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Twins Options at Shortstop in 2022


For the second consecutive offseason, the Minnesota Twins will be looking for a short-term fix at shortstop as they await Royce Lewis to recover from a torn ACL. Let’s go ahead and look at the free agent, 40-man roster, and non-40-man roster options the Twins will have for the 2022 season.

When the Twins signed veteran Andrelton Simmons to a one-year, $10.5MM deal last offseason, it seemed like a perfect fit for a club that needed their top prospect to get an extra year of seasoning under his belt. A torn ACL and an anti-vaxxer later and what seemed like a perfect fit has turned into a complete disaster, and that’s before pointing out that Simmons has been one of the worst hitters in the league this year. Based on the latest Twitter mentions of Simmons, it’s pretty clear that the fans are ready to turn the page, although after not being dealt at the deadline, we’re likely stuck with him as there isn’t a suitable option to take his place at the moment.

With Royce Lewis missing two full minor league seasons, he will need to start the year in Wichita or St. Paul and would probably spend the entire season between one of those two spots. Here are the short-term options for the position until he proves he’s ready.

40-man Roster

  • Jorge Polanco - we’re well aware of his recent history with the position, and it’s not pretty. Moreover, I wonder if his 2021 rebound has anything to do with moving to second base. He’s had back-to-back offseasons that required minor ankle surgery but seems to be healthy playing a position that is a little less taxing than shortstop. Based on the season he’s having, I’d hope that Twins don’t push him back to shortstop in 2022, but he also might be the best option currently in the organization.
  • Nick Gordon - after six-plus seasons in the minors, Gordon finally made his Major League debut but didn’t do a great job of taking advantage of the opportunity. In recent years he’s started mixing time in a second, but he does have over 4,500 minor league innings at short. From what we’ve seen so far, he’s not the long-term solution at the position, but he could be an upgrade over Simmons in a season where the Twins likely won’t be competing for a playoff spot.

Non-40-man Roster

  • Jose Miranda - nobody saw this coming from Miranda, but he’s burst onto the scene and is having arguably the best season of any minor leaguer. He’s crushing so much so that you have fans clamoring for him to be with the big league club right now. In the long run, he’s the current heir apparent to Josh Donaldson, but he’s almost forcing the Twins hand to add him to the 40-man and see what he can do in 2022. A lot of greats have moved from short to third...Ripken, Rodriguez, Machado...and in 2024 or 2025, maybe Miranda can add his name to that list.
  • Austin Martin - the Twins shiny new prospect has done well since coming over in the José Berríos trade, but Ken Rosenthal reported that the front office views him as more of an outfield prospect. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him get an opportunity in Spring Training next year, but I would be surprised if he were named the everyday shortstop for the big league club.
  • Jermaine Palacios - he’s having a nice little season for AA-Wichita, but I don’t see him being a candidate for this job in 2022.
  • Drew Maggi or JT Riddle - the two minor league veterans are in St. Paul, but like Palacios, I can’t imagine they’ll get much of a look with other, better options to fill in for a year.

Free Agents

  • Marcus Semien - he’s having a great season with Toronto after signing a one-year deal last offseason, and entering his age 32-season, I have to imagine he’ll be looking for a multi-year deal.
  • Trevor Story, Corey Seager, Carlos Correa, and Javier Baez - I group these guys because they are the best young shortstops in the game, and all will be looking to cash in. Like Semien, I foresee them wanting a lot of money over multiple years.
  • José Iglesias - if the Twins are going to hit free agency, this might be a good, cheap target. Iglesias has bounced around the league quite a bit with great defense and a passable bat. 
  • Andrelton Simmons - LOL.

It comes down to the vision for the 2022 season, which I believe to be a rebuild or “retool” year. If that’s the case, it doesn’t make sense to spend in free agency when you have the opportunity to give some of your prospects time at the Major League level. No matter who they go with, they will be downgrading the defense, but that comes with an increase in offense. I think a mixture of Polanco, Gordon, Miranda, and Martin would be an okay choice while they spend money to rebuild their rotation and bullpen.


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Nice summary, Matt!!  Here's my 2 cents:

1.  Simmons will not be resigned.  There are too many top MI prospects who need ABs next year.

2.  If Gordon wasn't a #1 draft pick, he'd be long gone.  Can't field well enough at SS and cam't hit well enough at any position.  My bet is he'll be DFAed or part of a trade.  

3.  As you said, neither Miranda or Martin seem to be viewed as SSs going forward.

4.  With massive pitching needs, Twins can't afford to spend precious FA dollars on a top SS.  This assumes we can take Falvey at his word when he says his goal for 2022 is to return to contention in 2022.  This means spending big on FAs, both in the rotation and bullpen.  No way we can compete by tring to fill 3-4 rotation spots with prospects.  None!!

