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What will the Twins rotation look like in 2020?

Gerrit Cole is the pipe dream, but will the Twins pay that kind of price?

After watching the first two games of the Twins' series with the Yankees, it's pretty clear that the Twins need to do something about their pitching rotation this winter. While the Twins successfully landing Gerrit Cole would be ideal, it might be unlikely considering he'll probably have baseball's biggest spenders chasing him. 

As it stands now, the Twins will need to make some moves as Jose Berrios and Martin Perez are the only starters from this year's staff under team control in 2020. Berrios is locked up and will be back for sure, but the Twins have a $7 million team option on Perez, which might be difficult to pick up considering he struggled most of this season. 

With that, the Twins have to make some decisions on who they want to keep from the current roster while also deciding who from the minor leagues could be ready for a spot in the major league rotation (hello, Randy Dobnak and Brusdar Graterol). 

Internal options

The Twins' answers for the rotation will depend on who they decide to keep or promote for Opening Day 2020. With what the Twins have, the most likely arm to be kept at this point is Kyle Gibson.

That move isn't going to move the needle for many Twins fans, but the numbers are there for a healthy Gibson to at least fill a role in the back half of the Twins rotation. 

Before his health issues helped torpedo his performance in the second half, Gibson had a 7-3 record and 3.70 ERA in his first 11 starts, and although he shows a tendency to throw outside of the strike zone when ahead in the count, the mutual respect between Gibson and the Twins suggests a short-term deal could be reached. 

The other option to could consider is retaining Jake Odorizzi. Coming into the postseason, Odorizzi might have been the Twins' best pitcher, but that wasn't saying much. 

After making his first All-Star appearance this season, Odorizzi is hitting free agency at the right time and if the Twins believe they can find a starter capable of working deeper into games – Odorizzi pitched fewer than 6 innings in 20 of 30 starts – then looking elsewhere might be the smarter option. Either way, if Odorizzi hits the open market, the price could be pretty high. 

While Perez looks to be a goner, the Twins could opt to bring back Michael Pineda. The big right-hander was starting to round into form before a 60-game suspension for violating MLB's performance-enhancing drugs policy, but that may drive down his market price. 

As of now, I think Gibson is the one pitcher they keep on the roster. They may also opt to fill a hole with Randy Dobnak, Brusdar Graterol or even Devin Smeltzer, but the Twins may want to use them as depth and allow them to get a little more seasoning at Triple-A Rochester before bringing them to the major leagues permanently.

That would leave the rotation looking something like this: 

  1. Jose Berrios
  2. TBD
  3. TBD
  4. Kyle Gibson
  5. Brusdar Graterol or Randy Dobnak

Or maybe Graterol and Dobnak are both dubbed starters in 2020, leaving the Twins just one hole to fill (if they bring back Gibson, too). 

External options

If the Twins are to dip into the free-agent market to acquire pitching, one of the things they should consider is getting a veteran starter to help stabilize the top of the rotation. If this is the case, the Twins should be strongly linked to Madison Bumgarner.

If you recall, they were linked to each other in the build-up to the July 31 trade deadline, but the Twins and Giants never made a deal involving Bumgarner. Instead, the Giants sent Minnesota an injured Sam Dyson, who might miss all of next season rehabbing an arm injury. 

Although Bumgarner's numbers (9-9, 3.90 ERA) dipped in 2019, the work that pitching coach Wes Johnson has done with Perez and Odorizzi this season might boost the already outstanding left-hander's ability.

Another free-agent mulligan for the Twins could be Dallas Keuchel. The Twins were never attached to Keuchel last offseason due to the requirement of draft pick compensation and a series of shoulder injuries, however, the fellow lefty had a solid season after signing with the Atlanta Braves in June, going 8-8 with a 3.75 ERA. He's scheduled to pitch for Atlanta in the playoffs Monday night. 

Outside of those two options, the Twins could try and revitalize a mid-tier pitcher and trust the coaching of Johnson by signing someone like Zack Wheeler (11-8, 3.96 ERA) or Rick Porcello (14-12, 5.52 ERA) to a lesser, low-risk deal.

Barring the Twins surprising everyone by going on a spending spree for someone like Cole, then it would be wise to try and get a couple of names mentioned above. They would make the Twins better right way and help provide more time for prospects to develop. 

Would anyone complain about a rotation that looks like this?

  1. Madison Bumgarner or Zack Wheeler
  2. Jose Berrios
  3. Dallas Keuchel or Rick Porcello
  4. Kyle Gibson
  5. Brusdar Graterol or Randy Dobnak

Perhaps this is more of a pipe dream to have this scenario play out, but it could be what the Twins are thinking during the offseason. Find solid pitchers they can coach up and allow prospects to develop in the early months of 2020. If one of the signings doesn't work out or there are injuries, call upon some of the younger players that stepped up in 2019 for their major league closeup.

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