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  • Buyer Beware: Flaws with the Top-5 Free Agent Shortstops


    Cody Christie

    For the second consecutive off-season, Minnesota is in the market for a starting shortstop. Fans may want the team to spend big, but all of the top-tier free agents have flaws.

     

    Image courtesy of Neville E. Guard, USA Today Sports

    Minnesota has the opportunity to make a big splash this winter by jumping in on (arguably) the best free-agent shortstop class in baseball history. It will cost the team a lot of money to be in the mix for the top-tier players. To put that in perspective, Francisco Lindor was supposed to be part of this free agent group, but he signed a 10-year, $341 million deal with the Mets. Each of these players comes with some red flags that interested clubs will need to consider. 

    Carlos Correa (2022 Age: 27)
    2021 Stats: 7.2 WAR, .279/.366/.485 (.850), 26 HR, 34 2B, 131 OPS+

    As a 27-year old, Correa is reaching free agency at the prime of his career, and he is the top free agent in this winter’s crop of available players. It’s likely going to take $30 million per season for six years or more to sign Correa. Injuries have been part of his professional career, but he has played 99 games or more in five of his seven big-league seasons. There’s also a good chance he will need to move off shortstop as he continues to age.
    Flaws: Injury history

    Corey Seager (2022 Age: 28)
    2021 Stats: 3.7 WAR, .306/.394/.521 (.915), 16 HR, 22 2B, 145 OPS+

    Like Correa, injuries have been part of Seager’s story, including missing a good chunk of 2021 with a hand fracture. He’s played over 130 games in three of his six full big-league seasons. His 2020 playoff run was outstanding as he won the World Series and NLCS MVP. Teams that miss out on Correa will likely turn to Seager, but he is a year older and has missed more time in his big-league career. 
    Flaws: Injury history

    Marcus Semien (2022 Age: 31)
    2021 Stats: 7.1 WAR, .265/.334/.538 (.873), 45 HR, 39 2B, 133 OPS+

    Minnesota was interested in signing Semien last winter, but he decided to go to Toronto. His season north of the border was memorable as he will likely finish in the top-5 for the AL MVP. He is the oldest shortstop among the top-tier free agents, and he played all of last year at second base. Last winter, he signed a one-year deal for $18 million, and he will be getting a pay raise in the months ahead. 
    Flaws: Age

    Javier Baez (2022 Age: 29)
    2021 Stats: 4.5 WAR, .265/.319/.494 (.813), 31 HR, 18 2B, 117 OPS+

    Baez is certainly an exciting player, but he swings and misses a lot. He led the National League with 184 strikeouts, and he has struck out 144 or more times in each of the last four full seasons. As far as contracts go, he is projected to get a lower average value than the names above because his personality can rub people the wrong way. Can Josh Donaldson and Baez coexist in the same clubhouse? That might not be an experiment a team wants to explore.  
    Flaws: Strikeouts, Volatility 

    Trevor Story (2022 Age: 29)
    2021 Stats: 4.2 WAR, .251/.329/.471 (.801), 24 HR, 34 2B, 103 OPS+

    Story has been a 20-20 player throughout his professional career. He is also hitting free agency at a tough time as he is coming off a poor campaign by his standards. There are also concerns about how he will fare outside of Coors Field. At home, he hit .303/.369/.603 (.972) while on the road, he was limited to a .752 OPS.  
    Flaws: Home/Road Splits

    To read more about these shortstops and other off-season options, make sure to pre-order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. Designed to serve as an essential companion for the Twins offseason ahead, this digital Handbook places you in the shoes of the general manager, equipping you with all the information you need to construct your own team-building blueprint (or predict what the real front office will do).

    Which flaws worry you the most? Will the Twins make offers to any of these players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    3 hours ago, TheLeviathan said:

    I don't know why you cited 2013 thru 2016 if all you meant was 2013?  The point isn't clear.

    I included 2013 because that was Anthony Rizzo's first full season season at the major league level. Kind of the kick off to that era….

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    51 minutes ago, RpR said:

    image.png.ebecd3859289a76295b0f524fbf4e690.png

    yup, after this lousy year, Simmons batting average has dropped to .265, no wait, even with modern math, that is higher than .256, my, my, my.

