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3 Options for Royce Lewis When Carlos Correa Returns


Twins Daily Contributor

Carlos Correa is set to return, but Royce Lewis has been playing well. So, here are three options for what the Twins can do with Lewis when Correa returns.

Royce Lewis is off to a tremendous start to his big-league career. In nine games, he has gone 9-for-32 (.281 BA) with two doubles and a home run. His first home run was a memorable one as he cranked a grand slam that helped the Twins win over the weekend. Minnesota signed Carlos Correa to be the team’s shortstop for the 2022 campaign, and now the Twins are facing a decision about what to do with Lewis. 

Option 1: Send Him to Triple-A
Obviously, this isn’t the ideal answer with how well Lewis has performed so far. However, this option ensures he plays everyday, and more importantly that he continues to get reps at shortstop. Correa is the AL’s reigning Platinum Glove winner, so the team is going to continue to play him at that position. However, Lewis has been better than advertised at shortstop, and the front office may want him to continue to develop in the minors. Sending him back to Triple-A may be the best option if the team wants to be comfortable with him taking over the full-time shortstop role to start the 2023 campaign. 

Option 2: Split Time at Shortstop
Hand injuries can be tricky, so there are no guarantees that Correa returns and can play every day. Correa will likely need regular rest when he returns and that’s where Lewis comes into the picture. Keeping Lewis on the big-league roster would allow him to get reps at shortstop on Correa’s off days. Unfortunately, there isn’t a natural platoon with the two players both being right-handed hitters. This scenario hurts Lewis from the perspective that he wouldn’t be playing every day and he has missed two season’s of in-game at-bats. It seems unlikely for the Twins to pick this option, but there may be ways to use him at multiple other positions in the line-up.

Option 3: Shift to Third Base or Left Field
Another option is to try and find Lewis at-bats at other positions. Gio Urshela has provided some strong defensive plays, but he has a 91 OPS+ in 30 games. Minnesota’s left field situation is also in flux as Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff have both missed time with injury. Over the weekend, Kirilloff was demoted to Triple-A to try and solve his hitting woes as he continues to deal with wrist issues. In his first 69 plate appearances, he has yet to record an extra-base hit. For Lewis, he has very little professional experience at either of these defensive positions. He has never played left field and he has just over 100 innings at third base. The Twins likely have confidence in his athleticism to be able to handle both of these defensive spots if necessary. 

Minnesota’s offense has struggled through different parts of the 2022 campaign, and Lewis is a dangerous hitter to pencil into the back-half of the line-up. Even with Correa’s return, it’s hard to imagine the team sending Lewis back to the minors. He needs to play everyday, and he can be a vital contributor on a contending team. 

Which option do you think the Twins pick? Will they combine a couple of the options mentioned above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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Option 4: combine options 2 and 3.

He's currently one of the 9 best hitters on this team and if they're serious about contending this year you keep him up because he gives you a better chance to win games. Correa was already getting regularly scheduled off days before the hand injury so there's no reason to think that will change. Lewis is their best SS after Correa so it makes sense to give him a couple starts a week there when you DH or sit Correa. Put him at 3B for 2 other starts a week and LF/CF (I assume he could handle LF without any issue and we've seen him play CF very well in the AFL) for another 2 starts a week. He's getting everyday ABs and gets to work with Correa on the side for his SS defense.

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For me if he is hitting well there doesn't seem to be much of a reason to send him down. He can probably play any infield or outfield position.  Given what he did last night while on base he brings a threat no other player other than maybe Gordon brings to the base paths.  He could be a menace to other teams when on base.  If he continues to hit at a reasonable level I think he stays with the team even if they have to move him around.  His speed on offense and defense is a difference maker the Twins could use.

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I see no reason to send him down at this point.  He could play 3rd, LF, or CF when Buck is resting.  He could slide to 1B as well, or even get some DH at bats.  I do not think Correa will need much rest when coming back because with way Lewis is playing I am sure they are not rushing him back.  That being said they still give him a day off time to time.  

