Supplementing the Twins: A Bat for Hire
Image courtesy of © Brad Penner-USA TODAY SportsRobbie Grossman will go down as one of the Twins better acquisitions in recent memory. Cast off by both the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians, the corner outfielder was picked up off the scrap heap, and proved invaluable to Minnesota during his tenure here. He’s been an on-base machine, a clubhouse presence, and a somewhat steadying presence at DH.
Coming off a season in which they made an unexpected Wild Card berth, the Twins goal will be to take the next step in 2018. While Grossman could be a part of that roster, he’s also the type of player you’d like to see expanded upon for overall roster advancement. Getting either more power or better defense from someone who can hit from the right side and play either first base or outfield is a good path to travel down. With that in mind, what are the Twins options?
Easily the best name on this list, and likely the most sought after, is Carlos Santana. The former Indians first basemen is adept in the field (he should’ve won a Gold Glove this season if it wasn’t going to go to Joe Mauer), and his bat is more than capable. As a switch hitter, he’s hit from both sides well over the course of his career, despite being better from the left side in 2017. An .842 OPS with 57 homers over the past two seasons is something Minnesota would gladly inject into the lineup.
Derek Falvey already has a certain level of rapport with Santana, and while that’s not going to net him much of a discount (if any), it gives them a place to start. After making $12 million in 2017, and playing 2018 at 32, he’ll be looking for a payday. While he’s not an ideal answer in the OF, Santana can spell Mauer at 1B and handle DH duties on an everyday basis. This is a splash that would be a big difference maker.
A step or so down from Santana comes in the likes of a former Twins divisional foe. Todd Frazier doesn’t check off the box of an outfielder, but he’s a right-handed power bat Minnesota could give a look to. Having played the hot corner for the vast majority of his career, Frazier has also ventured over to 1B previously, and could take on a DH role.
Traded to the Yankees for the stretch run, Frazier left the AL Central after just one and a half seasons with the White Sox. He last posted an .800+ OPS in 2015, and that was only the second time doing so over the course of his career. While his average sagged heavily in 2017, the .344 OPS (and .365 across 66 games with the Yankees) were very impressive. For a guy who can routinely lose 25+ balls in the seats, while getting on base, Minnesota could have interest if the money is right. Frazier could play third if Miguel Sano is forced into a permanent DH situation, and that also adds another wrinkle to the Twins intrigue.
On the lowest rung of this totem pole, we find Target Field killer Jose Bautista. Coming off a terrible season and now 37 years old, it’s entirely possible the one-time Blue Jays bat flipper is cooked. What’s also a possibility is that there may be just enough left in the tank for a team-friendly deal to make sense.
Despite a .674 OPS in 2017, Bautista posted an .817 OPS a year prior, and hadn’t dipped below an .800 OPS since 2009. He’s been an MVP candidate, Silver Slugger, and an All-Star while being a bomber who can hold his own in the outfield. Bautista didn’t hit anyone last year, and he’s actually been a reverse splits guy (hitting righties better) for the past few seasons. At this juncture, Baustista’s bargaining chips are fading which could make him appealing if the right situation presents itself.
Summarizing this Supplementing the Twins series as a whole, my ideal offseason includes the acquisition of a starter and two relievers. Beyond that, a second starter and a bench bat would follow suit in order of preference. The reality here is that the Twins are entering a period in which they should be able to make a sustained run at the postseason. The more ground work they do to support the internal developments that have been made, the more they stand to gain. We don’t need to see them break the bank, but we’ve embarked upon the “Go for it” moments of this thing, and there are actions that can be taken to reflect that.
- Cory Engelhardt, Oldgoat_MN, Broker and 1 other like this