Sunday, March 4, 2018

Guess Who's Coming To Spring Training?

The Twins have rarely been active in free agency. The Wild Card berth last season, combined with new front office personnel has changed things a bit. They saw big needs in the bullpen and in the rotation, and the first big signing of the off-season was the Mercurial Mercenary, right handed closer Fernando Rodney. The soon to be 41 year old is a 3-time All-Star, with 300 career saves. For his career, he averages a strikeout per inning, which is something the bullpen desperately needed.

Thankfully, the Twins did not stop there, bolstering the bullpen further with another pair of high quality arms. Lefty specialist Zach Duke battled the injury bug in 2017 -- pitching just 18.1 innings for the Cardinals. The Twins are counting on him regaining the magic from 2014 through 2016, when he piled up over 200 strikeouts for Milwaukee, Chicago, and Saint Louis. Addison Reed split last season with the Mets and the Red Sox, closing games for New York, and setting up for Kimbrel in Boston. He too struck out batters with regularity in recent years, providing velocity, depth, and a veteran presence.

The Twins still had work to do on the mound, and after missing out on Yu Darvish, acquired Jake Odorizzi from the Rays in exchange for minor leaguer Jermaine Palacios. This was the third time Jake had been traded, first from the Brewers in the Zach Grienke trade, then to the Rays along with Wil Myers for James Shields. Last season, his ERA+ was exactly league average, and he had his lowest innings total since his rookie season. He certainly doesn't replace Darvish, and he won't out pitch Ervin Santana's 2017 production either. But the fact is that even a league average arm helps the Twins' rotation immensely.

The surprise signing of the spring was Logan Morrison, who seemed destined to go wherever Eric Hosmer didn't go between KC and San Diego. The addition of a 30+ homer bat to the middle of the lineup is nothing to sneeze at. Morrison decided to come to the Twins over KC (who also submitted an offer) because he wanted to play for a team with a chance to contend. This was a pleasant surprise - however it probably means the end of the line for my favorite Twin, Kennys Vargas, who is now out of minor league options.

I had been waiting to make this post because I was hoping the Twins would add another starter, especially considering that Ervin Santana will miss a month or so to start the season. They instead gave a contract to Anibal Sanchez, hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. If he is healthy and can figure out the mechanical issues that derailed his final years in Detroit, he could make for a decent 5th starter. The Twins also signed a trio of former MLB regulars to minor league deals to provide depth and some injury insurance. Chris Heisey, Jordan Pacheco, and Erick Aybar aren't likely to crack the 25 Man Roster, but having these guys in camp provides a little competition for the younger players like backup catcher Mitch Garver, and incentive for veterans like Robbie Grossman and Eduardo Escobar to stay on their toes.


  1. LoMo was a bargain sign, glad to see he ended up with the Twins. I predict Reed will be your closer by mid-May. Not sure how many arrows Rodney has left in his quiver but I hope I'm wrong.

  2. Nice to see that Chris Heisey resurfaced somewhere. I always thought he was a pretty solid part-time player with the Reds and provided some decent pop off the bench.

  3. There's been more Twins talk in my extended family this spring than I can remember in a long time. Excitement and hope are in the air.

  4. I read this as "send me your unwanted Rays/Marlins who are currently Twins". Message received.