I think they can get Lewis plenty of at-bats and playing time up here.  The only reason you would send him down is if you feel he needs more time to develop at SS on defense, but so far he looks good on that end too.  

If he starts to struggle at the plate you can send him down then, but Miranda should get the demotion when Correa is back not Lewis. 

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I want him to stay up as well.  Given the Twins 1st base situation I would give him a try there.  I believe that 1st is one of the easiest positions to play.  Arraez has has done ok, but on hard grounders (to 1st or 3rd) he has tendency to swing his glove to his side and "hope" the ball finds it.   As a result Baseballsavant has Arraez giving up 6 runs.  I believe that Lewis could move around the diamond 1st, 3rd, SS & outfield and be an average or plus defender.  Just my 2 cents.  Go Twins

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Miranda isn't ready, so he goes down when Correa is back.   Move Lewis around a bit while managing Correas time back as SS/DH.   See if Correa is serious about signing long term without opt outs and get it done.  If so then you transition Lewis to be a 3B/LF, if not he will take over at SS next year.   

 

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This team has done a great job with letting players flow to positions of need. Lewis seems capable, talented and level headed, unless he demonstrates otherwise, I think the team should be more than willing to give him reps at both 3B and LF along with SS. We don't know what the future will hold, having more options usually seems to be the prudent move.

I also don't think sending him down would be seriously considered. It would send a bad message to the other young players and the fans. Right or wrong, the team would get called out for service time manipulation even though the team has previously show no indication they are interested in doing that this year. I'd guess they'd want to avoid that unless Lewis stops producing.

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Lewis can learn more from Correa on a daily basis than he could ever learn at AAA. Even after Correa comes back he'll need some time off as needed. Plus he's our best back up at 3B and 2B to give Urshela and Polanco rest with very little or any downgrade or when Urshela plays 1B. He also could play OF in a pinch. 

After Correa is 100% maybe then we can start thinking to send Lewis back down to AAA if he's not gettiing enough playing time. But then again we have to think how he'd react to be demoted if he's getting the job done.

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The issue remains Correa’s long-term deal. If we are confident/sure Correa is going to be our SS for the next five years, the Lewis has to find a new spot - preferably corner OF, but maybe 3B. With Miranda likely headed down, there are ABs available at both positions now.  Btw, this also sets up for Noah Miller as a potential replacement for Correa eventually.

However, we don’t know that Correa is going to be around - I’d sadly wager the odds are more likely he’s not. So that means Lewis needs the reps badly at SS if that’s his position going forward.

Most likely scenario is that he hangs around a couple of more weeks and then heads back to St. Paul to hone his fielding craft. 


 

 

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"Don't tell that to Ron Washington."

I know Ron Washington said that, but I also know that I played 1st when I was young (youth and Legion ball) and it was easier than right field as I wasn't fleet afoot.  I was tall and left handed.  There is a reason that athletes transition to first as they get older or are injured (Mauer).  1st is the least demanding of the positions in regards to speed and arm strength.

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14 minutes ago, IndianaTwin said:

Don't tell that to Ron Washington. 

 

Great posting! Love that scene! But 1B is the easiest position to play, that's where most older players go when they no longer play anywhere else besides DH. There is some adjusting to be done but adjusting from INF to OF is much more difficult and if he could do that with ease how much more he could do this. 

Yet Arraez & Urshela are doing a good job there in Kiriloff's absence or Sano's. So I wouldn't waste his talent there.

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Just now, IowaBeancounter said:

"Don't tell that to Ron Washington."

I know Ron Washington said that, but I also know that I played 1st when I was young (youth and Legion ball) and it was easier than right field as I wasn't fleet afoot.  I was tall and left handed.  There is a reason that athletes transition to first as they get older or are injured (Mauer).  1st is the least demanding of the positions in regards to speed and arm strength.

