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NBA Offseason 2018

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Three Potential Catcher Upgrades on the Trade Market

Now that we're into June, the MLB trade deadline is becoming visible on the horizon. As the Twins assess their needs, they find themselves in the rare position of feeling good about pitching depth. Reinforcements on that front will be arriving via the minors, or the disabled list.

Even on the position-player side, Minnesota looks fairly well set, with one very notable exception.

I believe they should be thinking big when it comes to acquiring a difference-maker at catcher. In fact, a blockbuster deal to bring in a long-term solution ought to be in play.
Image courtesy of Orlando Ramirez, USA Today (J.T. Realmuto)
Heading into the season, I called out the team's questionable catching depth as a primary concern. The Twins just didn't have much in the way of established commodities behind starter Jason Castro (who himself was basically an average player).

Two months in, Castro is out for the year and Minnesota's iffy catching depth is being put to the test. Mitch Garver had a solid April but since May 1st he is hitting .188/.278/.234 with three extra-base hits (all doubles) in 72 PA. The lack of production would be easy enough to live with if his defense stood out, but Paul Molitor doesn't appear to feel that way; why else would light-hitting minor-league journeyman Bobby Wilson (slashing .167/.196/.333 since his call-up) be getting so many reps?

I'm not giving up on Garver but realistically, he was a fringe prospect who isn't showing much offensively here at age 27. There isn't a ton of upside there. All of the organization's best catching prospects remain several years away. And while Castro is under contract for 2019, he'll be returning as a 31-year-old coming off major knee surgery.

The Twins could use a serious big-league addition at catcher, and not necessarily in the form of a 2018 rental. However, even that route would potentially yield a meaningful upgrade capable of making a pivotal impact.

As I look at the current landscape around the majors, there are three opportunities I see for making a splash and reeling in some serious help behind the plate. Here they are, from the least dramatic to the most (and I've gotta admit, Option C is my favorite right now).

Option A: Trade with the Atlanta Braves for Tyler Flowers

The Braves, who find themselves leading the NL East here in June, aren't in position to be dumping valuable assets, but they could live without Flowers. The 32-year-old is having another good season, slashing .270/.403/.444 after posting an .823 OPS last year, but he's in a timeshare with fellow veteran backstop (and former Twin) Kurt Suzuki.

Even with their surprisingly strong start, the Braves are still a young, future-minded team. Presumably they'd be open to shipping out Flowers, who's eligible for free agency after this season, in exchange for controllable talent with upside. Flowers has far more MLB experience than any of Minnesota's present fixtures, and is considered a strong pitch framer. Plus, his OBP skills would bolster the lower half of the Twins lineup.

A Suzuki reunion would also be possible, I suppose, but I prefer Flowers as a fit for this team.

Option B: Trade with the Oakland Athletics for Jonathan Lucroy

When Oakland signed Lucroy to a one-year, $6.5 million deal around the same time in March that Minnesota added Lance Lynn, it was assumed he'd be used as trade bait around the deadline. And even though the A's find themselves above the .500 mark two months in, that's still the likely plan. They have no real shot at contending in a division with three clearly superior teams.

The price to acquire Lucroy would probably be higher than a Flowers type, but not by a ton. At 31, Lucroy isn't the offensive force he once was — he has only one home run thus far — but he's a capable hitter and a steady vet with a .264 average and .338 OBP dating back to the start of last year.

Option C: Trade with the Miami Marlins for J.T. Realmuto

This is the "aim high" option and — in many ways — a very logical one. Unlike Flowers and Lucroy, Realmuto is still relatively young (he turned 27 in March) with multiple years of team control (he's arbitration eligible through 2020). He's also very good, with a .761 career OPS and a .301/.359/.510 line this year.

The Marlins were shopping Realmuto during the offseason, but he was one of the few attractive assets they ended up keeping (much to his chagrin). The Nationals are among the clubs that made a run at him, but ultimately they couldn't meet Miami's asking price. This tells us Minnesota will have to pony up if they want to make something happen, especially since Realmuto's having an excellent season.

But from my view, names like Stephen Gonsalves and Nick Gordon should be on the table. Realmuto is just that kind of commodity, capable of making a franchise-altering impact as the Twins (hopefully) enter their contention window.

What do you think? Do you have a preference among these options? Perhaps another trade scenario strikes your fancy? Or would you be satisfied with staying the course, letting Garver stay in the driver's seat while hoping someone like newly signed Triple-A farmhand Cameron Rupp can step in if needed?

