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Twins Daily 2021 Top Prospects: Recap

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 07:29 AM
What did we learn while updating our annual Twins top prospect rankings after a year that offered no minor-league games, and very little...
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Hopefully Simmons "issues" are not like Romero...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:57 AM
Per multiple sources, new Minnesota Twins shortstop Andrelton Simmons has been delayed to the team's camp by visa issues. The exact detai...
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Timeline for Top Prospects: 2021 Edition

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 06:21 AM
The Minnesota Twins will enter 2021 as one of the best teams in baseball, and whether they’re projected to win the AL Central or not, a f...
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A Good Comp for Jhoan Duran and His Splinker

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:54 PM
Getting one’s head around the unusual profile of Twins pitching prospect Jhoan Duran can be tricky. It might be helpful to use a starter...
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Twins Daily 2021 Top Prospects: #7 SS Keoni Cavaco

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 11:54 PM
Yes, we are still high on Keoni Cavaco, our #7 Twins prospect for 2021. Let's take a look at what's to like (a lot), what's to work on (a...
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Recent Blogs


Could Kolten Wong Be a Fit for the Twins?

The best defensive second baseman in baseball was cut loose for financial reasons in November. Given what we recently heard from Thad Levine, the Twins might be an unexpected suitor for his services.
Image courtesy of © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Kolten Wong, 30, has won the Fielding Bible Award at the keystone for three consecutive seasons. Handed out by a panel of experts to just one player per position each year, the Fielding Bible Awards are both more rigorous and more exclusive than the Gold Gloves. Wong is really that good afield, and that sets a very high floor for his overall value.

Though he’s a slightly below-average hitter, with good contact skills but no reliable power, Wong has been worth 6.8 WARP since the start of 2018, according to Baseball Prospectus. That’s a good number even in a vacuum, but becomes doubly impressive when one accounts for the fact that he’s averaged fewer than 400 plate appearances per season over that stretch. (Obviously, the pandemic has quite a bit to do with that, but it’s not the only factor.)

For all the things they do well, the Cardinals do not currently excel at developing hitters once they reach the big-league level, and Wong stalled out a bit, especially in 2020. He’s a patient hitter with a good pure hit tool, though, which leads to plenty of walks and a strikeout rate about a third lower than the league average. He is, in short, a poor man’s Luis Arraez at the plate, while (unlike the injury-prone, somewhat heavy-footed Arraez) he adds gobs of value with his glove.

That’s notable, because in a recent conversation with KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, Twins GM Thad Levine did not commit to Arraez as the team’s incumbent second baseman. On the contrary, he named only Josh Donaldson and Byron Buxton as locked into their positions come Opening Day, and specifically made mention of the fact that Arraez played other positions as a rookie in 2019. It seems as though the team would at least consider sliding Arraez out to left field, if not trying other positions, if the right opportunity presented itself.

Wong is that kind of opportunity, packed into a five-foot-seven frame with untapped offensive potential. Even if he never realized that potential, adding him to the infield would eliminate the team’s need to jostle with other suitors for the three starting-caliber shortstops on the free-agent market, or to trade major prospect capital to land Trevor Story or Javier Báez. With Donaldson and Wong flanking Jorge Polanco, and the Twins already committed to defensive shifts, there would be no need to displace Polanco, at least until Royce Lewis is ready to take over the position.

No true second baseman can match Wong’s range, and he has a plus throwing arm for the position. He has never played shortstop in the big leagues, and would be a bit stretched in regular action there, but he could certainly fill in, and in the meantime, he turns the entire area to the right of second base into a desert where ground-ball hits go to die. He makes dazzling plays going far toward the first-base line, and some on the other side of second base, altogether. His range, like that of Donaldson, could not only save runs in and of itself, but make the team better by taking pressure off the defender next to him. In Wong’s case, that would mean not only Polanco, but Miguel Sanó, at first base.

