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Front Page: Minnesota’s Internal First Base Options

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#1 Cody Christie

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 08:00 AM

Minnesota made the decision to non-tender C.J. Cron and this leaves Minnesota in search of a different starting first baseman for the second straight offseason. Cron could be brought back on a cheaper deal but it could also mean the Twins will turn to an internal option for next season. What does the future look like for one of Minnesota’s important corner infield positions?Miguel Sano
Over the last two seasons, Sano has played 20 games at first and he has logged 31 games at the position throughout his career. Sano has always had a strong arm at third base and that skill would be taken away with a move to first base. Besides his arm, he has struggled at the hot corner as he was the third lowest ranked AL third baseman according to SABR’s Defensive Index. Sano missed all of spring training last season due to an offseason injury and that could have hindered some defensive improvement.

Mitch Garver
Garver clocked 31 home runs last season and he was able to do this while being limited to 93 games. Health wasn’t an issue for Garver as the team used a rotation of Garver and Jason Castro behind the plate. Over the last three seasons, Garver has played parts of nine games at first, but he has made only four career starts at the position. If Minnesota could sign an underrated free agent like Alex Avila, it could open more time for Garver to move out from behind the plate.

Marwin Gonzalez
Gonzalez was signed last season because of his versatility and the veteran presence he would add to a young line-up. He’s played over 200 games at first base during his career and the Twins used him for over 160 innings last year at first. Minnesota was forced to use Gonzalez for 59 games in the outfield last season because of injuries to multiple players. If Gonzalez is penciled in as the everyday first baseman, that takes away some of his value because his versatility would be taken away.

Alex Kirilloff
Minnesota’s future at first base might be Alex Kirilloff, one of the team’s top-rated prospects. During his first two professional seasons, Kirilloff had played only in the outfield, but last season he accumulated over 300 innings at first base. His bat is his best tool so being able to play first base might be a way to fast-track him to the big leagues. He played all last season at Double-A and posted a .756 OPS, so it might be unlikely for him to play significant time at first for the 2020 Twins.

Will any of these options be the Twins everyday first baseman next season?

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#2 Dome Dogg

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 08:20 AM

Kiriloff. Let's just go for it, if he struggles send him down.

 

No one could have predicted Arraez's breakout, sometimes all it takes is a shot. 

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#3 Thrylos

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 08:23 AM

Zander Wiel should probably be on that list as well.

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#4 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 08:44 AM

Rooker

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#5 mikelink45

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 09:04 AM

I like pushing Kiriloff - I do not believe that every player has to go through AAA - especially if they are true sensations like we have believed.I also expect Lewis to bust his way to the majors mid season. 

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#6 Brandon

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 09:04 AM

Raley?
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#7 stringer bell

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 09:14 AM

My vote is to move Sanó. Sign Shaw and have Marwin available at third, particularly against left handers. 


#8 The Wise One

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 09:29 AM

 

Zander Wiel should probably be on that list as well.

If so he would likely be claimed in the rule v draft and stick with that team

 

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#9 sweetmusicviola16

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 09:41 AM

Sano, 6 errors in his 31 games at 1B. I'm not saying he can't work himself into a quality ML 1B. What I am saying is that a team with WS aspirations isn't going to stick Sano at 1B and hope that he becomes one someday. If we wanted him to be our 1B this should have been done years ago when we were not a good team.

 

Either promote or sign or trade for a quality 1B. We can't afford experimenting on the go with Sano. Donaldson or Rendon is a pipedream at this point. We have Cruz as DH, Sano is more 3B now than he is a 1B so he needs to stay there.

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#10 sweetmusicviola16

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 10:11 AM

Gonzalez isn'tthe bat to be an everyday 1B.

 

I like pursuing a trade with Baltimore for Trey Mancini to be our longterm solution at 1B. They are rumored to be shopping Trey. Maybe Rooker is a piece to be used in this trade. Kiriloff and Larnach can stay as OF's if we have a true 1B. If one of them proves ready this season then Rosario can potentially be moved mid-season.

 

My hunch though is Sano stays at 3B and Kiriloff has the present edge for our 1B. I prefer Mancini but I'm OK with this option.

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#11 PDX Twin

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 10:21 AM

Kepler is probably too valuable in RF (or CF) to move, but he played a lot of 1B in the minors and would surely be an excellent fielder there, though perhaps not right away.

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#12 nicksaviking

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 10:23 AM

Raley, Rooker and Wiel are my guesses at the moment, though maybe not until May-ish. Maybe they bring back Cron with the intention of letting one of the young guys getting to push him out of the starting lineup, or if the team is healthy coming out of spring training, starting with a platoon of Sano/Gonzalez/Garver.

