Aaron is the Editor-in-Chief of Baseball Prospectus.
Aaron Gleeman: Hello! Thanks for hanging out this afternoon. Keep the questions coming and I'll keep giving you an excuse to avoid work.
TwinsFanInAL (Alabama): Aaron,
Big fan of your work at BP, Gleeman & the Geek, & I just finished your book (which was great). Say Thad & Derek let you run Winter Meetings for the Twins. Are there any specific moves (signings or trades) you think you could make to make this a 90+ win team?
Aaron Gleeman: Turning the Twins into a 90-win team - or at least a likely 90-win team - in 2019 would probably take quite a bit of work, but I do think there's an opportunity for them to make a real run at the division title, especially if the Indians keep selling off good players. At minimum, I'd be trying to sign (or trade for) 1-2 late-inning relievers and one mid-rotation starter, and going after a big bat like Nelson Cruz or Carlos Santana would make sense too. I'm a little worried that the Twins are content simply being decent in 2019, when competitive is there for the grabbing.
Scotty Michael (Dunderton): So, Tyler Jay? What happened to that guy? Will he be picked in the Rule V draft? Oviously, it would be pretty much just based on his draft position.
Aaron Gleeman: Tyler Jay might get picked in the Rule 5 draft later this week, but I don't think the Twins would be particularly upset to lose him. The previous front office regime picked him no. 6 overall, which was heavily criticized at the time, and it looks even worse now. He was a stud college reliever who was supposed to move quickly, but instead the Twins tried him as a starter, he got hurt, and even after shifting back to the bullpen he never rediscovered the old magic. I wouldn't be surprised if Jay carved out a big-league career as a useful reliever, but he's mostly only talked about because of his pedigree at this point.
zeeksam (Halifax): Thoughts on FA Grandal?
Aaron Gleeman: I think Yasmani Grandal is probably being underrated because of the focus on his awful postseason, as opposed to his consistently very good regular seasons. I ranked him as the #9 free agent.
For many teams, signing him seemingly would make a lot more sense than trading big prospect hauls for J.T. Realmuto.
Bob (Miller Park, Sec 120, row 8): No question. You should do a BP meetup at Miller Park for the Twins-Brewers series in August.
Aaron Gleeman: We might! We've done BP events at Target Field the past two years and they've been really great, so I think branching out to Miller Park would be a natural move for myself and the rest of the BP Midwest crew.
Dumb Dumb (Tundra): Less of a question, more of a meandering kvetch (oh goody!):
Despite being in a terrible division, having tons of payroll space, and the Indians appearing vulnerable, the Twins are literally signing non-tenders from other orgs to fill starting positions. All the local and national press I have read indicates that these are the types of FA moves twins fans should expect this offseason, with the FO peddling the line of "further assessing" the young(ish) core. With 2018 attendance being the lowest since they played in the HHH Metrodome (rust in pieces), one would think that such a holding pattern is a business misstep.
So, as I squint and look at this, I honest to god cannot tell if this FO stance is genuine, a clever ruse hiding larger roster-building ambitions, or perhaps more cynically, a handy pretext to justify a Pohladic decree (trademark pending) to limit spending.
What do you think? Is the FO being coy, or am I just a dumb dumb who is in perpetual denial about the Pohlad's well-established miserliness (relative to other team owners). The Twins opening day 2018 payroll was a franchise record, and yet still slightly below the 2018 MLB average; The Twins owner is the 4th wealthiest in MLB.
Aaron Gleeman: This is becoming an issue across baseball, even with large-market teams. But when it comes to the Twins, assuming they'll spend less than you're hoping is always the smart bet. Much was made of their 2018 payroll being the highest in team history, but $125 million in 2018 has considerably less baseball spending power than $110 million in 2011. I'm working on something more detailed on this topic for next week, but the Twins' payroll for the past 5-6 seasons is nearly identical to their payroll for the final 5-6 seasons at the Metrodome, relative to MLB-wide spending. And except for the first three years at Target Field, the Twins have been between 70-90% of the MLB average payroll nearly every season since 2002. It's frustrating and it's something fans and media members should continue to talk loudly about, but it's also reality.
