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What Happens to the Twins Emerging Star?


Jose Miranda has played in 123 games across the Minnesota Twins minor league system in 2021. He’s dominated both Double-A and Triple-A, but with just days left in the season, no promotion is coming. What lies ahead in 2022?

Recently named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year, the Twins Minor League Player of the Year, and the MLB Pipeline All-Prospect 1st Team, Miranda has picked up all of the accolades. It’s hard to be surprised, given his performance. For the season, he owns a .347/.403/.574 (.977) slash line along with 60 extra-base hits, of which 29 are home runs. His 73/41 K/BB rate suggests a strong eye and plate discipline ability, and despite the year with no minor league action, it’s hard to see anything but an immense amount of work put in.

For a Minnesota Twins team that saw their season end essentially before it ever got off the ground, it’s worth wondering how Miranda wasn’t selected to see action at the big-league level. The role isn’t straightforward, though, and it’s something Derek Falvey and Rocco Baldelli will need to sort out for the year ahead.

In 2021, Miranda played games at every infield position aside from catcher, and he even got three starts in left field. Primarily a third basemen, that role is currently occupied by Josh Donaldson, who has been one of the Twins better hitters and is signed to a large contract. Miranda is blocked at second base by one of the game’s best in Jorge Polanco, and he’s miscast playing shortstop. It appeared that the Twins wanted to see his abilities at first base, but that’s a role currently held down by Miguel Sano and likely Alex Kirilloff next season. So, where does he go?

Had the Twins dealt Donaldson at the trade deadline, it essentially would’ve been to swing a cash dump. Donaldson, and more notably his contract, will never net the Twins anything close to an equal value. Given his uptick in production, it made sense to keep him around for the year ahead. If Minnesota is entering a rebuild, though, Donaldson’s services are much less needed, and he’d likely desire an opportunity to win elsewhere. The man at the hot corner remains much of the linchpin to this situation, though.

Suppose Donaldson was out of the picture, an immediate opening is created for Miranda. He could slot in as Baldelli’s everyday third basemen. The other option would be to roll with Jorge Polanco as the team’s shortstop next season. We’ve seen that he’s stretched defensively in that position, and for a guy who’s looked so good at second base, it’d be a tough sell to put him in that spot. With Polanco at short though, Miranda could draw the most starts at second base, with Luis Arraez continuing to operate in a super-utility role as he has.

The other possibility is at first base, moving Miguel Sano to a full-time designated hitter role. That forces Alex Kirilloff into the outfield, however, and leaves Trevor Larnach or Max Kepler twisting in the wind. Sano being the primary designated hitter also reduces the lineup flexibility for Baldelli on a nightly basis. It's an option, but wouldn't strike me as a desirable one.

No matter what the decision-making process is, the Twins need a solution. Miranda was not a top-100 prospect entering the season, but coming off his production at the highest levels and being just 23-years-old, forcing his way into the immediate plans has been accomplished.

From my perspective, the Twins still need to sign a starting-caliber shortstop, preferably on a one-year deal. That doesn’t help the chances of Miranda making the Opening Day roster or squeezing his way in quickly, but if there’s anything we’ve learned from 2021, it’s that the roster turnover comes quickly and often.

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Ted - I think you nailed all the issues. I’ll go first. 


The 2022 Twins are a going to be about the future - not the present. The team is not likely to be in the position to realistically compete given the projected staff and ownership’s probable (and justifiable) reluctance to go all in again (particularly after possibly losing a boatload of cash over the past two years). 

Consequently, Josh should be moved for whatever salary relief we can get. I liked the move when we signed him, but the window that made that deal a decent bet has closed. Use the savings to redeploy into singing Buxton, a new SS and pitching (I’d add Kepler to the move list too with the same target use of proceeds)

Miranda plays 3B, Polanco 2B, Kiriloff 1B and Sano is DH. Luis plays LF and Larnach is RF. The new SS and Buxton provide strong defensive chops up the middle. Resign Pineda (to a lumber deal between a 2x4 and 2x6). Let the young guys start and build a shutdown pen. That team could play competitive ball, be within realistic payroll expectations, and build for the start of a new window in 2023. 
 


