Major League baseball is off to a quick start this offseason. After a couple of very slow starts to the offseason, which led to fairly mundane times at the Winter Meetings, usually widely celebrated for all the roster activity that goes on.
Players have started flying off the board already, including pitchers, most of the catchers and particularly a few players suggested for the Twins, all while non-tenders have finalized the available market and cleared up whatever holes a team has had. With teams playing more aggressively in late November and early December, there will be a greater imperative to act this week in San Diego.
The Twins have non tendered CJ Cron, while bringing back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda and signed back up catcher Alex Avila. Compared to contracts that were signed by other players with other teams, the deals were team friendly, leaving a lot of room for the Twins to work this week. The common opinion is that the Twins will tap into the pitching market.
There are certainly some big names still available. Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg don’t seem like viable targets, but many Minnesotans are falling in love with Madison Bumgarner, thanks to his World Series heroics half a decade ago. Hyun-Jin Ryu was more recently successful, while Dallas Keuchel would also be a popular addition.
A more prudent option than investing a lot of money in a pitcher on the wrong side of 30 would be to make a big trade for a young pitcher. Sure, the young pitchers are cheaper, but they also have fewer miles on their arms and are more likely to complete whatever contract obligations they maintain. The Twins certainly have the prospects to maintain anyone they want. I recently suggested the Twins talk to the Padres about their pitchers, but San Diego’s recent activity has given the impression that they aren’t going to make any “sell” moves this winter.
Instead, I would say the Twins should look at the Colorado Rockies, and their two top pitchers, Jon Gray and German Marquez. Marquez is the younger, better pitcher, and would be a great long term asset. Gray would be more affordable. If the Twins do go this route, trading for a pitcher rather than signing someone like Bumgarner, then they would still have money to splash around for next season.
The open payroll after a pitching trade would make a recently proposed move for someone like Josh Donaldson more plausible. The Twins could upgrade their offense again this year, improving at third base while Miguel Sano would make a permanent move to first. Whatever happens, no matter which of the options the Twins ultimately decide is the most palatable, it seems likely that something momentous is going to go down this week.