The 2017-2018 offseason is here for the Minnesota Twins. Who could be Twins be targeting in the free agent market?
Now that the Minnesota Twins have entered the offseason, they are looking to improve the roster through trades and through free agent signings. In this series, we’re going to examine individual players that the Minnesota Twins could have interest in this offseason through free agency.
We will not have any specific order to which player we highlight in this series, but we will look at each player’s past history, why he could be a good fit for the Minnesota Twins, and, last, the sort of contract likely to be required to sign the player.
We will continue the series with a look at one of the relief pitchers remaining on the market…
Trevor Rosenthal, RHP
Rosenthal was a 21st round selection by the Cardinals in the 2009 draft, and they were able to sign him away from a college commitment. Rosenthal immediately caught notice with his elite velocity and performing well in advanced rookie ball in 2010, posting a 2.25 ERA in 32 innings, with a 0.94 WHIP.
Rosenthal continued to progress through the minor leagues, spending all of 2011 at low-A before seeing 2012 end in the major leagues, jumping from AA all the way to the major leagues over the 2012 season, posting a 2.97 ERA in 20 starts in the minor leagues over 109 innings before moving to the bullpen in St. Louis, with a 2.78 ERA over 19 appearances and 22 2/3 innings, striking out 25.
Rosenthal made overtures to return to the rotation, but he was elite as a setup man in 2013, posting a 2.63 ERA over 74 appearances and 75 1/3 innings, with a 1.10 WHIP and a 20/108 BB/K ratio.
The Cardinals moved him into the closer’s role in 2014, and he was absolutely lights out the next two seasons in the role, making a combined 140 appearances between 2014 and 2015, throwing 139 innings, saving 93 games, with a 2.65 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, an 11.3% walk rate, and a 28.6% strikeout rate.
The increased walk rate did raise some questions, and the Cardinals brought in Seung-hwan Oh, an experienced closer from Korea in the offseason between 2015 and 2016. When Rosenthal continued to struggle with his walk rate in 2016, Oh took over the closing job.
Rosenthal had recovered his presence on the mound and was blowing hitters away in 2017 (9.9% walk rate, 37.6%) before he had to undergo Tommy John surgery at the end of August this season. He’ll likely miss all of 2018 as he rehabs.
Rather than pay him the likely amount that he would receive in arbitration, the Cardinals chose to release Rosenthal, making him a free agent. The Twins have already been in contact with Rosenthal.
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Rosenthal would likely want to structure a deal similar to how the Twins structured their recent deal with Michael Pineda, giving him a multi-year deal that pays him a base amount as he rehabs in 2018 and is heavily loaded into 2019 (and beyond).
For the Twins, it’s been discussed that they would have liked to sign Pineda for options for a 3rd and 4th season, but what ended up convincing him to sign with the team was the 2-year deal.
Rosenthal could be in a similar boat, likely having enough market of teams willing to spread out their risk by giving him options and heavy incentives, so a deal along the lines of what Pineda received at 2 years and $10 million would likely also bring in Rosenthal.
Should the Minnesota Twins do it?
The Twins have already made a move for a similar type of contract in signing Pineda coming off of TJS and most likely not able to appear in 2018. Rosenthal is a definite not to appear at all in 2018, so his case is more sure that he would be a 2019 only value in his deal.
Obviously the team is comfortable with waiting a year on the return from such a deal, but if the Twins could line him up, he could take over as a power closer in 2019, giving the team a dynamic power arm in waiting with experience at an elite level. Depending on the amount of money required, this would seem to be a no-brainer.