By: Abby Altman
What started off as a slow offseason for the Minnesota Twins has turned productive, with re-signings and free agents showing up left and right.
The Twins had a disappointing 2022 season, taking 3rd in the AL Central and missing the playoffs. Lots of pressure sat on the front office, as there was a lot that needed to be done in order to keep Minnesota in the conversation for the 2023 season.
The most important order of business to many fans was re-signing shortstop Carlos Correa. Correa signed with the Twins before the 2022 season for a 3-year deal with opt-out options after each year. After the 2022 season, Correa opted out of his contract with Minnesota and agreed to terms with the San Francisco Giants.
San Francisco found issues with Correa’s physical, and suspended his introductory press conference. Shortly after this, in a surprising overnight move, Correa agreed to a new set of terms with the New York Mets.
Once again, however, the team found issues with Correa’s physical, and his official signing was postponed yet again. The exact issue both teams found on the physical is unknown, but it was related to an ankle surgery Correa had as a prospect.
After New York and San Francisco postponed signing with Correa, the Minnesota Twins finally stepped up and brought Correa back. Minnesota and Correa agreed to a 6-year/$200 million contract. Correa passed his physical with Minnesota, becoming the highest paid player in Twins history.
With the addition of Correa, combined with SS Royce Lewis and SS prospect Brooks Lee, the Twins’ infield is looking strong and sharp.
Another infield move the Twins made was trading Luis Arraez. Arraez has had a huge impact on the Twins’ lineup over the last few years, winning the AL batting title in 2022. On January 21st, Minnesota traded Arraez to the Miami Marlins in exchange for RHP Pablo López, as well as 2 prospects, 1 infielder and 1 outfielder.
Trading Arraez made many fans unhappy, as he was not only an incredibly talented player but also a key teammate to have in the locker room. The trade, however unhappy it made fans, is seen by many as a success on Minnesota’s part. The Twins needed pitching, and a Correa-Lewis-Brooks infield is hopefully strong enough without Arraez.
For pitching, Minnesota acquired López in the Arraez trade. They also agreed to terms with RHP Chris Paddack for a 3 year extension, and agreed to terms with RHPs Jorge Alcalá, Jorge López, Tyler Mahle, and Emilio Pagán, and LHP Caleb Thielbar on one-year contracts. Kenta Maeda will also make his return after receiving Tommy John surgery in the 2021 season.
The Twins opening day rotation is expected to include Joe Ryan, Kenta Maeda, Pablo López, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle. Other pitchers including Bailey Ober and Louie Varland will be on standby if/when injury strikes again.
Minnesota has been fairly quiet when it comes to building up the bullpen. The club’s president of baseball operations Derek Falvey says that “If we were to do anything at this point, it would likely be to add depth in the middle. We’ll keep an open mind, but [relief pitching is] not a priority.”
After the 2022 trade deadline, Minnesota acquired Jorge López from Baltimore, but López is going to be trying to recover from a rough finish to his 2022 season.
Other relievers likely to be in the club’s bullpen include Caleb Thielbar, Emilio Pagán, Jorge Alcalá, Trevor Megill, Johan Durán, Griffin Jax, and Jovani Moran.
Last year, the Twins’ bullpen was 15th in the league in combined ERA, dead center in the MLB.
Minnesota, however, did trade 2 pitching prospects in exchange for star defensive outfielder Michael A. Taylor. The Twins also signed free agent OF Joey Gallo this offseason. These outfield additions bring many possibilities to light, including using injury prone Byron Buxton as a DH more frequently.
It is unknown what Minnesota will do with their large cast of outfielders, but it is a strong group defensively.
On offense, however, Minnesota’s ability is unknown. Luis Arraez was by far the team’s best offensive weapon, and now the team relies heavily on power hitting more than they will with on base percentage.
Minnesota’s outfield has the potential to be one of the best in the league. Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Joey Gallo, Michael A. Taylor, Nick Gordon, and Gilberto Celestino all have the potential to start at one point or another in Minnesota’s outfield. The right combination of players and injuries could put Minnesota’s defense far above the rest of the league.
Other moves made by the Twins include trading Gio Urshella for Alejandro Hidalgo, a young pitcher from the Los Angeles Angels. The Twins moved on from Urshela as they appear confident in José Miranda’s abilities at 3rd base, and building up the starting pitching rotation is a priority.
Hidalgo will likely spend some time in the minors before he begins to impact the Twins rotation.
Behind the plate, the Twins made just 1 move that should hopefully be enough to hold down the catcher’s position. Christian Vasquez and Minnesota agreed to a 3-year, $30 million deal in one of the most important positions that Minnesota lacked last season.
Minnesota has signed several young pitchers, so having an experienced, successful catcher behind the plate is a strong, underappreciated move made by the Twins front office.
The Minnesota Twins’ front office has been busy, and seems to know exactly what they want out of this offseason. Whether or not this will be enough to make them contenders this season is yet to be seen, but these moves seem to put the Twins in a position for an upgrade from 2022.