November 5, 2019: Transactions

Lots of moves by the Twins. In addition to the ones mentioned yesterday, they let both Pineda and Gibson go to free agency. Should be interesting to see what they do these next few months.

42 thoughts on “November 5, 2019: Transactions”

    1. 6. Madison Bumgarner – Twins. Four years, $72MM.
      10. Jake Odorizzi – Twins. Three years, $51MM.
      13. Will Smith – Twins. Three years, $42MM.
      30. Howie Kendrick – Twins. Two years, $12MM.

      I'm fine with the Twins skipping out on Cole and Strasburg, but that's rather light for filling out the rotation. MLBTR has Gibson and Pineda going to other teams, and Pérez listed under honorable mentions. That's one pitcher remaining, one addition, and three leaving.

      1. I will be bummed if Bumgarner is the best the front office can do. His recent performance suggests he’s no better than a #3 in a top rotation, one with a high floor but likely a low ceiling, who would be leaving one of the best pitchers’ parks in baseball. I’m not against signing him, but he strikes me as more 1969 Jim Kaat than 2008 Johan Santana.

        Will Smith was the reliever I wanted the Twins to acquire from the Giants at the deadline. Now that he’s saddled with a QO, I’m less interested. He may still make the most sense — and the Twins should be more focused on strengthening their roster than a second- or third-round pick — but he’s a guy I’m less enthusiastic about than I was during the season.

        Exactly what do the Twins need Howie Kendrick for when they have Adrianza, Arraez, and Gonzalez already, along with Nick Gordon (assuming he’s not traded)?

        1. Keep in mind that this is a projection from MLB Trade Rumors, and is a stab in the dark to some degree. A few trades thrown in the mix throughout the league and these projections become even more half baked. My hope is that with the shallow FA market for "impact" starting pitchers, the Twins will swing a trade or two somewhere in the mix. If they can pick up a potential top 20 pitcher via free agency or trade, retain Odorizzi, and pick up a serviceable #4 starter while filling in the #5 spot with some promising home grown arms, I will be very happy.

          Kendrick type of player would be brought in for the ability to take quality at bats in crucial games against tough pitchers. Something our currently line up is a bit short on.

      2. This would not really be the "impact pitching" the Twins front office promised to get. However, it's all just rumor and speculation at this point. I'll get interested when we see what actually happens.

        1. I really don't get where this from you and CH is coming from. Of their top 6 free agent starting pitchers, MLBTR has the Twins signing two of them. That would be a fantastic result. I like Wheeler more than Bumgarner personally, but if they end up with any two of those top 6 guys I'll be very happy.

          1. Where I'm coming from is that the Twins front office said their goal was to acquire impact starting pitching over the off-season. Those are their words, not mine. Odorizzi they already had, and while I hope he stays with the Twins that would not be acquiring impact starting pitching. Is Madison Bumgarner impact starting pitching? Maybe. As I look at him, his numbers in 2019 were pretty good. I don't like the jump in ERA, but his strikeout and walk rates are good and his WHIP is excellent. But again, it's all rumor and speculation at this point.

          2. Bumgarner is a solid mid-rotation option, but he’s not an “impact pitching” acquisition. Where he ranks among the FA starters is more a statement of the depth of the FA class than Bumgarner’s recent or projected performance. In grading terms, he’s a solid B who likely will trend toward B- rather than B+ over the length of the contract.

            Bumgarner has averaged 2.7 rWAR across the last three seasons. His last season above 4 rWAR was 2016 (age 26). He got back above 150 IP for the first time since 2016 this year, but his pitching was actually less valuable on a per-inning basis than it was in either previous season. In terms of the 2019 Twins’ rotation, Bumgarner’s 2.8 rWAR would put him third in the pecking order, between Berríos (3.3) and Pineda (2.5).

            “Impact” is a weasel word (and a bad adjective), but let’s say it falls somewhere between a starter & an All-Star — say, 4.0 rWAR. There are 11 pitchers with multiple 4.0 rWAR seasons between 2017–2019. Two of them are free agents, and a couple others might be available in trade. I’d suggest the Twins start with those pitchers if they want to build a more formidable rotation, and then possibly look down the list of pitchers with one such season who seem likely to have a second next year.