5.  Polanco is best choice for 2022.  Yes, our defense will suffer, but we need both his and Arraez's bats in the lineup, at least until Lewis is ready.  At that point one of these two should be traded(or, if Lewis can fetch a starter, trade him).

I'm afraid we are 3-4 years away from finding a real SS from the minors' lower levels.  Name of that individual remains a big question mark.

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1 hour ago, yeahyabetcha said:

I could be wrong, but it sure seems to me that the Twins do not view Polanco, Gordon, Martin or Miranda as major league options at SS, other than as possible spot starters.  Not sure they should even be considered as options to fill this role at this point.

Long-term I agree, but until Royce Lewis is ready (he hasn’t played minor league baseball for two years) they’ll need to fill the position somehow. With the season Miranda is having, I don’t think we want him to stay in St. Paul until 2024 when Donaldson is no longer under contract. He’s played plenty of innings at SS to fill-in for one season.

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39 minutes ago, Danchat said:

Royce Lewis should be on this list... I think they’re going to keep trying him at SS.

This was addressed and is the premise of the entire article. Because of his injury, he will enter the 2022 season having not played minor league baseball for two years. I can’t imagine he’ll be ready to be the opening day SS.

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Well I always assumed the Twins were reluctant to give out long term free agent deals because they were planning on giving out long term free agent deals to Berrios and Buxton. 
 

So since that doesn’t appear to be in the cards, there’s seriously no reason they shouldn’t chase Seager, Correa, Semien, Story or Baez.

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Twins need to get their best players on the field next year. Miranda has not played at MLB level yet, but looks to be ready-maybe he gets some time in September. Do Twins sign FA SS or inhouse option? I really like Polanco at 2B, but may need to move back to SS to give Miranda a position, Arraez stays at utility IF/DH spot (no more OF time) need his bat in lineup. Can't see any of top SS FAs going to Twins, why sign another stopgap guy and use a spot on roster when need to get Miranda an opportunity. Palacios may not be the answer but could replace Riddle as AAA emergency Twins backup. I am not a Gordon believer, was hot for a short time when first called up but utility player at best.

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The SS position will be the biggest decision the Twins FO makes in the off season, because it will have a domino effect on many other moves.  Let's say they spend BIG and go for a Story or Baez.  Infield "D" would be solid and the offense would pick up another bat (although with all the K's,  is Baez really nothing more than a slightly better hitting version of Sano?  Probably).  And throwing THAT kind of money at one position negates the ability to do anything meaningful with the rest of the roster (does anyone want to do Happ/Shoemaker AGAIN??).

If Gordon had ANY chance to be a SS for the Twins he'd be playing it NOW.  Let's put a pin in that balloon.  Guys like Lewis are "hoped" for but I've always seen him as an Outfielder and as has been pointed out, he really hasn't played for 2-years.  His BEST hope is to somehow be a September call-up next year.  That's his BEST Hope.  I'm reading Martin is viewed more as an Outfielder, and I get the sense more as a 2B-Man than SS.  Wander Javier has squandered any future as a Twins SS.

So that leaves us with a kind of "status-quo" with Polanco being the best option.  If there was no realistic option for 2B I'd just say "leave Polanco at 2B."  I like what I've seen from him there.  But Arraez belongs in the lineup and at the top of the order EVERY DAY (please Rocco, pull your head out of your...whatever...and put him there).  As always, the key to Arraez is health, but his bat and on-base skills plus his ability to work pitchers means he needs to play.  

So, there is one obvious, affordable choice at SS that could play for 1-2 years, give us good "D" and a better than you think bat and that is Jose Iglesias.  If there REALLY is a possibility Lewis could play SS then Iglesias is the guy to target, for a 2-3 year contract.  If you're planning for now AND the future, Iglesias holds down Short for 1-2 years and finishes his last year as an IF utility guy.  He has "value" but a reasonable contract could be fit in to the Twins budget for 2-3 years.  The Angels don't need him.  Fletcher or an upgrade could fill SS for them.  If you sign Iglesias to a reasonable contract the Twins have THAT headache taken care off.  Then they can focus on how they would like to attack their SP and BP needs in the short term (2022-2023) and how they can integrate the myriad of young arms they've got moving up in the system.

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I think it comes down to Buxton.  Resign him the resign Simmons or Iglesias to be a defense first SS on the cheap till our prospects are ready.  Trade Buxton cause he won't sign.  Then sign an expensive SS who will produce.  We don't need too many holes in the lineup while we fix the pitching staff.

