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Front Page: The Future Value of Luis Arraez

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Major League Baseball has rookies every season that are deemed as the next wave of stars. However, this rarely comes to fruition as plent...
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Front Page: Mission Accomplished: An Elite Twins Bullpen

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As the month of July came to an end, Minnesota Twins fans watched with anticipation hoping that their club was going to make the necessar...
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Magic Number Thread

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Why no magic number thread?     Why can't I post pictures?      BYTO was fun.    
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Front Page: Twins Game Recap (9/17): Twins Win Wild Game...

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This game had pretty much everything you could ask for from a great baseball game. An historic home run, three different comebacks to tie...
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Front Page: Make Every Night "Obscure Twins Jersey...

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Maybe you got carried away with Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Maybe you (okay, me) were a little too excited about Jeff Cirillo. Maybe you bought a...
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Offseason Primer: Corner Infield Free Agents

Joe Mauer's big send-off yesterday, combined with the ominous uncertainty surrounding Miguel Sano, leaves the corner infield spots as a major source of mystery as the Minnesota Twins embark on their offseason.

Let's take an early look at a few players who will be available in free agency.
Image courtesy of Allan Henry, USA Today
Note: This is an excerpt from the free agency section of the upcoming 2019 Offseason Handbook, which you can officially preorder as of today. You'll find these profiles, plus dozens more, within. Claim your copy today to get it before its official release.

To say the Twins lack clarity at the infield corners would be an understatement. Incumbent first baseman Joe Mauer is a free agent, for the first time ever. Incumbent third baseman Miguel Sano is coming off a brutal season bisected by a demotion to Single-A. The latter will be back (barring a trade) but in what capacity? Keep him at third, or move him to first (or even DH)? Up to you. And that decision will dictate planning here.

Joe Mauer, 1B
Age: 35
Previous Team: Twins
2018 Stats: .282/.351/.379, 6 HR, 48 RBI

Mauer is coming off an underwhelming season that saw him turn in some of the worst numbers of his career. But he remains an excellent defensive first baseman and strong situational hitter with above-average OBP skills. If he returns, it'll be as a part-timer and frequent DH. But with righty-swinging Tyler Austin on hand, that might fit. Mauer is contemplating retirement.

Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million

Eduardo Escobar, 3B
Age: 30
Previous Team: Diamondbacks
2018 Stats: .272/.334/.489, 23 HR, 84 RBI

Cherished clubhouse character and late-blooming versatile slugger. Signing Escobar would restore a recognizable veteran presence to the locker room while allowing Sano to move across the diamond for a potential offensive upgrade at both corners. Esco's ability to fill in at short or second, if needed, helps with flexibility.

Estimated Contract: 3 years, $45 million

Matt Adams, 1B
Age: 30
Previous Team: Cardinals
2018 Stats: .239/.309/.477, 21 HR, 57 RBI

Looking for an apt platoon mate to complement lefty-masher Austin, Adams might be your man. He's got an .815 OPS with 41 homers over the past two seasons, and is a career .279/.330/.495 hitter against righties. Can play outfield corners in a pinch.

Estimated Contract: 2 years, $15 million

Hungry for more? Preorder the Offseason Handbook, which will include profiles on tons of other free agent options, at the corner infield and other areas of need.

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73 Comments

I am a huge fan and believer in Escobar and I just dont see $45M for 3 years. IMO, that would be a total turn around from the depressed market we saw last season.

But to me, he makes the most sense. He is an super utility guy to play daily and yet can also thrive very well starting at a single position.

Healthy, playing any where close to his previous self, Sano is the primary 3B. Especially if he continues on his current diet and exercise program. He can also fill in at 1B and DH.

I am leaning toward a 2nd 1B/DH type, with Mauer retired, who can bring a decent LH bat. But then I look at Astudillo and others and start to talk myself out of it.


Not to pick on you Doc, but I keep reading super utility tied to Escobar all over TD, and I'm curious why he would agree to that? He's been an every day player this year, starting nearly every game at 3B.

Don't you think he wants an every day role after years of having to prove himself and fight his way into the lineup?

He's started a grand total of 29 games at SS, and 6 at 2B the last 2 seasons. Compared to 201 starts at 3B.

I'm confused where this narrative of him being a super utility guy is coming from. He appears locked in as an every day 3B from the stats and eye test. Remember in 2016 when he started a bunch of games at SS? He doesn't have the arm to survive unless in emergency situations.
    • Mike Sixel, SF Twins Fan, Tomj14 and 1 other like this
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TheLeviathan
Oct 01 2018 05:40 PM

Well, it's a really weak free agent group in general, beyond Machado, Harper, and a couple good starting pitchers. 
 
