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  • Five Offseason Predictions

    Last October in this space, I predicted five outcomes that would unfold for the Minnesota Twins in the ensuing offseason. As it turned out, three proved accurate and the other two proved laughably, laughably wrong.

    As we look ahead to another offseason, which some are painting as one of the most important in franchise history, here's another set of predictions -- some bold, some not -- for what I expect to see in the coming months:

    1) The Twins will make a bid for Masahiro Tanaka but will come up short of the winning post.

    As a 24-year-old with the ability to become a long-term asset at the top of a rotation, Tanaka seems like a logical fit for the Twins. Given their budget surplus, they are poised to place an aggressive bid on the Japanese star, who appears to be the best pitcher available on the open market this year. However, with new revenues flowing in for all 30 MLB teams, and with a number of large-market big spenders showing interest in Tanaka, I suspect that the posting fee may set a new record (beating Yu Darvish's $51 million) and there's no way I can see Terry Ryan wading into those waters.

    2) A veteran catcher will be signed.

    Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit both suffered concussions during the 2013 season and were held away from catching duties in the final months. It's unclear how either of those two will be handled going forward, and Josmil Pinto looks like a nice young option to step in, but with all the uncertainty going on, the Twins may see a need to add a seasoned defensive specialist to the mix. A veteran with a reputation for working well with pitchers would make a great of sense.

    3) Terry Ryan will hand out the largest free agent contract in franchise history.

    The bar isn't set very high. Josh Willingham's three-year, $21 million deal signed in 2011 currently holds the title, and with costs expected to rise (perhaps dramatically) across the league, that amount probably won't go very far this winter. I'm not saying they're going to be inking any nine-digit commitments, but if the Twins want to add any kind of impact talent they will need to spend at a level that is unprecedented by their own standards. They'll have more than enough money available to do so.

    4) Miguel Sano will emerge as the favorite to start 2014 at third base.

    Presently Sano looks like a long shot to claim a spot on the MLB roster out of spring training next year. He has spent only half a season in Double-A, and the Twins are surely gun shy about aggressive promotions for top prospects after the Aaron Hicks experiment blew up in their faces. Of course, Sano is in another category of talent entirely. He slugged .610 with 35 homers between Single-A and Double-A this season, and people within the organization have raved about his defensive progression as he nearly cut his error total in half from the previous year (42 in 2012, 23 in 2013). Over the course of the offseason, I believe we'll hear more and more buzz surrounding Sano's potential to win a spot in March; at that point, it will be up to the 20-year-old to capitalize.

    5) Brian Duensing will be non-tendered.

    This is a bit of a stretch because Duensing has been an effective pitcher and is well liked by the organization. But he's eligible to go to arbitration for a second time and his salary could rise above $2 million. That's a fair amount to spend on a lefty specialist out of the bullpen and, while the Twins are hardly hurting for cash, they might prefer to save a little by going with cheaper in-house options such as Caleb Thielbar and Pedro Hernandez.
    This article was originally published in blog: Five Offseason Predictions started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 45 Comments
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      #1 Low hanging fruit. #2 Pointless. There already exist ML-ready alternatives to Mauer and Doumit. Though, you might be right given this is the Twins we're discussing. #3 I hope you're correct--if it's for a starting pitcher. #4 Disagree. Last year's Hicks experience will make the the tradionalists win the arguement--and Sano will spend most of the season in the minors. Service time and the potential for another early selection in the Rule 4 draft (in 2015) are other considerations/factors. #5 Disagree--they will pay him. Woth Pohlad saying he "will spend!" this off-season--to be chinchy with Duensing (who is on good terms with the Twins) is just inconsistent with stated policy. After all, it's only for one year!
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      A good clue as to whether or not Duensing will be non-tendered is if the Twins put Edgar Ibarra on the 40 man roster before the end of the World Series. If he's added, I can see Duensing non-tendered. If Ibarra isn't added, Duensing doesn't make enough to non-tender. Pedro Hernandez has options and Duensing's been consistently solid for a long time.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Unless Thielbar and Hernandez (and Diamond ) develop 93-95 mph fastballs, they cannot replace Duensing.

      Would Butera count for #2?

      I just cannot see Ryan spending any money. We shall see...
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      I think Duensing stays
      The money can't be too important...can it?
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Three is a possibility, depending on the money Hughes wants.