For now, Arraez is a better hitter, though again, Wong’s swing has always shown the possibility of more power than he has consistently found, and the Twins might be able to unlock that in a way that his former team couldn’t. If that happened, Wong would be an All-Star, and Arraez would become happily redundant. In the meantime, having Arraez available to play left field would lower the stakes of Alex Kirilloff’s introduction to the lineup. If the Twins don’t re-sign Nelson Cruz, Arraez could be a solid (if unconventional) designated hitter, and of course, the team could rotate him in at second base to keep Wong fresh, too.

It’s not the way we might have expected the Twins to find the greatest possible value on this winter’s market for infield talent, but Wong could be a multiyear solution and a force multiplier for the team’s run prevention, in addition to providing more speed and some upside toward the bottom of the batting order. If (as expected) he’s a cheaper option than Marcus Semien or Didi Gregorius, he should stay very much on the Twins’ radar.

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11 Comments

I've always liked Wong as a player, and you make a very good case for how he would fit with the Twins.  

 

Nothing against him as a hitter, but he's not even in the same ballpark (no pun intended) when compared to Arraez's hit tool.Like you said though, he is a much more instinctive defender. 

 

He doesn't quit have Adrianza's defensive flexibility (at least in my mind), but I do think he could be a valuable contributor. 

I thought you made a good case for not signing him.If we are going to have a utility player he has to be able to cover SS.Wong is a 2B and that is all.No bat, no versatility.Moving Arraez makes no sense, he too has limited versatility and is comfortable at 2B. 

We have 2B too well covered. And while I usually favor trading from oversupply, not when it's the younger and still good talent that will depart. Wong's not ancient, but now is officially on the wrong side of 30.

 

I wouldn't be sad to have Kolten Wong on my team. It's just that signing him seems... inefficient, I guess, as it requires additional steps.

    • Twins33, TopGunn#22 and DocBauer like this
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Dave The Dastardly
Jan 26 2021 11:54 AM

I hope the front office doesn't get this Wong.

    • nicksaviking likes this
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nicksaviking
Jan 26 2021 12:07 PM

I wouldn't be opposed to Wong in a vacuum, but they'd still need to find a shortstop, even if Polanco does keep the starting job.

 

Then if they happen to sign a starting SS, I'd still prefer Polanco's bat in the lineup over Wong. But if Wong is going to be the last guy on the bench AND they are comfortable that he can spell Donaldson at 3B, sure, then I'd take him.

 

I really don't want Wong only to move Arreaz to DH though. Then we're basically just swapping Wong for Cruz, which is about a .300 point drop in OPS.

    • TopGunn#22 likes this

I spend time in STL each year and go to Cardinal games with my brother in law. Wong is a solid yet unspectacular player. But it's his position flexibility that doesn't work fo me. The thought of Wong getting the nod over Arraez turning Arraez into some kind of a utility player that doesn't have a home is a reach. And move him to the outfield. We are loaded with outfielders who hit for power. 

 

So teams around the league would love to trade for Arraez while no one is knocking at Wong's door and we are supposed to replace Arraez a second for Wong? Sorry, just can't see it ..

    • TopGunn#22 and Minfidel like this
Wrong may be a better defensive SS than Gregorius or Polanco right now.

If the FO believes he can handle SS, he could make a good Util Man. Otherwise, pass.

The priority needs to be someone who can handle SS better than Polanco as a starter (Semien, Simmons, Galvis, Baez) or someone who can handle it as well or better than Polanco with a passable or better hit tool to be a true 10th Man (Gregorius, Wong?, Goodrum).
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Out State Twin
Jan 26 2021 12:45 PM

It would not be a good fit as Ruesse stated us Minnesotans would have difficulty pronouncing his name.

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Homer Hanky
Jan 27 2021 09:13 AM

Are they thinking... 

 

Arreaz @ 3B

Simmons @ SS

Wong @ 2B 

JD @ DH 

 

Wong then can partner with Lewis for the long term! 

 

interesting to think about?

With signing of Simmons I think it unlikely they seek Wong as well.That would drop our offense a ton, for much better defense on the infield, but will the increased defense make up for the much lessor offense? 

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specialiststeve
Jan 27 2021 02:03 PM

Zero chance with the Simmons signing unless we move Arreaz... which is unlikely but possible if for pitching....