In case you’ve been under a rock over the past four days, you’ve no doubt seen the widespread reaction to how the Minnesota Twins handled the trade deadline.
It hasn’t been great!
But most of it isn’t rooted in facts or solid rationale. And I get it; fans are fired up because they get to know these players and then one day they’re gone. I don’t want people to lose sight of this even though I don’t watch the Twins through the lens of a fan anymore.
All I’m really saying is that if people want to voice their opinions loudly where they’re open to being consumed by others, they should be rooted in facts, you know?
But instead of replying to every single Facebook commenter lamenting the current ownership under “Carl” Pohlad (yeesh) or the fact that Brian Dozier was the only reason they bought tickets and never will again, I thought I’d just try to debunk as many of them in one fell swoop so that when you’re caught between a rock and a hard place with one of your relatives ranting about the “cheap” Twins, you can share this link with them and we can both make this world a better place.
So of course, I went to Twitter to get my intel. Let’s go:
Heard it last night: “I’m done with these Twins, they just keep getting rid of people. This time Dozier. Why are we getting rid of our best players?” I tried to explain contracts, minor leagues, arbitration, QOs…wasn’t worth it
— Shea McGinnity (@SheaMcGinnity) August 4, 2018
So this is really the foundation of it all. The Twins moved Dozier because he’s a free agent at the end of the year, and at the time they traded him, they had less than a 1 percent chance of making the playoffs according to industry sites Baseball Prospectus, Fangraphs and FiveThirtyEight.
The long and short of it is this: The Twins did right by Dozier in letting him go play in a pennant race, and did right by themselves by opening up some spots for guys to see a little more playing time down the stretch.
The same thing is true of Escobar, who is having a career year and no doubt wants to see what the free market has to offer before deciding where he’ll sign.
When push comes to shove, these guys were going to be free agents anyway, and if they find their way back to Minnesota in the offseason, it was going to happen anyway.
That this FO is exactly like the TR ones and that Pohlad is cheap
— Ultimate Twins Fan (@Devlin_clark84) August 4, 2018
I don’t understand this one at all. Terry Ryan never made five trades at any trade deadline — Randball’s Stu of Twinkie Town humorously lampooned this in a recent article — and it became such a talking point that fans were openly upset he wasn’t “getting something back for guys they were going to lose anyway.”
The “Pohlad is cheap” people will never change their mind, but seriously….this team opened the season with the highest payroll in club history.
Every single player we trade away will automatically turn into David Ortiz.
— Brian Landon (@BrianLandon) August 4, 2018
I can be up front and say that I thought this might happen with Oswaldo Arcia — who is hitting a not-great .226/.309/.394 with the Nippon-Ham Fighters in Japan — but honestly, this is another feat that just won’t die some 15 years later.
Other than Babe Ruth, this is maybe the most famous “one who got away” stories of all time. Two of them in 100 years? Calm down.
People saying Lance Lynn should have shaved his beard earlier in the season
— Mr. Moonstasio (@robtodd22) August 4, 2018
He looks better with it.
Oh man, I saw someone who said that Mauer is what is holding this team back from competing and that we can’t compete until we move him.
His contract is up this year and people seem to think he’ll be around forever…
— Don Baumberger (@D__Luxxx) August 4, 2018
Here’s where this falls short for me: the Twins started their horrible stretch in 2011. Mauer was great through 2013.
The real issue was numerous personnel decisions that did not work — drafting Brad Radke clones, trading J.J. Hardy to install Tsuyoshi Nishioka, moving Miguel Sano to keep third base open for *checks notes* Trevor Plouffe? — as well as some untimely injuries like Justin Morneau’s career-altering concussion which led to the downfall of what was a terrific run of Twins baseball from 2001-10.
If nothing else, it makes you yearn for the days of making the playoffs just to get pasted by the Yankees again, does it not?
That trading a player who will be a free agent at season's end gives you less of a chance at re-signing them over the winter.
Not true. In the end, it's $$ that talk.
— Terry Anderson (@nater79a) August 4, 2018
I can understand why people think this way. It really doesn’t happen that often. But this is a correlation/causation thing. It happened with Aroldis Chapman and the Yankees — what a coup getting Gleyber Torres for their trouble — and also with Pat Neshek and the Phillies just this past offseason.