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The Twins have moved on from Gordon. He's not even playing SS in AAA anymore, he's being used as an IF/OF utility guy. He's not going to get a 40 man roster spot. 0% 

Austin Martin couldn't supplant Palacios at SS. 0% 

Jose Miranda hasn't played any significant time at SS since 2016. 0% 

Jorge Polanco. Yeah, I could see the Twins shifting him back over to SS despite being the worst fielding shortstop in the game in the past 20 years. 40%

Royce Lewis. It would be totally bonkers to make him opening day shortstop. Lewis is a prospect who wasn't even treading water at AA at the plate while being absolutely a nightmare in the field in his last full competition experience 2 years ago and is now rehabbing a full tear of his ACL. 0%

JT Riddle. Yeah. MiLB roster filler entering his second year or arbitration eligibility isn't happening. 0%. 

Drew Maggi? He's arbitration eligible next year so he'll be non-tendered. 0%

Jermaine Palacios. I have no idea on this one. He's one of the best SS at AA this year and certainly top 3 who is still sitting in AA despite the fact the Twins have nothing blocking him or on the roster. I really expect the Twins to leave him off the roster. 5%

Andrelton Simmons. LOL all you want, everything seems to point to Simmons being back next year IMHO. He's still playing every day and the Twins haven't even bothered to look at Palacios despite a stellar performance in AA. It's ridiculous, but I can't see why the Twins would be playing Simmons every day at this point if they hadn't decided this year is a fluke and they'll be ohhhhhhh so smart when they sign him for peanuts and they fix him to return him to top form next year... puke. 50%

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, mike8791 said:

Nice summary, Matt!!  Here's my 2 cents:

1.  Simmons will not be resigned.  There are too many top MI prospects who need ABs next year.

2.  If Gordon wasn't a #1 draft pick, he'd be long gone.  Can't field well enough at SS and cam't hit well enough at any position.  My bet is he'll be DFAed or part of a trade.  

3.  As you said, neither Miranda or Martin seem to be viewed as SSs going forward.

4.  With massive pitching needs, Twins can't afford to spend precious FA dollars on a top SS.  This assumes we can take Falvey at his word when he says his goal for 2022 is to return to contention in 2022.  This means spending big on FAs, both in the rotation and bullpen.  No way we can compete by tring to fill 3-4 rotation spots with prospects.  None!!

5.  Polanco is best choice for 2022.  Yes, our defense will suffer, but we need both his and Arraez's bats in the lineup, at least until Lewis is ready.  At that point one of these two should be traded(or, if Lewis can fetch a starter, trade him).

I'm afraid we are 3-4 years away from finding a real SS from the minors' lower levels.  Name of that individual remains a big question mark.

Thanks! And I agree Polanconis probably the best fit, but I really wonder how much stress the position puts on his ankles.
 

I just don’t see how this team is truly competitive in 2022. They have to fill 4 rotation spots and multiple holes in the bullpen. They’ve had pitching prospects with good 2021 minor league seasons but it’s not like they’re all going to jump to the majors and be successful.

Edited by Matthew Lenz
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25 minutes ago, Brandon said:

I think it comes down to Buxton.  Resign him the resign Simmons or Iglesias to be a defense first SS on the cheap till our prospects are ready.  Trade Buxton cause he won't sign.  Then sign an expensive SS who will produce.  We don't need too many holes in the lineup while we fix the pitching staff.

Pass on Simmons, but if the long term plan is to pay a SS then this offseason would be the one to do it.

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With Arraez needing to play nearly every day, I move Polanco back to shortstop next year.  Keep Gordon around as a middle infield/utility guy who plays short when Polanco needs a rest.  Miranda should/must be on the team and would play some third or regular at third when Donaldson is hurt, or if Donaldson is gone.  The rest of the time he would be at DH or first when Kirilloff needs a day off.

That fills the position until mid/late season when Lewis, or Martin, arrives...assuming either sticks at short.

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1 hour ago, Matthew Lenz said:

This was addressed and is the premise of the entire article. Because of his injury, he will enter the 2022 season having not played minor league baseball for two years. I can’t imagine he’ll be ready to be the opening day SS.

I did miss that, but I when I saw Palacios I thought you’d include Lewis. Anyways, I wouldn’t be surprised if we sign a SS on another one year deal and leave room for Lewis to take over full time in 2023.

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Maybe one or two cast-offs from other teams or Nick Gordon to be placeholders until Martin and/or Lewis (or someone else in the system, possibly Gordon) is ready to take over the position.  Otherwise, get some cast-offs in the off-season and let the competition begin.  

