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How Will Kyle Farmer Fit in for the Twins?


It is an overreaction to assume that Minnesota's acquisition of Kyle Farmer from the Reds on Friday means they are canceling their pursuit of Carlos Correa or another top-tier shortstop.

With this understanding, however, Farmer does seem like a bit of an odd fit. Why pay almost $6 million for a potentially superfluous piece? 

I can see three different possible valuable usages for Farmer in 2023, depending on which directions the team takes elsewhere.

Image courtesy of David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

 

Acquired in exchange for minor-league pitcher Casey Legumina last week, Kyle Farmer has followed an interesting career path in terms of defensive development. Formerly a star high school baseball star and quarterback (he made a cameo in The Blind Side!), he played shortstop at the University of Georgia before being drafted as a catcher by Los Angeles in the 13th round in 2013.

Farmer had never played catcher, but the Dodgers and other teams liked him at the position because of his big frame and strong arm. He split time between there and at third while working his way up to the majors, where it took him four years to get his long-coveted chance at a return to shortstop.

"Farmer didn’t receive an opportunity to play shortstop regularly until he met with Reds manager David Bell in spring training before the 2020 season and told him that he could do it," wrote Bobby Nightingale for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Farmer has since made 234 starts over three seasons at the position, after totaling NINE – majors and minors – through his first seven years as a pro.

Farmer has made 81% of his 289 starts since 2020 at shortstop, impressing enough with the glove to keep getting nods there from Bell and Co. in Cincy, and now to be targeted by the Twins largely for his SS ability. 

But there are other skills in Farmer's defensive toolkit that make the versatile infielder a player who fits under several different scenarios. Which is exactly what the front office liked about him.

Scenario A: Farmer is the interim starting shortstop until Royce Lewis or Brooks Lee is ready.

If the Twins believe that Lewis is on track to fully recover and take over as long-term starting shortstop midway through the season, then this will be the course of action. In fact, to be honest, this will very likely be the course of action unless they can sign one of the top four (highly coveted) shortstops on the market, which means it's probably just going to happen.

It's not the worst thing in the world! Depending on your view of Lewis. Farmer is far from a top-tier starter at shortstop but he's perfectly adequate, with a solid glove and a bit of pop at the plate. 

He's really rough against right-handed pitching, which limits his appeal as a regular at any position, but the Twins could theoretically rotate in Jorge Polanco or Nick Gordon occasionally. If Lewis can return in May or June and pick up where he left off, then Farmer shifts into the role outlined in Scenario B at that point. 

Meanwhile, the Twins have conserved tens of millions of dollars to spend elsewhere while maintaining flexibility to usher in Lewis or Lee as the shortstop of the future. 

Scenario B: Farmer is a semi-regular at third base who fills in around the infield.

What if the Twins manage to land Carlos Correa, or another top shortstop via free agency or trade? In this case, Farmer can still fill a valuable role, albeit it with a less intensive workload. In this scenario, he fills a lesser version of the role Gio Urshela after Miranda came up in 2022, starting a couple times a week at third while Miranda rests, or slides to first base or DH. 

Farmer is the steadier and more reliable glove at third base, and frankly the book is still out on Miranda's defense. There's great value in dependable veteran depth. Farmer can make himself useful on days where Miranda is at third by stepping in at short, second or first. He's even a viable DH option against southpaws thanks to his .837 career OPS vs. LHP.

Scenario C: Farmer is a super-utility backup who plugs in all around the field.

Let's say the Twins are more committed to Miranda at third than I think they are, or should be. And let's also say they find another superior player to start at shortstop. In this case, Farmer probably becomes more of a true utilityman, making starts all over the field to spell starters and backfill injuries. 

"When the Reds acquired him from the Los Angeles Dodgers," notes Nightingale, "he was viewed as a utility guy with extra value as a third catcher." This could be the role Minnesota envisions for him, with his bat platooning around the field against lefties. In addition to shortstop, catcher, and third, Farmer has experience at second, first, and left field. 