Getting Donaldson or Escobar would be pretty high on my priority list, second only to a starting pitcher.


I think SS is pretty solid and so is OF, particularly since I think Machado signs as a SS only.

I would love Manny, but barring that dream I prioritize Inglesias and trades. My point was 1B/DH/Donaldson are nowhere near the top.
    • Twins33 likes this
I like Escobar, but he’s gotten quite a bit overrated here. He’s a nice complementary player, he’s not a difference maker. I’d like him as the second or better yet, third add. If he’s the primary pickup this winter, I’ll be disappointed.
    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, nicksaviking and 5 others like this
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drivlikejehu
Oct 01 2018 05:55 PM

 

I like Escobar, but he’s gotten quite a bit overrated here. He’s a nice complementary player, he’s not a difference maker. I’d like him as the second or better yet, third add. If he’s the primary pickup this winter, I’ll be disappointed.

 

Who are two players better than Escobar that would realistically sign with the Twins? 

If you were Escobar, wouldn't you prefer a situation where you are at 1 position 90% of the time as opposed to being a "Jack of All Trades" at: 3B, SS, 2B, LF, DH?? I see that as the pitch that will interest him in returning to MN.
My point is that he’s not an upgrade, Mike. At 27, he doesn’t really qualify as a prospect and the Yankees, even with a glaring need at first, gave him up for Lance Lynn. He’s not the solution.
    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

Take this for exactly what it's worth, but I have a friend who plays baseball in the Latino league in the metro. He told me that Escobar came to a few of the games this summer prior to being traded. Apparently they asked him about returning after being traded (once it was apparent he was likely to be traded away from the Twins), and he stated pretty flatly that he wasn't interested in returning. I don't know what his reasoning was, but according to my friend, it was fairly clear we shouldn't expect him back. Who knows, could be totally inaccurate, but that's what I am expecting.

    • Oldgoat_MN, blindeke and DannySD like this

 

Announcers just said the Brewers manager played all his cards and it made me think we had a season without a single face card and a couple of jokers. 

 

Yeah and after they looked at the cards... when the dealer asked how many cards we wanted we said none. 

    • caninatl04 and BBAM like this

 

104, 115, 99
103, 98, 108

OPS+ of Joe Mauer & Tyler Austin the last three years. I don’t get all the love for Austin. If he’s the primary first baseman, he’s going to fan 200 times. This board will be sick of him by June 1.

 

Those numbers you are quoting are all from this year. 

 

103 OPS Total

98 OPS with the Yankees

108 OPS with the Twins.

 

His strikeouts are way too high I agree and he is not a sure thing. I would hand him a 25 man roster spot next year but I would not offer his a spot without capable safety nets in case he looks like Sano did this year. 

 

However... he's hitting Homers at a 40 a year pace despite sporadic playing time during his career. Just imagine if he lowered that K rate with some somewhat consistent playing time in the future. 

 

He's out of options... he must be placed on the 25 man and I'd give him a spot to see what he can do. But... Alternative options in case he fails must be in place. 

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, beckmt and 4 others like this

Who are two players better than Escobar that would realistically sign with the Twins?


They won't sign 2 players for more than what Escobar is projected. But there will be 2 players signed that are more valuable than Escobar. We just won't know until this time next year who it was.... Who would have guessed Anibal Sanchez was the best FA SP for the Twins?
    • Mike Sixel and Doctor Wu like this

 

If you were Escobar, wouldn't you prefer a situation where you are at 1 position 90% of the time as opposed to being a "Jack of All Trades" at: 3B, SS, 2B, LF, DH?? I see that as the pitch that will interest him in returning to MN.

 

Signing a contract with some sort of guarantee that he will play 3B only. That would be the best way to make sure it's his final major league contract. 

 

If Escobar asks for that type of guarantee... I am no longer interested. 

 

You will have taken away his best feature. 

 

Let's take the current D-Backs as an example.

 

What happens to Escobar if Jake Lamb just got healthy all of a sudden? If he's 3B only he's dead. The baseball path he will have chosen will lead to a conversation with Trevor Plouffe. Trevor will be there waiting for him. 

 

 

Former Twins Trevor Plouffe, Chris Carter, Chris Parmelee, and Steve Pearce are also free agents in those spots.

