Spring training begins (maybe) in a month, with baseball offseason action – particularly from the Twins – fairly stagnant. But you all had questions, and here are some answers as the days get longer …
Q: What's the bullpen going to look like? (e-mail from Ron Goldser)
A: Let's see. Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Zack Littell, Trevor May and Matt Wisler are the recognizable names who were eligible for free agency. May signed with the Mets. Wisler signed with San Francisco (for just $1.1 million, by the way). The Twins added righthander Hansel Robles, hoping that the Wes Johnson Restoration Service makes him a new pitcher. But they haven't found a suitable replacement for May and they could use an additional hard thrower. In house, they have the developing Jorge Alcala, and Edwar Colina is Alcala 2019. Both have modern day heat and the breaking stuff to dominate, but they need developing.It's unlikely the Twins will spend top dollar for someone like Liam Hendriks, but they should be in on the second tier group. It's unlikely they bring back Romo. Maybe Clippard. There are still plenty of arms on the market as the offseason crawls along.
Q: I believe the Twins were last in the major leagues in stolen bases last year.Is that any concern, or is this something they are going to address in 2021? Or are they satisfied with primarily being a power hitting offensive team? (e-mail from Rich Danov)
A: Yes, the Twins' 14 stolen bases were the fewest in the majors last season — and that's with one of the fastest men in baseball in Byron Buxton (when he is healthy). Even then, guess how many bases Buxton stole over 39 games? Two. He doesn't walk (two free passes all season) and 16 of his 33 hits went for extra bases. Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said after the season that the team would look at everything in order to end their anemic playoff performances. It would take some remodeling of the everyday lineup to inject some speed, but the only available spot is left field and Alex Kirilloff looks earmarked for it.
Q: How likely is it that will fans be able to attend spring training? (from Jimmyw1947 on Twitter)
A: The state of Florida has allowed some fans into football stadiums. The NBA's Orlando Magic will allow 4,000 fans a game, but the Miami Heat will not. The NHL's Tampa Bay Lightning, the defending Stanley Cup champion, has informed fans they can attend home games. I can tell you that the Twins are planning to have a limited number of fans at spring training games this year, provided the virus numbers don't worsen. With vaccines rolling out, things should get better. But having been to Florida a month ago, people there are behaving as if COVID doesn't exist. More details about spectators are to be ironed out the closer we get to spring training. The Hammond Stadium parking lot is being used for drive-in COVID testing at the moment, so that's something to be considered, too.
Q: Will spring training start on time? (e-mail from Robert Wagner)
A: It's up to MLB. The Twins keep being told to prepare as if there's going to be a full season. That would mean the equipment truck will be loaded and depart in about a month. There are many discussions going on between clubs and the league and the players association about a myriad topics, including length of season, size of rosters, universal designated hitters, media regulations and if a 162-game season can be played. Whenever it does start, training camp will be smaller, as players on 40-man rosters, non-roster invites and Class AAA players will be the first to occupy the CenturyLink Sports Complex, then the rest of the minor leaguers coming in weeks later. That's still going to consist of 80-85 players, plus staff that will have to be tested regularly. But there have been too many rumblings around the league about a May Opening Day to expect camp to open on time.
Q: Why not re-sign (Jake) Odorizzi? Is his injury from last year worse than we were told? (from Rob Ehlers on Twitter)
A: I think the Twins should re-sign Odorizzi, but the veteran righthander has earned the right to see what's on the free agent market, once the market starts to move. I think the Twins' pitch to him would be to come back for one more year, reset his value and hit the market again after the 2021 season. Injuries aren't an issue. Would he accept one year at $7-8 million to stick around? I'd ask him.
Q: Will the Twins be making a run at Trevor Bauer? (from Dan Mueller on Twitter)
A: No chance.
Q: Will we need backup plan for third base since seems like Donaldson is prone to being out with a sore calf fairly frequently? (from John North on Twitter)
A: As of Wednesday, because I checked for you, Donaldson's offseason workouts have gone very well. He spent a chunk of the offseason in the Twin Cities as he was present for the birth of this first child. He then headed for his Florida home around Thanksgiving and has been working out consistently. He's working on some things that the Twins hope will help him stay on the field in 2021.