Writers Note: A weekly review of the Minnesota Twins offseason transactions, including reaction and opinions from fans and myself. Look for future polls on my Twitter account to share your opinions.
This week, Winter Meetings concluded. The Twins made a couple of minor league signings. Everything else continues to be nothing but rumors.
First, Trevor Plouffe is still on the team. With teams like the Washington Nationals, Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox reportedly looking for third base help, it appears that shortage of interest isn’t the case. With the Minnesota Twins offseason nearing the middle stages, the likelihood of Plouffe staying put is increasing.
Terry Ryan has insisted on keeping Plouffe and having Miguel Sano move to the outfield. As it stands, I would bat Plouffe fifth in the order to start the season.
"Brian Dozier 2BJoe Mauer 1BPark DHSano RFPlouffe 3BEddie Rosario LFKurt Suzuki/John Ryan Murphy CEduardo Escobar SSByron Buxton CF"
The middle of the order would tough to run through. On paper, this looks like a good opening day lineup. Veterans, All-Stars and young rising stars. Plouffe batting fifth gives Sano a bit of protection in the order. Sano does the same for Park in this lineup. Three, four and five guys all have enough power that pitchers late in games would pitch around. Not if each of these guys are all hitting well at the same time.
There is another possible lineup that could happen. Depending on Buxton’s success in Spring Training, the other lineup I would put together goes as follows.
"Buxton CFMauer 1BDozier 2BSano RFPark DHPlouffe 3BSuzuki/Murphy CEscobar SSRosario LF"
As I said, I would start the season with Plouffe batting fifth. If Buxton at any point starts to hit and his strikeouts decrease, he would move up to the leadoff spot. I would move Dozier down behind Mauer, Park would bat then behind Sano and so on.
Looking at Plouffe’s career splits, he has done most of his damage in the fifth spot in the order. I lean towards the first of the two lineups because of Plouffe’s higher batting average and SLG when he bats fifth. The majority says they would bat him in the sixth spot. I don’t disagree with that. However, I see Plouffe batting sixth much more likely to happen later in the season.
Available Free Agent Relievers
Kelley and Sipp signed three-year deals in the last week. Kelley signed with the Washington Nationals while Sipp signed with Houston Astros. Rule them out. That leaves two of the four options left to pick.
LeCure and Pestano are minor league free agents. Both are still on the market. Both spent considerable time in the minors last year. Both are above the age of 30. Most importantly, both are looking for a team to latch with. However, be warned. LeCure and Pestano are Blaine Boyer types. They both seemingly are out of a job come March but have potential to outperform expectations.
Pestano has a career 10.8 SO9. His lowest SO9 was 9.4. He has always been a strikeout go-to out of the bullpen. What scares me is his career BB9, 3.9. Wow, that’s high. I would understand if that is enough to turn you away from him. Despite the walks and the last few terrible seasons he’s had, Pestano has a career 2.98 ERA.
LeCure might be the safer option. Career SO9 is 8.4 and 3.51 ERA are worse off than Pestano though. LeCure’s BB9 is 3.5. He also has a low HR9, 0.9. In other words, LeCure walks less, allows fewer home runs but might allow more runners to score.
There is enough to make a case for both. However, Pestano and LeCure would be second tier relievers in terms of who was available this offseason. Both are risky, given their recent struggles.
I would take any of these guys. I would have loved Sipp. But alas, I must rest my hopes in my other choices.
Minor League Transactions
Beresford resigned with the Twins after spending the last two seasons in triple-A. Not known for power, he has four (yes four) total home runs in the minors. Don’t expect the power to suddenly arrive. Last season, he slashed .307/.341/.359. Still only 26, he could make an appearance on the active roster in a Doug Bernier type of role.
Britton is the other to sign with the Twins. Last year was his first and only season in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. Before that he spent 2008-2014 in the Baltimore Orioles organization. Britton has been a utility player all through the minor league ranks. He has played the most games at third and second base. Last year he slashed .262/.311/.374 in triple-A.