Twins Need to Make a Trade with St. Paul
Image courtesy of © Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY SportsIn a traditional season I expected Minnesota to look for an arm, preferably of the starting category. I wrote about how Trevor Bauer made sense if the Reds made him available, but that would have been a high-risk rental. The only reason I like him is that it was a clear upgrade on their current options. It turned out the only arm of that ilk to move was the Indians Mike Clevinger, and a team-controlled asset from within the division would have come with an astronomical price tag.
The fact that the Twins didn’t go get a bat, or even another relief arm, is defensible. Byron Buxton returns September 1, with Josh Donaldson set to follow him the next day. Cody Stashak is hopefully around the corner, and maybe even Zack Littell will make his way back. There are big league assets currently on the Injured List that have tickets for September and should still play a key part.
If there’s an indefensible situation though, it’s not addressing the elephant in the outfield, a right-handed bat.
Minnesota has one of those ready and waiting in St. Paul, and it’s been past time Brent Rooker was given a shot. Rooker was a 1st round pick back in 2017 and entered pro ball at 22. He’s now 25 and will be 26 this calendar year. He’s not a young prospect by any means, and having played over 250 games on the farm, he isn’t too green anymore either. Rooker spent 65 games with Triple-A Rochester in 2019, and while he missed time due to injury, he posted a .933 OPS. The Twins selected him based on his power bat profile and his 54 minor league home runs have brought the belief to fruition.
While fans could be clamoring for top 100 prospect Alex Kirilloff, there’s two key differentiators at play with Rooker. First and foremost, he bats right-handed. Minnesota’s outfield is exclusively left-handed without Byron Buxton, and the duo of Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade are more than redundant. Adding to the lineup flexibility, it’s plenty clear a righty is necessary.
Then there’s also the idea of playing time colliding with development. Kirilloff is a very high ceiling prospect but is just 22 and has yet to play above Double-A (94 games where he had just a .756 OPS). Making sure his bat is completely ready before throwing him to the wolves at the highest level is a must. Kirilloff is also transitioning to more of a first base role and continuing to work through all types of developmental skills is imperative for his long-term success.
I don’t put any stock in the notion of a guy needing consistent playing time during 2020. Despite the fact that Rooker can spell both corners and routinely see three games per week, the reality is nothing taking place at MLB alternate sites constitutes “real” game action anyways. It’s not as though Rooker or Kirilloff can’t get the same level of drill work in at Target Field. At bats may be a bit more sporadic and travel is thrown in, but opportunity remains relatively consistent.
There’s no telling whether or not Brent Rooker being promoted would immediately result in a rejuvenation of the Twins run scoring prowess. What he does do is give Rocco Baldelli a righty in the outfield that he’s been hamstrung without, and an opportunity for Minnesota’s front office to tag in a high-level prospect that you’re worried substantially less about a falling floor.
Soon there will be a time for Alex Kirilloff, but right now is Brent Rooker’s turn. I’ll defend the front office over trusting in their internal talent at the deadline. There’s no defense for failing to utilize it after that. Let the Bulldog out.
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