 

That said, first base is easily covered. Austin, Rooker, or any LH throwing OF can play there.

 

Third base should be Sano's to lose.And I hope that this is the case. The Twins don't really need infielders at this point...

    • Mike Sixel, beckmt, LA VIkes Fan and 2 others like this

Not to pick on you Doc, but I keep reading super utility tied to Escobar all over TD, and I'm curious why he would agree to that? He's been an every day player this year, starting nearly every game at 3B.
Don't you think he wants an every day role after years of having to prove himself and fight his way into the lineup?
He's started a grand total of 29 games at SS, and 6 at 2B the last 2 seasons. Compared to 201 starts at 3B.
I'm confused where this narrative of him being a super utility guy is coming from. He appears locked in as an every day 3B from the stats and eye test. Remember in 2016 when he started a bunch of games at SS? He doesn't have the arm to survive unless in emergency situations.


Great point Vanimal. I should expound on my commentary. He would clearly be paid as a starting caliber infielder. Now, how much is still up for debate. Regardless, he has the ability to compete and start at 2B, SS (with Polanco moving to 2B), or 3B if Sano is injured, moves to 1B/DH etc. I don't feel he would have to be signed with a single position in mind. Only, that he will be paid like a starter, be given the opportunity to start at 3 different locations, and at worst, he could/would play daily SOMEWHERE if the chips fell just right. Say an Iglesius fell in to our laps.

As Brian pointed out above, part of his appeal IS his versatility. So I don't think any specific position has to be declared.
    • Riverbrian likes this

Former Twins Trevor Plouffe, Chris Carter, Chris Parmelee, and Steve Pearce are also free agents in those spots.
 
That said, first base is easily covered. Austin, Rooker, or any LH throwing OF can play there.
 
Third base should be Sano's to lose.And I hope that this is the case. The Twins don't really need infielders at this point...


Pearce is a guy I'd be interested on a 1 year deal as a nice role player. He could even play a game or two here and there in the OF I'd expect. I just wish he were LH to better compliment Austin as Sano, Garver and even Astudillo can help at 1B.

You and I have always been believers in Sano at 3B. And I think we both agree that if he continues down his new condition path it will only make him more effective defensively. He's already surprising quick and agile for his size, charges the ball well and has than amazing cannon for an arm. Now, of course, he still needs to find some semblance of his previous hitting ability.

Where I disagree is when you state we don't need infield help. Or are you referencing just the corners in this case? If you are, then I still like a better back up 3B than Adrianza, though Astudillo is definitely a possibility there. But the middle infield definitely needs an addition.
    • beckmt likes this
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Winston Smith
Oct 01 2018 08:06 PM

 

Former Twins Trevor Plouffe, Chris Carter, Chris Parmelee, and Steve Pearce are also free agents in those spots.

 

That said, first base is easily covered. Austin, Rooker, or any LH throwing OF can play there.

 

Third base should be Sano's to lose.And I hope that this is the case. The Twins don't really need infielders at this point...

They have infielders but they need good ones not the junk they have unless you want another losing record.

    • SF Twins Fan likes this

I'm a Twins fan living in NYC.  I must disabuse readers of this excellent blog of one misapprehension:

 

Tyler Austin is not a full-time player; he's not even a reliable part-time player.  The Yankees gave him multiple opportunities to prosper and it didn't happen.  Serious planning for the Twins 2019 season should not put any material import on Tyler Austin.  I dare say there's more likelihood of a healthy Logan Morrison having an impact than with Austin.  

 

I believe we must let Joe Mauer ride into the sunset after a splendid career.  He can still hit singles and doubles (particularly with runners in scoring position) and play first base, but he cannot deliver the power numbers required of a corner infielder...and that is a major problem.  In the current style of baseball we must have power production at first and third.  I believe Joe means to retire and all cheers for him--I say he's a HOF'er.

 

I like the idea of signing Esobar; three years at $40M or so is reasonable in light of the history.  I do NOT want to hear about the big lug Adams, that's not interesting.  If Sabathia doesn't sign a short term deal with NY by all means let him know there are two guaranteed years with the Twins at a reasonable salary.  The guy had a solid year for NY and is a clubhouse presence the team desperately needs.

 

And now...c'mon Oakland!!

    • Oldgoat_MN, SgtSchmidt11, LA VIkes Fan and 1 other like this
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ChrisKnutson
Oct 01 2018 09:35 PM

Who are two players better than Escobar that would realistically sign with the Twins?


