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2021 SBNation MLB offseason simulation: In which I get the band back together

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and add a whole bunch of pitching

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Minnesota Twins Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

John asked you all to channel your inner Falvey, last week. And over the weekend, I did the same. Most of our regular readers probably remembers how this works — Max, from our sister site Royals Review, convenes 30 baseball fans, and lets each GM a team. I’ve represented the Twins in this shindig for a few years now.

Here is last season’s squad, which quite frankly, could not have underperformed the real 2021 Twins. You can follow the links to past years from there.

Here are Max’s rules:

We rewind to the end of the regular season. The assumption is your GM has resigned and been replaced. The new GM is free to set their own organizational philosophy.

We’re not concerned with the 40-man roster.

Players with no-trade clauses cannot be traded (this includes players with 10-5 rights). Players with limited no-trade clauses can be traded.

Minor leaguers can be traded, but must be specified. No Players to be Named Later. Cash may be dealt, but the amount must be specified.

You are free to frontload or backload contracts, although player preferences are for contracts not to be backloaded. Anything ridiculous will not be accepted. You can offer player, club, mutual, and vesting options.

Top offer will typically be taken, although there may be exceptions if a player has a preference on where he wants to play (big market over small market; older vet may want to play for a “winner.”)

I am not going to negotiate long-term deals for players that are not free agents.

Easy enough, right?

This year’s strategy

I had three goals this offseason:

  • Maximize value for players who won’t be around in 2023.
  • Rebuild the pitching staff
  • Create a winning culture in the clubhouse.

Max didn’t give us a budget this year, instead just telling us to keep it realistic. Alrighty then.

The Moves

Move 1: Twins trade Josh Donaldson and $21.5m to the Milwaukee Brewers for Ethan Small and Korry Howell

The money on this deal is broken across two years, so we are covering $11.5m of Donaldson’s salary in 2022, and $10m in 2023. While rumors of Donaldson the clubhouse cancer existed, this was primarily about opening up some money and some playing time for moves I wanted to make down the line.

Small is the Brewers’ #5 prospect. He has a high floor as a back-end MLB starter, and has nearly already reached it. He’s got a typical lefty profile with low-90’s fastball velocity and excellent command. He played in triple-A, and could easily debut this season.

Howell is a bit of a poor-man’s Austin Martin, as the Brew Crew’s #15 prospect. He was drafted a shortstop, but likely has a future home in center field or maybe even third base. He’s at double-A with a 2022 potential ETA as well.

Baseball Trade Values lists this as a major overpay in favor of the Twins, with the Brewers receiving about 2.4 MTV while the Twins receive 9.5 in return.

Poll

Grade this trade: Donaldson, $21m for Small, Howell

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    A
    (45 votes)
  • 36%
    B
    (55 votes)
  • 17%
    C
    (26 votes)
  • 9%
    D
    (14 votes)
  • 7%
    F
    (12 votes)
152 votes total Vote Now

Move 2: Twins decline the option on Alex Colome

Okay, this was really the first thing I did, but wanted to give you guys some of the excitement right at the top. It was probably an obvious move. I did offer him a couple million in a one-year deal to come back, but didn’t really pursue him any further. I think Twins fans are ready to see him leave.

Move 3: Twins sign Rich Hill to 1 year, $7.5 million

With a potential bonus! If Hill starts 20 games, he earns an additional $2.5 million. At this stage of the offseason, the rest of the rotation could literally be his sons. Still, at 40+ he continues to get it done. After a successful 2021 campaign, the Twins will look to have Hill open the season in their rotation. If he struggles, there are plenty of younger options waiting for the spot.

Poll

Grade this signing: Rich Hill for 1 yr, $7.5m

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    A
    (11 votes)
  • 28%
    B
    (45 votes)
  • 39%
    C
    (62 votes)
  • 15%
    D
    (25 votes)
  • 8%
    F
    (14 votes)
157 votes total Vote Now

Move 4: Twins trade Byron Buxton to the Philadelphia Phillies for Hans Crouse, Francisco Morales, and Adonis Medina

Buxton was the subject of a bidding war, and both GMs confided in me afterwards that they may have kept going. Since I believe he will not be re-signing with the Twins, my goal was to get a reasonable return. I set the baseline for the deal as similar to what the Twins got for Nelson Cruz this season. I actually started working on this long before the Donaldson move, but it also took a lot longer to complete.

