St. Peter gives high marks to Twins' front office  

Baldelli will return as manager in 2023; Minnesota looking at improving fan experience

September 29th, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS -- With the Twins officially eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday night, a second consecutive season of disappointment nearing its conclusion and the club on track for its lowest season attendance (amid non-pandemic years) since Target Field opened in 2010, it’s certainly going to be a busy offseason of work and evaluation at all levels of the organization’s operations.

One thing has already been made clear, though: That work will take place under the same leadership group. Twins president and CEO Dave St. Peter spoke to the media prior to Thursday afternoon's 4-3 loss to the White Sox in the home finale to reaffirm his commitment to president of baseball operations Derek Falvey, who will return to lead the department for the 2023 season.

Falvey has already confirmed that manager Rocco Baldelli will also return next year.

“Having been in the organization as long as I have and seeing where we were from an overall baseball operation perspective from the day Derek walked in until where we are today, I give him high marks,” St. Peter said. “And I also understand how well respected he is across the game from other owners, other club presidents.

"We think we have a very dynamic, smart, forward-thinking leader and he’ll be back in 2023, and I’m hoping many, many years after that.”

Falvey and general manager Thad Levine are about to complete their sixth season at the helm of the Twins. Three of those years have ended in playoff appearances, including a berth in the American League Wild Card Game in 2017 and AL Central championships in ‘19 and ‘20. But the club still has not won any playoff games under their watch.

Three have been winning seasons, including the 101-win campaign in 2019 -- one shy of the franchise record -- during which the club set MLB’s single-season record in home runs. Falvey and Levine have also given Byron Buxton a seven-year contract extension and made the two biggest free agent commitments in franchise history with the four-year, $92 million deal given to Josh Donaldson ahead of the ‘20 season and the three-year, $105.3 million deal for Carlos Correa this year -- though Donaldson was traded and Correa is likely to opt out.

St. Peter acknowledged there’s diagnosis that’s necessary around the club’s struggles on the medical side this season, considering its 18 players currently on the injured list and 47 IL placements overall this season that played no small role in this season’s difficult outcome.

He also noted that trade evaluations could also mark an area that needs work, particularly in light of the numerous injury issues to players who have arrived in deals under Falvey and Levine, from Sam Dyson and Kenta Maeda to Chris Paddack and Tyler Mahle.

But even after two difficult seasons, St. Peter stressed the desire to evaluate Falvey’s and Levine’s entire body of work -- and the confidence remains.

“Derek and Thad and his team, they'll be aggressive when they need to be, they'll be patient when they need to be, and then they're going to shake the tree,” St. Peter said. “They've demonstrated that since they've been here. We were criticized for years for being too passive as a baseball operation. This group has never been passive. Look at their track record.

“You can criticize the trades, you can criticize the signings, but they're going to shake the tree and try to make us better for 2023. I'm optimistic we'll go to Spring Training with a really, really good team.”

Attendance down in ‘22
St. Peter acknowledged that he was surprised the Twins are bound for their lowest attendance of the decade, especially considering the presence of star power in Buxton and Correa alongside the AL batting title chase for fan favorite Luis Arraez.

Minnesota entered the home finale averaging 22,222 fans per game, its fewest in a non-pandemic year since 2001, and ranking 20th in MLB in total attendance.

Amid a challenging start to the season due to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the delay caused by the lockout, there were question marks to begin the year. But St. Peter and the Twins are still searching for answers as to why things didn’t rebound in the second half, especially as they continued their Twins Pass deal amid other deals and elements to the fan experience.

“Certainly, part of it is organizationally, we're looking at everything we're doing and how we're marketing our club, how we're pricing our tickets, how we're reaching out to different communities,” St. Peter said.

“We have to own that. There's also a narrative around public safety in our city that is having an impact. There's economic issues that are impacting everybody that's having an impact. But we're going to focus on the things we can control.”