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One Buy Low Candidate to Solve Minnesota’s Shortstop Need


The upcoming off-season is going to have one of the best free-agent shortstop classes in history. Minnesota has a need at the position, but would the club be willing to make a trade to fill their shortstop need?

Across baseball, teams will be vying for free-agent shortstops like Carlos Correa, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager. Minnesota can try to outbid other teams for their services, but the current front office doesn’t have a great track record when it comes to free-agent signings. Instead, the team can look to a buy-low candidate at shortstop. 

The Yankees are a team that spends money on the free-agent front as they currently have a payroll of over $200 million. New York may also be looking for a shortstop replacement. Gleyber Torres has been the team’s starting shortstop, but he has struggled over the last two seasons. Since 2020, he has hit .248/.330/.353 with 36 extra-base hits in 151 games.

Torres, a two-time All-Star, turns 25-years-old this winter. He broke into the big leagues as a 21-year-old and posted a 125 OPS+ while averaging 31 homers through his first two seasons. Shortstop is a challenging position for any team to fill, and it is especially tough in the Bronx with players following Derek Jeter’s footsteps. Still, Torres was considered one of baseball’s best prospects, and he showed it early in his career. 

 Why Would the Yankees Trade Him?
Torres has struggled to make hard contact for multiple seasons as his Baseball Savant page has much more blue than red. He ranks in the 40th percentile or lower in average exit velocity, hard-hit %, xwOBA, xSLG, barrel %, and whiff %. His worst category is outs above average, where he ranks in the first percentile. 

Besides his offensive decline, his defense has also been stretched at shortstop. According to SABR’s Defensive Index, Torres has been the AL’s third-worst defensive shortstop in 2021. Back in 2019, the last full season, he was one of only seven AL shortstops with a positive SDI. There’s a chance an undisclosed injury is impacting his performance, but the Yankees might be ready to move on. 

For any team looking to acquire Torres, it doesn't seem likely for him to be this bad of a player. He was highly regarded as a prospect, and he had multiple years of big-league success. Minnesota can hope that a change in coaching staffs allows him to return to his previous form. Even his current manager believes he will be an impact player for a long time. 

What Would the Twins Have to Trade?
After a disappointing season, the Twins may have multiple players that would be considered buy-low candidates. One name to consider is Max Kepler. Like Torres, Kepler had a monster 2018 season at the plate, but both players have struggled since that point. They are each under team control through the 2024 season, and there’s a chance each player can improve with a change to a new organization.

New York’s outfield dimensions are certainly a benefit for left-handed hitters like Kepler. Torres might be helped by being out of New York’s bright lights. Baseball Trade Values claims a straight trade of Kepler for Torres is a fair trade for each team and would likely be accepted from a future value standpoint. New York may also want prospect capital in return for Torres, and the Twins certainly have options down on the farm. 

The Twins should be prepared to make the call if the Yankees are ready to move on from Torres.

Is Torres a player the Twins should target? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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Worth considering. I can see that the Yankees will feel pressure to grab a big free agent and push him aside. Any speculation on the nature of an undisclosed injury? We know that recovering ankles have propelled Polanco forward, but *another* infielder with bad wheels seems like the last thing we need.

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Have no interest in trading with the Yankees as they usually don't work out well for the Twins.  

Also, have no interest investing prospects to solve the shortstop question which should take care of itself a year later when Lewis/Martin should be ready.  Would rather see them do:  A) nothing, with Polo/Gordon/Arraez manning the middle infield spots; or .B) signing a veteran to a one year contract.

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I think the Twins still believe in Royce Lewis as the starter for several years but probably want to get him some time in AAA next season since he's coming back from a lost season.

There is a cheap, glove-first SS option who will be available as a free agent. Freddy Galvis has been as productive as Simmons with a much smaller paycheck.

