GM Project 2016-17: Minnesota Twins

This is a project where 30 people got together to act as the GMs of the 30 MLB teams with the idea of conducting the offseason in one week. This is what happened in this simulation, not a prediction of what will happen in real life.

By Peter Kreutzer

In 2016, when Brian Joura invited me into his General Manager Simulation as the GM of the Minnesota Twins, my first priority was getting rid of Joe Mauer’s terrible contract. $23 million per year for three more years, offloaded to someone else, seemed like a pure win. That I was able to deal him for James Loney, who was owed for 2016 but not after, felt like a clever play as well.

In 2016, Mauer hit .261 with a .752 OPS, driving 11 homers with 49 RBI. Loney, by contrast, in 200 fewer at bats, hit .265 with a .704 OPS, nine homers and 34 RBI. I’d say the difference was worth more than $15 million in cash.

But a problem came up. Shortly after the sim concluded I met Twins beat writer Mike Berardino, of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. He liked the concept of that deal, but he said that there was no way in the world that the Twins were going to dump Joe Mauer. He is just too big a hero to the hometown fans, and so the team is content to ride out his contract and then move him into a coaching position when it is done.

I didn’t have to consider the fans in the sim, I could be ruthless, but when I was assigned the Twins again this year I decided to try to work within the limitations that carrying Mauer’s contract imposes on the team.

With a budget of $104 million, and paying Joe Mauer $23 million, I went to work.

Mauer’s contract was not the only problem. I would have preferred not to have Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes each earning $13+ million this year and next, and I had the injured Glen Perkins making $6.5 million this year. His shoulder surgery last June was so profoundly complex his career might be over.

Finally, I had to decide whether to arbitrate with Trevor Plouffe. Looking at $8.2M after an injury-shortened season, I decided to let him walk. I did arbitrate with Hector Santiago, for $8.5 M, but then traded him to Kansas City for Jason Vargas, saving half a million. Vargas comes with some risk, he’s returning from injury, but he is a notch better than Santiago, so that stands as a small pitching upgrade.

I also chose to set Kurt Suzuki free, by not exercising a $6M option, freeing up some money but need to find a new catcher. John Ryan Murphy did not look ready for fulltime action last year

The good news was that I was building around Brian Dozier at 2B, Jorge Polanco at SS, Miguel Sano at 3B, Byron Buxton in CF, Max Kepler in right, and a platoon of Eddie Rosario and Robbie Grossman in left. All of these guys, apart from Dozier, are making less than $1M this year, and all have solid (if not spectacular) futures ahead of them.

This is a hitting corps that caught fire last August, and my hope is that with another season of experience that they will become a top scoring team.

They’ll need to be, because the rotation is full of guys you’d prefer as your No. 4 or 5 guys, apart from Jose Berrios, who I hope will round into a frontline starter this coming season. Vargas, Santana, and Hughes are major league arms, if nothing else. Tommy Milone, our No. 5, can be effective when he can use his excellent curve as an out pitch, but is more of a Quad-A arm. He is dominant in Triple-A, but is exposed in the majors when he loses control of the count.

Once I’d finished arbitration with Brandon Knitzler and Ryan Pressly, I set out to try to improve. The problem was I had only $14M to spend, which pretty much ruled out any starting pitching.

In the end, I replaced Kurt Suzuki at catcher with, um, Kurt Suzuki, saving $4M.

I improved the bullpen, I think, by adding Trevor Rosenthal and Travis Wood, who along with Tyler Duffey—working in relief in a more suitable role—should be able to prop up the rotation.

And I have some solid pitching prospects bubbling under, including Steven Gonsalves and Kohl Stewart, who may be able to contribute later this summer.

This team doesn’t have the world class pitching that the Indians had last year, but it is a team that should be able to compete without that pitching, much as the Indians ended up doing after Salazar and Carrasco went down.

The lesson I learned from all of this isn’t earthshaking. When you have a lot of money tied up in a few not very attractive players, it’s hard to find better players who improve your chances of competing today, and this is a Twins team that needs to start competing now.