    STOP USING BATTING AVERAGE AS THE END-ALL OF OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE MY GOD MAN YOU KNOW BETTER THAN THAT IF YOU'RE GOING TO ARGUE AT LEAST ARGUE HONESTLY

    The all caps there are only half-joking with my frustration. You're very intentionally using batting average as the only stat that matters out of convenience. Even if you're an "old school" baseball fan, I doubt you believed Killebrew was bad at hitting.

    So stop arguing dishonestly and do it right now.

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    11 minutes ago, Tim said:

    I included 2013 because that was Anthony Rizzo's first full season season at the major league level. The kick off of this era at major league level. He was under team control and hadn't yet been eligible for arbitration. like the rest of the Cubs main core.

    Right but the rest of those years had plenty of spending.

    We have young, potential core guys up now too.  

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    4 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    The only way to coordinate this kind of thing is to tank for multiple years, as the Cubs and Astros did.

    Except the Cubs and Astros won only two of the past five World Series.

    There are other ways to compete without tanking, coordinating prospect rise, and then making the stars align for a couple of years by spending.

    In fact, the Astros don't even fit that model anymore. As the Cubs are once again tanking, Houston is still going strong and waiting for the ALCS to start after they've bled off very good players to free agency for the past several years.

    There are dozens of ways to win in baseball. Let's not tunnel vision into believing there are just one or two.

    Yes, the Cubs and Astros both won championships using similar methods. That literally is the exact point I'm trying to get across. What other organizations have attempted a similar model in the past 10 years? The Royals, worked well for them too .. Clearly it has a high success rate as we have now gone 3/3 in what I'm trying to get across.

    Look around right now .. Teams see this and are replicating it. I don't have the time to dig into the next 5 years and how these rosters are constructed but I can guarantee a very small number is committed

    • White Sox. They look to be in great shape with Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada all under arbitration or team friendly deals until 2025,
    • Blue Jays
    • Mariners

    They all are going to be around for a very long time, all in thanks to this method.

    Padres kinda did it, but they screwed up and did exactly what everyone is clamoring for the Twins to do and spend money just to be semi competitive. Now they are stuck trying to unload an owed 60 mil combined between Wil Meyers and Eric Hosmer, 

    Now you are right, the other way to win in baseball is to have a payroll within the top 2 like the other 3 world series champs you didn't mention. (2020 Dodgers, 2019 Nationals, and 2018 Red Sox)

    There's 2 ways to win in baseball. It's have a ____ ton of money OR rebuild and support your core with top FA's when the window is open.

    ——

    To think tanking is the only way this can be achieved is ridiculous btw.. Joe Ryan and Austin Martin + SWR, who are top 50 prospects in baseball, will be in Minnesota together next year and some point will be apart of the next core. All will enter arb roughly at the same time. Oh, Larnach, Kirilloff, Ober too.

     

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    13 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    STOP USING BATTING AVERAGE AS THE END-ALL OF OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE MY GOD MAN YOU KNOW BETTER THAN THAT

    Every thing is on the chart;  --  except for this year, his bat was not much better than Simmons  bug he now plays Second Base where he is like Polanco, much better.

    He is more of a home run hitter, and strike out batter and it seems that the former does not stop people from trashing Sano as he also has a lot of the latter.

    IF he can keep up what he did this year, his bat is incredible but he will not be playing short stop, any where, his fielding there is at best average on a his best day, at that ---- if one season determines a player status, then after 2020, neither should have been  worth squat especially Marcus Semien his OBP, SLG and OPS  numbers at bat were worse than Andrelton Simmons.

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    18 minutes ago, Tim said:

    Yes, the Cubs and Astros both won championships using similar methods. That literally is the exact point I'm trying to get across. What other organizations have attempted a similar model in the past 10 years? The Royals, worked well for them too .. Clearly it works, proved my point. 

    Look around baseball right now .. Teams see this and are replicating it. I don't have the time to dig into the next 5 years and how these rosters are constructed but I can guarantee a very small number is committed

    • White Sox. They look to be in great shape with Luis Robert, Tim Anderson, Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Yoan Moncada all under arbitration or team friendly deals until 2025,
    • Blue Jays
    • Mariners

    They all are going to be around for a very long time, all in thanks to this method.

