February is, without a doubt, my least favorite month of any year. The NFL—my other sporting passion—winds to a close, yet MLB is still more a pipe dream than anything else. Here in Minnesota, it’s the snowiest and coldest (on average) month of the long winter hibernation. No days off from work, and the one “holiday” is manufactured by greeting card makers & large stuffed bear producers. Though we are told to “beware the ides of March”, as the old saying goes, I actually look forward to them. It means I’ve somehow survived another 28—sometimes even a grueling 29—days of Gregorian calendar month #2.
In recent years, however, the Minnesota Twins GM duo of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have given me a reason not to dread February (well, at least not as much). Though technically the MLB offseason begins in November after the World Series, The Falvine (TM) has saved much of their best team-building work for the deep winter.
A look at some of the February—okay, and late January too—transactions in the Falvine era of Twins Baseball:
-Acquired reliever/Molitor teacher’s pet Matt Belisle (2/3), Swiss army knife Ehire Adrianza (2/6), and LOOGY—back when those were a thing—Craig Breslow (2/9).
-Signed the surprisingly effect Ryne Harper (1/31), traded for rotation anchor Jake Odorizzi (2/17), and picked up “slugger” Logan Morrison (2/28) with the best of intentions.
-Brought in Martin Perez (1/30), who would make a surprising 29 starts that year, and nabbed Marwin Gonzalez (2/25) as the team insurance policy at every position.
-Made the largest free agent acquisition—Josh Donaldson (1/22)—in franchise history and swapped relief prospect Brusdar Graterol for Kenta Maeda (2/10), perhaps the team MVP of the season to come.
But all those years/transactions were just a preview of what was to come. Thus far in 2021, the dynamic duo have turned Jan/Feb into easily the most active month of the offseason:
-1/22: Signed J.A. Happ
-2/1: Signed Andrelton Simmons
-2/4: Traded LaMonte Wade Jr. to San Francisco for Shaun Anderson
-2/5: Plucked Ian Hamilton off waivers and signed Nelson Cruz
All this and February isn’t yet halfway in the bank. To echo Curly from City Slickers: “The month ain’t over yet!”.
Perhaps the most jarring aspect of the Falvine’s love-month rampages? How different such an approach is to their GM predecessor Terry Ryan. Looking back over Ryan’s offseason transactions, I can find one legitimately big February move, that being the trade of Chuck Knoblauch to the Yankees for Eric Milton, Cristian Guzman, and Brian “Buck” Buchanan. Only a handful of other even slightly-noticeable February moves under Ryan: Bob Wells (1999), Butch Huskey (2000), Jose Offerman (2004), & Ramon Ortiz (2007). Not exactly a who’s who of Twins notables (unless in the derisive sense).
As of yet, the late-offseason moves from Falvey & Levine have yet to produce a playoff victory. But it sure has been fun seeing actual baseball news on a consistent basis during my yearly doldrum period.