Is Alex Kirilloff Expendable?
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (Alex Kirilloff)Offensive Power
Kirilloff is coming off one of Minnesota’s best seasons ever for a minor league player. Between Low- and High-A, he hit .348/.392/.578 with 71 extra-base hits in 130 games. He also showed a decent approach at the plate as he posted an 86 to 28 strikeout to walk ratio. By season’s end, Kirilloff would be named MiLB’s Breakout Prospect of the Year and the Twins awarded him the Sherry Robertson Award as the team’s Minor League Player of the Year.
It was going to be hard for Kirilloff to repeat his 2018 campaign, especially since the Twins decided to be aggressive with him to start the year. He only played 65 games in the Florida State League to end 2018 and the organization still sent him to Pensacola to begin the year. In 65 games at that level, he has hit .271/.336/.384 with 19 extra-base hits and a 60 to 21 strikeout to walk ratio.
Some of his offensive struggles this season have resulted from multiple trips to the injured list with a wrist injury. For batters, wrist injuries can be a nagging and follow a player through an entire season. Since returning from the IL on June 20, he has a .686 OPS with nine extra-base hits in 36 games. He has failed to draw a walk in each of his last 18 games.
Kirilloff’s bat tool has always been his key to making it to the big leagues. Throughout his professional career, he has spent the majority of his defensive innings in right field. There have been a few opportunities for him to play in both other outfield positions and he has played over 180 innings at first base this year. It still seems most likely for him to stick at a corner outfield spot in the years ahead.
Minnesota is amid a tight race for the top of the AL Central and prospect like Kirilloff can hold a lot of value at this time of year. If the right deal comes along, Kirilloff should be a prospect the Twins consider selling. This doesn’t mean the front office should give him away for a mid-level relief prospect. However, the club needs another starter to go deep into October and Kirilloff could be a center piece to a big-time trade.
He would currently be in line to play a corner outfield spot, but Minnesota has some other strong players already occupying those places in the line-up. Max Kepler, the team’s current right fielder, leads the team with 28 home runs and he has team’s second highest WAR total behind Jorge Polanco. Kepler also signed an extension this off-season that could keep him with the Twins through 2024.
On the other side of the outfield, Eddie Rosario has certainly evolved into one of the team’s leaders. He has hit .280/.307/.514 with 38 extra-base hits including one of the most memorable home runs in recent Twins history. The 27-year old is still arbitration eligible and the earliest he can reach free agency is 2022. With both corner outfield spots occupied, the Twins might have to get creative to fit Kepler, Rosario, and Kirilloff into the same line-up.
First base seems like a natural spot for Kepler or Kirilloff to end up, but the Twins might also need to play Miguel Sano at first in the years ahead. While using one of these players at first is an option, Minnesota showed this year that a team can find a first baseman like CJ Cron without giving anything up in return.
It seems unlikely for the front office to move any of the team’s top prospects unless the club is acquiring a starting pitcher with multiple years of team control. Some players that fit this mold would be the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (team control through 2021) and the Tigers’ Matthew Boyd (2022).
According to the Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal, the Mets are asking for both Royce Lewis and Kirilloff in any potential trade for Syndergaard. This seems like a king’s ransom for the right-handed hurler, but it’s tough to know what the Mets are thinking at this point. Already this week, the club acquired one of the top available pitchers, Marcus Stroman from the Blue Jays.
Could the Mets asking price decrease before Wednesday? Could they settle for Kirilloff along with other players not named Royce Lewis? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.