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End of the Line for Brent Rooker?


Brent Rooker finds himself in no man’s land as he finishes his age 26 season for the Twins. On a team with many questions about their future, Rooker has plenty of his own, and the Twins find themselves with a decision to make.

Rooker has had an unbelievably up and down season. In March and April the right handed slugger posted a putrid -5 wRC+. After being sent down to AAA for a good while, he came back up in July and posted a 164 wRC+, only to dip back down to an 82 mark in August. Rooker appears to be finishing strong however, as he’s been 44% above league average in September.

Rooker has essentially switched off every other month between looking like an unusable player and being a pitcher’s worst nightmare. His final line of .206/.294/.413 is good for a wRC+ of 114, 14% above league average. The nature of how he got there however isn’t so straightforward and leaves the Twins with a few options to choose from.

Business as Usual

Rooker has cycled in and out of the lineup all season and at no point has really had a starting position. The Twins could continue to pick their spots to get him in the lineup as they have to try to put him in favorable matchups.

This issue with this however is Rooker has historically had reverse splits when it comes to hitting lefties and righties. 7 of his 8 home runs in 2021 have come off of right handed pitching and it’s a bit difficult to slot him into a lineup over someone like Kepler, Kirilloff or at some point Larnach against a right handed pitcher when these other bats have such a stark advantage.

Furthermore, it’s fair to wonder whether the inconsistent playing time is partially to blame for Brent Rooker’s hot and cold streaks. For a player who has so much swing and miss with such little plate discipline, consistent reps may be keeping him from unlocking his full potential.

Hand him the Keys

To combat any kind of concerns with splits or reps, the Twins could simply play Rooker nearly everyday. Larnach will likely begin 2021 in the minors and it could create an opening for him to really get a fair shake at showing what he can do between the DH spot and the corner outfield. 

The down side of this idea has been well documented, as Rooker is far from an even league average defender. In his brief time in the outfield he’s been worth -2 Outs Above Average in left field and -1 in right. The bat would simply have to be unbelievable to make up for the troubles such a defensive downgrade would create.

It’s also difficult to envision anything close to a full time DH role. With Kirilloff back and Sano showing little improvement at first base, it’s easy to see the former filling nearly all of the time at first base, leaving Sano to more often than not fill the DH spot. For as frustrated as the fan base is with Sano, Rooker has a long way to go to prove that he deserves those at bats over him.

Find a Trade Partner

It’s a strong possibility that the National League will be adopting the designated hitter this winter which would create 15 more suitors for a defensively-challenged slugger such as Rooker. While he likely wouldn’t draw much of a return on his own, it’s easy to see him being a nice peripheral piece to a bigger deal with a team that has no immediate options at their newly opened DH spot.

While it’s always nerve-racking to part with a prospect who once had such shine, the Twins need to be realistic this winter. At 27 years old headed into 2022, Brent Rooker still has more questions than answers about his future in Major League Baseball. Those answers won’t be found while playing every 3rd or 4th day, and unless the Twins are prepared to provide a real opportunity, it’s really not even fair to him.

 

So which road should the Twins take? Does Brent Rooker need a fair chance at a full time job or has his window with the Twins closed? Let us know below!

 

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I've seen enough to know if the decision was up to me, I'd cut the cord.  Is this how low we've fallen that we should accept ALL the holes and deficiencies in a player's game just because he can hit the occasional tape measure shot?  If Rooker was "Dave Kingman" that might be acceptable.  But he's nowhere near that.  The BEST case scenario would be including him in a trade (Miami is desperate for offense, maybe a HR here and a HR there would help seal a deal).  The Twins have MUCH better options---Austin Martin, Celestino, Gordan, Arraez, NONE has the power Rooker has but they have far more strengths.  Depending how the Twins view Martin and Celestino, it might be necessary to find a RH hitting corner OF'er to add either thru a FA signing or trade because in my estimation, Rooker will never measure up.  