 

 

 

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Miranda can try LF.  Its not like Larnarch or Rooker have claimed it yet.  But those three can vie for LF next spring.  Also someone can get hurt giving Miranda an opportunity and he can also be a super utility player and play LF, 3B DH and 1B and since he has options can spend some time in the minors.  He may not get 500+ AB in the majors but 400 between the majors and minors is possible with close to 300 of those appearances in the majors.  

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3 hours ago, Brandon said:

Miranda can try LF

This works for me, especially because he is a righty, but *still* leaves trading Donaldson as an obvious choice, perhaps at the 2022 deadline.

*After* a Donaldson trade, you would have a possible lineup of:

  1. Sano
  2. Garver
  3. Kiriloff
  4. Polanco
  5. Arraez
  6. FA/Martin/Trade Acquisition
  7. Miranda
  8. Buxton
  9. Kepler

With Larnach, Rooker, Jeffers, Gordon as bench. You'd still have Lewis, Celestino, etc. coming

 

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Lots of questions.  Some will be answered by the front office over the winter.  I fear others will not.

The most obvious move to open a spot for Miranda is to trade Donaldson.  Unfortunately, the FO needs a trading partner to agree to a reasonable deal, whereas, those of us at these sites don't.  Is there a partner out there for the Twins to make that move?  And even if they eat some of JD's salary, it would still provide dollars to use towards a Buxton extension and/or a very good starting pitcher.

Expect there are other moves that would open a spot, but the only two that make sense are at first and second.  Unfortunately, the Twins have two players already penciled in for each of those spots...three at second if you include Gordon.  So the obvious move is also the best...open up a job for him at third base.  Come on Front Office, find a way!!!

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"He could slot in as Baldelli’s everyday third basemen."

That'll never happen. Baldelli doesn't know how to play someone everyday.

"Sano being the primary designated hitter also reduces the lineup flexibility for Baldelli on a nightly basis."

This would be a good thing. The good players need to be playing everyday. Reducing Baldelli's ability to put his scrubs like Cave and Astudillo into the lineup makes the team better.

Unfortunately for 2022 this team won't change much on the field except when Baldelli sets his lineup which happens daily. If everyone stays healthy:

Garver needs to get 120+ games at Catcher with Jeffers or Rortvedt getting the other 40. 

Sano will be the everyday 1B unless traded.

Polanco is a no brainer at 2B. 150-160 games please.

A new SS.

Arraez at 3B, again 150-160 games.

Miranda in LF, Buck in CF, Kirilloff in RF.

Donaldson the everyday DH. 

Gordon in a utility role. Kepler to the bench. 2 new bench players please to replace Cave and the Turtle. They aren't helping this team.

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31 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

So am I understanding correctly, The Twins should trade a 3B with a 3.2 WAR in in 132 games, and 3.6 in 160 games and eat millions and millions of dollars , for salary relief and hand a spot to rookie 3B?

Yes, Twins lucky Donaldson was not out with injury for extended time this year. Twins could trade him for a bucket of ball and I would not complain. I am an optimist but still can't see Twins contending next year, why take risk with Donaldson-would rather see money invested in new pitching.

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I am worried to make moves expecting Miranda to just come in and be MLB guy for years to come.  He put up huge numbers this year and should get a shot next year, but to just slot him in can blow up in your face.  I am never a fan of moving established guys that can at least produce at MLB level for unproven guys that may not produce.  

That being said, if Donaldson can be moved for some value I am for it, but if not I would look to move or dump Sano.  That would free up a spot for a few guys to play.  Even if you keep both, not having a set DH like Cruz you can use that to rotate guys around. 

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10 minutes ago, Trov said:

I am worried to make moves expecting Miranda to just come in and be MLB guy for years to come.  He put up huge numbers this year and should get a shot next year, but to just slot him in can blow up in your face.  I am never a fan of moving established guys that can at least produce at MLB level for unproven guys that may not produce.  

That being said, if Donaldson can be moved for some value I am for it, but if not I would look to move or dump Sano.  That would free up a spot for a few guys to play.  Even if you keep both, not having a set DH like Cruz you can use that to rotate guys around. 

Will agree that your concern about Miranda stepping in at third from day one is legitimate.  The good news is that if the Twins go down this road and Miranda needs more time at AAA, Arraez is available to start at third until he is ready.  

