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Ranking the Top Free Agent Shortstop Options


The Minnesota Twins will be in the market for an answer at shortstop again in 2022. With Andrelton Simmons gone, they’ll inevitably have someone new covering the position. So, who will it be?

Assuming Minnesota doesn’t decide to slide second basemen Jorge Polanco, back across the diamond, they’ll need an answer at shortstop for the upcoming season. Polanco going back to his old position would allow Luis Arraez to start and an avenue for consistent playing time geared towards Jose Miranda. That said, it’d also be a decision in reverse with Polanco having been moved off the position in an attempt to avoid his defensive deficiencies there.

Having lost the 2021 season due to a torn ACL, Royce Lewis won’t be an option out of the gate, and Austin Martin looks more the part of an outfielder than an infielder. Fortunately for Derek Falvey, this free-agent crop is littered with good shortstop options. So, let’s rank them by considering a fit and potential contract.

5. Marcus Semien 
What a difference a year makes. Last offseason, the Twins were runner-up for Semien’s services before he chose the Toronto Blue Jays. At that time, the longtime Athletics infielder was coming off a .679 OPS in 2020. Fast-forward to where we are now, and he posted an .873 OPS with a career-high 45 home runs. Semien isn’t going to win the MVP, that’s ticketed for Shohei Ohtani, but he’ll be in the top five and could finish right behind teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr.

As a first-time All-Star, Semien just recently turned 31-years-old. He’s going to get paid and should be looking for no less than a four-year deal. Right now, that isn’t going to fit into the Twins plans given the uncertainty of Lewis’s future role. Coming off such a poor season, that type of commitment could pigeonhole Minnesota negatively in the immediate future.

4. Corey Seager
If there’s a guy in this group that doesn’t change teams, I will bet on it being Seager. A second straight season with an OPS north of .900, the Dodgers shortstop has established himself as one of baseball’s best players. He’ll be 28-years-old next season and has spent his entire seven-year career with Los Angeles. Finding something in the range of six to eight years would seem suitable for him, and that’s not going to come cheap.

After acquiring Trea Turner at the deadline this season, it would make sense for the Dodgers to run it back with their up-the-middle-duo. The Dodgers are also set to lose Chris Taylor to free agency this offseason, and some of that blow could be cushioned by retaining the services of Seager. He’s been so good for so long, and it’s plenty logical that his prime remains in front of him.

3. Carlos Correa
Having just turned 27-years-old, Correa is the youngest option on this list, and he’s quite possibly the most talented. Injury concerns have been a part of his past, by the Astros shortstop did play in 148 games this season. His .850 OPS was not a career-high, but the 26 long balls were. Correa has the cheating scandal tied to him, but it’s clear that the talent is there with or without additional help.

A serious on-base threat, Correa has posted a least a 124 OPS+ in five of his seven big-league seasons. He presents the combination of contact, power, and plus-defensive ability, which only enhances his premium at the position. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets a bigger deal than Seager or Semien, but I think that could go either way, and I believe he’s the best bet for future success.

2. Trevor Story
Once assumed to be ticketed out of Colorado at any point during the 2021 season, Story hung on and finished the year there. His .801 OPS was the second-lowest tally of his career, and his 24 dingers matched the lowest full-season totally of his career. Still posting a 103 OPS+, he was above league average, but there’s nothing about 2021 that substantially increased his earning potential.

This is Story’s big chance for a long-term payday as well, which would seem counter-productive to the Twins plans. That said, if he’s open to a one-year deal in hopes of increasing his value, that’s where Minnesota should look to pounce. He, too, combines strong defense with contact and power, making the offensive addition equally as enticing.

1. Javier Baez
This looked like a better fit when Minnesota still employed Baez’s brother-in-law, Jose Berrios. That said, the soon-to-be 29-year-old still fits wonderfully for the Twins. He’s an elite defender that should be looking to regain some positive momentum on a one-year deal, and Minnesota can afford to pay him handsomely over a single season.

Baez posted a lackluster .775 OPS with the Chicago Cubs but turned it on to the tune of a .886 mark in 47 games with the New York Mets. His actual production is probably somewhere in the middle of that, but he should trend above the career .783 OPS as he enters his prime. Javy is an elite defender, can play on both sides of second base if needed and would be a great teacher for Minnesota’s blossoming infield talent. A fan and clubhouse favorite, this is where I’d throw my money if I held the Twins bankroll.

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I would put money into a top 2 starter and Buxton.

