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Article: What's Next For Kennys Vargas?

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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 07:44 PM

The Twins have already been busy trimming down their 40-man roster, but the shuffling has only just begun. As we approach a couple of important dates on the MLB transaction calendar, we should begin to get some clarity in regard to the future of one player in particular: Kennys Vargas.There's a legit argument to be made that Vargas has the most power in the Twins organization, and entering his age 27 season it's possible he's just now reaching his peak. He hit some of the most impressive homers of any Twins hitter last season. Here’s a look back at the five longest home runs hit by the Twins in 2017:






It should come as no surprise that Vargas led the Twins in average home run distance, but his mark of 423 feet also led all of baseball among hitters with at least 10 homers. Only four players hit a ball farther than that 483-foot mammoth he destroyed.

Vargas will be out of options in 2018, so he'll have to stick on the 25-man roster all season, but he'll still be incredibly cheap. He's not even eligible for arbitration yet. And when you take a look at his numbers, it appears he could the solution if the Twins are looking for an everyday DH.

Vargas 2016-17
.244/.322/.466 (.788 OPS), HR/18.7 ABs

AL DH Averages 2017
.243/.317/.418 (.735 OPS), HR/23.2 ABs

It would be tough to lose a guy like that on waivers and get nothing in return. Still, Vargas’ future is heavily dependent on how the Twins think Sano will recover from his surgery and whether or not they bring back Robbie Grossman, among other things out of his control.

The deadline to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft is this coming Monday (Nov. 20). If Kennys makes the cut, the next big date becomes Dec. 1, the deadline to tender arbitration-eligible players, like Grossman, contracts for 2018.

With his place on the roster tenuous at best, it doesn't seem likely Vargas would fetch much of a return via trade, but the Twins could always explore selling his rights to a team overseas. Earlier this offseason, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press wrote a piece that indicated Vargas has some interest in playing abroad if the opportunity presents itself.

Still, I'm sure Vargas would love to stick with the Twins in particular because they'll be playing two games this April in San Juan, Puerto Rico, his home country. It'll be interesting to see where he ends up.

Fun With Numbers

Here are some more offensive numbers I found interesting while digging around at Baseball Savant:

Twins Avg HR distance in feet (min. 10)
423-Vargas
413-Sano
405-Jason Castro
404-Eduardo Escobar
403-Byron Buxton
398-Max Kepler
397-Eddie Rosario
394-Brian Dozier
392-Jorge Polanco

Twins Top 5 Avg. Exit Velocity (MPH)
92.4-Sano (fourth in MLB)
90.2-Joe Mauer
88.3-Kepler
87.5-Dozier
86.9-Castro

Twins Top 5 Avg. Exit Velo on Fly Balls in MPH (min. 30 results)
97.7-Sano
95.0-Dozier
93.3-Buxton
92.7-Rosario
91.5-Vargas

That's some particularly interesting stuff on Dozier. Is it possible to say that a guy doesn't necessarily have plus power, but at the same time say he's excellent at hitting home runs? That may sound like a backhanded compliment, but if anything it speaks to Dozier’s skill in capitalizing on the pitches he can hit out. He led the team in homers, but Dozier's most prodigious shot (435 feet) was just the 18th-longest on the team. But he also led the team with three in balls hit at least 400 feet that stayed in the yard.

As a team, the Twins had 15 balls hit 400 feet or more that weren’t homers. The longest was a 428-foot blast by Sano on April 11 that went for a double. On Aug. 6, Jason Castro hit the longest ball for an out, it traveled 411 feet. Eddie Rosario hit the shortest homer of the year for the Twins, a 349-footer on June 16, but that wasn’t even a cheap one, comparatively speaking. The shortest homer in baseball last year was a 302-foot oppo taco Lorenzo Cain wrapped around Pesky’s Pole in Boston.

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#2 wsnydes

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 08:38 PM

Vargas is one of those guys that got messed around with too much, yet didn't really take advantage of the opportunities that he did get. I think I'd be more interested in protecting one of the prospects than endure another year of mismanaging his playing time and squandered opportunities.
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#3 Deduno Abides

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 08:42 PM

The talent is real. Can he maintain focus?

#4 luckylager

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 08:43 PM

One of my favorite Twins players. I am hoping a Japanese contract is in his future, because I am pretty confident that would be his best path at this point.  

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#5 Kwak

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 09:13 PM

It's not how far​ the HRs travel, but rather how frequently are they hit.

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#6 jud6312

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 09:48 PM

It is about frequency ... and in PT duty the last couple of years his frequency's been pretty darn good.

 

I'd really like to see him get a legitimate shot at FT, or at least close to it, duty. If he were to put up his 162-game average over the course of a season, I'd be ecstatic.

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#7 frightwig

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 10:09 PM

This is just 113 PA over 3 months, but Vargas hit .278/.381/.474 from July-October. Maybe he won't be the next David Ortiz, but I'd like to see what he could do with regular at-bats in his age 27 season.

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#8 Tom Froemming

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 10:12 PM

 

Vargas is one of those guys that got messed around with too much, yet didn't really take advantage of the opportunities that he did get. I think I'd be more interested in protecting one of the prospects than endure another year of mismanaging his playing time and squandered opportunities.

Very fair synopsis. I'd like to see him get another look, but with Sano's uncertainty it seems like that may be very difficult.

 

The talent is real. Can he maintain focus?

Is there evidence he's had issues with that?

 

One of my favorite Twins players. I am hoping a Japanese contract is in his future, because I am pretty confident that would be his best path at this point.  

True. He has the potential to be a star over there and make some good money for a few years, so if that's how it ends up I'll be happy for him.

 

It's not how far​ the HRs travel, but rather how frequently are they hit.

