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A 26 man roster is an improvement, but is MLB making a mi...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:52 PM
The world of sports has changed over the years. As a result, leagues have adapted roster sizes to allow for more active players, reserve...
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Spring Training Games Thread 2021

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 05:30 PM
One thread to rule them all...   Er. Sorry. Got a bit ahead of myself. (Power does tend to go to one's head.)   Anyway, seein'...
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Jake Odorizzi, What's going on w/ him?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:48 PM
Since the beginning there was a lot of FA talk surrounding Jake &thattherewas a lot of interest from various teams. Thought he'd be g...
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American League Power Rankings, by O/U

Other Baseball Today, 02:13 PM
With spring training in full swing, who are the favorites in the A.L.?15. Baltimore OriolesBetOnline O/U - 63.5 winsThe Orioles are bruta...
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Danny Santana

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:39 PM
Some reports that the Twins are interested in Danny Santana! As a utility guy if he can still play SS and CF I can see how he would fit...
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Simmons Down, 1 to Go: Securing the Middle Infield

Twins Territory lit up Tuesday evening when the organization announced the signing of defensive gem Andrelton Simmons in a one-year $10.5 million contract. While the move fills a big hole, there are still questions to be asked about the Twins middle infield.
Image courtesy of ©Kim Klement and David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
Donaldson at third, Polanco at second, Sano at first, and Andrelton Simmons at shortstop.

This appears to be the makeup of the 2021 Twins starting infield following Jeff Passan’s breaking news that Minnesota had finally filled a highly anticipated middle-infielder role on Tuesday night.


Perhaps tabbed as a sleeper pick amongst a talented group of free-agent infielders, the signing of Simmons brings a wealth of talent to Minnesota that is arguably unprecedented for the organization at shortstop. A four-time gold glove winner, Simmons is revered as one of the greatest defensive shortstops to ever play the game.

The Curacao native has led the league in defensive runs saved with 172 since his first full MLB season in 2013. In addition, Simmons has led the league in defensive WAR at 26.6 since his debut in 2012.

The 31-year-old is no slouch at the plate either. A career .269 hitter, Simmons slashed .281/.328/.394 in his past five seasons with the Los Angeles Angels. While he may not be a home run slugger, Simmons is one of four players to record a contact rate higher than 85% in the last eight seasons, joining Dustin Pedroia, Michael Brantley, and David Murphy.

With Simmons’ defensive talent and Jorge Polanco’s lackluster 2020 season at shortstop, it’s almost certain that Simmons will hold the fort down at short and Polanco will presume starting duties at second base. The move will push young star Luis Arraez to a “super-utility” role, likely playing a highly impactful role on defense and still getting a high number of at-bats.

This is all fun and great, but the question remains, who will fulfill the second utility role in a Twins infield that has seen a surplus of injury and a need for reinforcement?

Last week, sources reported that the organization was interested in re-signing free agent Marwin González as a utility man. That was before the news of the Simmons signing broke.

At the same time, Travis Blankenhorn is a bright young star within the organization who saw a small cusp of playing time last year.

Both options have their pros and cons, but one must be chosen. Let’s dig in.

A Case for Marwin
Mixed reactions were aroused last week when sources reported that the Twins were interested in resigning free-agent Marwin González. Whether you love him or hate him, the veteran has an upside.


Once a seasoned jack of all trades, Marwin patched together a “less than decent” two-year stretch with the Twins (I’m being nice). Between 2019 and 2020, González posted a meager .698 OPS with the Twins in 167 games. In that span, he batted .238 with 20 HR and 20 RBI.

Marwin Gonzales isn’t Marcus Semien, Tommy La Stella, or Trevor Story. Not even close.

Yet before you burn your jersey, sell your season tickets, and delete Twitter just wait.

Marwin’s better years may be in the past, but resigning him could signal a few things and pay off in the end. Here’s why.

Marwin’s total numbers as a Twin aren’t great, but the latter of the two years weighed down the majority of the poor numbers. 2020 was about as ‘2020’ as it could’ve been for González, slashing .211/.286/.320.