His viability at shortstop can make him the top backup at that position (they currently have none, with Jermaine Palacios gone), and he can also serve as third-string catcher, which figures to be a need since they're currently without even Caleb Hamilton-caliber secondary depth.

As mentioned, the ultimate role for Farmer in 2023 will be dictated by what the Twins do elsewhere. But unless they turn around and trade him a la Isiah Kiner-Falefa (who, incidentally, was a trade target to fill almost the exact same role), he'll almost certainly end up being used in one of these three capacities.

 


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Horrible move!! Urshela was a Pro's Pro!! Gave Twins one of best left sides in baseball! And we let him go to save 3 million? And to put Miranda at 3rd? Come on. His range is 2 feet to either side with an average arm. The Pohlads have put the pocketbook first again over winning!!

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I may be in the minority here, but I like the signing for basically every reason outlined above. Doesn't at all prevent them from signing a better SS, but is also a fine half-season fill in while we wait for Lewis. Or maybe we just have a decent and cheap SS while signing a major front-line starter, which would also be pretty great.

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If you are going to use Miranda, it will be at 3B with Arraez at 1st.  This lets you rotate players thru the DH.  I feel that this deal was agreed to before Urshala was traded and only made after the spot was cleared.  That is why Legumina was added to the 40 man. 

Farmer was brought in to help against left handers (he is almost useless against rightes), and to cover SS if no other SS is signed.  Gordon is not an infielder any more and I think the Twins have figured this out, I expect Gorden or another outfielder to be traded before spring training to clear the logjam.  Or maybe late in spring training after the Twins figure out if Kirlloff is ok or Laurnach is ready to step up.  Still lots of moving parts here.  I expect a lot more action. 

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I'll be quite angry if Option A ends up being their plan. I'm completely down with this move so long as it's meant to be Option B or C as outlined in this story.

A team like the Twins will not win with Kyle Farmer as their Opening Day shortstop.

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I don't know the team strategy - it has confused me every year.  Farmer could be very good, but my judgment on the trade and other moves has to wait to see all the acquisitions (read - excellent pitcher) that we complete before next season.  We saw last year that we are willing to move a new acquisition before they even take the field so speculation on Farmer is not something I would do yet.

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As with most of the moves being made right now, it is impossible to get a read on everything until we start Spring Training and have a more holistic view.

That being said, not sure why anybody would argue about a team building cheap depth.  The Twins rest people all of the time, this is a decent move for your 5th infielder, and a also provides a decent stopgap until they are ready to move up one of the younger players.  I really like this move.

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My belief is that the Twins will make a strong bid for a SS, but will not get one.  There are several teams looking for a SS who have budgets that are $80M or higher than the Twin's.  Farmer fits in perfectly.  BUT, if the Twins do land one of the big four SS, Farmer can fill in all over the infield.  I also think that if none of the young outfielders stands out in spring training, Farmer could take over LF until a better solution is found.

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It depends on what ends up happening. If he's the everyday regular ss, because we whiff on, or don't really try for the big names, I don't think it's a good move. If he's a backup and/or a utility guy, then it's a decent move. Let's see what the FO does in the next few months. 

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I expect the Twins believe that Royce Lewis will return healthy and be the shortstop we all have hoped for since whenever.  I also expect they know they will not be resigning Correa, although I expect they are making a real attempt to do so.  So that puts your plan A front and center.

I believed that the Twins biggest need entering the offseason was signing two or even three catchers.  They need a solid starter and a Leon type on a minor league deal at St. Paul to be an injury backup and to work with several exciting young pitchers.  They also need to find a solid young prospect who will be at AA or higher.

Their other needs, IMO, include a short-term shortstop to fill the position until Lewis, or Lee, is available.  Their only other need on my to do list was getting a top quality late inning reliever.  

Although I knew nothing about him prior to Friday, he seems to fill the bill for need #2.  They certainly have a ton of money available for the catcher(s) and bullpen arm.  The truth, however, is there is no way they can spend enough to get them anywhere near last year's total.  So I expect the wolves will be out as we go thru the winter and their spending remains below what most of you expect.  The bright spot of having those dollars, however, should enable them to have serious conversations with several of those starting pitchers and a few of the young guys like Arraez, Miranda, et.al.  Spend those dollars wisely and the Twins may again be set to compete for the next five plus years.

