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  • Twins Acquire Gold-Glove Outfielder from Royals


    Ted Schwerzler

    The Twins have been looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder. According to a variety of reports on Monday evening, they acquired a Gold-Glove caliber outfielder, Michael A. Taylor, from the Kansas City Royals. 

    Image courtesy of Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

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    Since the Minnesota Twins signed Joey Gallo it has looked like the outfield was packed with a glut of left-handed bats. Needing someone on the right hand side of the batter’s box, preferably with an ability to play centerfield, has been a must. Now they have that man in Michael A. Taylor.

    Michael A. Taylor was a 6th round pick by the Washington Nationals way back in 2009. He spent the bulk of his career there prior to joining the Kansas City Royals two seasons ago. Across 266 games for Kansas City, Taylor has compiled just an 83 OPS+ while slashing .249/.304/.347.

    If the Twins were only looking for a masher to replace Kyle Garlick, Taylor probably isn’t it. He is as light-hitting as it gets, and had very marginal differences between splits last season. Taylor did hit 12 home runs in 2021, but has never replicated the 19 he blasted in 2017 with the Nationals. Over the course of his career, the .722 OPS against lefties is better than the .660 mark against righties, but we’re grasping at straws there.

    More importantly for Minnesota, Taylor represents some level of insurance behind Byron Buxton in centerfield. Certainly Joey Gallo can play there, and if Max Kepler remains on the roster he can as well. Both of them are a bit more stretched than Taylor however, as 605 of his 661 career starts have come in centerfield.

    With the Royals last season, Taylor posted a 1.5 fWAR after a 2.0 mark in 2021. His career best was 3.2 back in 2017, and the bulk of it has always been defensively derived. His 19 defensive runs saved in Kansas City last year pair well with five outs above average. Among centerfielders in 2022, no one posted a higher DRS total than Taylor. Should Buxton go down or miss time, Rocco Baldelli has a surefire defensive star to replace him.

    The Twins traded away Triple-A left-handed reliever Evan Sisk and Double-A flame-thrower Steven Cruz in exchange for the outfielder. 

    The Twins traded away Triple-A left-handed reliever Evan Sisk and Double-A flame-thrower Steven Cruz in exchange for the outfielder. The Twins acquired Sisk in exchange for J.A. Happ when they dealt with the St. Louis Cardinals. He lit up the strikeout numbers last season at Triple-A St. Paul, but his walk rates were scary, and Minnesota was clearly never convinced enough to call him up. Cruz has an electric fastball that can touch triple-digits, but he too has struggled with walks and hasn't put it together while reaching Double-A.

    So, there you have it, the Twins have a right-handed, but not-very-good-hitting outfielder who can play centerfield when Byron Buxton gets days off in the field, which I think this signals we will see a lot of. 

    We will add more details as we learn them, so be sure to check back and let us know what you think of this intra-divisional trade for the Twins. Leave your comments below some Michael A. Taylor highlights from 2022. 

     

     

     

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    I could quote half a dozen likes here, but will just address a slew of topics with this move.

    This way NOT my 1A move for an OF/RH bat. I was looking for offense and OK defense. The FO was looking for defense and flexibility for the roster. But I like this move.  I never like trading anyone who might turn out, but Sisk and Cruz are both hard throwing wild cards that almost every team has. And good for them if they have a good career, just not against the Twins, of course. Coulombe is probably ahead of Sisk, and also SP 40 man possible RP Headrick. Cruz is buried until/unless he shows better control.

    So how does this impact the roster?

    1] The Twins have a viable backup CF to swap out for Buck when he needs time off. And it allows Gordon, and all other OF, to concentrate on the corners, and Gordon to team with Farmer to be utility players who fit in where and when needed. Taylor also provides a PR and possible SB option off the bench.

