Friday, July 31, 2020

Where Is MLB’s Planned Taxi Squad?

This morning Major League Baseball was hit with another blow. The St. Louis Cardinals had two players test positive for COVID-19 with an immediate fallout of postponement of action against the Milwaukee Brewers. We’re playing through a pandemic here however, so what really was the plan?

When Rob Manfred and the owners finally came to agreement on economics it appeared, they also had sorted out safety protocols. What it seems they didn’t have ironed out was the logistics surrounding continuation of play. It’s one thing to suggest that a season be decided on winning percentage if not all teams get 60 games in. That can’t happen if some only play 30 or 40 games.

These teams are tested every other day, or potentially daily in some instances. Rapid tests are taken at will, and in the case of the Nationals Juan Soto, relatively indicative of what the saliva tests may show. What has to be determined, and seems like it remains up in the air, is what constitutes an outbreak and what doesn’t.

Last week the Miami Marlins decided via group text to play through a game despite four players testing positive. They allowed the virus to run rampant within their clubhouse and now have over 60% of their 30-man active roster dealing with positive results. Something like that isn’t going to be overcome by a 3-man taxi squad, and very clearly isn’t as easy as calling on players from the alternate site either.

On the other hand, the St. Louis Cardinals had just two players test positive following their departure from Minnesota on Wednesday night. To postpone action against the Milwaukee Brewers on Friday seems to negate the planning MLB put in place. The 3-man taxi squad was not designed to account for injury, that’s why there’s an additional 30 players at the alternate site. What the taxi squad was talked about doing was providing an immediate replacement should someone need to go on the COVID-related IL.

Each team has up to three players traveling with them to all away games. If they aren’t going to be immediately substituted onto the active roster when a positive tests appears, then there’s little reason for them to be subjected to travel and increase virus contraction at all.

Since the beginning Major League Baseball’s goal has been to play an unprecedented season amidst a global pandemic. That’s going up against some significantly substantial odds, but if you’re going to operate like that there has to be a level of “next man up.” Postponing each game in which a test or two come back positive on any given day will certainly fail to give this season a chance.

Maybe this was always going to be the probable outcome. We still don’t have this under control across the country, so the feasibility of baseball being doable remained a longshot anyways. However, as unfortunate, and competitively unjust as it is, the show must go on. Either Rob Manfred has to decide that taxi squads have a purpose to fill in rosters (and maybe even expand that group), or even a limited number of positives will bring the sport to its knees.

It has been a tenuous start to this whole thing, and there won’t be much more opportunity to get it right. Step back and get it together now, or we’ll continue to go through the motions on something that fizzles out shortly anyways.

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

The Most Interesting Man in Minnesota

Over the winter Twins fans clamored for starting pitching. After losing to the Yankees in the Postseason again, a constant bugaboo was deemed the source of weakness. Needing an ace, the Twins sought out some arms. Swinging a deal for Kenta Maeda was nice, but it may be Rich Hill that represents the haul.

Sure, he’s 40 years old but try telling Nelson Cruz that’s a milestone anyone should care about. The reality is that Hill has both been often hurt and often good. Good probably isn’t even a fair assessment, he’s been downright great. His 3.00 ERA dating back to 2016 is the 6th best mark in Major League Baseball. He’s coming off a season in which he posted an outstanding 2.45 ERA across 13 starts for the Dodgers, and he hasn’t had a year with less than double-digit strikeouts per nine innings since 2012.

In a world where velocity is king, Hill laughs at the notion. He flips his fastball up there at an average of 90.6 mph, and that’s not much of a decline considering the peak was 92.9 mph in 2012 with the Red Sox. He’s learned to live with what he has, and there’s very little surprise in how he’ll attack you.

Last season Hill utilized just two pitches. His four seem fastball was chosen 52% of the time while his big breaker was utilized at a 45.8% clip. The velo change on that curveball is staggering, dropping 15 mph all the way down to an average of 74.5. It’s not that those two types of pitches are anything special, but it is that when they derive from Hill’s hand, they’re nothing short of majestic.

Hill’s fastball spin ranks in the 91st percentile, but it’s the bender that gets the love here. The curveball has an average spin rate of 2919 RPM, or 4th best among pitchers that threw at least 300 of them a season ago. It’s in the 95th percentile across the league, and it’s why Hill’s hard-hit rate is an elite 98 percentile tally.

