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.

(Part II will be posted soon, and the link will be right here!)

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

  1. SP Matt Harvey – Reds
  • 2018 recap: Harvey was the classic change-of-scenery candidate after things went south in a hurry with the Mets, and he posted a 4.50 ERA (4.33 FIP) with the Reds in 128 innings. He hasn’t been an ace since 2015, but still also won’t be 30 until the end of spring training next year.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Sort of? He’s worth looking into as a buy-low option but do they really need someone with an ERA of 5.39 over his last three MLB seasons? Granted, that’s not who he’s guaranteed to be moving forward, but they might aim higher if they go outside.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: A’s; two years, $8 million per year.
  1. RP Joe Kelly – Red Sox
  • 2018 recap: Kelly posted a 4.39 ERA (3.57 FIP) in middle relief for the Red Sox, and that came on the heels of posting a 2.79 mark in 2017. Kelly throws the ever-loving hell out of the ball, can get some strikeouts and for the most part gets grounders. He turns 31 next summer, but the pieces are here for a better reliever than he’s been.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Probably not really, though having a guy who can throw 100 would be fun for Twins fans to see.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Mets; two years, $6 million per year.
Oct 28, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Boston Red Sox pitcher Joe Kelly (56) reacts in the eighth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers in game five of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
  1. SP Trevor Cahill – A’s
  • 2018 recap: Cahill, who turns 31 during spring training, again struggled to pitch innings in bulk, but what he did provide for the A’s in 21 appearances (20 starts) was really good.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, especially as a piggyback for someone like Fernando Romero, who deserves a shot but not a guaranteed spot in the rotation.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Reds; one year, $6 million with a $10 million team option that vests with innings pitched.
  1. SS Jose Iglesias – Tigers
  • 2018 recap: Iglesias has settled in as the kind of guy who’ll hit .260 with no power, a little value on the basepaths and almost no plate discipline. Where he earns his keep is with the leather, where he’s maybe the best defensive shortstop this side of Andrelton Simmons.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, especially if they want to move Jorge Polanco to second base sooner rather than later. This would make for a huge boost to the pitching staff without any added bodies out there. According to Fangraphs defensive rankings, only four teams had worse shortstop defense this past season.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Twins; one year, $6 million.
  1. RP Tony Sipp – Astros
  • 2018 recap: Sipp is perhaps the best cautionary tale of why paying lefty specialists is a risky proposition. In his last four years with the Astros, Sipp has posted ERA marks of 1.99, 4.95, 5.79 and 1.86 and has made more than $20 million doing so.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Not really. He doesn’t offer anything Taylor Rogers or Andrew Vasquez can’t do for a fraction of the cost. Guys like Sipp are why the Twins have made a living out of signing guys like Fernando Abad.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Phillies; one year, $4 million.
  1. SP Anibal Sanchez – Braves
  • 2018 recap: The Twins brought Sanchez to camp briefly last year after he was coming off a three-year stretch with the Tigers where he’d posted a 5.67 ERA in over 400 innings. So of course, he went to the Atlanta Braves, posted a 2.83 ERA and nearly a strikeout per inning and emboldened a new generation of couch geniuses to proclaim how the team “should of kept him.”
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Not really, though who knows? Maybe they revisit things after the spring fling last year?
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Padres; one year, $8 million.
Oct 5, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Anibal Sanchez (19) looks on as Los Angeles Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal (9) rounds the bases after hitting a home run during the fifth inning in game two of the 2018 NLDS playoff baseball series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
  1. RP Joakim Soria – Brewers
  • 2018 recap: Soria opened the year with the White Sox and was absolutely brilliant, then was simply very good in a stacked Brewers bullpen down the stretch. The final freight on Soria’s age-34 season was a 3.12 ERA (2.44 FIP), 11.1 strikeouts per nine and a 1.14 WHIP. Nasty.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: He could be, as they’re going to cast a wide net for relievers most likely. By the way, Reiter has him signing with the Indians, which would leave the Twins as the only AL Central team he hasn’t been with.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Nationals; two years, $8 million per year.
