MINNEAPOLIS - Originally published on TwinsDaily.com
Baseball is back! Let’s get a little refresher on everything that happened leading up to spring training. I’ll also look at how each move is affected by a 60 game season. The Twins did a lot, will it pay off for this short season?
Twins bring back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda:
When Odorizzi accepted the one year qualifying offer, I thought it was a smart decision. He could have another good year and then go make a ton of money. Instead he will play on a one year contract and then enter free agency where it will be difficult for anyone to get paid. It’s a good deal for the Twins because Odorizzi is a solid starter and the Twins have a great rotation with him in it.
Michael Pineda was getting screwed every time someone mentioned a shorter season. He has 39 games left on his suspension from last season so he will be around for less than half of the season. Unless someone gets hurt, I don’t see him playing a large role from the rotation but rather as a long reliever who can make a spot start.
Replacing Jason Castro with Alex Avila:
This was one of the smaller, but still very important, moves of the offseason. Jason Castro departed after three years but the starting job is now with Mitch Garver. The Twins needed a solid backup catcher to replace Castro and Avila will do just that. With the Twins playing roughly 60 games in 66 days I would bet Avila will start around 33% of those games.
Twins sign Tyler Clippard and Matt Wisler:
I was very interested in seeing both of these relievers play a role for the 2020 Twins. Clippard was a lock to make the team after having one of his best seasons in 2019. His strikeout numbers were down, but so were his walks and hard contact. Plus the Twins are an organization that can squeeze out just a little bit more talent.
Wisler is interesting because he was the definition of a player fighting for the last spot. He seems like a guy that could really fit with the Twins with his one elite pitch (slider) and a few others that are just okay. I’ll bet we see him on the team and he will play a Ryne Harper type of role from 2019.
Twins sign Homer Bailey
When the Twins signed Bailey and Rich Hill, Bailey was a sure lock to be in the rotation with Rich Hill out and guys like Dobnak could be sent to the minors. Not anymore. I doubt we see Bailey in the rotation at least to start the season and instead he will play long reliever. The Twins are set to have an elite rotation of Berrios, Odorizzi, Maeda, Hill, and Dobnak. That rotation with Bailey in the bullpen, Thorpe/Smeltzer available, and Pineda returning at the end of the season is scary.
Back in late December when the Twins signed Rich Hill, there were concerns about his health and we all knew we wouldn’t even see him until mid July. Suddenly the season starts in mid July. Now it looks very likely that Rich Hill and his 11.05 K/9 will start the season in the Twins rotation. You love to see it.
Twins sign Josh Donaldson:
I know what you're thinking. “”Who is Josh Donaldson?” It’s been a long time since the Twins made this huge splash, so I’ll remind you. Josh Donaldson is the 34-year old third baseman who has had 5+ fWAR in six of the last seven seasons. Also the former MVP, Silver Slugger (2x) and All Star (3x). He’s really good, and we will finally get to see him in a Twins uniform. In a 60 game sprint season he seems like the perfect guy to get hot and just go crazy for a while.
Trading Brusdar Graterol and Luke Raley for Kenta Maeda:
I really didn’t like this move a lot at first. Looking back at it four months later, I like it a lot more. The Twins gave up Graterol who will be a reliever for his career for a solid starter who is cheap and will help them win now. Starting pitching will be huge in a 60 game season and having Maeda in the rotation will prove to be extremely helpful. Don’t get me wrong, Graterol will still be good, but a starting pitcher is more valuable right now.