The Twins set a major league record with 307 home runs in 2019. More impressively, they set club records with 939 runs and a plus-185 run differential.
The Yankees then executed a three-game sweep in a playoff first-rounder, leaving the traditional sour sendoff to a successful regular season for our home club.
The 2019 record was 101-61, fourth best in the big leagues, and one win fewer than the 1965 American League champion Twins.
This was Season 3 for the new-age front office that had taken over the decisionmaking in November 2016.
Derek Falvey was the CEO for baseball and Thad Levine was his general manager. Three Novembers later, if so inclined, they could have paraphrased Stuart Smalley and said:
"We're good enough, we're smart enough and doggone it, people like us."
The home run bonanza did come with a robust 1,334 strikeouts. Thus, logic dictated the last thing the Twins needed to invest in would be in another power hitter.
Kyle Gibson departed for Texas in late November 2019 on a three-year, $28 million contract, increasing the need for a quality starting pitcher over a slugger.
And then in January, reports surfaced the Twins were about to sign the slugger: Josh Donaldson, then a 34-year-old third baseman.
The deal was announced on Jan. 22, 2020, with Donaldson receiving a four-year, $92 million contract — record-shattering for a Twins free agent.
This was intriguing for sure, and also mystifying. The Twins did acquire starter Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers three weeks later, for bullet-throwing reliever Brusdar Graterol, to assist the rotation.
Then came the pandemic shutdown in mid-March, a 60-game season, an AL Central mini-season title with Maeda as an ace and Donaldson mostly injured, and another playoff sweep with Houston taking the first two in a best-of-three — both at Target Field.
We move now to late Sunday night, and I'm watching a strange little movie called "Shimmer Lake," where the drama is shown in reverse order, and I get a text from our guy RandBall, reading, "Another blockbuster Twins trade."
Kiner-Falefa had become the Twins' immediate shortstop on Saturday, when he was acquired from Texas for power-hitting, whiffing catcher Mitch Garver.
Falvey talked about Kiner-Falefa's potential for winning a Gold Glove in 2022. A day later, the CEO tossed him in a trade in order to get rid of the $50 million still owed to Donaldson.
No matter the triple-speak coming from Fort Myers, that was the only motive: to dump Donaldson's dollars.
That made this a very opportune time to be watching a film drama that went backward, for at that instant, I went back to Jan. 22, 2020 — and realized the Donaldson signing was the first time to question the baseball acumen of Falvey and Co.
Seven hundred and 81 days later, the Donaldson mystery is at its zenith, and so is the skepticism over our brainiacs.
Nice guys, by the way, but that didn't help Terry Ryan at the end, and it's not going to help this bunch if these early Vegas over-and-unders on victories are close to accurate in the AL Central:
White Sox: 91.5. Tigers: 77.5. Guardians: 76.5. Royals: 76. Twins: 74.
That would be a one-win improvement over 2021 and another fifth place in the Central. And it seems about right, unless Falvey takes that $50 million and gets another real (and not imagined) starting pitcher to add to newly acquired Sonny Gray.
Assistance also is required in the bullpen, and then there's the whole shortstop deal.
The Twins are alleged to have made a "call" on Trevor Story, the free-agent shortstop from Colorado. The guess here is this call will be as successful as those made to the agents for starting pitchers Yu Darvish and Zack Wheeler in recent times.
Plus, you spend $160 million for four years on Story, then what becomes of Royce Lewis, the No. 1 overall selection from 2017?
Lewis is coming back from knee surgery and, if that works out, he should be planned for the lineup on Opening Day 2023. The center field option for Lewis is off the list now, with Byron Buxton signed for years to come, so it's shortstop or bust for Lewis.
And would this be embarrassing:
Hunter Greene, forecast by many to be the better No. 1 selection in 2017, makes it to Cincinnati next year, continuing to strike out 1.4 batters per inning, while the Twins are still waiting for their choice, Lewis, to appear six years later?
Twins followers can sit on that drama. For now, we must wait to see what the Falvey Group does with that $50 million in order to escape from being least among the AL Central weaklings.