We’re coming up on the opening of free agency, so what better time to take a look at the top players available, if they’re a fit for the Minnesota Twins and who they’ll end up signing with and for how much?

People much smarter than me have started putting together ranking lists, so I kindly borrowed the one Ben Reiter used for Sports Illustrated with my own analysis.

READ: Part I can be found here.

This is going to take a while, so let’s skip the extended, awkward intro and just dive right in:

  1. SP J.A. Happ – Yankees
  • 2018 recap: Happ was quietly one of the best lefties in baseball, racking up a strikeout per inning with a 3.65 ERA. He just turned 36, and doesn’t have a long track record of striking out this many batters, but he also allowed a few more homers than usual while seeing his groundball rate take a bit of a hit. In short, there’s room for regression in both directions, though he’s a moderately stable asset for his age. He’s not as durable as people might think, however; he’s thrown 180 innings just once in his career.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, especially on a short deal to help build the bridge to some of the youngsters with the team needing to look past 2019 starter-wise.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Mariners; two years, $13 million per year.
  1. IF Daniel Murphy – Cubs
  • 2018 recap: He can still really hit, but should probably move off second base for good. As a first baseman, a 110 wRC+ — like he had last year — isn’t quite as good as it is at second base, but he’s really slowing down out there. 
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Eh, not really. At least not at second base. If Joe Mauer doesn’t come back he could platoon with Tyler Austin at first base, but that seems like kind of a stretch.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Mets; one year, $8 million.
  1.  OF Andrew McCutchen – Yankees
  • 2018 recap: Some of the sheen has worn off from him putting up MVP-caliber seasons as a center fielder in Steel Town, but he literally just turned 32 and is still a productive hitter. He’s good for 20 homers, 12-15 steals and plenty of walks while playing acceptable defense in a corner. That might be undervalued in most markets, but if it’d ever be overvalued it’d be with a player who has this kind of name value. This will be a tricky market.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, but it’s for a reason I’ll get into with my next post. Stand by!
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Rangers; two years, $14 million per year.
  1. 3B Mike Moustakas – Brewers
  • 2018 recap: After a weird free agency ended up with him back in Kansas City, he wound up with the Brewers down the stretch as they fell just short of winning the NL pennant. Moustakas is the kind of player who seems a lot better than his numbers indicate, but the idea that he’d ever have gotten a deal approaching $100 million is long gone. He’s a glue guy on a contender but probably not a cornerstone. If he can’t stick at third base — so far, so good but he’s had knee issues — he’s a lot less valuable.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Could be a quasi-fit between 1B/3B with Miguel Sano, but it probably isn’t likely.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Angels; three years, $12 million per year.
Oct 20, 2018; Milwaukee, WI, USA; Milwaukee Brewers third baseman Mike Moustakas hits a single against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the second inning in game seven of the 2018 NLCS playoff baseball series at Miller Park. Mandatory Credit: Jon Durr-USA TODAY Sports
  1. RP Jeurys Familia – A’s
  • 2018 recap: He’s had three very good years in the last four, and 2018 was arguably the best of them. He allows no homers, strikes out plenty of batters and doesn’t have the kind of walk rate that is terrifying as much as something that should be watched — like a moderately high blood pressure. As a closer, the strikeouts and home run rate look pretty good. He battled shoulder issues in 2016 — the only down year he’s had in the last three.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Absolutely. He could and most likely would close for them.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Indians; three years, $8 million per year.
  1. SP Hyun-jin Ryu – Dodgers
  • 2018 recap: After battling arm issues that cost him all but 4.2 innings between 2014-15, Ryu has come back to post a 3.06 ERA in 209 innings over the last two seasons. It’d be hard for any external team to know exactly how to value that, so it feels like the Dodgers might give him a short-term deal to rebuild and stabilize his value. If he leaves, a deal with innings incentives might make a lot of sense.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: I don’t expect him to leave Los Angeles.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Dodgers; two years, $10 million per year.
  1. 2B D.J. LeMahieu – Rockies
  • 2018 recap: LeMahieu is the kind of player whose advanced stats get penalized for playing at Coors Field — he’s a career .298/.350/.406 hitter for a 90 wRC+ — but it’s not as though his skill set is exactly tailored to the air there. He hits lots of grounders (53.8 percent career rate) and line drives (23.8 percent) and very few fly balls, which is actually a little strange for his size (would you believe he’s 6-foot-4, 215 pounds?). Nevertheless, he walks a little bit, never strikes out and might have the ability to do a little more offensively with a few swing tweaks. He’s also a pretty dang good defensive second baseman, so there’s sneaky-good signing potential here.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, especially since OBP could be a big need if Mauer retires and Robbie Grossman is non-tendered — both distinct possibilities. 
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Brewers; three years, $10 million per year.
  1. RP Zach Britton – Yankees