Shortstop is a demanding position and unless they are elite like Simmons or Crawford they are often below average defenders in their late 20s. In this list there is only one player with a positive OOA at SS in Correa. Story and Seager ranked 27th and 28th of 36 qualified. Baez was 20th. The three will probably need to move the position before their contract expires. Maybe long before. Semien has already moved off and justifiably so.

in 2020 Polanco ranked above Semien, Seager and Story. They already have Polanco at 2B and Donaldson/Arraez at 3B. There is no space for movement.

My fear is that they will wait out the market and Story will be the last remaining, They will end up overpaying for a player whose best days at SS are well behind him bringing a bat that has been boosted by a .972 career OPS at home vs. .752 on the road,

Unless they want to go after Correa I don’t think any of the others are a real upgrade over Polanco.

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Have to disagree on Baez after watching him play here on the north side for many years.  Two reasons for a negative vote: 1.) On offense he is an all or nothing batter, K or HR; we need contact hitters! and 2.) love his spirit but not sure he's a good fit with laid-back, dispassionate Twins.  Of course, he would be an upgrade over Simmons and if the budget was ample enough to resign Buxton, add one top rotation piece, and two back-end relievers, with money (probably at least $15-20MM for a one year contract) left for signing Baez, then go for it!  

Since this would necessitate a $150MM + payroll, what are the odds of this happening?  Slim to none, IMO.  It's just not in this org"s DNA to go on a spending spree.

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If Polhad wanted to spend the money to get any of these top ranked SS none would want to come. Baez had the most interest to come but we traded that reason away.  We still have greater need at starting pitching. Spending $ on top FAs almost never pay off, so I'm not in favor of signing any of them. We definitely need a SS but they are not worth it.  

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As much as I know we need a SS and as good as this crop is, I've been pushing the idea of a glove guy like Iglesias or Galvis and investing more in upgrading our pitching staff.  Now another interesting idea has popped up here in TD and that is pursuing a trade with the Royals for Adelberto Mondesi.  He's only 25.  Has great talent and tremendous speed.  He just can't stay healthy.  The Royals moved Nicky Lopez from 2B to SS last year and he played very well.  The Royals have Bobby Witt jr waiting in the wings as well and NOTHING is stopping him from becoming their SS for YEARS (and maybe as soon as June or July next year).  So Mondesi is available.  I've suggested a Canterino & Strotman trade for him.  He's a much better fit for the Twins as he's arbitration eligible but still has two years of team control.  And trading him leaves the Twins better flexibility to sign Buxton and a top-shelf FA SP.  It doesn't have to be Canterino & Strotman, but if I'm the Twins FO, I'm talking to the Royals and making every effort to get something done.  Inter division trades are "difficult."  But we should be on this idea.

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One other name I've thrown out there and forgot to mention is Paul DeJong of the Cardinals.  He's effectively been beaten out by Sosa.  DeJong is a very good glove who hits with power as a SS.  He's too much an all or nothing slugger in some ways and health has been an issue (like Mondesi) but if the Twins can't swing big for  Mondesi  DeJong wouldn't be a bad fallback.  Trading Charley Barnes for him straight up seems to work on BTV's.  Not sure what DeJong's salary is, but he's a decent fallback option.

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At the same time that we debate whether to keep Josh Donaldson in his big contract we talk about giving a big contract to a shortstop home by the end of it will also be moved to second base or we will try to trade him. Get the pictures we need use Polanco until Martin or Lewis is ready and stop looking at everybody else's shiny toy is something better than the one we have. And I don't mean that comment to criticize this article which I thought was well done. This is what we have to do if we're going to sign the shortstop I just don't think we should

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Baez might flourish in a make it one year deal with the Twins. Mondesi would be good but cost more in trade than is being discussed currently. DeJong is an option but is still owed @$17 million for next two years. While i always liked Inglesias, he looks more like a utility option at this point and I believe Arrianza is better signing if we are looking for veteran fill ins. Galvis may be a solid option. 

It is annoying to type repeatedly, but it sure seems like the Twins almost need to solve the Buxton situation before signing free agents. I am hoping for a few quick trades, even if the Twins overpay and if the Royals would trade Mondesi to our team - that would be really sweet.

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No to  any of the 5 shortstops mentioned here. Let's see what we have already (Lewis and Martin and Miranda) and sign Buck and  a top SP and a top, FLAME THROWING RP. Let's get some more heat and promote our existing  flame throwers. Did anyone else notice how many former Twins relief pitchers are on teams which are in the playoffs this year? Will somebody on this website please explain why the Twins have waived, traded, lost so many flame throwing relievers, some of whom are now still pitching in October?  I am sick of seeing former Twins minor league stars languishing in AAA and AAin the Twins system,, only to be waiver and then succeed on another major league team. We here at Twins Daily invest a lot of our time and energy learning about these rising stars by way of the excellent writers and our minor league reports (Thanks Seth). Seth,, you put a positive spin on most of your articles. Can you explain how these relievers have slipped away and who is to blame? Or am I just over reaction? 

