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  • Could the Twins Weather the Blowback of a Luis Arraez Trade?


    Nick Nelson

    Last week's second installment of my annual top 20 Twins assets rankings included Luis Arraez at #11. I concluded his blurb with what I feel is a fairly obvious reality: Arraez is a prime trade candidate.

    The sour reaction to that idea hints at how such a move would be widely received, regardless of the strategic logic behind it. 

    Image courtesy of Tim Heitman, USA TODAY Sports

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    Luis Arraez is an extremely popular player. This is known. Merely bringing up the idea of trading him can stir up considerable emotion and anger, as I've learned here and on Twitter.

    I get it. It's easy to see why he is so popular. Arraez has earned the affinity of casual fans and hardcores alike. His consistent .300 batting averages, in an era where those are increasingly rare, endear him to the more traditional follower. For those who gravitate more toward sabermetrics and advanced stats, it is the healthy OBPs driven by Arraez's bat and discipline that define his indispensable value.

    Everyone can agree that his personality and his amusing mannerisms on the field are treasures. Arraez is a joy to behold.

    But the front office can't make decisions based solely on likability or popularity if they want to steer this ship back into contention. They need to make savvy moves and opportunistic improvements. They need to make hard choices.

    Trading Arraez would certainly qualify, but the logic is undeniable:

    • The 24-year-old's considerable strengths are balanced by significant detriments. His knees have already proven to be a chronic issue at his young age. He's not a defensive asset anywhere on the field. He doesn't hit for any power.
    • Despite these drawbacks, he'd clearly be a coveted asset on the trade market. Arraez is still at the front end of his physical prime, with three remaining years of team control. He's a bona fide OBP machine at the top of the lineup, and still has a chance to develop some pop. His defensive versatility could be viewed as highly appealing for many teams. However...
    • Arraez is very redundant within the Twins' roster planning. The two positions he's most capable of playing — second and third — are manned by two of the team's best veteran players, who are both under guaranteed contract for the next two years. Meanwhile, top prospects Austin Martin and Jose Miranda also seem destined to end up at one of the three positions Arraez has played most (2B/3B/LF). 

    A year ago, ultra-plugged national reporter Ken Rosenthal mentioned the idea of Arraez being floated as a trade piece, suggesting the Twins had at least entertained such discussions. That was before the arrival of Martin and the emergence of Miranda. In the present situation, there's an urgency to clear a logjam and acquire impact pitching in the process.

    Arraez doesn't necessarily have to be the guy sent out in such an undertaking, but he sure strikes me as the most likely. 

    Are fans ready for that? Is the front office ready for the reaction that would likely follow? How about ownership, which was reportedly applying pressure for a Byron Buxton contract extension in part because of dwindling fan morale? 

    The Twins and their decision makers aren't exactly on firm footing in the eyes of a fanbase beaten down by a brutal season and totally inactive offseason thus far. If they make a move like this, the return had better be undeniably strong, as well as the messaging.

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    Arraez is a special player/competitor, but given where things now stand trading him for SP may be the move the Twins' FO has to make. (Would be disappointed to see him go, but even more disappointed if the pitching is poor and the Twins' fail to be in contention again.)

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    Arraez should be traded this off-season before any trade value he has goes away. He has no power, no speed. no defensive position and he has been injured too often. He could be easily replaced by any one of several players with more upside as a defender or hitter or both. I don't think he will be one of those players that we (the fans) will look back on and say "if only the Twins had kept him."

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    With how the roster is currently constructed, and with prospects like Miranda ready or close to it, trading him makes quite a bit of sense.  I'm not really sure where to play him with Donaldson and Polanco on the roster.  

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    I thought we should have traded Arraez after his first season. If we are going to make a trade for pitching, we are going to have to give up someone and Arraez, in a package, is probably the best player to bring back something. But he is a favorite of many, so it would definitely hurt, but a great return could soften the blow

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    I disagree. Baseball is a business and the objective isn't to win games, but to keep the fan base engaged for the whole of 162. A disengaged fan base will hurt potential streaming and other advertising ventures. I like prospects too, but what are the odds they can replicate his BA and OBP. As for defense, I think he has been good since he doesn't get to focus on one position. I'd keep him unless somehow you could get a Julio Urias for him.

