The roster’s turnover after four years in Major League Baseball, with a pandemic by then, is sure to be filled with natural attrition.
Players age, or are too expensive, or less effective, and are replaced.
It’s certainly part of what happened to the Twins between 2019 and now, but it’s not the whole story. Part of the remake of the list between then and now feels much more intentionally leaning towards philosophical adjustment.
To put it bluntly: the Bomba Squad is no more. In its place is a Twins team that is much more likely to fail or succeed on the merits of its throwing and defense than on the long ball.
Again, maybe this is just a coincidence. Maybe some of them are a nod to the realization that 2019 was an outlier because, well, juice balls were helping everyone hit home runs.
But consider this: Of the 10 players who hit at least 13 homers for the Twins in 2019, only two — Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler — are still on the list. And Kepler could disappear any day.
The other eight: Nelson Cruz, CJ Cron, Jonathan Schoop, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Mitch Garver, Jason Castro and Marwin Gonzalez.
Cruz was traded for promising rotation mainstay Joe Ryan. Garver was traded as part of a series of interconnected deals that ultimately saw the Twins get rid of Josh Donaldson while adding Carlos Correa – more of a versatile hitter than a slugger, and a very good defensive shortstop , whom the Twins have re-engaged in this offseason.
The Twins in the past calendar year have also traded for pitchers Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, Chris Paddack, Jorge Lopez and Pablo Lopez while trading a defensively limited batting champion (Luis Arraez), including La Velle E. Neal III and I spoke on Tuesday’s Daily Delivery Podcast.
They signed Joey Gallo, a slugger who also happens to be a great outfielder. And they just traded for another Gold Glove outfielder, Michael A. Taylor.
The rotation is deep with capable pitchers who have all arrived via trade. They signed defensive genius Byron Buxton for a lucrative extension, re-signed Correa for an even more lucrative deal and continue to add defensive players to supplement their throw.
Even though Buxton is forced to do a lot of DH this season to maintain his health, the outfield defense will be strong, as will the infield defense in the middle with Correa and Polanco. Let’s not forget the first gesture of a very busy offseason: the signing of the first receiver of the defense Christian Vazquez to manage the pitching staff.
The new identity is clear. All that’s left is a catchy new nickname for these twins.
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