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Rumor: Max Kepler Drawing Trade Interest


Brock Beauchamp
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In a rundown of post-Winter Meeting events, Gleeman and Hayes (if you're not subscribing to The Athletic for this duo, you should do so) talk about several items but specifically call out the fact that Kepler is drawing trade interest. Alongside Luis Arraez, the Twins appear to be shopping the right fielder to secure more pitching depth.

To me, this makes a ton of sense. I think teams will be (irrationally) high on Kepler due to his continual under-performance of metrics like BABIP and with the looming shift reduction happening, this might be the time to move on from Kepler. With players like Larnach, Kirilloff, and Wallner looming, having yet another left-handed corner outfielder on the roster makes less sense by the day.


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At some point, this team is going to have to start clearing out the glut of corner position types.  It makes sense to move members of the old core that are blocking younger players.  If Kepler can bring back useful pitching in return, dealing him makes a ton of sense.

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I think some of these decisions come down to if they sign Correa or not.  The Twins have depth in the outfield with Larnach, Kirilloff, Celestino, Wallner, Garlick and technically Gordon.  I think the attractive thing for most teams with Max is he can be used as a centerfileder.  He has the range and his offensive numbers play better as a centerfielder as well. 

Still his contract is almost up so not sure how much trade value he has?  What can he realistically bring back that would make a difference?  Not sure but something is probably better than nothing and given the young outfielder's we have there isn't really room for everyone as it is.  We also have Celestino and Gordon to backup center at this time so the Twins can afford to trade him.  I guess they would just need to find a return they can live with.

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I'd trade him in a second if it seemed very likely that Buxton and Larnach were consistently playing in Center and Left. Without Buxton it is a lot more important to have those solid defensive corner outfielders. Especially if Celestino is getting time in CF. 

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I'd be surprised if we can even get very much for Kepler.  Outside of 2019, he's been very pedestrian at the plate.  Sure, his defense is good in RF, but he has NO interest in playing CF.  Given the Twins' need in CF last year with Buxton out for extended time, Kepler played a total of 9 innings there.

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Long standing fan of Max here, would be fine to have him back for multiple reasons, but fully understand it being time to part ways.

Love to see someone like Myers brought on board as a solid, veteran RH OF, move Max, and trust in Wallner, Larnach, and Kirilloff. Sooner or later you need to get the kids in the field and at the plate on a daily basis and run with them. And as someone pointed out, you also have Gordon in the mix from the port side as well.

I just have no clue what his actual worth is in regard to trade value. I mean, he frees up a roster spot for one of the younger guys, and frees up another $8.5M I believe for payroll...(come on, get rid of Pagan for another $4M-ish)...but how good of a player does Kepler bring back? A decent RP? A decent AA caliber player? He might be better as part of a package, if the right match can be found. 

 

 

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I'm fine with trading Kepler for a decent return, and I don't think that's going to be an MLB player. A good fielding below average to poor hitting corner OF just isn't worth that much. I don't think we can get a solid return unless we (1) package him with a bona fide pitching prospect like SWR, Raya or Canterino, or (2) we trade him and a lesser prospect for a strong prospect from a team that needs a CF, not a RF. Logical team - the Dodgers. They need a CF but don't have to play him there every day since they have Chris Taylor and Trayce Thompson (both RH hitters) who can play CF. They are trying to keep the payroll down a little to reset for luxury tax purposes and they may be on the hook for the 60 million left on Trevor Bauer's contract. He will not pitch another inning for LA. The word in the LA media is that they aren't fishing in the high end FA pond this year. Do the Dodgers have a minor league Catcher or Pitcher who isn't the very top end but has real potential?

I looked at their 40 man and the pitching names that jumped out are Ryan Pepiot as a starter and Justin Bruihl or Caleb Ferguson, both LH relievers. Pepiot would require a big payout - Kepler and probably 2 top 20 prospects - but the relievers might be had for Kepler and something lower level. They also have a A+ ball catching prospect named Diego Cartaya that has good stats and is only 21 that they felt the need to protect. Anybody know anything else about their org that could help identify a target? Max's ability to play CF and his very reasonable salary might appeal to LA. 

