Among the many questions the Minnesota Twins have this season is what the future holds for manager Rocco Baldelli.
Rocco is entering the final season of a four-year contract he signed back in 2018, and the results have varied. He helped lead the Twins to back-to-back AL Central titles and posted a 137-85 record over his first two seasons as skipper. But the success rests against a backdrop of caveats and frustration for fans, as one of those division titles came in the COVID-shortened season and neither of the winning seasons produced a postseason win.
Compounding frustrations is the fact that the last two seasons with Rocco have been the polar opposite of the 101-win season he started his tenure with. The Twins have gone 151-173 since 2020,
All of this is to say, Rocco enters the final year of his contract with a ton of expectations and lots of pressure. He's not in the true final year of his deal, though, as the Twins have club options that could bring him back in 2024, but the sentiment seems to be that Baldelli must prove his way into earning those options and a change at manager could be in the future for Minnesota if things keep going they way they've been the last few seasons.
Mark Polishuk over at MLBTradeRumors broke down some of the potential lame-duck managerial jobs around the majors and mentioned Rocco Baledelli's situation as one that teeters on the brink.
"The existence of those club options puts Baldelli under team control through at least 2024, yet while Baldelli isn’t a true lame duck, he does face some pressure in getting the Twins on track following a very disappointing season. If the Twins underachieve again, Baldelli might be on the hot seat, though he did lead Minnesota to the postseason in his first two years as skipper."- MLBTradeRumors
It's still way too early to write off Baldelli, as a number of different factors could play into him tapping back into the success he had back in 2019.
The assumption is that Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton will play most of the season healthy and in the same lineup, which instantly makes Rocco's job easier. He also has some new pieces to strategize with in Michael A. Taylor and Joey Gallo, and while it's not much it's enough for the Twins to at least see what he can do.
How the Twins start will be critical. It's hard to see a scenario where Rocco is fired in the middle of the season, especially with his contract running out at the end of the year. It would take a pretty epic meltdown for that to happen, but there are also ways for him to turn the ship around and ensure he's the one leading Minnesota's new roster into the future and the team isn't back to hunting for a new manager less than five years after finding their last one.