That curveball is a thing of beauty in and of itself. With a combined 12 inches of vertical and horizontal movement above league average, barreling it remains one of the league’s toughest tasks. It’s why a hitter can step in and know they have just two pitches to look for, but still be frozen on a meaty fastball right down the gut.

You might argue there’s nothing flashy about what Hill does on the mound, and that’s probably a fair assessment. There is a level of intrigue or a mystique feeling about how he competes, however. The stuff may lull you to sleep but being that dominant by going virtually against the grain is something we don’t see in baseball anymore.

Minnesota brought Hill in to bolster a rotation down the stretch. Now he’ll work right from the jump and could end up being the heart of it. When the dust settles, he’ll look to add onto his 53 Postseason innings, and those that add onto the 15 he’s pitched in the World Series could certainly culminate with a ring.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Riding the Rollercoaster with the Twins

This weekend was an absolute blast. The Minnesota Twins took the field and despite a hiccup on Saturday, looked the part of a superior team ready to assert themselves. On their off-day Monday, Major League Baseball did its best to go up in flames. I expected a rollercoaster this season, but I’m not sure this was how I envisioned it.

Max Kepler started the season with a dinger, and then he went ahead and did it again. Nelson Cruz blasted his way into the record books with a seven-RBI performance on Sunday, and Rocco Baldelli’s club looked like a clear favorite in the AL Central. This week is highlighted by tough matchups with the St. Louis Cardinals and Cleveland Indians, a good measuring stick pair of matchups.

As I eagerly anticipated the return of Twins baseball at Target Field today, even without fans, I couldn’t help but feel an immense level of uncertainty. The Miami Marlins now have zero idea how they’ll field a team, and the Washington Nationals want no part of player such an infected organization. Rob Manfred has said it’s not a death blow to the league, but he also hasn’t stepped up with any real plan forward.

I guess all of that leaves us in this weird limbo that 2020 continues to serve up.

The three days tweeting real, live, Twins action over the weekend were some of the most fun I’ve had in all the years spent doing this. It was a reprieve from the world around us, and while not sticking my head in the sand, it was a necessary getaway. The unfortunate flip side is whether or not it will all be taken away, and a matter of how abruptly.

I’m not going to pretend I have any clue how to navigate these waters, or that playing baseball through a global pandemic is even an entirely possible endeavor. What I do know though, is that this Twins team has already flashed reason to believe they’ll be among the best in franchise history, and I’d hate to see that go wasted.

My hope is that there’s a way forward and that some ugly situations early present an opportunity for discussion, planning, and growth. Maybe we’ll look back at this first week much like we can hope to in regards to 2020 as a whole, and just shake our heads at the absurdity we experienced. I’m not sure what lies ahead, but you best believe it will be better if Twins baseball remains a part of it.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Four Months of Waiting, but Twins Baseball is Here

It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. When I went down to Fort Myers in early March to cover the Twins, I wasn’t supposed to leave under the haze of a global pandemic. My office has been closed for months. Sports have been shelved just as long. The Twins defending the AL Central crown wasn’t intended to take place in just a 60-game sprint. None of this was supposed to happen, but here we are, and we have baseball.

I don’t know if we’ll get through the entire schedule. I think MLB has done a decent job making sure they have significant protocols in place. My hope is that even while a 16-team Postseason is looney, we’ll see it play out. For one day, one night, tonight, things stand still though. Opening Day presents an opportunity for everyone to begin anew.

Last year’s 307 home runs hold no weight as to what takes place in 2020. The Bomba Squad and their 101 wins don’t carry over. Rocco Baldelli has won a Manager of the Year award and Nelson Cruz has gone over the hill. All of that is in the past now, and the Twins future remains bright as ever. Brimming with the best lineup in the sport, equipped with a lights out relief corps, and bolstered by a rotation chocked full of depth, this could be the year.

A World Series ultimately defines a team’s season, but it doesn’t negate the quality along the way. Because the Twins didn’t bring home a ring in 2019 doesn’t take away from what they accomplished. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine haven’t been building to look back on those accomplishments however, and the step they’ve put forward this season is their best year. The roster is primed to make serious noise, and even with the oddities that will follow this year, the Twins are in as good of a position as anyone.

I appreciate you all for reading, following, and trying to make it through this lull. Now we’ve got that in our rear view too, and Opening Day allows us to dive full speed ahead into what could quite possibly be the best season in Minnesota Twins history.

