The Minnesota Twins enter 2022 as a team likely headed for a retooling phase. 2021 was an almost unmitigated disaster, with the team’s free agent signings taking a turn for the worst, their key stars getting injured, and forcing them to trade away their best-performing players.
The team lost 89 games, the most the team has dropped since they lost 103 in 2016, leaving the franchise at a pivotal point. Do you trade away the rest of your veterans like Byron Buxton, Mitch Garver, and Josh Donaldson? Or do you run it back with the crew and hope that you’re able to bounce back to contention within the next couple of years.
While they may still choose either of those two directions, there are a wide variety of situations that could end up happening regardless. Our own Billy Porter took a look at a 70 win projection for the 2019 and 2020 American League Central champions. We’re going to take a look at what the worst possible rendition of the season could look like.
We break down the worst-case scenario for the Minnesota Twins in 2022.
We’ll start with the rest of the offseason. The labor battle currently causing a lockout drags on in this un-ideal world. The Twins aren’t able to add any top new talent due to the drawn-on process and add a few high-upside arms (just like Dylan Bundy) and a shortstop to take over for Andrelton Simmons.
Now again, this is the worst case scenario, so the Twins add Zack Greinke and the high-upside arms ending up as Garrett Richards and Wily Peralta to compete with Bundy, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan. Adding Greinke isn’t the worst-case scenario for the Twins, but signing the 38-year-old as an ace is a recipe for disaster.
Once the season gets going, things immediately spiral for the rotation. Greinke, a likely Hall of Famer, starts showing his age. He had the worst season of his career in 2021, and the trend continues into 2022. His pitching season isn’t the only one that goes bad.
Wily Peralta regresses towards his analytical numbers from 2021 and comes closer to his career averages. Richards flops in his swingman role, and Bundy’s 2022 is closer to his 2021 than 2020. Things don’t get better for the younger arms either.
Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober struggle to develop like the Twins had hoped, and while none of the pitchers truly blow up spectacularly (they’re all solid options after all), the Twins fail to improve their rotation and the team finishes near the bottom of the American League in that category.
The bullpen is full of too many solid names to truly fall apart, but injuries to Taylor Rogers and Caleb Thielbar and a lack of improvement from Jorge Alcala and Jovani Moran mean the bullpen is merely average and not nearly enough to hold up the sagging rotation.
The Minnesota Twins lineup is more or less set, but in this scenario, they fail to meet their New Year’s Resolutions and things take a turn for the worst. Byron Buxton, fresh off signing his new contract, plays just 50 games and doesn’t look anything like the player we saw in 2021.
Mitch Garver and Josh Donaldson also can’t stay healthy and don’t perform at an elite level when they are, cratering their trade value and drawing the ire of the Minnesota Twins fanbase. Max Kepler continues his slump, and Miguel Sano loses the progress he made in getting on-base more.
Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco play well, but not well enough to carry a sagging offense. The Minnesota Twins finish with 105 losses, the most in team history and Jim Pohlad cleans house, firing Rocco Baldelli and the front office.
Will this all happen? Probably not. Things will go bad (they do for almost every team), but this is just a miserable way for Twins fans to think about all the terrible things that could happen. Let’s hope for a more optimistic 2022.