The offseason has been underway for a few days now, and while the cloud of a potential work stoppage looms, that hasn’t stopped some teams and players from making their first moves of winter. The Twins are no exception.
I said earlier that the first moves the Twins would make would be towards the coaching staff, and that was close to correct. They had a bunch of openings, and filled the two most important roles. The first person they hired was hitting coach David Popkins, who comes from a Dodgers affiliate, and has a name that was subject to a lot of poor puns on Twitter.
The bigger Name hired was the new Twins bench coach. Jayce Tingler, the former manager of the San Diego Padres, who was released last month, was added to be Rocco Baldelli’s right hand man. Tingler went to San Diego after working for more than a decade in the Rangers organization, where he met Thad Levine. It’s a fairly big name to hire for the bench, and is part of a seemingly ongoing trend for the Twins, in hiring above average coaches.
The Twins also added their first new player, in pitcher Jharel Cotton. Cotton was formerly a promising starter with the A’s in 2016 and 2017, before he was plagued by injuries, and out of the Majors until this past season, when he reappeared with the Rangers. Cotton worked in relief for the Rangers, and showed, if not promise, than definite capability. His ERA was 3.52, and his peripherals suggested better. There will always worry about health going forward, but as a waiver pick up, it’s hard to argue with the move.
In fact, as a best case scenario, the middle reliever-emergency starter role is one opened by the departure of John Gant. Gant elected free agency when he was optioned at the end of the season. Gant was part of the J.A. Happ trade, and it was a minor miracle that he was part of what should barely have been a 1 for 1 trade. He’s about the same age and same role as Cotton, but there is more tape on Gant, and I’m guessing the Twins weren’t as impressed as his arbitration salary would require them to be.
Lastly, if you heard loud cheers across the metro last week, it may have been Twins fans rejoicing that the team declined the option on Alex Colomé. Colomé was a disaster in his first few weeks with the team, quickly souring the fan base on the former White Sox closer. Even if he was nearly perfect in the intervening months, it likely was never going to be enough to undo the damage that had been done. And he wasn’t perfect, and the Twins get the rare PR victory by letting a player go.