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Can the Twins Win With Jose Iglesias?


After the Minnesota Twins signed Carlos Correa to a three-year deal that included opt-outs after each of the first two, it became beyond clear it was a one-year pact for a guy who fell into their lap. How they handle things this offseason remains to be seen, but can they win with a stopgap option?

 

Image courtesy of Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this offseason I touched on a belief that the Minnesota Twins would open 2023 with Jose Iglesias as their starting shortstop. Even had I not been told from a front office source that “someone like Jose Iglesias” would be their eventual target, the fit just makes too much sense.

Carlos Correa signed a $35.1 million deal with the Twins, giving him the largest average annual value for a Major League Baseball infielder. He’s going to get paid a boatload on a long-term deal this winter, and while the Twins should be in the running, their offer almost certainly will not be the largest. If they aren’t going to pay on the devil they know, then paying on the devil they don’t such as Trea Turner or Dansby Swanson makes even less sense.

Entering the stopgap category, knowing that Royce Lewis will be back midseason, Austin Martin has shown well in the Arizona Fall League, and Brooks Lee was their first-round pick this past year, the options are whittled down even further. In this vein, the Twins should be expected to connect with a veteran who can do a bit of everything while not commanding a substantial price tag.

Again, enter Jose Iglesias.

After splitting time with the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox a season ago, Iglesias signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Colorado Rockies for 2022. He will be 33 years old in 2023 and has played 1,096 games across his Major League career. Iglesias has familiarity with the AL Central division having spent a career-most five seasons with the Detroit Tigers, and he’s played 28 games at Target Field.

Unlike Andrelton Simmons a year ago, Iglesias doesn’t represent a one-sided player for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Simmons was brought in to shore up the left side of an infield defense that was poor. Iglesias owns a decent .701 career OPS and his .279 batting average reflects an ability to get himself on base. He’s a far cry from the .956 OPS posted during the 2020 season, but there’s offensive ability here where Simmons had none.

Iglesias is not an on-base stalwart without generating base hits, however. He owns just a .319 career OBP and his 502/173 K/BB suggests that while he may strike out a bit less, he’s certainly not choosy enough to draw free passes either. If there’s a redeeming quality to his game, it’s in the well-roundedness while also presenting cost certainty.

Defensively, FanGraphs defensive runs saved (DRS) don’t view Iglesias particularly well. Last season he posted an abhorrent -22 mark in just shy of 1,000 innings. This season, in equivalent sample size, Iglesias tallied -4 DRS. Maybe Colorado’s shifting and positioning was more beneficial than that of the Angels or Red Sox, but it’s certainly a step forward year-over-year. By Statcast’s outs above average (OAA) metric, Iglesias has never been anything worse than average and his 14 OAA career high came as recently as 2019 with the Cincinnati Reds.

Realistically, Iglesias should give Minnesota an opportunity to include a trusted veteran that isn’t a black hole in either facet of the game, while also not blocking Lewis from his eventual return. Iglesias can also play the hot corner and second base down the stretch, and his years of experience could benefit a Twins team looking for a silent leader that routinely does their job.

It’d be hard to get excited about Iglesias as the alternative to Correa, but given what the worst-case scenario could be, this is far from it.


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Two things: he may be cheap, and he can play other positions, thus keeping Nick Gordon out of the infield as a utility guy, although that would totally change the pecking order of the oufield.

We don't know about how soon Lewis could hit the majors again. And the status of Martin a short is up-in-the-air. And Brooks Lee may screw ebverything up and push Lewis elsewhere, too. Suddenly we have too many outfielders!?!

It would also be ncie to have a veteran presence in the clubhouse, and he would be a decent guy to come off the bench if, and when, other decisions are made.

But, best of all, he could fit into the budget.

Now, need a catcher!

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He's a decent option especially since that gives you serious money to pursue other players as well. There are others (like IKF who may be non-tendered or available from the Yankees cheap because they are about to non-tender him, and we already know the Twins like him).

The key is to not blow $35 million at shortstop, but get a solid MLB-player there, and spend most of the (fairly unprecedented) FA budget on Rodón, a starting catcher (like Vasquez or Contreras), and a starting OF (like Hanigar or Benintendi). That should make us far better than this year. Spending big on SS means we'll be pretty much like we were in 2022.

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There are a lot of ways to build a lineup. And while it would be great to have an All Star type candidate at every position, it's just about impossible to have that. If Correa is not a re-sign, then a new reality applies to the 2023 Twins; "how best to spend $50M to make this the best team possible, and who plays SS next year?"

If the Twins truly believe in Lewis....to a lesser degree probably both Martin and Lee...then a stop-gap of some quality makes sense. And there are a few to choose from, with Iglesias being amongst them. Andrus would also apply as a solid option. The aforementioned IKF would also be a quality candidate, if made available cheaply or simply released.

For the short term, the offense would be obviously lacking much punch from the SS position. But the Twins offense would not be decimated in any way with a 100-120 game Buxton and a healthy Miranda, Arraez, Polanco, Larnach, Kepler with a RH OF option, Jeffers and a good partner, Kirilloff, Wallner, etc, etc. Plenty of potential for a non difference making SS in the batter's box for a half year or so with the lineup a healthy clubhouse should provide.

