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Bring Niko Back to Target Field


On Friday, teams had to make their 40-man roster additions. Along with adding players, teams usually have to let players go in order to make room for more. At least one of those players should be on the Twins radar, again.

Last offseason, the Twins made the decision to move Jorge Polanco to second base. They wanted better defense at the shortstop position. With that in mind, the Twins signed Andrelton Simmons to a one-year deal. It didn’t go well. While Simmons provided the solid defense, he did very little with the bat. His .558 OPS was over .100 lower than it had been in all but one of his previous nine MLB seasons. His previous low was .617 in 2014. Even after his rough 2021 season, his career OPS of .683 should make the Twins consider bringing him back on a much lower contract, maybe in the $3 million range. 

Buxton Goodrum Baddoo.jpg

courtesy Byron Buxton Instagram 

However, there was a shortstop that became available due to Friday’s roster transactions. One would be a player returning to the organization that he spent nearly a decade in and made his big-league debut with. Let’s discuss both, and then in the comments you can tell me if this player should be considered. 

But before that, I want to point out that my personal opinion is that the Twins need to spend available dollars this offseason on pitching. So while I would love to see the Twins grab one of those big-name, big-dollar free agent shortstops, I’m going to assume that they won’t and that they will spend big on pitching. (maybe not a fair assumption, but one that I will go with for this article.)

Niko Goodrum
According to MLB Trade Rumors, Niko Goodrum was projected to make $2.9 million in 2022 through arbitration. He wasn’t going to get that coming off of an injury-plagued 2021 season in which he hit just .214/.292/.359 (.651) with 11 doubles and nine home runs. He had several stints on the Injured List with calf and groin injuries. 

In the Covid-shortened 2020 season, he hit just .184/.263/.335 (.598) with seven doubles and five home runs. These two seasons have been rough for Goodrum offensively, no doubt, but still 10-20% better than what Simmons provided in 2021. 

That’s obviously a low bar. So why would I personally be interested in bringing Goodrum back to the organization where he debuted in 2017 and went 1-for-17 (.059) in September. 

He signed with the Tigers and had two really strong seasons. In 2018, he hit .245/.315/.432 (.749) with 29 doubles and 16 homers. In 2019, he hit .248/.322/.421 (.743) with 27 doubles, five triples and 12 homers. He stole 12 bases in 2018 and 2019, and 14 bases in 2021. 

Goodrum will turn 30 early in spring training 2022. While the upside may be somewhat limited and include a lot of swing-and more,, there is also great athleticism, tools, speed and power with Goodrum.

The Twins drafted and signed Cartier “Niko” Goodrum out of high school in Georgia in 2010. Jorge Polanco had signed a year earlier. The two climbed up the organization ladder together. Goodrum played mostly shortstop while Polanco played shortstop. Could the keystone combination exist again?

In 2020, Goodrum was a finalist for an AL Gold Glove at shortstop. He is a natural shortstop with good range and a strong arm. If the Twins signed him and told him to prepare to compete for the team’s starting shortstop job, he might be a terrific choice. Hey, if the other choices right now include a return of Simmons, then I would certainly support giving Goodrum a shot. 

What would it cost? I would think a one-year, $1.5 to $2.0 million would do it, especially if he was given the opportunity to start most days at shortstop. If he’s given an opportunity to start most every day at shortstop, it’s likely he would just want a one year deal, hope it goes well, and enter free agency again after the 2022 season when it isn’t the greatest free agent shortstop class ever. 

Because of the dollars, it would be a low-risk deal. Because of his defense, speed and power potential, there is a chance for reward. If it doesn’t go well, he can finish the year as a utility player, capable of playing seven positions (yes, all better than Willians Astudillo). If Royce Lewis is deemed ready-to-go sometime in 2021, Goodrum can become a utility player.  

In addition, Goodrum might have interest in a return because he has several  former teammates from his minor league days with the. He played over his years with Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Mitch Garver, Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers, and Tommy Watkins was a coach and manager.

