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  • 2016 Roster Projections: The Third Basemen


    Seth Stohs

    We continue to look at the Minnesota Twins organizational depth at all of the positions. Previously, we have reviewed the Catchers, First Basemen and Middle Infielders. Today, we check out all of the third basemen in the organization.

    If anything goes off of plan, who are some of the options to fill in at first base in the coming years, and are there any prospects with the potential to be impact players down the line? Read on and see what you think, and then let’s discuss below in the comments.

    Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA Today

    MAJOR LEAGUES

    Trevor Plouffe enters his thirteenth season in the Minnesota Twins organization. Originally drafted in the first round of the 2004 draft, Plouffe debuted with the Twins in 2010. He became the regular third baseman in mid-2012, and he has remained there since. Despite the presence of Miguel Sano, Plouffe heads into spring training as the Twins starting third baseman. In 2015, his hit .244/.307/.435 (.742) with 35 doubles and 22 home runs. His OPS came in just shy of league average, but his defense gave him a bWAR of 2.5. He will turn 30 in June and is in his third of four arbitration seasons.

    Miguel Sano will continue to take ground balls, even if he is moving out to the outfield for the 2016 season. Eduardo Nunez will also get into games at third base when needed.

    MINOR LEAGUES

    Rochester Red Wings

    In 2008, Buck Britton joined his brother, pitcher Zach Britton, in the Baltimore Orioles organization. He played every position but shortstop and catcher during his seven seasons in that organization. He spent last year with the Dodgers AAA affiliate in Oklahoma City where he played all over but mostly at third base. In the PCL, he hit .262/.311/.374 (.685).

    Chattanooga Lookouts

    Niko Goodrum moved to third base in 2014. He is a natural shortstop, and that is where he is at his best. He has struggled with the move to third after being really good at shortstop. Offensively, he hasn’t hit for average, but he takes a lot of walks. He is long and some still believe he’ll gain strength. He may now be more of a super-utility player who plays three infield spots and centerfield. He has very good speed and is a good base runner.

    Stephen Wickens is 26 and has worked his way up the ladder since the Twins drafted him out of Florida Gulf Coast University in the 33rd round in 2011. The Canadian native is a utility infielder who has played a lot at 2B, 3B and LF. With the Lookouts in 2015, he hit .254/.352/.333 (.685) with 14 doubles.

    Ft. Myers Miracle

    TJ White was the Twins 18th-round pick in 2014 out of UNLV. He spent most of his 2015 season in Cedar Rapids, though he spent almost a month in Ft. Myers mid season. In his final 30 games, he hit .364/.454/.551 (1.005). White is strong and has potential to add a lot of power. He also plays good defense at third base. (Get to Know TJ White here.)

    Logan Wade signed from Austalia and since has played a variety of positions. In 2015 with the Miracle, he played first, second and third base, plus in the outfield. He has some pop in his bat and doubles power.

    Cedar Rapids Kernels

    Travis Blankenhorn is 19 years old. He was the Twins third-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania. He began with 14 games in the GCL before moving up to Elizabethton for the final 39 games. Combined, he hit .244/.321/.347 (.668) with seven doubles, two triples and three home runs. He is a tremendous athlete and the Twins could push him up to the Kernels. (Get to Know Travis Blankenhorn here.)

    Extended Spring Training

    Trey Cabbage was the Twins fourth-round pick. The team went well over slot value to sign the 18-year-old from Tennessee. Another great athlete, Cabbage hit .252/.302/.269 (.571) with two doubles in 33 games. His season ended early with a back injury.He should move up to Elizabethton. (Get to Know Trey Cabbage here.)

    The Twins were excited when Nelson Molina was available in the 11th round in 2013. After two years in the GCL, he moved up to Elizabethton in 2015. He hit just .207/.271/.250 (.521) with a triple and a homer. When he signed, the belief was that he could play shortstop and stay there, and he may still be able to, but he has played all over the diamond since signing. He is 6-3 but just 175 pounds, so they may choose to remain patient with him.