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    Only way this is a good option is if they get more in return than what he already delivers. He's a good proven big league hitter. He'd have to bring a good proven big league pitcher in return. Donaldson's big contract makes trading Arraez over Donaldson a better option to other clubs. Not sure it is the better option for the Twins though. Arraez and Miranda at 3B might be a good combo until Miranda becomes that same good proven big league hitter.

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    25 minutes ago, Ryan_K said:

    I disagree. Baseball is a business and the objective isn't to win games, but to keep the fan base engaged for the whole of 162. A disengaged fan base will hurt potential streaming and other advertising ventures. I like prospects too, but what are the odds they can replicate his BA and OBP. As for defense, I think he has been good since he doesn't get to focus on one position. I'd keep him unless somehow you could get a Julio Urias for him.

    I agree, a disengaged fanbase would be very detrimental. The pitching, as it stands will put this team very much at risk of just that.

    the free agent options for pitching are very sparse.

    A trade for pitching seems like the best way to make ‘22 a competitive one. Trade inherently means someone of value leaves to return someone else.

    I think trading Arraez makes sense, but as others have pointed out, depends on return. As a package for a very good starting pitcher, I would be very happy. As a stand alone for a low level prospect, I would prefer to keep him.

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    Arraez is my favorite player and I say trade him.  As a man with bad knees (even after replacement) I see a real issue for him.  He is the Tony Oliva of this era, but that said, his trade value is best now with his knees still functioning, his bat still elite, and a positive attitude that would be an asset for any team.  Of course the flip side as other commenters have said is the return.  Our needs are SS and P.  A trade has to address this.

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    As much as I hate to be the pessimist among us, I have a hard time getting fired up one way or the other when it comes to this, or any other trade.  I like Arraez; he is a good hitter who doesn't give a rats butt what his launch angle is, he just tries to get on base and score runs.  He does get on base, and it is a nice thing to have at the top of the lineup.  As for trading him, I would only do so for decent starting pitching, but, again, I can't get too excited one way or the other, as I don't believe this FO is going to make any meaningful trades during this off season.  They are counting on the CBA being completed, and the fan base just being happy that baseball didn't kill itself and will try to get by with a relatively inexpensive year to make up for recent losses, and see what they have in their rookie pool before doing something more major next year, either in trades or free agent signings.  Could be wrong, I have been before; as a matter of fact, I can still remember the time I was.  :)  But that is how it looks from my perch up here.  I will try to keep a good thought, and I will certainly miss the man if he goes, but I will also not hold my breath.  Here is hoping for baseball this spring!

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    52 minutes ago, Ryan_K said:

    I disagree. Baseball is a business and the objective isn't to win games, but to make money. A disengaged fan base will hurt potential streaming and other advertising ventures. I like prospects too, but what are the odds they can replicate his BA and OBP. As for defense, I think he has been good since he doesn't get to focus on one position. I'd keep him unless somehow you could get a Julio Urias for him.

    ftfy

    That's the cynic in me. To keep the fanbase engaged requires two things ... players fans want to root for and a winning team. Without pitching doubtful the latter will happen. While Arraez is a fan favorite, so are Polanco, Buxton, Donaldson (at least for me), Garver, Ryan and Ober ... and I think some of the up and comers could fill that void, too ... Miranda, for one. 

    But I think the common point most, including you, are making ... depends on the return. And it does.

     

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    I don’t see Arraez as redundant and admit I like a player with lead off skills. Yes, on the defensive side he is redundant but not on the offensive side. He brings skills that most of our players and prospects don’t. Trade someone with power who strikes out a lot (Sano, cough cough). We seem to have a surplus of those players and prospects. Yes, he would bring back more in return but I continue to think a trade for a SP is going to be someone less established than a Castillo or Montas.

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    Trade Donaldson and Sano. Keep Arraez. Think long term. Old guys out, young guys in.