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1 hour ago, Muppet said:

I'd trade him in a second if it seemed very likely that Buxton and Larnach were consistently playing in Center and Left. Without Buxton it is a lot more important to have those solid defensive corner outfielders. Especially if Celestino is getting time in CF. 

I wouldn't be as down on Kepler as I am if he'd pull the stick out of you-know-where and just agree to play centerfield when Buxton is inevitably injured. It REALLY bugs me that he seems so resistant to playing there.

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6 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I wouldn't be as down on Kepler as I am if he'd pull the stick out of you-know-where and just agree to play centerfield when Buxton is inevitably injured. It REALLY bugs me that he seems so resistant to playing there.

Brock, I don't ever recall Max coming out and saying that he does not want to play CF.  He may have said something like... I enjoy RF better, but I don't specifically recall exactly what he said.  I assumed that Rocco just felt he was our best RF, especially with the Target Field configuration there, not so much that he demanded to not play CF.  Where did that come from?

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Kepler still has the potential to have an excellent career. He has, undoubtedly, hit a low point for the Twins. I've mentioned before that Max doesn't seem too happy when the cameras catch him, but I surely don't know that that is true. Kepler would be a solid guess as a player who is re-energized by a fresh start with a different team. However, as a long time fan of Kepler, I wish he could be an All Star for the Twins. He is an excellent defender and baserunner and consistently the most fundamentally sound player on the team. He often takes good at bats but his at bats were sad last season in their ending. Maybe it is time to let him flourish elsewhere. If I'm looking for an outfielder to acquire via trade, Max Kepler has the skills needed to fill the position. 

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1 minute ago, Bigfork Twins Guy said:

Brock, I don't ever recall Max coming out and saying that he does not want to play CF.  He may have said something like... I enjoy RF better, but I don't specifically recall exactly what he said.  I assumed that Rocco just felt he was our best RF, especially with the Target Field configuration there, not so much that he demanded to not play CF.  Where did that come from?

Oh boy, that's a good question. Maybe it's being overplayed by people but I've heard Gleeman mention it a few times and it has just kind of seeped into our collective consciousness. I vaguely recall him saying he doesn't like to play center but maybe I'm just making that up to build a narrative.

If anyone out there remembers where this all started, I'd love to see it. Maybe I'm inflating what has actually been said.

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13 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I wouldn't be as down on Kepler as I am if he'd pull the stick out of you-know-where and just agree to play centerfield when Buxton is inevitably injured. It REALLY bugs me that he seems so resistant to playing there.

Agreed, but there may be good reasons. 

I'd want a couple good prospects that I can include in a package for another player, like a legit starting pitcher or RH OF.... Though I have no idea which OF are available. Or catcher. 

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54 minutes ago, Bigfork Twins Guy said:

Brock, I don't ever recall Max coming out and saying that he does not want to play CF.  He may have said something like... I enjoy RF better, but I don't specifically recall exactly what he said.  I assumed that Rocco just felt he was our best RF, especially with the Target Field configuration there, not so much that he demanded to not play CF.  Where did that come from?

I'm sure some of you keep better tabs on this subject than I do, but I don't recall Kep saying anything whatsoever about not wanting to play CF, or that he prefers RF...he really doesn't say much of anything in the media at all. No doubt he's excellent in RF, and he's definitely above average in CF. That doesn't take away from what concerns most, if not all of us...that is, his hitting. He's turned into a total liability at the plate. He's killing us at the front end of the lineup, and Rocco just keeps putting him at lead off, or at least in the top five, every time he plays. 

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17 minutes ago, CRF said:

I'm sure some of you keep better tabs on this subject than I do, but I don't recall Kep saying anything whatsoever about not wanting to play CF, or that he prefers RF...he really doesn't say much of anything in the media at all. No doubt he's excellent in RF, and he's definitely above average in CF. That doesn't take away from what concerns most, if not all of us...that is, his hitting. He's turned into a total liability at the plate. He's killing us at the front end of the lineup, and Rocco just keeps putting him at lead off, or at least in the top five, every time he plays. 

His bat is much more palatable if he's occasionally playing center against righties to rest Buxton or fill in when Byron is injured. That's really the core of my problems with Max. As a hitter, he is who he is at this point. I can deal with that if he's bringing more defensive versatility to the team and helping in center field so Rocco doesn't have to play Celestino every game during Buxton's inevitable IL stints.

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I wouldn't be as down on Kepler as I am if he'd pull the stick out of you-know-where and just agree to play centerfield when Buxton is inevitably injured. It REALLY bugs me that he seems so resistant to playing there.

Bugs me that Kepler level talent can dictate where he plays.  

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Why is everyone so freaking high on Pablo Lopez??? It's annoying and lazy. The guy has only managed to stay healthy one year - last year. A year in which he had a 4.60 ERA from May 18th on. That's a span of 25 starts - approximatley 78 percent of his season in which he had a few good starts sprinkled in but was often just plain bad. Also he doesn't have amazing stuff.

 

And some of you want to trade Arraez AND someone else for him??? There are just as good and better options in free agency. Good lord, I'm glad those of you that think this way aren't in the front office.

 

End rant.

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“The Twins have depth in the outfield with Larnach, Kirilloff, Celestino, Wallner, Garlick and technically Gordon. “. There is not a single player on this list that either doesn’t come with an injury history or has never proved they belong. Even though it’s only one year, I’ll give you Gordon. The rest are flyer prospects at this point. 

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3 minutes ago, Reptevia said:

“The Twins have depth in the outfield with Larnach, Kirilloff, Celestino, Wallner, Garlick and technically Gordon. “. There is not a single player on this list that either doesn’t come with an injury history or has never proved they belong. 

Exactly! 

 

Depth? LOL! If this is depth, every team in the league has OF "depth".

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I agree that Max's trade value is low right now, and I like his ability to bounce back and become either very valuable relative to his salary and options, in which case we keep him, or at least "more valuable" for purposes of a mid-season trade.  I think, given Buxton's injury history that having Max as a really good fielding RF is important and creates the least drop-off when Max goes to CF.  Don't know how much the shift changes are going to impact his BA, but right now the "perception" is that they won't very much, and that's a reasonable gamble to say that it will and bank on his defense and a little better contact (and comfort at the plate, as he's no longer trying to steer his contact in directions his swing doesn't want to go).  Hey, the best time to trade Max Kepler was the winter of '19 - not now.

The clearest way I see to clean this up (over and above the CC acquisition as an offseason move) is a trade of Arraez for someone like Jesus Luzardo of the Marlins (pretty equivalent values on Cot's).  That would open up 1B for Kiriloff on a full-time basis, give us 4 years of control over a young starter who finished '22 pretty well and could profile into any starting rotation with cost control.  We haven't sold high on a player in a long time. 

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4 hours ago, Heiny said:

I see the possibility of Arraez and Kepler for Lopez.  I'd be ok with that.

baseball trade values says Twins give up 32.7 million in value and get 38million in value. That's not as far off as I thought it'd be. Throw in David Festa and it's a deal. I'd do that in a heartbeat. 

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8 hours ago, Dman said:

I think some of these decisions come down to if they sign Correa or not.  The Twins have depth in the outfield with Larnach, Kirilloff, Celestino, Wallner, Garlick and technically Gordon.  I think the attractive thing for most teams with Max is he can be used as a centerfileder.  He has the range and his offensive numbers play better as a centerfielder as well. 

Still his contract is almost up so not sure how much trade value he has?  What can he realistically bring back that would make a difference?  Not sure but something is probably better than nothing and given the young outfielder's we have there isn't really room for everyone as it is.  We also have Celestino and Gordon to backup center at this time so the Twins can afford to trade him.  I guess they would just need to find a return they can live with.

Technically Gordon?  Gordon is our best performing all around outfielder and it’s not really close. 

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1 hour ago, Mike Sixel said:

I doubt Miami wants someone as old as Kepler back right now.....but I could be wrong.

I doubt either one of Kepler or Kirilloff are tradeable until they are on the field and prove they are healthy.

Especially Kirilloff trying to come back from his wrist surgery.  Has any athlete actually had this surgery and a

successful career afterwards? Kepler needs to earn his position and if Wallner or whomever beats him out

in ST so be it.  

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