    Dutch infielder Ruar Verkerk signed in July of 2013. He came to the States in 2014 and played in the GCL the last two years. He has hit .147 and .197. At 6-3 and 180 pounds, he is quite athletic, but as you would expect, he is quite raw. He turned just 19 after this season. He has very nice mechanics and a sweet left-handed swing.

    SUMMARY

    It’s been a water cooler conversation for Twins fans since the end of the 2015 season. Most fans just assumed the Trevor Plouffe would be traded to make room for Miguel Sano at this position. To this point, that hasn’t happened. Miguel Sano is working in the outfield and Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor insist that is what will happen. Plouffe is a solid, average big league third baseman who plays very good defense at the hot corner. That situation still feels like it could change at any time, but having both Plouffe and Sano in the lineup means up to 50-55 home runs in 2016.

    When it comes to prospects, the Twins 2015 draft added two really high-potential athletes in Blankenhorn and Cabbage. Both played shortstop in high school, but with their size and strength, they both played primarily third base in their pro debut.

    Third Base Prospect Rankings:

    • Travis Blankenhorn,
    • Trey Cabbage,
    • TJ White,
    • Niko Goodrum,
    • Logan Wade

    Next week, we’ll continue to make our Roster Projections, from big league to the extended spring training rosters. Feel free to discuss and ask questions.

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    It's nice to see a MLB ready person should something happen to Plouffe [day off, slump, injury, trade, whatever].  I say that only because, beyond Sano, the 3rd replacements look to be utility players, players playing out of position or more than a few years away.

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    Reading this thread brings tears--a mediocre 3B (who was miscast as a SS for 6+ years) is the regular--and there is essentially nothing behind him worthy of any trust.  Plouffe is:  over-rated, over 30, and will soon become way overpaid.  It is likely that Sano wasn't installed at 3B (like Mauer replaced AJ) is that the Twins have learned their lessons (CF and the chronic pain at SS and 3B) because they strongly suspect (believe?) that Sano is a solution at 3B--he is a patch there.  Sano really belongs elsewhere and because the Twins have not provided depth behind Plouffe at third they are forced to pay (overpay!) him.  This is why trades need to be made to fix the chronic 3B problem (as well as catcher).

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    Yeah, looking at the full picture I can see why the Twins were bullish on not trading Plouffe... The cupboards are pretty bare in the higher levels of the minors. If Sano or Plouffe were to get injured, there's an enormous delta between them and the replacement players. 

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    Reading this thread brings tears--a mediocre 3B (who was miscast as a SS for 6+ years) is the regular--and there is essentially nothing behind him worthy of any trust.  Plouffe is:  over-rated, over 30, and will soon become way overpaid.  It is likely that Sano wasn't installed at 3B (like Mauer replaced AJ) is that the Twins have learned their lessons (CF and the chronic pain at SS and 3B) because they strongly suspect (believe?) that Sano is a solution at 3B--he is a patch there.  Sano really belongs elsewhere and because the Twins have not provided depth behind Plouffe at third they are forced to pay (overpay!) him.  This is why trades need to be made to fix the chronic 3B problem (as well as catcher).

     

    Plouffe is still under-30... and at 2.5 WAR last year, he was worth $20.1 Million last year (per fangraphs)... so jumping to $7.5-8 million in 2016 isn't so bad. 

     

    Plouffe was also worth $27+ million in 2014... so, he's fine. 

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    SUMMARY

    It’s been a water cooler conversation for Twins fans since the end of the 2015 season. Most fans just assumed the Trevor Plouffe would be traded to make room for Miguel Sano at this position. To this point, that hasn’t happened. Miguel Sano is working in the outfield and Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor insist that is what will happen. Plouffe is a solid, average big league third baseman who plays very good defense at the hot corner. That situation still feels like it could change at any time, but having both Plouffe and Sano in the lineup means up to 50-55 home runs in 2016.

     

    40 for Sano, 15 for Plouffe?

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    Plouffe is still under-30... and at 2.5 WAR last year, he was worth $20.1 Million last year (per fangraphs)... so jumping to $7.5-8 million in 2016 isn't so bad. 

     

    Plouffe was also worth $27+ million in 2014... so, he's fine. 