An added bonus is that Goodrum has always been great in the community, going back to his Twins days when he was a Harmon Killebrew Community Service Award recipient in 2013 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. 

Many times the concept of “Bring Back the Gang” gets a negative connotation. Sometimes that is fair. Other times, it just makes sense. If healthy, Niko Goodrum can provide really good defense at shortstop, some power at the plate and speed. Yes, that comes with some injury risk and a lot of strikeouts. But at the price tag, it is certainly worth strong consideration. 

So what do you think? Should the Twins consider a reunion with Niko Goodrum?

 


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I thought the same thing when I saw he was available. If Simmons is available and cheap at SS that would be my 1st choice, I agree with pundits that he will bounce back. But even so Goodrum would be an excellent back-up SS and a super utility player if he can play CF. If they indeed trade Arraez, Goodrum and Gordon would be 2 very good utility players that would add much needed depth at needed positions.

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Seth, am usually opposed to bringing back ex-Twins previously released, especially one also just released by Detroit, but if he has still truly an above average fielding SS, his power potential alone would make him a clear choice over Simmons.  

We're not going to spend the dollars necessary to sign one of the big name FAs, so why not a flyer on this guy?  Don't like his high K rate, but from the list of other available middlin' SSs, this would seem to be a good low risk candidate at a very moderate cost.  I like the idea of jettisoning Cave and see Gordon and Goodrum as backups in both the IF and SS if and when Lewis can take over SS position permanently.  Unfortunately, I don't see the Wonder Boys going for an "old" Twin; just not in their DNA.

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Yes, I like the idea too. He would have to be brought in as the starter at shortstop until Lewis is ready, I would think. The Twins already have three guys who should be major leaguers (Gordon, Miranda, Arraez) who are multi-position infielders with perhaps some ability to also play in the outfield. Two of their best hitters (and most durable last year) play 2b and 3b, making it hard to find at bats for the multi-position guys to get on the field. 

I have (admittedly distant) personal connection with Goodrum. During spring training 2015, my brother engaged Niko's dad in a long conversation during a minor league scrimmage and I mostly listened. The crux of the conversation is that Niko needed to play, it didn't matter at what level and it didn't matter what position. From that point I kept track of Niko and he got plenty of playing time, I believe at High A and AA. In 2016, Goodrum broke out a bit in Rochester and got a cup of coffee with the Twins in 2017, when the team got a wild card. 

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Excellent idea. I didn’t realize he was that good with the glove. If you’re right and he can field at an above average big league SS level, he is now my first choice. Like you, I think the Twins need to spend all of their money on pitching and sign a one year stopgap shortstop. I like Goodrum much better than Jose Iglesias, who stunk for the Angels last year, Freddie Galvis, wants to go to Philadelphia, and Simmons, who cant hit and just a little too weird for my liking.
 

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1 hour ago, ashbury said:

Hated his glove which went "clank" whenever I watched him as a Twin. Was that small sample size? 

Shortstops become utility players for one of two reasons: a) they can’t hit enough to be a regular or b) they are good enough in the field. I thought b was more likely in Goodrum’s case but his defense numbers from B-Ref say he’s average at the toughest defensive position. 
 

Goodrum hasn’t hit much the last two years (except against the Twins), so I guess that is why the Kitties let him go. 

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1 hour ago, dxpavelka said:

Not sure that bringing in a career .230 whose presence would mostly serve to block guys like Lewis, Martin, Gordon and maybe even Cavaco, Soularie & Steer would accomplish.

With the possible exception of Gordon, none of the rest of these guys would play SS in at least the first half of 2022 and some of them for a year or three. 

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Why are we trying to get by so cheap. First Nico's numbers offensively are no better than Simmons. He also has had leg issues. I want to see the twins add not subtract. Nice idea but if can't add a big name we need to get by with Royce, Gordon, or martin. Then we save the 2 plus million and add it to the pitching.

