So much of the season was spent discussing the supercharged offense that the Twins offered up in the 2019 campaign. Now, aside from some award talk (congratulations to Mitch Garver and Nelson Cruz on their Silver Slugger wins), all anyone can seem to talk about is the Twins pitching staff. Notably, the rotation, and even more notably, the fact that there is almost nobody there right now.
Right now, Fangraphs’ Roster Resource has the Twins with a rotation of Jose Berrios, Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe and Sean Poppen. This is a massive hole in the roster, and while Jose Berrios is a lock for 2020 (and perhaps an extension at this point in his career), the other 4 spots could all be improved with a free agent or trade acquisition.
There are all manner of websites that now predict how the offseason free agent market will unfold. MLB Trade Rumors is the most famous site, and they suggest the Twins will be successful, bringing back Jake Odorizzi and adding Madison Bumgarner. Many Twins writers seem to think it’s inevitable that Odorizzi will be back, along with Michael Pineda. Still other sites, like MLB Daily Dish have the Twins signing only Rick Porcello. YIkes.
This is a good encapsulation of the Twins position. They have all the makings of a team that can and should be aggressive on the free agent market. They are competitive and have a lot of available payroll, as well as a clear need at a particular position, but on the other hand, Minnesota has never generally been popular among free agents, and the Twins have historically been unwilling to spend the surcharge to convince players to abandon bigger or warmer markets. The Twins COULD sign free agents, but a lot of long time observers find it hard to believe they will.
They may very well make some trades to bring pitchers into the fold. This is an available strategy as well, given the farm system the organization has available. They have one of the top talent pools in the game, and a concentration of talent in the high levels and in particular, with the ability or projection to play in the outfield.
There is going to be a lot of talk about the Twins and their resources, more than there already has been. Don’t be surprised if free agency doesn’t quite play out with the Twins appearing to be aggressive, because the Twins will likely anticipate a struggle in the open market, and will be setting the table for trades all winter.
In other words, one way or another, the Berrios – Smeltzer – Dobnak – Thorpe – Poppen rotation can expect quite a bit of change before opening day.