• 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. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      My bold and rediculous prediction:

      The Yankees, who will be intent on re-siging Cano and aiming to get Tanaka, will look to clear some money to fit under the luxery tax. They work out a deal to trade CC Sabathia to the Twins and eat $56 million of the $96 million still owed over the next four years. The Twins send two low to modest prospects, let's say Travis Harrison and Mason Melotakis, to the Yankees to complete the deal.

      Sabathia then fails his physical and the offer is nixed leaving the Twins without the pitcher and the Yankees over the luxery tax threshold.
    1. whosafraidofluigirussolo's Avatar
      whosafraidofluigirussolo -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      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.
      I think you're over-simplifying the factors that can go into a player's decision where to sign. You can't completely discount that an appeal to being the pioneer Asian star to play in a city like Minneapolis might draw some player. Or that the Twins might simply offer the nicest contract after winning one of the top three posting bids. I'm sure there'll be cases where your reasons are right.
    1. drivlikejehu's Avatar
      drivlikejehu -
      #1 - This is technically satisified even if they put in a lowball bid, which really isn't any different from not bidding at all (except for PR purposes). So I don't think this is much of a prediction.

      #2 - This is the closest one to 50/50 I think. Signing a veteran backup is basically pointless but is Twins-like, so...

      #3 - The bar is low, true, but I would bet against it. What free agent pitchers are (a) even vaguely realistic and (b) slated to get over $21MM?

      #4 - I think there's almost no chance at all Sano starts the season with the Twins, with injuries being a wild card.

      #5 - The Twins seem to like Duensing and have plenty of payroll space, so I don't see why they would non-tender him.
    1. Heimer's Avatar
      Heimer -
      It's not the "twins way" but i hope they put their eggs in one basket and sign Tanaka no matter the cost. Rather than signing two FA pitchers in their thirties.
    1. Zarathustra's Avatar
      Zarathustra -
      1) I put this at 70 / 30 the Twins don't sign / sign Tanaka. Last year it would have been 90 / 10 and two years ago, 99 / 1 (the Nishi experience stings, in addition to deep-seeded organizational tendencies). But, although this isn't an apples to apples comparison to the Mauer signing, I suggest that a comparable tenor exists demanding this money be spent. Also, because the Twins have NEVER signed a top-flight pitcher to a sizable contract, the most effective way for TR and the Pohlads to demonstrate their sincere intolerance for what is taking place, knowing that starting pitching is and has long been now the team's greatest weakness, is to break precedent and do what it takes for Tanaka, damn the Yankees in the process.

      2) Ok

      3) Here is where if 1) doesn't come to pass, the Twins can still behave similarly to sway a disgruntled fan base. I put it at 70 / 30 that, should they NOT sign Tanaka, they DO sign a contract that surprises all of us, thought not necessarily with a FA pitcher. Remember, this team will be VERY cheap to field in a couple years as it is composed currently and is planned to be filled-in.

      4) I'll plead partial ignorance, but can't they save potentially millions of dollars on the back end by holding Sano off for part of the year? If so, I foresee several post game questions asking when Sano is coming up being responded with phrases like, 'we don't want to rush' and 'he still has some things we'd like to see before we move him up' and 'the Major Leagues are a big step up, we want to make sure he's ready'. And, partial/total insincerity in the comments aside, I don't disagree with the decision. I don't want to see Sano walk in 2018 because he's too expensive. That's when we're going to the WS!

      5) I'll take that bet, Nick.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Nick: I really enjoy reading these kinds of articles, and I admire the courage it takes to put yourself out there with predictions that can be dredged up later and waved around when they don't prove true. Your example has inspired me...what follows are five predictions from the Chief.

      1. Despite overall attendance numbers continuing their alarming downward trend, I predict there will be at least one sold out, SRO crowd at TF in 2014. My early analysis of weather trends, vacation bookings, historical patterns and airline reservations makes me think July is the most likely month for this to occur.

      2. Desperate to revamp the starting rotation, TR will not bring back more than one 2013 full time starter* to the 2014 team.

      3. Despite public pressure to add power by filling first base with a free agent and popular former Twin, TR will not sign Kent Hrbek.

      4. TR will stubbornly refuse to trade up or down in the June draft, sticking with his one first round pick, right where it's at.

      5. Torii Hunter will return to TF in 2014.

      *made 30 or more starts for the Twins in 2013

      And there you have it. Go ahead folks, tear them apart. Do your worst, but I'm sticking to these.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      1) Agree but I think they are prepared to spend a lot more than people think but not as much as other teams.

      2) I could see this happening but I'm indifferent to it.

      3) I think we will see a 50M contract on a solid but not really good player

      4) I'm already dreading the epic Sano opening day battles but I don't think there is any chance he is on the opening day roster.

      5) I really hope that the Twins don't feel the need to get rid of an effective RP'er because of 2M. There's close to 50M available and it's not going to be spent anyway. Not surprisingly Duensing's numbers improved last year since he hasn't been jerked back and forth between the rotation and bullpen.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      1. Tanaka signs elsewhere. No one will know if the Twins placed a bid or for how much. Someone will conclude that Tanaka signing elsewhere was due to Twins Front Office apathy or frugality.

      2. Welcome Back A.J. Pierzynski. Pinto makes the club out of ST... Mauer plays 1B Fulltime. Doumit is dangled until someone agrees to take him. He will DH or RF the majority of his playing time.

      3. No doubt... It will be a pitcher.

      4. Sano will appear when Plouffe gets hurt of is benched for the final time. Terry Ryan will be hoping that Plouffe stays healthy until Super Two Day. Whenever that is.