MINNESOTA   MLS thru ’15 season   Updated 9/16 salary + p-r bonus    
    Pos’n ML Srv Agent Length / Total Value 2016 2017
1B Mauer, Joe 1b 12 Ron Shapiro 8 yr/$184M (11-18) $23,000,000 $23,000,000
1B Vargas, Kennys 1b 0.161 Paul Kinzer 1 yr (16)   $550,000
2B Dozier, Brian 2b 3.1 All Bases Covered, Damon Lapa 4 yr/$20M (15-18) $3,000,000 $6,000,000
3B Sano, Miguel Jean rf 0.095 Roc Nation 1 yr/$0.5475M (16) $547,500 $600,000
C Suzuki, Kurt c         $2,700,000
C Murphy, John Ryan c 1.12 ISE Baseball 1 yr/$0.5287M (16) $528,700 $600,000
DH Park, Byung Ho dh-1b 0 Octagon 4 yr/$12M (16-19) $2,750,000 $2,750,000
OF Kepler, Max RF 0.013 Sosnick Cobbe 1 yr (16)   $600,000
OF Buxton, Byron cf 0.113 Jet Sports 1 yr/$0.5125M (16) $512,500 $575,000
OF Rosario, Eddie lf 0.154 Gavin Kahn 1 yr/$0.5425M (16) $542,500 $575,000
OF Grossman, Robbie lf-cf 1.095 Lagardere Sports 1 yr (16)   $550,000
P-R Travis Wood lhp         $3,700,000
P-R Trevor Rosenthal rhp         $2,500,000
P-R Kintzler, Brandon rhp 4.026 Kevin Kohler 1 yr (16)   $2,200,000
P-R Pressly, Ryan rhp 2.053 Landis Baseball 1 yr/$0.52M (16) $520,000 $1,100,000
P-R May, Trevor rhp 1.051 Legacy Agency 1 yr/$0.545M (16) $545,000 $600,000
P-R Boshers, Buddy lhp 0.051   1 yr (16)   $525,000
P-R Melotakis, Mason lhp 0   1 yr (16)   $510,000
P-S Santana, Ervin rhp-s 10.101 Octagon 4 yr/$55M (15-18)+19 opt $13,500,000 $13,500,000
P-S Hughes, Phil rhp-s 8.113 CAA Sports 5 yr/$58M (15-19) $9,200,000 $13,200,000
P-S Vargas, Jason SP1     1 yr/$5M (16) $5,000,000 $8,000,000
P-S Milone, Tom SP2 3.143 Magnus Sports 1 yr/$4.5M (16) $4,500,000 $4,900,000
P-S Berrios, Jose O. rhp 0 MDR Sports 1 yr (16)   $550,000
SS Polanco, Jorge SS 0.011   1 yr (16)   $535,000
UT Santana, Danny ss 1.111 Octagon 1 yr/$0.5375M (16) $537,500 $600,000
60-Day DL Glen Perkins           $6,500,000
               
  Nolasco, Ricky       portion paid to LA Angels   $4,000,000
               
              $101,420,000.00
               
               
1 Nick Gordon SS No. 2 prospect 2018      
2 Fernando Romero RHP No. 5 prospect 2018      
3 Kohl Stewart RHP No. 4 prospect 2017 midseason    
4 Steven Gonsalves LHP No. 3 prospect 2017 midseason    
5 Tyler Jay LHP No. 1 prospect 2018      
6 Rogers, Taylor lhp 0 Frontline 1 yr (16)    
7 Dean, Pat lhp 0   1 yr (16)    
8 Engelb Vielma INF No. 16 prospect 2017 great glove    
9 Beresford, James 2b 0   1 yr (16)    
10 Mejia, Adalberto lhp 0   1 yr (16)    
11 Light, Pat rhp 0 Jeff Randazzo 1 yr/$0.5075M (16)    
12 Duffey, Tyler rhp 0.062 Dishman Sports 1 yr/$0.525M (16)    
13 Trevor Hildenberger RHP No. 18 prospect 2017 middle reliever    
14 Nick Burdi RHP No. 10 prospect 2017      
15 Tonkin, Michael rhp 1.005 Wasserman Media 1 yr/$0.515M (16) $515,000  
               
               
               
  Chargois, J.T. rhp 0   1 yr (16)    
  Walker, Adam of 0   1 yr (16)    
  Centeno, Juan c 0.105 Magnus Sports 1 yr (16)    
  O’Rourke, Ryan lhp 0.09   1 yr (16)    
  Rosario, Randy lhp 0   1 yr (16)    
  Strong, Michael lhp 0   1 yr (16)    
  Albers, Andrew lhp-s 0.059 True Gravity 1 yr (16)    
  Landa, Yorman rhp 0   1 yr (16)    
  Wimmers, Alex rhp 0   1 yr (16)  

4 comments for “GM Project 2016-17: Minnesota Twins

  1. October 24, 2016 at 11:33 pm

    I would have loved to have taken Santana off your hands but I didn’t have anything to offer other than payroll relief. He was really, really good the second half of the season.

    • October 25, 2016 at 12:11 am

      That was the problem. I could unload Santana, but even then I couldn’t afford to upgrade to, um, Hill. So what’s the point?

      For me, deepening the pen and trimming those starters to five or six innings has much more potential.

      If the young hitters hit.

  2. David Groveman
    October 25, 2016 at 10:40 am

    You didn’t do a lot but the core of the offense stayed together and that was good. I think that you did something interesting in ignoring the impulse to trade Mauer which both tied your hands and led to one of the more realistic experiences.

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