I’ll give you three, Nelson Cruz, Wilson Ramos, and maybe Elvis Andrus (if he chooses to opt-out).
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drivlikejehu
Oct 01 2018 11:16 PM

 

I’ll give you three, Nelson Cruz, Wilson Ramos, and maybe Elvis Andrus (if he chooses to opt-out).

 

This post would be more effective as satire, but in any case, all three had less WAR than Escobar by a wide margin, the Twins don't need an oft-injured catcher, and Andrus won't opt out in any case. 

    • ChrisKnutson likes this
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ChrisKnutson
Oct 02 2018 04:54 AM

This post would be more effective as satire, but in any case, all three had less WAR than Escobar by a wide margin, the Twins don't need an oft-injured catcher, and Andrus won't opt out in any case.

Understandable I guess, but I do think there’s a case to be made about Ramos, just as long as he stays healthy, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem going forward the further he separates himself from his knee injury and recent hamstring pull. Wouldn’t even have to catch full-time considering how good he can be with the bat, especially with Garver/Astudillo on the roster.

And when it comes to Cruz, I actually believe he should be our biggest target this offseason. Not only because he’d provide some actual leadership for this young roster (especially for the young Latin group), but most importantly because Cruz would provide legit ‘(star) power’ and I think we all know that’s an area the Twins lacked in this year with all the immense struggles of Morrison/Dozier/Sano.

With Andrus, at this point one can only hope (and pray I guess) that he opts-out because damn would he be a good fit on this team.

Why do we always talk about going after the older players hoping for at least one more good season.It would be nice to have a really good player locked in.I do think Buxton and Sano will come back and be close to what we were expecting.I love Berrios and Romero with Gibson.I wish if they give any "older" player another shot that it would be Santana.I would agree with most and move Polanco to 2nd and get Escobar at SS.Sano is decent at 3rd.The really good player would be power hitter at 1st.Sign another good player for DH. I think the outfield is good with Rosario, Buxton and Kepler.I don't even know what they can do for the BP and a 5th starter.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

I really enjoyed Escobar, but this career year, could also be a bubble that bursts next year.His production went down after the trade and I fear our memory of his half season with us may taint our judgment.I do see him as an excellent utility player and that might be important since Polanco's glove goes missing at times, 2B Forsyth had a great start and immediately dropped to his normal level, 1B is our easiest fix, and 3B has to be held open for Sano at this point, but will need a strong back up.Right now Adrianza is the utility player on the roster and he really did an excellent job in 2018.

 

 

Where I disagree is when you state we don't need infield help. Or are you referencing just the corners in this case? If you are, then I still like a better back up 3B than Adrianza, though Astudillo is definitely a possibility there. But the middle infield definitely needs an addition.

 

I meant corner.Big fan of them bringing back Escobar either as the starting second baseman or at a superutility role if someone else (Gordon, Arraez) wins the second base job this spring

    • DocBauer and DannySD like this

I think Adams would be the same as Morrison and would rather keep morrison if he is healthy. I hope Mauer returns for 1 more year. He deserves an end of career tour and average wise was better than most that we have. Escobar would be nice as would Moustakas. I wonder if the Yankees will be giving up on Greg Bird who could be had cheap in a trade. There are many 30+ something free agents out there. The front office had better do their homework if they try to sign any. They had better be healthy. We don't need Iglesias though his defense can't hurt. Spend the money elsewhere- like pitching.

 

I think Adams would be the same as Morrison and would rather keep morrison if he is healthy. I hope Mauer returns for 1 more year. He deserves an end of career tour and average wise was better than most that we have. Escobar would be nice as would Moustakas. I wonder if the Yankees will be giving up on Greg Bird who could be had cheap in a trade. There are many 30+ something free agents out there. The front office had better do their homework if they try to sign any. They had better be healthy. We don't need Iglesias though his defense can't hurt. Spend the money elsewhere- like pitching.

I think Mauer didn't want an end of career tour.It's likely why he did what he did. Although he did seem to enjoy Sunday, he's never been a look at me, look at me, type player. He's always seemed to me to want to be part of the team.

    • Twins33 likes this
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nicksaviking
Oct 02 2018 08:09 AM

 

Which is strange IMO... The best they've done is win 85 games. Be bold, do something different.

 

Yeah, I'd prefer to bring in Neil Young than to keep letting Graham Nash write filler songs.

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, Vanimal46 and 2 others like this

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