But there really is no actual proof that Eduardo Escobar is any less likely to sign with the Twins because they traded him. He gets a chance to chase October baseball and eat at the Scottsdale Fogo de Chao, and then he’s a free agent available to sign with 30 MLB teams — just like he would have been if he’d have stayed with the Twins.
And then over the winter, it comes down to money and fit. Money talks, friends.
We won't properly develop our prospects because we've had busts in the past
— J D Y (@JDYmpls) August 4, 2018
This one also strikes me as strange, since they use Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano as the shining examples of this. Like while ignoring that Sano literally played in the All-Star Game last year and Buxton not only had an amazing close to the 2017 season, but won the Gold Glove in center field as well.
Those are player development successes. You can be upset with where they’re at in their careers — and frankly, maybe you ought to be — but from a player development standpoint, they got to the big leagues and played at a high level for an extended period of time.
I still think it’s player development’s job to keep them at that level, but that’s also an entirely new argument centered around how much it also falls on the player to do their part — a talking point far more pertinent to Sano’s situation than Buxton’s.
That they're still cheap. As if weren't trying to compete this year, and the trades were the Twins being cheap again.
— wake up l'il punchy, wake up (@pantsboyusa) August 4, 2018
That’s what’s so strange.
The Twins didn’t trade any of their really expensive players. Dozier and Escobar were both on modest salaries — a combined $13.85 million, which each might get this offseason per year — and in some of the trades, the team kicked in money or in the case of the Dodgers deal, took back Logan Forsythe’s contract (identical to Dozier’s $9 million) to get a better prospect return.
If any part of it was cheap, it was moving Lance Lynn — a player Twins fans wanted gone in the first place. And get this — the Twins kicked in cash in that deal to get a better return as well.
That Pohlad is cheap because he trades all of the Twins’ best players and that he only cares abound the money.
— Javan Olmscheid (@javanolmscheid1) August 4, 2018
For the most part, see the question(s) above. This year was the team’s highest payroll — which again shows there isn’t as much correlation between spending and winning as some folks might like — and Dozier was in the mist of probably his worst season since becoming a full-time player.
Escobar was having a fine season, but look at his career numbers and even his most recent seasons. He’s been very good, but it’s also out of character for what his skillset has turned out in previous seasons.
Trading Escobar also made room for Sano to return from the minors. Getting Sano back up, only to have an infield of Mauer-Dozier-Polanco-Escobar/Sano didn’t make any sense anyway.
"Might as well get rid of Rosario too, he's too good to play for the Twins"
— Dana Spears (@dspears37) August 4, 2018
I hate having to try to speak logically to people who make statements like this — I have no idea why this is even what they consider a rational argument — but again it ignores that Rosario is not eligible for free agency until after 2021.
Yet people want to speak loudly and ignorantly rather than hear facts. I think about this episode of 30 Rock a lot in this instance:
Tracy Jordan on 30 Rock said it best when he was on Larry King Live:
"I'm not an expert, but I do have a strong opinion."
— Brandon Warne (@Brandon_Warne) August 2, 2018
Again, I get having strong feelings. Those don’t always need to be loud opinions.
The Twins are in a total rebuild mode and we’ll have to wait another 5 yrs for them to be competitive
— Jeff Dickman (@GatorJDickman) August 4, 2018
I’ve seen this one a lot too. And while a fair number of the prospects are years away from contributing — they did a reasonable job diversifying in this respect — look at the current roster.
Rosario/Polanco/Kepler/Berrios/Sano/Buxton went nowhere. That’s your core, for better or worse. On a recent radio spot, I said if the Twins don’t win 90 games next year it’s a huge bust.
The Tigers and Royals are both still going to be bad, and the White Sox might as well. The Indians will likely take some form of a step back with Cody Allen, Andrew Miller and Michael Brantley hitting free agency.
The Twins are heading into next year’s free agency with just around $30 million hard committed to the payroll, a bit more through arbitration raises but still the ability to spend probably $50 million just to get back to where they started this year.
