Twins Must Do More, and Fast
Baseball fans across the state of Minnesota woke up to a dream last Saturday morning, opening their phones and dropping their jaws in astonishment. Someway, somehow, the always-frugal Minnesota Twins landed the top free agent of the MLB offseason; 27-year-old MVP candidate, Platinum Glove winner, World Series champion shortstop, Carlos Correa.
‘Wow, the Twins are actually going for it.’ That was the immediate thought throughout the fanbase and in media circles. During his introduction press conference yesterday, Correa himself, said that winning was a big part of his decision to join the Twins. So, Falvey and Levine obviously convinced Carlos too.
Carlos Correa on signing with the #MNTwins:— Jeff Wald (@JeffWaldFox9) March 23, 2022
"When we talked on the Zoom call, we only talked about winning. That’s what we want to build here, we want to build a championship culture. We want to win divisions, win championships, that’s my goal here." @FOX9
Ope, hold the phone…
But there’s a problem. The Minnesota Twins aren’t good enough to win the AL Central in 2022. In fact, the starting pitching rotation, headlined by Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan, would struggle to get outs in the Independent League. Their total 2022 payroll of $111 million (20th in MLB) certainly doesn’t reflect that of a team who seems all that interested in ‘going for it’.
Not only is $111 million in the bottom half of Major League Baseball, but it’s less than what the Twins have spent on players in any of the past five seasons (excluding the shortened 2020 season). What does it matter to Jim Pohlad if he’s paying $35.1 million to one player if the Twins total payroll is less than what he’s paid since 2017? There’s nothing brave about that. Pohlad’s all smiles knowing seats at Target Field are now selling faster than water would in a desert. Yet, he’s spending below budget on the product.
#MNTwins payroll by year:— Minnesota Sports Fan (@realmnsportsfan) March 24, 2022
Riding the Correa news, the #MNTwins say they've sold more than 100,000 single-game tickets, group tickets and Twins Passes since Saturday.— Do-Hyoung Park (@dohyoungpark) March 23, 2022
There’s still time… kind of.
The Twins front office slow-played free agency before the lockout and, because of that, missed out on one of the best free agent pitching classes in recent history. Now, they’ll pay for that financial hesitancy by way of prospects. But that’s something this organization did to itself and, unless the Pohlads own a time machine, they’ll have to adjust.
Current reality calls for the Twins to trade prospects for proven front-end MLB starting pitching if they want to compete in 2022. There’s room in the budget and they have the prospects to make something big happen. But what Falvey and Levine don’t have, is time. They CANNOT afford to wait any longer.
Carlos Correa’s stay in Minneapolis isn’t expected to last more than 4-7 months. And that one and only season begins in just two weeks (April 7). So, the Minnesota Twins are either (a) about to surprise us with more moves that will splash them into World Series contention or (b) we’ve been bamboozled (again).
Lines in the trade waters?
We thought Falvine was deep into trade talks that would land one of two available front rotation starters in Oakland. But, recent reports claim the A’s are losing interest in moving either of Frankie Montas or Sean Manaea. If true, the Twins need to pivot and find something else, just like they did with Correa, when Trevor Story negotiations when stale.
Interested teams are getting the impression the A's now may well hold onto their 2 young star starters — Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea. Some do believe they are still be open to dealing Manaea, as @Ken_Rosenthal said. But quite possible they keep both — into the season anyway.— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) March 24, 2022
I don’t know how many overnight pizzas that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine need to order or what under-the-table deals they have to make with other teams. The Minnesota Twins MUST find a way to add high-end pitching talent to their starting rotation before the season starts.
If they fail, the season will likely be a failure as well. That means Correa is traded before the mid-season deadline and the only winner becomes Jim Pohlad, who was able to sell 100’s of thousands (if not millions by that time) extra tickets just to put the same under-funded product on the field.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan