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The Twins Don’t Need a High End Utilityman


Watching the stars shine in the playoffs is fun, especially when they’re approaching free agency. Future pitchers, shortstops, and sluggers are all fun to dream about. A utilityman, however, shouldn’t be in the Twins offseason cards.

 

Let's just be upfront about this. The utilityman market isn’t incredibly ripe with players this winter. This is directly referencing Dodgers star Chris Taylor. After years in the October spotlight with Los Angeles, yet another standout postseason performance in 2021 has Twins fans dreaming, and for good reason. It’s a fun idea and Taylor is a great player who would make any team better, but the Twins shouldn’t be chomping at the bit to bring him in.

Taylor was a marginal minor league player in Seattle before being traded to LA for a guy who wound up throwing 12 MLB innings. Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto later called the trade “clearly the worst deal I’ve ever made”, as Taylor’s current career line sits at .261/.337/.443, 11% above average offensively. That doesn’t even tell the story of Taylor’s ability to play just about any position on the diamond as needed. So why shouldn’t the Twins plan to bring in such a player?

To state the obvious, the team is an absolute mess. I do believe their needs can be addressed this winter in a way that returns them to contention, but a utilityman is far from the top of the list. There are currently two starting pitchers in the 2022 starting rotation. I’d guess the Twins want to bring in at least 4 candidates to fill those vacancies, which is going to cost a decent amount of money if done correctly.

In addition, they’ll likely also want at least a proven bullpen arm or two. Taylor Rogers will be a question mark if brought back due to his finger injury and Tyler Duffey’s 2021 made him a much bigger question mark than in years past. You’d have to hope they plan on signing legitimate pieces this winter rather than cheap bounce back candidates and players all 29 other teams have passed on. That’ll cost a good bit of cash as well.

It could be argued that the vacancy at shortstop could be filled by the versatile Taylor. He was fine defensively there in 2021 to be fair although at 31 he’s nearing a point where shortstop defense tends to decline rapidly. Taylor has surely earned himself a long term deal, however, which may not be in the Twins best interest in the future. The hope is for someone like Royce Lewis to take the reins at shortstop relatively soon, and what becomes of Taylor then? Sure, he can cover most other positions, but that kind of versatility may be less valuable to the Twins than other teams.

People already raise the concern of Luis Arraez getting enough at bats across a full season due to not having a full time spot. He gets his starts spelling Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco or one of the corner outfielders in order to get into the lineup regularly. The only other position Taylor would be truly needed at is backing up in center field, a job that can be filled for much cheaper in free agency.

To be clear, Taylor would absolutely make the Twins better. They would likely prefer a stopgap type shortstop, but he would be useful at other positions if their plans with Royce Lewis come to fruition. After all, having too many options is a good problem to have. That being said, I think now is the wrong time to sign a player like Chris Taylor. Nobody can say exactly where this team is in their contention window and there are significant question marks around highly impactful players like Byron Buxton. There are gaping holes across the roster and unless ownership is truly willing to throw down some dollars, it’s not worth shortchanging themselves elsewhere for added versatility.

If they run into a 2019 Marwin Gonzalez situation where come Spring Training he’s still looking for a place to go, there would be nothing wrong with being opportunistic if it’s in the budget. The Twins have bigger needs to address on the front end of free agency, however, and Chris Taylor should be nowhere near priority number one. Now just isn’t the right time.
 

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I agree! To put it simply, Luis Arraez is the Twins high-end utility man. He's not supposed to be the full time left fielder.

Speaking of which, let's put Arraez back in his old utility role and pick up a solid corner outfielder who can hit 30 HR, drive in 100+ and play 162 games? Funny thing, didn't we have one of those guys already? I kid, I kid. I don't want them to re-sign a Eddie, but they should be looking for a guy who can give them 2019-like Eddie numbers. Players like that are a dime a dozen. 

Amazing that the Twins need outfield help when they let Wade and Baddoo go and got nothing in return.

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57 minutes ago, bighat said:

I agree! To put it simply, Luis Arraez is the Twins high-end utility man. He's not supposed to be the full time left fielder.

Speaking of which, let's put Arraez back in his old utility role and pick up a solid corner outfielder who can hit 30 HR, drive in 100+ and play 162 games? Funny thing, didn't we have one of those guys already? I kid, I kid. I don't want them to re-sign a Eddie, but they should be looking for a guy who can give them 2019-like Eddie numbers. Players like that are a dime a dozen. 

Amazing that the Twins need outfield help when they let Wade and Baddoo go and got nothing in return.

You are selling Kirlloff and Laurach very short.  If they fail then we are looking for an outfielder.

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I agree that starting pitching is our top priority, it should have been last year too. But especially now with Berrios & Maeda gone, we desperately need top end starters. Many are crying out for Marcus Semien to solve our SS problem. Looking at our fianances and going for any high end player (SP or SS) is not very practical. Our best SP solutions are via trade. We are backed up with corner OFs and INFs, 2Bs and DH types, we need to clean house by putting packages together to obtain these starters. Here we get our SPs we need plus we alliviate our 40 man roster crunch. 

We still need to address our SS problem. If we can't find a SS via trade then, go find a bargain via FA, priority 1st splendid glove 2nd average bat. If Taylor can be had at a bargain then yeah go for it. To fill out our BP we can go in house and there are FA bargains but we need to look at potential  and how they fit in our system, not past stats.

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I wouldn’t complain if do either thing. I agree he would make the team better, but if they don’t plan to move Arraez for pitching it’s gonna be tough to find ABs. Then again, you can count on Buxton and Donaldson being hurt😂

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I would like the Twins to acquire Paul DeJong from St. louis. He is not going to set the world on fire offensively, but certainly way ahead of what they had last season. And his defense is good. St. Louis seems to want to move on, too. They have been mentioned in connection with Trevor Story for sure.

 

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Most people are looking to resolve all of our problems by opening day 2022.  IMO, that's not very feasible and doing so mitigates our chances of getting there soon.  I have seen many instances where companies created an even bigger mess because they were unwilling to take the time to implement a plan that was a better long-term solution because they insisted it be done in a given timeframe.

This does not mean they can't spend some money and field a good team but putting together a team in one off-season that rivals the Astros, White Sox, and Rays or the Red Sox and Yankees and they spend a bunch this off-season is simply highly improbable.  I will gladly take Chris Taylor and play him at SS until we find an ideal SS.  Taylor would continue to be an asset to the team for several years.  Sure, there are a number of other paths we could take but getting Taylor is not problematic.  

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I disagree.  Chris Taylor can be brought in to handle SS until Lewis is ready to take over in 2023 or 2024 and Chris can move around the diamond.  We obviously have trade options at that point. But compared to the cost of the big 5 SS Chris will be the more affordable option so money can be spent on pitching and Buxtons extension.

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It almost seems like the Twins need to settle their situation with Byron Buxton before they can sign free agents or make some trades, because their needs and direction spin off of that outcome. If they cannot wait, Chris Taylor becomes an intriguing option because he can play a little centerfield. Another option is to sign Starling Marte very early in the free agency season to alleviate concerns related to Buxton. Nevertheless, pitching remains a huge part of any offseason plans and knowing if they can include a Gilberto Celestino or others (Lewis) in a trade for pitching because Buxton is signed remains important.

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2 hours ago, beckmt said:

You are selling Kirlloff and Laurach very short.  If they fail then we are looking for an outfielder.

Kirilloff doesn't look like an OF to me, but if he can stay healthy and work on his defense he might be able to play a few years there. If he hits like we expect he will.

Larnach was the worst offensive player in MLB between June 1 and his demotion in August. Defensive liability. I'm not sure there's a future for him with this organization. Hope I'm wrong.

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4 hours ago, twinsfansd said:

I would like the Twins to acquire Paul DeJong from St. louis. He is not going to set the world on fire offensively, but certainly way ahead of what they had last season. And his defense is good. St. Louis seems to want to move on, too. They have been mentioned in connection with Trevor Story for sure.

 

I'm not sure that DeJong is the answer. He's owed a bit more than $6 million in 2022 and $9 million in 2023, followed by a $2 million option. And his declining OPS is already below Simmons' at a similar age. 

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I'd be fine with Taylor at SS until Lewis or Martin is ready. He can also be the backup to Buxton in CF right now, leaving Kepler in RF most of the time, and play some in LF and RF. I'd rather have him as that 4th OF than Celestino who needs to play everyday. He's a proven OF on top of MI. Or if you get someone else to play SS you can use him all over.

Most of all this would leave Polanco at 2B nearly everyday.

