While the Minnesota Twins season might have come to an end in the ALDS, the work is really only just beginning.
Minnesota got over a 19-year hump and finally won a playoff game -- three of them, for the record -- but that was just the first step. So much of what the Twins showed in their postseason run indicates that this team is ready to compete and it's up to the front office to use this offseason to put the right pieces in place.
The core is going to remain perfectly intact heading into next season, as guys like Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton, Pablo Lopez, and Royce Lewis are all locked in until at least 2026. Lewis is going to be entering pre-arbitration but it's likely that the Twins find a way to get him a long-term contract to make him the next face of the franchise.
What the front office will need to focus on is filling in the right pieces around the core.
Alex Kirilloff's latest bad injury break creates a new roster hole for the team to fill this winter, but the future of Sonny Gray has been something fans have kept an eye on since the All-Star Break. Now that the season is over, it's time to cross a bridge we've seen approaching in the distance but are unsure of what lies on the other side.
Sonny Gray doesn't sound like he's committed to returning to Twins in 2024
Gray has been candid about his future all season. He hinted at retirement at the All-Star Break and hasn't been shy about locking horns with Rocco Baldelli about his usage, and that same honesty was present in his exit interview with the media.
He didn't say it in a malicious way, but Gray sent a pretty clear message about keeping his options open and not settling in what are likely the final years of his career.
“We want to go to a place where you feel wanted," Gray said. "There are a lot of factors that go into those decisions. It’s not only me making it. As anyone who’s known me throughout the course of this year and last year, there are a lot of other things that go into it, my wife and my kids a big part of it. But I do love it here.”
It's not really a surprise that Gray is non-committal about returning to the Twins, as Minnesota was sort of non-committal on him. There were rumors of Gray being shopped at the trade deadline, although most of that noise was in the fan community and didn't seem to emminate from the front office.
Still, there's more than enough evidence to suggest Gray has played his last game with the Twins. The tension with Rocco is undeniable, he's entering the final years of his career and would probably like to win a World Series, and he's sitting on a lottery ticket in terms of being able to get one last big contract.
Even with all that said, Gray didn't rule out a return to Minnesota and made a point to say how much he's appreciated being embraced by the team and its fans over the last few years.
“I do truly believe there is something special going on in this clubhouse," Gray said. "It’s definitely going in the right direction. But at the same time, it’s something we’re going to have to take a look at as a family and see what is the next step for us, not only as a baseball player, but where are the next three to four years of our lives going and what direction is that going to go in. I do know it’s going to be playing baseball, I just don’t know exactly where."
We'll see what the future holds, but it's starting to look like the Twins will be in the market for a replacement and that Sonny Days in Minnesota are over.