The Minnesota Twins shocked their loyal fans in the past two years when they reeled in superstar Carlos Correa late in the offseason. And as satisfying as those push notifications were at the time, I wouldn’t count on getting pinged in the same way this year.
Sure, a handful of notable free agents are left looking for a team, and many might have been appealing options at the onset of free agency. But now that the Twins have started drawing the outline of their 2024 roster picture with ink, it’s hard to see them coloring outside those lines.
Nevertheless, it’s an intriguing exercise to try and picture how these notable additions would impact the rest of the club’s roster — both in terms of playing time and determining who gets pushed out completely.
So what would happen if the Twins were to shock us again with these notable late additions?
Cody Bellinger – OF
The consensus highest-rated free agent left on the board is an uber-athletic outfielder who can also spell time at first base. Bellinger had a tremendous bounce-back campaign in 2023 with the Chicago Cubs, where he batted .307/.356/.525 (134 wRC+, 4.1 fWAR). The 28-year-old left-handed slugger belted 26 home runs and swiped 20 stolen bases in 130 games, setting himself up for a big payday in his second shot at free agency.
It would be fun to see an outfield of Max Kepler in right, Matt Wallner in left, and Bellinger splitting the two in center whenever an opposing right-handed starter takes the hill. But this option is little more than a pipe dream at the moment. Even if his market fails to materialize how he and his representatives may have wanted, it’s hard to see Bellinger taking a creative, short-term deal with the Twins like Correa did heading into 2022. And if his signing price does come down substantially to the point where the Twins would be interested, there would be a dozen other clubs ready to jump on that deal.
Bringing in Bellinger would almost certainly push Nick Gordon off the roster and, most likely, out of the Twins’ organization because he’s out of options. It also severely limits any window to see what former first-round pick Trevor Larnach can provide at the big league level. Finally, the Twins are adamant that they see Byron Buxton as a regular option in center field. Therefore, bringing in an arguably higher-profile bat to take his place there doesn’t make sense.
Blake Snell – LHP
Either of these arms would likely slot into the second spot in the starting rotation, behind Pablo Löpez and in front of Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack, or any other candidate for a starting job. Minnesota’s primary goal this offseason was to find someone who could replace the production that left with Sonny Gray when he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals. But barring an unlikely trade that opens up some spending power, it doesn’t feel like either of these pitchers is likely to don a Twins cap in 2024.
Snell is the reigning National League Cy Young Award winner. He’s coming off a career year with a sterling 2.25 ERA with 11.7 K/9 in 180 innings pitched. Snell struggled with walks (5.0 BB/9) but made up for it by limiting damage when it came to batted ball numbers. He should have no interest in taking a “make-good” contract like Correa did in 2022. This offseason is Snell’s best chance for a big payday, and he should be able to find a deal that suits his situation. It wouldn’t make sense for him to have to prove himself. He has won two Cy Young awards and is entering his age-31 season.
Jordan Montgomery – LHP
Montgomery is in a similar boat but with less hardware to his name. But he’s been a consistent, playoff-caliber starter with a combined 3.48 ERA and a solid 6.2% walk rate over the last three seasons. He doesn’t have the same strikeout appeal as Snell (8.3 K/9), but that rate is still higher than many of the starting pitchers that have represented the Twins in recent years.
A multi-year deal with Snell or Montgomery, who are already north of 30 years old, probably wouldn’t fit with what the Twins are trying to do. Nor does it dovetail with what they have proven to be pretty good at — trading for pitchers with two or more years of club control and then raising them to a higher level with calculated tweaks.
Matt Chapman – 3B
I’ll keep this short. Suppose the Twins were to move Royce Lewis off of third base for anyone (besides Brooks Lee, and even that would be questionable) after he carried the Twins offense into a postseason series win. Then it would confirm we live in an MLB The Show simulation, and artificial intelligence designed to make Twins fans angry is making these moves.