Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Derek Falvey Interview on 1500 ESPN

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:08 AM
Falvey discusses Sano, payroll, etc. http://www.1500espn....an-mackey-judd/
Full topic ›

Twins Minor League Coaches/Coordinators

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 01:01 AM
The Twins made some changes this offseason already in their minor league system. Pitching coaches Ivan Arteaga and Henry Bonilla were let...
Full topic ›

Harold Baines and Lee Smith are Hall of Famers

Other Baseball Yesterday, 11:33 PM
MLB announced tonight that a 16-person committee decided that DH Harold Baines and RP Lee Smith are now Hall of Famers.   Here is th...
Full topic ›

Article: Standing Pat as a Strategy

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:24 PM
'As we speak cruel time is fleeing. Seize the day, believing as little as possible in the morrow.' – HoraceBy all appearances, this is go...
Full topic ›

Buxton: "Pissed" at Twins for No Call-Up Decision...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:05 PM
According to the Star Tribune, Byron Buxton is displeased with the Twins after not being called up in September of 2018. According to Byr...
Full topic ›

Rundown: On Trading Kepler, DRC+, LeMahieu and More

Dan Hayes of The Athletic wondered if the Twins might trade Max Kepler to address some other areas of need. It’s a good piece, as Dan hashes out all the reasons to believe the best is yet to come for Max, but he also writes that the Twins would find the possible returns enticing. There is Aaron Hicks-like disaster potential for the Twins in any deal that sends Kepler away, but might it be worth it?
Image courtesy of © Peter G. Aiken
The cold, hard reality is Kepler has posted below average offensive numbers the past three seasons. How long until you just accept that’s who he is? That’s an excellent question. Sorry, I don’t have an answer for it.

When you look at all the under the surface numbers, it doesn’t make any sense why Max has failed to post better overall numbers. He hits the ball hard, posting an 89.5 mph average exit velocity, that's in the top 30 percent in the league, but his BABIP was .236, third-worst among qualified hitters.

He’s got breakout written all over him in big, bold letters. Add in the excellent defense he provides, that’s not a player I’m especially motivated to move.

One thing to consider in potentially sending Kepler away, however, is that there are plenty of intriguing outfield replacement options available on the open market. The Twins also already have guys like Jake Cave, Zack Granite, Michael Reed and LaMonte Wade on the 40-man roster, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Alex Kirilloff is pounding at the door by the second half of this upcoming season.

I offered up a potential Kepler trade in my offseason blueprint, which had the Twins changing course and focusing more on a rebuilding effort. I wrote that back before Halloween, and while I still believe that strategy may make sense for this Twins team, the talk of Cleveland potentially selling off more pieces has definitely swayed my preference toward the Twins giving themselves a real chance to win the division in 2019.

Baseball Prospectus rolled out a new hitting metric: DRC+, or Deserved Runs Created. Jonathan Judge wrote both an introduction to the stat and a case that it’s more accurate than other advanced metrics like wOBA, wRC+ and OPS+. Among the things it does a better job of is park adjustments and factoring in quality of opponent. He also whipped together a nice video explaining how it works:



Swinging back to Kepler, he had a 111 DRC+ last season, which was only two points shy of Eddie Rosario and three points less than Eduardo Escobar. Meanwhile, Kepler only had a .727 OPS, Rosie was at .803 and Escobar posted an .824 OPS on the year. BP has also already factored DRC+ into their WARP calculation. Rosario now comes in at 3.8 WARP and Kepler is right on his heels at 3.6 WARP and Escobar had a 2.9 WARP.

In an article for The Athletic, Ken Rosenthal noted that one of the biggest beneficiaries of DRC+ is free agent second baseman DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu now has a 4.8 WARP from 2018 per B-Pro, that’s the 18th-best in all of baseball.

His home/road splits have been extreme over his career, but in 2018 he actually hit the ball harder on the road than he did at Coors Field. His 90.8 mph average exit velocity was inside the top 10 percent in all of baseball, just behind Mike Trout, but he averaged slightly better (91.1 mph) on the road.

Rhett Bolinger of MLB.com ran through some of the closer options for the Twins. Among the seven options he highlighted, I think Joakim Soria is the guy who aligns with the Twins in terms of need and expected contract. He’s 34, so it’s not like you’ll need to give him a long-term contract, but he does have 220 career saves. Last season he had a 3.12 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 11.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 (4.69 K:BB ratio) for the White Sox and Brewers. MLB Trade Rumors projected he’d get a two-year, $18 million deal.

The market is starting to move. Patrick Corbin signed with the Nationals, Nathan Eovaldi is returning to Boston and Paul Goldschmidt was traded to the Cardinals. That could make things a little more interesting at the upcoming Baseball Winter Meetings, though as Craig Calcaterra noted over at Hardball Talk, things just aren’t what they used to be.

