The Minnesota Twins had gigantic expectations coming into the 2020 season. After the team shattered MLB's record books and tabbed themselves the "Bomba Squad," many expected the Twins to gear up for a long postseason run.
Instead, the Twins playoff losing streak reached 18 games and Minnesota is left with more questions than answers. As a team that fell short of expectations, this upcoming offseason will be pivotal and could lead to a new look in 2021.
Will the Twins re-sign Nelson Cruz?
Nelson Cruz has more than fulfilled his contract signed in December of 2018. As the team's leader at the plate and in the clubhouse, it would make sense that the Twins would want him to stick around. However, Father Time is undefeated.
Cruz will have a competitive market for his services this winter as he remains one of the game's elite power hitters. While the Twins have already discussed a new contract, Cruz will have more leverage if MLB opts to have a universal DH rule for 2021 making things complicated.
Entering his age-41 season, the Twins have to decide if Cruz is worth keeping around. While he looked like an MVP candidate in the first half of the season, his stats tailed off in the second half. If the Twins feel it was a fluke, Cruz should be in the middle of the lineup in 2021.
Have we seen the last of Eddie Rosario?
In a way, Rosario's ejection in Game 2 of the AL Wild Card Series was a microcosm of his tenure in Minnesota. Rosario has been one of the team's best players when he's on, but as a mercurial talent, there are moments where he does more harm than good.
Entering his final year of team control, the Twins have to decide if riding the Eddie-coaster is worth the price of admission. The 29-year old remains an elite run producer, which should give him a raise on his $7.7 million salary from 2020.
If the Twins choose to move on, they have options waiting in the wings. Brent Rooker was impressive before fracturing his forearm and Twins fans got a glimpse of top prospect Alex Kiriloff, who started next to Rosario in Game 2. If the future is now, Rosario could be on his way out.
Solidifying the starting rotation
In Twins' fans version of "Can he play guard?" the front office will once again be working to find a formidable starting rotation for 2021.
The good news is that the rotation is in better shape than it was this time last year. The Twins have added an ace in Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda didn't take a step back once he returned from a PED policy suspension.
Outside of those two, things are murky for the Twins. Jose Berrios couldn't snap out of the malaise that plagued his second-half 2019 performance and both Jake Odorizzi and Rich Hill are slated to be free agents.
This situation has been amplified with the lack of a minor league season in 2020. While the Twins could have been counting on Jhoan Duran or Jordan Balazovic to be on the fringe of the majors, their development was stunted.
That leaves the Twins looking for more short-term solutions for a long term issue.
Fixing the bullpen
For most of the season, the bullpen wasn't a major issue for the Twins. But like most of the team, warts began to show as the team inched toward October.
Taylor Rogers was the biggest disappointment but also was victim of a .400 BABIP in 2020. The larger issue is some of the other key cogs, such as Sergio Romo, who became a liability toward the end of the season.
It's unclear what the Twins can do to beef up their bullpen as Trevor May and Tyler Duffey were mostly solid. Cody Stashak also took a step forward, so perhaps one free-agent move should do the trick.
Are we in for a surprise move?
The Twins are normally quiet when it comes to free agents, but this might be the year to hit the market. Many teams could be reluctant to spend money due to the league's current CBA expiring in 2021, but it could open to shorter-term deals later in free agency.
An interesting move could be courting Trevor Bauer. Bauer has stated he's only interested in signing one-year deals to maximize his value, which should appeal to the Twins. Minnesota could also be interested in several bullpen hurlers including Liam Hendriks, Blake Treinen or Alex Colome to really take a last stand.
If the Twins aren't players in free agency, it could also be a good time to reach long-term deals with uncertainty looming. Byron Buxton could be one of those candidates and it also wouldn't be shocking to see a trade involving a young player to get a missing piece.