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Have to add my No to the chorus here.  Why give up a starting, albeit average, corner OF for a guy who is not a quality SS?  Our list of middle IF prospects who fall short as SSs goes on and on - Polanco, Gordon, Lewis(if scouting reports are accurate), nor do Miranda or Martin seem to fit well at arguably the most important defensive position.  Might as well resign Simmons for another gap year while we hope one of younger SS prospects emerge as a long term answer.  

If I'm trading Kepler, I want to use him as a key piece in acquiring as young, controlled starter who has already shown potential to be a #1 or, at worse, a #2 next year.  That is a far more pressing need if FO really intends to return to contention next year.

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Torres is not a shortstop .. His power has essentially deteriorated since 2019 ( juiced ball ).

If anything, I would be really interested in trading for Dansby Swanson. The Braves are thought to be considering going after one of the top SS in this upcoming FA class. Not sure what a package would look like but he is definitely an intriguing option.

I've seen a few comments now on different forums / blogs about the Twins having internal solutions at SS .. They quite honestly have none. Royce Lewis is not a shortstop and really hasn't done much to prove he has made any strides defensively at the position. 

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Interesting idea for which you should be congratulated, but I come out as a "No' because I don't see Torres glove work as good enough for a team with a very young starting pitching staff. Freddy Galvis is a better choice. Juan Igelsias also MIGHT be if his work for the Angels this year is an aberration and he rebounds to be the better SS that he has been in the past. 

Having said that, the idea of trading Kepler for a shortstop and/or pitching help is a good one but I think you guys are smoking crack as to Kepler's value. If we are being generous, Kepler is a good fielding, below average hitting corner outfielder (waaaaay below average in 2021) with occasional power who can play a decent but not great center field in a pinch for a couple of weeks. In other words, he is a good, solid 4th outfielder on a contending team. If we look at his history, this is all he has ever been other than in 2019 and it is becoming more and more clear that his performance in 2019 was an outlier probably assisted by the juice balls used that year. He is not going to be good enough to get a controllable starting pitcher even as the lead player in a package. He is the 2nd or 3rd player in that package. We are going to have to trade somebody better from the farm system, like a young pitcher, to get that controllable starter. Kepler is nowhere near enough.

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Simmons is not a reasonable alternative for 2022. It seems like Polanco is the only in house option and count me among the crowd that wants him to remain as our 2B. Javy Baez or Story on one year make good deals? 

One thing is clear - there is plenty of work to do this offseason for the young Falvine duo. 

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I'm a no on this kind of deal and Torres as a good fit for us. the FA market on SS is going to be a really good one this off-season and I'd rather get a guy there than buy low on a Yankee, especially one who is stretched at SS. we already have a bunch of guys who are stretched at SS; if we trade/sign a player for SS they need to not be stretched there.

(Trevor Story is the guy I really like right now, but I suspect someone will give him the 4 year $20M deal he probably is looking for...but if it's not there and he wants to go short term to build up his value again away from the Rockies? yes, please.)

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Why would the Twins trade anyone to bring in a lesser version of Polanco instead of just moving Polanco back to short? Strong no. I'm not a huge Kepler fan, but trading him for Torres worsens the Twins defensively without adding anything to the offense. Don't see the fit at all. He hit 13 of his 38 HRs in 2019 off Orioles pitching. He's hit 10 HRs in 152 games over the last 2 years. So I guess I'll change my stance to not only does Kepler for Torres hurt the defense it hurts the offense. Kepler is who he is, but I'll take who he is over the outside chance Torres is a 30 HR/year guy who will suddenly figure out how to play SS. Torres has negative trade value.

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4 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

(Trevor Story is the guy I really like right now, but I suspect someone will give him the 4 year $20M deal he probably is looking for...but if it's not there and he wants to go short term to build up his value again away from the Rockies? yes, please.)

Story only wants 4 years at $20M each? Yes, please. That's a bargain basement price for a 28 year old who has played like an All-Star 3 of the past 4 seasons.

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1 hour ago, DJL44 said:

Story only wants 4 years at $20M each? Yes, please. That's a bargain basement price for a 28 year old who has played like an All-Star 3 of the past 4 seasons.