We weren’t supposed to get here this way, but we’ve arrived, and Opening Day is just as beautiful as it’s always been. Settle in, it won’t be as long, but you can be assured it will be every bit as fun.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Projecting the 2020 AL Central Division

We’ve finally made it and baseball is back in just a matter of days. The Minnesota Twins will kick off this 60-game sprint in Chicago, and they’ll look to distance themselves from a team looking to prove they’re ready. I put out a 162-game projection back in February, but with so many logistical changes and update is necessary.

I don’t foresee any changes in the positioning among the teams from where I had them at the beginning of the year, but we’re obviously only going to play roughly one-third of the games now. There’s significantly more volatility involved, and it will play against Minnesota more than any other club.

That said, here’s how the division shakes out this season, and in parenthesis what the PECOTA projections are for each team in this scenario:

Minnesota Twins 36-24 (35-25)

There’s no argument to be made that Minnesota isn’t the best team in this division. They have arguably the best lineup in baseball and aren’t far behind with their bullpen. The rotation is cemented in depth and there’s plenty of candidates to be a top-tier arm as well. Josh Donaldson is a massive addition and having Rich Hill from the jump should be a nice boost. The Twins have stiffer competition in the White Sox this year, but it’s hard not to see the Indians having taken a step backwards.

Cleveland Indians 32-28 (32-28)

While it won’t be long before Chicago overtakes Cleveland, I’m not sure it happens in 2020. Cleveland still has an awesome rotation at the top with Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. Clevinger is already a health risk though, and Carlos Carrasco’s return is a question mark. Save for Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez, there’s also concerns about star power in the lineup. Should this club stumble out of the gate, maybe Lindor gets moved at the deadline.

Chicago White Sox 31-29 (31-29)

I’m all in on Luis Robert, he’s going to be a stud. What his career ends up being remains to be seen, and while I think he could break out right away, there’s still plenty more that needs to go right for the White Sox. Lucas Giolito faded at times in 2019, and neither Dallas Keuchel nor Gio Gonzalez are impact pitchers anymore. Yasmani Grandal is a huge addition, but someone had to supplement the flash in the pan that was James McCann a year ago. The Southsiders will be knocking at the door soon, and the shortened season helps their chances, but give it one more year.

Kansas City Royals 24-36 (25-35)

Down here you’re really competing for the best of the worst, and I’m not certain what way these final two shake out. It’s my belief that the Royals slide will be less drastic than the volatility of the Tigers prospects. Kansas City isn’t good, and they aren’t exciting either. There are some pieces here though that can squeak out enough to stay out of the bottom spot in the division.

Detroit Tigers 22-38 (26-34)

I’m really excited to see what Casey Mize, Tarik Skubal, Alex Faedo, and Riley Greene can do. Unfortunately, none of those guys will be on the Opening Day roster, and while watching Miguel Cabrera chase down records is fun, there’s nothing else of note here. I don’t think Ron Gardenhire is the right guy to push a prospect-laden team forwards as that’s where he ended his tenure with the Twins, so he may see his way out around the time new faces make their debuts.

In case you missed it, here’s how I have the yearly awards and Postseason shaking out as well:

Monday, July 20, 2020

Projecting the Twins 30-Man Opening Day Roster 2.0

We’ve made it, we have finally made it. The long-running national nightmare seems to be nearly over. On Friday night we will have a Twins baseball game that counts. Back in late June I projected the 30-man Opening Day roster for Minnesota. A few changes have been made and it’s time for an update.

While Summer Camp has been relatively uneventful for the Twins, there have been a few key developments. Thankfully, Byron Buxton’s injury scare doesn’t seem like it will hold him back. Luis Arraez also tweaked his knee but when then immediately all systems go. Miguel Sano got a late start due to COVID-19 tests despite being asymptomatic, but he’s been back for a few days now as well.

Only Nick Gordon and Willians Astudillo remain on the COVID related Injured List for the Twins. The former was never likely to make the Opening Day roster, while the latter definitely opens up a spot for Rocco Baldelli. Having just requested his release, rotation candidate Jhoulys Chacin also generates an opportunity for someone.

Let’s get into who should be expected to make the club:

Catchers (2): Mitch Garver, Alex Avila

No surprises here. Astudillo is still looking to generate two negative COVID-19 tests which makes him ineligible to participate. With a catcher being available every night on the three-man taxi squad, carrying two to open the year is just fine.

