PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA. – The Twins had completed the third day of workouts for pitchers and catchers on Feb. 16 when an announcement was made that they had signed veteran starter Anibal Sanchez to a contract that would put him on the 40-player roster.
The Twins could get out of the deal for less than $500,000 if a decision was made within 25 days. The Star Tribune posted its story online that night and there were a few dozen comments, a good share of which saw this as the big move that baseball boss Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine were planning to offer as the reinforcement for the 2018 starting pitching.
One of the early commenters stated: “At last the missing piece to our pitching puzzle! Love the aggressive approach by owners and management.”
It was soon followed by this: “Pohlad Cheap doesn’t cease because he hires a new general manager, you know.”
And then “Benelli2” had a post with full insight: “We now know that Falvey never intended to sign a legitimate starter … he was mainly brought in because Pohlad knew he’d be ever OK with following the orders of ownership not to spend money.”
Two days later, the Twins traded shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios to Tampa Bay for Jake Odorizzi, a starter with a solid history. On Saturday, the reports surfaced that the Twins were in agreement with starter Lance Lynn on a one-year, $12 million contract.
The three-week period between adding Odorizzi and Lynn also had included the signing of free agent Logan Morrison, the slugger of 38 home runs last season for Tampa Bay.
In the interest of fair play, I checked the comments on the Star Tribune’s initial stories on the acquisitions of Odorizzi, Morrison and now Lynn, to see if "Benelli2" or the other two posters cited here had checked in to express opinions.
I couldn’t find those anonymous handles among the responses. All can be comforted the Twins released Sanchez on Sunday morning to make room for Lynn, and also by this:
The Pohlads, coming off the two lowest attendance seasons since 2005, have now allowed the 2018 payroll to reach $128 million, which would be an Opening Day record by $15 million over 2011.
That one didn’t work out: injuries, horrible pitching and a proposed new shortstop (Tsuyoshi Nishioka) who couldn’t play led to a 19-50 finish, a 63-99 record, and the firing of General Manager Bill Smith.
A similar result with a record payroll in 2018 does not seem likely. Joe Mauer, one of the injured at the start of the Twins’ long, sad slide in 2011, was taking batting practice before Sunday’s exhibition with the Rays.
Asked about the Lynn addition, Mauer said: “It’s pretty good. I was here 14 years and never saw a spring like this. It’s a new approach for the Twins, for sure.”
The Twins reinforced the bullpen with free agents Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke and Addison Reed this winter. They have now added Morrison, Odorizzi and Lynn.
This is not a suggestion to schedule a victory parade when the Twins arrive in Minnesota for Opening Day on April 5.
Two years ago, when they looked outstanding in spring training, regrettable columns (“What’s not to like?”) were authored, and then they went an all-time worst 59-103 and Terry Ryan was replaced as the baseball boss.
Yup. Things can go sour. Already, Eddie Rosario has a sore arm, Miguel Sano still is awaiting word from Major League Baseball on a possible suspension, and there are two more weeks left in Florida for Lynn to get geared up for possible inclusion in the season-opening rotation.
Manager Paul Molitor chose not to comment on Lynn matters Sunday, with the signing still unofficial, but did say this in Mollie-ese about the Twins becoming a landing spot for free agents:
“I have to preface it by saying some players just wanted a home, period. But we had an active winter and spring, and I think people, by word of mouth or what they’ve witnessed … it’s an attractive place.”
Molitor applauded the “supplementation” of the roster — that’s Mollie-ese, right there — and added, “We have to see how it all works out, obviously.”
What’s obvious is the Falvey brain trust has been aggressive all winter and into spring in seeking upgrades.
The message from the front office was the Twins were basically done after the Morrison signing. Then, Lynn became available for one year, $12 million, and it was too good to pass up — for Falvey, for Levine and for Jim Pohlad.
Let me speak for "Benelli2" and other posters and say, as Twins fans, they have to be impressed.