Twins report: No major changes to coaching staff
Rocco Baldelli and his coaches will be back for next season.
MINNEAPOLIS -- In the final days of what turned out to be a disappointing 2022 season for the Minnesota Twins, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey threw his support behind manager Rocco Baldelli, confirming Baldelli would be back for his fifth season in the Twins’ dugout next year.
On Monday, Falvey threw his support behind the rest of the coaching staff, too. The Twins are expecting to bring back their full coaching staff, barring anybody leaving on their own accord, for the 2023 season.
Baldelli, too, backed his staff before the season ended, saying he thought the Twins had “as good a staff as you could ever ask for.”
“I think superficially sometimes people want personnel change just because if you make change, therefore you’re trying,” Falvey said. “… We had to assess whether or not change was needed. But this whole group, we feel like, is the right group to help lead us in the direction we need to go. Do we need to get better? Do we need to self-assess? I mean, I’m the first one.”
Pitching coach Pete Maki and bullpen coach Colby Suggs, both of whom were thrust into new roles midseason after the departure of former pitching coach Wes Johnson, who left to take the same job at Louisiana State University, are expected to stay in their current roles, as is assistant pitching coach Luis Ramirez.
Maki had been serving as the team’s bullpen coach prior to Johnson’s departure, and Suggs was working as the team’s run prevention coordinator. The feedback the Twins received from players on the pair of them helped inform the decision to leave the staff intact.
“We did a ton of sourcing of player feedback toward the end of the year on how Pete grew, how Colby grew, how the staff grew, how Luis Ramirez stepped into another role,” Falvey said. “I anticipate we’ll augment that group just because we did lose somebody and had to kind of backfill on the fly. We’re continuing to evaluate it, but we feel really good about the growth of those guys going forward.”
The Twins’ payroll in 2022 was an organization-high $142 million, per FanGraphs, putting them right around the middle of the league in payroll. Asked if he believes payroll will go up for the 2023 season, Falvey said they haven’t “talked that specifically about that at this stage,” and that there are a few additional conversations to come.
The Pohlad family, he said, has been “incredibly supportive, all the way through, no matter what.”
“At each juncture we’ve been really supported by the Pohlads. And that’s all you can really ask for, is to get the support for the decisions we’re going to make and ultimately where we need to go,” Falvey said. “So I have full belief that we’ll have flexibility if the right opportunity presents for something we feel as a baseball group is the right investment at that time.”
Speaking late in the season, team president Dave St. Peter said the team’s payroll is “well north” of where revenues suggest it should be.
“If your revenue suggests that you can pay up to a certain part, our revenues are well below where our payroll is, relative to that,” St. Peter said. “But that speaks to our ownership and their commitment to put a good team on the field, and we thought we had done that this year. Still feel like we did that, but it just didn’t play out. Sometimes that’s the way this game plays out over time.”
East Side stories
East Metro high school stars Louie Varland and Matt Wallner have become minor-league stars in the Twins organization, named the franchise’s minor league pitcher and player of the year, respectively, last Thursday.
In any other year, the prospects likely would have stayed in St. Paul to finish their seasons with the Saints, but the Twins, decimated by injuries, called each up in September and liked what they saw.
Varland, 24, made five starts for the Twins, going 1-2 with a 3.81 earned-run average after winning the season finale at Chicago. Wallner found a role playing right field in place of injured Max Kepler and hit .228 with two home runs and 10 RBIs in 18 games with the Twins.
When speaking about the starting pitching depth set to return for 2023, Falvey included Varland among a group of young arms that includes Bailey Ober and Josh Winder.
Asked if Wallner, 24, could win a spot on the major-league team next spring, the Twins baseball chief said, “He’s played well at Triple-A, so I think there’s an opportunity for him to continue to get better, and we’ll see where it takes us next spring. Hopefully he’s in a great spot and he earns the right, right out of spring training, to be on the team.”
So long, Sano
When Miguel Sano was moved to the 60-day injured list Aug. 2, after an MRI revealed damage in his surgically repaired left knee, it was assumed by most that the first baseman’s time with the Twins had ended.
That wasn’t made official on Monday, but it was close.
In September, the Twins brought their injured players rehabbing at the team’s compound in Fort Myers, Fla., to Minneapolis. That didn’t include Sano, who had spent part of his rehab in his native Dominican Republic. The Twins hold a $14 million option on Sano, who hit .083 with 25 strikeouts in 20 games in 2022. The buyout for the organization’s former No. 1 prospect, and one-time all-star third baseman, is $2.75 million.
When asked about Sano on Monday, Falvey was vague.
“Obviously there’s an option decision to be made, so some of that is — for some of the cases, for some of the other players — more of a forward look to it,” Falvey said. “So, we can’t actually make that decision in the short term. There’s a timing for all of that.”
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