Tibbs (Philly): Sean Newcomb had a bit of a Jekyll & Hyde season in ‘18. I see a great pitcher in the making, etting he improves his control as he gains experience. What say you?
Aaron Gleeman: I still like Newcomb a lot and picked him as one of my 10 breakout pitchers heading into 2018. Throwing more strikes is obviously the biggest key. He made some progress with that, but not enough. But everything else, from stuff and secondary numbers to age and development, seem to point to a front-line starter.
Paul MacGruber (Duluth): How much higher would Twins attendance be if the stadium had a roof? 15-20%?
Aaron Gleeman: This seems like something only people outside of the Twin Cities ask. Target Field is gorgeous, the skyline view is great, and the weather in Minneapolis from May through September is beautiful. No doubt there are some days in April when a roof would be nice, and hypothetically I suppose that could be true of October too if the Twins ever host another playoff game. But no. No one here wants a roof.
Red (Bama): Will MLB ever go to a system like college football where the teams in the playoffs are determined by a committee?
Aaron Gleeman: I think this mostly depends on how Kyler Murray pans out as a prospect for the A's.
Tommy Melrose (Gleeman's Mom's House): Who is your favorite member of the 2002 Minnesota Twins aka THE BAND?!?
1. Johan Santana
2. Bobby Kielty
3. Torii Hunter
4. Corey Koskie
5. Matthew LeCroy
6. Eddie Guardado
7. Brad Radke
42. Luis Rivas
drewcorb (Owatonna, MN): DRC+ seems like a really good step toward understanding how much success hitters truly had, after accounting for a lot of circumstantial/environmental variables. Despite how impressive it is, what do you think its biggest shortcomings are? What, if any, improvements do you think would be a likely next step forward?
Aaron Gleeman: Jonathan Judge has an upcoming article that will address this in a much better way than I ever could, but I think there will be some refinements regarding high-average, high-BABIP, singles hitters. Like, say, Rod Carew, Ichiro Suzuki, and Tony Gwynn. Hitters like that - all-time greats, but with unique, extreme skill sets - are always tough to evaluate. We'll have more good stuff about DRC+ later this week.
cooldude (Mpls): Is this Minnesota's infield in two years? 1B: Sano, 2B: Polanco, 3B: someone not currently on the team, SS: Gordon
Aaron Gleeman: Sano will eventually wind up at 1B/DH, although it may not be with the Twins if 2019 goes poorly. Brent Rooker is another option at first base. I'd like to see Jorge Polanco shift to second base, where I think he can be an asset defensively. Nick Gordon is less than a sure thing to be a long-term shortstop in the majors. And of course in two years the hope is that Royce Lewis will be at shortstop (or maybe third base/center field, I guess).
Jackson Jones (Minneapolis): The few blurbs I've read on Ronald Torreyes make it sounds like he could be superior to Adrianza both offensive and defensively. Do you think this is likely the case? Or is there something else Adrizana adds that I'm missing?
Aaron Gleeman: I wrote quite a bit about Torreyes vs. Adrianza here: https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/45654/transaction-analysis-twins-add-schoop-torreyes-to-infield-mix/
They have very similar skill sets. I'd probably give Adrianza a slight edge offensively, especially if spotted correctly, and I think Adrianza is a solid defender. The key to their "battle" may end being that Torreyes has a minor-league option remaining, meaning they can keep both players by sending Torreyes to Triple-A for a while.
John (Madison): Does Milwaukee's postseason run factor in their ability to stretch their payroll in 2019? How does postseason revenue sharing actually work?
Aaron Gleeman: Teams definitely make significant additional money in the playoffs, but the biggest effect might be with season ticket sales the next year. You'll often see people wondering why attendance is poor for a winning team, but the reality is that most tickets are purchased before a season begins. And so when a team like the Brewers makes a surprising playoff run, it's the *next* season where they see a big jump in attendance. This past season the Brewers drew 2.8 million fans, which was sixth in the NL. Roughly similar to their attendance/rank in 2017, 2014, and 2012. I'll bet they go over three million in 2019.