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1 minute ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

No to  any of the 5 shortstops mentioned here. Let's see what we have already (Lewis and Martin and Miranda) and sign Buck and  a top SP and a top, FLAME THROWING RP. Let's get some more heat and promote our existing  flame throwers. Did anyone else notice how many former Twins relief pitchers are on teams which are in the playoffs this year? Will somebody on this website please explain why the Twins have waived, traded, lost so many flame throwing relievers, some of whom are now still pitching in October?  I am sick of seeing former Twins minor league stars languishing in AAA and AAin the Twins system,, only to be waiver and then succeed on another major league team. We here at Twins Daily invest a lot of our time and energy learning about these rising stars by way of the excellent writers and our minor league reports (Thanks Seth). Seth,, you put a positive spin on most of your articles. Can you explain how these relievers have slipped away and who is to blame? Or am I just over reaction? 

Can you tell from my grammatical errors in my post above, that I am upset about this issue?  I think I'll get off this site for now and go take a walk.

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50 minutes ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

...Let's see what we have already (Lewis and Martin and Miranda)...

Lemme shorten this down for you (Lewis). 

Lewis hasn't played competitive baseball for two years, had rock hands when he was playing and couldn't hit. He's got excellent athleticism and an awesome work ethic and attitude. The hopes are it can transform him but the "expectation" of Lewis turning into not only a starting caliber MLB player, but an All Star or MVP caliber shortstop, isn't warranted right now.

Martin and Miranda are very unlikely shortstops. Martin lacks the speed and arm. Miranda has never played significant time at shortstop in the Twins' system and he's thought of as an average-ish 3rd baseman. That's not a huge endorsement to try him out at shortstop.

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It surprises me that so many people write these 5 off in favor of a "glove guy" at SS for 1 year followed by Lewis or Martin. Lewis and Martin aren't glove guys so if your goal is a superior fielding SS then waiting for Lewis or Martin is a terrible plan. Semien moved off SS in deference to the Blue Jays incumbent super-star-to-be SS, not because he couldn't field the position. He was in the running for a gold glove his last 2 years in Oakland. Correa is maybe the front runner for the gold glove this year. Story has long been considered a plus glove and Baez is widely considered one of the best all around gloves in the game.

I know the defensive metrics don't always match what the perception of players are, but, as someone who has worked for multiple analytics companies that put out these defensive stats, all I can say is to take them with a grain of salt. They are nothing like the offensive stats you see and are wildly unstable. Just look at the difference in what all the metrics say and you can see that we are not exactly close to being able to produce a singular number to represent a player's defensive capabilities. 

I've said it in other threads, but my plan for this offseason would revolve around extending Buxton and signing one of these 5 guys. Semien would be my last option due to his age, and Seager would be my second to last as he's the worst fielder and most likely to be bumped to 3B of this group. But I'd take any of the other 3 on 6 or 7 year deals while locking Buxton up for 6 or 7 years and talking to Polanco about an extension to get him to 6 or 7 years as well. I'd have the 3 most important defensive positions on the field (I know some say catcher, but with the downturn in stolen base attempts and soon to come robo-umps I don't see them as being that important anymore and would switch to trying to go after offensive weapons behind the plate) locked in with all star to super star talent and worry about the rest after that. 

The Twins need pitching, there's no doubt about it. But to build sustainable pitching you need to develop it. If they can't develop pitching they're screwed anyways. I think there's a mix of deals for Pineda types, Gray/DeScalfani types, and trades that the Twins can pull off to fill their rotation and also bring in one of these top SS options. They are going to be full of pre-arb players getting shots the next 2 years so they can afford Donaldson as well until his deal runs out. Not to mention Sano coming off the books after next year.

I'm one of the more pro-prospect people on these boards, but the Twins don't have a major league SS in their system right now. Miller is their only real hope and he's fresh out of HS so who really knows right now. Lewis and Martin aren't the answer. And I may be the biggest Lewis believer on this site (I think he'll be darn near ready by opening day). SS is no longer a glove first, any offense is a bonus position. There are super star hitters all over the majors at the SS position now. The Twins should go get one and have the middle of the diamond, and the top 3 spots in their lineup, locked in for the next 6 or 7 years. They have corner position prospects coming out of their ears and it's time to lock in the middle with elite players and let the young guys battle it out for the corners.

