Minnesota Twins: Predicting the Future for Each of the Twins’ Free Agents
By Otto Johnson
The Minnesota Twins have nine players from the 2020 team that are now free agents. We predict whether or not each player will be back in 2021 and beyond.
The Minnesota Twins enter the offseason with a lot of turnover coming from their 2020 roster, as nine different free agents (with the possibility of more to come) enter open waters. That’s a big chunk of the roster.
There are several different ways that this offseason could go for each of these guys. They could sign major league deals with the Twins, sign major league deals elsewhere, sign a minor league deal with another team, or go unsigned.
With that in mind, we’re going to take a look at each player’s situation and predict what happens to them, starting with the ones least likely to come back and working our way up to the players that we’d be surprised to see go. Let’s get into it.
Players who won’t be back for the Minnesota Twins
Percent Chance that Avila returns in 2021: 1%
We start off with the easiest call on the list. Signed to be a backup and spell Mitch Garver, Alex Avila came in and did his job. He struggled to hit for average or power, but he got on base a lot, added a veteran presence, and played good defense.
With that being said, Avila was outplayed by rookie Ryan Jeffers, and it really wasn’t close. Jeffers showed that he was more than capable of being a full time catcher. With Garver and Jeffers likely set as the duo in 2021, it would be a stunner if Avila returned next year. Prediction: Avila signs on to be a backup catcher with another major league team for 2021.
Percent Chance that Gonzalez returns in 2021: 1%
This is another easy call. When the Minnesota Twins signed Marwin Gonzalez before 2019, he was expected to step in and be an elite utility guy who could play five positions. That never materialized, as Gonzalez was nowhere near the player he was in Houston.
Because of his poor play, age, and other options on the market, Gonzalez won’t be back in 2021, barring a miracle. That’s definitely for the best for both parties. Prediction: Gonzalez signs with a contender on a cheap, prove-it deal.
Players who PROBABLY won’t be back for the Minnesota Twins
Percent Chance that Hill returns in 2021: 20%
Rich Hill is ranked as the 25th best free agent starter by WAR, and had a decent season (when healthy) for the Twins in 2020. It was a good signing for a team that needed pitching depth. With that being said, there are still some things going against a reunion.
Hill is mulling retirement and would be 41 before the season begins. On top of that, the Twins don’t really need him, as they likely will look for younger and more durable options in free agency or trade. Prediction: Hill signs another cheap deal ($4 million) with a contender, just not the Twins.
Percent Chance that May returns in 2021: 30%
This one really hurts to write. Trevor May, who has the best pure stuff of any pitcher from the 2020 team, will likely not be back in 2021. As a 31-year-old (prime age for relievers) hitting free agency with three straight seasons of elite strikeout numbers and a sub-four ERA and FIP, he’s looking to be paid.
He’ll get that check. Despite some feelings of Twins fans for the reliever, May is headed for a deal north of five million per year, and he won’t take a pay cut to stay in Minnesota (the smart call). He still could re-sign, but it’s unlikely. Prediction: May earns a multi-year contract (around $8 million per year) with a contender.
Players who MIGHT return to the Minnesota Twins
Percent Chance that Odorizzi returns in 2021: 40%
Jake Odorizzi bet on himself last offseason after an excellent 2019, signing his qualifying offer of $17.8 million and hoping to improve his value enough for a long term deal this offseason. Those hopes are now dashed after an awful 2020.
Because of this Odorizzi will be forced to sign a one-year, prove-it deal with a team to show he still has the ability to be a high-level pitcher (he is just 30). He might feel most comfortable doing that in Minnesota. Prediction: Odorizzi re-signs with the Twins on a one-year deal worth $8 million.
Percent Chance that Clippard returns in 2021: 50%
The Twins signed Tyler Clippard to a one-year, $2.75 million deal, a pact that worked out really well for both sides. Clippard had his best year since he was an All-Star in 2014, and the Twins found a bullpen pitcher that could be used in high-leverage situations. Seems like a smart bet to re-sign, right? Not so fast.
Clippard will be 36 at the start of next season, and has earned a bit of a raise after last season. He may also look for a multi-year deal, which the Twins work to avoid with older players. With that being said, if Clippard would accept a one year deal under five million (and a mutual option), Clippard should stay put. Prediction: Clippard re-signs on a one-year, $4 million deal with a mutual option.
Percent Chance that Romo returns in 2021: 60%
Yes, the Twins just declined their team option on Sergio Romo, but that was mostly because Romo was scheduled to make $5 million in his team option (and his play declined last year). The Twins like Romo and he’s a good clubhouse guy, though the coaching staff wasn’t happy with the antics at the end of last year.
I would be very surprised if they don’t work something out to bring back the soon-to-be 38 year old. It will save the Minnesota Twins some money and Romo gets to stay in a place he’s comfortable. Prediction: Romo re-signs on a one year deal worth $2.5 million.
Minnesota Twins that aren’t going anywhere
Percent Chance that Adrianza returns in 2021: 65%
I don’t really love this, but Ehire Adrianza will probably return in 2021. I want to see the Twins give Nick Gordon and Travis Blankenhorn a shot in this role, but I don’t make the decisions, I just write about them.
Adrianza has been with the Twins since 2017, and has been pretty reliable as a utility bench guy (though his offensive stats aren’t good in 2020). That familiarity will help him out here, along with the fact that he’ll be mighty cheap. Prediction: Adrianza re-signs on a one-year, $750,000 deal.
Percent Chance that Cruz returns in 2021: 80%
Let’s be real here. There is very little chance Nelson Cruz plays somewhere else in 2021. He was the centerpiece of the team’s offense last year and is very well-liked by teammates, the organization, and most of the team’s fans. He likes it here too. The only sticking point is the contract details.
Cruz wants a second year in his deal, which for the Twins is a huge issue as Cruz will turn 41 next season. In addition, the Twins are looking to chop some payroll (most MLB teams are), so Cruz needs to avoid asking for more than $15 million. Cruz knows how valuable he was to the Twins last year.
The Twins do have a few things going for them. Cruz can only play designated hitter, and with the NL currently planning to not have a DH, that limits Cruz to 15 teams, and several of those teams already have a DH.
In addition, Cruz wants to be here, meaning he is more likely to take a pay cut to stay in Minnesota. Despite the contract arguments, Cruz will very likely still be suiting up for the Minnesota Twins next year.