    Padres kinda did it, but they screwed up and did exactly what everyone is clamoring for the Twins to do and spend money just to be semi competitive. Now they are stuck trying to unload an owed 60 mil combined between Wil Meyers and Eric Hosmer, 

    Now you are right, the other way to win in baseball is to have a payroll within the top 2 like the other 3 world series champs you didn't mention. (2020 Dodgers, 2019 Nationals, and 2018 Red Sox)

    There's 2 ways to win in baseball. It's have a ____ ton of money OR rebuild and support your core with top FA's when the window is open.

    Actually in 2019 the Nationals had the seventh highest payroll by SporTrac.

    The thing is that you're letting the tail wag the dog, which is a classic sports trope. Every season in literally every sport, people praise the champion and then many try to emulate that formula.

    Except there's a new champion every year and their formula is different every year.

    For example, the Jays went big this season and will likely be worse next season. They did all the things right, still lost, and now will lose Ray and Semien.

    Baseball is painfully random and there are dozens of ways to win. The Giants are currently winning with a collection of old men on crutches. Good for them.

    There are so many ways to win, try to enjoy the ride.

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    12 minutes ago, RpR said:

    Every thing is on the chart;  --  except for this year, his bat was not much better than Simmons  bug he now plays Second Base where he is like Polanco, much better.

    He is more of a home run hitter, and strike out batter and it seems that the former does not stop people from trashing Sano as he also has a lot of the latter.

    IF he can keep up what he did this year, his bat is incredible but he will not be playing short stop, any where, his fielding there is at best average on a his best day, at that ---- if one season determines a player status, then after 2020, neither should have been  worth squat especially Marcus Semien his OBP, SLG and OPS  numbers at bat were worse than Andrelton Simmons.

    Yeah, it's "on the chart". Semien hit 33 homers in the last full season anyone played as a shortstop and literally broke the record for homers by a second basemen in 2021.

    Stop trying to twist something to fit your point and examine the actual facts. Marcus Semien is a better baseball player than Andrelton Simmons by every ****ing measure except the one you want to use because you so badly want to prove a point.

    Just stop it already.

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    1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    Actually in 2019 the Nationals had the seventh highest payroll by SporTrac.

    The thing is that you're letting the tail wag the dog, which is a classic sports trope. Every season in literally every sport, people praise the champion and then many try to emulate that formula.

    Except there's a new champion every year and their formula is different every year.

    For example, the Jays went big this season and will likely be worse next season. They did all the things right, still lost, and now will lost Ray and Semien.

    Baseball is painfully random and there are dozens of ways to win. The Giants are currently winning with a collection of old men on crutches. Good for them.

    There are so many ways to win, try to enjoy the ride.

    Here’s the difference, financially baseball is unlike any sport. TV deals, large markets, no salary cap, etc.

    There’s a huge discrepancy when you factor that very large aspect of the game into this argument..

    Some sites include the Scherzer deferred $$, some don't .. Point is, it was very high.

    Jays signed 2 guys to 1 year deals for a combined 25 mil and both had MVP/ CY young caliber seasons. Your right, probably will be worse. I'd love to go into off-season's knowing that is an effective strategy.

    But what you and i both know is that's luck, banking on crossing your fingers for a dream season like the Giants is fun when your living that 1 season.

    What is a model for success, is building a team the right way, the results are black and white.

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    1 minute ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    No, nothing is "on the chart". Semien hit 33 homers in the last full season he played.

    Stop trying to twist something to fit your point and examine the actual facts. Marcus Semien is a better baseball player than Andrelton Simmons by every ****ing measure except the one you want to use because you so badly want to prove a point.

    Just stop it already.

    So are all his fielding statss, you are the one who sees what he wants to see plus he no longer plays SS and this thread is about SS players.

    His Rtot and Rdrs at SS speak for them selves.

     

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    Just now, Tim said:

    Some sites include the Scherzer deferred $$, some don't .. Point is, it was very high.

    Jays signed 2 guys to 1 year deals for a combined 25 mil and both had MVP/ CY young caliber seasons. Your right, probably will be worse.

    But what you and i both know is that's luck, banking on crossing your fingers for a dream season like the Giants is fun when your living the 1 season it does happen to your team.

    What is a model for success is building a team the right way, the results speak for black and white

    One of the most consistent postseason teams over the past three seasons also has the lowest payroll in baseball.

