The Minnesota Twins have added Fernando Rodney to be their new closer. The bullpen additions shouldn’t stop there if the Twins want to compete in 2018.
The Minnesota Twins made their first major addition to the 2018 version of the Twins on Thursday, signing Fernando Rodney to a 1-year $6 million deal to be the teams closer. This looks like a really good signing for the Twins as Rodney almost looks better with age like some fine wine, but the bullpen additions shouldn’t stop there.
The Twins bullpen in 2017 was surprisingly much better than expected. Many of those surprising pieces are returning but it doesn’t seem wise that every pitcher the Twins are currently relying on for bullpen help will take steps forward in 2018. It really would be smarter to assume at least one of them will take a step backwards. The 2018 bullpen currently projects as something like this:
Projected 2018 Bullpen
Closer: Fernando Rodney
Set-up: Taylor Rogers
Set-up: Trevor Hildenberger
RHP: Alan Busenitz
RHP: Ryan Pressly
RHP: Tyler Kinley
There is a lot of room for volatility in that bullpen. Rodney, as good of a signing as he is, often goes through stretches of putting batters on base and giving up runs. Rogers was more than a lefty-specialist in 2017 because he found a way to get right-handed batters out enough, will that continue? Does Hildenberger continue to deceive hitters over a full season of work? Will Busenitz, Moya, and Curtiss be able to keep taking steps forward? Will Pressly finally pull it all together and be a shutdown power arm? What can Kinley do (or will he stick at all)? In honesty, hopefully, Boshers doesn’t make the bullpen at all.
That sounds like a very negative take on the bullpen. There is plenty of room for optimism it would just be wise to add some insurance by bringing a few more arms into the mix. Trevor May may figure into the bullpen but we cannot be sure what he will provide post-Tommy John. Same with J.T. Chargois as he comes off of injury. Who else could the Twins bring in?
Remaining Free Agent Possibilities
While it would really boost the pen to sign someone like Wade Davis, the reality is the type of money Davis will command is likely going to go toward a starting pitcher if anyone. The Twins may not need that big of a signing in order to bolster their current bullpen. We have seen many relievers sign big contracts this past week, guys like Brandon Morrow and Yusmeiro Petit, who last offseason were signed for pennies in comparison.
The one part of the Twins bullpen that would be really nice to see strengthened is their second left-hander. While I think Moya may end up to be very good down the road I am nervous about handing things over to him with no backup plan. Tony Watson would be the big name still on the market that the Twins have shown some interest in and would be good but with some financial investment needed. Watson doesn’t dazzle with strikeouts or arrow launching poses like Rodney. Watson does continue to get the job done and would make at the very least a good lefty specialist who had a 20/4 K/BB ratio against lefties this past season. He can also be more than just a lefty specialist.
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Watson was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to receive in the range of a 2-years and $12 million deal this offseason and the contracts being signed thus far only make it seem that he could ask for more. If the Twins really are not comfortable spending that type of money they should look to find one of this season’s Morrows or Petits. Someone who can come in on a cheap major league deal or even a minor league deal with a spring training invite.
Such a guy could be Kevin Siegrist. Siegrist had been with the St. Louis Cardinals until released and picked up the Philadelphia Phillies in early September this past year. Then in October the Phillies also released Siegrist and allowed him to become a free agent. Siegrist has put together solid seasons in the past and was an important part of the Cardinals bullpen in 2015 and 2016 especially.
2017 was a rough year for Siegrist as he struggled with injury and control of his pitches which translated into 4.81 ERA on his stat sheet. He seems like a bounce-back candidate if he can simply get healthy, and a healthy Siegrist could represent a cheap candidate for a lefty role in the Twins bullpen. Siegrist throws a good fastball and has added a curveball to complement it. When healthy and pitching well Siegrist can hold a K/9 of 10 or above and a strike percentage just under 30%. He would provide quite an upgrade over Boshers who held the second-lefty role in the 2017 Twins bullpen most often.
Siegrist might not be “the guy” to sign, but he represents the kind of signing the Twins should be looking for to continue and strengthen their bullpen if the rest of the free agent budget is meant for another position. The current roster of bullpen arms may be able to get it done, but it would be a lot more comforting if some more reinforcements were brought in this offseason.