Supplementing this young talent with at least one really good player — I’m on the record as saying Yasmani Grandal should be the No. 1 target — should be the most important goal this winter.
This team is, believe it or not, very close to breaking through.
The only player they should have traded was Mauer lol
— Travis Brooks (@Bettin_Brooks16) August 4, 2018
Regardless of if this is tied in misplaced Mauer angst or just the idea that he might want to chase a World Series ring, this one never made sense to me.
- He has a no-trade clause
- Most contenders are already set at first base
- It doesn’t seem likely that a World Series ring won with a random team he played for over a two-month span would mean that much
- His family still comes to many, many games
- His wife is pregnant and he’s just not going to up and leave
It never made any sense for Mauer to go anywhere else.
It’s a tie between:
A) “they’re in rebuild mode again, another 3 years until they are good.”
B) “how can they trade _______ for PROSPECTS!? I’ve never heard of any of these guys.!”
— Craig Kennedy (@ohheygreg) August 4, 2018
Answered the first part above, but one of my least favorite things is when people say “CHAMPIONSHIP!” or “WHO?” when these moves happen. Just a pet peeve — doesn’t have to go further than that.
Plus a Venn diagram of people lamenting Dozier being traded with those who a month ago thought he wasn’t having a great season would be fascinating.
Mike Trout was once a prospect. We all start somewhere.
That it's pointless to get to know who the top prospects are because the Twins always trade them after a few years anyways. Their examples were Hunter & Cuddyer. But they weren't traded and played for the Twins into their 30's.
— Jared Schjei (@jschjei1) August 4, 2018
Torii Hunter played for the Metrodome-era Twins where maximizing the player’s cheap first six seasons was a huge deal. In fact, it made them perhaps more fiscally responsible because sometimes thinking with your heart — i.e. attachment to certain players — might lead to handing out more risky deals as a player’s career moves past the age of 30.
I’ll readily admit when the Angels gave him a five-year deal when he was 32, I thought they were nuts. Instead, he got the last laugh, playing seven productive seasons before returning to Minnesota for his swan song.
But if he played in the Target Field era, he probably would have gotten an extension. With Cuddyer, he was heading into his age-33 season and I think his discontent with how the 2011 season went played a huge role in his decision to leave. I think that was also true with Joe Nathan and to some extent, Jason Kubel.
And even still, like the tweet says, both of these players played well into their 30s with the Twins.
Other than that, what top prospects have the Twins traded? I’m all ears, friends.
That teams will be willing to pay Mauer, if only for his defense
— Bill Fehlberg (@billfehlberg) August 4, 2018
I’m not totally sure what this means, but again I’ll reiterate that teams weren’t going to get Mauer in a trade — and I don’t think his defense at first base would be enough of a selling point for any possible teams interested, either.
But Dozier is a fan favorite. Do they want anybody attending games down the stretch?
— Bryan Boger (@bryguy47) August 4, 2018
I mean I’m just not sure I buy that people are buying tickets to see Dozier this year with how his season had gone. I don’t know?
But this is also the long play — a good move by an organization hoping to win on a sustainable basis. You have to be proactive during the lulls and not rest when things are going well.
I think they’re doing a good job of that, and if trading Dozier somehow feeds into a team that wins the division in the next two years, that’s a net positive in their eyes.
That the trades mean we are moving the contention window to 2020-2022
— wademobley (@wademobley) August 4, 2018
Nope. Literally nothing has changed in that respect. Chances are the Twins know the numbers Dozier and Escobar are looking for to re-sign — Escobar remains the far, far better bet — and they’re going to let them see what the market says before engaging them.
It’s a rough market for second basemen this winter — Forsythe, Dozier, Neil Walker, Ian Kinsler, Daniel Murphy and others are looking for work — and that might drive the price down on middle infielders. And if not, the Twins might sign one of those other guys as a bridge to Nick Gordon.
I really think 2019 is the first year Falvey-Levine expected to truly contend, and I think that’s a very reasonable proposition.
Players that are in A are worse prospects than prospects in higher levels.