Brent (WI): Are you ready to finish 7-8-1, while the Pack wins the rest of their games to make the playoffs?
Aaron Gleeman: Sure, why not. I've watched maybe four total quarters of football this year. It was always my third-favorite sport, behind baseball and basketball, but now it's probably fifth or sixth behind, like, House Hunters, Chopped, and Top Chef. I live with a Packers fan and she's watched even less than I have this year, so it all works out well in at least one household.
Sabir (Saint Paul): Who are your top three most realistic starting pitchers and relievers that the twins should target? Could you speculate the years and annual salary of the free agents please?
Aaron Gleeman: Realistic? Maybe someone like Trevor Cahill among starters and Joakim Soria or Kelvin Herrera among relievers. I'd like to see them aim a bit higher, especially for the bullpen, but "realistic" is Twins speak for "decent but underwhelming" when it comes to free agency. Regardless of the specific names, I'd be surprised if the Twins went beyond two guaranteed seasons for any free agent this offseason.
Al (Chicago): How does the HOF news affect the value of the 100 or so Harold Baines cards from the early 90s?
Aaron Gleeman: I guess yesterday's news means there are at least 12 people who would pay a lot for them.
Thormund (Coon Rapids): Got any recommended casserole recipes?
Aaron Gleeman: I've never eaten a casserole in my life and I've been living in Minnesota for 35 years. Never had lutefisk, either. Oh, and jucy lucys are overrated. [ducks]
Dave (Minneapolis): With so many teams not spending on free agents, gaming the service time of young players and other ways teams are keeping salaries down Is MLB players union close to a strike of any kind?
Aaron Gleeman: I don't have any insight into the odds of an actual strike, but the MLBPA took a clear loss at the negotiating table for the last CBA and things have only gotten worse since then. They just gave Tony Clark a contract extension, though, so who knows. It sure seems like a very important time for the MLBPA to dig in their collective heels and fight to reverse the things you've mentioned, plus other stuff.
zeeksam (Halifax, NS): Do you think Segura will have better stats with
Phillies compared to Seattle?
Aaron Gleeman: Raw numbers? Probably. I liked that deal for the Phillies, as I think even Juan Nicasio will be valuable for them.
JB01 (St. Paul): Akil Baddoo - next Twins CF heir apparent in the venerable Puckett-Hunter-Span-Revere-Hicks-Buxton line?
Aaron Gleeman: That line gets a little wonky in recent years. I was happy to see how highly the BP prospect team thinks of Baddoo. I'm a little lower on him, just because I tend to be more conservative with non-elite prospects still in the low minors, but he could be a 2019 breakout. Of course, I'm still hoping that Buxton is the Twins' center fielder by the time Baddoo is ready for the majors..
Duhbear (VT): Would it be possible to either make performance sortable by date ranges or add a 15 game trend graph on player pages for each season?
Aaron Gleeman: Just about every day, I gchat Rob McQuown and ask "is [random thing] possible?" And so many times, he actually makes it possible. I will add your request to my next gchat.
Bobby Q (Kansas City): Do you see expansion to Portland, Las Vegas, and Montreal as a real possibility? Would/Should this cause a realignment of divisions?
Aaron Gleeman: There are a handful of prominent cities that could definitely support an MLB team, some of which you just mentioned. But given MLB's sagging attendance, specifically in certain mid- and small-sized markets, expansion right now seems like it might be asking for trouble. Getting a team back in Montreal would be great, though.
Chris (Lakeville): Wouldn’t trading for Santana make much more sense than signing Cruz (as The Geek clearly wants)? He would give a LH option to Cron and Austin (it kept). I wonder if Seattle might be interested in Austin as a piece in return.
Aaron Gleeman: Nelson Cruz is a better hitter than Carlos Santana, or at least he has been a better hitter so far (he's also much older). Assuming the money/salaries end up being close to the same, depending on how much of Santana's deal the Mariners would eat, then I'd slightly prefer Cruz to Santana. But if getting Santana would also require parting with even one decent prospect, then I'd much prefer simply signing Cruz.