2016/17 HR% (HR/PA)

Dozier 5.46%

Vargas 4.76%

 

Put in other terms, if you gave both of them 600 plate appearances, based off their performances the past two seasons Dozier only out-homers Vargas by roughly four. Also, while we're comparing the two, Dozier's breakout came in his age 27 season, after he'd compiled 963 PAs. Vargas is entering his age 27 season and has 859 PAs.

 

I think it's entirely possible Vargas is on the verge of taking the next step, but with his lack of any defensive value it's going to be pretty difficult to shoehorn him into the 25-man roster for the entire season, unless something unforeseen happens

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#9 OldFartAtPlay

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 10:19 PM

I think he deserves a chance at a full season. He's got tremendous power from both sides of the plate and it seems that power is a major component in baseball these days. I love Mr. Grossman but I really love the thought of a few more balls reaching the outfield seats. If nothing else I think Mr. Vargas deserves a shot after having been yanked around so much. I also think another year working with Mr. Rowson will benefit everyone concerned. I really like the way he's worked with the hitters.

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#10 scottz

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Posted 14 November 2017 - 10:29 PM

Keep Kennys. I don't see why you give up on a guy with power like his without giving him a full shot. Obviously they value (or at least in 2017, valued) Grossman's OBP more and it's hard to argue too hard against that. But you can't lose him for nothing.

#11 Penthang

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 06:04 AM

If Vargas could play a corner outfield spot this would be a no brainer, without that in his skill set it comes down to a choice between he, Grossman, or a player to be named later. I’d rather the Twins go with a better defender than Grossman as the forth outfielder, preferably someone right handed. I think the Twins should make this Vargases shot. If he’s not getting the job done after 200 PA then find someone on the trade market to DH and let him go. I suspect that they won’t need to do that though, but we will never know if they don’t give him a shot. I have read in several places that 1000 at bats is where a lot of players become proficient, we’ve already invested most of those at bats in him, let’s get him to that mark and see what happens.
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#12 old nurse

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 06:51 AM

The number not mentioned. 29.That number has not declined. If Vargas was consistently around 19Vargas would be a full time player. A Maueresque 15and Grossman is still somewhere in the minors.Vargas' limitation is his strikeoutpercentage.Second problem is the number 47. A home run hitter could have a ground ball percentage that high if the HR/FB was in the 30+ range.Vargas is under 20


#13 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 07:02 AM

I think letting him go for nothing (which is what sending him to Japan or trading him would net) would be a mistake. He has the bat to be a full time DH and hasn't exactly figured it out. I don't know what next year may hold, but having a dangerous bench batis always nice, and right now Vargas is cheap. Likewise, I don't see the team going out and getting a bat... so as far as I can guess, he should stay for at least another year.

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#14 rdehring

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 07:30 AM

My position is that Vargas should be penciled in as the Twins full-time DH while also serving as Maruer's backup at first base.Let's see him get a year with 550-600 PA.If he does, I believe he will perform at a level that the Twins will want him doing that for the next decade.

 

As for Sano possibly needing to be the DH, worry about that when/if it happens.

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#15 DocBauer

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 07:55 AM

Its a long season and there are a lot of roster changes that take place. Right now, I'd be in favor of both he and Grossman opening with the team and let things play out for the first month or so. Granite would be sitting in AAA waiting for an injury or roster move.
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#16 Tom Froemming

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 08:17 AM

Thanks for the comments. There's a lot more support for Kennys than I had expected. It seemed like most of the offseason blueprints I was seeing had him left off the roster.

 

Anyway, let's say Sano opens the year at something like 85-90% health. You feel comfortable DHing him, but not putting him at 3B. What do you do? Have him start the season on the DL until he was healthy? Or would you DH him and hope that doesn't hinder his recovery at all?


#17 Vanimal46

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 08:25 AM

I have no desire to give Vargas 500+ PAs over the course of the season. Frankly Vargas would have to hit out of his shoes in order to make up for his lack of defensive flexibility. If we just witnessed the rise to his peak age-27 season, it hasn't been impressive. 

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#18 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 08:34 AM

 

Thanks for the comments. There's a lot more support for Kennys than I had expected. It seemed like most of the offseason blueprints I was seeing had him left off the roster.

 

Anyway, let's say Sano opens the year at something like 85-90% health. You feel comfortable DHing him, but not putting him at 3B. What do you do? Have him start the season on the DL until he was healthy? Or would you DH him and hope that doesn't hinder his recovery at all?

 

I think the 85-90% health is a bit unrealistic, as Sano's procedure is not that invasive...but, to play the game... I probably cross that bridge in the spring, definitely not now. If he needs time recovering/conditioning, the DL is probably the option unless the injury isn't affecting Sano's bat at all. We should be able to see that in the spring... then again, Sano looked pretty bad last spring and we all know how that turned out.

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#19 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 08:36 AM

 

I have no desire to give Vargas 500+ PAs over the course of the season. Frankly Vargas would have to hit out of his shoes in order to make up for his lack of defensive flexibility. If we just witnessed the rise to his peak age-27 season, it hasn't been impressive. 

 

I don't think the Twins should have a plan where Vargas gets that many PAs, but I do think they need to have the flexibility should something click in Vargas' age 27 season. Plenty of players break out at 27, and Vargas certainly has the hitting skills to be that type of DH that you describe. I'm fine leaving Vargas on as a rotating DH and bench bat while he's cheap. If he's hitting well, then suddenly he's a full time DH/occasional 1B. Mauer will need plenty of rest as it is. There is room for Vargas.

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#20 Monkeypaws

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Posted 15 November 2017 - 09:02 AM

 

Still, I'm sure Vargas would love to stick with the Twins in particular because they'll be playing two games this April in San Juan, Puerto Rico, his home country.

 

:)

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