Oh, I completely agree -- I just look for any excuse to pull out that clip.

Watching it again, I realized that while I thought the "It's real hard" line was the best one, the "Maybe I can teach one of (the fans)" is also pretty awesome. 

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Reality is sometimes painful. Lewis is such a competitor and fun guy to cheer for. He's determined and has the personality and confidence of a star. He's smooth in the field but doesn't have either the softest hands or perfect timing in the field. He also doesn't have a bat that plays in a corner yet.

Martin is our 1 or 2 prospect. Noah Miller might be a fast riser. 

Paddock is hurt and we have no ace....

Would we get more for Correa, Royce, or Martin? 

Correa's the best player of them and trading him makes us worse, but if we can get the pitcher we need, he needs to be dealt.

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He is more ready to help the team than Miranda. He can help by serving in a utility role until Larnach is ready to return. Does he help more than Garlick or Celestino?

He does if Correa is needing more rest to manage any return of swelling in his hand.

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25 minutes ago, Jham said:

Reality is sometimes painful. Lewis is such a competitor and fun guy to cheer for. He's determined and has the personality and confidence of a star. He's smooth in the field but doesn't have either the softest hands or perfect timing in the field. He also doesn't have a bat that plays in a corner yet.

Martin is our 1 or 2 prospect. Noah Miller might be a fast riser. 

Paddock is hurt and we have no ace....

Would we get more for Correa, Royce, or Martin? 

Correa's the best player of them and trading him makes us worse, but if we can get the pitcher we need, he needs to be dealt.

The belief that an ace is needed to win in post season is such a myth.  Yes, there are times that an ace does make a difference, but that is rare.  We have gone to post season with an ace before and did nothing.  Many teams have won the whole ship without an ace by most definitions.  Remember when Oakland had 3 top pitchers and we had Brad Radke and a bunch of mid rotation guys? Radke was not an ace by most standards, and most likely would have been ranked 4th best pitcher in the series, the other three being all on Oakland rotation. Or remember how many series we won with Santana, who was an ace. Technically he was on staff in 2002, but was not in the playoff rotation.  

Now, I would agree if Lewis is showing that he can fully step in be the defender Correa is with the same level or better bat, and a team offers a long terms option top tier pitcher we should listen, because I still no believe Correa will be back next year.  

The problem you will have is that no team looking to take Correa in on a rental would be trading away an ace as they will want to keep them for their own playoff push.  Only selling teams will trade pitching away, unless you are Cleveland that feels you can trade your top pitchers away because your pipeline is that strong.  

 

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48 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

Great posting! Love that scene! But 1B is the easiest position to play, that's where most older players go when they no longer play anywhere else besides DH. There is some adjusting to be done but adjusting from INF to OF is much more difficult and if he could do that with ease how much more he could do this. 

Yet Arraez & Urshela are doing a good job there in Kiriloff's absence or Sano's. So I wouldn't waste his talent there.

It's fun to speculate on the different scenarios, but the reality is they all change as injuries happen, etc.

Urshela hasn't actually played 1B this year. Only three games in the majors, two in 2017 and one in 2019.

But the reality is that with Miranda's struggles, 1B is the position that has by far the least flexibility right now in terms of demonstrated ML games. Best I can tell, Arraez is the team leader (11) in career games played at 1B in the majors, followed by Miranda's 8, with a .348 OPS. No one has played significant games in the minors either, unless you count Miranda.

So, my .02 worth. They play today and tomorrow, followed by an off day and then a stretch of 18 games in 17 days. That will require particular flexibility on the pitching side, so they may be hard-pressed to keep just 13 pitchers. Right now, there are 12 hitters active.

Rocco was quoted as saying Correa won't be back today, but "I think we could see him out there this series." Gee, that leaves Wednesday. Miranda is the obvious send-down in performance, but that leaves only Arraez at 1B, with others as the emergency backup. If you don't like that, you have to keep Miranda, so your options are to send down Lewis or Garlick. Doing the latter means that you only have Buxton, Kepler, Gordon and Celestino in the OF, and you're committed to giving Buxton days off. Or you could send down a pitcher and play a few days with 13 pitchers. 

But in the upcoming stretch, even in full health, my hunch is that Correa would have gotten at least two days off in the 18 games in 17 day stretch. Coming back from injury, perhaps more. If activated, he'll play Thursday, but perhaps two out of three over the weekend, in which case you want Lewis around. Oh, and how close is Larnach?

In my mind, a lot of it comes down to 1B and the comfort level of having only Arraez and an emergency back-up 1B there. I personally take my chances and send Miranda down. In the four days after today, I plan on four days of Arraez at 1B, three days of Correa and one of Lewis at SS. Lewis gets that day at SS, two as DH and a day off. By that time, another IL move will happen -- it just does. If so, Miranda's likely back up, even with the hitting struggles.

In the meantime, Urshela's getting ground balls at 1B. I don't see them using Lewis there. Long-term, there's no chance he spends significant time at 1B, so if you're going to get him in the lineup at another defensive spot, make it be one he could conceivably play with regularity if Correa stays around another year. To me, that's only 3B. We mention LF, but we've got other options there and it's next on the defensive scale of easyness, so you don't waste his talent there. Lewis's only real experience is at 3b was in Arizona, but by all accounts, that went well. If he's even close to Urshela defensively and you have to play someone out of position as the backup at 1B, make it be the rental. Oh, and hope Miranda or Kirilloff regroups enough to be able to play 1B.

But assuming no one gets hurt today, we'll know soon and then can resume bashing Rocco on how he handles the pitching staff. (Sarcasm alert on the prior phrase.)

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Great comments, and seems we all agree he deserves to stay with the Twins.  The only reason to send him down, IMO, would be if you sit down with him and say, "we want you to be comfortable playing, third, left and center."  Then send him down for a couple weeks to play those positions.

When he comes back he rotates between third and left, while also filling in at center or short when the Big Two need a break.

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3 minutes ago, roger said:

Great comments, and seems we all agree he deserves to stay with the Twins.  The only reason to send him down, IMO, would be if you sit down with him and say, "we want you to be comfortable playing, third, left and center."  Then send him down for a couple weeks to play those positions.

When he comes back he rotates between third and left, while also filling in at center or short when the Big Two need a break.

After writing the previous, I'll add that I concur. I'd keep it simpler and have him only play 3B and CF in the minors, unless they put him at SS from time to time to stay sharp.  

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8 minutes ago, IndianaTwin said:

It's fun to speculate on the different scenarios, but the reality is they all change as injuries happen, etc.

Urshela hasn't actually played 1B this year. Only three games in the majors, two in 2017 and one in 2019.

But the reality is that with Miranda's struggles, 1B is the position that has by far the least flexibility right now in terms of demonstrated ML games. Best I can tell, Arraez is the team leader (11) in games played, followed by Miranda's 8, with a .348 OPS.

So, my .02 worth. They play today and tomorrow, followed by an off day and then a stretch of 18 games in 17 days. That will require particular flexibility on the pitching side, so they may be hard-pressed to keep just 13 pitchers. Right now, there are 12 hitters active.

Rocco was quoted as saying Correa won't be back today, but "I think we could see him out there this series." Gee, that leaves Wednesday. Miranda is the obvious send-down in performance, but that leaves only Arraez at 1B, with others as the emergency backup. If you don't like that, you have to keep Miranda, so your options are to send down Lewis or Garlick. Doing the latter means that you only have Buxton, Kepler, Gordon and Celestino in the OF, and you're committed to giving Buxton days off. Or you could send down a pitcher and play a few days with 13 pitchers. 

But in the upcoming stretch, even in full health, my hunch is that Correa would have gotten at least two days off in the 18 games in 17 day stretch. Coming back from injury, perhaps more. If activated, he'll play Thursday, but perhaps two out of three over the weekend, in which case you want Lewis around. Oh, and how close is Larnach?