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I would look to deal Rooker if he could add value in a package. You don't want to give him away, but I don't think he's got all that much of a future in MN. His power certainly plays, but I'm unconvinced that he's going to make enough contact for him to be a significant contributor. I have more faith in Larnach developing at this point (and Larnach is clearly better on D).

He's still got an option, so really the question is whether he's worth keeping on the 40-man, and he probably is. But he's likely to get passed up by other players in the OF (Larnach, Kirilloff, Martin, Celestino, etc) so even with guys like Cave likely gone I think for him to find a regular role requires a significant injury. (Celestino's development in AAA is significant, because he's right-handed, can play all three defensive spots, and if he can hit like his minor-league track record suggests in his next call-up...he's a real asset. He wasn't ready for MLB this year, but his performance in AAA suggests he may be next year.)

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A couple of the previous responses to the post are right on - the Twins have better options, especially if one believes in the value of defense, speed, and contact. Rooker will not return any player of value by himself, but in combination with some combination of Larnach, Jeffers, Arraez, Duffey, or others a strong return may be gained. Miami looks like a decent trade partner if conversations can find mutual agreement on needs, maybe Milwaukee or Oakland as well.

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it's hard to know what FO will do. For they tend to overrate players like Rooker's profile and horde them. If it were up to me, he would've been traded this year when his value was much higher. Hopefully this year DH will be adapted in the NL, then his value would be higher & could be used in a package deal to obtain overdue needed quality pitching.  I'd be very disappointed again if Cave's services would be honored next year

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It’s very hard to see Rooker as having any long term place on the Twins for all the reasons stated. He also won’t have any trade value until after the 40 man is announced for the Rule 5 draft.  Why would any team trade for him when there’s at least a decent chance that he would be protected? I think the smart move is to leave him on the 40 man roster and then try to trade him maybe as a sweetener in a package deal. If there isn’t a reasonable deal out there, he does have an option left so we can give it one more yearBut that’s probably just delaying the inevitable. All this assumes there’s room for him on the 40 man without having to expose a decent pitching prospect. It’s a choice between him and any kind of pitcher with any kind of upside, Rooker  should go.

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2 hours ago, MMMordabito said:

He's got an option, so I don't think this is a decision that needs to be made this off-season. I think he's done enough to keep on the 40.  A 99 OPS+ in 212 MLB PAs is hardly a miserable failure for a rookie.  

 

28 minutes ago, Brandon said:

No one has claimed LF and Sano is a possible FA after next season.  Rooker was a 1 round draft pick of this regime. They will keep him and give him chances.

Agreed with these lines of thought. Rooker has an option. I would not extend Sano, and we just watched this team hobble through a season where only Polanco stayed healthy the whole season. I would like to keep some depth for 2022, and look to 2023 as well.

there’s room on the 40 for Rooker, but the FO would have some challenging rule 5 decisions to make, in order to do so.
 

There is only so much room for defensively challenged players, so I get parting ways with Rooker. The same case could be made for Astudillo

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Shows how fleeting and rough the life of a baseball player can be. He had a great opportunity last season and got injured. Then, bam, he had to prove he could play again in sprint training, and besides fighting against prospects like Larnach and Kirilloff, he was up against some minor league free agent signings in the likes of Refsynder, Garlick and Broxton, all who outplayed him in spring training. Then a miserable minor league start and suddenly is is looking at being overtaken in the outfield pecking order by a horde of others.

 

He couldn't just DH this year as the Twins resigned Cruz. Sano is still the go-to for first base, as Kirilloff will have to prove he is ready for full return in 2022.

 

Which still makes Rooker a more valuable keeper battling Cave or Refsynder for a 40-man spot. Is his spot more valuable for him, as a potential backup to anyone in 2022 with an option left, or do the Twins see if he can be a viable free agent and find a new home.

 

He, sadly, just seems the be the 27th guy on the roster at the moment. He does hold value if anything happens to a corner outfielder, first baseman or DH roster guy. But he doesn't outshine anyone else that could also fulfill those positions.