  • 2018 recap: He didn’t look all the way back to his old self with the Yankees, but he took another step forward from where he was prior to the trade from Baltimore. If he never strikes out 8.0 batters per nine innings again, he’s still going to be an effective reliever with a groundball rate in the 70 percent range. The question is how much to gamble he can continue to recover the further he gets from serious Achilles and arm issues. 
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: It all depends on the deal, but the market is usually on the crazy side for relievers. 
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Nationals; three years, $9 million per year.
Oct 5, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; New York Yankees relief pitcher Zach Britton (53) throws the ball during the seventh inning against the Boston Red Sox in game one of the 2018 NLDS playoff baseball series at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
  1. IF Marwin Gonzalez – Astros
  • 2018 recap: The Houston Swiss-Army Knife will be a hot ticket this offseason due to position flexibility — he played everywhere but catcher and pitcher this past season — but his last three years have provided OPS+ numbers of 91, 146 and 103. Guys like him have a lot of value, but it still feels like this is going to be an overpay candidate.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, but he’s a fit for probably 25 other teams too.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Rockies; four years, $15 million per year.
  1. RP Andrew Miller – Indians
  • 2018 recap: He didn’t pitch much or terribly well and is headed into his age-34 season. He’ll have a fairly strong market because of how good he was and for how long, but if he wants more than two years he’ll probably be displeased.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, especially since his market will be depressed somewhat.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Mets; two years, $10 million per year.
  1. C Yasmani Grandal – Dodgers
  • 2018 recap: Everybody will remember his horrendous October, but the fact of the matter is that his skill set is that of an above-average hitter — well before the position adjustment — who over his career has been good defensively. He’ll be 30 next season. He’s doing to get paid.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, if the Twins want a long-term answer at the position, this is it.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Astros; four years, $20 million per year.
Oct 27, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal reacts after striking out in the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox in game four of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
  1. C Wilson Ramos – Phillies
  • 2018 recap: I personally think Grandal is the better bet based on durability, but not everyone agrees. In any event, Ramos is heading into his age-31 season and has played 110-plus games in three of the past four years. That’s certainly not going to get people charged up, but at the catcher position and with Ramos’ rep that he’s not durable, it’s certainly more than most people might expect.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, if the Twins don’t want to go quite as long as Grandal might ask for — for instance, if they think Ryan Jeffers will eventually be ready but they want a higher-end catcher in the meantime — this is the fit.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Nationals; three years, $16 million per year.
  1. OF A.J. Pollock – Diamondbacks
  • 2018 recap: If it wasn’t for health issues, Pollock might be near the top of this list. But he’s played more than 150 games just once in seven big-league seasons, so despite his career line of .281/.338/.467 with good defense in center, his market may not be incredibly robust. Still, from a talent standpoint, this is probably a top-five player in this market.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes. I’ll explain later. Just trust me.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Rockies; three years and $18 million per year.
  1. RP Adam Ottavino – Rockies
  • 2018 recap: Ottavino was quietly one of the 10 or so best relievers in baseball this past year, as he posted a 2.43 ERA with nearly 13 strikeouts per nine and a stellar 0.58 HR/9 rate. That’s huge with half his games coming at Coors. His last two years have been Jekyll and Hyde, but the track record here is a very good reliever with bust potential — just like pretty much any other bullpen piece.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, but the price will probably push him out of their budget.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Cardinals; three years, $11 million per year.
  1. SP Nathan Eovaldi – Red Sox
  • 2018 recap: He pitched some huge spots for Boston in October, but before that he was very, very good for both the Rays and Red Sox. He still hasn’t thrown 180 innings since 2014 — and that was the only time — but the recency bias factor will play in huge here for a guy who will be 29 next season. He’s going to get paid.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, but his injury history and workload down the stretch is potentially worrisome.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Red Sox; four years, $17 million per year.
  1. SP Charlie Morton – Astros
  • 2018 recap: Why leave what has worked? Morton came to the Astros with a career ERA of 4.54, a 1.44 WHIP, 6.3 K/9 and career earnings around $25 million. Now he’s headed into his age-35 season, throwing mid- to high-90s cheddar and coming off posting a two-year run with a 3.36 ERA, well over a strikeout per inning and a WHIP of 1.18. He’s made just north of $40 million in his career now, and could easily come close to doubling that total with his new deal (as in $40 million in this deal to match his career earnings).
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, especially if he signs a two-year deal to help bridge a rotation with guys mostly signed through 2019.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Astros; two years, $18 million per year if he doesn’t outright accept the qualifying offer.
  1. DH Nelson Cruz – Mariners