In my mind, a lot of it comes down to 1B and the comfort level of having only Arraez and an emergency back-up 1B there. I personally take my chances and send Miranda down. In the four days after today, I plan on four days of Arraez at 1B, three days of Correa and one of Lewis at SS. Lewis gets that day at SS, two as DH and a day off. By that time, another IL move will happen -- it just does. If so, Miranda's likely back up, even with the hitting struggles.

In the meantime, Urshela's getting ground balls at 1B. I don't see them using Lewis there. Long-term, there's no chance he spends significant time at 1B, so if you're going to get him in the lineup at another defensive spot, make it be one he could conceivably play with regularity if Correa stays around another year. To me, that's only 3B. We mention LF, but we've got other options there and it's next on the defensive scale of easyness, so you don't waste his talent there. Lewis's only real experience is at 3b was in Arizona, but by all accounts, that went well. If he's even close to Urshela defensively and you have to play someone out of position as the backup at 1B, make it be the rental. Oh, and hope Miranda or Kirilloff regroups enough to be able to play 1B.

But assuming no one gets hurt today, we'll know soon and then can resume bashing Rocco on how he handles the pitching staff. (Sarcasm alert on the prior phrase.)

Sorry, my bad, but Urshela hasn't play 1B because he plays 3B so much better and anyone else that can back him up is better off playing 1B. But for LHPs we might be better off getting Lewis's bat in the line up with him playing at 3B and Urshela at 1B. I believe Urshela can play 1B

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1 hour ago, Dave Overlund said:

I think 3B makes the most sense. Sending him down now to protect rental Urshela's playing time just wouldn't add up to me. 

Urshela is under team control for 2023 as well. Sanchez is only for 2022, maybe that's what you're thinking. 

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53 minutes ago, The Mad King said:

#3, plus any other position that helps him get everyday reps. 

So does AAA.

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1 hour ago, Jham said:

Reality is sometimes painful. Lewis is such a competitor and fun guy to cheer for. He's determined and has the personality and confidence of a star. He's smooth in the field but doesn't have either the softest hands or perfect timing in the field. He also doesn't have a bat that plays in a corner yet.

Martin is our 1 or 2 prospect. Noah Miller might be a fast riser. 

Paddock is hurt and we have no ace....

Would we get more for Correa, Royce, or Martin? 

Correa's the best player of them and trading him makes us worse, but if we can get the pitcher we need, he needs to be dealt.

In reality it's not a good idea. Correa is the best player and we need him to advance to and in the post season, his trade value isn't that great and if some one wants him for the post season they aren't going to trade away their ace, Anyone who is willing to trade away their ace will not want Correa, they'll want prospects

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2 hours ago, Dman said:

For me if he is hitting well there doesn't seem to be much of a reason to send him down. He can probably play any infield or outfield position.  Given what he did last night while on base he brings a threat no other player other than maybe Gordon brings to the base paths.  He could be a menace to other teams when on base.  If he continues to hit at a reasonable level I think he stays with the team even if they have to move him around.  His speed on offense and defense is a difference maker the Twins could use.

His fielding skill need to improve vastly and the Majors is not where you do that; Twins have had a number of rookies who come up do well then fall on their face's batting.

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2 hours ago, Jham said:

Reality is sometimes painful. Lewis is such a competitor and fun guy to cheer for. He's determined and has the personality and confidence of a star. He's smooth in the field but doesn't have either the softest hands or perfect timing in the field. He also doesn't have a bat that plays in a corner yet.

Martin is our 1 or 2 prospect. Noah Miller might be a fast riser. 

Paddock is hurt and we have no ace....

Would we get more for Correa, Royce, or Martin? 

Correa's the best player of them and trading him makes us worse, but if we can get the pitcher we need, he needs to be dealt.

Martin will be trade bait for a rental at the deadline if Lewis proves he can stay

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