to complain?
Another player that could be argued as the biggest name on the list is Jake Odorizzi. He accepted the qualifying offer that the Twins issued to him this winter when he could have possibly earned more on the free agent market. If the season is cancelled, then Odo could land a bigger payday than the $17.8 million he will receive this year, which may put the Twins out of reach. On the other hand, if the righty does find a new home, Minnesota has ample depth in their systems to fill out the remainder of the starting rotation.
Finally, the last “big name” player on the list is Trevor May. The reliever has emerged as an elite bullpen arm within the last two seasons, and May will be hitting free agency prior to 2021. It will be interesting to see if the Minnesota front office will try to woo May into staying with the Twins on a multi-year deal or if the righty will try to find a new team to latch onto. The open window of success is surely a bright spot to keep May in the Twins bullpen for at least a couple more years and it could be argued that the Twins’ bullpen depth is not as deep as it seems. Keeping May could be top priority for Falvine post-2020.
Like May, utilityman Ehire Adrianza will hit the world of free agency after 2020. Adrianza has been useful in the past three years for our favorite team, averaging 89 games per year and slashing .260/.321/.391 with 13 homers and 85 RBI. If Adrianza does not return to Minnesota for 2021, the Twins could rely on Luis Arraez and Nick Gordon to see equal playing time in the middle infield for the future.
A pair of starters were inked to one-year deals with the Twins this off-season. Lefty Rich Hill, coming off of an alternative form of Tommy John surgery, would enter his age-41 season in 2021. The other pitcher, right-hander Homer Bailey, is starting to find himself again after going through tough times with the Cincinnati Reds a few years ago. However, as mentioned before, the Twins have a slew of starting talent that would be pushing to make the rotation in 2021. It would make sense to let Hill and Bailey walk without any hesitation if the 2020 season were cancelled.
It’s possible that Minnesota would find a way to keep Tyler Clippard and Sergio Romo in their bullpen for 2021. The former was inked to a one-year deal for 2020 while the latter has a club option for next season, making it easier to keep Romo with the Twins. These two arms have continued to be valuable in past seasons, and it could be argued that they complete a solid bullpen for at least another year.
Mitch Garver needed a back-up catcher for this season, and the Twins found one in Alex Avila, who they signed to a one-year pact. Minnesota would still need to find a “full-time” back-up catcher for 2021. Willians Astudillo serves more in a utility role than anything and prospects Ben Rortvedt and Ryan Jeffers aren’t quite ready to break into the majors quite yet. It would make sense for the Twins to reach another one-year deal with Avila for 2021.
Lastly, another utility player is reaching free agency after 2020. Marwin Gonzalez is in the final year of a two-year contract with the Twins. As mentioned when talking about Adrianza, the Twins could fill the void with Gordon and Arraez. Although Gonzalez’s flexibility to play both in the infield and outfield would be gone, Minnesota has additional options - Astudillo and Jake Cave, just to name a couple - to fill out the bench.
Would the Twins be in ruins if the 2020 season were cancelled? No, I don’t believe so. Although losing Odorizzi, May, and Cruz could be a blow, Minnesota does have the talent and open payroll to fill those voids if need be. Losing players like Avila, Gonzalez, and Adrianza would be minor setbacks. However, they fill bench roles that could, again, be easily filled with organizational depth or free agents looking for a new home. Either way, I know we all want to see baseball return, so let’s hope this worst-case scenario doesn’t come to fruition.