Infield (6): Miguel Sano, Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Josh Donaldson, Ehire Adrianza, Travis Blankenhorn

If there’s a guy that benefits from Astudillo’s absence, it’s probably Travis Blankenhorn. I loved what he could’ve provided during regular Spring Training, and think his skillset translates perfectly to a year needing depth. He can play second and third base while also having some outfield flexibility. The bat has pop and while he’s not a top tier prospect, there’s plenty of talent to contribute at the big-league level.

Outfield (6): Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave, Marwin Gonzalez, LaMonte Wade Jr.

This group adds one to it in the form of LaMonte Wade Jr. He’s had a strong Summer Camp and is showing that he’s more than just an on-base machine. Minnesota doesn’t have a true replacement in centerfield outside of Max Kepler, but both Cave and Wade should rotate in on the corners prior to any activation of the top prospects.

Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz

As has always been the case, this one is as easy as it gets. Minnesota’s leader is ready to go following a very strong Summer Camp

Rotation (5): Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, Jake Odorizzi, Rich Hill, Homer Bailey

No changes here from the original group, but Jake Odorizzi slides back at least a spot in the rotation due to back stiffness. He’s going to have his last Summer Camp appearance shifted, and he’ll likely be moved off the Saturday game in Chicago.

Bullpen (10): Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffey, Zack Littell, Tyler Clippard, Matt Wisler, Cody Stashak, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer

This group decreased by one with me no longer including Lewis Thorpe. I think the goal would be to have him throwing regular pens and staying stretched out at the alternate site in St. Paul. He was the first rotation option jettisoned during original Spring Training, and both Dobnak and Smeltzer are ahead of him still. Would have been nice to include Chacin as depth, but he’s miscast as a long reliever anyways.

There you have it, your 2020 Minnesota Twins

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Twins May Need to Shuffle Opening Day

There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins are one of baseball’s most exciting teams. Their bullpen should rank among the league’s best, and the lineup is one that provides envy to virtually every other group out there. Kicking off a weird 2020 season though, they may need to make some changes.

When Byron Buxton went down in a heap after tracking a fly ball on Monday night the worst was feared. Fortunately, it’s just a mid-foot sprain, and while that may have some lingering effects, there’s still reason to believe the recovery could be sooner rather than later. Unfortunately for the Twins, their starting first basemen is uninjured but has yet to show up to Summer Camp.

Miguel Sano received a positive test diagnosis upon returning to Target Field. Quarantined and awaiting two negative COVID-19 tests before his return, the runway to ramp up for the season is running out. The Twins travel to Chicago in five days, play an exhibition against the Cubs in six, and open their 2020 campaign against the White Sox in eight. Calling a return that quickly rushed would be putting it lightly.

So, where does that leave us?

Let’s tackle the more probable scenario, who plays first base? That answer should be relatively straightforward with utility man Marwin Gonzalez sliding in. MarGo has started 154 games at first base in his career and has logged over 1,400 innings there. He’s still best suited in left field, but there really isn’t a position besides shortstop that he’s overly stretched in. Certainly, Sano’s bat would be preferred, but having Marwin trend back towards the .900 OPS he compiled while listening to the trash can would be a nice resurgence.

Assuming Buxton isn’t back for Opening Day, or even a few games thereafter, Gonzalez is actually piece of that puzzle as well. Sliding Max Kepler to center and filling a corner spot with the utility man makes a ton of sense. With him already in the lineup, the next turn would logically be Jake Cave. While LaMonte Wade Jr. has a strong on-base presence, Cave is the more complete player. He should be avoided in center but has a good enough bat to play on the corners.

Last season Cave finished with an .805 OPS, but what’s even more impressive is having done that after bottoming out at a .615 OPS prior to a May demotion. From his mid-June return through the end of the year he posted an .855 OPS. In 141 plate appearances from July 7 onward he generated a very nice .964 mark. The bat may be inconsistent, but it’s plenty capable.

Both of these should be relatively short-term scenarios. For Sano, we see the effects of COVID-19 and what the virus is going to do to this season. A player with no symptoms tests positive and costs the team their services over a specific stretch of games. In a 60-game season, that missed time could be catastrophic, especially if said player is Josh Donaldson or Jose Berrios.

