Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Moves Highlight Front Office Acumen

Over the offseason, the Minnesota Twins hired a new front office duo in the form of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. They were thrust into a situation where the roster was in flux, and the manager was appointed to them. On top of all that, they were faced with making a critical decision regarding a second basemen coming off one of the best seasons in franchise history. Fast forward to today, and trades have been the highlight that define the new tandem's baseball acumen.

Prior to the 2017 season getting underway, Falvey and Levine had extensive discussions with the Los Angeles Dodgers in regards to Brian Dozier. It was a match made in heaven from a needs perspective, and LA had the assets to part with. However, as the process drew on, it was apparent the Dodgers were stuck on giving up a sole player in return, and the Twins brass held their ground.

Despite putting up Harmon Killebrew like numbers a season ago, Dozier was primed for regression. He had averaged 23 homers a season from 2013-2015, and the 42 long ball output in 2016 wasn't going to cloud that. Regardless, he was still more valuable to the Twins than a one-for-one return. Jose De Leon is a nice enough prospect, but as they all are, a lottery ticket nonetheless. He had shoulder and arm issues in the past, and flipping a high level big leaguer for that level of uncertainty never made sense.

In the end, Falvey and Levine did their best to have Cody Bellinger or Walker Buehler brought into the conversation. While never a possibility, you can't fault them for aiming high. When players like Brock Stewart and Willie Calhoun weren't going to be thrown in either, they smartly walked away. At the end of the day, even with his faults, Dozier would be more valuable to the Twins than a straight up return of solely De Leon.

Fast forward to the 2017 Major League Baseball trade deadline and the duo was at it again. Despite no numbers suggesting Minnesota could hang with the red-hot, and frankly more talented, Cleveland Indians and Kansas City Royals, the front office took a calculated shot. Giving up next to nothing in Huascar Ynoa, Jaime Garcia was brought in to bolster a depleted rotation. In a matter of a week, the expected played itself out, and Minnesota' front office flipped the pitcher in a deal that essentially boiled down to buying two better prospects from the Yankees for roughly $5 million.

Caught in the middle ground between buying and selling, the Twins dipped their toe in, allowed the scenario to play itself out, and then ended up in a better position anyways. Once they established themselves as sellers, the strong decision making continued. With no realistic place for him in the organization, the Twins getting any return for John Ryan Murphy was a win. Sure, the former regime screwed the pooch in dealing away Aaron Hicks for nothing, but Gabriel Moya is dominating Double-A and is one heck of a dart throw in exchange for a guy you can't use.

While the Twins bullpen has been a mess in 2017, it always stood to reason that Brandon Kintzler had no place in it once Minnesota deemed it wasn't going anywhere. A free agent at the end of the year, he's still free to resign, and getting something back for him is a huge win. Falvey and Levine turned a guy the Twins signed on a minor league deal, and paid next to nothing in 2017 for, into a high floor/low ceiling minor league arm from the Nationals. Continuing to add to pitching depth, Minnesota did right by Kintzler and themselves.

It's been less than a year thus far, but what we've seen from the front office in terms of acquisitions should be heartwarming. The Twins have a young core, and are positioned to win soon, and for an extended period of time. With savvy decision making thus far, an offseason in which it makes sense to spend and supplement is something that lies ahead of both Falvey and Levine.

The rest of the way in 2017, it would be nice to see a glut of prospects make their debuts at Target Field. Starting the audition process now would go a long ways into shaping the 25 man coming out of spring training a year from now. There is the caveat that Paul Molitor may not be around a year from now, and that could influence roster decisions presently. That being said, it seems that when shaping this organization, Derek Falvey and That Levine have a plan. So far, they've shown an ability to know when to hold em, and maybe more importantly, when to fold em.