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Article: The Top 20 Minnesota Twins Assets: Part 4 (1-5)

eddie rosario miguel sano jose berrios royce lewis byron buxton
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 10:47 PM

We've reached the top five.

Over the past week we have run through our choices for 6-through-10, 11-through-15, and 16-through-20. Now, it's time to round out our rankings of the 20 most valuable Minnesota Twins assets. Looking beyond performance to account for age, contract, and future impact, the idea is to determine which players will be most vital to the team's ongoing success (or, most useful as trade chips).

Scroll past the break to learn who we view as the franchise's five most absolutely indispensable players, and why.5. Eddie Rosario, OF (26)
Baseball is a game that can sometimes require a frustrating among of patience. For the better part of three seasons in the majors, Rosario tantalized with his immense potential. He had all the physical tools to be a star: good speed, outstanding arm, quick wrists, stunning strength, and – perhaps above all – that aggressive and fiercely competitive edge that often separates the great from the good.

For the first 250 games of his career, however, Rosario's output was suppressed by an almost legendary lack of discipline.

Entering this past season, the outfielder had drawn only 22 unintentional walks in 828 plate appearances, a mind-boggling 2.6 BB%. He continued to swing away in the early portion of 2017, but somewhere along the way there was an epiphany. Rosario certainly didn't become a patient hitter by any stretch, but he suddenly was laying off those truly unhittable offerings with unprecedented consistency. And then, he was an absolute monster.

After putting up a .660 OPS in April, Rosario finished at .810 or above in every following month. He showed a flare for the spectacular: a three-homer game in mid-June, a five-hit effort in July, a two-run homer at Yankee Stadium in the AL Wild Card Game.

Knowing Eddie, we can expect plenty more of that sort of bravado over the next four seasons before he's eligible for free agency.

4. Miguel Sano, 3B (24)
It feels strange to have Sano outside the top three in these rankings. As recently as July, he was on top of the world – an All-Star, Home Run Derby runner-up, on pace for 35 jacks and 100 RBI... all before his 25th birthday. But since then, it's been a rough go.

He hurt his shin in early August and barely played afterward. He missed the team's postseason appearance and subsequently had a titanium rod surgically placed in his leg. His commitment to diet/conditioning was publically called into question by a local columnist, and it wasn't the first time. And more recently, Sano was in the headlines last week for all the wrong reasons.

I've always counted myself as a huge Sano fan – I love the enthusiasm, the ferocious cuts, the fiery competitiveness – but even I can't deny that his stock has taken a significant ding, causing him to slide down at least two spots from where he'd have been a few months ago. Sano possesses the rare stuff that superstars and MVPs are made of, but at this point he's got some work to do in order to get back on that trajectory.

3. Jose Berrios, RHP (23)
The lean, mean, fireballing machine. A beyond-shaky 2016 arrival in the majors generated plenty of concern around Berrios. Were his spinning frisbee pitches too uncontrollable to keep in the zone (5.4 BB/9)? Would his short stature – often cited by doubters as a fatal flaw while he rocketed through the minors – make him too homer-prone (1.9 HR/9)?

It takes us back to the Rosario thing... patience. In 2016, Berrios was an overmatched 22-year-old kid struggling to stay afloat. He was openly determined to erase memories of that inauspicious debut, and in 2017 the right-hander did just that. Sent to the minors to open the year, Berrios torched Triple-A for a month, then burst onto the scene in Minnesota with back-to-back gems in May.

He had his ups and downs thereafter, but ultimately Berrios had himself a very strong year, holding opponents to a .239 average and sub-700 OPS while notching nearly a strikeout per inning. He doesn't turn 24 until late May and has been amazingly durable. The Twins can own his services through 2022 at least.

2. Royce Lewis, SS (18)
The baseball world was taken by surprise when the Twins selected prep shortstop Royce Lewis with the No. 1 overall pick in June, bypassing multiple players who were widely ranked above him by analysts. Six months later, the decision looks brilliant, not just because the club applied slot savings to load up later in the draft, but also because early evidence makes a good case for Lewis being the best player taken.

He went to the rookie-level Gulf Coast League and dominated with his advanced plate approach and blazing speed. Then he made the rare jump straight to Single-A as an 18-year-old, and more than held his own there (.296/.363/.394 in 18 games). Lewis ranked 39th on Baseball America's mid-season Top 100 list, released shortly after he was drafted, and his impressive work the rest of the way will surely move him further up the pre-2018 list.

Lewis is still extremely young but has already entered a rapid ascent. His athleticism is off the charts and his Year 1 performance in the pros helps validate his pedigree as a #1 draft choice. It's unknown whether he'll ultimately end up being a shortstop or center fielder, but either way Lewis stands out as one of the game's most prized assets and (thus far) a slam dunk signature addition by the new front office.

