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What to watch for: Twins offseason FAQ

@dohyoungpark
October 28, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a big class of departing free agents, a large group of top prospects nearing the Majors and a large excess of outfielders, the conditions are certainly in place for the Twins to have a considerably different look in 2021, if they so choose. Most, if not all,

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a big class of departing free agents, a large group of top prospects nearing the Majors and a large excess of outfielders, the conditions are certainly in place for the Twins to have a considerably different look in 2021, if they so choose.

Most, if not all, of the Twins' top prospects -- Royce Lewis (No. 1 per MLB Pipeline), Alex Kirilloff (No. 2), Trevor Larnach (No. 3), Jordan Balazovic (No. 4), Jhoan Duran (No. 5) and Ryan Jeffers (No. 6) -- were expected to graduate to the Majors sometime in 2020 or '21. Kirilloff and Jeffers did, and the others likely aren't far behind. But with the Twins again hoping to contend, how much will they be willing to rely on young talent? And how much will the pandemic-shortened season without fans affect the finances of teams around the league?

5 questions Twins face during offseason

Those are some of the questions that president of baseball operations Derek Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and their team will weigh as they approach an offseason that could result in turnover around the roster.

As the Twins join other clubs in awaiting the end of the playoffs to begin kicking the tires on a busy offseason, here's a roundup of what to watch for this winter:

Which players are free agents?
The Twins have a massive class of departing free agents, and whether or not the club decides to retain some of these players, this group is likely to account for much of the roster turnover heading into 2021.

Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, Jake Odorizzi, Alex Avila, Rich Hill, Tyler Clippard, Trevor May, Ehire Adrianza and Homer Bailey (who was designated for assignment at the end of the regular season) are bound for free agency.

That's the starting designated hitter (and most productive bat on the team), the two primary utility players, three starting pitchers, the backup catcher and two core relievers from the 2020 team.

Are any of them likely to receive qualifying offers, and what is the deadline for that?
Gonzalez, Avila, Hill, Clippard, May, Adrianza and Bailey are eligible for a qualifying offer, but none appear likely to receive the one-year contract. The deadline for clubs to extend the qualifying offer is five days after the conclusion of the World Series, and players then have 10 days to accept or reject.

Which players have options, what's the dollar figure and impact on payroll, and when does it need to be decided upon?
Veteran reliever Sergio Romo was the only player with a 2021 option. The Twins declined his $5 million club option on Wednesday and will instead pay a $250,000 buyout.

Who might be a non-tender candidate, and when does the club have to make that decision?
Seven members of the active roster are arbitration-eligible this offseason: Eddie Rosario, Taylor Rogers, José Berríos, Byron Buxton, Matt Wisler, Mitch Garver and Tyler Duffey. The deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is Dec. 2.

Rosario is the most apparent non-tender candidate in that group. Though he has been one of Minnesota's most consistent power hitters over the past few years and boosted his walk rate in 2020, he will likely be due another raise from his $7.75 million salary as he enters his final year of arbitration. The Twins are extremely crowded in the outfield, especially with Kirilloff and Brent Rooker having debuted this season and Larnach not far behind.

If the Twins feel that Kirilloff or Rooker can make up most of Rosario's production at a significant discount in the short-term, a non-tender or a trade of Rosario could make sense to free up more money to spend on free agents elsewhere on the roster.

Who needs to be added to the 40-man roster this winter to avoid the Rule 5 Draft, and do the Twins have a crunch for roster spots?
The big one is Balazovic, the right-handed starter. He's a no-brainer to be added to the 40-man roster.

Other Top 30 Prospects that require protection are outfielder Akil Baddoo (No. 13), infielder Jose Miranda (No. 22), infielder Yunior Severino (No. 25), catcher Benjamin Rortvedt (No. 27) and outfielder Gabriel Maciel (No. 30). Left-hander Charlie Barnes isn't ranked in the Top 30, but he was part of the 2020 player pool and could be in consideration. Big (and effective) right-handers Bailey Ober and Tyler Wells are also set to become Rule 5 Draft eligible for the first time.

There shouldn't be too much of a 40-man crunch given the departures from the MLB roster. Several of the other top prospects that would otherwise have become Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason already made their way up to the Majors, headlined by Kirilloff, and many of those that remain aren't likely to be immediate MLB contributors. Even Baddoo, the highest ranked of the bunch, missed most of 2019 with Tommy John surgery and wasn't in the player pool in '20.

If so, how might that be resolved, and when does that need to be set?
The deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft is Nov. 20.

What kind of help do the Twins need and will they be active in free agency? Who might they target?
The Twins will be in the market for role players all around the roster, on pitching and offense. Though they have a set top three in the rotation among Kenta Maeda, Berríos and Michael Pineda, they could use one or two extra starters to avoid relying too much on less-experienced arms as they bridge the gap to Balazovic and Jhoan Duran.

The departures of May and Clippard leave the Twins in a similar situation in the bullpen -- needing one or more arms -- until they're ready to be more reliant on young pitchers like Jorge Alcala or Edwar Colina in expanded roles.

And though the outfield is crowded, the Twins still need to replace the versatility of Adrianza and Gonzalez with some added production in the lineup, especially with lingering injury questions around Buxton, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez. A solid multipositional player who can capably fill an expanded role with injury -- what Gonzalez was in 2019 before he regressed in '20 -- is likely a need alongside rookie Travis Blankenhorn.

With a good amount of guaranteed money coming off the books -- and possibly more if they part ways with Rosario -- expect the Twins to have a busy offseason on the acquisition front. Falvey also mentioned after the Aug. 31 Trade Deadline that some of Minnesota's discussions could carry into the offseason.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.