            Jose Berríos is a good, young pitcher who has probably not yet had his best season. But until he avoids a second-half swoon, he’s not a true #1, much less a true Ace. The Twins should be trying to augment above & below him in the rotation, ideally pushing their best 2019 starter (Odorizzi) as low as #4 in the rotation. If they can do that, I’d be delighted to leave the fifth spot as a flex role for young arms (Graterol/Smeltzer/Dobnak), an opener/follower tandem, or a well-chosen Wes Johnson overhaul/reclamation project.

            1. I guess this is my response to both of you: I don't care that much about what front office types say to the media, since they say a lot of things in those situations that don't end up having much meaning, and I think "impact starting pitching" is a pretty nebulous phrase that can have a lot of definitions (kind of like I also don't find much meaning in the word "ace", but I do find it hilarious that you actually capitalized it). Of course, if "impact starting pitching" is defined down to mean literally only two guys, who will have at least 10 and maybe upwards of 15 teams trying to sign them, many of them in locations warmer and closer to their hometowns than here (and in one case, an organization a guy just won a ring with)...I guess that's one way to look at it, but it's not the way I would. I think if your expectation is "Cole and/or Strasburg or I'm Big Mad", you might as well get mad right now, not that it'll change anything.

              On diving deep into Bumgarner specifically (like I said, I like Wheeler better, but Bumgarner's also one of the best out there this year, undoubtedly) I don't have much else to say about him or Odorizzi right now other than if you've got 3 or 4 pitcher spots to fill, as the Twins do, getting two of the best six available free agents is, again, fantastic in my view, considering how many other teams will be trying to do the same thing. And, again, I think the "#1/#4 guy" stuff is pretty meaningless, but if you think anyone is signing Bumgarner to be a "mid-rotation" guy (as in, I imagine, that team will have two other guys better than him?) or that whoever signs Odorizzi will have him as the fourth best guy in their rotation, your perspective on the state of starting pitching in baseball is skewed.

              1. I never said I would be "Big Mad" if they didn't sign Cole and/or Strasburg. That's not a fair representation of what either CH or I have been saying.

                You're free not to care about what the front office says if you like. But to me, that's a promise they made not just to the media, but to the fans. If they can't make good on that promise, then I think it's fair to be disappointed in them. Am I saying they have to move heaven and earth, offer fifty million dollars a year over ten years to a top pitcher just to get him to sign? Of course not. But if they're not in the running on an impact starting pitcher, if they don't make an offer that's right up there with what it takes, then I think it's fair to hold the front office accountable for not meeting their stated goal. It does no good to say you want to acquire impact starting pitching if you're not willing to pay the price to get it. That would be like me saying I want a new Cadillac but I don't want to pay more than ten thousand dollars for it. You might as well have not said anything.

                But again, it's all rumor and speculation at this point. We'll see what they actually do, not what someone predicts that they might do, and go from there.

                1. If the definition of "impact starting pitching" you use excludes everyone but Cole or Strasburg, which is an absolutely fair representation based on what both of you guys have said, and you're going to "hold the front office accountable" (what does that mean? complain on the internet some more?) if they don't get "impact starting pitching", then yeah, I think you might as well start that now.

                  1. For whatever it's worth (and I don't mean to be wading into heated territory here, so everyone don't throw things at me...), I would expect the Twins to seriously pursue, though not necessarily land, Cole and/or Strasburg. They seemed to make a real run at Darvish, and they need to keep making similar efforts. So I wouldn't be disappointed if they didn't land one of those top two. But I think I would be disappointed if they didn't make an effort.

                    1. If it's going to be more of the Otani scenario where they made a great offer and the pitcher decides to go elsewhere anyway, what are you going to do? I don't care what the FO (or anyone else) says, if they don't have four very capable starters at Spring Training, with the understanding that we have prospects that'll take a stab at #5, then I'll be disappointed, regardless of who turns down what. Meanwhile, no use worrying about it things at this point in the game.