1. Byron Buxton, OF (24)
The 2011 Twins season was a pit of utter malaise. Colossal expectations that cratered early on, bilateral leg weakness, the Tsuyoshi Nishioka fiasco, Morneau's lingering concussion effects, Matt Capps... it all amounted to a 99-loss campaign that set off a half-decade of misery.

And yet... it was all worth it. Because that catastrophe enabled the Twins to land Byron Buxton in the 2012 MLB draft.

After being selected second overall, Buxton quickly gained distinction as the No. 1 prospect in baseball. Despite some injury setbacks while rising through the system, he still was in the major leagues by age 21.

While his offensive game took a bit longer to acclimate at the highest level than we'd hoped, by the latter half of 2017, Buxton looked like a comfortable, discerning hitter with power and game-changing speed. And he has already established himself as the most valuable defensive player in the league.

Buxton impacts games in so many ways, bringing entirely new levels of entertainment and excitement for the viewer. He received MVP votes and a Gold Glove at in his age-23 season, and I'm guessing he'll be getting plenty more of both in the coming seasons. Humble, likable and hardworking, he's a perfect face for the franchise.

The Twins own his rights for the next four years, and if they're smart, they are actively working on an extension right now that will keep him around for even longer. Buxton will be the centerpiece of Minnesota's efforts to forge a World Series winner through 2021 at least. You'll find few superior building blocks around the league.

OVERALL RANKINGS

20. Alex Kirilloff, OF (20)
19. Trevor May, RHP (28)
18. Wander Javier, SS (18)
17. Jason Castro, C (30)
16. Tyler Duffey, RHP (27)
15. Taylor Rogers, LHP (27)
14. Adalberto Mejia, LHP (24)
13. Nick Gordon, SS (22)
12. Fernando Romero, RHP (23)
11. Trevor Hildenberger, RHP (27)
10. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP (23)
9. Ervin Santana, RHP (35)
8. Brian Dozier, 2B (30)
7. Max Kepler, OF (24)
6. Jorge Polanco, SS (24)
5. Eddie Rosario, OF (26)
4. Miguel Sano, 3B (24)
3. Jose Berrios, RHP (23)
2. Royce Lewis, SS (18)
1. Byron Buxton, OF (24)

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#2 mikelink45

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 10:59 PM

A very nice top five.Who are our least important assets on the 40 man?I have lots of questions as we move towards Spring Training.Who are the minor leaguers who really have a chance to make the team this spring?Will the FO make another move? Is Grossman the number 4 outfielder again?Will they really give Gonsalves a chance? Is it possible that Lewis can force his way on to the major league team by September? 

 

Very fun year ahead. 

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#3 Deduno Abides

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 11:01 PM

Trade Sano to San Diego for Brad Hand, Chase Headley and some promising prospects, like Lamet, Gore and Tatis.
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#4 Andrew Thares

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Posted 02 January 2018 - 11:54 PM

There could be an argument for Buxton as the most valuable defensive player in the league, but I still think that title belongs to Andrelton Simmons. Buxton has 31 defensive runs saved in his career, Simmons has 32 in 2017 alone. I get that’s not an end all be all, but let’s give Buxton a few more years before he takes that title away from one of the best defensive players who has ever lived who is still in his prime.
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#5 beckmt

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 03:13 AM

Shortstops have far more plays than centerfielders due.Buxton's defensive runs saved is impressive considering the number of plays compared to a shortstop.

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#6 beckmt

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 03:17 AM

Sano has created the problem for himself and now he has to work his way out of it.Unfortunately it may not be here, as I could see him forcing his way out of town by continued erratic behavior.I hope not, but there is only so much a team can take.

Better bet would be to find a veteran he might listen to and have him on this club as a mentor for a year or two until he figures it out.

Sometimes however the person in question never figures it out until they have wasted all the talent and chances they had. 


#7 Penthang

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 06:15 AM

I hate to say this, it’s been rattling around in my head for a bit. I think at this point the best thing for the Twins, thier fans, female media, and perhaps Sano himself would be to trade him. With the health and personal issues hanging over his head at the moment his value is not at its peak but at the trade deadline if he has a good first half his value could be considerably improved. At that point the front office should have a good idea of what his actual behavior has been in regards to women and wether he is willing to improve his behavior if the issues floating out there prove true. At the moment Sano is a huge bundle of question marks with so much potential???

--Twins Fan From Texas


#8 h2oface

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 06:23 AM

I understand that Mauer only has 1 year left on his contract, but it is amazing, to me, that he doesn't even make it to #20 in this list of the club's most valuable assets. Less valuable than Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers, Adalberto Mejia, or Alex Kirilloff, eh? I'm not buying. If he has virtually minimal value as an asset, why even keep him in the lineup?:confused:

 

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#9 Cap'n Piranha

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 07:35 AM

It’s about the contract. You would find many willing trade partners for May, Duffey, Rogers, Mejia, and Kiriloff, as well as many other Twins not on this list. You would find none for Mayer.
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#10 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 07:37 AM

Mauer is definitely worth than Tyler Duffey.

