Lost in the shock of Minnesota firing Bill Smith as general manager and replacing him with the man he replaced in 2007, Terry Ryan, is that they dropped another bombshell on Twins fans, with Ryan revealing midway through the press conference that the team’s payroll will decline to “somewhere around $100 million.”
If true that would represent a $15 million drop from this year and leave little room to re-sign Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Joe Nathan, let alone add other free agents. Based on the current roster the Twins already have about $82 million committed for 2012.
As a Twins fan that’s incredibly frustrating because they need all kinds of help following a 99-loss season and Target Field was built on the notion that the increased revenue would lead to sustaining a large payroll. Instead they’re slicing the payroll by 10-15 percent in Year 3 of the taxpayer-funded ballpark and coming off arguably the worst season in team history.
Ryan replacing Smith was positive news for Twins fans, but he has a very difficult task ahead of him, significantly less spending money than expected, and plenty of holes to fill.
José Bautista hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2018 but the 39-year-old isn’t done playing just yet. Last month, we learned via a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan that Bautista is hoping to come back as a two-way player. He spent the winter working out as a pitcher.
Bautista had also been working with former Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman. Back in January, Stroman tweeted, “My bro @JoeyBats19 is nasty on the mound. We been working working. All jokes aside, this man can pitch in a big league bullpen. I’ll put my word on it!”
In March, Passan added some details about Bautista, writing, “I’ve seen video of Jose Bautista throwing a bullpen session. Couldn’t tell the velocity, but one source said he can run his fastball up to 94. His slider had legitimate tilt — threw a short one and a bigger bender. @STR0 said in January he could pitch in a big league bullpen.” Stroman retweeted it, adding, “Facts!”
Stroman reiterated his feelings on Tuesday. He tweeted, “Since y’all thought I wasn’t being serious when I said it the first time…my bro @JoeyBats19could EASILY pitch in a big league bullpen. Easily. Sinker, slider, and changeup are MLB ready!” Stroman attached a video of Bautista throwing a slider, in which one can hear Stroman calling the pitch “nasty.”
Stroman attached another video of Bautista throwing a glove-side sinker:
Replying to a fan, Stroman said Bautista’s body “is in better shape than 90-95% of the league.”
I am not a scout and won’t pretend to be one after watching two low-resolution videos. And Stroman’s hype is likely partially one friend attempting to uplift another. That being said, I’ve seen much worse from position players attempting to pitch. It’s a long shot, especially given his age, that Bautista will ever pitch in the majors, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him get an opportunity to pitch in front of major league scouts.