                    2. I definitely think they'll make Cole an offer, and I definitely think he won't sign here. I think the Angels or Dodgers, just for two examples, can exceed and would be motivated to exceed basically anything the Twins offer. (For Strasburg, I am still pretty sure he will go back to Washington, so I don't know that there's even as much of a window there) Whatever we find out about what teams who don't sign him offered may or may not go into the rumors and speculation bucket, so I don't know how to judge that, you know? It's like, you really can only judge the result, but if the result you want is only at least one of those two guys signing here, I think you will be disappointed. If the result you want is the appearance that they made an effort towards at least one of those guys, I don't think you'll be unsatisfied.

                    3. If the result you want is the appearance that they made an effort towards at least one of those guys, I don't think you'll be unsatisfied.

                      I mean, the result I want is signing one of those two guys. But they can't get there without at least the appearance of an effort. Thus, I'll be disappointed if I don't see the effort.

                      It's like running out a ground ball. The result I want is a hit, but you can't get the hit if you just stand in the batter's box. So I'll take running hard to first as a sign of good intent, even if you're out.

                  2. Who said it had to be Cole or Strasburg? You put those words into what I wrote. I did not write that. I said Bumgarner might be. You're being overly contentious without good reason to be.

                    It seems to me that you're saying the front office lied when they said they were going after impact starting pitching. I don't know that. They may well get some. As I've said several times, it's all rumor and speculation until something happens.

                    If and when you're willing to deal with what I actually wrote, I'll be happy to discuss it some more with you. If not, then we may as well move on.

                    1. I guess I still don't know what you mean by "impact starting pitching", then. And you might define it differently than the front office does, which then affects the judgement on whether they "lied" or if they just view it differently than you do.

                      I absolutely think if you view Bumgarner as "maybe" "impact", which you have said is how you view him right now, then there are only two guys (Cole and Strasburg) who are clearly better on the free agent market. That is where I get the interpretation that you view only those two guys as affirmatively "impact" guys.

                      (CH brought up trades for "impact" guys too, which is fair enough. I'm looking at the fWAR chart and I only see one guy (Kluber) who might be traded this offseason in the top 11 over 2017-2019 (this is guys who put up at least 12 fWAR over that time, or averaged 4.0 fWAR as CH laid out in his post above, though I realize he was referencing rWAR instead). And I'm pretty sure Kluber won't be available to the Twins in a trade even if he is traded at all.)

                    2. The front office is the one who came up with the term impact starting pitching. It's certainly possible that they might define it differently than I would. But I think a fair-minded person would say it means more than keeping Odorizzi.

                      Also, what I said is that the Twins need to be in the running for an impact starting pitcher, making an offer that's right up there with what it takes. If someone says, "I don't care how much you offer, I'm not coming to Minnesota", there's not much they can do about that. And if someone starts making offers that are clearly above and beyond any reasonable expectation of what the market price will be, there's not much they can do about that, either.

                      And certainly, trades are a possibility. They never said they'd get impact starting pitching through free agency. They just said their goal was to get some.

                    3. And just to add a little more--I think "impact starting pitching" needs to at least be someone who's clearly above league average. For his career, Bumgarner has obviously been that. My hesitancy about him is not what he's been, but what he's going to be. But the more I look at his numbers, the more I think he's going to continue to be what he's been for at least a few more years (barring injury, of course), and I would be happy to have him on the Twins.

                    4. Thank you for giving me a better idea of what you mean by impact. Genuinely, I appreciate it. I think there's a difference between how you defined it and how CH did, and maybe the FO defines it a third way, which is kind of illustrative of why I don't put much weight on the specific word when they say it. (Like, truly, by a definition of 4.0 WAR over multiple seasons the past 3 years, I don't think there's anyone out there at all beyond Cole and Strasburg who can be acquired through free agency or trade, but by your definition, the options are much broader, and would include guys who might be gettable in trades, as you said).

                      And it's not really about Bumgarner to me, either (like I said, I definitely like Wheeler more!) but that if he and Odorizzi are two guys they acquire, those are really good steps towards building the rotation. If that's literally all they do, sure, that's not great, and I'll agree with you about it. But if they do those and a trade for a decent guy (even if not a 4.0 WAR guy) I will be more happy than not with it. And I do think they're not going to sit out of the Cole race entirely, so who knows what could happen, but signing him is definitely not my expectation.