 

 

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#11 ashburyjohn

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 07:43 AM

I understand that Mauer only has 1 year left on his contract, but it is amazing, to me, that he doesn't even make it to #20 in this list of the club's most valuable assets.

Nick couched this in terms of trade value (nil, given Joe's no-trade status) and future value (limited, with one year to go on the contract at age 35). A list based only on expected 2018 contributions might look different.

 

It's hard to assign value when a player's contract has literally no possibility of being turned into some other asset.

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Nothing is so annoying as someone going on talking when I'm interrupting.


#12 Eris

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 07:47 AM

 

I understand that Mauer only has 1 year left on his contract, but it is amazing, to me, that he doesn't even make it to #20 in this list of the club's most valuable assets. Less valuable than Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers, Adalberto Mejia, or Alex Kirilloff, eh? I'm not buying. If he has virtually minimal value as an asset, why even keep him in the lineup?:confused:

Joe Mauer can not be viewed separately from his contract.Joe Mauer had a good last season producing 2.3 WAR (data is from Fangraphs).Using Fangraphs estimate of 10.5 million/ free agent WAR, Joe Mauer produced $24 million in value in 2017.This is about equal to his $23 million contract. This was the first time since 2013 that Joe Mauer's production has matched the value of his contract.Put in a different way, were the Twins to trade Joe Mauer, he could be given away if the other team assumed his contract, with the Twins getting nothing in return, that is, his excess value above this contract is approximately 0.

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#13 Andrew Thares

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 07:48 AM

Shortstops have far more plays than centerfielders due.Buxton's defensive runs saved is impressive considering the number of plays compared to a shortstop.


#14 bighat

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 07:48 AM

Did anyone else quietly draw in a short breath of panic when they read "The Twins own (Buxton's) rights for the next 4 years"....haha, I think maybe I was overreacting a bit. But I do agree that the Twins should lock him up, ASAP. He's not just en route to becoming a Top 10 player in the league, he's also just about perfect from a marketing perspective. 

 

I loved this list, thanks so much for sharing this with everyone. I have to agree with the poster above me though: Tyler Duffey & Taylor Rogers? Really?

 

Joe Mauer was 7th in the AL in batting average (.305) and 5th in the AL in on-base percentage (.384). Any guy who gets to the plate 500+ times and does that is a very valuable player indeed. 

 

I know we Twins fans have become conditioned to think that a reliever who can get batters out is a rare commodity. We need to raise our standards here. Rogers is just a middle reliever doing his job to the tune of a 3.07 ERA. Not exactly a rare find in MLB. Nice to have, mind you, but pretty standard. Duffey, in my opinion, shouldn't even be on this list. Thanks again for the fun read!


#15 Post-Concussive Blues

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 08:16 AM

It’s hard for me to imagine an 18 year old prospect at low A (Lewis) is worth more than Berrios, Sano, and maybe even Rosario and Kepler, given their years of remaining control and having already proven themselves (at least) as MLB regulars.

Am I undervaluing Lewis?
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#16 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 08:20 AM

Nick, Would you mind sharing your 25-21 players with us? I am curious. The players aged 24 or younger on your list are very, very impressive. Looking at this list, I believe we need a catcher and several more starting pitchers under 25 to make me feel more comfortable with the Twins' future. Middle infield and OF look strong. We will need a 1B soon and maybe a 3B, but we can draw from our middle infielders for 3B. Do you think Dozier has the arm for 3B? As Dozier ages, that might be a good shift...or what about 1B for Dozier? Thank you for a great series.


#17 Dantes929

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 08:26 AM

I get the reasons for Mauer being off the list. Same reasons for Escobar since he becomes a free agent in 2019?Seems he would have as much value as Rogers and Duffey and even Castro. 

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff ... and it's all small stuff.

#18 Kwak

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 08:28 AM

 

Mauer is definitely worth than Tyler Duffey.

Or,... more than all of "those guys" combined!


#19 Tomj14

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 08:35 AM

 

I get the reasons for Mauer being off the list. Same reasons for Escobar since he becomes a free agent in 2019?Seems he would have as much value as Rogers and Duffey and even Castro. 

My thoughts on Joe's value is that right now it is very limited, to trade him and get anything the twins would have to eat most of his salary, otherwise it would be a salary dump for low level prospect or maybe somebody coming off injury. But if the Twins are out of it around the deadline and Joe is playing like last year he would have a ton a value for a contending team. IMO


#20 Tomj14

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Posted 03 January 2018 - 08:38 AM

 

It’s hard for me to imagine an 18 year old prospect at low A (Lewis) is worth more than Berrios, Sano, and maybe even Rosario and Kepler, given their years of remaining control and having already proven themselves (at least) as MLB regulars.

Am I undervaluing Lewis?

IMO Lewis value is based on the unknown and for teams looking a few years out. Would the Dodgers or Yanks give us want, probably not, would Florida and Tampa? We could probably get anybody on their major league roster for him (with exceptions)




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