Minnesota Twins inactivity may not be exciting but could be the right plan
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins haven’t made nearly the offseason splash we had hoped for to this point, but it could be the plan that leads to success.
The Minnesota Twins have a frustrated fan base after what has been a less active offseason than had been hoped for. It is maybe a little strong to say they have been inactive because they have made two fairly solid moves in adding second baseman Jonathan Schoop and first baseman C.J. Cron. While the offseason isn’t very exciting the perceived plan the front office is going with may be a plan that leads to success.
That is at least what Jonah Keri at CBS Sports wrote over the weekend naming the Twins as a team that could be the biggest surprise of 2019. Just as the Twins front office has hinted at Keri points to the rebound of the Twins young cornerstones Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano as the base to his reasoning for a successful 2019 Twins.
He and the front office isn’t wrong. Most agree that the Twins aren’t winning any World Series or even making the playoffs without a productive Sano and Buxton in their lineup. Of course, the biggest hurdle is getting the both of them to stay healthy and on the field.
As Keri points to, it is much easier for Buxton to regain his value on the Twins roster as he can be a positive player by simply putting on a glove and manning center field. In 2017 Buxton accounted for 2.8 WAR from his defense alone. For reference, many have praised Max Kepler‘s defense this past season while he compiled a 0.8 dWAR. That makes it pretty easy to see how Buxton can regain his value quickly and without even any real improvements to his game.
More from Puckett's Pond
- Minnesota Twins: Grading the Twins’ Joey Gallo signing
- Minnesota Twins: 4 Possible Trade Chips not named Kepler or Arraez
- Minnesota Twins: After missing out on Correa, what comes next?
- Minnesota Twins: Free Agency should be Ace or Bust for the Rotation
- Minnesota Twins: Grading the Christian Vazquez Signing
The harder achievement is Sano’s road to productive baseball again. It is harder to be confident that his issue is all health-related. His rising strikeout rate is something to be concerned with. Most of us will want to see something from Sano before we declare him back to his first half of 2017 form. Of course, he does need to be fully healthy and in baseball shape for that to happen.
The problem isn’t with the reasoning that Keri and the Twins front office seem to be following. It is instead that there are so many players that seem to have to perform differently than they did in 2018 in order for the Twins to be competitive again in 2019. In some cases, players need to start performing at the major league level for the first time. That has us as fans hoping for the best, but also nervous, maybe even very nervous, at the same time.
Schoop needs to return to his All-Star 2017 ways. Will Kepler put his skills together to become the hitter we have hoped he would be? Will Cron hit 30 or even 20 home runs? Can Addison Reed rebound? Will Tyler Austin‘s numbers translate over a full season? Are Stephen Gonsalves, Adalberto Mejia, and Fernando Romero ready for the big leagues? That is a sampling of the questions we are all asking.
Many of us know that a scenario where the Twins bounce back and surprise is a real possibility. There is still a core of this squad that was in the playoffs just two seasons ago. It is all the questions marks and the lack of urgency to fill them with anything more than what has looked like small and low-risk contracts that have fans worried. There is still time, but as each pitcher signs, the worry continues to mount.
Only time will tell but the front office will need to hope this all comes true if the Twins enter the season with a payroll around $100 million after the franchise record payroll of about $130 million last season. If the club isn’t competitive, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine probably won’t want to search their names on Twitter for most of the summer.