It’s safe to say that the offseason has left a lot to be desired for the Minnesota Twins. After winning the division and ending a 19-year postseason losing streak, fans were hoping the team would build on its success and begin truly competing for a World Series.
Instead, the payroll was slashed amid financial uncertainty and the team is resting on a strategy of waiting for the market to settle before diving in. Minnesota has always been frugal but this year it has extra motivation to lean on that crutch.
Meanwhile, as the Twins lose more talent than it has added, another team is using the opportunity to surprisingly try and close the gap.
Rather than the AL Central champs being the team making moves to soldiery its position, the Kansas City Royals have been the team taking strides toward putting together a competitive roster.
Over the last month the Royals have signed Seth Lugo, Michael Wacha, and Hunter Renfroe to affordable deals while also engaging in trade talks to acquire Jesus Luzardo from the Marlins. Kansas City is also in on free agent like Lucas Giolito and Marcus Stroman — all of which sounds like a blueprint the Twins could have followed if the front office wasn’t handcuffed by the payroll.
Royals offseason moves are a direct shot at the Twins
Somehow Kansas City is having the offseason we all expected the Twins to have and it’s hard to overstate how frustrating the optics of that are.
That being said, Minnesota has historically waited out the market before making any moves and it’s worked like a charm. The team has made three offseason trades to acquire starting pitching since 2020 — Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray, and Pablo Lopez. All three of those deals happened in the New Year and each one saw the front office rewarded for its patience.
Maeda was a Cy Young finalist in 2020, Gray was a Cy Young runner-up last season, and Lopez looks like the ace the team has been chasing for over a decade.
Even the saga with Carlos Correa wrapped up after the calendar turned in January, and that deal paid off this past October in ways we’ve never seen before. The Twins have signed impact free agents in the past, but none of them provided the team what Correa did in the Wild Card and ALDS.
The Twins wait for their turn to cook, and the successes of the past few years should put fans at ease about the lack of action this offseason. It doesn’t make the optics any easier to stomach, though.
Kansas City’s moves are a direct shot at the Twins. Ken Rosenthal recently reported that sources indicated that part of the rationale for the spending spree is how winnable the AL Central is in the eyes of Royals ownership, and the green light to spend was rooted in taking advantage of Minnesota needing to reduce its payroll.
While it’s been frustrating to watch another AL Central team surge ahead with offseason moves that feel very Twins-esqe, there are still plenty of ways the Twins can put together a successful offseason.
The starting pitching market remains relatively deep, even if it’s been picked over a few times, and a solid starter or two can still be found. Minnesota is still armed with two of the most valuable trade chips of the offseason in Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler, which helps circumvent any logjams in free agency that might cause issues.
What seems abundantly clear, though, is that Royals are coming at the kings in a way that implies they don’t intend on missing. It’s not just the Twins, but the Guardians that Kansas City is hoping to pass by, with the Tigers trying a similar strategy and the White Sox in rebuild mode.
Whether it works out or becomes nothing more than that one guy in your fantasy league trying to claim everyone to trade later is yet to be seen.