On the bright side, González had an above-average 2019 season. In fact, it was pretty good. González slashed .264/.322/.414 in 2019, his only 162 game season with the Twins. If González could rack up anything close to that as a second utility man in 2021, it would be considered a great success.

González isn’t the utility man that he used to be, but perhaps a less high-pressure role as a second utility man could provide the former clutch slugger with a greater opportunity for success.

González is not a bad ballplayer by any means. Heck, folks expected him to fulfill the role in 2019 that a top free-agent middle infielder is expected to fill in 2020 (aka Simmons). Yet that time has come and gone and Marwin González as a second utility man is not a bad gig if the price tag sits in the $1-2 million one-year deal range.

A Case for Travis
Twins fans saw their first glimpse of Travis Blankenhorn made his MLB debut against the White Sox in September. Blankenhorn went one for four, nabbing his first MLB hit on a double to right field. Following the game, Blankenhorn was designated back to the Twins alternate site in Saint Paul.

While his time in the bigs has been brief, there is undoubtedly untapped potential behind Blankenhorn’s bat..and glove.

While primarily a second baseman, Blankenhorn has played a myriad of roles in the field since being drafted in 2015. There’s no question that the Twins will take this into account when assessing the 24-year old’s future.



Similar to González, Blankenhorn’s bat can be a weapon. The lefty hit drove 19 balls out of the park between A and AA in 2019 (18 in Pensacola, 1 in Fort Meyers) on 471 plate appearances.

Not the sexiest numbers in the world, but the sample size is small, and it wouldn’t be just to gauge his full offensive potential without more big-league at-bats.
Playing in the MLB is certainly a step up from A and AA baseball. Yet the role of second-utility man could provide an excellent opportunity for Blankenhorn to get his feet wet in the bigs without diving in headfirst.

Perhaps the most important part? It’s likely the Twins would sign Blankenhorn to a league-minimum $650,000 contract. And even if it is more, it’s almost certain that they would be saving money on Blankenhorn compared to Marwin.

All in all, it boils down to the amount of offseason spending money the Twins want to free up and their commitment to investing in the future of a talented prospect.

What’s the best choice? Drop a comment below!

More on this Topic:
Travis Blankenhorn Makes MLB Debut, Doubles
Play Travis Blankenhorn Every Day
BREAKING: Twins to Sign Andrelton Simmons

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16 Comments

If you are a team planning on the post season seasoned veterans matter.They are a known quantity so easier to predict production.If the price is right I think Marwin does make sense. 

 

Let Travis play everyday at AAA and if he is mashing bring him up.I just think Blankenhorn could use more seasoning and would be better served not having to worry about the pressure to perform when he has only been at the AA level for a short period of timeAlso he wouldn't be playing everyday in MLB so that could hurt his development.I really think he needs another season of MiLB ball to prove he is ready for the show.

 

I certainly could be persuaded that Blankenhorn is the answer now but my gut says best to wait.

    • DocBauer likes this

I would be down for Blankenhorn getting a chance to be the 2nd utility guy, like Adrianza was to Gonzalez. He may need a bit more seasoning at AAA, but he's got options. I'd definitely prefer him over bringing Marwin back.

    • DocBauer likes this
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LewFordLives
Jan 27 2021 09:02 PM
Blankenhorn can probably do the job as well as anyone else on the Twins radar, but I wonder if he would be better served by playing every day at AAA. Barring injuries, the Twins will make every effort to get Arraez in the lineup, leaving few opportunities for the second utility guy.
Since you have upgraded massively in the middle infield the second utility spot could go to Gordon.
    • Dman, DocBauer, Heiny and 1 other like this

 

Since you have upgraded massively in the middle infield the second utility spot could go to Gordon.

I agree. Blankenhorn needs seasoning at AAA. Gordon is as seasoned as he will ever get. Give him a shot while Blankenhorn plays every day. If Gordon can't handle it, move on.

