Twins

Could the Twins Steal Another Boras Client?

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

It wouldn’t be spring training without a power struggle within Major League Baseball. Two years ago, the players union negotiated a new labor deal. Last year, it was baseball fans revolting against blackouts. This year, it’s Scott Boras engaging in a staring contest with the game’s biggest spenders.

With teams reporting to camp, four of the biggest free agents in the game are currently without a team. Starting pitchers Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery, third baseman Matt Chapman, and outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger are holding out in hopes of a big-money deal but haven’t been able to find it.

The longer each player sits on the market, the odds of signing a short-term deal continue to grow. If this scenario plays out, it could lead the Minnesota Twins to pull off an unexpected signing and add to a team primed to contend in 2024.

The idea of a major addition for the Twins seems like a pipe dream based on how this season has played out. Coming off their first playoff win since 2004, the Twins gave their fans a Polar Plunge by announcing they would be shedding payroll.

That announcement precluded a quiet offseason that got a small spark when the Twins traded Jorge Polanco to the Seattle Mariners. But Minnesota hasn’t made major moves outside of signing Carlos Santana and relievers Josh Staumont, Jay Jackson, and Matt Bowman.

This leaves the Twins with plenty of optimism but several holes on the roster. Byron Buxton has told anyone who would listen that he feels the best he’s felt in years. But Minnesota doesn’t have to seem to have an insurance policy in case he’s unable to play over 100 games for the second time in his career.

First base still feels uncertain despite the Santana signing after Alex Kirilloff underwent shoulder surgery. The Twins also have Jose Miranda as a potential candidate. Still, he feels like a reverse version of Kirilloff with strong splits against left-handed pitching and a checkered injury history.

Then there is the rotation. Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda left in free agency, and the only big addition has been right-hander Anthony DeSclafani. Earlier this week, Derek Falvey said that Chris Paddack will not have an inning restriction after returning from his second Tommy John surgery. But another injury or two could have the Twins hoping Louie Varland or Simeon Woods Richardson finds their form as a starter. They also have to hope their bullpen doesn’t get burned out like they did last year.

The Twins could use a series of smaller moves to fill these holes, but it may not solve a bigger problem. The New York Yankees added Juan Soto to their lineup, and the Baltimore Orioles traded for Corbin Burnes to give them a true ace. The Houston Astros added Josh Hader to a bullpen that ranked 18th in wins above replacement last season. The American League is loaded because the Seattle Mariners, Toronto Blue Jays, and Texas Rangers are also contenders.

If the Twins want to compete, they’ll need ammunition in this arms race.

Snell could be a one-for-one replacement for Sonny Gray as a similar pitcher who logs big innings, strikes batters out, and has sporadic control issues. Gray finished second in Cy Young voting last season. But Snell picked up his second Cy Young Award with the San Diego Padres, going 14-9 with a 2.25 ERA in 180 innings.

Montgomery carries a similar profile after throwing 188.2 innings last year. But he got even better after the St. Louis Cardinals traded him to the Texas Rangers, going 4-2 with a 2.79 ERA in 11 starts. While Montgomery doesn’t strike out as many batters, he has better control and could serve as a high-end complement to Pablo López.

The Twins could add depth at two of their weakest positions by signing Bellinger. In his final years with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Bellinger spent time at center field and first base and had experience at the corner outfield positions. Last year, he hit .307/.356/.525 with 26 homers, 97 RBI, and 20 stolen bases with the Chicago Cubs.

Looking at the list, Chapman is the only player who isn’t a logical fit. The Twins have Royce Lewis entrenched at third base and Brooks Lee waiting in the minors. But the Twins have likely called Boras at least on one of these clients, especially because they’ve done it before.

When Carlos Correa was looking for a long-term deal in free agency two years ago, Boras and Correa settled on a three-year, $105.3 million contract with the Twins that included opt-outs in the final two years. The contract gave Correa the short-term value he deserved. But it also gave him insurance in case of an injury and the ability to test the market the following season.

Correa’s deal could be the blueprint for one of Boras’s clients landing with the Twins this time around, but there are still some obstacles. Minnesota’s payroll situation remains an issue. Still, their projected $124 million number remains on the low end of the $125 million to $140 million The Athletic’s Dan Hayes projected in November.

Minnesota’s television revenue for this season is another data point we’ve gathered since then. The Twins reportedly earned $54 million from Diamond Sports in television rights last year, but they are taking a cut on that number this season. We don’t know the exact number. However, Sportico reported that the Cleveland Guardians made $55 million from television revenue last season but are expected to earn between $47 million and $48 million after renewing their agreement with Diamond Sports for 2024.

The Rangers’ TV revenue will decrease from $111 million in 2023 to $95 million this season. That amounts to about a 15 percent cut that would project the Twins to receive just under $46 million in revenue this season.

While that’s still $8 million missing from last year’s revenue, there’s a chance the Twins could make it up in other ways this season. People are excited after finally winning a playoff game. A youth movement that includes Lewis, Matt Wallner, and Edouard Julien is starting to captivate a fan base that has become apathetic.

With established stars like López, Correa, and Buxton also in the fold, fans are more likely to come out and see this team play. That could increase revenue at the gate, especially if they added a big name to contend with some of the American League’s heavy hitters.

It only takes one big-market team with a more stable television situation to green-light a deal for a Boras client. But The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal highlighted several issues that could hinder a team from making a move.

For example, a one-year, $40 million contract from the Yankees to Snell would drive them over the luxury tax, amounting to a total investment of $80 million. The Los Angeles Dodgers and Atlanta Braves appear to be done spending. The Mets are having their relationship with Boras strained with the potential departure of Pete Alonso, and the Boston Red Sox appear to be rebuilding instead of reloading.

Rosenthal mentioned the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels, Rangers, and Blue Jays as potential suitors. Still, none but none of those teams appear to be on the verge of a signing, leaving the window open for a team like the Twins to capitalize.

The idea of the Twins reversing course on their payroll stance is unlikely, but nobody expected Correa to sign in the middle of the night a few years ago. With a team ready to pop, one final investment could be worth any loss the Twins could take, and it could lead them to a shocking move in the coming weeks.

Twins
Austin Martin Is Starting To Look Like Minnesota’s Chris Taylor
By Lou Hennessy - Apr 19, 2024
Twins
Should Jeffers and Vazquez Be Splitting Time Behind the Plate?
By Cody Schoenmann - Apr 18, 2024
Twins

How Can the Twins Rediscover Their Positive Vibes From Last Year?

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The vibes were immaculate at Target Field last fall. The Minnesota Twins had won a playoff game and a playoff series and had taken the Houston Astros […]

Continue Reading