Please share your thoughts in the comments if you've got 'em.

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121 Comments

I would be open to doing any 1 of the 3 things you mention. The Twins current catcher position is like a vacuum even with Castro. Just about anything would be better than what they have.

The Twins are one injury away from really bad options at catcher. Now is the time to strike a deal. My gut tells me to go the third option for the longer hall but that price is high.

    • blindeke and caninatl04 like this
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Old Twins Cap
Jun 05 2018 05:05 PM

Teams that win the World Series or even make a run typically are strong behind the plate.

 

Salvador Perez-type strong.

 

Twins have to find that backstop, that stud, that Molina-like fire hydrant that anchors everything.

 

Find him.

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this
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ChrisKnutson
Jun 05 2018 05:33 PM
With Polanco returning soon, Gordon waiting on a call, and Escobar playing as well as he is, maybe the Twins should consider sending Sano and Garver to Miami for Realmuto and Starlin Castro.
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Tommygun921
Jun 05 2018 06:02 PM
Unless they're going to trade for Buster Posey I'd rather they not trade away any of the (hopefully) high upside prospects. Gordon or Gonsalves as you mentioned.
C then A, but not B.

By the way, the Dodgers have a pair of catchers in AA who are listed as top 10 catching prospects. What might the Dodgers need from the Twins this year to give one of them up?

With Polanco returning soon, Gordon waiting on a call, and Escobar playing as well as he is, maybe the Twins should consider sending Sano and Garver to Miami for Realmuto and Starlin Castro.


Miami is going to want players with a full 6+ years of team control.
Why would they have any interest in Sano?

With Polanco returning soon, Gordon waiting on a call, and Escobar playing as well as he is, maybe the Twins should consider sending Sano and Garver to Miami for Realmuto and Starlin Castro.


Wut? I can't believe so the people willing to trade Sano for Realmuto.

I asked for them to trade for Realmuto before the season started, but this team should be trading prospects, if they are trying to win this year or next, not Sano.
    • jokin, TheLeviathan, big dog and 2 others like this

Unless they're going to trade for Buster Posey I'd rather they not trade away any of the (hopefully) high upside prospects. Gordon or Gonsalves as you mentioned.


You may want to check how Realmuto compares over the last couple years ... And his age. And years of control.
    • gil4, Twins33, Oldgoat_MN and 1 other like this
Flowers or Lucroy makes sense given their expiring contracts. Realmuto is the best move, but I don't see that one working out.
    • Mike Sixel and Twins33 like this

I still see this team as likely sellers rather than likely buyers

I have no idea why the Braves would want to trade unless they will improve their team.Whatever they have works for them.They are in first place and competitive.They will not be sellers by any means.

 

Lucroy has a 90 OPS+.He is a below average MLB hitter.Why would the Twins want him?

 

Realmuto is not happening.The Marlins have zero incentive of trading him.And if the Twins could throw in the farm and some way get him, are they just a Realmuto away from winning it all?Nope.So they should not do it.

 

Cameron Rupp will be it.And getting rid of Wilson and his 42 OPS+ will not be a bad thing. 

    • Blackjack, big dog, Major Leauge Ready and 2 others like this

I have no idea why the Braves would want to trade unless they will improve their team. Whatever they have works for them. They are in first place and competitive. They will not be sellers by any means.

Lucroy has a 90 OPS+. He is a below average MLB hitter. Why would the Twins want him?

Realmuto is not happening. The Marlins have zero incentive of trading him. And if the Twins could throw in the farm and some way get him, are they just a Realmuto away from winning it all? Nope. So they should not do it.

Cameron Rupp will be it. And getting rid of Wilson and his 42 OPS+ will not be a bad thing.


I strongly disagree with the. . They aren't one player away.... argument.

Realmuto is controlled for two years past this year.

And, 90 is a lot, lot, lot, bigger number than what Wilson is putting up, or Garver.
    • Nick Nelson, Twins33, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this
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jorgenswest
Jun 05 2018 08:34 PM
It really comes down to how much the Twins believe in Garver as a starter this year and next.

If they see him as a back up, go for Realmuto. If they see him as a starter, the one year guys would be a great addition to split time with him in his rookie year. There is so much to learn and so much more prep work at catcher.

