5 Twins storylines to watch this offseason

2020's disappointment could lead to a new look in 2021.
Author:
Publish date:
Nelson Cruz

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.

Next Up

Guy Fieri

MN brewpub to make 2nd appearance on 'Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives'

In other words, Guy Fieri is returning to the Twin Cities.

Screen Shot 2020-06-15 at 7.11.05 AM

St. Cloud teen charged with raping girl in high school bathroom

Police say it happened during a late 2019 basketball game.

Mark_Pavelich

Reports: 'Miracle on Ice' star Mark Pavelich found dead at treatment facility

The 63-year-old had been ordered to undergo psychiatric care.

hennepin county government center fencing minneapolis chauvin

Minneapolis, Hennepin County spending $1M on barricades, fencing for Chauvin trial

Minneapolis hopes to be reimbursed for fortification costs by the state if it passes the proposed SAFE Account.

police lights

Police: 3 Minnesotans made fake report to divert SD police away drug investigation

Three people from Detroit Lakes are facing charges, with two of the men involved accused of making a false report of gunmen entering a local business.

Drive-up vaccine

HealthPartners opens drive-up COVID vaccine site

The healthcare provider says it's the first drive-up vaccination site in the state.

derek chauvin

Appeals court: Judge must reconsider third-degree murder charge against Chauvin

The appeals court's recent decision on a different officer-involved shooting case is precedent, it said.

covid-19, vaccine

New data reveals Minnesotans getting COVID vaccines are disproportionately white

The Minnesota Department of Health revealed race and ethnicity vaccine data on Friday.

Bryan Ellinger

Charges: Trail of Terror supervisor sexually assaulted 3 teenage employees

Bryan Ellinger was arrested in January accused of raping a 15-year-old employee. Two more women have come forward accusing him of sexually assaulted them as teens.

Related

Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario

5 important storylines to watch during Twins spring training

The games may not count, but there are several things to keep Twins fans occupied.

Rocco Baldelli

Making the case for the Twins to be sellers at the trade deadline

After going all-in for 2020, is it time to look ahead to 2021?

Miguel Sano

Twins take first game of critical series with Indians

Miguel Sano's two-run bomb fueled a 3-2 victory in Cleveland.

Nelson Cruz

Twins take series with victory over Royals

Nelson Cruz's late home run helped secure the victory.

Miguel Sano

Ninth-inning rally snaps Twins' winning streak

The Pirates scored two runs off Taylor Rogers to snap a six-game winning streak.

Jose Berrios

Twins win fifth straight by routing Pirates

The Twins jumped on Pittsburgh early in a 7-3 victory on Tuesday.

Trevor May

Twins' bullpen steps up to take series from Cleveland

After Homer Bailey was placed on the IL, the Twins bullpen led the way on Sunday.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

What to watch for as the Twins enter the winter meetings

The biggest week of the offseason is here as the Twins head to San Diego.