                    5. Like, truly, by a definition of 4.0 WAR over multiple seasons the past 3 years, I don't think there's anyone out there at all beyond Cole and Strasburg who can be acquired through free agency or trade, but by your definition, the options are much broader, and would include guys who might be gettable in trades

                      Regarding your point about acquiring a guy other than Cole & Strasburg who's averaged 4.0 WAR (whatever flavor you prefer) over the past three seasons, it may be that no other such pitcher is made available this offseason. The clear next step would be to try and acquire a pitcher who looks likely to have his second 4.0+ WAR season in 2020. The front office should have a pretty good idea of who they like from a list like that, and who they'd be willing to part with in order to acquire an arm like that. I wouldn't expect every pitcher on that list to be available, but I wouldn't think they are all unacquirable, either. There are some intriguing names among the 38 who have cleared that bar at least once.

              2. (kind of like I also don't find much meaning in the word "ace", but I do find it hilarious that you actually capitalized it)

                Mainly, my intent in capitalizing it was to draw attention to the Ace as real type of pitcher. Every rotation has, by default, a #1; there are 30 #1s rotation spots in MLB right now. There are not 30 Aces. I don't know exactly how many there might be at any given time, but if an Ace is essentially an All-Star+, then there aren't 30 of them. Acquiring one — and free agency is but one route the Twins have to obtain an Ace — is not going to be cheap. If this franchise has ever enjoyed prime situation in the nexus of perceived playoff expectation (certainly a factor for some FA), payroll capacity, and deep farm system, this is the time.

      3. If you ask MLBTR specifically about the Twins they'd probably project the Twins make a trade to fill one spot, and then sign someone equivalent to Perez/Brett Anderson/Jordan Lyles/whoever they would rank below that to compete with the in-house guys for the 5th spot.

        (My hot take that I haven't really expounded on too much anywhere yet is that sooner than later the Twins are going to move further in the direction of using one or more spots in the "rotation" as designated openers/bullpens like the Rays do)

    2. If anyone is expecting a dramatic improvement on starting pitching from last year, I think they're going to be pretty disappointed. Very few seemed to appreciate that the Twins had 2 pitchers in the Top 10 in ERA in the AL. A "#1" starter in MLB could be pretty much defined as one of the top 30 starting pitchers. The Astros were the Astros because they had the top 2 starting pitchers in the AL and probably top 5 in MLB. It will be an interesting offseason because the Twins have so much money to spend. I'll judge their efforts based on payroll and also look at the value they received on that. Also, just to temper excitement, as I mentioned last night, Fangraphs has Kyle Gibson ranked higher as a free agent than both Odo and Pineda. Of course, Pineda still has to finish his suspension.

      1. Gibson is a really fascinating FA case to me, and my fascination has only increased as I've thought about it. There's so many factors with him that different teams could read into based on what they emphasize (his groundballs, his actually pretty good usual velocity, his general durability except for being sick all year and who knows if he's well now, his much lower xFIP than ERA or FIP - is a de-juiced ball going to help him even more than many guys?)

        1. I agree. At the end of the season I was ready to be done with him and move on, but now I'm not so sure. He's not an "impact starting pitcher", but no matter what the Twins do they're not going to have five of those. If they can get him back on a reasonable deal, there are certainly worse guys you could have to fill out the rotation.

        2. The deader ball is an interesting thought, too. Are we going to see lots of pitchers suddenly do better next year, and lots of batters suddenly do worse, simply because of the ball? And how does that impact how you evaluate players?

          1. If they truly have deadened the ball, there's no doubt that numbers across the board will be down. We'll have to look at numbers relative to the league instead of overall numbers (OPS+ and ERA+, etc.). I hope they truly did change the ball so the Twins will remain the home run champs for a long time.

        3. For his career, Gibson's ERA is worse than his FIP, but since switching to the unusual exercises and training regimen with the big ball and all that prior to 2018, his ERA is 4.19 and his FIP is 4.16, which puts him at a 106 ERA+, so a slightly better than average starter, which would definitely be a good 4th or 5th starter.

  1. As far as I can tell, the only Twin to play in winter ball yesterday was Wilin Rosario, whose Aguilas team scored six runs in the sixteenth inning to defeat Estrellas 7-1. Rosario went 0-for-6 with a walk, but the walk started the sixteenth-inning rally. He is batting .225/.295/.338 in 71 at-bats.

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