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Offseason Review Chat: Minnesota Twins (3/31/23)
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Steve Adams
Good morning Twins fans! Looking forward to chatting this afternoon at 2:00. Feel free to ask questions in advance, and hopefully you'll be able to join in for the live chat in a few hours!
Chat #2 of the day! Let's get up this one rolling
I don’t know anyone who was happy with Emilio Pagan’s performance last season. Needless to say it was a shock when they decided to keep him for 2023. How short of a leash will he have this year?
Steve Adams
Yeah, I was surprised they tendered him. I expect he'll be more of a middle reliever than a high-leverage guy this season, and based on the raw stuff, there's upside for him to be better than that. I know there are other teams that like him more than his baseline numbers would indicate, too.

I still figured the Twins would move on, but here he is. The $3.5MM salary isn't huge or anything, and he'll be a free agent at season's end. I can't imagine they'll stick him more than a couple months if he's just completely unreliable again.
Will the Twins try to extend Gray, Mahle, Lopez before the end of the year?
Steve Adams
I thought they'd try to extend Mahle before the shoulder issues popped up last summer. I still expect they'll try for something with Lopez. I'd be surprised if they didn't have some degree of talks during spring training. Gray will be 34 in November. Not sure I see the Twins putting down a multi-year extension for him at this point.
Are the Twins the next Padres? Much more spending and big contracts than in the past plus a new man in charge in Joe Pohlad. 200+ million here we come?
Steve Adams
The Correa expenditures show that this is definitely not the bottom-of-the-barrel Twins payroll club of the 90s and early 2000s, but I still don't think they're going to go full Padres and push payroll into the 200s and start paying the luxury tax.

It's fair to wonder whether Jim Pohlad would've greenlighted the six-year, $200MM deal  or if that was something Joe was more comfortable with now that he's in the more prominent position. In general, it'd be odd to make the level of commitments they have to Correa and Buxton and then continue to operate the rest of the team on a tight budget. They're in the $150-160MM range right now, and if you told me that in a couple years that was closer to $180MM, I could buy it. Especially if they perform well and get some attendance boosts.
Say everything bounces Twins way. Buxton plays at least half the games, Correa and the rotation is healthy 90% of the time. Legit contender?
Steve Adams
Definitely. I think this is only the second time in the past five or so years I've picked the Twins to win the division, but I do like them over the White Sox and more narrowly over the Guardians.  (White Sox have a very strong core, but the depth behind it is very lacking)
Confused Twins Fan
Hi Steve! Just curious, why are the Guardians so heavily favored over the Twins? I realize as a Twins fan, I am super biased, but on paper, if they stay healthy, I feel like the Twins could be very serious contenders!
Steve Adams
Are they heavily favored? PECOTA and FanGraphs both have the Twins winning the division. I'm sure a lot of pundits have Cleveland, and that's a perfectly defensible pick. Recency bias pretty regularly impacts individual predictions, though.
Future Infield
What happens when Julien, Lee, Lewis, and Martin are all ready for the Majors, but we still have Kirilloff, Correa, and Miranda deserving to keep their spots in the infield?
Steve Adams
That's a pretty optimistic outlook. A few years ago you'd probably have asked what happens when Kirilloff, Larnach, Rooker are all up and ready to go and everyone else was healthy and ... well, you see where it ends up.

It's just not likely that all of Julien, Lee, Lewis and Martin will even emerge as big league regulars, let alone that all of Correa/Miranda/Kirilloff will be healthy, productive and creating a logjam. These things tend to sort themselves out
Ang T
Could Aroldis Chapman be a trade target come July to give the back end of the pen a veteran arm for a postseason push?
Steve Adams
If the Twins wanted Chapman they could've just signed him for $4MM or so this offseason. I suppose if he's throwing well, sure, they could take a look, but he was pretty bad last season. There'll be other, more appealing relievers on the market in all likelihood.
Vazquez hits better against lefties than righties, but since Jeffers has even bigger splits, it sounds like he'll get more time against the lefties. Does not facing lefties diminish Christian's overall value?
Steve Adams
I don't think it'll be as simple as "Jeffers sits against all righties and Vazquez sits against all lefties." There will probably be some diminished offensive value from Vazquez if Jeffers sees the bulk of playing time against LHP, but Vazquez is a passable hitter against righties and the Twins targeted him more for his glove than his bat anyhow.
Again, this also assumes both stay healthy all year. If Jeffers gets hurt at any point, then you're probably looking at Tony Wolters coming up as a pure backup and Vazquez playing more against LHP and RHP.
I think the moves to produce a very deep roster are going under the radar this season for the Twins.  Am I just a homer or do they have a chance to compete for the American League this year?
Steve Adams
A bench of Solano, Farmer, Jeffers and (once Buxton starts playing CF more regularly) Michael A. Taylor is really good and versatile. Add in Nick Gordon, and yeah, there's a lot of flexibility here. Nice depth in the upper minors, too, with prospects like Lewis, Julien, Wallner, etc. likely options in '23. Same in the rotation with Ober, Woods Richardson, Winder. I do think it's easy to overlook the depth on a roster and focus on the 26 guys who break camp, and people who do that could well be selling the Twins short.
If Kirilloff returns to full health and plays well, is there any scenario where the Twins go after a top name at the trade deadline?
Steve Adams
I don't think that's really dependent on Kirilloff alone. Of course, him coming back healthy and finally playing to his potential would boost the team, but even if he barely plays, there's plenty of scenarios where this team is healthy, contending and active at the trade deadline, yeah. That's my expectation for 2023, frankly.
The Ghost of Carl Pohlad's Wallet
What would you say is the most underrated move the Twins made this offseason?
Steve Adams
I liked their depth additions in general. Correa and Lopez get the focus and understandably so, but MAT, Farmer, Solano is a really nice group of reserve players who can step into larger roles without being liabilities. They're all borderline-starting caliber players.