That assumes that Polo isn't the everyday shortstop and Arraez is again super utility.  

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Not taking away from Miranda's extraordinary year, but isn't it premature to anoint him "an emerging star"?  Without major league experience, it would be foolish to trade either Sano or Donaldson on a team that has been offensively challenged this year.  If we can trust Pohlad's assertion that 2022 is not going to be a rebuilding year(big ??? there), then expecting Miranda to step right in to the starting lineup on Day 1 would be foolish.  Let's ease him into the lineup rather than adding more pressure at the get-go; after all, this guy has had one great season after several of mediocrity.  If he continues his 2021 performance, they'll find a spot for him.  This lineup has lots of holes!!

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56 minutes ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

So am I understanding correctly, The Twins should trade a 3B with a 3.2 WAR in in 132 games, and 3.6 in 160 games and eat millions and millions of dollars , for salary relief and hand a spot to rookie 3B?

 

 

I'm also confused why anyone sees Donaldson as anything other than a positive for the Twins. I guess it continues to beg the question - what are the Twins plans going forward? 

Jose Miranda has had a terrific season and if he is ready to contribute at the major league level there will be a spot for him. He can be a piece next year or perhaps included in a trade for pitching. If the Twins are planning to be competitive next season (.500 or better), they will need to explore every decent free agent and trade possible. Every single player can be traded from the current roster if the trade makes the team better. Obviously, there are players we want to hold (Polanco, Buxton, Donaldson) or develop further (Ryan, etc.), but the goal needs to focus on a better team in 2022.

Miranda needs to play where he is a better defender. If he can play an average LF and hit, fine. The Twins do not need any more weak defenders. I'm hoping he gets 500-600 at bats next year for the Twins and hits .280 with production as well as playing sound defense, likely between 3B, 1B, and 2B.

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Trade away in this order, for return value:

1. Arraez - high on base top of the order guy, he has real return value despite his defensive liability

2. Kepler — on the “better a year too early than a year too late” scale the Twins flubbed this one, but there might be a starter of some merit the Twins could acquire with Kepler and another stick (Larnach, Celestino) thrown in. Do NOT trade away or give up on any more pitching (Presley, Hendricks, Gil, Ynoa)  acquire acquire acquire

3. Donaldson/Sano/Jeffers/Rooker — DH in both leagues increases the value of guys who can club the ball and can play a position in a pinch. Generating any return value for these guys for a proven starter will require $$s and/or adding a prospect to the mix. 

Objective: add starters. Sign a shortstop. Start fresh. 

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We have a surplus of (non shortstop) infielders, and we need pitching very badly. There's only one reasonable way this equation can resolve. It's an area of strength that we can afford to trade from and the need is dire. Somebody's gotta get traded. I'd prefer that it be Donaldson, but if we can't move Donaldson, the other guys are sadly expendable. If Donaldson, Arraez, Polanco, and Sano are all on the roster next spring and Miranda is still playing tee ball against AAA pitching in St. Paul, then the Twins will have failed to capitalize on a very advantageous situation.

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If there is a serious desire to get Miranda regular reps in the majors, the move is to move Sano. Donaldson is a fairly consistent player that young players can depend on, he can play a couple different spots as needed, and will take pressure of young players to produce. He is the type of guy you keep with a young roster.

 

Sano is just too inconsistent to have hang around because his strikeouts are a lot for a roster to deal with that is trying to build confidence and grow, Also, his lack of versatility hinders the managers ability to shift players around to give young players and vets the rest they need. I like Sano, but he is a player best suited for an established roster.

 

Keeping Polanco at 2B should be priority 1 and should not be shifted to give unproven MLB players reps. 

 

Putting consistency around Larnach, Miranda, Kiriloff and the other young players on the verge should be priority 2. I feel like Donaldson does that more than Sano.

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I do not have the solution, but would have loved to see Miranda get some MLB exposure.  However, moving Donaldson to DH does not work for me, I watched him run out to LF and catch a fly that I don't believe more than 2 or 3 players would have gotten to.  His bat is valuable, but so is his glove.  I want Miranda up, but I do not know where. 

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5 minutes ago, chopper0080 said:

If there is a serious desire to get Miranda regular reps in the majors, the move is to move Sano. Donaldson is a fairly consistent player that young players can depend on, he can play a couple different spots as needed, and will take pressure of young players to produce. He is the type of guy you keep with a young roster.

