Luis Arraez has been found money for the Twins system. While a solid prospect, his debut season posting a .334/.399/.439 slash line was not expected by any means. He probably takes the highest quality at bats on the team and has fantastic bat to ball skills that should always buoy a solid batting average. So why would the Twins look to trade him?
Arraez essentially has no primary position at this point after Polanco took over second base. He’ll still make the occasional appearance in the middle infield but often finds himself in the corner outfield or filling in for an injured Donaldson at the hot corner. His shift off the position he played his entire minor league career has gone as well as we could have expected, although usually we don’t expect much in this scenario. Arraez is slightly below average across the board defensively.
His flexibility on the diamond is valuable, though not as valuable as it could be. There’s no situation where the Twins would feel the least bit comfortable with dropping Arraez in at shortstop or center field which are two of the most valuable positions to be able to play. Corner spots are typically where you hide rough defenders and you can often find passable backups. It’s very likely somebody like Nick Gordon is nowhere near the offensive contributor that Arraez is, but his defensive range and what looks to be at least a solid bat could very well close the gap on Arraez as a future utilityman in the Twins eyes.
It’s probably not crazy to say that Arraez’ defensive struggles have at least something to do with his injury history. At 24 years of age Arraez has had knee problems on both sides, one being a torn ACL and the other being tendonitis that hampered him significantly throughout 2020. Even after the issue had supposedly been resolved we still see Arraez run the bases gingerly on occasion while appearing to nurse an aching lower half.
Knee injuries can often result in a brutal aging curve unfortunately, and there’s worries that a 24 year old Luis Arraez is already suffering from chronic issues. As he ages further we could see decline not only defensively, but offensively. He may be able to maintain his bat to ball skills and terrific plate discipline, but as we’ve seen this season in his .351 slugging %, if his power completely evaporates as it could with leg injuries then his value at the plate could really fall off. Arraez is due to become a free agent in 2026. Is it possible that his value could be at its peak?
Should We Trade Him?
As with most productive controllable players, whether we should trade Luis Arraez doesn’t have a simple yes or no answer. He’s an incredibly valuable player, and likely more valuable as a player on the Twins than a trade chip at this point due to his injuries and overall struggles this season. Still, Polanco has settled into second base nicely and appears to have rebounded at the plate. The next wave of outfielders are here with more on the way. While he would be a great stop gap for Donaldson’s IL trips, he’s probably not an everyday third baseman.
Especially if he rebounds at the plate and shows he’s healthy over the next month, a contender could justify paying up for the 24 year old who’s controlled for four more years if they see him as an everyday starter. The Twins lineup would certainly miss him but he’s a player they could likely afford to lose more than Taylor Rogers or Jose Berrios while still getting a nice return that could help rebound in 2022.
Arraez has become a quiet star and is surely one of my favorite players, but when teams crumble as the 2021 Twins have, all options have to be considered. Could Luis Arraez be the big move the Twins make to try to rebound from a surprisingly disappointing season?
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