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I'll be quite angry if Option A ends up being their plan. I'm completely down with this move so long as it's meant to be Option B or C as outlined in this story.

A team like the Twins will not win with Kyle Farmer as their Opening Day shortstop.

Couldn’t agree more. C’s ideal, B works, A is we are looking to 2024.

 

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I'll be quite angry if Option A ends up being their plan. I'm completely down with this move so long as it's meant to be Option B or C as outlined in this story.

A team like the Twins will not win with Kyle Farmer as their Opening Day shortstop.

Lets be honest - The Twins didn't win with C4 as our Opening Day shortstop either.  One stud is not enough to win in baseball.  

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I'll be quite angry if Option A ends up being their plan. I'm completely down with this move so long as it's meant to be Option B or C as outlined in this story.

A team like the Twins will not win with Kyle Farmer as their Opening Day shortstop.

Personally I think you're gonna end up being angry, because if they don't sign one of the top 4 SS options (which I expect they won't), this is probably what's going to happen. I get the frustration but to me it just depends on what they do elsewhere.

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8 minutes ago, Nick Nelson said:

Personally I think you're gonna end up being angry, because if they don't sign one of the top 4 SS options (which I expect they won't), this is probably what's going to happen. I get the frustration but to me it just depends on what they do elsewhere.

I’m of the opinion they have far too much open payroll this off-season to just pass on legitimately addressing shortstop.

People are overrating the likelihood of Royce Lewis becoming even a decent starting shortstop. I think he has legit tools to become a good MLB player but putting it all together at shortstop is a much higher bar than elsewhere on the field. 

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I think it's all of the above. The FO is uncertain of the market and unsure they'll be able to get off their plan A, and now they have insurance to handle lots of their needs - a temporary SS, a RH platoon bat and emergency catcher. If the guy could pitch they'd be doing cartwheels. 

I'm happy with the trade. If he fills in at SS for the Spring, it's far from ideal. Hopefully he ends up as a pricey utility man. That's just not the norm with this team.

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25 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I’m of the opinion they have far too much open payroll this off-season to just pass on legitimately addressing shortstop.

People are overrating the likelihood of Royce Lewis becoming even a decent starting shortstop. I think he has legit tools to become a good MLB player but putting it all together at shortstop is a much higher bar than elsewhere on the field. 

I don't think they are going to pass on the SS, I think that they will not come here regardless.  I think last year was an anomaly.  The rare occasion where a big name player bets on himself for one year for something bigger (not too different from Judge)

All things being equal, a guy like Correa will sign with a big market team because of the outside-of-baseball opportunities.

I think to get one of the top four SS, they will need to wildly overpay.  Imagine the chaos around here if the Twins signed Correa for 10y/$375m.... Even worse, if they signed Swanson for 6y/$180.

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After letting Palacios go we had exactly 0 legit SS. Now we have one and a floor to build on, plus a LHP killer that they want to focus on. Although he's not my 1st choice, he is a good choice. My 1st choice is Luis Guillorme, like Farmer & Hoerner he's been a frustrated SS that has been all over the INF not having much of an opportunity to play his position because Lindor is playing there. If given an opportunity to play SS on more of a regular basis he could also shine plus he bats LH.

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Farmer won't be flipped because he has Gio's skills at a lower cost.  We'll see what card the Twins turn up next, but today my bet is the Twins don't sign Correa or Xander.  It's worth noting that the FO got agents attention last year giving Correa a player-friendly contract.  Farmer gives the FO the flexibility to credibly shop other our other needs.

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2 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I'll be quite angry if Option A ends up being their plan. I'm completely down with this move so long as it's meant to be Option B or C as outlined in this story.

A team like the Twins will not win with Kyle Farmer as their Opening Day shortstop.