Jayson Stark wrote a well-researched piece about the shift over at The Athletic. He also reported that support for banning the shift is picking up steam. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs provided some more items to consider in a piece titled Banning the Shift Is a Solution in Search of a Problem. If any rule changes were to be implemented for the 2019 season, they would more than likely be agreed upon at the Winter Meetings.

  • markos, dbminn and caninatl04 like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

56 Comments

I am not in favor of trading Kepler at this point. Sure the Twins have holes to fill, but trading Kepler would create another one. The outfield has too many question marks. Buxton is not reliable with a combination of being ineffective or hurt. Cave looks adequate, but his track record of success is too short to count on him. Other options presently on the roster do not look to be a better alternative. In a year or slightly longer, room will be needed for Kirilloff, but we are not to that point yet. I have a hunch, Kepler will improve, so trading him now could be a mistake. In a year his trade value will be higher, IMO. Of course I could be wrong about that.

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, caninatl04 and 2 others like this
Boom. As I've been advocating for...sign Lemahieu. Also, I would absolutely keep Kepler through his Arb years. Concentrate on the Bullpen this off season (after signing the above mentioned.) With Cleveland's sell off, the iron is starting to get hot enough to strike now. That's not to say the Twins are just a Bullpen away from making an extended run in the Playoffs in 2019, but, there's a growing chance they can win the Division in 2019. So maybe they're a Bullpen away from winning the Division? Turn 50% of those walk-off losses in 2018 into wins and they have a winning record in spite of poor years from Sano, Buxton, etc. Sign Lemahieu. Sign some legitimate Bullpen arms and make a real go at winning the Central now!
    • SgtSchmidt11, ChrisKnutson, Minny505 and 2 others like this
Photo
IndianaTwin
Dec 06 2018 12:16 PM

"Rhett Bolinger of MLB.com ran through some of the closer options for the Twins. Among the seven options he highlighted, I think Joakim Soria is the guy who aligns with the Twins in terms of need and expected contract. He’s 34, so it’s not like you’ll need to give him a long-term contract, but he does have 220 career saves. Last season he had a 3.12 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 11.1 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 (4.69 K:BB ratio) for the White Sox and Brewers. MLB Trade Rumors projected he’d get a two-year, $18 million deal."

 

Soria at 2/$18MM and David Robertson for 3/$33MM would be awesome in my book. 

 

 

 

    • LA VIkes Fan, Minny505 and Doctor Wu like this
Photo
Buddy Holly
Dec 06 2018 12:21 PM

Trading Kepler at this point will not net a big return unless you want to wait years for that return. That being said, the twins hitting coaches should have been replaced this off season. Kepler and several other players regressed. Buxton needs to prove himself before you move his backup. Cave is not good in Center, he has problems with low line drive balls, they eat him up. Cave may be an option for lefthanded 1st baseman. The Twins are not going to win the Central without Pitching. Seattle wants to unload salary. How about Gordon for Gordon. 

    • mikelink45, caninatl04 and Doctor Wu like this
I'm all for trading Kepler and other prospects for top end pitching. There's plenty of corner OFs available in FA right now that can match or beat Kepler's WAR value.
    • Mike Sixel and Dr. Evil like this

Trading Kepler will be big mistake in my mind because I think he's on verge of becoming a superstar. The numbers say he had underperformed but I think like what was written above if he continues hit ball hard that his numbers are going to improve dramatically. Second he did improve last year he showed he could hit left hand pitching. I think he just got few little things to clean up hitting and also get to better pitch recognition to what he's going to hit at his at bats. Defensively he is ideal player he plays above average center field if needed, very good right field defender and has proven he could also play first base if needed. These are what teams are looking for players that have flexibility and can hit both for power and hits, and has speed to run the bases. He still is 25 years old which means were going to trade a player that is just coming into his prime again for some future prospects time has come for the Twins to decide to keep some of their quality players and start building around them. Yes there are risks in keeping developing players but we sure have proven in past few years going out on free agent market it hard to find quality players unless your willing to pay premium price to acquire them. This Front office better start making some investment in the future because to keep waiting for prospects to develop and arrive all at same time may never come. It requires signing your quality players to longer term deals and continue to add with from your prospects to build a winner. 

    • ChrisKnutson, Minny505, caninatl04 and 3 others like this
Having missed out on Patrick Corbin,
The Twins are reaching out to
Contact former Twin pitcher, Ray Corbin
and get him signed for 2019.
    • blindeke likes this

Count me among those of you who do not want to trade Kepler.Would I, yes.But to pry him away I would want a top return, a return that includes one very good young player who will fill one of the needs for the Twins in 2019.

 

I have always expected that it would take a bit longer because of his background coming out of Germany.I still believe that he has the ability to be one of the best, if not the best, of this young group...Kepler, Rosario, Buxton, Polanco and Sano.I expect him to take another step forward this year and can be a critical part of the 2019 Central Division championship Twins.

