A handful of years back I wrote something along the lines of the Twins most necessary move was to deal Glen Perkins. He was competing at an All-Star level, and Minnesota was beyond terrible with no end in sight. A bad team didn’t need a closer, and the haul should’ve been handsome. In a similar spot, the Twins may be ill-advised to make that move with Taylor Rogers.
Yes, the Major League club is not good. No, the farm system doesn’t have a ton of immediate answers. This season isn’t going to result in a second-half turnaround, and a bullpen that’s already bad isn’t and hasn’t been saved by one good arm. The key difference here, however, is how Derek Falvey and Thad Levine view themselves in 2022.
Although good teams don’t necessarily need a closer, they absolutely need a strong bullpen. Moving Taylor Rogers with another year of team control, and as one of the most dominant relief arms in the sport, would suggest they don’t view a run coming in the year ahead either. Rocco Baldelli has seen his lineup come around over the past handful of weeks, but it’s still been pitching that has failed this club. While the rotation is chiefly to blame, supplementing and retooling the bullpen is a must for next season. Doing that with the additional hole that Rogers’ absence would cost becomes difficult.
This season Rogers owns a 2.65 ERA along with a 12.2 K/9 and 1.9 BB/9. In 2020 he posted an outlying 4.05 ERA, but it was hiding a 2.84 FIP and still fell in line the strikeout and walk rates across his career. The uncharacteristic 1.500 WHIP got Taylor last year and pitching in a short season without opportunity for positive regression didn’t help. His counting numbers are now back to who he always has been, and what the expectation should be.
Baseball right now remains enamored with high leverage relievers. This winter we saw the Chicago White Sox drop $54 million on Liam Hendriks. I don’t now what Rogers will earn two seasons from now, but he’ll be hitting the free agent market at the same age Hendriks did this year. Saves are a goofy stat, but they do get paid for at least in arbitration, and Rogers currently has more than Hendriks did when he was signed by the South Siders.
Maybe a team will blow the Twins away with a couple of top tier prospects. That doesn’t seem like a great bet given the relief trade market often seems to be filled with organizations looking to be opportunistic and capitalize on a veteran’s immediate success without much of a long-term commitment. If Falvey can find a taker willing to pony up though, then that’s a move Minnesota should consider.
If flipping Rogers is being done because he fits the category of desirable asset and the return is just good enough, I’d hope that this front office would reconsider. Maybe they don’t have intentions to reload in 2022, or they see that as a lofty goal. Either way, venturing down the path to relevance in the season ahead gets unquestionable tougher by taking an arm like Rogers out of an already deficient area of this roster.
Maybe you shouldn’t pay for relief help. The Twins best bullpen acquisitions this year were a waiver claim and a guy that cost $2 million. You certainly shouldn’t piece out the pen before you have to when you’re trying to re-ignite it though.