Just no butcher with the glove or sub .200 hitter please!

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Iglesias is fine, if they do something with the outfield, and get more out of 3rd base than what Gio provided.

They aren’t going to get more healthy in 2023. Need a better hitting RF than Kepler and a decent, CF capable league average or better hitting, 4th outfielder.

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2 hours ago, RpR said:

If a stop gap, bring Simmons back, we NEED defense.

I can't tell if you are kidding.  I was a big fan but his offense has become so bad I just don't want to watch that all year.  His wRC+ was 27 and his WAR was negative.  How would this be a good idea?

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They better have several major upgrades elsewhere in the lineup if Iglesias is the starting SS. The Twins are losing a top of the order player in Correa and a player like Iglesias is a bottom of the order hitter. 

The offense is a pretty major reason why we ended up below .500. 

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I am fine with a stop gap option at SS and see what happens with Lewis, Martin, and/or Lee can provide beyond 2023.  If they can get someone who isn't a complete liability for $5-7M, why not?  This also frees up a ton of money to pursue and catcher, another OF (someone who can play RF for sure), and a top end SP.

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4 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

I can't tell if you are kidding.  I was a big fan but his offense has become so bad I just don't want to watch that all year.  His wRC+ was 27 and his WAR was negative.  How would this be a good idea?

A team that may have the lousy defense of Jeffers, Miranda and God only knows what in Left Field, need an absolute top rank fielding Short Stop or they could put another rookie there who shows he is as good there as Palacios.

Then they become the team with a , run at will catcher and a big hole between 2nd and 3rd.

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I've stumped for Iglesias for a few years.  Solid (not great) both offensively and defensively.  You know exactly what you're getting   For me...it's

1. Correa

2. Bogaerts

3. A stopgap like Iglesias and get ready for the Royce Lewis era...and spend the money on a catcher and pitching (any pitching...SP or RP)

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15 minutes ago, ashbury said:

He'll be fine.  He's made only 6 total errors in the last three years.

 

/ 0 games 2020-21.  Picky picky picky.

He had 20 in 2019 at SS in the minors and 52 in 4 seasons in the minors.

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Saying Iglesias has offensive ability and Simmons has none is patently wrong.  Iglesias' solid (quarter of a real season) 2020 notwithstanding, NEITHER has done much of anything since 2018.  The only difference is that Simmons was MUCH better prior to 2018.  No reason to believe that Iglesias would perform any better here in 2023 than Simmons did in 2021 other than wanting it to be true or possible.

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10 hours ago, RpR said:

A team that may have the lousy defense of Jeffers, Miranda and God only knows what in Left Field, need an absolute top rank fielding Short Stop or they could put another rookie there who shows he is as good there as Palacios.

Then they become the team with a , run at will catcher and a big hole between 2nd and 3rd.

The answer is not a SS that is so horrible at the plate that he is below replacement value when both offense and defense are combined.  The answer is the best player in aggregate. 

Didn't you complain Larnach was going to be horrible too?  He was just fine.  Miranda had a small sample size at 3rd but I honestly don't recall him costing any runs at all in the time he played 3B.  I do recall him driving in the most runs on the team. 

Iglesias would be a decent move to bridge the gap to Lewis.  His net production would be better than Simmons and he could fill a utility role thereafter.

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If payroll is $130-$150 mil and he's our starting SS opening day. Sign me up. We can win with him if we're filling out the roster with other quality free agents. If he's one of our main free agent signings and they run back the rest of this year's team minus Correa...I won't need to purchase any game tickets in 2023.. 

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From what I've read and heard, the Twins have about $60 mil to spend just to get up to league ang. 140 mil. That should leave enough $ to get a very good catcher and a good ss. IMHO they should resign Correa for 33-35 mil for 7 years. That still leaves enough $ to get a catcher and a RH outfielder and some pen help. Before this year I would have bet the house against that happening, but now I doubt it will, but you never know.

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If we fail getting Correa back, my #1 priority would be to replace him with Bogaerts at a lot lower price tag.  X-Bog can flat out HIT and he's got a couple years at SS left in him.  That would fit well with the Lewis, Brooks Lee, Miller timeline. If Boston wakes up and resigns X-Bog then I'm focused on Kiner-Falefa who is a superior glove and who has positional flexibility.  I also would look to talk with the Royals about Mondesi and Lopez.  I just don't want to chase old guys like Iglesias or Andrus.  

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10 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

Now look at the number of games he's played over that time

Now adjust your sarcasm meter. :)  I thought I gave away the joke with the second line at the bottom.

But if you're looking for a serious reply to the point about Lewis's error rate, I believe raw numbers of errors are not considered a primary way to evaluate a shortstop.

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6 hours ago, Karbo said:

From what I've read and heard, the Twins have about $60 mil to spend just to get up to league ang. 140 mil. That should leave enough $ to get a very good catcher and a good ss. IMHO they should resign Correa for 33-35 mil for 7 years. That still leaves enough $ to get a catcher and a RH outfielder and some pen help. Before this year I would have bet the house against that happening, but now I doubt it will, but you never know.

Wouldn't that basically be the same team we have this year plus a RH outfielder?  Would Mitch Hannigar makes this team anything close to a contender?  I am hoping for a more significant change.

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