    • MN_ExPat likes this
Photo
LA VIkes Fan
Dec 06 2018 01:15 PM

Kepler hasn't met the goals and expectations of the Twins so far. He hits like a 4th OF and was passed by Cave last year. Frankly, going into 2019 the starting corner OFs are Cave and Rosario, with Kepler the 4th OF/LF 1B/ DH. You are what your performance says you are. Right now, there's no way you could hit Kepler before 7th in a real batting order.We need more form the corner OF position. 

 

Having said that, now is not the itme to trade him. He needs at least another year before we write him off as a potential breakout candidate. Also, who knows if Cave is the guy we saw in the second half last year? There really isn't anyone behind Rosario, Buxton, Cave and Kepler that we can count on for the next 1.5 to 2 years. We won't get a return for him to make it worth a trade. I guess we could include him if we're sending a package for a guy like Realmuto but I just don't see that happening. 

 

Sooo, I say do't trade him yet unless it's for a big return which in reality means don't trade him yet. 

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, Dantes929 and 3 others like this

Go get DJ.

I'd listen on Kepler but there's another scenario that might work out even better. Kepler stays and his babip regresses to the norm. He posts a .274/.369/.458 127 OPS+ line (that's the same iso walk/slg with a .50 pt avg improvement) and Kiriloff dominates high minors pitching. Now Kepler is a much better trade piece.

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, Dantes929 and 1 other like this
Photo
LimestoneBaggy
Dec 06 2018 02:08 PM

Tom, I don't know why, but I have an irrational love of Max Kepler....maybe it's Hicks and Gomez memories, but I just can't bring myself to trade a good glove, potential plus hitting outfielder (who could play some first too)..... guess I'll need to see more of Kirilloff to push me one way or the other ....

    • ChrisKnutson and MN_ExPat like this

Kepler has already 3 full seasons in the majors and the only two things that improved are his K% and his defense.wOBA, wRC+, BB%, isoP have been practically static (and league averagish.)Base running has actually declined.He looks like he has pretty much peaked.

 

And he is just yet another one in the collection of lefty hitting and lefty throwing Twins' OF.

 

If you can trade a league average OF with prospects for a top of the rotation pitcher, you got to do it in a heartbeat.

    • Danchat, LA VIkes Fan, mikelink45 and 3 others like this

All I know is that any player who is concerned with his DRC+ in the least is doomed to failure. The best players are still the ones with the best "old school" stats. Kepler is exactly the player you see when you watch any Twins game and there is no reason to expect him to improve very much. He will never be a star but should have a long career in the major leagues and certainly not all with the Twins.

    • mikelink45 and Dr. Evil like this

Personally, I give Kepler one more shot to break out.I realize another status quo season for him also diminishes any value he may have in trade.I just hate to give up on his obvious physical potential.My hope is that he, along with a few others on the roster will finally get the information or instruction and exhibit the patience and discipline to start maximizing every at bat.In Kepler's case, I think it's clear that the swing is there.Like so many of our young Twins, I think his biggest problem is simply swinging at the wrong pitches leading to unfavorable hitting counts. 

    • birdwatcher and PseudoSABR like this

I'm baffled by the over-love for Cave. He's a useful piece and we got him for a lottery ticket pitcher, but he profiles like a 4th OF. Yes, he hit well this season, but dude had a .363 BABIP. Do we really think he's going to be hitting balls hard enough consistently enough to sustain that? he's got a grand total of 300 PAs in the majors; are we sure he is who we think/hope he is?

 

It's very possible Kepler never hits enough to be a great corner OF. Maybe his best position is CF, or maybe he's a 4th OF who is ok at the plate, great defensively, and can play all three spots. But it's hard to see Cave as being the answer with any confidence.

 

(maybe Kiriloff is in another year)

    • Twins33, Platoon, kenbuddha and 1 other like this
If Kepler and Cave received the same # of ABs this year, (A) who hits more HRs, and (B) who plays better defense? Just food for thought...
    • Thrylos and LA VIkes Fan like this

I'm baffled by the over-love for Cave. He's a useful piece and we got him for a lottery ticket pitcher, but he profiles like a 4th OF. Yes, he hit well this season, but dude had a .363 BABIP. Do we really think he's going to be hitting balls hard enough consistently enough to sustain that? he's got a grand total of 300 PAs in the majors; are we sure he is who we think/hope he is?

It's very possible Kepler never hits enough to be a great corner OF. Maybe his best position is CF, or maybe he's a 4th OF who is ok at the plate, great defensively, and can play all three spots. But it's hard to see Cave as being the answer with any confidence.