      Other than that, forget about no.1. Tanaka will be a Yankee. 2. Pinto and Herrmann can be fine. No need to plug this roster with yet MORE aging, declining "talent." 3. Possible. 4. They won't and they shouldn't. Wait until mid-May if he is doing well in AAA. 5. It is possible, but there also is the talk about stretching him out again . . . Also, Ibarra's status shouldn't matter. Duensing, Thielbar, and Ibarra as the three lefties other than Perkins who are good relievers (sorry, Pedro, you are not, and should be removed from the 40-man, in fact) isn't too many. Ibarra might be plucked if not protected and Duensing should be traded at the deadline if he does well this year.
    1. righty8383's Avatar
      righty8383 -
      Just out of curiosity, have they set a date for the Tanaka bidding to begin? Not that I have high hopes or anything, just wondering...
    1. Physics Guy's Avatar
      Physics Guy -
      1 - I agree, just can't see Ryan forking over that kind of dough.
      2 - Agree, I think Pinto catches 80 -100 games and think a vet to fill in the rest would be a good idea. Mauer becomes 1B.
      3 - This has to happen, no discussion.
      4 - Don't see this happening unless Plouffe implodes in ST. Twins need to wait until June.
      5 - Can see why this could happen, but I doubt it.
    1. savvyspy's Avatar
      savvyspy -
      1. Dream on
      2. Guarantee the veteran catcher hit less than .220 last season
      3. See #1
      4. After Hicks the team isn't going to rush Sano
      5. Deunsing will be sold to the fans as "spending money"
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      1. Sounds about right. I'd say our bid will be ~40 mil and the winning bid will be north of 50.
      2. I think they comfortable going with what they have. If they want a solid veteran backup, then Mauer can work with them and the pitching staff while he's taking grounders at first.
      3. Agree.
      4. I see this one as 0% likely. Not because of Hicks.
      5. Unlikely. This is the prototypical contract the Twins love to give out.

      Five predictions of my own:

      1. Pelfrey is resigned.
      2. Sano plays for the Twins at or by the ASB. Buxton is a Sept call up.
      3. Gibson has a nice first complete year and checks in with an ERA just under 4.
      4. Twins will sign 2 FA pitchers for a yearly average of 10 million or more.
      5. The Twins will win 75 games next year.
    1. gmarais66's Avatar
      gmarais66 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Three is a possibility, depending on the money Hughes wants.

      Other than that, forget about no.1. Tanaka will be a Yankee.
      I think the Yankees will probably get Tanaka, but the Twins might have a better chance if the proposed changes to the posting process go into effect. Under the proposed new process, the Twins wouldn't have to have the top bid. Tanaka could choose from the top three teams.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      First, can we take about 10 years off Mike Redmond and sign him to fulfill #2?

      #1 - without saying how big the Twins' bid will be, I think that your title statement is correct

      #2 - tossup

      #3 - kind of. I think he will ink a 2 year FA deal with a higher yearly amount than Willingham's but not sure if the total $$$ will be over $21 million but it will have a 3rd year option that will take it over the 21

      #4 I hope so but make no predictions

      #5 I think he's probably still a Twin next year
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      2 4 and 5 are wrong I think.
      The Twins have 4 catchers on the 40 man now, and I honestly suspect Herman will be dropped (or at least should be). Pinto starts in AAA unless Doumit is traded. Doumit's PT is reduced to 2nd catcher and a lot less time at DH.

      There will be buzz on Sano, but I think he starts the year in the AAA. Plouffe gets one more shot. If the bat sticks, then the Twins have a potential trade chip or move Plouffe elsewhere.
      Deunsing gets another year, and if he's doing well, may sign a 3 year deal to avoid being non-tendered as he gets more expensive.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by gmarais66 View Post
      I think the Yankees will probably get Tanaka, but the Twins might have a better chance if the proposed changes to the posting process go into effect. Under the proposed new process, the Twins wouldn't have to have the top bid. Tanaka could choose from the top three teams.
      It is difficult for me to imagine a guy coming from Japan who wants to play for the Minnesota Twins rather than the New York Yankees.