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Of these guys, Semien would be my choice. Bleacher Report predicts 5 years and $125MM and that feels about right. Semien would be ages 31-35 in that contract and would be expected to potentially move off SS by the end of it. Semien's move to shortstop was to maximize the value of Bo Bichette rather than a mark against Semien. Semien's sprint speed was 28.6 ft/sec last year placing him in the 87th percentile for MLB players and just 0.1 ft/sec slower than Trevor Story.

Bleacher Report also predicts Trevor Story at 5 years and $150MM. That feels like a signifcant overpay coming off his down year and the trend down over the past 2 years for Story, especially considering his batted ball metrics suggest Story was good, not great hitter this year in terms of exit velocity, barrel rate, etc.

I certainly would not pay more for Story than Semien right now, and I wouldn't go more than $100MM for Story.

https://bleacherreport.com/articles/2948617-fresh-predictions-for-top-2021-22-mlb-free-agents-with-offseason-approaching

You couldn't pay me to touch Baez.

 

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3 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

...I know the defensive metrics don't always match what the perception of players are, but, as someone who has worked for multiple analytics companies that put out these defensive stats, all I can say is to take them with a grain of salt. They are nothing like the offensive stats you see and are wildly unstable...

Yeah, the defensive metrics really require somebody to devote a lot of time to understanding not only how the metric works, but also factors which influence their accuracy. Simply taking a limited sample size of Range Factor or especially Ultimate Zone Rating and using it in a vacuum can lead to really dramatically unfair perceptions.

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I would be excited if the Twins added any of these fine SS. But I'm not sure I'm excited at the prospect of adding any of them.

The problem with SS within the system is NOT that the Twins don't have SS depth, or at least intriguing options, it's that they don't have anyone close to being ready or anyone you can draw a circle around and say THIS GUY!

I've seen just enough of Lewis in ST games, hilights from milb and the AFL, as well as reading enough to just be dangerous as a talent evaluator. I think he has the speed, quickness, athleticism and arm to play the position, play it well, and be at least solid, if not better. But the kid needs a chance to PLAY. I think he's a full year away, no matter his ability, attitude, professionalism, talent, etc. Martin went from college straight to AA. He split his 1st season almost equal between SS and CF but I'd keep playing at short as long as I can. It's called development, and at worst, flexibility. Who knows at this point if he couldn't surprise and stick there? (Not betting on it, but I wouldn't give up after ONE SEASON). Cavaco and Miller are too far away. Steer and Julian are probably super-utility players but could surprise, Holland has done nothing as of yet. Javier is an enigma. Palacios is a mystery who could surprise after his 2021 return to the Twins system.

EVERY SINGLE TIME I look at this roster I see offense and offensive potential that makes 2022 look just fine, overall, and darn right dangerous with a couple simple rebounds, just a little better health, a little more consistency and development of some very talented youngsters.

I just see adding 2 quality SP, by WHATEVER means, to join Pineda, Ryan, Ober, a healthy Dobnak, and the prospects as being the key. Of course, love to add ONE MORE backend RP and a viable RH 4th OF as well. But IMO, what the Twins need is a viable defensive SS who doesn't embarrass himself at the plate. And I just don't know how you add one of these top FA SS and still add to the rotation unless the FO can pull a rabbit or two out of their cap. If they COULD do that, I'd be as giddy as a lottery winner!

I don't know what happened to Iglesias this past year. I'm not a metrics investigator. But my understanding is his defense fell way off in 2021 after a career of being considered a quality defender. Did he suddenly get very old at 31? Was he playing hurt? Was he under the Angels curse? Dunno. But I have him and Freddy Galvis at the top of my SS list for 2022 as relatively inexpensive, proven, veteran, don't embarrass yourself at the plate options while focusing on the pitching staff.

 

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Resigning Buxton and fixing the rotation should come before a SS if they really want to get back in this thing.

As for the SS market, IDK. Baez, Correa, and Seager aren’t coming here. Not interested in Story. Maybe look at Semien? If none of those work than go with Arraez and Polanco at 2B and SS.

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Buxton and one of these SSs would be my top two priorities this offseason. You'd have a very flexible lineup with said SS and to back up you have Polanco and possibly Lewis. I agree with some of the commenters above who have very little or no faith in Lewis as SS of the future, but I hope he might be decent enough to spot start there.

The defense looks good to help out young pitchers, with Buxton and a new SS. Those two would get the bulk of the offseason spending so I'd maybe pick up one solid FA pitcher but not get in a bidding war for a top tier guy. Someone who might take less in years or dollars and pitch out of the #1 spot (Greinke?). I'd also check in on Pineda and/or comb through the bargain bin..

