Discover more from Derek Wetmore's Newsletter
5 Thoughts: Twins get 2 new coaches; my survey of remaining pitching
5 Thoughts on the pitchers who are gone and the ones that remain available
The Twins on Friday announced that former MLB catcher Hank Conger will join Rocco Baldelli’s coaching staff, and the new guy will wear two hats. He’s the team’s new first base coach and also will work with catchers after Bill Evers retired. First base was available because the Twins are moving Tommy Watkins to third base coach, and moving Tony Diaz into the dugout, where he’ll become the assistant bench coach.
Conger, who is only 33 years old, retired from playing in the U.S. after the 2017 season. After one season playing in the Mexican Baseball League he became a coach of the Lotte Giants in the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO). He was a first-round pick in 2006 and basically three years older than Mitch Garver.
The Twins have also added Luis Ramirez to the coaching staff, promoting the Double-A Wichita pitching coach to become the MLB assistant pitching coach. Ramirez has been with the Twins for the past 16 seasons.
The Twins in the past have underlined the importance of having a diverse coaching staff — in skillset and background. Conger is of Korean descent and was born and raised in the U.S.
These additions continue their offseason progression of bulking up the coaching staff. They’d previously hired former Padres manager Jayce Tingler to be Rocco’s bench coach, and David Popkins to be the new hitting coach.
This column is supported entirely by Subscribing Members. Thank you to new members Dan S, Doug F, Kevin M and MJB. December is a great time to join the club and get 50% off your full-year subscription.
By the looks of it there will probably be no holiday shopping for Major League teams this year. A few people have asked me what that means for the newsletter during the cold winter in Minnesota. Without giving too much away, I’m happy to share that I have 10 column ideas sitting in my drafts folder right now for my publishing calendar, and thankfully one of them – Byron Buxton’s trade value – can safely be discarded. Now we know that one won’t be relevant for the next 7 years.
Signing Buxton was the top priority I had for the Twins this winter. They also signed a starting pitcher at the wire, inking Dylan Bundy to a 1-year deal with a second-year option on the final day of transactions before the lockout began. And then MLB roster moves were suspended and we as fans are left wondering not only what’s next but when will that ‘next’ arrive.
First things first I want to level-set with the free-agent starting pitching market as it stands currently, frozen in amber. Then we’ll get to the part of the show where I share some rapid-succession reactions to recent events, in 5 Thoughts.
Ten of my top-12 names are off the board, having secured an employer before the lockout began last week.
All that remains
1. Max Scherzer, Mets, $43.33 million per year (3 years, $130 million with opt out)
2. Kevin Gausman, Blue Jays, $22 million per year (5 years, $110 million)
3. Clayton Kershaw
4. Carlos Rodón
5. Robbie Ray, Mariners, $23 million per year (5 years, 115 million with opt out)
6. Marcus Stroman, Cubs, $23.67 million per year (3 years, $71 million with opt out)
7. Noah Syndergaard, Angels, $21 million per year (1 year, $21 million)
8. Alex Wood, Giants, $12.5 million per year (2 years, $25 million)
9. Anthony DeSclafani, Giants, $12 million per year (3 years, $36 million)
10. Eduardo Rodríguez, Tigers, $15.4 million per year (5 years, $77 million with opt out)
11. Justin Verlander, Astros, $25 million per year (2 years, $50 million includes player option)
12. Wade Miley, Cubs, claimed off waivers (1 year, $10 million club option for 2022)
13. Zack Greinke, 38
14. Alex Cobb, Giants, $10 million per year (2 years, $20 million)
15. Steven Matz, Cardinals, $11 million per year (4 years, $44 million)
16. Corey Kluber, Rays, $8 million per year (1 year, $8 million)
17. Jon Gray, Rangers, $14 million per year (4 years, $56 million)
18. Rich Hill, Red Sox, $5 million per year (1 year, $5 million)
19. Yusei Kikuchi
20. Tyler Anderson
21. Kwang-hyun Kim
22. Merrill Kelly
23. Michael Pineda
24. Zach Davies
25. Chris Archer
Other baseball fans in your life? Give the gift of 5 Thoughts this year. They’ll get to join this exclusive club, and you’ll be helping to support the column into the future. Talk about a win-win!
First pitch swingin’...
1) It’s tremendous that the Twins got a Buxton deal done, and I’ve seen them served their fair share of credit for the negotiations. Don’t miss the chance to appreciate Buxton’s selflessness in this deal as well. His talk about loyalty and family and comfort was powerful. And in the end I believe it’s that sentiment that got this deal completed.
2) You can safely ignore anyone who claims that the Twins have overpaid for Buxton. It was priority 1A on my list this winter for the Twins. They achieved it – at right around the rates I was throwing around. Yes, it’s a risk. But it’s a calculated risk and the downside is much less scary than the upside is exciting, if you get what I’m saying.
3) Dylan Bundy is a low-wattage signing, and don’t let the timing of the deal impact how you feel about it. If the Twins trade for an arm – or sign one – once activity resumes, and that arm bumps all other starters down a peg, that will be my offseason Task Number 2 completed. If they had done that deal in November and then signed Bundy ahead of spring training for 1 year and $5 million, we’d all be saying, ‘Yeah, I like that opportunistic, low-cost bet!’
Patience, is what I’m saying. No need to judge their offseason pitching rebuilding based solely on the first move.
4) Congratulations to the great Tony Oliva and Jim Kaat for their recent induction into the Hall of Fame.
Getting to know Tony O, even just a little bit, has been one of the true bright spots of working in this media market the past 10 years or so.
It was suggested to me that Oliva and Kaat, both guests on my radio show last season, just needed that little extra boost to take their Cooperstown candidacy from strong to iron-clad. The Wetmore Boost? I hadn’t heard of it. But it’s hard to argue with the fact pattern.
5) Here are 5 starting pitchers who have already signed that I would have been interested in for the Twins:
Max Scherzer cleared $43 million per year in his contract that will pay him into his age-40 season with the Mets. Which, you know, would have been fun!
Marcus Stroman was high on my list and he wound up signing a 3-year deal worth $71 million to pitch for the Cubs. That’s a high annual price to pay and worth it if you think Stroman is the missing piece to a championship club over the next 3 seasons.
Alex Wood stayed in San Francisco for $25 million over 2 years. They were trying to solidify their rotation in the wake of Kevin Gausman’s departure, and I just think that $12.5 million a year is sensible for Wood.
Corey Kluber got $8 million for one season to pitch for the Rays. I wrote in the past that I would have been interested in a reunion between Kluber and Derek Falvey in Minnesota, and at the price I could see it being a good gamble for Tampa Bay.
Rich Hill signed a 1-year deal worth $5 million with the Red Sox. Between Hill and James Paxton ($10 million), Boston is taking some injury risk with their rotation rather than paying Eduardo Rodríguez a little more than $15 million a year to stick around for 5 more seasons. Add in Chris Sale and the Sox have some boom-or-bust potential with their rotation.
For reasons I may go into another time, I’m taking a break from posting on certain social media channels. That will hinder my newsletter but I do feel it’s necessary right now. If you could do me a favor and share this column with one friend who is likely to enjoy it, your generosity will be greatly appreciated.