    Just admit there isn't one or two ways to win and we can move on, man.

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    2 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    One of the most consistent postseason teams over the past three seasons also has the lowest payroll in baseball.

    Just admit there isn't one or two ways to win and we can move on, man.

    Yea if i was wrong i would give you the benefit of the doubt.

    The Rays are in a league of their own and that’s factoring in all professional sport franchises.

    Funny thing is, they repeat that rebuild model on a micro scale year after year.. With the financial limitations, they understood free agency wasn’t an option. To combat the issue, trading key players prior to the expensive years in ARB or moving them if on a team friendly deal was their solution (2-3 years of control remaining) Moving these pieces early enabled them to maximize value for either top prospects or players w longer control.. (it’s about to come full circle) ….All in an effort to support their next wave of homegrown talent…. It literally is the exact same premise, but on an annual basis rather than a 5 year project… it’s incredible. (Now the scouting w International signings and draft classes is beyond me)

    Again, you are proving my point how small market clubs win vs a big payroll team. How about we agree on this, there’s 2 1/2 ways to win in baseball.

    The Giants though is a fun story, I suppose a team constructed of wounded old players like that is bound to get lucky every 10-15 years.

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    9 hours ago, TheLeviathan said:

    This team can and should be in on Correa and Seager.  Walking away with one of them makes this team a whole lot better for the next few years.

    I think 4/108 gets Seager and I make that splash in a heartbeat.  This team needs a competent shortstop that can hit his way out of a paper bag.  Right now we have one who isn't a good fielder (Polanco) and another is so bad with the bat he's barely better than an NL pitcher. (He Who Should Be Elsewhere)

    There’s about a 0% chance Corey Seager signs a 4/108 mil deal to be a free agent at age 32. Scott Boars blocks your number after that.

    there’s already talk about a potential move in the next few years to 2nd or 3rd. Look at the issue Semien is facing right now at 32.

    Agents know the history. After a new CBA is in place, teams always spend huge money. No one is signing until that’s done, then seager is getting the brinks backed up

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    5 hours ago, Tim said:

    There’s about a 0% chance Corey Seager signs a 4/108 mil deal to be a free agent at age 32. Scott Boars blocks your number after that.

    there’s already talk about a potential move in the next few years to 2nd or 3rd. Look at the issue Semien is facing right now at 32.

    Agents know the history. After a new CBA is in place, teams always spend huge money. No one is signing until that’s done, then seager is getting the brinks backed up

    This is not how teams operate any more.  Your string of posts in this thread have a pattern of lacking context.  It is possible Seager will get more term but very, very few FA contracts exceed four years anymore.

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    36 minutes ago, TheLeviathan said:

    This is not how teams operate any more.  Your string of posts in this thread have a pattern of lacking context.  It is possible Seager will get more term but very, very few FA contracts exceed four years anymore.

    27 year old short stops who have a career .870 ops and a WS MVP don’t hit the open market too often. 

    that’s about all the context needed.

    what were the terms on Lindor’s extension about 7 months ago?

    What about Mookie Betts and Nolan Arenado the year before?

    Apologies, but your wrong

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    I don't see the the Twins signing any of the above. However, there are several in the "step below" class that may be available on a 1 or 2 year deal. Or maybe the team that does decide to make the big splash and sign these guys would make a trade for the incumbent SS. Lots of possibilities when so many good players at the same position are free agents the same year. Of course, we still don't know what the new CBA will look like either. Lots of questions.

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    Most of these guys will cost a lot, but as far as their contracts becoming an issue for the team? The risk is low. Outside of Buxton, there really don't seem to be any internal players who have a chance at needing a big time extension in the next half decade.

    And if you'd prefer to spend money on OTHER free agents, you'll be waiting a couple of years. The 2022-23 class looks brutal. Berrios is probably the headline FA pitcher right now. Bogaerts and Turner are FA, but even if they make it to free agency, bidding on two SS instead of five is going to be an even bigger challenge.

    I expect the Twins to seriously chase these guys, but since it takes both parties to want to make a deal, they can't just lock on to one of them.

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    1 hour ago, Tim said:

    27 year old short stops who have a career .870 ops and a WS MVP don’t hit the open market too often. 

    that’s about all the context needed.

    what were the terms on Lindor’s extension about 7 months ago?