See what happens in '22, with that lineup and some fortune regarding rookie pitchers, we could possibly be competitive. And beyond that, it's a very flexible lineup custom made for guys like we have coming up looking for playing time in the corner OF and IF, built around the CF and SS signings.

 

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Twins have a ton of close minor league talent and no way of knowing how good any of it is.   You have to give some of it a chance.  I do believe in resigning Pineda, one more FA, and rotating through the upper level good prospects.  We might be able to do without the FA, but that would ask a lot of the system this year.  I think to get one of the 5 SS, you have to resign Buxton and sign a very good FA pitcher.  Otherwise why would one of the top SS come here to play on an average team.  Seager is not going back to LA unless they part with Trea Turner, otherwise what do the Dodgers do with Lux?  Sieman is too big a recession chance too early in his contract.  Twins will not pay Correa, do not want Baez (who has the same issue as many of the Twins players),  Story and Seager seem to be the best options for both money and length of contract if you want to go this route.  

Like the idea of a trade, but like other sites talking about Buxton for pennies on the dollar, the trades I have seen have almost no chance of happening.  Modesci is interesting,  but the price might well be higher than you think.  Maybe it is doable, seems to be a decent idea, but would have to be more than many posters here think to get it done.

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23 hours ago, TopGunn#22 said:

Not sure what DeJong's salary is, but he's a decent fallback option.

Pretty easy to look up. He's owed $15.3M over the next two seasons with a $2M buyout of an option. Like you said, he's become all or nothing at the plate (19 of his 70 hits in 2021 were HR). If the ball stops going over the fence he's unplayable. I'd trade Sano for DeJong but I doubt St. Louis would be interested.

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There will be a lot of SS on the move this winter. Not just the free agents but also players who are displaced when their team signs one of the free agents. For example, I expect the Yankees to sign Correa and make Gio Urshela available in trade. He graded out as average in 200 innings at SS for the Yankees. I also expect the Phillies will essentially pay to get rid of Didi Gregorious. I don't think the right strategy is to target a particular free agent. Better to be opportunistic when a bargain presents itself.

 

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48 minutes ago, DJL44 said:

 I don't think the right strategy is to target a particular free agent. Better to be opportunistic when a bargain presents itself.

 

I HATE the "take what's left over after everyone else picks" strategy. 

That's how you end up in last place.

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The priority for the Twins this offseason is pitching, probably three starters and two relievers. Almost everyone wants Buxton on a long term contract and he is important to sign asap; I'm a Buxton fan. In the unhappy event Buxton is traded there are players to sign for CF (Starling Marte). SIGN BUXTON.

However, as some have pointed out, the Twins do not have anyone to play shortstop for next year in their system. I was ok two years ago with Polanco but it is clear that while he was never a star defender, the ankle injuries required a move to 2B and Jorge needs to stay there and the Twins need his bat in the lineup. This means that shortstop is the second priority after pitching. With sincere apologies to all Simmons fans - no to any more Andrelton. There are options and while it is unlikely the Twins go above $25 million per year, something must be done to fill the shortstop position. Correa and Seager are going to be too much money, but Semien may be the most affordable and he wants to play shortstop. Shortstop will be a difficult problem to solve this Winter.

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1 hour ago, DJL44 said:

The Twins ended up in last place because they only had one good pitcher and they traded him at the deadline.

They only had one good pitcher partly due to taking what was left over after everyone else signed pitchers.

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9 hours ago, USAFChief said:

They only had one good pitcher partly due to taking what was left over after everyone else signed pitchers.

They picked the wrong pitcher with Happ. Several pitchers signed after Happ, including Rich Hill who had been successful with the team in 2020. 

There are 5 shortstops who will be pursued heavily. The Yankees are going to sign one of them, probably Correa. The Dodgers will sign one, probably Seager. The Phillies are also in the market for a shortstop and can outbid the Twins. Most of them also have a QO attached and the last thing the Twins should be doing is giving away draft picks in the upcoming draft. That means it's sign Javier Baez or hunt for bargains.

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The Twins are great at bargain hunting.  They have been doing it for years with very mixed results.  That is probably where they are headed.  As I've stated before it is their MO to wait until all the best FA are signed by others then go after what's left over.  That's how they do business. Dreams of signing top FA to $150 mil contracts are just that ; dreams.  This summer Pohlads said there was plenty of money to sign Berrios and Buxton.  A couple of weeks later Berrios is gone and Buxton may be next.  It's hard to have a lot of faith in the organization at times.  Now they are concerned about big financial losses this year and the pending CBA to not being able to sign good players.

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