      5. Duensing stays. The Twins will loyally pay it and Duensing will be just fine.

      Now the Ad Ons:

      6. Pierzynski, Pinto, Plouffe, Parmelee and Presley will have great 2014 Seasons. Pelfrey resigns and has a great 2014... So do Perkins and Pressly... Unfortunately... Anyone whose last name doesn't start with a P... Does not have a good year.

      7. A.J. Pierzynski will admonish Michael Tonkin for spelling Golf Gulf.

      8. Sometime during 2014... Chris Colabello will be called out for stepping out of the batters box and stepping on third base while swinging.

      9. Encouraged by the rapid Growth of Kohl Stewart... The Twins draft another College QB with the 5th pick overall. Unfortunately Teddy Bridgewater signs with the Jaguars instead.

      10. The Twins Caravan will make its final voyage after driving into Lake Bemidji after knocking over Paul Bunyan in a bad case of distracted driving... Babe the Blue Ox is unharmed but is admonished by A.J. Pierzynski for not protecting Paul and just standing there like some big dumb Ox.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      But can we really believe the posters who make these predictions without them having an inside informant?
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      10. The Twins Caravan will make its final voyage after driving into Lake Bemidji after knocking over Paul Bunyan in a bad case of distracted driving... Babe the Blue Ox is unharmed but is admonished by A.J. Pierzynski for not protecting Paul and just standing there like some big dumb Ox.
      Just what are you trying to imply here RB?!?
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      Just what are you trying to imply here RB?!?
      I was just trying to come up with a scenerio where A.J. Yells at a big blue statue. It isn't as easy as it seems.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      I was just trying to come up with a scenerio where A.J. Yells at a big blue statue. It isn't as easy as it seems.
      I'm going on record that I feel very uncomfortable with the direction this conversation has taken. It seems very derogatory towards all Oxen. I mean from my perspective Babe the Blue Ox, a distant cousin of mine by the way, was the smart one. I mean he is still standing after all right?
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      I'm going on record that I feel very uncomfortable with the direction this conversation has taken. It seems very derogatory towards all Oxen. I mean from my perspective Babe the Blue Ox, a distant cousin of mine by the way, was the smart one. I mean he is still standing after all right?
      Cousin Babe?
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      1. Does anyone think that the Twins will be more hesitant to bring in a Japanese player after the spectacular failure of Nishioka? 2. This will depend on Mauer. If he is even a half-time catcher, spending on a veteran catcher doesn't make much sense. If Mauer is the Twins' new first baseman, I can see signing one of several defense-first guys. 3. I would hope Ryan goes above 3-21 for a pitcher. I'm saying a 51+% chance that he will. 4. Sano starts in Rochester and stays at least until mid-April. If he is great and Plouffe is.....well Plouffe-like, the Twins make the change before Sano is denied super-2. 5. Duensing stays. He's a capable pitcher and even at $2.5M, he doesn't drag down the Twins' payroll much and BTW, he could be a decent trade chip at the deadline.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      1. Does anyone think that the Twins will be more hesitant to bring in a Japanese player after the spectacular failure of Nishioka?
      Doesn't really relate. First of all, the Twins got bit because they went after a low-grade talent. His price reflected that and you'd have to think they're aware. Second, Nishioka is a position player, not a pitcher. The example that would seemingly be more relevant is Iwakuma, whom they pursued but failed to acquire when he first posted. Like many Japanese pitchers that have transitioned to the majors in recent years, Iwakuma has been quite successful.
    1. ChiTownTwinsFan's Avatar
      ChiTownTwinsFan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      10. The Twins Caravan will make its final voyage after driving into Lake Bemidji after knocking over Paul Bunyan in a bad case of distracted driving... Babe the Blue Ox is unharmed but is admonished by A.J. Pierzynski for not protecting Paul and just standing there like some big dumb Ox.
      Priceless!
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by stringer bell View Post
      2. This will depend on Mauer. If he is even a half-time catcher, spending on a veteran catcher doesn't make much sense. If Mauer is the Twins' new first baseman, I can see signing one of several defense-first guys.
      How will the Twins know before spring training what Mauer's condition will be? It seems to me they'll have to make this decision without really know how Mauer will handle baseball, either behind the plate or at 1B.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      Cousin Babe?
      Yup, the bastard doesn't even show up to family reunions, he's too busy posing out there by the road. Heaven forbid that Paul has to stand by himself for a weekend. Who would the tourists take pictures of then?!?
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Here are my 5 predictions for the 2014 Twins: 1) The Twins sign a free agent bat for more than the contract that they gave Willingham. 2) Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Alex Meyer, and Trevor May make their major league debuts with the Twins. 3) Trevor Plouffe loses his job to Sano, but finishes the season with more PAs, HRs, and a higher OPS than Sano, and is traded at least by the August 31 waiver deadline. 4) One of Scott Diamond, Vance Worley (ineffectiveness) or Samuel Deduno (injury) bounces back to lead the Twins in either victories or ERA. 5) Aaron Hicks returns to the Twins by midseason and provides major league average production from center field.
    1. SweetOne69's Avatar
      SweetOne69 -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      2. Desperate to revamp the starting rotation, TR will not bring back more than one 2013 full time starter* to the 2014 team.

      *made 30 or more starts for the Twins in 2013
      This isn't much of a prediction since only 1 pitcher met this criteria and he is already under contract for next year. Pelfrey only made 29 starts.
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