    What about Mookie Betts and Nolan Arenado the year before?

    Apologies, but your wrong

    I encourage you to scroll through the last few years and so how the landscape has changed.  This isn't the 7-10 year term contracts for Scott Boras era anymore.

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    14 minutes ago, TheLeviathan said:

    I encourage you to scroll through the last few years and so how the landscape has changed.  This isn't the 7-10 year term contracts for Scott Boras era anymore.

    Your knit picking now to fit your argument.

    Absolutely none of those players come close to the caliber of player Seager is.

    Springer and Realmuto? is that your argument? if Springer got 6 /150 at age 31, what would he have gotten if he were on the open market at 27 like Seager?

    Now players that do fit into the same tier as Seager - Lindor, Betts, Arenado, etc .. I don't even understand how you are still trying to defend your take.

     

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    4 minutes ago, Tim said:

    Your knit picking now to fit your argument.

    Absolutely none of those players come close to the caliber of player Seager is.

    Springer and Realmuto? is that your argument? if Springer got 6 /150 at age 31, what would he have gotten if he were on the open market at 27 like Seager?

    Now players that do fit into the same tier as Seager - Lindor, Betts, Arenado, etc .. I don't even understand how you are still trying to defend your take.

     

    I suggested you scroll through the last few years.  I reiterate that suggestion.

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    11 minutes ago, TheLeviathan said:

    I suggested you scroll through the last few years.  I reiterate that suggestion.

    2019  

    Bryce Harper - 330 Mil / 13 Years

    Manny Machado - 300 Mil / 10 years

    2020

    Gerrit Cole - 324 Mil / 9 years

    Stephen Strasburg - 245 Mil / 7 years

    ... Teams do seem really reluctant to spend big and commit long term to top players. Have a nice rest of your day.

     

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    35 minutes ago, Tim said:

    2019  

    Bryce Harper - 330 Mil / 13 Years

    Manny Machado - 300 Mil / 10 years

    2020

    Gerrit Cole - 324 Mil / 9 years

    Stephen Strasburg - 245 Mil / 7 years

    ... Teams do seem really reluctant to spend big and commit long term to top players. Have a nice rest of your day.

     

    4 contracts in three years is a dramatic downturn from the past.  I never said it didn't happen, I said the frequency is dramatically lower.  Your unearned condescension only adds to the error here.

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    34 minutes ago, TheLeviathan said:

    4 contracts in three years is a dramatic downturn from the past.  I never said it didn't happen, I said the frequency is dramatically lower.  Your unearned condescension only adds to the error here.

    Did you ever consider the reason its dramatically lower?? Because teams see the value in locking these players into extensions that are 8 + years and massive money to avoid a bidding war.

    The Dodgers (betts) and Mets (lindor) literally gave up assets to hand out contracts to players of that caliber.

    I apologize for condescension but if you are going to be arrogant and not even acknowledge your wrong, it makes having a healthy debate difficult. 

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    14 hours ago, Mike Sixel said:

    If it is about money and risk, it doesn't matter if he's a free agent or on the roster. And, he's already turned down over fifteen million a year for seven years, reportedly. 

    If that's all he wants, please pay the man

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    I would rather see the team gamble on one of these guys who's flaws will cause them to have a down year that would be a career year of a bargain bin player.

    The home/road splits for Rockies players don't worry me as much. A lot of players who have left said yes Coors will inflate numbers, but going on the road makes it harder to adjust to breaking pitches etc. A lot of Rockies players have left and went elsewhere where they don't have home games at Coors and their home/road splits have normalized.

     

    We know how sour things went with Simmons. Only bargain bin player I would even consider is Galvis. Just go out and solidy the SS spot, and let's have a good problem of where to play our prospects.

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    1 hour ago, Tim said:

    Did you ever consider the reason its dramatically lower?? Because teams see the value in locking these players into extensions that are 8 + years and massive money to avoid a bidding war.

    The Dodgers (betts) and Mets (lindor) literally gave up assets to hand out contracts to players of that caliber.

    I apologize for condescension but if you are going to be arrogant and not even acknowledge your wrong, it makes having a healthy debate difficult. 

    First, neither of us can be right pr wrong about Seager's market value because it hasn't materialized.  Second, my point that open market free agent deals have dwindled is correct for a myriad of reasons including extensions.

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