Respectfully, it doesn't require a lot of imagination to see the FO construct a better team in 2023 (and beyond) by spending elsewhere (C, SP, RP) the money they'll have by finishing out-of-the-money in the SS feeding frenzy.  Correa and Xander are going to cash-in in a classic buy-high SS market.

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17 minutes ago, Minderbinder said:

Respectfully, it doesn't require a lot of imagination to see the FO construct a better team in 2023 (and beyond) by spending elsewhere (C, SP, RP) the money they'll have by finishing out-of-the-money in the SS feeding frenzy.  Correa and Xander are going to cash-in in a classic buy-high SS market.

I’m of the opinion that a good way to regret something is to sign a 30+ year old sketchy defensive catcher to a long term deal. I’m a solid pass on Contreras, especially given the fact he’s literally the only good catching option this off-season. Someone is going to overpay for his services because he’s the only legit option and I hope it’s not the Twins. Jeffers and someone like Narvaez is fine for 2023. 

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I love this trade!

If we have learned anything from the last few years it is that a utility infielder will find a way to get 400+ PAs. Farmer is a much better fit for this team and this role than Urshela, Arraez, Gordon, or Miranda.

This also opens up a possibile trade with the Giants for Crawford on the cheap* (Giants pick up $10mil of his final contract year) to be the strong side of the platoon at SS, should the Giants outbid the Twins for Correa😂 

Having Crawford/Farmer at SS keeps the seat warm for Lewis/Martin/Lee for a year with no commitment beyond that. They'd probably be a 3 WAR platoon in 2023. Not bad.

*I have heard on pods that Crawford is being shopped spcifically to make room for Correa

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17 minutes ago, Minderbinder said:

Respectfully, it doesn't require a lot of imagination to see the FO construct a better team in 2023 (and beyond) by spending elsewhere (C, SP, RP) the money they'll have by finishing out-of-the-money in the SS feeding frenzy.  Correa and Xander are going to cash-in in a classic buy-high SS market.

It pains me to say it but this. The money spread out over 2-4 positions would likely make a better team next season and beyond. 

I want it to be B but am prepared for it to be A

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4 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I’m of the opinion that a good way to regret something is to sign a 30+ year old sketchy defensive catcher to a long term deal. I’m a solid pass on Contreras, especially given the fact he’s literally the only good catching option this off-season. Someone is going to overpay for his services because he’s the only legit option and I hope it’s not the Twins. Jeffers and someone like Narvaez is fine for 2023. 

Agreed whole heartedly with this take.

I don't know who I saw pose the suggestion on here first (all credit to them for this), but Omar Narvaez at $4mil for a season seems like the perfect Jason Castro impersonator to pair with Jeffers.

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I think the plan is to sign a great SS. It may not happen, though. They 100% need a backup SS. They have one now.

I'm not the biggest Lewis fan on this site, so I have my doubts....he's less healthy than Buxton, and won't be ready until June or July. So, I really hope they sign a great SS and move Lewis to the OF full time. 

Anyway, I think the plan is B, maybe C. But that they might end up at A because it takes two to tango and they might be left standing on the side of the dancefloor watching.....

And, I'm a huge believer in Martin, but as a 2B, LF, or CF....not a SS. Lee? I think he's the long term 3B for this team, unless Miranda can pick it and hit it consistently.

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1 hour ago, Doctor Gast said:

After letting Palacios go we had exactly 0 legit SS. Now we have one and a floor to build on, plus a LHP killer that they want to focus on. Although he's not my 1st choice, he is a good choice. My 1st choice is Luis Guillorme, like Farmer & Hoerner he's been a frustrated SS that has been all over the INF not having much of an opportunity to play his position because Lindor is playing there. If given an opportunity to play SS on more of a regular basis he could also shine plus he bats LH.

Guillorme is a great pull. Had to look him up. NICE!

Mets might trade him for pitching depth as they have almost no MLB pitching staff in place...literally. It's kind of hilarious looking at their Roster Resource page right now. Scherzer, Peterson, and Diaz, are pretty much the staff at this point.

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