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1 hour ago, Matthew Lenz said:

Long-term I agree, but until Royce Lewis is ready (he hasn’t played minor league baseball for two years) they’ll need to fill the position somehow. With the season Miranda is having, I don’t think we want him to stay in St. Paul until 2024 when Donaldson is no longer under contract. He’s played plenty of innings at SS to fill-in for one season.

Miranda played left field last night, perhaps they are trying him as a utility player.  (Austudillo replacement?).  It will really surprise me if the Twins let Simmons walk and don’t replace him with a free agent.  

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As others have said, the organization has enough infielders that are ready or nearly ready that we can get by next season with what we have in house. Polanco will be satisfactory at SS for one season until Martin or Lewis can take over there in 2023. Arraez will be satisfactory at 2B until then. (BTW, I think Arraez should be DHing a lot beginning in 2023.) Gordon and/or Miranda can back up. I see the Twins trading Donaldson for whatever they can get after 2022 if not sooner, perhaps at the trading deadline.

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43 minutes ago, bean5302 said:

The Twins have moved on from Gordon. He's not even playing SS in AAA anymore, he's being used as an IF/OF utility guy. He's not going to get a 40 man roster spot. 0% 

Austin Martin couldn't supplant Palacios at SS. 0% 

Jose Miranda hasn't played any significant time at SS since 2016. 0% 

Jorge Polanco. Yeah, I could see the Twins shifting him back over to SS despite being the worst fielding shortstop in the game in the past 20 years. 40%

Royce Lewis. It would be totally bonkers to make him opening day shortstop. Lewis is a prospect who wasn't even treading water at AA at the plate while being absolutely a nightmare in the field in his last full competition experience 2 years ago and is now rehabbing a full tear of his ACL. 0%

JT Riddle. Yeah. MiLB roster filler entering his second year or arbitration eligibility isn't happening. 0%. 

Drew Maggi? He's arbitration eligible next year so he'll be non-tendered. 0%

Jermaine Palacios. I have no idea on this one. He's one of the best SS at AA this year and certainly top 3 who is still sitting in AA despite the fact the Twins have nothing blocking him or on the roster. I really expect the Twins to leave him off the roster. 5%

Andrelton Simmons. LOL all you want, everything seems to point to Simmons being back next year IMHO. He's still playing every day and the Twins haven't even bothered to look at Palacios despite a stellar performance in AA. It's ridiculous, but I can't see why the Twins would be playing Simmons every day at this point if they hadn't decided this year is a fluke and they'll be ohhhhhhh so smart when they sign him for peanuts and they fix him to return him to top form next year... puke. 50%

I agree with a lot of this other than the percentages.  I see it as more Simmons/FA 90%, Palanco 5%, Palacios 5%.

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No matter what the final outcome is remember this. If the MN Twins make a decision on who they will call on to play SS for next year, you can guarantee one thing. They will bleep it up! I was all for signing Simmons, and somehow we turned one of the best fielding SS’s in history into a blah player. Or I should say he turned himself into one, probably because of the lack of interest due to being out of the race on April 7th? 
 

Be that as it may, an infield of Polanco  and Arreaz should make baseball purists flock to MLB to watch! 🙄

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Please don't mess with Polanco. The guy is great at 2nd, seams to be much more comfortable there than he did at short, and he's healthy again. Don't mess with a good thing. Try Martin or Maranda or sign a FA. You can move Arraez around to get him ABs as he really isn't a "good" fielder at any position, besides the guy can't play on regular basis due to his knees.

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Polanco has done decently at 2B and it may be good to leave him there. However, despite Jorge not fielding like Simmons, the Twins won with JP. The Twins need pitching and they need to score when runners get into scoring position, especially with less than two outs. The coming offseason will test management's skills in trading, signing, and making 40 man roster decisions.

Shortstop is an area of need but it seems less important than pitching. Trevor Story seems to have had a tougher year than normal. Perhaps he can be enticed to sign for a year to re-establish his market. Marcus Semien has shown real worth but Toronto may outbid anyone to return him to an improving young team. There should be plenty of money to invest for 2022, but the Twins will want to make some trades too. I will understand if Simmons is brought back but it will seem like the Happ signing as a move made because another decision was not made. I'm not interested in having Simmons here next year. There is still plenty of season left to look at players from our system and others.

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2 hours ago, nicksaviking said:

Well I always assumed the Twins were reluctant to give out long term free agent deals because they were planning on giving out long term free agent deals to Berrios and Buxton. 
 

So since that doesn’t appear to be in the cards, there’s seriously no reason they shouldn’t chase Seager, Correa, Semien, Story or Baez.

Agreed. Sign one of these guys. At most, they'll sign one expensive FA pitcher this year. No way I put polanco back at SS. The D is already awful....

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