— zach more (@zmotalk) August 4, 2018
Oh man, I’ve seen that too. Not true at all. Bryce Harper played A-ball at some point in his career, right? There’s some logic in the idea that they’re further off from the big leagues — which is fine, the Twins aren’t in need of immediate replacements anyway — and dipping lower also leaves the ceiling for these returns as potentially higher.
For instance, look at the current top-10 prospects list for the Twins. Guys like Brusdar Graterol and Akil Baddoo might make those lists depending on who is writing them, and both were much lower on lists in previous years. Graduations and improvements happen, so the hope is that your talent evaluators see something that’ll make that player’s talent pop in the years to come.
By the way, remember the A.J. Pierzynski trade? That A-ball lefty they got in that deal turned out pretty good.
That they're still cheap. As if weren't trying to compete this year, and the trades were the Twins being cheap again.
— wake up l'il punchy, wake up (@pantsboyusa) August 4, 2018
It’s simply not true. To reiterate, they kicked in money to get better trade returns. The New York Mets — a team you’d think would be better off financially — has gotten killed for not doing this sort of thing in recent years.
Think about it this way: the Twins sent cash to the Yankees (!) in the Lynn deal. The Yankees!
How trades are on MLBN and Twitter before coaches and players know. Also annoying: people who are mad at players being traded.
— Scott Lindholm (@4arlandria) August 4, 2018
I’ll actually agree with this one a little bit. For Escobar to find out he was traded by seeing it on TV leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I think it does for a lot of other people, too. But someone leaked it, and that’s the world we live in, for better or worse.
Cheap twins trade our best players for prospects again. Pohlads dont care about winning wahh
— Joe Lere (@ReverendFoester) August 4, 2018
This was puzzling to me, too. Why are fans so tied up with “best players” on a team that’s on pace to win like 75 games? Shouldn’t they want better players?
Isn’t that basically the fan mentality? Trade bad players, keep good ones?
Our prospects in our farm system are invaluable and should never be traded.
— Ryan B (@beautifulbald13) August 4, 2018
I get the idea of prospect hugging — I think this became more prevalent with the Moneyball era, for some reason — and I think we all like to dream on what a player can become.
But look no further than some former top prospects lists to see why trading them is often the right move.
This is Minnesota’s top-10 prospect list from 2012:
- Miguel Sano
- Joe Benson
- Eddie Rosario
- Aaron Hicks
- Oswaldo Arcia
- Levi Michael (!)
- Liam Hendriks
- Kyle Gibson
- Chris Parmelee
- Brian Dozier
We don’t know anything.
“I’ll never go to another game under these owners.” My answer: “see you at the game next year when the Twins compete!”
Also saw someone mistakenly bash Carl Pohlad, not realizing he had passed.
Lastly, someone called Dozier “very consistent” using his batting average as evidence
— jordan (@jordan_koupal) August 4, 2018
This is what I call the Kanye West “There’s a thousand of you, there’s only one of me” theory. Maybe you’re really never coming back to Target Field because of this trade, but there are some three million people in the Twin Cities and the Minnesota Twins only need 30-some thousand on any given night.
Like I always say: they care about the butts in the seats, not the faces. When they’re good again, the seats will be full. So you make decisions with long-term success and sustainability in mind.
Kinda like the Twins owners saying "We need a new stadium to be able to compete" Well the Twins have had the worst combined losses in all of MLB since Target Field opened. Good thing they got a new stadium. 😆
— Rob Preston (@robpreston34) August 4, 2018
I mean the effect is clear in the team payrolls. They never spent more than $71 million and change in the Metrodome in any single season, and their payroll in 2011 — the year they lost 99 games — was a club record $113.2 million. What you spend matters, but so does how you spent it.
This year the Twins set a new record on Opening Day payroll — $128 million — and look what it led to? Now with that said, I still thought it was going to go better, considering this was an 85-win team at about $20 million less in payroll. They added talent and only lost Matt Belisle really — and look who made his way back to Minneapolis — but at the end of the day, there were too many individual issues to overcome.
The Twins were never going to spend with the Yankees. But if getting Target Field allows them to keep their great players in Twinstripes, that should be enough. If you can’t be the Dodgers, you can at least be the Cardinals.