Heading into free agency, Marwin Gonzalez was one of baseball’s most coveted free agents. He is an above average utility player that can legitimately play 7 positions. What team couldn’t use that? I’d almost forgotten he was a free agent, there was little to no buzz around him and I can’t remember hearing his name since December, but he was finally scooped up by the Twins today on a 2 year, $21 million deal, which feels awfully short, and awfully cheap.
That’s not the only signing the Twins have made, though most of their work has come under the radar. In fact, I think the Twins have sneakily had one of the best off seasons in baseball.
In addition to the Marwin Gonzalez signing today, they have also signed Jonathan Schoop (1 yr/$7.5 mil), taking advantage of a down year (who I’m expecting to bounce back in a big way), the ever reliable DH Nelson Cruz (1 yr/14 mil), Martin Perez who provides some potentially good pitching depth (1 yr/3.5 mil with a club option), and Blake Parker (1 yr/1.8 mil) who has been a very good late-inning reliever over the last 2 seasons.
None of these guys are “Star” players, but all of them add something to a team that had some major issues last year, but isn’t far removed from the AL Wild Card game that they played in in 2017. This also doesn’t factor in their returning core of solid young players, many of which may be poised for a breakout.
Do these moves make them contenders? Not necessarily, but I think it certainly puts them in the playoff hunt in a division with the Tigers and Royals, who are flat out bad, the White Sox who didn’t make the splash they needed and are still at least a year away from being .500. The Indians are still the favorite, who will be without Lindor for a while and were trying to sell this off season. The door may not be “open” for a playoff push from the Twins, but it’s certainly at least cracked.
The Twins were major underachievers in 2018, but each and every one of these moves helped them get better, which is a lot more than a lot of teams did. The best part for the Twins? It didn’t cost them much to improve. They didn’t spend huge on one big free agent, and instead they signed several solid, established players on shorter deals. Before the Marwin signing, PECOTA projects the Twins to finish 2nd in the central with an 82-80 record, 3rd in the wild card race. That already felt light to me, but adding Marwin Gonzalez, who has been worth 4 and 1.6 fWAR the last 2 seasons, has to put the Twins in the playoff race. An excellent move, and an excellent off season for these twins as they enter the post-Joe Mauer era.
For more baseball, please follow me of twitter, @GSPTcal, and check out our podcast, The Grand Slam, available pretty much anywhere you get podcasts!