    WAR is a fool's way to evaluate pay for players--it's spurious and ignores financial reality.  Examine revenue streams.  Things like merchandise specific to the player, cost to replace player, impact on broadcast (all media) revenue/ratings.  Not  long ago, Houston played a $25MM (or so) team--yet many revenue streams are unchanged.  to say Plouffe is worth $20+MM is ridiculous.  One win is not worth $10MM--Houston (and Miami) just proved that!  In a roundabout way, so did Detroit.  

     

    The 2016 salary (for Plouffe) misses the point--it's his future free agent salary--which will dwarf the 2016 numbers.  Given such a lack of depth the Twins are basically forced to keep Plouffe--unless they trade some valuable players (youth) for 3B depth.  Plouffe shouldn't be paid a qualifying offer--he's not worth it.

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    WAR is a fool's way to evaluate pay for players--it's spurious and ignores financial reality.  Examine revenue streams.  Things like merchandise specific to the player, cost to replace player, impact on broadcast (all media) revenue/ratings.  Not  long ago, Houston played a $25MM (or so) team--yet many revenue streams are unchanged.  to say Plouffe is worth $20+MM is ridiculous.  One win is not worth $10MM--Houston (and Miami) just proved that!  In a roundabout way, so did Detroit.  

     

    The 2016 salary (for Plouffe) misses the point--it's his future free agent salary--which will dwarf the 2016 numbers.  Given such a lack of depth the Twins are basically forced to keep Plouffe--unless they trade some valuable players (youth) for 3B depth.  Plouffe shouldn't be paid a qualifying offer--he's not worth it.

     

    Uh, the FA contracts track very close to WAR, what are you saying, exactly?

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    WAR is a fool's way to evaluate pay for players--it's spurious and ignores financial reality.

     

    I agree with this. I ignore it as a method of establishing "value" for a player, because quite frankly, it doesn't match up with reality.

     

    Nobody is going to sign Trevor Plouffe or a similar 2.5 WAR player for $20+MIL a year, which should tell you everything about its shortcomings.

     

    It shouldn't be a mostly linear idea as it is currently employed, it has to be logarithmic. The largest contract ever is as far as you can project, because that's the reality of the "value" ceiling to me.

     

    If it wasn't, Clayton Kershaw should be complaining because his contract isn't $50+MIL per year.

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    I agree with this. I ignore it as a method of establishing "value" for a player, because quite frankly, it doesn't match up with reality.

     

    Nobody is going to sign Trevor Plouffe or a similar 2.5 WAR player for $20+MIL a year, which should tell you everything about its shortcomings.

     

    It shouldn't be a mostly linear idea as it is currently employed, it has to be logarithmic. The largest contract ever is as far as you can project, because that's the reality of the "value" ceiling to me.

     

    If it wasn't, Clayton Kershaw should be complaining because his contract isn't $50+MIL per year.

     

    I don't use it as a method of indicating what a player should be paid... just what is "value" is relative to others. 

     

    In free agency, Plouffe probably gets a 3 year, $30-35 million deal... even if FanGraphs indicates that he's a $20M player. 

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    WAR is a fool's way to evaluate pay for players--it's spurious and ignores financial reality. Examine revenue streams. Things like merchandise specific to the player, cost to replace player, impact on broadcast (all media) revenue/ratings.

    I agree with this. I ignore it as a method of establishing "value" for a player, because quite frankly, it doesn't match up with reality ... It shouldn't be a mostly linear idea as it is currently employed, it has to be logarithmic.

    Maybe I'm missing where you're going with this... But WAR doesn't dictate the assigned monetary value of the player. The formula is:WAR = (Batting Runs + Base Running Runs + Fielding Runs + Positional Adjustment + League Adjustment +Replacement Runs) / (Runs Per Win)Notably, there is a lack of n(JerseysSold), n(5YrOldsCitingXAsFavoritePlayer), n(twitterLikes). ;) Like Seth said, it's a good comparative value tool. Not linear to expected/deserved salary, which DOES take into account all of those fan rating, revenue stream, etc. numbers. Just my $0.02
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