“We review all of the players in our organization from the Major Leagues down to the Dominican Summer League,” said Smith in an interview last week with TwinsCentric for the Handbook. “Each one of the players gets discussed, some more than others. Some are great prospects that don’t need a lot of discussion because it’s pretty clear what path they’re on; where they played this year and where they’re going next year. And others are organizational players that also for different reasons may or may not need a lot of discussion, but we talk about every player in the organization.”
Smith agreed to an interview with TwinsCentric for an appendix to the Offseason GM Handbook, which is currently available at TwinsCentric.com. In a 30-minute, 14-page transcribed interview, he revealed several details about offseason planning and the Twins future, including:
- It looks like there won't be a Santana-esque rumor mill this offseason surrounding Joe Mauer. Smith is "very comfortable" going into spring training without Mauer signed to a long-term extension, provided he feels Mauer would like to stay long-term. Nick Nelson talks more about this at www.NicksTwinsBlog.com.
- The international signings of Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco are the result of a 10-year initiative to be more competitive in the international player markets, and that Twins fans should expect the Twins to continue to be aggressive in the international market. Seth Stohs dives into that at SethSpeaks.net.
The work doesn't stop once Smith and his team review their own players. "We talk about our free agents – our minor league free agents, our major league free agents," Smith continued. "We go over all of the major league free agents and attach some kind of a role grade to them. And we discuss every major league organization, where we see them, who might be good trade partners, what they need and what we think they need, what they may have available. So it’s a very, very good meeting."
The meeting occurred last week in Fort Myers. But the Twins don't put their information in a handbook. Instead ends up on enormous multi-colored boards in Smith's office. The long wall of his office is a series of big boards, with the names of each MLB team going across the top. Underneath each are names of those teams top major league and minor league players on little plaques that can be moved around.
"We use these boards every day of the year," Smith explained. "They’re color-coded with birth dates and by position and it really gives you an opportunity to look at a team and see strengths and weaknesses. We update transactions on these boards multiple times every day when somebody sees a trade or an outright assignment or an option or something. We try and keep them up to date."
But not all the players on the boards are under teams. Smith pointed to yet another wall. "We’ve got our free agent board behind you on the wall. Those are all what we call 20-D free agents, who are players that were on major-league rosters this year who have elected free agency." Within a couple of weeks, when players file for free agency, that board will change significantly. "That small board will transform into a huge board once all the major-league guys start coming up," Smith confirmed.
But the purpose of the internal meeting isn't to just gather and organize all that information. Its purpose is to gather opinions and gain alignment. Smith explains, "It’s a communication tool that gets everybody pretty much on the same page. We gather all the opinions. And a lot of the opinions are different. That’s why we do it. And then we move forward."
And "forward" means...
“Frankly, I hate to be this way, but I’m not going to tell you. I’m not going to tell you what our plan is," Smith answers politely.
But fortunately, after that statement, there are 4400 more words in the interview for us to dissect.
And infinitely more than that if you read between the lines.