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Rockies continue to make big investment in bullpen; Twins have yet to make a splash

There was plenty of speculation entering the offseason about what Derek Falvey and Thad Levine might do when it came to their pursuit of pitching on the free-agent market.

Falvey, the Twins’ chief baseball officer, and Levine, the team’s general manager, took over last offseason and oversaw a process in which the Twins went from 103 losses in 2016 to 85 wins and a wild card berth in 2017.

Nonetheless, there was still plenty of room for improvement with the starting staff and in the bullpen. Closer Brandon Kintzler had been dealt at the trade deadline when it looked as if Minnesota was falling out of the race.

This led to conjecture that the Twins’ brass might pursue a top-level, free-agent closer for 2018. The question was what would be the price for a guy like righthander Wade Davis? We found out on Friday, when the Colorado Rockies and Davis reportedly agreed to a three-year, $52 million contract.

Davis , 32, had 32 saves season last season with the Cubs and was considered the best reliever on the market. His salary, according to Yahoo Sports, is the highest per-year salary ever for his position.

He will make $17.33 million-a-year, and reportedly also received a fourth-year vesting option that could push the total money to $66 million. The Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman had made the most per year for a reliever at $17.2 million on a five-year deal, according to Yahoo.

The Rockies, whose Opening Day payroll was 16th in MLB last season ($130,963,571), have spent huge money on their bullpen this offseason. Lefthander Jake McGee and righthander Bryan Shaw were signed to three-year, $27 million contracts this month. Add in Davis and you’re talking an investment of $106 million for three relievers.

This might have been considered crazy at one time, but given how the use of relievers has evolved, the Rockies’ aggressiveness makes sense.

As for the Twins, so far Falvey and Levine have made a few signings but nothing that’s going to excite the fan base.

The Twins took a flyer on former Yankees starter Michael Pineda, signing the righthander to a two-year, $10 million contract. Pineda is coming off Tommy John surgery in 2017 and might not pitch again until 2018. That’s why he will make only $2 million next season and see that salary rise to $8 million in 2019.

The Twins also added veteran closer Fernando Rodney and lefthanded reliever Zach Duke.

Rodney received a one-year deal, $4.5 million deal that could be worth as much as $6 million. Rodney had 39 saves last season for Arizona at the age of 40. Duke, 34, was signed to a one-year deal over the Christmas Holiday. The one-time starter for Pittsburgh was 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 27 relief appearances last season with the Cardinals. He did not pitch until July 21 after having Tommy John surgery in October 2016.

So what’s the Twins’ next move?

It’s likely Falvey and Levine have turned their attention to starters.

Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb remain on the market. The Twins have been among the teams tied to Darvish. Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports  reported Friday that the New York Yankees are interested in both pitchers. Heyman reported that Darvish would be considered at a “reasonable price.”

What’s unclear is if the 31-year-old Darvish would sign for a reasonable price or term.

Darvish and Jake Arrieta are considered by many to be the best free-agent starters on the market. If the Twins do sign Darvish, it would certainly change the perception of many who continue to see this as a franchise that isn’t willing to spend big bucks.

The question the Twins might have to answer is what type of long-term investment do they want to make in a starter who is north of 30?

  • Jordan Musser

    I like what we have done thus far. I am not a tremendous fan of Darvish but he is an upgrade over most of what we have. As for the Rockies Davis is lights out but McGee is a head case and throws a very flat fastball. At their altitude that is not a good thing. And Shaw is a decent arm but nothing to gawk at either. They did upgrade their bullpen though in this process but it isn’t as noteworthy as the article makes it out to be.

    As for the Twins I would really like to see them add a few more arms. A few starters and a few more relievers and also add some bats.

    • jaybird331

      You like what the Twins have done so far? No wonder Twins aren’t serious about adding talent and winning… the bar set by my fellow Twins fans set is about 1,000 ft. below sea-level.

      • Jordan Musser

        Well they aren’t the Yankees and going to bring in Stanton so I don’t know exactly what you were expecting. They have made the bullpen better and I think we will end up with one of the top tier pitching fa’s or trade for Archer which would make our rotation better. We haven’t lost anything to our lineup which was a top unit both offensively and defensively so I don’t really know how you can be upset.

        • jaybird331

          Our BP is better? Rodney is old, walks everyone and has a high ERA last several years – he is a Chevy pickup on 1.5 inches of ice. Duke doesn’t even merit an argument. I expected the Twins to sign 1-2 good relievers, maybe not Wade Davis (but why not?) and I doubt they sign a top tier starter – they certainly haven’t as yet. Offseason has been a train wreck so far. Sign Darvish and get Archer and then I’ll “like” what they did. So far it’s been about as poor as it could have been for a team the NEEDS pitching across the board. And by the way what position player were they in danger of losing? Why do you give them credit for not losing players they weren’t going to lose? Odd.

