It’s reasonable to look at Austin Martin and see a valuable piece that the Twins could use to acquire some pitching, but there are several reasons they shouldn’t be looking to do so.
Redundancy is Overrated
One argument that can be made is that Martin doesn’t appear to be a future shortstop and his future in center field is blocked by the Buxton extension. This could wind up leaving Martin in a utility role. The Twins already have Luis Arraez in a similar position, however, with other players like Jose Miranda and Royce Lewis coming up who could find themselves in a similar spot.
It makes sense to deal from a place of depth, but Martin could bring a lot of value backing up Byron Buxton in center field and Jorge Polanco at second, two players with significant injury histories who could very well miss time at any point moving forward. Luis Arraez can’t fill in for Buxton in center and is stretched at second, not to mention his own injury worries as well.
Martin is a younger, healthier, higher floor and likely higher ceiling option than most players that find themselves in a possible platoon role. Not to mention these issues that involve “too much depth” always find a way to work themselves out when it comes to baseball.
His Value Isn’t That High
Potential MLB caliber shortstops are one of the more valuable assets a team can have in their farm system. It’s a big part of what led to Martin being chosen so high in the draft and what could make him an enormous trade piece moving forward. Tom makes a good point in regards to Martin’s trade value:
Tom’s reasoning behind this is solid. Austin Martin’s 2021 has gone a long way in proving he’s not a future shortstop. Twins fans should be on board with trading him if a team still looks at him as one, as the return would be that much better for a player that’s unlikely to reach that ceiling.
Martin was a longshot to be a future shortstop at the trade deadline, however, and didn't do much to change that idea after the fact. I’d be shocked if a team is still all in on this idea. A team such as the Reds who are in need of a shortstop of the future would likely be more open to paying a higher price to gamble on Royce Lewis panning out at the position because he hasn’t proven otherwise yet. Trading Austin Martin to a team that believes him to be an outfielder or second baseman wouldn’t bring back all that much relative value.
There isn’t a lot of baseball logic that goes into this one, but it just feels unproductive to trade the Twins best pitcher for two prospects and turn around and trade the biggest name for a different pitcher who likely won’t be any better than Berrios.
Sure, the Twins will have gotten Simeon Woods-Richardson out of the deal, but it’ll cost other prospects in addition to Austin Martin to acquire any of the big names on the market. If there was any enthusiasm about extending one of these arms after acquiring them then it could be worth the price. It’s hard to find that enthusiasm however and the likelier outcome is trading such a pitcher away at the 2022 trade deadline if the team finds themselves in a similar situation as last year. It runs the risk of beginning a cycle that doesn’t sound all that fun to be honest.
The Twins liked Martin enough to acquire him as a big piece of the Jose Berrios trade and he’s been about as advertised since then. To turn around and trade him for another pitcher with two years of control (the majority of the high-end pitchers on the market) just seems like shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic. It essentially just swaps out a couple of prospects for a new pitcher who’s likely on Berrios’ level and still leaves a gaping hole in the rotation.
It’s possible Austin Martin doesn’t become the star he was projected to be when drafted. He’s still an MLB-bound player with incredible pure hitting skills and versatility. He could easily settle into a position for the next 5-6 years and be an example of how not quite everything in 2021 went wrong.
It’s going to be interesting to see how the Twins front office tries to wriggle out of their own self-inflicted mess with the pitching staff. Players on the verge of bringing some much needed excitement to Twins Territory such as Martin should be off the table unless there are extenuating circumstances. Austin Martin should be wearing a Twins jersey by 2022 season’s end.