On the Buxton side, contingency plans in the outfield remain a must for Minnesota. Unfortunate and unlucky as he is health wise, any absence by Byron will need to be evaluated in the short and long term. Immediately a Cave or Wade replacement makes sense. Knowing that him being out of the lineup opens a corner spot, both Brent Rooker and Trevor Larnach could then find themselves in the mix for a more prolonged absence.

Let’s hope we aren’t discussing these scenarios too long into 2020, and their realities are few and far between. Minnesota has a shot at the World Series this year, but they’ll need all contributors for as much time as necessary.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Jose Berrios and the Impact of a Short Season

Major League Baseball is going to try its hardest to play a 60-game season in 2020. Starting on July 24, the Minnesota Twins will look to repeat as AL Central Division champs, and this time they’ll hope the Postseason run is a bit longer. If Rocco Baldelli’s club is going to take that next step, they’ll need a big contribution from staff ace Jose Berrios.

For the past few years, I’ve wondered about the possibility of Berrios winning a Cy Young. Certainly, there’s plenty of strong competition, and Gerrit Cole now being with the New York Yankees likely makes him the frontrunner. Berrios’ own chances haven’t been thwarted by the opposition in recent years as much as they’ve been of his own doing.

Coming into 2020 Bovada lists Berrios as a middle-of-the-road candidate with 14/1 odds. Despite two consecutive All-Star game appearances, the Puerto Rican has never garnered a Cy Young vote. For that to change consistency will be key and avoiding a late-season fade is a must. In a 60-game sprint though, should that even be a fear?

Over the offseason Minnesota reworked Berrios’ training plan and helped to institute goals resulting more in endurance with season-long stamina in mind. June has routinely been Berrios’ best month, but August comes with a career 5.96 ERA in 21 starts, with another mediocre 4.64 ERA mark across 20 in September/October. Last season Jose was strong out of the gate, saw a brief two game speedbump, then dialed in before his routine slowdown.

What if the Twins can capture just that middle ground in the year ahead?

Minnesota obviously plays the beginning of its traditional seasons in less than sweltering heat. That didn’t seem to hamper Berrios in 2019 however, as he posted a 2.97 ERA across his first six starts. By start eight he was back down to a 2.53 ERA prior to an ugly outing against the Angels. Focusing on a snapshot of the mid-summer months of June and July, Jose put together a double-digit dipping of 10 outings that would turn plenty of heads.

Across ten starts from June 6 through July 31 the Minnesota hurler owned a 2.23 ERA with a .609 OPS against. He had a 61/16 K/BB in 64.2 IP. It was also the only two-month stretch of the season that he went back-to-back starts without allowing a homer more than once. The question for Wes Johnson to help solve is how can both the pitcher and the team extract that exact performance.

There’s a ton of differences that 2020 will present due to playing a season during the midst of a global pandemic. While it’s a positive to have nice weather out of the gate, there won’t be any room for tune up type outings. Summer Camp has provided intrasquad action but will only feature one exhibition game and given the proximity to the Opener, Berrios would be unlikely to pitch.

As a fast starter, maybe the best of all worlds can come together for Jose and he’ll be able to provide the calming presence a true ace brings to the mound. Whether or not that results in a Cy Young will be determined by a whole host out outside factors. Focused only on the guy wearing number 17 for Minnesota, it’s hard to see this shortened season as a negative.

We may not yet figure out if the new training tactics bear fruit without the rigors of a traditional 162-game marathon, but the hope would be that there aren’t questions about declining velocity or uncertain effectiveness. The Twins pitching staff in its entirety is now better than it’s ever been, and it’s time for the smiling 26-year-old to lead the charge.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Leadership is Failing Baseball at a Critical Juncture

For months we watched a public mudslinging fest take place between MLB owners and the Players Union. While the two sides have always been at odds, it’s leadership that the sport’s commissioner is supposed to provide. Rob Manfred may be a very intelligent man, but you wouldn’t know if looking at the results of his actions.

Major League Baseball owners are represented by one man, Manfred. He was chosen having come from a labor negotiations background. With the sport likely coming to an ugly labor dispute following the conclusion of the 2021 season, it was Manfred who would be tasked at following in Selig’s footsteps but not making the same mistakes. Unfortunately, we are now here, a place that has given us an unprecedented set of parameters, and a terribly worse set of mistakes.

While money was made out to be the reason players were publicly disparaged by those who own the teams, a reality is that any season in 2020 would be played during a worldwide pandemic. Although the rest of the world has done an exemplary job of flattening their curve and combatting the virus, this one is still seeing new records every day. For baseball to be played in that structure, players wanted their fairly agreed upon pay, but more importantly a safe environment in which to work.