(maybe Kiriloff is in another year)


The funny thing is I'm baffled why the over-love for Kepler. People have to dig deep into the analytics to find positive things about his offense. The stats on the back of his baseball card haven't changed in nearly 3 full seasons. I'll take the guy who can find holes and get hits on balls in play instead of Kepler's lazy fly balls.
    • Danchat, LA VIkes Fan and Dr. Evil like this
Photo
Sssuperdave
Dec 06 2018 04:41 PM

I hope I'm not derailing the conversation too much, but I'd like to share some random thoughts on some of the sabermetrics.

 

I love Sabermetrics, but I've got one problem with the varying WAR stats, specifically the differences between bWAR, fWAR, and WARP.It doesn't bother me that the numbers themselves are different between the three, but when I look at the calculations it bothers me that the three seem to take very different fundamental approaches to the concept of Wins Above Replacement.

 

When I think of WAR, I typically think of it as a "what actually happened" stat, as opposed to a stat that's intended to be predictive of future success.Take ERA vs FIP and xFIP.ERA is what actually happened, where FIP and especially xFIP are typically more predictive than ERA.I always think of WAR as more like ERA than xFIP.However, the three WARs all approach this differently.To me they seem to be on a progession from bWAR to fWAR to WARP going from most "what actually happened" to most predictive.  A stat like DRC+ sounds really cool and really predictive, but I don't feel like it should be included in a WAR calculation.I guess what I'd really like is two stats: WAR and XWAR, where WAR would use more "what actually happened" stats, and XWAR would use more predictive stats.

 

Kepler having WARP of 3.6, and being only 0.2 behind Rosario is preposterous if WARP is supposed to be a representation of what actually happened, but if it's meant to a predictive or expected measure, then it makesa lot more sense, and it's incumbent on the talent evaluators to decide whether there is something about Kepler that makes him consistently underperform expected stats.Take Ricky Nolasco - if I recall correctly he very consistently underperforms his xFIP.Kepler seems to have really low BABIPs despite his LD%'s.Is there something about him that keeps his BABIP in the toilet, or is he going to break out?

    • PseudoSABR and Major League Ready like this

If Kirilloff was banging on the door this spring, I'd be more open to trading Kepler, who I still think is on the verge of big things.

 

But if his replacement comes from the pool of Cave, Wade, Granite, and Reed, then count me out.

 

As it stands now, if Buxton flames out again, you've got Rosario, Cave, and Kepler, which isn't ideal, but you could get by with it.

 

But if you trade Kepler, are you really ready to roll with Rosario, Cave, and Granite?

 

What if Cave turns back into a pumpkin? Rosario, Granite, Wade? Can you trust Granite after a bad/wasted year? Can you trust Wade to make the jump and produce? Do you trust that Michael Reed is anything more than a AAAA player?

 

Unless there's a better backup plan than any of those four, or the return in a Kepler trade is too good to pass down, I'm passing. 

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, D.C Twins and 1 other like this

If Kirilloff was banging on the door this spring, I'd be more open to trading Kepler, who I still think is on the verge of big things.

But if his replacement comes from the pool of Cave, Wade, Granite, and Reed, then count me out.

As it stands now, if Buxton flames out again, you've got Rosario, Cave, and Kepler, which isn't ideal, but you could get by with it.

But if you trade Kepler, are you really ready to roll with Rosario, Cave, and Granite?

What if Cave turns back into a pumpkin? Rosario, Granite, Wade? Can you trust Granite after a bad/wasted year? Can you trust Wade to make the jump and produce? Do you trust that Michael Reed is anything more than a AAAA player?

Unless there's a better backup plan than any of those four, or the return in a Kepler trade is too good to pass down, I'm passing.


It's totally legal in the rule book to sign another OF if Kepler is traded.
    • Thrylos, Sconnie, adorduan and 1 other like this
Trade Kepler. Sign McCutcheon. Kepler, I'm not bullish on a breakout.
    • Danchat, LA VIkes Fan and Vanimal46 like this
There are two posters in here saying that Kepler is easily replaceable, and suggest trading him for a front of the rotation pitcher.
Why on earth would a team trade us front line pitching, the second hardest position to fill in all of sports, for such an easily replaceable player??
    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, big dog and 9 others like this

You also forget that Rooker may be in the mix.

 

The Twins could possibly trade Rosario and get more. We see what Eddie can do. He might keep doing it. But is he elite?

 

Kepler is someone a team would take a flyer on (similar the Yankees with Hocks - who still isn't the 4-tool superstar we all thought he might be when drafted). 

 

The bigger question is do we double-down and sign him longer term and hope he hits for a bit higher average with the same home runs and defense skills, as well as maybe play a bit of first, or let it be someone else's problem and be amd about the return.

 

 

 

It's totally legal in the rule book to sign another OF if Kepler is traded.

Having the ability to do so and actually doing so are two different things.

    • Twins33 and Battle ur tail off like this