One of my favorite things to do in the minutiae of the offseason is work on these blueprints. In fact, I may write three or more of them as I work through the different avenues I think the Twins could pursue. But I’m going to start off with the one I think will be the most fun.
That is, my ‘throw caution to the wind, go all out’ blueprint. I make a big deal about not wasting any more of Joe Mauer’s prime. With this offseason, in my estimation, the Twins can get moving back in the right direction and still easily assimilate some of the young guys once they’re ready.
So here goes nothing (salary data from Cot’s/Baseball Prospectus):
1B/OF Chris Parmelee
C/OF Chris Herrmann
1B Chris Colabello
RP Aaron Thompson
SP Mike Pelfrey
SP Kris Johnson
Note(s): I just can’t see Parmelee surviving this offseason; he didn’t survive last offseason. I don’t think anyone else adds Herrmann to their 40-man, so I am able to bring him back as a NRI. I think a fresh start will be best for everyone involved with Colabello. With Pelfrey it’s solely procedural. He can be re-added anywhere and nobody is going to claim him. I’d prefer to have the flexibility of that spot. Thompson is an organizational lefty who I’d bring back if he was willing. If Johnson wants another crack at Rochester’s rotation he’s certainly earned it, but not on the 40-man. Logan Darnell, Eduardo Nunez and A.J. Achter are safe — for now.
* Non-tender Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing
* Tender Trevor Plouffe, Jordan Schafer, Casey Fien, Tommy Milone and Eduardo Nunez.
Note(s): I just don’t need those two relievers. I don’t think the Twins do, either. Plouffe had a very nice season and his role in the future is worth monitoring. Schafer is a capable enough fourth outfielder and platoon partner with Aaron Hicks in left, and if both stink Eddie Rosario isn’t too far away. Fien has been fantastic considering expectations. This is Milone’s chance to impress me, because I’ll non-tender him next winter if things go south. Nunez I could totally take or leave, but he’s versatile enough to go to arbitration with once. Probably not more than that.
*Decline Jared Burton’s option, pay $200k buyout.
Note(s): I don’t think they need Burton either. Last year was rough.
*Catcher? Josmil Pinto to Tampa Bay for starting pitcher Jeremy Hellickson.
Note(s): It’s not happening with Pinto in Minnesota, and that’ll be even more evident when you see what free agent I sign. Hellickson is about to get expensive, so I might offer him a contract to finish up his arbitration years. But that’ll be after this year if he’s good. This can be avoided if you think the Rays will non-tender Hellickson, but I’m not sure about that. If Pinto truly is a player without a position, his market is only going to get worse as he ages.
* Sign catcher Russell Martin to a three-year, $45 million deal, with a vesting option for $15 million for 2018.
* Sign outfielder Colby Rasmus to a one-year, $5 million deal with plate appearance incentives and a vesting option for $10 million for 2016.
* Sign reliever Jesse Crain to a minor league deal with an opt-out date in May or June worth $2 million if he makes the big league club.
Note(s): And boom goes the dynamite. Martin completely revamps the pitching staff and catcher position at the foundation. Martin is one of the finest defensive catchers in the game, and is considered a great game-caller. He is also — at his best — a very good offensive catcher. Guys like this aren’t free agents very often. Martin’s 2018 option for me would vest at 1400 total plate appearances, or at least 500 in the 2017 season. It will take this much money to bring him to Minnesota. If this ruffles Kurt Suzuki’s feathers, find a way to move him and sign a John Buck type or even keep Eric Fryer around. It’s not that big of a deal.
Rasmus is a classic reclamation project, and this year’s version of Phil Hughes for me. $5 million to get him in the door, and $1 million in incentives at 300, 400 and 500 plate appearances. At 600 plate appearances next year’s $10 million option vests. This is good for Colby to rebuild value, and for the Twins to patch a hole with a high-ceiling talent.
Crain was awesome the last time he was healthy. If he gets healthy again, give him a spin. It’s pretty simple, really.
So what are we left with on Opening Day 2015? For the sake of ease all pre-arb deals have been listed at $500k. I would estimate a small overrun there but nothing very significant (less than $1 million for sure).
Have a look:
C- Russell Martin – $15 million
1B- Joe Mauer – $23 million
2B- Brian Dozier – $500k
3B- Trevor Plouffe- $4.3 million
SS- Danny Santana- $500k
LF- Aaron Hicks- $500k
CF- Colby Rasmus- $5 million
RF- Oswaldo Arcia- $500k
DH- Kennys Vargas- $500k
Lineup Cost: $49.8 million
Note(s): This is a lineup that would score plenty of runs. There’s still ample room to welcome Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton whenever, though I’m reasonably sure it won’t be this year. Either way, there would be room to move guys around for Rosario or anyone else who is ready at some point. The flexibility and versatility of this bunch is definitely notable. This is an improvement on a team that was fifth in the American League in runs scored last year. Martin should do wonders for this staff, also.
C- Kurt Suzuki – $6 million
IF- Eduardo Escobar – $500k
IF/OF Eduardo Nunez- $1.2 million
OF- Jordan Schafer – $1.5 million
Bench Cost: $9.2 million
Note(s): That’s too much for a backup catcher, and I’d oblige a Suzuki trade request if he made it. Otherwise it’s a decent enough bench. Schafer and Hicks would form a quasi-left field platoon.
1. Phil Hughes – $8 million
2. Ricky Nolasco – $12 million
3. Jeremy Hellickson – $3.8 million
4. Kyle Gibson – $500k
5. Tommy Milone – $2.8 million
Rotation Cost: $27.1 million
Note(s): The trouble with being caught in the middle of all these guys being ready soon is that you can’t really add long-term chips. Short-term guys aren’t usually very good, either (see Pelfrey, Kevin Correia). With Hellickson and Milone you have two guys who have multiple years of control left, and have been good in the past. Just wait until you see the bullpen….
1. Alex Meyer – $500k
2. Trevor May – $500k
3. Caleb Thielbar – $500k
4. Michael Tonkin – $500k
5. Ryan Pressly – $500k
6. Casey Fien – $1.1 million
7. Glen Perkins – $4.65 million
Bullpen Cost: $8.25 million
Note(s): That’s right. May and Meyer up top. Both can work in longer spots to start the season, and settle in to whatever leverage spots their success mandates. And if a rotation spot opens up, they can go to Rochester and stretch out and come back. That’s a nice bit of flexibility, and it still brings some semblance of excitement that should keep fans interested. The rest of the bullpen should be respectable. Lester Oliveros, A.J. Achter and Logan Darnell are around to fill in wherever needed, and guys like Nick Burdi, Jake Reed and many others aren’t far off.
And now for the reveal. All this will cost the Minnesota Twins……
Alright friends. In the spirit of blueprints I’d love to hear your comments, complaints, and all that. Do it either here, or @brandon_warne on twitter.