Minneapolis, MN

Fourth of July Files (7/3): Trades, Rebuilding vs. Retooling, Jose Miranda & Much More

Brandon Warne

Andy Witchger/Wikimedia Commons

Welcome back to a weekly edition called “Monday’s Mail" except for now, it’s going to be “Friday Files” until the end of the regular season. Then, we’ll do Flashback Friday and move the mail back Monday.

If you’d like to be involved, there are a few ways you can do so:

  • Tweet @brandon_warne or @accesstwins with the hashtag #askBW
  • if Twitter isn’t your thing, send an email to brandon.r.warne@gmail.com with the subject “Monday Mailbag/Friday Files”
  • Watch for sporadic Facebook posts asking for questions

Should be pretty easy, right? Let’s talk to it:

From @rqualley3: Do you think a fair extension for Buck would be 5/85M, with incentives that could push it to a minimum of 5/125? I’m sure it’s been discussed, but $25MM a year for someone of the caliber would almost be a steal.

I like it. I think it’s fair, and if everything pans out, it’s a step below the deal George Springer got from the Toronto Blue Jays (6/$150m). Buxton is younger than Springer and both have dealt with some injuries, but the track record for the latter is far, far longer.

But basically, I’ve been on record as saying I would start at five years and $100 million — and this basically is the Oreo cookies to my creme filling.

It’s possible Buxton has his sights set higher, but unless he can stay healthy from the second half of this year through next, it’s hard to imagine him pushing past the AAV Springer got. I just can’t see it.

From @swayze_scbc: Who is your pick to win the Euro cup?

Way out of my element on that one.

From @buxtonSupporter: Pain

From @turkeybucket91: When will the pain end?

From @MNDutchman: Football

When I solicited questions, I asked people what was on their mind(s). I deserve this.

From @BethJ826: Where do the Twins start with putting together a better pitching staff?

They have to first decide what they’re going to do with Jose Berrios, both in the short- but also long-term view. I tend to think they should re-shuffle the deck a bit and run it back, but I’m not sure how many people — both fans and front office types — agree.

Berrios and Kenta Maeda can be the foundation of a pretty good rotation, but the slate is blank behind that. Can they retain Michael Pineda? Do they even want to?

They’re going to have to find some kind of reclamation project they like who can succeed. My personal favorite is Jon Gray, who is pitching a fair bit better this year than last.

If they end up dealing Berrios but not waving the white flag, they’ll have to shop at the top of the market for a starter like Kevin Gausman, which I’m not really sure I see happening.

But beyond that, they just need guys internally to stay healthy. As I’ve noted in this space on multiple occasions, quite a bit of the team’s minor-league pitching depth would be in the big leagues right now if the 2020 season hadn’t been canceled.

Jordan Balazovic, Blayne Enlow and Jhoan Duran — just to name a few — rank among the team’s top-tier pitching prospects who’ve dealt with injuries of varying severity this season. And while that has allowed Matt Canterino and Josh Winder to slide closer to the front of the class, that’s not exactly what a team is looking for when they’re DFA’ing and IL’ing guys left and right.

From @SeanMaertens: Roughly how soon until guys on the IL come back would you estimate? Particularly curious about Pineda and Refsnyder.

I think the indication with Pineda is that he might make the next start that Bailey Ober is lined up for, but I’m not certain about that. He wasn’t particularly sharp in his outing with St. Paul on Thursday — four earned runs in 4.0 innings, one strikeout and three walks — so maybe he’ll be on tap for one more start with the Saints before the Twins give him a look. They can’t really afford to rush things now if they’re planning to have him pitch a bit and then trade him before July 31.

Any sort of setback would derail that plan rather quickly.

I haven’t heard a single thing about Refsnyder, which is strange since he’s been on the injured list for more than three weeks with a hamstring strain. Since it was an aggravation of a previous injury, I suspect he’s still a little ways off from going on a rehab stint, and then seeing if there’s room for him on the active roster. There might not be.

From @enge0280: Regarding re-tool or rebuild: I say the lineup is more retool (add a shortstop) where the pitching is more reload/bring young guys along. Who are some veterans they could trade a position player for? I was thinking Kepler or Arraez might bring back a starter potentially? Thoughts?

I think they’ll re-tool in the offseason, but I don’t really know if I see Arraez or Kepler bringing back a starter of any significance. Arraez is great in the role the Twins have him now, but it’s unlikely any other team is going to consider him a big-time target. If he was a good defensive second baseman, he’d have a bit more allure.

Basically, I think he’s worth more to the team he’s with (Twins, of course) than any potential acquiring team.

I mean they could, in theory, move Kepler but I’m just not sure the value is there — and right now, he’s their primary Buxton insurance against any sort of future injury issues.

It’s probably prospects or bust on the trade front this winter.

From @JacobBooth6: What do you think the Twins payroll will be next year? Say we give Buxton an extension, will there be enough to add pitching?

Hopefully, it’s in that $135-140 million range like it was lined up to be prior to the truncated 2020 season.

This year’s Opening Day payroll via Cot’s was just a touch over $125 million, though I get the sense if there’s a player out there who makes sense for the team to target, it’s not going to be difficult to convince Jim Pohlad to open things up.

If we assume a Buxton extension is in that $18-20 million per year range, that eats up another hefty chunk of what’s already just under $50 million hard committed for next year (mostly Josh Donaldson, Miguel Sano and Kepler).

With that said, would a Buxton extension kick in right away? If so, we’d probably assume a first-year salary of about $10 million rather than that $18-20 million, right?

A lot will depend on what happens with Berrios, who would likely command a salary of $10-12 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility as well. It’s not hard to see the payroll touching $100 million or slightly above that before considering any external signings — so it might be tighter than people would like to see.