  • 2018 recap: It’s hard to believe that Cruz is heading into his 15th MLB season, but I also remember him taking BP in the cages at the Metrodome by where the inflated milk jug used to be back in the summer of 2006 as well. Cruz was one heck of a late bloomer, but once things clicked he’s been a monster. He’s hit 35-plus homers with an OPS above .850 in each of the last five years and should be a hot item in free agency even with his position and age.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Absolutely, as the Twins have an opening at DH and at 38, Cruz won’t require a long-term commitment.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Astros; two years, $13 million per year.
  1. OF Michael Brantley – Indians
  • 2018 recap: Brantley doesn’t jump off the page statistically, but that was also true of Lorenzo Cain, whose contract was a huge windfall for the Brewers this year. After a nasty injury suffered at Target Field cost him nearly two seasons worth of playing time, Brantley has slowly but surely built himself back into the steady player he was before his MVP-caliber 2014 season. He’ll turn 32 in May, so a return all the way to that might not be likely, but the 2015 version was still really good.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: He’s a low-key sneaky fit with the Falvey factor, and that he may be a bit undervalued due to injury history.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Indians; three years, $15 million per year.
  1. SP Dallas Keuchel – Astros
  • 2018 recap: He hasn’t been nearly as good over the last three years as he was in 2015 when he won the AL Cy Young award, and each of his important marks — strikeouts, walks, homers, grounders — have slipped a bit since then, as has his innings count. He hit 200 innings for the third time in his career this year, but that was after a two-year hiatus. His skill set should age better than power pitchers, but he’ll probably be paid sticker price.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes. Among the bigger-name pitchers, he’s the best fit for them.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Angels; five years, $23 million per year.
  1. 3B Josh Donaldson – Indians
  • 2018 recap: There’s very little to assess here, but he’s coming off hitting .246/.352/.449 in 52 games between the Blue Jays and Indians. Coming back to post a 149 wRC+ with Cleveland down the stretch helps him considerably as far as simply having something on his tape. He’ll be 33 in December.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, he’d be a nice fit with the unpredictability surrounding Miguel Sano.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Cardinals; two years, $20 million per year.
  1. RP Craig Kimbrel – Red Sox
  • 2018 recap: Kimbrel went from historically good in 2017 to merely awesome this year, and they’ll be giving him a pretty ring for it all the same. He has some batted-ball help (.216 BABIP) and he still is not much of a groundball guy, but it also looks like he’s been able to tailor his approach based on home park.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins:
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Red Sox; four years, $16 million per year.
  1. SP Patrick Corbin – Diamondbacks
  • 2018 recap: How good was Corbin’s 2018? His plus-6.3 fWAR was better than his previous three years combined (6.0). He’s evolved into a homer-suppressing, grounder-inducing strikeout machine without the typical command questions some of these guys have. For what it’s worth, he’s only a little over a year younger than Kershaw. That cuts both ways, as he’s got a much, much shorter track record but has also thrown far less than half as many MLB innings. How much does mileage matter?
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, but they’ll be outbid by teams with bigger pockets.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Yankees; five years, $24 million per year.
  1. SP Clayton Kershaw – Dodgers
  • 2018 recap: It’s amazing that a season with plus-3.5 fWAR in only 161.1 innings can be a step back, but it was for Kershaw, who hasn’t reached 180 innings since 2015. Everything in his numbers was sparkling except for his strikeout rate, which dropped as his swinging-strike rate hit 11 percent for the first time since 2010. It sounds like he’s sticking in LA.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Thirty teams would be happy to have him, but he looks like he’s staying put.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Dodgers; four years, $33 million per year.
  1. OF Bryce Harper – Nationals
  • 2018 recap: Somehow having only a 135 wRC+ is construed as a bit of a down year for Harper, but he’s still just barely 26 and coming off another very strong offensive season. He was a square peg in center for the Nationals, but it’s worth wondering how real his regression in right was this year as well. Moving down the defensive spectrum will make him a bit less valuable, but not enough for it to mess with his contract much.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: He’s a fit for almost everyone. It seems unlikely they’d spend this kind of money on one player.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: White Sox; 10 years, $34 million per with opt-outs after three and five years.
Sep 28, 2018; Denver, CO, USA; Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper (34) walks towards his position following the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Russell Lansford-USA TODAY Sports
  1. SS Manny Machado – Dodgers
  • 2018 recap: Great in an Orioles uniform, decent in a Dodgers uniform and a villain in October. Disappeared in the postseason except for all the wrong reasons, but that shouldn’t dampen the fact that he’s played seven MLB seasons and is still coming off just his age-25 season.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: See Harper.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Phillies; 10 years, $35 million per with opt-outs after three and five years.

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