Twins

3 Ex-Twins Who Would Have Been More Valuable Than Eddie Rosario

Photo Credit: Raj Mehta (USA TODAY Sports)

It’s hard to discuss the Minnesota Twins and avoid talking about their postseason woes dating back to 2003. While that looms large in the minds of those who follow the team, ex-Twins who have had October success have become another common bugaboo.

The most notable example of this has been David Ortiz leaving Minnesota to become a Boston Red Sox legend, leading them to three World Series titles. On a smaller scale, Delmon Young played a big part in the 2012 Detroit Tigers run to the World Series by winning the ALCS MVP that season.

Nick Punto won a World Series with the Cardinals in 2011. Brian Dozier played in back-to-back World Series with the Los Angeles Dodgers and Washington Nationals in 2018 and 2019, respectively. And Ryan Pressly has been a vital piece of the Astros bullpen since trading him in 2018.

But that debate has been sparked again with the emergence of *checks notes* NLCS MVP Eddie Rosario!?

Minnesota’s decision to non-tender Rosario was justifiable because of his price tag. They had other outfield prospects like Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach on the way. However, below are some ex-Twins who they could have used last year and have contributed to postseason teams.

LaMonte Wade Jr.

Picking on the Twins for giving away Wade is low-hanging fruit. Because they thought they had ample outfield depth, Minnesota traded Wade to the San Francisco Giants for reliever Shaun Anderson. This trade made sense in a vacuum because the Twins needed to restock the bullpen, and Wade looked like a fourth outfielder at best.

But that’s not what happened. Anderson only pitched six innings for the Twins before being released and finishing the year with the Baltimore Orioles and San Diego Padres. Anderson couldn’t find his way into a Minnesota bullpen that had a 20th-ranked 4.39 ERA. Conversely, Wade had a breakout season in the Bay Area.

Wade became a solid piece of a lineup that won 107 games by slashing .253/.326/.482 with 18 home runs and a 1.2 fWAR in 109 games. Not only did Wade take the next step at the plate, but he also was one of the best hitters in the league in high-leverage situations. His recorded a clutch rating of 2.2, according to FanGraphs, helped the Giants win their first NL West title since 2012. For reference, 2.0 is an excellent rating.

Twins fans may regret losing Rosario, but he would have cost $10-plus million in arbitration. However, Wade had years worth of affordable service time left. Even if they wanted to move him over Kirilloff and Larnach, the return he would have netted now would have been much larger than the abysmal return they got in Anderson, whom the Twins waived during the season.

Jake Odorizzi

Odorizzi was a solid veteran who helped stabilize the Twins rotation over the last three seasons, which led to two AL Central titles. Odorizzi’s most significant contribution came during the 2019 season when he had a 3.51 ERA in 159 innings pitch and was named to his first All-Star team. He finished the year with a career-best 10.08 K/9 and 0.91 HR/9 rating. Last year, the Twins signed Odorizzi to a qualifying offer, but injuries sidelined him to just four starts and 13.2 innings during the 60-game season.

Minnesota did not retain him due to money or lack of interest, and he signed a 3-year, $23.5 million deal with the Houston Astros. Odorizzi bounced back, finishing the year with a 4.21 ERA in 104.2 innings pitched while keeping the HR/9 rate down (1.38). Odorizzi’s veteran presence contributed to a top-10 Astros rotation that recorded a 3.78 ERA. Odorizzi is now scheduled to appear in his first-ever World Series game.

The Twins starting rotation was projected to be strong this year, but everything fell apart. However, Minnesota traded José Berríos mid-season, and Kenta Maeda injured his shoulder and is expected to miss much of next season. Free-agent acquisitions J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker were flops. Minnesota’s starting rotation recorded a 26th-rated 4.83 team ERA. Even though Odorizzi couldn’t replicate his 2019 campaign, his veteran presence would have brought a much-needed boost to the Twins rotation this year.

Matt Wisler

Last year, Wisler was a great find by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine and was part of a bullpen that ranked top-6 in ERA last season. Wisler made a name for himself by throwing a 1.07 ERA with a career-high 12.43 K/9 and 1.14 WHIP in 25.1 innings pitched. His impact was significant because it showed the Twins could find overlooked pitchers and develop them into high-leverage relievers.

After the season, the Twins declined to bring him back at what would have been around a $1.5 million price tag. It’s safe to assume that the decision to let Wisler go didn’t come down to money. It’s more likely that they didn’t think he could repeat that production in a full 162-game season playing teams outside the AL Central.

The Twins thought they could replicate the success they had with Wisler. Instead, some of his replacements, including Alex Colomé, finished the season with a 4.15 ERA, a career-worst 41.5 percent hard-hit percentage, 1.14 WHIP in 65 innings pitched. Hansel Robles wasn’t any better with a 4.91 ERA in 44 innings pitched.

Wisler got off to a rough start this season with the San Francisco Giants. However, the Tampa Bay Rays claimed him off waivers and finished the season with a 3.70 ERA and 11.47 K/9 in 48.2 innings pitched. On top of that, he improved in other areas, including career-bests with a 1.07 WHIP and a 25.6 hard-hit percentage.

Falvey and Levine have shown before that they can guide the Twins to the postseason. But in hindsight, this past offseason was about as bad as it can be. This year, they’ll have to rebound strongly to get back into the postseason. To do that, they’ll have to avoid outthinking themselves when constructing the 2022 squad and not let more quality players go on to thrive elsewhere.

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