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I actually hated to lose him 2018 and thought he would have been a valuable multi-position option for us. I wasn't so concerned with losing him in 2019-20 due to Marwin and Adrianza on the club.

If we got the 2018-19 version of Goodrum I'd be very pleased. But I'm going to echo just what everyone else has already stated, I didn't know his glove at SS was that good. Most of the games I've watched the past few years he's usually been stationed somewhere else. So yep, if his glove is that good, I'm in on him as one of a handful of options I'd be happy with. He offers an OK bat for the position with some decent speed and power as well.

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4 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

With the possible exception of Gordon, none of the rest of these guys would play SS in at least the first half of 2022 and some of them for a year or three. 

Then put Gordon as SS for the first half of 2022, or resign Simmons (far more likely to bounce back offensively than Goodrum is to suddenly become Derek Jeter) push your cards to the middle of the  table and call it good.

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4 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

I would think someone, maybe even the Tigers, would give him an MLB contract. 

Since the Tigers just did the opposite of that that would seem unlikely.  Minor League deal maybe.  And the Tigers are a team looking to take the next step.  Shouldn't we be doing the same?

 

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The Tigers didn't feel he was worth a couple of million. No otehr team approached the Tigers to grab him. So he is out there, dangling, and can probably be ahd for less. I'm sure he is looking for a multi-year deal first, advertised as a utility gem...but if the Twins could guarantee him a good hard look at being a starting shortstop.

 

How does he fit into a potential Twins lineup with his power and speed. Yet we don't need him coming up and striking out too much in game situations.

 

Soon we will find out if the Twins are serving us a dish of "contention" or if the team is just going to play ball, try and get better internally, and Niko could be a fine stopgap/

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36 minutes ago, dxpavelka said:

Since the Tigers just did the opposite of that that would seem unlikely.  Minor League deal maybe.  And the Tigers are a team looking to take the next step.  Shouldn't we be doing the same?

 

The Tigers didn't want to pay him $3 million. I'm sure they'd be fine paying him something like $1.5 million to play 7 positions. 

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39 minutes ago, dxpavelka said:

Then put Gordon as SS for the first half of 2022, or resign Simmons (far more likely to bounce back offensively than Goodrum is to suddenly become Derek Jeter) push your cards to the middle of the  table and call it good.

My point would be to sign Goodrum instead of Simmons (for probably less $$ and to probably get more production). Pretty sure there was no mention of Goodrum becoming Jeter anywhere... 

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Since Simmons will get more than 3 million.  There are several team interested in him including the Yankees.  If we can use the 5 million in savings toward the Buxton extension that would. be great.  I wonder if the Twins are waiting to see if the Yankees sign Seager to trade Buxton to NY for their SS prospects.  

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Didn't even realize he had been released. I will add to the other comments and say that I actually don't mind this idea. I think that it would be a good idea to have him or a similar player, and/ or Nick Gordon splitting at time until one of our minor leaguers are ready (Martin, Lewis, etc.)

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13 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

I thought the same thing when I saw he was available. If Simmons is available and cheap at SS that would be my 1st choice, I agree with pundits that he will bounce back. But even so Goodrum would be an excellent back-up SS and a super utility player if he can play CF. If they indeed trade Arraez, Goodrum and Gordon would be 2 very good utility players that would add much needed depth at needed positions.

It makes perfect sense to trade Arraez for pitching so you can bet that they're not going to it. So we won't sign Goodrum, they'll more than likely put Polanco back at SS because nothing they do makes sense.

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3 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

My point would be to sign Goodrum instead of Simmons (for probably less $$ and to probably get more production). Pretty sure there was no mention of Goodrum becoming Jeter anywhere... 

Highly unlikely to get more production from Goodrum than from Simmons. 

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11 minutes ago, dxpavelka said:

Highly unlikely to get more production from Goodrum than from Simmons. 

Goodrum is 2.5 years younger and Simmons hasn’t put up an OPS+ over 94 since 2018 and the 94 was in 30 games in 2020. I don’t think it is a lock that he’ll rebound to major league average. 

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