  1. IF Asdrubal Cabrera – Phillies
  • 2018 recap: He doesn’t provide a ton defensively, but he can still really hit, as his .262/.316/.458 line was a good Mike Moustakas impersonation between the Mets and Phillies. He tailed off considerably with the Phillies and probably is headed down the path of 2B/3B only rather soon, but at heading into his age-33 season he’s maybe not as old as it feels due to him being around since 2007.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: He definitely could be. It’ll all come down to clubhouse fit, though Derek Falvey is no doubt familiar with him from their time together in Cleveland.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Angels; two years, $7 million per year.
  1. OF Brett Gardner – Yankees
  • 2018 recap: Gardner’s offensive numbers slipped as he hit just .236/.322/.368, but he’s a capable fourth outfielder heading into his age-35 season with the only team he’s ever known.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Wouldn’t have been, but has re-signed with the Yankees anyway.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Signed with the Yankees for one year, $7.5 million.
  1. 2B Ian Kinsler – Red Sox
  • 2018 recap: Brought the high socks to the postseason with Boston, but hit just .240/.301/.380 in 128 regular-season games between the Angels and Red Sox. Will be sought after for defensive and name value, but heading into his age-37 season it’s just not clear what the upside would be to signing him.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: He very well could be, as the Twins will likely be searching for a bridge second baseman and at his age, he won’t be looking for too long of a deal.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Pirates; one year, $4 million.
  1. SP Gio Gonzalez – Brewers
  • 2018 recap: He doesn’t do any one thing well and his command has never been great, but he quietly has put up 30 career fWAR while getting it done year after year. He’s thrown 170 innings eight of the last nine years, and is good for about 3.0 fWAR on a yearly basis. That’s got plenty of value as he heads into his age-33 season.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, though I don’t think he’d be a real priority.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Mariners; two years, $12 million per year.
  1. 1B Steve Pearce – Red Sox
  • 2018 recap: He can really hit but he’s getting older and his list of positions played is getting shorter. He’s a World Series hero and good platoon partner for Mitch Moreland, so it makes a lot of sense to bring him back.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: No. May as well let Tyler Austin have those plate appearances.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Red Sox; two years, $6 million per year.
  1. RP Kelvin Herrera – Nationals
  • 2018 recap: He wasn’t nearly as effective after the trade from Kansas City to Washington, and he doesn’t really strike out as many batters as one might like with his repertoire of high-90s heat with a good slider. But he won’t be 30 until next offseason and has the kind of arm teams salivate over.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, but there are warning signs here to look the other way. I suspect they will.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Cubs; three years, $8 million per year.
  1. C Kurt Suzuki – Braves
  • 2018 recap: The #AxeBat warrior was rejuvenated by a timeshare with Tyler Flowers in Atlanta, as the 34-year-old Hawaii native slashed .276/.341/.485 in 186 games with 31 homers. There is nothing in the way of catching across the big leagues, so he’s going to be a sought-after commodity this offseason, even heading into his age-35 season.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: No. If the Twins sign a catcher, they need to aim higher.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Mets; two years, $7 million per year.
  1. SP Garrett Richards – Angels
  • 2018 recap: Richards was just another in an assembly line of pitchers to deal with elbow injuries for the Angels this year, and he’s expected to miss most, if not all of the 2019 season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, it’s almost an identical situation as Michael Pineda a year ago.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Cubs; two years, $5 million per year (similar to Drew Smyly deal).
  1. RP Cody Allen – Indians
  • 2018 recap: Allen picked a bad time to have a hiccup, as he had career-worst marks in ERA, strikeout and walk rate and also groundball rate. He’ll be 30, and it makes a lot of sense to take a one-year deal to rebuild his value and hit the market again next winter.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, and Falvey would know him better than most. I don’t know if he leaves Cleveland, however.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Indians; one year, $9 million.
  1. OF Nick Markakis – Braves
  • 2018 recap: After back-to-back subpar offensive seasons, Markakis came back with a .297/.366/.440 mark that almost perfectly duplicated his career line. Still, he’s going to be 35 and hasn’t been a great player in a decade. He’ll be a fit for a lot of teams in the secondary market of outfielders but might have to wait a bit.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: No.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Giants; one year, $7 million.