    • Dman, DocBauer, Minny505 and 1 other like this

Never been a Marwin guy. Over-rated and there are a lot of options out there of guys that can hit .211 and have an OBP of .286. He's dead weight in the lineup and too expensive to only use as a defensive replacement. Tired of reading about him, move on please.

    • Minny505 likes this

I don't know that Travis will ever project to much more than a .230 hitter with 10-15 HR potential in the big leagues.But that is all we can reasonable expect from Marwin anyhow.Not sure how the gloves compare but I would suspect Marwin is overall better. I like the idea of going with Polanco and Arraez splitting 2nd and splitting "super" utility role.Bring up Travis if someone gets injured.

Since you have upgraded massively in the middle infield the second utility spot could go to Gordon.


Yes what has happened to Gordon, I mean he was a good prospect at one point in time and now it seems he has just been rotting away. 2nd utility spot seems like a low pressure spot to put him in to see if he can hang.
    • Minny505 likes this
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specialiststeve
Jan 28 2021 09:24 AM

Not sure that they will have that 2nd utility guy ...... With St. Paul so close on half of our games they are a call away for the next game. Not like we are a national league team with double switches all over the place.

 

My guess is most of this depends on Cruz... if he comes back we likely won't have that second utility guy ... or will be Austidillo ... 

 

3 catchers 

5 infielders 

4 outfielders

5 starters 

relief pitchers...

25 man roster..... if goes to 26 it is likely to me they would add to the bullpen..... That is not even accounting for Cruz at DH.... So likely to 2 catchers if he signs... 

    • Dman and Major League Ready like this
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nicksaviking
Jan 28 2021 09:24 AM

If those are the options, I'd go with the rookie. 

 

If Marwin is on the roster, Baldelli is going to feel compelled to find him regular playing time. I'll take Marwin on a MiLB deal, which I half suspect will be the best he's going to get anyway.

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Major League Ready
Jan 28 2021 09:28 AM

 

Not sure that they will have that 2nd utility guy ...... With St. Paul so close on half of our games they are a call away for the next game. Not like we are a national league team with double switches all over the place.

 

My guess is most of this depends on Cruz... if he comes back we likely won't have that second utility guy ... or will be Austidillo ... 

 

3 catchers 

5 infielders 

4 outfielders

5 starters 

relief pitchers...

25 man roster..... if goes to 26 it is likely to me they would add to the bullpen..... That is not even accounting for Cruz at DH.... So likely to 2 catchers if he signs... 

 

Having the AAA team a 1/2 hour away provides a great opportunity to use the AAA team as an extended bench. Spend whatever is left in the budget on Cruz and/or pitching.

Rotate between Blankenhorn/Gordon/Austudillo based on who is hot and adjusting to MLB and various roster needs at that time. Utilize their options with an occasional emergency pitcher using that spot too.

 

I expect a MiLB contract utility guy with some MLB at bats to be in the mix too.

    • Minny505 likes this
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Out State Twin
Jan 28 2021 12:24 PM

We can spend more on a quality utility guy by not signing a DH using a rotational DH.

We can spend more on a quality utility guy by not signing a DH using a rotational DH.

Depends on how much of a dropoff you have, by not having the best DH possible day in and day out - that could be a differential of .100 in OPS, or more. Of course, at his age, there is no guarantee Nelson Cruz will remain that guy anymore - or maybe one of the corner-position youngsters is ready to close that gap. I'd be inclined to pay Cruz's salary to find out, though.
 

    • Twins33 and VOMG like this

No thank you on Marwin.

 

If we are looking to bring someone in from outside the org to fill the 5th IF role, I'd rather they have some offensive upside. Someone like Brad Miller or Maikel Franco would be where I would prefer to go.

I'd rather that money go to pitching though. Gordon, Blankenhorn, and two-time MVP runner up Willians Astudillo can handle a 5th IF role, if it's needed at all.

I would definitely give Blankenhorn/Gordon the first shot at the second utility player. Even if they don't work out, it is fairly easy to find guys who can fill the role on the waiver wire. Even if Gonzalez only costs $1-2M that is still money that could be better spent elsewhere.

    • Minfidel and VOMG like this