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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. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by SweetOne69 View Post
      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.

      You're with me on the Hrbek thing though, right?
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      1) The Twins will make a bid for Masahiro Tanaka but will come up short of thewinning post
      I agree with this statement 100%

      2) A veteran catcher will be signed.
      I disagree with this statement 100%
      3) Terry Ryan will hand out the largest free agent contract in franchisehistory.
      I am going to reluctantly agree with you asI don’t think Terry Ryan wants to but may be pressured to from the front officeand fans to the point of having too. Thatcontract may require the option to be exercised to work.

      4) Miguel Sano will emerge as the favorite to start 2014 at third base.
      I 100% disagree with thisstatement. If this happens its becauseTerry Ryan doesn’t do #3 and they need to show fans hope or something along thelines of future greatness.
      5) Brian Duensing will be non-tendered.
      I 98% disagreewith this statement as he is liked on this team and effective and not tooexpensive compared to where payroll needs to be. But we’ll find out quickly though as theTwins are usually nice in that they do those moves quickly to give the playermore of a chance to find work.

      My 5 predictions:
      1. The Twins will resign Pelfry
      2. The Twins will find another international gem prospect that flies under the radar and sign him during the offseason. They will spend about 3 million of their 4million or so allotted to them thus wasting an opportunity to max out and get more international prospects.
      3. The Twins will sign a backup if who can play SS or 3rd and play well defensively while being able to hit occasionally (I can see a Punto reunion here if he doesn't resign with the Dodgers)
      4. I can see the Twins signing a SP who is coming off of injuries/ ineffectiveness to a lower base contract with incentives and options to make the contract the largest in Twins history. (Colby Lewis, Josh Johnson, Phil Hughes...someone with upside and a name but down on their luck who could benefit playing here but still be signed on Terry Ryans terms)
      5. I wish I could say that There will be a platoon at 1b with Parmelee and Colabello next year with a dash of Plouffe and Mauer when Sano is ready or Mauer needs a break but instead I'll go with the Twins resign Morneau to a 1 year deal because no one else will and the Twins are not smart enough to try a platoon.

    1. tmerrickkeller's Avatar
      tmerrickkeller -
      I'm just going to address #1 because I think Tanaka is the key to a lot of things. This is a rare opportunity, and while there are serious unknowns, I think you have to use Darvish as a baseline. Q1 - how much would you pay a 24-year-old Darvish as a free agent? Q2 - isn't the math a simple matter of taking the answer to Q1 and subtracting what you anticipate paying on the actual contract? I think given the politics, money, and PR of this franchise, you would pay him $150+ million for 10 years, and therefore, if you feel you can sign him for 10/$75, you post $75M (which, I think, will win). This also dovetails into the points made by other posters about the future of the franchise being minor leaguers under control and the commensurate low cost for them. Puts a lot of eggs in one basket, but you add a rotation anchor like Tanaka and then sign one more $15M/yr pitcher and you've changed this franchise completely. I think it trickles down to players having better batting averages because they are more engaged in games and not so nervous that they need to score 8 runs to win. And it wouldn't even take more money (not even the TV revenue money) than what is coming off the books with Pelfry, Morneau, and Blackburn.

      Can't we just call Tanaka our Pelfry/Morneau/Blackburn, then start thinking about spending the $30M in new revenue on another quality arm and high-quality bat in the infield, and then strongly consider increasing the payroll of this franchise to where it should be ($100 M) by being ready to pull the trigger on that "one more piece" as early as June if we're remotely competitive.....along with our usual fliers on guys coming off injury or otherwise low $?
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      Isn't next years payroll around 45-50 million at this point? add 75 million posting fee and we have already blown past the budget. Now we just need to pay Tanaka on top of that for next year 10 million and sign another pitcher at 15 million = 150,000,000 spent on players for next year which is way over budget. If the posting fee was 50 million and we resign Pelfry for 5 million we are only a little over budget and the posting fee is a one time expense so we will have more money available after next season. but i doubt this is the way they will build this team.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      the team has already stated that the posting fee is not like the payroll.....they don't count them the same way. At least, that is my recollection.
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