Hans Crouse is the Phillies’ number four prospect, and at 23 years-old, is pretty much MLB ready, joining a burgeoning number of high-end young starters for the Twins organization. He’s got a fastball that touches 99 mph, and a wicked slider among his secondary offerings. He puts on a show on the mound, although his delivery makes some believe he could be destined for the back-end of the bullpen.

Morales is their fifth prospect, and is similar to Crouse, also pairing a solid fastball with a nasty slider. He has a slightly lower ceiling but higher floor.

Medina, their #14 prospect, has already made a MLB debut. He’s got the stuff, but not always the results. Still, he has a potential role in a 2022 bullpen, and still could become a back-end starter.

According to BTV, this trade probably wouldn’t be accepted — I think they overvalue Buxton. Or more specifically, I don’t believe Buxton has much future value to the Twins, as he won’t be re-signing. So although the trade simulation says that the difference is substantial, the Twins gave up 14.6 MTV to gain 7.7 MTV, it may be more fair than it looks.

Poll

Grade this Trade: Buxton for Crouse, Morales, Medina

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    A
    (23 votes)
  • 22%
    B
    (38 votes)
  • 13%
    C
    (24 votes)
  • 23%
    D
    (40 votes)
  • 27%
    F
    (47 votes)
172 votes total Vote Now

Move 5: Twins trade Cole Sands to the Washington Nationals for Patrick Corbin, Jordy Barley, and $12 million.

Cost-wise, this basically offsets the Donaldson move, while getting us a very serviceable starter, and a prospect. Washington was shopping Corbin around in a salary dump, but he’s consistently put up very solid numbers, before a down 2021 that still would have made him Minnesota’s best pitcher.

Barley, Washington’s #25 prospect, is a strikeout-prone shortstop prospect who will probably end up shifting to second base. Washington wanted to package Barley with Corbin in return for a slightly better prospect. I offered them Chris Vallimont, they wanted Sands instead, but kicked in more money to get him.

BTV lists this trade as a big loser, too, because Corbin’s contract leads to a massive negative future value. Under the typical inflated atmosphere of the simulation, his contract is slightly-above-average.

Poll

Grade this Trade: Sands for Corbin, Barley, $12m

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    A
    (18 votes)
  • 31%
    B
    (44 votes)
  • 28%
    C
    (40 votes)
  • 16%
    D
    (23 votes)
  • 10%
    F
    (14 votes)
139 votes total Vote Now

Move 6: Twins trade Jhoan Duran and Noah Miller to the Saint Louis Cardinals for Paul DeJong and Justin Miller.

I didn’t love the cost, but DeJong is a decent shortstop and also affordable. Miller is an inexpensive middle reliever. This was pure creative, low-cost roster building. Far-off prospects like Miller tend to get devalued in the simulation, and I was anticipating the free-agent shortstop market to get overheated, as it usually does.

Poll

Grade this trade: Duran, Miller for DeJong, Miller

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    A
    (9 votes)
  • 22%
    B
    (31 votes)
  • 25%
    C
    (34 votes)
  • 27%
    D
    (37 votes)
  • 17%
    F
    (24 votes)
135 votes total Vote Now

Move 7: Twins non-tender John Gant, Jake Cave, Juan Minaya, and Rob Refsnyder

Gant was projected to make $3.7 million. That’s just too much for him. Its time to move on from Jake Cave, and both Minaya and Refsynder are minor-league depth.

Move 8: Twins sign Sergio Romo to 1 year, $3 million

We need a decent reliever with experience, and Romo is a fan-favorite and a winner. He slots into a setup role immediately, and could also end up as the closer—although we all know Rocco doesn’t usually just use a single guy for that.