But regardless of what happens with Berrios, he won’t simply be replaced by signing another $10-12 million pitcher, so trading him has to be about opportunity as opposed to saving money.

So with that said, let’s assume the Twins keep Buxton and Berrios but do not sign them to extensions that affect their 2022 salaries. In that event, there should still be plenty of room to find another shortstop (if they so desire) and a pretty good starting pitcher before pennies are pinched too much.

From @bewalzer1: If you could go back 3 years, what moves would you have done to change the outcome of today's roster/record?

I think really the only thing you can do is try to offer a lot more than the Phillies did to Zack Wheeler. Otherwise…it’s pretty hard to go back and re-do a lot of what was already done without the gift of hindsight.

And of course, in doing so, the Twins don’t land Donaldson. Make of that what you will.

From @JesiahWaldner: Which prospect do u think will get called first?

Oh, Jesiah. I love your spirit. I feel like you ask this every week. I’m hopeful that the next prospect getting the call is Winder, because honestly I’m just getting impatient with watching J.A. Happ take the ball every fifth day. I’m not usually this impulsive, but Winder isn’t particularly young (25 in October) and hasn’t just been good, but brilliant through 11 starts this season (1.94 ERA).

From @RDLARK: Donaldson's '21 salary: $21M

  • Kyle Gibson: $10M
  • Odorizzi: $6M
  • Hill: $2.5M
  • Total for the 3: $18.5M

I feel like this isn’t really a good comparison. For one, Odorizzi makes $9 million this year and there are a ton of incentives built into his deal. Secondly, these deals were signed across multiple offseasons, with some of them not even lining up with the proper timeline during which the Donaldson deal was signed.

But alas, is this team really better with those three instead of Donaldson? Probably — but is it enough of a leap to actually matter with how things have gone this season? If your answer is no, then hindsight isn’t your friend here.

From @Sky_Razzball: Do we see Jose Miranda up with the team this year and if so, when.

I think it hinges on if Donaldson is dealt — and I don’t think he will be. Miranda is having a tremendous season and has hit the ground running at St. Paul, and the Twins have to be thanking their lucky stars he too wasn’t Akil Baddoo’d in the Rule 5 draft this past winter.

Of course, his track record was even shakier than Baddoo’s, and there’s no guarantee A. he’d have stuck or B. Baddoo can keep doing what he’s done, but that’s neither here nor there.

I don’t know if he has the bat to stick at third base or the defensive chops to stick at second, but he’s still only 23 and it’s hard to ignore a 1.041 OPS in 51 games no matter how they’re sliced between Double- and Triple-A.

If he isn’t up for an extended shot in August with Donaldson out of the picture, a September call-up still seems possible. He’ll need to be added to the 40 in the offseason, so they may as well get a look at him to see if he can separate himself in what’ll be a crowded infield space with Royce Lewis coming back and Arraez and Nick Gordon already in the mix.

From @bigpimpsburner: Why are Falvey and Levine still with the twins

Because they constructed a team that won games at a 60+ percent pace the two years prior to this.

From @BenekeBC: Retool or rebuild? And how would you go about either?

I’m re-tooling because they’re one year from hitting the reset button anyway with Berrios, Buxton, Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey all eligible for free agency after 2022.

They need to decide what to do at shortstop, commit to DH’ing Sano for a full season in 2022 and then start adding pitching in any way, shape or form possible. One guy I’d keep an eye on who I really like — Jorge Lopez of the Orioles. Everything on his stat page is hideous, but I think they should definitely gamble on the arm talent if given the opportunity.

From @MikeBatesTWIBH: You're being stranded on a deserted island with three current or former Twins. You will be there for 6 months with ample food and water, but no electricity. Who are they?

Oh, jeez.

  • Trevor May — I just loved talking to him. You could ask him one question and he’d go on for six minutes and you’d be listening with a rapt ear the entire time. He’d talk about biomechanics, pitching, music, video games….whatever. Just a fascinating dude.
  • Phil Hughes — Have you seen the food he cooks? Beyond that, he’s just a cool guy to talk to and he loves baseball cards. Easy choice.
  • Eduardo Escobar — Honestly, just watch the video:

There are so many honorable mentions here, but some who come to mind quickly are Sergio Romo, Kyle Gibson, Chris Gimenez, Trevor Hildenberger and Bobby Wilson — and probably a million others.

From @kimba55h: Better career as a catcher, Mauer or Posey. Are both HOF?

They’re both Hall of Famers for me, but it’s Posey as far as who’s been the better catcher. He’s played about 100 more games back there and nothing Joe did — no disrespect intended — comes close to Posey’s 2012 season (10.1 fWAR)

From @Gotwins10: Give me a list of at least 5 starting pitchers you would like the Twins to target in FA this offseason.

We’ll go all across the levels here so don’t be surprised if there are some guys who aren’t as good as one might expect:

  1. Kevin Gausman
  2. Max Scherzer
  3. Eduardo Rodriguez
  4. Dylan Bundy
  5. Jon Gray

I would also like them to explore bringing back Pineda.

From @jand4545: Chances they trade Berrios? Listened to Royals broadcast yesterday and they mentioned that Boston may be in on him

Jeff Passan said the other day on ESPN+ that it sounds as though the odds are better than before. I’ll go with 50 percent. I still think they should A. try to sign him and B. run it back with this same team plus some pitching improvements. But with that said, if the market is sizzling for a pitcher of Berrios’ caliber, strike while the iron is hot, baby.

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Warne has covered the Minnesota Twins in some form or fashion for more than a decade, and before that grew a fan of the team. He lives in the suburban Twin Cities area with his wife Amanda and daughter Harper.

Minneapolis, MN

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