Duhbear (VT): This obsession with Realmuto is getting a little out of hand. He's good, perhaps even very good, and should cost a lot. But he should cost about as much as Syndergaard, if not a litte less.
Hell, at this point I'd sign Grandal, eat some of that money, and offer to trade him. I mean, DAMN.
Aaron Gleeman: Realmuto is a great player. Arguably the best catcher in baseball, and certainly one of the best 3-4. But this free agent class features to very good catchers (Grandal, Ramos) who would be had for money, as opposed to money plus prospects. I'd exhaust those options before paying a premium for Realmuto in trade, certainly.
Fighting Moose (Manitoba): Do you think Aaron Sanchez turns a corner and returns to the pitcher he was a few years back? Blisters seem to be hindering his development. A possible change of scenery a good thing for him?
Aaron Gleeman: I'm not super high on Sanchez, in part because I think even his 2016 breakout wasn't quite as good as the raw numbers made it seem. With that said, it's tough to evaluate any pitcher when injuries have clearly been a factor. It wouldn't surprise me if several teams were pushing the Blue Jays hard to give him a change-of-scenery chance.
Gordo (Wisconsin): When eating your pizza when at a Wisconsin bar, do you prefer the cheesier squares from the middle or the crispier triangular edges?
Aaron Gleeman: I go crisp edges, but more importantly: I refuse to call thin crust, cut-into-squares pizza "Wisconsin style" or "Milwaukee style" when it's really just "Midwest pub style." And now I'm hungry for a Heggies ...
Fighting Moose (Manitoba): In a 16 team league one team has both Realmuto and Gary Sanchez and i'm looking to acquire one of them for my fantasy team. Who has the better looking long term outlook?
Aaron Gleeman: Strictly for fantasy? Sanchez. His strengths are magnified in fantasy, while defense isn't even a factor.
Gabe (Montreal): Since you said on Twitter that hanging out in the chat is the best way to not get work done, might as well ask you if you have any study tips?
Aaron Gleeman: I once showed up to a college class after not going for what I thought was a few weeks. Everyone was in the hallway outside studying, so I asked, "What's going on?" I was informed today was the midterm exam and, it turns out, I'd missed like two months. So no, no studying tips from me.
Johnny Vegas (Bogota): You talk about Chinese food being the best food, because it is. But I only ever see you mention regular restaurant options. What is your take on buffet? If you like it, have a favorite?
Aaron Gleeman: I love Chinese restaurant buffets, but it requires a proper mindset. Like, hunger mixed with particularly low self-esteem on a certain day. Plus, my girlfriend refuses to go to a buffet with me at this point - she claims the food is "inconsistent" and "not good" - so it also requires wanting to be sad, full, *and* alone.
Ben (NY): If the Twins don't keep La Tortuga on the roster next year, should I just stop being a fan?
Aaron Gleeman: We can all move to Rochester, New York and become Red Wings fans. We'd get to see Willians Astudillo play every day and the rent is probably pretty cheap there.
Gabe (Montreal): Nice and simple: What is your favourite sandwich? And how should I study for this stats exam?
Aaron Gleeman: DiNic's roast pork in Philadelphia's Reading Terminal Market is the best sandwich I've ever had. I think about it probably once a month.
Bearry (Woods): Rays have a ton of prospects and young players with a fair amount of payroll room. They also have a lot of average players on their roster with a real need for all-star upgrades. Who do you see the Rays ending up with this offseason?
Aaron Gleeman: Sounds like they're going pretty hard after Nelson Cruz, perhaps competing with the Twins and a couple other AL teams. They cut loose C.J. Cron to save money, but also because they genuinely are convinced they can add a bigger bat in his place.
Aaron Gleeman: Thanks for all the questions, everyone. This was fun. Make sure to read our new 5,000-word breakdown of the Twins' farm system.
We'll do this again soon. Until then, feel free to send me questions via Twitter.