Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby is credited with one of the more famous quotes about the baseball offseason:
“People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”
Staring out the window and waiting is one way to kill the cold, baseball-less months before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in February. Another way is to play armchair front office decision-maker and tell us in a FanPost how you would handle the offseason if you were in charge of the Twins!
Despite a disappointing second-half fade that resulted in a 78-84 record and a 3rd-place finish, the Twins seem to have the core pieces for a contender in 2023. The bulk of the regular lineup, including Byron Buxton, Luis Arráez, Jorge Polanco, and José Miranda project to return, along with rotation frontmen Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, and Tyler Mahle, and bullpen fireman Jhoan Duran.
In terms of needs, last offseason’s prize free agent Carlos Correa will be opting out of his contract, leaving the Twins with an opening at shortstop once again. The relief corps (14th FIP, 17th WPA, 20th fWAR) and back end of the starting rotation proved to be Achilles’ heels for the 2022 club. While the pitching staff looks pretty deep on paper, making investments to raise the team's ceiling on the mound makes all kinds of sense this winter. Gary Sánchez and Sandy León are free agents, creating a need for another catcher (or two, or three). Injuries pushed the organizational depth to a breaking point and again stilted the progress of now not-so-young prospects Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Trevor Larnach while also taking Byron Buxton, Kenta Maeda, and Ryan Jeffers off the field for extended stretches.
The Twins ended the 2022 season with 52 players on the 40-man roster, thanks to numerous 60-day injured list placements. They started the roster housekeeping by waiving six players in October. With those moves, plus Correa’s opt-out, and Sánchez, León, Michael Fulmer, Aaron Sanchez, and Billy Hamilton becoming free agents the roster should sit at 40 after the close of the World Series.
The Twins have very clean books, with only $35.6M of salary guaranteed to current players. That will increase when Sonny Gray’s $12M club option is picked up. There are again a large number of arbitration decisions to make, which can add to that payroll total quickly or be opportunities to create roster space via non-tenders.
The payroll target should be similar to the past few seasons (~$120-140M) which means there should be ample money available to spend in free agency.
Against that backdrop, what will you do this winter? What is your plan at shortstop? Will you prioritize spending big to bring back Correa? What will you do with Miguel Sanó’s contract option? Will you trade Max Kepler? How will you improve the pitching staff? Who are you getting to catch? How will you fortify the roster’s depth?
Below is a guide to the offseason that includes instructions for writing your plan, an outline of all the key decisions that need to be made, and links to some useful resources to help with your decisions. We’ve put together a nifty template to help you keep track of the players and numbers:
Happy roster building! We can’t wait to see what you come up with!
[Insert your username]’s Offseason Plan
1. Plan Summary
Give us a sentence or two that let us know what we’re about to see. What kind of plan is this?
2. What is your payroll limit?
(Reference: The 2022 payroll was estimated at $142M by FanGraphs. 2021 was ~$121M. The 2020 full-season payroll was ~$133M)
3. 2023 Guaranteed Contracts
- Byron Buxton – $15.0M
- Max Kepler — $8.50M
- Jorge Polanco — $7.50M
- Kenta Maeda — $3.125M
- Randy Dobnak — $1.50M (no longer on the 40-man roster)
Total Salary Commitment: ~$35.625M
4. 2023 Contract Options
Decide if you will pick up or buy out the contract options for the following players. Briefly explain your reasons.
- Miguel Sanó — $14.0M (or $2.75M buyout if declined)
- Sonny Gray – $12.0M (no buyout)
- Dylan Bundy – $11.0M ($1.0M buyout)
- Chris Archer – $10.0M ($0.75M buyout)
Total Salary Commitment:
Arbitration salaries are not automatic. The club holds the choice to tender a contract to these players and can choose not to offer a contract instead of going to arbitration.
Decide whether or not you will tender a contract to the players below and briefly explain your decisions. Estimated arbitration salaries are from MLBTradeRumors’ Projected Arbitration Salaries.
- Gio Urshela – $9.2M
- Tyler Mahle – $7.2M
- Luis Arráez – $5.0M
- Jorge López – $3.7M
- Emilio Pagán – $3.7M
- Chris Paddack – $2.4M
- Caleb Thielbar – $2.4M
- Kyle Garlick – $1.1M
- Jorge Alcalá – $0.8M
- Cody Stashak – $0.8M
Total Salary Commitment:
6. Pre-Arbitration on the 40-man roster
Under the terms of the new CBA, players on the active roster earning the MLB minimum salary will be paid $720K ($0.72M) in 2023.
Pitchers (13): Joe Ryan, Jhoan Duran, Bailey Ober, Griffin Jax, Jordan Balazovic, Josh Winder, Jovani Moran, Ronny Henriquez, Trevor Megill, Cole Sands, Louie Varland, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Blayne Enlow
Position Players (9): José Miranda, Nick Gordon, Ryan Jeffers, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, Royce Lewis, Matt Wallner, Mark Contreras
7. Free Agents
Use the resources below to identify the free agents you would try to sign. Briefly explain why you would pursue the player(s), the role you see them playing for the Twins, and the terms of your offer (years and total monetary value)
What trades would you try to make? Which current Twins would you offer up in trades to other clubs? What players or prospects would you try to get back?
The trade simulator at BaseballTradeValues.com is a handy resource for estimating trade values and coming up with plausible deals that might make sense for both sides.
9. Adding Rule 5 Eligible Prospects
If you’re doing the full 40-man exercise, make sure that you factor in the addition of Rule 5 draft-eligible prospects that you wish to protect. That could include players like RHP Matt Canterino, RHP Sean Mooney, RHP Steven Cruz, C Alex Isola, OF Misael Urbina, and 2B Edouard Julien, among others.
10. Your 26-man (or 40-man) roster
Bring all the parts of your plan together and show us your final roster for 2023. The active roster is capped at 26 players (13 pitchers) and we encourage any over-achievers to sketch it out for the full 40-man roster. Below is a depth chart for you to fill out with your players. If you are playing along with the salary constraints, include your totals. Or, include a screenshot or link to your roster and salary template:
- Lineup (#, currently set for 13, but flexible for your plan):
- Pitching Staff (#, limited to 13 or fewer)
Total MLB Payroll = ?
- Rest of 40-man roster — Optional (14)