Minnesota Twins: Why a Re-Tooling Plan makes the Most Sense

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Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey, Manager Rocco Baldelli and General Manager Thad Levine of the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey, Manager Rocco Baldelli and General Manager Thad Levine of the Minnesota Twins. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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The Minnesota Twins head into 2022 without a real direction, and the lockout imposed by the MLB has made it even harder for the team to get pointed in the right path to avoid the mediocrity that so often hits middle market teams.

With the disappointing 2021 season in the rearview mirror, the team could take two separate paths: trade away some of the veterans with bigger deals and prepare for a bounceback season when the team’s prospects reach the major leagues, OR swing a few trades and sign a few more players to try and put themselves back in contention.

While the second option is a more exciting one, we as Twins fans need to be realistic. Last year showed that there were more holes on this roster than just in the rotation. The bullpen could use a boost, there are no major-league caliber shortstops on our roster, and if our starters go down (especially in the outfield), the team doesn’t have a strong depth chart.

Now if the Twins were a big market team, then sure, they could add several starters, a closer, and an All-Star shortstop and get right back into contention. They didn’t do that in the first half of free agency though, instead opting to sign only Dylan Bundy to a major league deal. This means it could be time for another option that isn’t a push for contention: a full-on retool.

The Minnesota Twins can’t fix everything in one season, so they should focus on re-tooling instead.

Let’s get something out of the way first. The Twins are too talented to rebuild. Byron Buxton leads an offensive core that will help keep this team competitive. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober might not be Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, but they’re a good start. This team isn’t far off. But they’re too far off to really contend this year.

Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and more young hitters need this season to develop into the MLB studs that we know they can be. Jordan Balazovic, Simeon Woods Richardson, Matt Canterino, Josh Winder, and Louie Varland will all start the year at Double-AA or Triple-AAA and if they stay healthy could be ready to make the majors by the end of the year. None of them should start a playoff game before 2023.

This brings me to my point: The Minnesota Twins shouldn’t go all out this year. With a young core just about to reach the majors, they should instead follow a similar path to the Detroit Tigers and help supplement it.

As good as the Twins Top 50 Prospects are, none of them are locks to turn into All-Star shortstops or big league aces, so the Minnesota Twins could choose to fill those two holes this offseason, then hold off on spending money on positions they probably won’t need to fill in the coming years. Let’s start off with the rotation.

Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox starting pitcher Carlos Rodon pitches against the Houston Astros. (David Banks-USA TODAY Sports) /

If the Twins sign Carlos Rodon, the last big name on the market who might actually come to Minnesota, they have an ace (assuming he can pick up where he left off last year). They can then build a rotation of him, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Randy Dobnak, and Dylan Bundy. Will that win them the division? No. But will it compete for a fourteen-team playoff spot? Absolutely.

The best part about this is that keeping Dobnak and Bundy there allows them to either prove they can return back to their highest levels of play OR keep a back end rotation spot warm for any of the Twins’ top prospects that are arriving shortly.

If the Twins only bring in Rodon for the rotation, that frees up money for another big-time player, like Trevor Story at shortstop. If Minnesota brings in Story, the team’s defense improves greatly and allows them to keep Jorge Polanco at second where he belongs.

If we’re continuing with the retooling, hanging on to Josh Donaldson doesn’t make a lot of sense here. He’s been productive, but with Jose Miranda and Luis Arraez in need of playing time, shipping out the 36 year old helps their timeline out.

This leaves you with a rotation that has optimism for the future, a lineup with a star at shortstop and a little more space for the young talent to make its mark. The last spot that we need to work on then is the bullpen.

The way we’ve reorganized this team creates a playoff bubble team for this year and a contender in the very near future. As we’ve said earlier, we can’t fully rely on the team’s top prospects to reach their ceilings, but their are a few prospects (Jhoan Duran, Jovani Moran, Jordan Gore) who should bring help to the bullpen soon.

That means, that provided they extend Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers (or even if they don’t bring back both), the team could a player capable of being the closer for this season moving before moving on, someone who wouldn’t break the bank (like a Mychal Givens).

If the Twins made these moves, they wouldn’t jump back into contention immediately. It would likely take a couple years to be true contenders again, but that might be exactly what the Minnesota Twins need. If the Twins do have to re-tool, it might be the best thing for the franchise.

No awful, long-term contracts that weigh down the roster. No prospects stuck behind established guys that ruins their potential. No complete rebuild that takes half a decade. Just a few quick fixes that bring the team back to where they were just one year ago.

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