    Donaldson and Arraez both have bad wheels but Arraez is about a bazillion dollars cheaper. Take the "savings" from trading Donaldson and spend it on signing a pitcher not currently residing in a dumpster.

    With both Donaldson and Sano gone you have room for Miranda and a guaranteed spot for Kirilloff at first and DH open for Garver when he's not catching. When Garver is behind the plate plug in any other player that Rocco wants to "rest".

     

     

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    I love everything Arraez brings to the Twins.  But your post offers very interesting questions, Nick, as usual.  Thanks!

    If the Twins were mine, I would want to keep Arraez as a primary DH who is the #1 backup at second and third.  He should be in left field, IMO, only in emergencies.  But I also want his bat at the top of the order 140 or 150 games a year.  But then I appreciate people getting on base more so than others.

    If traded will I be disappointed?  Yes.  And if they do, he better be part of a package that brings back one heck of a young starting pitcher with at least three years of team control.

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    44 minutes ago, Squirrel said:

    ftfy

    That's the cynic in me. To keep the fanbase engaged requires two things ... players fans want to root for and a winning team. Without pitching doubtful the latter will happen. While Arraez is a fan favorite, so are Polanco, Buxton, Donaldson (at least for me), Garver, Ryan and Ober ... and I think some of the up and comers could fill that void, too ... Miranda, for one. 

    But I think the common point most, including you, are making ... depends on the return. And it does.

     

    1 thing will fill the stands better than anything and thats winning. We need pitching to win. We can afford to sacrifice some hitting for pitching. Simple calculation says trades will need to be made in order to win, and winning is a must or attendance will drop like a rock.

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    Trade either Arraez or Polanco, then making the other our regular second baseman.   The Twins are awash in quality infielders (other than proven defensive shortstops), so cash in that surplus to bolster other areas of greater need (starting pitching!!!).   Donaldson and Sano do not have the trade value of Polanco or Arraez. 

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    50 minutes ago, Squirrel said:

    ftfy

    That's the cynic in me. To keep the fanbase engaged requires two things ... players fans want to root for and a winning team. Without pitching doubtful the latter will happen. While Arraez is a fan favorite, so are Polanco, Buxton, Donaldson (at least for me), Garver, Ryan and Ober ... and I think some of the up and comers could fill that void, too ... Miranda, for one. 

    But I think the common point most, including you, are making ... depends on the return. And it does.

     

    Cynically, if teams were not making money there would be no professional baseball 

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    28 minutes ago, Dave The Dastardly said:

    Trade Donaldson and Sano. Keep Arraez. Think long term. Old guys out, young guys in.

    Donaldson and Arraez both have bad wheels but Arraez is about a bazillion dollars cheaper. Take the "savings" from trading Donaldson and spend it on signing a pitcher not currently residing in a dumpster.

    With both Donaldson and Sano gone you have room for Miranda and a guaranteed spot for Kirilloff at first and DH open for Garver when he's not catching. When Garver is behind the plate plug in any other player that Rocco wants to "rest".

     

     

    I get this and to an extent agree, except Donaldson and Sano have bad contracts in the current CBA/market. Offloading those two means paying a large portion of their salary and so there isn’t much savings or sending prospects with them, which I sincerely doubt this FO would ever do. If universal DH comes in, the calculus for Sano changes. At the trade deadline, the calculus for Donaldson might change. For now those two have more value playing for the Twins than in trade.

    Also, which pitcher is still a free agent that you wouldn’t classify as a dumpster dive?

    Signing both Rodon and Pineda would still result in a payroll under $120m with Sano and Donaldson on the books. Those are the two highest $ FA’s left…

    Arraez is one of the most valuable and tradeable assets the Twins have 

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    I don't think they have to trade Arraez this year but given the Glute of second baseman coming up in the system (Martin, Steer, Jullien, Severino, possibly Miranda) not to mention Polanco is entrenched there and we have Gordon and Arraez to play there.  The Twins have more depth at 2nd than almost any other position.  

    I would hate to see one of my favorite players leave but if the return was good enough there probably is no time like the present to trade him.