Whatever deep pockets team gets Trevor Story will be disappointed in the .750 OPS he puts up once outside the warm embrace of Coors Field.

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Interesting idea. And Torres is a young player with BIG bounceback possibilities.  But too many question marks and seems to MAYBE be Polanco part 2. Complete pass.

Despite being a fan and believer, I'm grudgingly going to admit the talented and athletic Kepler probably peaked in 2019. That being said, I think a slightly different approach,  through experience, maturity, and a change in the hitting coach that I think is forthcoming, I can still improvement of what he's done lately. Better health would help as well.

Kepler/Twins need a quality RH hitting 4th OF via trade or FA. This is a MUST overshadowed by pitching needs that far too many dismiss. Barring significant growth/change, Kepler should start 120G, and will probably play in 140 as a PH or defensive replacement. He is good to very good used that way as a RF and backup CF option.

Call me crazy, but I think the offense is fine for 2022 with what we have, including Kirilloff healthy and Larnach being ready at some point. Not to mention Garver healthy and splitting time between catcher and DH and MAYBE a little 1B. The offensive approach just needs to find a little more consistency. 

I would be excited, as we all would be if the Twins made a major FA move at SS. But I think they are better served with concentrating on various SP/RP moves...long and short term...and said 4th OF and bringing in a SOLID SS option. Galvin is a guy I'm high on. But I also have to wonder what happened to Iglesias? Did he just suddenly lose it? He could be very interesting. 

 

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I know I will catch it for this, but I hope so.  He has the glove, and he is just as much a candidate for a bounce back season as anyone we are talking about here.  He is a lifetime .265 hitter who was doing alright until he came here.  I think he would do much better with a different hitting coach who has a different approach.  He would have to be willing to take less than 10.5 mil, but he most likely won't get that kind of offer anywhere else either, so he might listen.  And if an in house guy breaks out and proves himself better, we can celebrate; in the meantime, we need a stable infield and moving Polanco and Arraez around again doesn't accomplish that.  Just my extremely humble opinion.

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I just shake my head at the "approach" many Twins hitters have at the plate.  And by that, I mean they DON'T seem to have any approach.  Kepler is a prime example.  The Twins need a new hitting coach in the worst way.  I'm not saying that will "solve everything" but it's obvious to me the current coach is not up to the task.  I agree with Doc that the offense has the "potential" to be fine next year and the primary focus HAS to be on pitching.  That said, a different hitting coach would help with the current talent that needs "improvement" that being Kepler, Sano (who has been better these last 4-6 weeks) Garver, Kiriloff and Larnach.  I do think a steady vet SS like Iglesias or Galvis as a bridge to Lewis/Martin or whoever,  is a good idea as well as a 4th OF'er who bats RH.  Those are minor moves but should be "on the list."  I like the fact that Torres was suggested.  It makes for a good conversation.  But I would vote "No" as well.  We need a glove at SS and that's not Gleybor.   

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9 hours ago, DJL44 said:

Story only wants 4 years at $20M each? Yes, please. That's a bargain basement price for a 28 year old who has played like an All-Star 3 of the past 4 seasons.

He's struggled a bit at the plate this year, had a horrid July and been on a tear every since. But his OPS+ is sitting at 103 and takes into account park effects. He's probably going to finish with a bWAR of 3.5-4 but with with his D sliding back a bit from Gold Glove levels and the hot market for SS's...he might not get the deal he's looking for. Maybe he will, but if it's not there and he wants to show that he can get it done outside of Colorado at the plate...there might be a bridge deal available. Figuring out the SS market is going to be interesting, but there definitely should be enough options that the Twins don't have to trade for a guy like Torres.

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8 hours ago, ashbury said:

Whatever deep pockets team gets Trevor Story will be disappointed in the .750 OPS he puts up once outside the warm embrace of Coors Field.

A 750 OPS is roughly a 110 OPS+. The Twins would be THRILLED to have that production at SS right now. Coupled with his above average defense you get a a 3 WAR SS (and you're being intentionally pessimistic).

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