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I agree Cody, I would like to see the Twins go after Mondesi from the Royals as option #1.  DeJong has a good glove and power.  His OPS has been slipping but maybe a chance of scenery would help.  Sosa has beaten him out, and it's been mentioned that the Cards may be in on Story.  Either way, DeJong can be acquired VERY cheaply and would be an upgrade.  As long as Rocco refuses to make Arraez our leadoff hitter on a full-time basis, I'm trading him for pitching (which the Twins need desperately and need MULTIPLE options, especially in the rotation).  I like Austin Martin as our utility guy in 2022.  But the Twins also have Gordon as well, so with Polanco firmly entrenched at 2B, Arraez is worth more as a trade chip to add pitching and some team (Oakland)?  would see value in him as their everyday 2B-man.   

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2 hours ago, Karbo said:

I would prefer a Mondesi deal though I don't know if that would be possible. DeJong would be fine though getting expensive. Taylor probably will be priced out of range but if not would he even want to play here?

If Taylor doesn't get the deal that he wants, I believe that he'd want to return to LA. He is loved there and LA values super utility players  unforunately Twins do not. We haven't had a true super utility player since Caesar Tovar, I believe.

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As of right now I agree the Twins don't need a super-utility player such as Taylor. Stating the obvious, we have to fill SS first as well as re-sign Buxton. (Im ONLY focusing on the player side of things right now). We also have no real idea as to whether Donaldson will be shipped, or if there's interest in him, or what it might cost the Twins to move him, because it's going to cost SOMETHING to do so.

I DO think the odds are pretty good the Twins WILL make a pitching addition via trade. But despite speculation on any of our parts, we don't know if that will be prospects only, or include any ML roster mainstays, much less which one(s). For example, it's easy to say we should move Kepler, or Arraez, or Garver/Jeffers to get a deal done. But we really have no clue what the FO is thinking at this time. It's only my opinion, but while I believe they are open to trades, I don't believe they are looking to move any sort of large number from said roster as it stands today.

Arraez fills a valuable role at 3 spots as well as being able to DH and provide a real leadoff option. Gordon provides speed off the bench, a chance to hit a little bit, and fill in "adequately" at multiple positions for a day or so here and there. And at some point, we have to find room for Miranda as well, who can also play a few different spots even though I think his role as future full time 3B would seem clear.

Now, I think Taylor COULD be a perfect signing as a solid but not great, SS for 2022 with the idea he can move around in the future if the Twins believe in Lewis. He fills a daily role for now with solid offense, comes cheaper than the other TOP SS on the market, frees $ to continue to address pitching due to his lesser salary, and then slides in to a useful multi-position role come 2023. 

But to sign him, or anyone else, at this point for a utility spot just doesn't work and doesn't fit with current team needs. IF the Twins suddenly start to move 2 or 3 guys off the ML roster, then ask me this question again in a couple of months.

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47 minutes ago, DocBauer said:

I DO think the odds are pretty good the Twins WILL make a pitching addition via trade. But despite speculation on any of our parts, we don't know if that will be prospects only, or include any ML roster mainstays, much less which one(s).

It seems like trades may provide the best quality plus value and the Twins need to be very aggressive in seeking out a few trading partners. It is completely true that we do not know what Falvey is thinking. It just seems like 2-3 trades and a number of smart FA pickups could improve the roster for 2022. $130-145 million should allow for the Twins to be really competitive next season.  

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On 10/23/2021 at 6:40 AM, bighat said:

Amazing that the Twins need outfield help when they let Wade and Baddoo go and got nothing in return.

Totally agree! Losing Baddoo was a huge blow to the Twins' major league outfield!

Wait, what's that? I'm being told that Akil Baddoo was not, in fact, ever a member of the Twins' major league outfield, and that losing him to the Rule 5 draft did not, in any way, impact the Twins' roster or even it's short-term roster plans.

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On 10/25/2021 at 2:21 AM, RonCoomersOPS said:

Totally agree! Losing Baddoo was a huge blow to the Twins' major league outfield!

Wait, what's that? I'm being told that Akil Baddoo was not, in fact, ever a member of the Twins' major league outfield, and that losing him to the Rule 5 draft did not, in any way, impact the Twins' roster or even it's short-term roster plans.

I really don't see the reason for the snark. I know it's just the default tone on the internet most days, but this isn't Twitter. Your comment wasn't helpful or insightful, it was just mean.

I think it's a shame the Twins lost Baddoo to the Rule 5 draft. I don't recall saying he played on the MLB squad. I was also lamenting the loss of Wade.

I'm not sure what set you off so much about my comment, but there are more civil ways to disagree.

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