      That is a brand name they got in NYC, and every baseball fan in Japan knows of them.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      1- The Twins will bid for Tanaka and come up short with the winning bid and fee to total about $140million.
      2- No way they sign a veteran catcher--Joe wants to catch, he will catch half the games and Pinto the rest.
      3- Since the bar is low--the Twins will sign a pitcher for 2-3 years for $25-30 million who will disappoint--think Lincecom or Hughes--if lucky they will put up numbers equal to Corriera or Pelfrey (who will be resigned).
      4- Sano will be 3B--not sure if before June 3 (my birthday) or not.
      5- Gardy and Anderson love Duensing. He will be back.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      1 - Twins will bid, but not win. They are according to MLBtraderumors looking at a Korean pitcher now.
      2. No way - There are enough catchers to go around
      3. Twins will do this - hope it is on 2 good starting pitchers - my bet is 1 from the middle of the pack
      4. - No way Sano will come up after the Super Two cutoff if he is doing well in Rochester.
      5. - Possible but I think they will pay him

      A couple of my preditions
      1. Twins will sign an international free agent for a goodly sum this winter
      2. TR will make at least one trade for a player or pitcher at the major league level
      3. Pressley will be sent to Rochester to see if he can be made back into a starter.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oldgoat_MN View Post
      It is difficult for me to imagine a guy coming from Japan who wants to play for the Minnesota Twins rather than the New York Yankees.

      That is a brand name they got in NYC, and every baseball fan in Japan knows of them.
      Yes, if the new bidding process takes place, the Twins will have zero chance of ever signing any big name Asian player. It will be big markets, or big Asian communities. St. Peter, the Pohlad's or whoever is representing the team in these kind of league-wide discusions better be strenuously arguing against this process. Of course on the surface it looks like a way to save some money, so they may not.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      #1 I agree, though they could always put in a lowball offer just to say they tried. Rarely does anyone know what the losing teams bid.
      #2 I don't think so, it would signal the end of Mauer at catcher and even if Mauer is moved from the position, Ryan isn't going to be sending signals, it will be done quitely and smoothely internally.
      #3 Shouldn't be hard, but it shouldn't have been hard last year either. We might get a repeat of Ryan's exhasperated "We can't get them to take our money!" meltdown on MLB TV.
      #4 I agree, he will be the favorite, though in the end I think he'll be sent to Rochester. Of course if they do it at the last cut and the fans don't know it's coming, it might get ugly.
      #5 I think he stays. He seems to be a management favorite and his second half was pretty good. That K/9 came out of nowhere, they might have found something valuable in him.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      1) The Twins will make a bid for Masahiro Tanaka but will come up short of the winning post.
      Sometimes you can't give your money away.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      1 - agreed
      2 - agreed, but it will be of the Steve Holm/Rene Rivera ilk. Return of The Son of Sal?
      3 - I doubt it. My expectation is that the Twins biggest FA pitching acquisition will be Pelfrey.
      4 - No chance the Twins call him up before they push back his service clock the extra year. Fans will clamor, and the Twins will remind us of what happened with Hicks.
      5 - 50/50. The Twins were chattering about moving Duensing back to the rotation, which could have been smoke to try and build up some trade value, but I think any other team would realize that if Duensing was a legitimate option to start there was no one in the Twins rotation that was blocking him.
    1. Siehbiscuit's Avatar
      Siehbiscuit -
      1- I'm going to be the outlier here and say that the posting will be won in the $40M range. The Rangers were the only team over $30M on Darvish. I think most teams will be in the $30-40 range and the Twins will are desparate and his age is the reason why. Ryan has always been against paying for a pitchers past. Here's a way to improve the roster with a still developing young pitcher. Twins will be aggressive and WIN.

      2. The Twins will move Doumit this off-season, but NOT sign a Redmond or Molina-type defensive-minded catcher that can help the young catchers develop (in-game pitch calling, old veteran tips and tricks). The think that is what Steinbach is there for. Mauer will catch 100-120 games, Hermann 20-30 and Pinto (starts in AAA) will catch 20-30 as well.

      3. True. The contract will be Tanaka's. A 5-year/55M deal.

      4. Sano will start the year at AAA and be called up in mid-June. The Twins are done with the Plouffe experiment at 3B and will pick up Mark Reynolds on a cheap 1 year deal to hold the fort and provide some HR power.

      5. Duensing will be retained and will prove to be a valuable part of the bullpen.
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