They should not count on Castro as a reliable solution as a starter next year.
    • DocBauer likes this

I've been on the Realmuto bandwagon for months. Do it. Pay the price. Is this a team interested in competing with the big boys or not? This team needs a long term solution at catcher anyway, and Garver is not it. As a AAAA depth piece, or even a 3rd catcher? OK. As someone expected to handle lots of catching duties? No way. 

 

LuCroy would be an upgrade, but he's a 1/2 yr rental. 

 

And I have no idea why Atlanta would be open to moving Flowers. They're in first place.

 

 

    • Mike Sixel, jokin, USNMCPO and 5 others like this

Gordon and Gonsalves for a league average catcher? No. Freekin. Way. 

 

Not even one of those two. I would much rather call up Navaretto from AA and see what he's got. 2018 has become a testing ground for talent ready to harvest from the top two levels of the Twins minor league system. Guys like Pettit, Grossman, Wilson, etc. are placeholders, not future everyday players. 

    • Shane Wahl and Kelly Vance like this

 

Gordon and Gonsalves for a league average catcher? No. Freekin. Way. 

 

Not even one of those two. I would much rather call up Navaretto from AA and see what he's got. 2018 has become a testing ground for talent ready to harvest from the top two levels of the Twins minor league system. Guys like Pettit, Grossman, Wilson, etc. are placeholders, not future everyday players. 

What catching talent are we ready to harvest?

 

 

    • ashburyjohn, jokin, curt1965 and 1 other like this

Gordon and Gonsalves for a league average catcher? No. Freekin. Way.

Not even one of those two. I would much rather call up Navaretto from AA and see what he's got. 2018 has become a testing ground for talent ready to harvest from the top two levels of the Twins minor league system. Guys like Pettit, Grossman, Wilson, etc. are placeholders, not future everyday players.


Realmuto is the second most valuable catcher over the last two years.... Who are you taking about? Where do you plan to get a catcher?

People keep talking about building this team, but never want to trade prospects, even for players under multiple years of control.
    • jorgenswest, Twins33, Oldgoat_MN and 3 others like this

I'm happy with the way things are.

    • blindeke likes this

It really comes down to how much the Twins believe in Garver as a starter this year and next.
If they see him as a back up, go for Realmuto. If they see him as a starter, the one year guys would be a great addition to split time with him in his rookie year. There is so much to learn and so much more prep work at catcher.
They should not count on Castro as a reliable solution as a starter next year.


I tend to agree with this. Garver is a rookie and not playing daily. Why? Because Molitor doesn't believe in him? Or because Molitor is letting him grow and develop instead of thrusting him to the daily job? If it's the former, may be time to pony up. It takes quality to get quality. In fact, I'm wondering how the Twins will be able to hold on to some guys in regard to next year's 40 man and rule V draft. If Molitor actually likes the game calling and potential of Garver, then a better veteran to split time and learn from makes the most sense.

Could the Twins offer and afford to part with Gonsalves and Gordon to Miami? Absolutely. Would it hurt? Absolutely. Which means it sounds about right with another piece thrown in.
    • Oldgoat_MN, LA VIkes Fan and Tomj14 like this
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ChrisKnutson
Jun 05 2018 10:42 PM
Why not send Sano to Miami straight up for Realmuto, seems at least possible, especially from the perspective of Miami, who’d like to add someone to build their team around. And I think by adding a consistent contributor behind the dish for the price Sano would only make a more well rounded & dangerous lineup for Twins that’d be taken much more seriously in the eyes of the league.
    • LA VIkes Fan likes this
I agree with the Chief and Mike-catcher is such a premium position that if you are talking about Realmuto, you are going to have to overpay. I would do Sano for Realmuto straight up, but doubt the Marlins would do it. We have been waiting for Sano to develop into Micky Mantle, and that’s not going to happen.
It’s going to take some of our best prospects to secure someone of Realmuto’s caliber!
If I was Miami, it would have to be Gordon and Gonsalves,...............plus.
(What Doc just said)

Isn't Flowers the guy that leans on his glove and throws back to the pitcher off his right leg?I don't think I can watch that.

    • USAFChief and Twins33 like this
Sano is 24....I remain boggled at people here.
    • Shane Wahl, jokin, big dog and 5 others like this
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TheLeviathan
Jun 05 2018 11:58 PM
Trading Sano for Realmuto is stealing from Peter to pay Paul.

The aim is to get better, not swap parts. If you are getting Realmuto, you want him with Sano, not as a swap.
    • iTwins, diehardtwinsfan, Twins33 and 2 others like this

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