After the dust settled on economical issues, we were given resumption. Now six days into the new Summer Camp (which mind you, has a sponsor and branding intended to drive those owner’s immediate revenue), we’ve already got a long list of avoidable mistakes. Manfred and MLB have not come through with the necessary PPE in order to properly protect those within the game. Testing is being done, but results aren’t streamlined to meet deadlines, which has now caused multiple organizations to cease operations during a three-week sprint to get ready.

The way these five days have gone is reflective of a very ugly reality. It’s a lack of leadership and follow through that paints the picture as a “set it and forget it” type of scenario. We were given a date for resumption, so everything was just going to fall into place. Major League Baseball is set to unveil the 2020 schedule tonight, but we have no reason to believe we’ll logically make it to that point.

Whether now or in the future, whether the league gets its act together or not, Manfred needs to begin asking himself for accountability. He’s banged a drum for years that the game must be changed. Pace of play initiatives and poorly thought out marketing strategies have done little to benefit even the intended bottom line. While routinely chomping on his own feet whether by calling the World Series trophy a piece of metal, or publicly suggesting the league never intended to play anything more than the minimal amount of games, he’s become more court jester than duly appointed judge.

Other sports have returned thus far, and while we’re still going up against a relatively unknown enemy, the reason to believe in positivity on those fronts is because leadership has ensured a strong plan of action. Rather than denigrating the product and squabbling over who will make more money, the first course of action was how would this be accomplished, and then everything else was allowed to figure itself out with proper runway to ensure follow through.

I certainly hope we have a 2020 Major League Baseball season to watch. The Twins are going to be very good, and the nightly drama of a 60-game sprint should be a blast. If we don’t though, it won’t be on the players opting out or the virus causing them to consider that action. It will be on leadership, specifically that of one man, who fell completely short.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Twins Making a Deal at the Deadline

Major League Baseball has not even gotten underway in 2020 and yet we’re just two months from the trade deadline. When the season does start, that date will be little more than a month away. After winning the deadline last year, will Minnesota make a deal?

Last July I wrote high praise for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine in regards to how the executed the trade deadline. They got the best reliever swapped (although he was a disaster and hurt), picked up Sergio Romo, and provided a small jolt to the farm system. Over the course of their tenure in Twins Territory, Falvey and Levine have proven adept at swinging deals.

We have no idea what things will look like on August 31, and right now the greatest hope is that the 2020 season is still being played. When Opening Day does come to fruition Rocco Baldelli should have the services of the previously expected to be shelved Rich Hill. The bullpen is already one of the best in baseball, and a fearsome lineup added Josh Donaldson.

The other wrinkle to a later deadline and 60-game season is that Minnesota will receive a boost with 19 to play when Michael Pineda is eligible to be reinstated. Still on the hook to serve 39 games due to a failed drug test from a weight loss supplement, he returns for the final third. How the rotation looks at that point will be uncertain, and it will definitely come after the deadline has passed.

If there’s somewhere the Twins can afford to bulk up, it is at the top half of their starters. Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, and Kenta Maeda are all quality arms. None of them match the caliber of a true proven ace however, and in series where three men take continuous turns, they could be behind the eight ball from the jump.

You’d probably be fair in assessing that the Twins were destined to add at the 2020 trade deadline under normal circumstances. I think the assumption that good teams can use that as an opportunity to get better is relatively basic.

With the parameters in play for 2020 however, things are all a bit more complicated. Does another organization want a lower prospect that isn’t in the player pool and therefore missed out on a year of development? Are you acquiring to fill an immediate hole, or do you have to prioritize an empty place of production due to a player hitting the COVID-related Injured List?

I’d wager the Twins could utilize the trade deadline in 2020 as an opportunity to get a jumpstart on free agency. This winter could be a cold one for guys without teams, and while acquiring them may be doable at depressed costs, dealing for long term assets in a window of contention seems like a worthy endeavor. Minnesota is being impacted by a goofy season at the worst time but salvaging a run doesn’t mean being boom or bust.

Right now, I think the only given is that there is a trade deadline on the calendar. We have no idea what the roster construction will be at the end of August, or whether the season will still be going at that time. What is safe to say is that Minnesota enters the year with more talent than they’ve had maybe ever, and when acquiring more, it’s really just icing on the cake.