 

Sano is just too inconsistent to have hang around because his strikeouts are a lot for a roster to deal with that is trying to build confidence and grow, Also, his lack of versatility hinders the managers ability to shift players around to give young players and vets the rest they need. I like Sano, but he is a player best suited for an established roster.

 

Keeping Polanco at 2B should be priority 1 and should not be shifted to give unproven MLB players reps. 

 

Putting consistency around Larnach, Miranda, Kiriloff and the other young players on the verge should be priority 2. I feel like Donaldson does that more than Sano.

Not sure trading Sano opens up anything? If not for Kirilloff's injury, Miguel would have ridden the bench the past month. I think we keep Sano as primary DH and back up 1B/3B. I'd try Kirilloff back in the OF and give Miranda 1B.

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2 minutes ago, In My La Z boy said:

Not sure trading Sano opens up anything? If not for Kirilloff's injury, Miguel would have ridden the bench the past month. I think we keep Sano as primary DH and back up 1B/3B. I'd try Kirilloff back in the OF and give Miranda 1B.

I like opening up the DH spot for multiple players to use vs having a dedicated DH, especially when I am trying to evaluate and grow multiple young players. Keeping Sano takes that away. I also like the ability of putting young players at the positions they are most comfortable at. I would rather play Kirilloff at 1B and Miranda at 3B if that is where they are comfortable and project the best. That doesn't mean Miranda can't get some 1B reps and Kirilloff can't get some OF reps but having three spots for each of them to get at bats on the roster is valuable along with being able to keep Donaldson fresh.

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Agree that Donaldson is a positive for the Twins both offensively and defensively. He also provides a certain degree of leadership as well as experience. Now, if he suddenly wants out or is disgruntled and could be a disruptive presence, then you do all you can to move him. 

Arguing about his health is pointless on a couple levels. No player is of value when out with injury. And if Donaldson is such a risk, even after been largely healthy and available this year, then wouldn't other teams ha e to consider that in regard to trade talks? I'm not saying don't trade him if a good/smart deal comes along. But how much $ do you have to throw in to get him moved for virtually nothing in return? And how much $ do you actually save to make a difference, especially compared to his potential value you are now losing?

It's just not as simple/easy as saying ",move him".

When the Twins add a SS...and hopefully a quality RH 4th OF...it's really easy to see a player roster of up to 18 players to roll through during the season. A lot of times these things just seem to work themselves out. I can't wait to see Miranda. And I'd like him playing daily or close. But unless 2022 is a true lost re-tool situation/opportunity, nothing wrong with having the most talent you can, the most depth you can, and work Miranda in rather than just handing him a guaranteed job.

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2 hours ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

So am I understanding correctly, The Twins should trade a 3B with a 3.2 WAR in in 132 games, and 3.6 in 160 games and eat millions and millions of dollars , for salary relief and hand a spot to rookie 3B?

I don't think they need to eat any money. Donaldson's remaining contract is essentially 3 years $58M. That is very tradeable for a 3-4 WAR player.

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i think  there's room to get Miranda reps regardless: Donaldson is going to get some reps at DH, likely miss some time due to injury/rest, and there's going to be reps available in both corner OF spots and at DH as well. Kirilloff is going to likely get a starting spot, but Miranda fits well as a bench bat who can play multiple spots.

but good lord, can we stop putting out any articles on next year's lineup that have Polanco playing extensive time at SS? It is literally never going to happen, absent massive injuries to: a FA signing at SS (almost certain to happen), Royce Lewis, Austin Martin, even Nick Gordon, etc. The Twins want Polanco at 2B. Of course they do: he's an all-star there and it looks like he can stay healthy there too. I swear, any article that has "if the Twins slide Polanco over to SS..." in it is automatically invalid. Please stop. Polanco is a poor defensive SS, the position appears to negatively impact his health, the Twins have repeatedly shown they don't want him playing SS full-time, and he's an elite player at 2B. Trying the slot Polanco in at SS is a strat-o-matic play, not real baseball.

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Move Sano along with Larnach in a package deal to get a MLB starter.  Someone will bite on Sano hit 30 HR's and striking out 45% of the time.  He is what he shows.  Larnach might not be an answer in the outfield, if you think he is then Package Sano and Kepler together.  