Move 9: Twins sign John Gant to 1 year, $1.75 million

Like I said, he was overpaid, but otherwise he is a good swingman for the Twins to have around. I plan to use him in the bullpen, but if disaster strikes, he can technically start. He also could make a good piggyback partner for Rich Hill, and between the two consistently get the game to the seventh.

Move 10: Twins sign Rob Refsnyder to a minor league deal

With Buxton and Cave gone, Kepler becomes the center fielder, but the Twins need depth, and the price is right. Hopefully Refsnyder stays in St. Paul, but he can back up roughly six positions if needed.

Move 11: Twins sign Steven Matz to 4 years, $50 million

He, too, would have been the Twins’ best pitcher last year, when he posted a sub 4.00 ERA with the Blue Jays, and made 29 starts. I’m actually shocked that he didn’t get more money in the simulation, as he has a solid track record and is still only thirty years old.

Poll

Grade this signing: Matz for 4 years, $50m

This poll is closed

  • 29%
    A
    (41 votes)
  • 42%
    B
    (58 votes)
  • 22%
    C
    (31 votes)
  • 2%
    D
    (3 votes)
  • 3%
    F
    (5 votes)
138 votes total Vote Now

Move 12: Twins sign Eduardo Escobar to 3 years, $25 million

This. This is the move we traded Donaldson in order to make. Escobar is an absolutely beloved member of any clubhouse, and a competent fielder and hitter at most infield positions. We’ve missed him for years here at Twinkie Town, and I wasn’t going to not sign him.

Poll

Grade this signing: Escobar for 3 years, $25m

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    A
    (70 votes)
  • 28%
    B
    (41 votes)
  • 13%
    C
    (20 votes)
  • 6%
    D
    (10 votes)
  • 2%
    F
    (4 votes)
145 votes total Vote Now

Move 13: Twins sign Eddie Rosario to 2 years, $10 million

I really only wanted to make this a one-year deal, but the extra year sealed it. Rosario left and got a ring, while the Twins stumbled into the cellar. He was a leader in the clubhouse in the past though. The Twins will plan to use Rosario as their regular DH, although he can still roam left field if needed.

Poll

Grade this signing: Rosario for 2 years, $10m

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    A
    (40 votes)
  • 35%
    B
    (49 votes)
  • 12%
    C
    (17 votes)
  • 15%
    D
    (21 votes)
  • 8%
    F
    (12 votes)
139 votes total Vote Now

Move 14, 15, 16: Twins sign Eric Sogard, Tommy Milone, and Ivan Nova to minor league deals

Depth, depth, and more depth.

Move 17: Twins sign Aaron Sanchez to 1 year, $4.5 million

A good, solid #4 type pitcher for that price is a steal. Most of his career, he’s been better than that — although 2019 was a rough season and he missed 2020, he did very well in 2021, and its surprising he wasn’t offered more. I’ll take it!

Poll

Grade this signing: Sanchez for 1 year, $4.5m

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    A
    (23 votes)
  • 34%
    B
    (38 votes)
  • 28%
    C
    (31 votes)
  • 9%
    D
    (10 votes)
  • 7%
    F
    (8 votes)
110 votes total Vote Now

Move 18: Twins sign Marcus Stroman to 5 years, $120 million

By far the richest free agent deal in Twins history, but a splash had to be made. This mostly completes the major offseason moves, as we have fairly well tapped-out the budget. Stroman’s deal is structured as 15/20/25/30/30, plus team options for 2027 at $25 million and 2028 at $20 million, with a $5 million buyout for each option. While the AAV of the deal is $25 million per, its structured such that the Twins are only on the hook for big dollars in a couple seasons.

Poll

Grade this signing: Stroman to 5 years, $120m

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    A
    (68 votes)
  • 27%
    B
    (38 votes)
  • 16%
    C
    (23 votes)
  • 3%
    D
    (5 votes)
  • 4%
    F
    (6 votes)
140 votes total Vote Now

Move 19: Twins sign Ryne Harper to a minor league contract.

More depth. Another old friend. Why not?

