Minnesota Twins: Signing Lynn moves team from contenders to favorites

The Minnesota Twins made the playoffs in 2017 and hoped to return in 2018, but after a big signing over the weekend, they should be viewed as favorites.

The Minnesota Twins had a breakout 2017 season that saw them run into a New York Yankees buzzsaw in the Wild Card game. Heading to the offseason, the team intended to make moves to ensure it would be back in the postseason.

After the signing of Lance Lynn this weekend, the Minnesota Twins are not just contenders to return to the playoffs, they should be viewed as favorites at this point.

The A-class

In the American League, there seems to be (on paper) a significant divide between the teams that intend to contend and those who do not. The Minnesota Twins were firmly in the first group already this offseason, having added Zach Duke, Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, and Logan Morrison in free agency and acquiring Jake Odorizzi in a trade to improve their team.

While many see the Red Sox/Yankees, Indians, and Astros as near-locks for the playoffs, perhaps it is time to consider the Minnesota Twins in that same class.

A shift in depth

One of the knocks on the Twins in 2017 was a lack of depth in quality arms. When the team went up on the powerful Yankees lineup 3-0 on elite starter Luis Severino, the team did not have the depth to close behind Ervin Santana once he struggled against that lineup.

This offseason, the Minnesota Twins have added major pieces to their rotation to the point where they will be having two veteran starters competing for the 5th starter role once Santana is able to return to the mound in late April as the rotation lines up with Santana, Jose Berrios, Lynn, Odorizzi, and one of Kyle Gibson or Phil Hughes.

The team has significant depth behind that 6 as well with a AAA rotation that will all be on the 40-man roster and a pair that have been on multiple top-100 lists this offseason as prospects.

The relief corps was much different at the end of the season than the beginning for the Minnesota Twins. The team featured primarily arms that worked in the low-90s (if that, in some cases) to open 2017. However, trading away Brandon Kintzler coincided with the team bringing up some hard-throwing pitchers.

From August 1st to the end of the season, the Twins had 3 pitchers (Alan Busenitz, Ryan Pressly, and John Curtiss) who averaged over 95 MPH on their fastball, and they were seldom used before August.

Adding Rodney, Reed, and Duke to the relief corps along with a rule 5 pick in Tyler Kinley who routinely tops triple digits brings new blood into the bullpen, and with multiple arms at AAA able to run up into the upper 90s, the Twins have suddenly built a bullpen with plenty of depth as well.

That depth in both the rotation and bullpen allows the Minnesota Twins to absorb injury much better than many of the other teams on the A-list.

Of course, this all mentions the Minnesota Twins pitching. The team has kept what was already a very deep position group together for 2018 and added the powerful bat of Morrison to the lineup.

While there are certainly ways that the Twins could miss the playoffs (as with any of the “A-class”), they are certainly moving into the role of more of a paper certainty.