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There are other players stated about like Cave and the Turtle, I would move on from first, plus a lot of the injured 40 man roster people Garlick, Refsynder, and other marginal players on the 40 man.  He does have an option, which has value, but a trade after the rule 5 draft for pitching is probably the best we can hope for (As a minor part of a package for a mid-level starter.  

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This thread reminds me of LaMonte Wade, Jr. He was viewed as minor league depth, we had a surplus of left-handed bats in the outfield, so we traded him for a bullpen hopeful. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but how did that work out? I just hope that if we trade Rooker away we win the trade instead of repeating the Wade trade.

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""Furthermore, it’s fair to wonder whether the inconsistent playing time is partially to blame for Brent Rooker’s hot and cold streaks. For a player who has so much swing and miss with such little plate discipline, consistent reps may be keeping him from unlocking his full potential.""

 

With Baldelli at the helm, this will never change. Rocco thinks the most important job he has is changing his lineup every day. 

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I say what I say with all deference to any and all posters, I've watched Rooker since day one he was drafted. And what I have seen is a powerful and high OPS bat who has taken a few weeks at every level he's been at to adjust and then rake. And in the mixed up 2020 season that it was, he did the same thing before getting injured.

I have always been frustrated by various reports he could run well and had a good arm and was a sound athlete. And I've heard reports how bad he wa ps defensively. But last year, and this year, I've seen the back but also seen some really solid plays with the glove and arm that teases me and makes me wonder if he could be at least average. He's already shown me he's as relevant as Willingham or Young when it comes to defense, with the potential to be better still.

But it still comes back to the bat at the end of the day doesn't it?

The Twjns NEED a RH 4th OF who can do something both offensively and defensively. Celestino may be that guy eventually. Hell, he might even be a starter, And he's shown progress, but he's not ready just yet. IMO, the Twins should try to bring back Refsnyder on a milb deal. But I just don't know about Rooker at this point.

He's old enough, experienced enough, that you would think he might grab opportunity and run with it. But he just hasn't. I would love to keep him for one more year to see what happens. But with the DH almost certain to be league-wide in 2022 and beyond, i would absolutely include him jn a deal with a couple other solid prospects for a solid ML SP option. Some sort of Odorizzi/Maeda deal with him and a couple other solid prospects to secure such a deal.

If I'm a re-building team in either league, I'd be VERY curious as to what he might do daily as a 3rd piece in my re-build.

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Interesting discussion.  Like others, was really impressed with his bat in 2020.  But like most of this team, don’t know what the heck happened this year.

Question several comments above that there is lots of room on the 40-man.  Aren’t they 8 over right now?  Expect there are going to be several very good prospects who won’t make it come November.  Will the Twins lose the next Baddoo in this year’s Rule 5?

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He was high on the list last fall which makes me wonder if this is an off year for him. I guess it comes down to numbers and where he fits in. Hate to give up on a guy that was rated so high after 1 bad season, but I don't have the full knowledge of who else to chose from coming along in the system or the input of the coaches and scouts that see these guys all the time. Remember, he was supposed to be on the roster for the playoffs last year before he broke his arm wasn't he?

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10 hours ago, DocBauer said:

He's already shown me he's as relevant as Willingham or Young when it comes to defense, with the potential to be better still.

Agree wholeheartedly with this line, but oh my what a low bar for defense. Brent Rooker can be a very useful DH. Handsome, statuesque sluggers in the corner outfield positions are not a pitcher's friend. Kepler gets a spot every time because he always plays defense and can get on a roll at the plate occasionally. I see Rooker as redundant to Donaldson, Sano, Larnach, and Arraez in two spots, DH and the field. Keep him if there isn't a way to use him as a part of a major trade.

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Rooker appears to be at the end of the line with us. However, he hasn't played with any consistency so you just don't know. The stats don't look good. I don't see how his wr+ (whatever that is) could be better than the league average with a .220 average. I'm old school and don't believe those advanced stats mean much. Give me average, avg with runners in scoring position and how you move runners with less than 2 outs every time.

