So far it's been a pretty quiet offseason for the Minnesota Twins. Despite the Winter Meetings starting to heat up, the Twins have remained in a holding pattern with the only moves being ones in which players are leaving.
Sonny Gray was the biggest loss, as the Cy Young runner-up left to sign a three-year, $75 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals. He was the second Twins starter to leave, though, as Kenta Maeda departed for Detroit a day prior when he signed a two-year, $24 million deal with the Tigers.
Minnesota now needs to find a way to replace those lost innings, but there doesn't seem to be a rush to do it. The Twins have historically waited for the market to settle before jumping in, something that happened as recently as last year when the team didn't make a deal until January.
That trade -- which landed Pablo Lopez in Minnesota -- was worth the wait. This year a reduced payroll is complicating the Twins plans to replace Gray and Maeda but it isn't rendering it impossible. In fact, the team tried to make a deal at the beginning of free agency which ultimately fell through.
Twins wanted to bring back Kenta Maeda before Tigers deal
According to The Athletic's Aaron Gleeman, the Twins wanted to bring Maeda back but got outbid by the Tigers who offered a bigger deal and more security. Minnesota was comfortable with giving Maeda a one-year deal, but Detroit's two-year, $24 million offer was one the former Cy Young finalist couldn't refuse.
"While the $12 million annual salary is reasonable for a pitcher of Maeda’s caliber, the Twins were hesitant to commit multiple years to a 36-year-old who logged just 104 innings in his first season back from Tommy John surgery," Gleeman wrote.
There are two ways to look at this, both of which make some sense. On the one hand, Maeda is an aging veteran who wasn't at the top of the Twins rotation, and paying $24 million for him is a bit steep. While a $12 million AAV is in the range for a guy like Maeda, the Twins have always been frugal when it comes to handing out new contract.
The flip side of that is a little more frustrating. It's impossible to look at the Twins passing on outbidding the Tigers and not think of the reduced payroll. That's a variable that will carry throughout the offseason as the Twins try to make deals and Maeda might be the first victim of Minnesota shopping on a budget.
If anything, the takeaway could be that the Twins are in the market for adding a Maeda-type pitcher; a veteran who can handle duties at the back-end of the rotation. Right now it seems like Louie Varland is in the running for that role but that all depends on what Minnesota ends up doing and whether they're willing to spend to bring someone in.