Tonight we received the news that Eric Thames had signed with Washington citizens at a VERY reasonable price of $ 4 million. The Thames put together a cut line of .247 / 346 / .505 last season, as well as 1.9 fWAR. It was probably a minor option for the Minnesota Twins in this offseason, which in my opinion still needs a corner flielder a lot after seeing C.J. Cron sign with the Tigers for $ 6.1 million. First base was always a position that the twins would probably have been waiting to fill, as there were many options on the market. The Thames could have admirably admired with its .877 OPS against the righteous. As someone who had already gone to Donaldson, I wondered why the twins would allow the Thames to go at such a cheap price. Shortly afterwards I received my reply.
According to Darren Wolfson, the twins don’t seem to be involved in the corner market.
In my opinion, there are two reasons why this could be the case.
The first is the most likely in my opinion. Josh Donaldson remains on the free agent market. It may be fair to say that Washington citizens are out of the bidding war after signing Starlin Castro, Asdrubal Cabrera and finally Eric Thames. The biggest problem, however, is the involvement of Atlanta Braves. Donaldson grew up in the area and was ahead of his desire to return in 2020. The latest update on the situation had all teams offering 4 years for undisclosed amounts to block Donaldson. As we have seen this offseason, however, the price could somehow become a controversial point. In fact, it has now been reported that Donaldson may have no interest in signing up with the twins.
As I had worried about this whole saga, Donaldson may have just used the twins to increase his offerings from the Braves. This report also explains that the twins are exploring other options, which is puzzling given the Wolfson report above. It appears that the twins are unwilling to let go of the hope of signing Donaldson after making progress on the “impact” acquisition of talent mentioned at the start of the offseason.
The second scenario for twins who move beyond the free trade agents market is more worrying to me. There have been rumors from the twins who used Marwin Gonzalez as their full-time first base this winter, and could settle for their internal options rather than spending on free agency. In fact I had just written a blog about Marwin Gonzalez with an offensive better year in 2020 citing a full spring workout and hopefully fewer injuries. However, I did not claim that he was assigned a full-time role as a corner infielder. With the average WRC + in the league reaching 100, Marwin was 7% worse in 2019 with 93. The bar to be cleared for the “league average” in attack is higher for the corner kick as a position than usually hosts the first hitters. Although Marwin will rebound slightly above the attacking league average in 2020, he will likely still have an offensively lower first base. Furthermore, it would no longer be used so widely in the field, which was its main source of value in his career. They will essentially take value from the roster to fill a position they could easily have done more effectively in the free agency.
Regardless of the reason, the above thoughts remain true. If the twins don’t sign another corner infielder and get stuck with internal options for a premier position like 1B, this will be another failure this season. Unlike Bumgarner and Wheeler, this would have been avoidable. The offense will no doubt regress to some extent. Rotation is already an injury far from being a disaster again. Every point on the roster we put a patch on instead of seriously tackling it is another opportunity for the AL Central teams. If Donaldson’s decision is holding back other business, it’s time to reach a conclusion one way or another. If the Twins front office believes they already have their man for the corner, I seriously doubt it, but we’ll have to wait and see. One thing is certain though. Sitting here in January with 101 wins with over $ 10 million less in paychecks and this list is not what I had imagined in October.