          • Jordan Musser

            Trust me I’m not a big Rodney fan but he does improve the pen as does the wanderer Duke. At the end of last year we had 3 reliable pitchers in the pen Rogers, hildenberger and our closer who was a journeyman as well. This at least gives us more options if our starting pitching can’t get past 5/6 innings. As for not losing any players we could have used some of our depth to trade which may be the case for Archer but as of yet we haven’t made any dumb trades such as Big Papi or even the meaningless trades such as Hicks for a bum catcher. I don’t care for hicks but that trade made no sense and it was with a different gm I am just saying our current leaders haven’t made any dumb moves such as those.

          • jaybird331

            Our BP isn’t better. Rodney is done. DONE. Duke makes no sense. No. Sense. You seem to say we should also be happy that they didn’t make poor trades. My first message is dead on… your bar is crazy low man. Go Twins! (and sign some
            GD talent!)

          • Spaz

            Hey our bullpen is a little better with these additions. Also, why do you not like what they done with the bp? Lastly are you saying go overpay for Wade Davis(I know he signed) with 17 million dollars? Or over pay for some other pitcher? Are saying that they should do nothing shouldn’t have gotten duke or Rodney? So why doesn’t it make since for these additions? Plus almost all the relievers are so inconsistent in there year to year performance.

          • jaybird331

            Spaz –

            How is this hard for you guys? Don’t you want the Twins to compete? Why happy with a terrible offseason so far? So why not Davis? He isn’t overpaid – he is paid what the best reliever in baseball now gets paid and guess what, it aint getting lower next year or ever. You wanna compete you gotta pay at least a couple of guys.

            So, yup get Davis, the bleeping Rockies did! Get pitchers that will DEFINITELY help. Rodney & Duke? C’mon. Our minor league system can produce better right now. I am 10000% saying we shouldn’t have signed Rodney and Duke – 10000%! We should sign big league pitchers that will add wins. Those guys add nothing. I attend about 25 games a year and spend more on beer than they did on BP help with these guys. Not cool.

            Why do guys give the Twins such a pass? They have a possible contending team in a division where 60% of teams are in full rebuild and Mauer’s contract is off the books next year. Spend some real $$, bring in real pitching help and go for it. Raise your expectations man.

          • Mike Max

            Good take. The problem here is that the Pohlads are not in the business of spending money they don’t have to spend. Everyone knows that…but there still is a fine line of “Hmmm we’re so close, MAYBE the Pohlads might go get a couple players.” Or recently, “the Pohlads went out and got a new front office…maybe they are ready to change their ways.”
            The reality is they are never changing, and Jim Pohlad learned from his daddy you do not spend one cent more than you have to. The fans keep showing up because it’s nice outside, and the Twins will more often than not be “cute” and have likeable players that try hard. And the cycle keeps repeating with the team never making major moves and alas never making major playoff or world series success stories. The vocal Twins fan base cares more about winning another WS title than the Pohlads do….and that’s just a fact. The organization also resides in the easiest market on earth to have a pro baseball team…Minneapolis and St Paul, where we allow the team to lie to us, to say they need a stadium to compete with the big boys, and lastly have us fall year after year with thinking they actually are going to make a move or two. And they never do. The spring training starts, we get the CUTE LIVE UPDATE FROM MARK ROSEN GUYS!!! down in Ft Myers, we see the sunshine down there, and we all go “ahhhh it’s baseball season!!” and forget the Twins inactivity of the previous winter.

          • jaybird331

            MM –

            Love it! Couldn’t agree more across the board! I would just add that the club needs more fans like us that don’t value “cute” and will call out the front office / ownership and less fans like the guys on this thread who defend this tire-fire of an off season and DEFEND not spending $$. I go to Target Field for 1 reason: (enjoy the sun and check out the chicks around Barrio) to see a good ball game and a WIN!

            Twins fans – STOP acting like a hostage victim siding with your captor and start demanding a quality product. Be a fan for chrissakes. Say no to Rodney! Say no to Duke! Say yes to talent! More Mike Max’s and less Spaz’s!

          • Spaz

            It’s all a matter of an opinion isn’t it. Plz stop putting fans under a umbrella. One thing we can do to them is act with our wallets. Do you think about how some who just want spend time on nice day at game. Also like what minor league pitching has consistently produced for the twins in the last 10 years or so. In the end it’s all a matter of opinion.

  • Mike Link

    I think the Twins FO is all take at this point. They did not create the process that led to last years good record, they inherited a team that was ready to win and they almost booted it away with questionable moves. What they have done this year is to try to make clever moves, but nothing of substance. I never wanted Darvish,or Arrieta, but I did want us to sign one of the primary pitchers like Cobb or Lynn. When Darvish finally signs – if he is not a Twin, what will we do?

  • Sid

    Whoa whoa wait a minute, you mean the Twins have been an inactive participant in free agency??
    But the local media and front office for the 25th straight year told us we are really going to explore some options this winter, and money is never a problem!

  • Mitchell MCG

    The top free agents to sign have been Wade Davis and Carlos Santana. You could argue what the Rockies are doing isn’t exactly wise, as high-velocity relievers in their 30’s tend to not stay very healthy. I wouldn’t want to commit big money over multiple years to a reliever in their 30’s, let alone to THREE! But still, 10 of the top 12 free agents are still out there. It’s not just the Twins who aren’t signing anyone, it’s pretty much EVERY ballclub.





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