If you want one specific move, I suppose the Taylor acquisition, but the general focus on elite defenders and starting-caliber depth really raised the team's floor.
Where do you anticipate Lewis to play when he is ready? Reports are this morning that he could be playing minor league games by mid April. Outfield? 3b with Miranda flipping to 1b? 2b? All over?
Steve Adams
It'll depend largely on the health of the roster. It's a boring answer, but that's always my answer with these things. Trying to predict where someone will play two months down the road is a fool's errand, because in all likelihood, the roster's going to look very different.

Assuming good health, I like him just subbing around at multiple spots -- second base, third, shortstop, outfield, occasional DH reps. Since they don't really have a committed DH, it'd be easy enough to get Lewis in the lineup 4-5 times a week even if he doesn't have a dedicated spot on the roster, and he's so athletic that I think he could handle that role well.
Ang T
Twins issued big contracts to Correa & Buxton, who could be the next player to get paid well?
Steve Adams
As far as extension candidates on the current roster go, Lopez is the one that jumps out to me. Duran, too. There's obvious risk in extending a reliever, but if you can get him at something similar to the Clase deal or even a bit more than that, it's a risk well worth taking given how dominant he's become so quickly.
Future is Bright
With Correa and Buxton on contract for the next several years, what other players do you see sticking around as part of that core? Should I buy a Miranda jersey?!
Steve Adams
Duran, for sure. I don't think Joe Ryan's an ace or anything but he's a pretty set-in-stone midrotation starter for me. I do believe in Miranda's bat -- shakier on his glove at 3B, but we'll see -- and think he's probably in the middle of that lineup for several years.
Pablo Lopez had really good stuff yesterday but had spotty command. Can he be an ace or is his ceiling a 2?
Steve Adams
When I think "ace," I think durability in addition to pure results, and Lopez hasn't consistently shown that yet. I don't really expect him to become that dominant No. 1 starter, but I think he's already pretty close to that "No. 2" type of arm.

In general, I really hate the "No. 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5" designations because they're so subjective though. A healthy Lopez is an easy starter in a playoff rotation, which is what matters most.
How much better for the pitching staff is a Vasquez/Jeffers combo as opposed to Sanchez/Jeffers/Garver? Will it amount to more wins and improved pitching or is the defense of a catcher overrated?
Steve Adams
Sanchez's glove wasn't nearly as bad as his reputation, but I still believe there's a tangible upgrade to be had from catchers who are better at stealing strikes and, as importantly, ensuring that strikes on the fringes of the zone are properly called.

Vazquez also rated as one of the better catchers in the league in terms of blocking pitches in the dirt, per Statcast's new metric in that regard. Each of Jeffers, Garver and especially Sanchez is well below-average dating back to 2020.
Twins have quickly amassed a major logjam at shortstop.  Where do you see some of the up and comers making their mark in the infield?
Steve Adams
I don't really see it as a logjam. They've got Correa at shortstop and no one else who's healthy and MLB-ready pushing him. Lewis is injured and on the mend, but after two torn ACLs it seemed like a hard sell to call him a long-term SS anyhow. Brooks Lee has played two games above A-ball. Austin Martin's stock is down and he was never a slam dunk to stick at short anyway; another position always felt likelier.

Most third basemen and second basemen and a lot of outfielders were drafted as shortstops and moved to other positions. The best answer is that if/when Lewis, Martin, Lee, etc. force their way onto the big league roster, they're all athletic enough to handle other positions. Where they slot in will determine on the context of the roster at that given point. Who's healthy, who's struggling, etc. And of course, some could be traded, injured or just never become MLB-ready.

For now, it's just a good thing to have several good prospects at the most premium spot on the defensive spectrum.
Lt Data
Should the Twins have traded Kepler?
Steve Adams
I was mildly surprised that they didn't, but I also can't imagine the value was particularly high. I wouldn't just give him away to clear the roster spot and salary. He's a great defender and a non-zero at the plate -- even if his 35-homer season looks like a clear outlier (yay juiced ball!).

If the offers were pedestrian, hanging onto him and keeping the depth makes perfect sense to me. Based on the fact that he's still here, I would imagine that was generally the case.
Do you see starters getting a chance to make a third trip through the order this year?
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