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    I pay the most attention to Twins games during Arraez's at-bats because they are enjoyable and the ball is usually in play so there is action. He is about the only Twin who keeps the defense honest by spraying the ball all over the field. With so many of his teammates, the outcomes are predictably boring to watch: strikeout, walk, flyball, grounder into the shift, homerun.

    If he's gone, will I watch at all?

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    Are these Twins realistically positioned to compete in 2022 for a WS as built? We’d all like to think so, but c’mon be truthful.

    If not, are these Twins only a player or two away from being in that position? Again, anything is possible, but, with how we appear to be rebuilding our staff, be realistic. 

    If not, should we trade declining assets or improving assets as we look to build a team to get into that position in 2023 and beyond?

    Also, as a mid market team, should we trade high priced declining assets or low priced improving assets - especially if the former at this point in time should have stronger trade demand?

    The realistic, rational answers are no, no, declining and high priced. 
     

    So the person who should be traded is JD and we keep LA unless we know his knees make him a declining asset (which I do not believe is true) in which case you trade them both.

    JD was brought in (btw in a smart, bold move IMHO), to be the key FA cog in getting us playoff victories. That’s what midmarket teams with good owners (like our beloved Twins) do when the FO feels a solid window exists. And the opposite is true as well - they shed the expensive declining assets who will not be around when the next window is open in order to save the cash for a new cog FA and provide opportunity to up and coming players whom they feel may be part of that new window. 
     

    JD should be moved - preferably during the off-season (but certainly before the trade deadline) after the universal DH is approved and off of his strong 2021 second half and before his inevitable drop off becomes more apparent. LA and Miranda platoon at 3rd base - both of them can still be considered to be likely important pieces of a new window opening as early as 2023, while JD cannot.  Btw, I think the data indicate that defensively there really isn’t much difference between LA and JD at this point (i.e., that JD is a top defensive 3B is more of a myth now), but I could be wrong about that. 
     

    And depending on how Larnach, Lewis, Martin, Celestine, and Wallner develop, Max may be next if he doesn’t up his game. 

     

     

     

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    Oh, also btw for what it’s worth, I read a lot of comments on the TD about how valuable JD is and a lot of comments about how he won’t have any trade demand.  They seem incongruent. 
     

    Could JD truly be worth so much only to the Twins and no other team? I don’t think so. Not in 2022. JD is a really, really good baseball player who will be more valuable to a team looking for that FA pickup to get over the hump (especially with the universal DH) than he will be to the Twins at his price and position over the next two years. 
     

    I think he’s good and can be moved - and for more value ($ adjusted) than LA.  

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    9 hours ago, dxpavelka said:

    Any blowback would be determined by the bring back.

    that was my first thought. Good return, fans forget. We're pretty deep in the infield right now. It's a position of strength, and well Arraez is well liked (deservedly so) from a business standpoint, you make a trade if it makes sense.

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    I agree that we need pitching, but if the FO didn't pursue relatively affordable FA SP I have a hard time seeing them trading a young core member. Besides Buxton, Luis is the most entertaining player IMO.

    I honestly don't think even trading for a SP would make the Twins competitive, there is too much uncertainty. Now we could trade for multiple pitchers, but that won't let us see what the minor league guys have and the pitching pipeline is probably the key deliverable the Pohlads will judge the FO success.

     

    I'd possible I'd trade Miranda if the return could be similar

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    The Berrios trade coupled with no interest in free agents this Oct/Nov tells me we are going with what we have. If we are going with what we have, we try to trade JD - and with a universal DH - I think we find a National league taker. I keep Arraez, and he bats leadoff - and he primarily DH's, and backs up 2nd and 3rd. Youth movement for us, especially if we have a partial season I think.

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    I would trade Polanco because of the Bringback; keep Arraez, Miranda, Martin, Gordon to play 2B; JD, Miranda to play 3B (Sano sometimes); Lewis, Martin to play SS

    Get a quality SP for Polanco (love the bat, but his trade value is at the highest right now; ie he isn't injured)

    Then I'd try to trade Kepler

    I love the "youthful exuberance" of some of these players, Arraez especially

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