 

I think the three Rochester 1B/OF are quite a bit closer than Kirilloff at this time.

 

I don't have much interest in trading for a 1B unless it's an inexpensive short-term stop gap.

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#13 Dman

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 10:29 AM

Personally I don't see the Twins paying for the available 3rd basemen out there so I think Sano stays at 3rd this year.I think Garver does get rotated to 1st base some but is good in the catcher spot and will need days off so likely not a primary 1st baseman candidate.Gonzales doesn't really have the power or OPS you would like out of that spot so while he can play there I don't think that is an optimal use of the position.

 

Depending on how you feel about his K rate Raley seems like the most likely player to get an opportunity at 1st base to me.He is already on the 40 man he can play 1st and rotate out and play the outfield as well.Is his K rate too high to give him a try? I don't know the answer to that but I think he could be a good option there.

 

Kirilloff makes better contact but he is not on the 40 man and he needs to prove he can handle AA pitching better as well as AAA IMO.If he is hot to start the year he could land there.He has that sweet swing and can play the outfield as well.I think 1st base would be a good long term home for him but it feels a little too early to put him there this year to me.

 

If Rooker can prove he can K less and walk more then his light tower power would play at 1st base as well.I know there are questions about his defense at 1st base but he is your typical 1st base DH type of hitter.He is not on the 40 man though and he needs to get that K rate down to get his shot.I don't think he would be an early option for 1st base for the Twins.

 

Looking at these options the reality is they may need to find someone from outside to fill that spot. I guess it depends on how you feel about the internal options.

 

 

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#14 JLease

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 10:49 AM

I think there are a bunch of reasonable internal options to fall back on, but i think they are exactly that: fall back plans. I think they try to sign someone in FA, either to fill 1B or 3B and adjust from there, and if they can't get the guy they want that way, they're re-looking at Cron, and then option 3 is to see if Rooker or Raley or Weil can handle it out of spring training and if not, plant Marwin there as the primary with Garver, Adrianza and Sano all seeing time there.

 

I'm interested in Rooker, but I'd be a lot happier if he wasn't prolifing a little like a poor man's Adam Dunn. (If he's actually an Adam Dunn who is ok on D at 1B...then that'll be fine)

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#15 Mike Sixel

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 11:13 AM

I'm guessing Kiriloff in June or so, with a placeholder brought in to start the year. 

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#16 twinkiesfan11

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 11:27 AM

With Raley, Rooker and Kirilloff all realistic options by mid year I’d target a one year contract for a veteran infield bat.

Travis Shaw makes so much sense on a one year deal hoping for a rebound. Can play 1B or 3B and even sprinkle in a little 2B. With the way the Twins love to mix and match lineups that versatility would be very useful and 2019 was such an outlier for him you’ve got to assume he’s a good candidate to bounce back. If he flops you’re maybe forced to bring up one of the prospects sooner than hoped, if he thrives you can let the youngsters develop longer or flip him in a trade.
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#17 DocBauer

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 12:13 PM

Really liking the idea of Shaw on a rebound 1yr deal. While nothing outstanding, his precious 3yrs average out nicely. And there is. the versatility factor. I could be sold.

But we are talking INTERNAL options. IMO, that still includes Cron despite the latest roster move. Offense and defense, I still think he might just be the best 1yr option available. But my crystal ball is still in the shop and I just know how his hand is going to be come time for ST.

If not selected in rule V, Wiel and Raley would be the best 2 options to battle it out initially. I see Rooker needing a little more time for polish and to get in a groove and similar for Kirilloff, who I agree could be up quickly.

Sticking strictly internal, and Cron not ready/available, I'd bet on Raley as the guy to start the season.
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#18 gman

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 12:24 PM

Let Rooker and Raley fight it out in the spring. Someone has to bat 8th.

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#19 Battle ur tail off

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 12:29 PM

I think if you were going to go with Shaw, you should have just coughed up whatever it took to keep Cron here on a 1-year deal. That is, unless his hand is really not healing. 


#20 twinkiesfan11

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Posted 03 December 2019 - 01:17 PM

I think if you were going to go with Shaw, you should have just coughed up whatever it took to keep Cron here on a 1-year deal. That is, unless his hand is really not healing.


With plenty of internal options you’re probably looking for a one year deal either way. The advantage of Shaw over Cron besides the wrist concerns is similar production with the bat with the added benefit of positional flexibility and a left handed bat.
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