As for Sano, I just don't know. I wouldn't overpay him but what power do we really have after him? Donaldson is getting on, Polanco will NOT hit 30 homers next year and Buxton is a health and returning question mark. We don't really know about Kiriloff and Larnach and even Garver so maybe Sano is worth a 2 year deal to be our DH.

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17 hours ago, se7799 said:

In what world is a slash line of 206/294/413....14% above average?  Wow, if that line is 14% above average, what the heck would below average look like.

That's one metric. His OPS+ is 99 for his career, 92 this season. So this year he's hitting a bit below league average, which is not great for an OF who is pretty awful on defense.

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I’ve seen enough of Rooker.  His short comings out way his skills over the long haul.  He doesn’t take walks, he players terrible defense and doesn’t hit lefties a lot. He is at best a .250 hitter.
If Gordon and Arreaz are capable outfielders going forward.  I’ve seen enough to say yes.

Have we not forgot about garlick? He plays better defense and can mash lefties and would complement the corner OF of Kirloff Kepler Gordon much better.  

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19 hours ago, se7799 said:

In what world is a slash line of 206/294/413....14% above average?  Wow, if that line is 14% above average, what the heck would below average look like.

I have no idea, either. I just pulled up his FanGraphs page and now he's at .203/.297/.401 which is a 93 wRC+. I have doubts the 114 wRC+ number was correct. 

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16 hours ago, Nine of twelve said:

This thread reminds me of LaMonte Wade, Jr. He was viewed as minor league depth, we had a surplus of left-handed bats in the outfield, so we traded him for a bullpen hopeful. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but how did that work out? I just hope that if we trade Rooker away we win the trade instead of repeating the Wade trade.

I don’t think Wade is a good comp.
In AA/AAA Wade never hit like Rooker. Wade has been a 100-ish wRC+ sporting mixed results as a fielder and maybe miscast as a CF. Rooker on the other hand has been 140s to 160s wRC+ and is a decidedly negative UZR150.

there wasn’t much shown with the bat for Wade to have predicted a 125 wRC+ in the bigs in 2021, but he’s a good enough fielder to stick (like Cave). Rooker on the other hand has a big league bat if his eye at the plate continues to improve. 
 

The question is no longer how many no hit mediocre fielding 4th outfielders can a team carry? The question is: how many DHs can a team carry, and which one sticks?

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6 hours ago, Andrew Bryz-Gornia said:

I have no idea, either. I just pulled up his FanGraphs page and now he's at .203/.297/.401 which is a 93 wRC+. I have doubts the 114 wRC+ number was correct. 

Thanks, that I believe

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8 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

That's one metric. His OPS+ is 99 for his career, 92 this season. So this year he's hitting a bit below league average, which is not great for an OF who is pretty awful on defense.

I would never treat a metric which has this as 14 % above average.  

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7 hours ago, Sconnie said:

I don’t think Wade is a good comp.
In AA/AAA Wade never hit like Rooker. Wade has been a 100-ish wRC+ sporting mixed results as a fielder and maybe miscast as a CF. Rooker on the other hand has been 140s to 160s wRC+ and is a decidedly negative UZR150.

 

My post was not intended to compare Wade and Rooker as players. It was intended to compare their situations regarding the 40-man and the possibility of a trade.

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On 9/25/2021 at 4:54 PM, Nine of twelve said:

This thread reminds me of LaMonte Wade, Jr. He was viewed as minor league depth, we had a surplus of left-handed bats in the outfield, so we traded him for a bullpen hopeful. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time, but how did that work out? I just hope that if we trade Rooker away we win the trade instead of repeating the Wade trade.

Wade can play some defense. Rooker cannot. If he had any chance on defense, he'd start in left next year. But I think that is Gordon, Martin, Larnach, Celestino territory next year. I don't know where he plays much next year, assuming kiriloff is healthy at all ... Which seems like a big assumption. 

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