Move 20: Twins sign Billy Hamilton to one year, $750k

The Twins need a defensive fourth outfielder. This is our guy. He still has some speed on the base paths, as well.

Move 21: Twins trade Miguel Sano, Cody Stashak, $3 million to Braves for Guillermo Heredia

After signing Hamilton, the Twins’ payroll was at a reasonable-but-slightly-high $133 million, so I started shopping Taylor Rogers and Sano a bit for salary relief. Several offers came up, but this one made the most sense. Heredia is a capable defender in all three outfield positions, and has played more center than anywhere else. He also hits reasonably well for a center fielder, albeit a bit lightly for a corner. He was a huge part of the Braves’ championship team, and a leader on-and-off the field. He wasn’t the main point of this move though. The idea was to move Sano’s salary. The Brave’s GM and I had had several conversations around Heredia and around Stashak, but they hadn’t gone anywhere. Moving Sano meant I could use another option to play first—or another in the outfield and move Kirilloff, as I plan to do. Heredia is inexpensive, earning just 1.6 million. Stashak was thrown in, in order to get the Braves to cover a little more of the salary difference.

BTV says that we won this one, as Heredia is worth exactly zero MTV, Sano is worth -7.1, and Stashak is worth .5—but again, context matters.

Poll

Grade this trade: Sano, Stashak, $3m for Heredia

This poll is closed

  • 22%
    A
    (26 votes)
  • 23%
    B
    (28 votes)
  • 18%
    C
    (22 votes)
  • 17%
    D
    (21 votes)
  • 17%
    F
    (20 votes)
117 votes total Vote Now

Your 2021 Twins (projected)

1B: Alex Kirilloff
2B: Jorge Polanco
SS: Paul DeJong
3B: Eduardo Escobar
UTIL: Luis Arraez

CF: Guillermo Heredia
LF: Trevor Larnach
RF: Max Kepler
OF: Billy Hamilton

C: Mitch Garver
C: Ryan Jeffers
C/UTIL Willians Astudillo

DH: Eddie Rosario

SP: Marcus Stroman
SP: Steven Matz
SP: Patrick Corbin
SP: Aaron Sanchez
SP: Rich Hill

RP: John Gant
RP: Justin Miller
RP: Caleb Thielbar
RP: Danny Coloumbe
RP: Sergio Romo
RP: Tyler Duffey
RP: Taylor Rogers

Total Payroll: $127,700,000 ——— Luxury Tax Payroll: $156,650,000

Poll

How many games will this team win?

This poll is closed

  • 1%
    102-162
    (3 votes)
  • 12%
    92-101
    (20 votes)
  • 52%
    82-91
    (87 votes)
  • 27%
    72-81
    (46 votes)
  • 3%
    62-71
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    0-61
    (5 votes)
166 votes total Vote Now

Notice all the names that weren’t above? We have lots of depth

MiLB depth (some of it, at least:)

C Ben Rortvedt
INF Jose Miranda
INF Nick Gordon
INF Eric Sogard
INF/OF Rob Refsnyder
INF/OF Royce Lewis
INF/OF Austin Martin
OF Matt Wallner
OF Brent Rooker

P Joe Ryan
P Bailey Ober
P Ethan Small
P Hans Crouse
P Francisco Morales
P Adonis Medina
P Randy Dobnak
P Devin Smeltzer
P Simeon Woods-Richardson
P Drew Strotman
P Jordan Balazovic
P Jorge Alcala
P Ryne Harper
P Tommy Milone
P Ivan Nova

Farm System Changes

Losses

Jhoan Duran
Cole Sands
Noah Miller
Cody Stashak

Gains

Hans Crouse
Francisco Morales
Adonis Medina
Korry Howell
Jordy Barley
Ethan Small

Poll

Grade this entire "offseason"

This poll is closed

  • 13%
    A
    (18 votes)
  • 33%
    B
    (46 votes)
  • 30%
    C
    (42 votes)
  • 14%
    D
    (20 votes)
  • 7%
    F
    (10 votes)
136 votes total Vote Now