This opens the door for Miranda to get his feet wet in the show.  Rotate Miranda and Kiriloff at 1B along with Miranda at 3rd.  Donaldson can take a day off here and there and you can get Garver some DH at bats to rest his legs behind the dish.  

Looks good to me on paper, but paper don't win games.  

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5 hours ago, ToddlerHarmon said:

This works for me, especially because he is a righty, but *still* leaves trading Donaldson as an obvious choice, perhaps at the 2022 deadline.

*After* a Donaldson trade, you would have a possible lineup of:

  1. Sano
  2. Garver
  3. Kiriloff
  4. Polanco
  5. Arraez
  6. FA/Martin/Trade Acquisition
  7. Miranda
  8. Buxton
  9. Kepler

With Larnach, Rooker, Jeffers, Gordon as bench. You'd still have Lewis, Celestino, etc. coming

 

Donaldson could play 3B/DH in a 60/40 split with Miranda in LF / 3B split of 60/40 with Arreaz in LF 40% and utility

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I don't see much of an issue. As we saw this year, there are always injuries. Depth is good. 

 

Even if everyone is healthy, with no Cruz we can do a lot of mixing and matching. Donaldson/Miranda split 3B, Sano/Kiriloff split 1B, Donaldson/Sano/Arraez split DH, Kiriloff/Arraez/Miranda split LF, and if they trade Kepler then Kiriloff can slide over to RF part time too. But most likely someone will get injured and we will have a good fill-in

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We need to move beyond the idea that there will be set starters at every position.  Polanco at 2B, Buxton (if not traded) in CF, and a FA at SS should be the only starters that play at the same spot every time they play.  The Twins should bring 13 players north next year, and most of them should play multiple positions, and allow Rocco to create lineups based on matchups.  Here's the 13 players I would choose;

  • Garver
  • Jeffers
  • Kiriloff
  • Sano
  • Polanco
  • Arraez
  • FA SS
  • Donaldson
  • Miranda
  • Larnach
  • Buxton
  • Kepler
  • Celestino

Your DH will differ on a daily basis, dependent on matchups and health, and I also wouldn't be opposed to trading either Jeffers or Garver, and getting a better left-handed catcher than Rortvedt.  The other option is to trade Sano, and turn Garver into a 1B/DH who can catch a handful of times a year, and make Rortvedt your second catcher.  Lewis and Martin can be trade bait for starting pitching, or can take the place of Arraez/Donaldson/Kepler when they're ready.  Every team will have around 6k PAs in a year, so with 13 guys, you can average about 450 PAs per player.

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41 minutes ago, milkytoast said:

I don't see much of an issue. As we saw this year, there are always injuries. Depth is good. 

 

Even if everyone is healthy, with no Cruz we can do a lot of mixing and matching. Donaldson/Miranda split 3B, Sano/Kiriloff split 1B, Donaldson/Sano/Arraez split DH, Kiriloff/Arraez/Miranda split LF, and if they trade Kepler then Kiriloff can slide over to RF part time too. But most likely someone will get injured and we will have a good fill-in

This is why the only position player spot I want us making a FA signing in is SS. we have options to fill out what can be an excellent lineup. 4th OF could be a competition between Celestino and Martin, both of whom can play CF effectively and would provide superior D in the corners if they slot over there. both are RH, which makes them good options to back up Kepler and Kirilloff.

I'd like to see 13 guys at the position slots:

OF: Buxton, Kepler, Kirilloff, Celestino/Martin

Corner INF: Donaldson, Sano, Miranda

Middle INF: FA SS, Polanco, Arraez, Gordon

Catcher: Garver, Jeffers

Then you mix it up at DH with Donaldson, Arraez, Miranda, any OF that needs a day off in the field, etc, Kirilloff can get some time at 1B and give Miranda time out in the OF.

Should be enough ABs to go around. Larnach and whichever of Celestino/Martin doesn't win the battle in spring training are the first two OF bats to call up, and Martin could move around into the infield if needed. Maybe you let Gordon be depth in AAA (he has an option left) and make sure you have a better defender backing up SS. There's room for Miranda when you dump Jake Cave & Astudillo's ABs.

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