Royce Lewis made his presence known at the big-league level in his debut. He showcased the offensive and defensive skills that made him one of baseball's top prospects. Lewis' injury sidelines him for 12 months, which can put the team's shortstop plans into question for 2023 and beyond. Here are four options for the team to explore at the shortstop position.
Pay Carlos Correa
Carlos Correa signed a unique three-year contract with the Twins this winter, allowing him to opt out following each season. Many expect Correa to opt-out and test the free-agent market again. During his Twins tenure, he has spoken highly of the team, which can have fans hope that he will stick around. However, he will likely make $300 million or more as the top-ranked free agent for the second consecutive season. Signing Correa to a long-term deal likely means that Lewis would switch to a different defensive position, but having two potential shortstops can benefit a team.
Sign a Bridge Player
Before signing Correa, many assumed the Twins would pursue a short-term shortstop solution. By doing this, the organization could bridge the gap to when the organization's shortstop prospects were prepared to take over at the big-league level. It looked like the Twins were going to do this when the team acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa for Mitch Garver. Every off-season, a handful of glove-first shortstops are available on one-year deals. Minnesota tried this with Andrelton Simmons, but the results were disastrous. There is a chance the team will look to a cheaper option, trying to rebuild value before hitting the free-agent market again.
Look to Internal Options
Another option for the Twins is to turn to internal options until Lewis returns in the second half of 2023. On the 40-man roster, the other shortstop options are Jermaine Palacios and Nick Gordon. Palacios played eight games so far in 2022 as he went 5-for-24 (.208), but he showcased some strong defensive abilities at shortstop. Gordon has played over 120 big-league games with an 85 OPS+, but the Twins have hesitated to use him at shortstop. Top prospects Austin Martin is another potential shortstop option, but his stock has dropped since the Twins acquired him last summer. He's also struggled defensively at short, and there is a chance the team will want to use him as a trade chip before the deadline.
Pursue a Different Big-Name Free Agent
Next year's free-agent shortstop class features some strong names outside the potential of Correa opting out of his deal. Trea Turner, Xander Bogaerts, and Dansby Swanson can test free agency for the first time. Turner is one of baseball's best all-around players, and he and Correa will be competing for significant contracts from some of baseball's big market teams. Bogaerts and Swanson are in the next tier of free agent shortstops as both rank in the top-3 at their position, according to FanGraphs WAR. Next season, Bogaerts will turn 30-years-old, but he has averaged a 134 OPS+ since the start of 2018. Swanson, the 2015 first overall pick, is having arguably his best season with a 120 OPS+.
Luckily, Minnesota has time to plan what next year will look like at the shortstop position. Many of these options have pros and cons, but Lewis' injury may have shifted the team's focus for 2023.
What option do you think the Twins will choose? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.