  1. SP Clay Buchholz – Diamondbacks
  • 2018 recap: Buchholz revitalized his career at age 33 with the Snakes, throwing nearly 100 innings of 2.01 ERA ball. It came with good, but not great peripherals and was his first truly good season since 2015, but it’s going to be a buyer’s market for pitching even on the secondary front — at least in my opinion — so he shouldn’t have any trouble finding work.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: It doesn’t really feel like it.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: White Sox; two years, $9 million per year.
  1. SP C.C. Sabathia – Yankees
  • 2018 recap: Somehow posted a sub-4.00 ERA for the third year in a row in the face of declining stuff, but Sabathia continues to be a stellar mid-rotation guy even as he heads into his late-30s. He’s been pitching so long he was a three-year veteran when he faced the Twins on Opening Day in 2004 — Joe Mauer’s MLB debut.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: They allegedly flirted with him last year and could again, but it feels a little less likely this time around.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Yankees; one year for $12 million
Oct 9, 2018; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia (52) reacts after the third inning against the Boston Red Sox in game four of the 2018 ALDS playoff baseball series at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
  1. SP Wade Miley – Brewers
  • 2018 recap: Miley was a nice find as a minor-league free agent for the Brewers, and put up solid numbers (2.57 ERA/3.59 FIP) in 80.2 innings as he battled some injuries throughout the season. The Brewers could use some back-end protection with the injuries to Jimmy Nelson and Brent Suter, and it feels like Miley could be it.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: It doesn’t seem like it.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Brewers; one year, $9 million
  1. OF Adam Jones – Orioles
  • 2018 recap: He played a little more in the corners this year, and if he can be convinced to move there permanently a la Andrew McCutchen or Torii Hunter before him, he could see a small boost to his number of suitors if nothing else. The jury has always been out on how good he was in center defensively, but at this point there’s no denying he shouldn’t be out there every day. The bat has slipped some too, and he doesn’t take walks. It could be a cold winter.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Very, very unlikely.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Indians; two years, $9 million per year.
  1. RP David Robertson – Yankees
  • 2018 recap: There might not be a more stable reliever on the market than Robertson, who turns 34 next April and has posted a K/9 rate of 10 or higher every single year he’s pitched in the major leagues. Only once has he had an ERA above 3.50 in the last decade, and he’s good for 60-70 innings every single year. No seriously, he’s thrown between 60 and 70 every year since 2010.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Absolutely. The Twins would love to have this kind of stability on the back end of games.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Twins; two years, $12 million per year.
  1. 2B Brian Dozier – Dodgers
  • 2018 recap: Sure, he played in a World Series, but things went from bad to worse when the Twins traded him to the Dodgers at the trade deadline. Dozier was hitting just .227/.307/.405 when he was flipped to the Dodgers and went just .182/.300/.350 the rest of the way. He barely played in the postseason, going just 2-for-16 with a pair of singles. He’ll need to rebuild his value on a short deal.  
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: Yes, but that ship has likely sailed.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Red Sox; one year, $5 million.
Oct 27, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Enrique Hernandez (14) celebrates scoring with second baseman Brian Dozier (6) after hitting a two-run home run in the ninth inning against the Boston Red Sox in game four of the 2018 World Series at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
  1. 3B Adrian Beltre – Rangers
  • 2018 recap: Beltre still hit .273/.328/.434 in 119 games in his age-39 season for the Rangers, but there’s no guarantee he wants to keep going. If so, it probably won’t be with anyone else but the Texas Rangers.
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: He would be, but he’s made it pretty clear he’ll only play for Texas.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: Rangers; one year, $10 million (if he doesn’t retire).
  1. 2B Jed Lowrie – A’s
  • 2018 recap: Lowrie has put together back-to-back terrific years for the A’s, and is heading into his age-35 season after hitting .267/.353/.448 in 157 games between second and third base. He’s taken 70-plus walks each of the last two years and is good for about 15 homers and 40 doubles per season — pretty solid production for a second baseman. 
  • Is he a fit for the Twins: He would look amazing atop the Twins order.
  • Best guess on signing team, contract: A’s; two years, $8 million per year.

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