    2] It allows the young and talented Celestino to spend, hopefully, most of 2023 at AAA to gain confidence, take what he's learned at the ML level, and round out his game after being pushed/forced too early to the ML level. He's still really young. He's got the ability to hit, provide pop/power and speed with some great defense. But he's been swimming in deep waves since his "desperate" promotion in 2021 and NEVER should have been put in the position he was placed in for 2022. That was a FO mistake. NOW, they have the luxury to rewind a mistake and allow him to be a depth piece and get his developmental track back on track.

    This move also tells me, perhaps foolishly, that the rumors for Gurriel are done, and that the reports of Kirilloff looking good and feeling good while working out at Ft Myers are true and this add became their focus. Not saying they won't still make that move, or a similar one, just makes me wonder.

    If we accept that, then the player roster is pretty much set as of NOW:

    OF: Gallo, Buxton, Kepler, Gordon, Taylor. Larnach

    INF: Miranda, Correa, Polanco, Kirilloff, Farmer

    C: Vazquez, Jeffers

    I like this roster, with questions about batting order. Is there room for a surprise in ST for someone like Martin, or maybe more so, Julien, to assume the role Arraez filled? Is Kepler still on the block? I'm starting to think only 50/50 as I'm starting to think they are betting on defense and a turnaround for Max in 2023 and don't want to bet 100% on Gallo returning to his usual self. Could still happen, but I'm still thinking there's room for Larnach to get AB with this roster construction between OF/DH.

    Bring back Farmer for the pen, and I'm starting to think the FO might have had a great offseason. But even with Farmer, not 100% convinced the FO is finished just yet. 

     

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    39 minutes ago, DJL44 said:

    Kepler or Gordon. I don't know when they would play Nick Gordon now.

    Gordon will get time somewhere; he hit well enough last season and can play multiple positions, so they'll find room for his bat. He'll probably get less OF time, but I'm sure they'll use everybody on the roster, especially with only 4 bench spots. He can pinch hit and stay in the game often, and they're going to want to keep everyone rested and fresh.

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    1 hour ago, mikelink45 said:

    I am glad so many like this - it leaves me shaking my head.  Is he really better than Celestino?  I do not think so.  I wanted to see Celestino continue to progress.  Taylor is at his peak. 

    In all I like it better than signing Gallo.  But Taylor's bat brings nothing. 

    This gives celestino a year in the minors to progress. He's young. 

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    4 hours ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

    The Twins have been looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder.

     

    I think you're being generous.

    This team is waaaaaaaaaay over correcting. They need more offense, not defense. I get it, there wasn't much as far as bats go in free agency, but now another no-bat player is going to take a roster spot from a young guy who may have that potential to be the bat they need? Why are they doing this? They're getting too cute with this offseason, Taylor should be a AAAA break-glass-in-case-of-emergency kind of guy.

    Edit: And looking at his splits last year, he hit just as poorly against lefties as he did against righties, who cares which side of the plate he stands on? Even looking at his career, he's never hit lefties all that well. What's the big push for a right handed bat unless it's someone who mashes lefties? I was more than fine moving on from Kyle Garlick, but at least there was SOME explanation for him to be on the roster.

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    10 hours ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

    I really like this trade. Michael Taylor and Byron Buxton are so fast, the Twins can just use these  two players in the OF and use the third OF position for a lefty reliever, who can mow down lefthanded batters and  the starting pitcher can remain in the game in the OF, with the lefty reliever remaining in the game somewhere in the OF when right handed batters are at bat. Alternate the pitchers. How's this for thinking outside the box?

    I like it in principle, but I believe MLB rules allow a shuttle between OF and P only once per game.

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    10 hours ago, h2oface said:

    They should just call him a right handed outfielder, instead of a right handed “hitting” outfielder. 

    So what term would you use for Celestino, since he throws L?

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    I like this move. It makes a ton of sense. Celestino spending most or all of 2023 in AAA I think will pay dividends in 2024 and beyond. Taylor covers for Buxton and buys a year of development for Celestino. Win/Win IMO. I really like Sisk and am sorry to see him go. I hope he doesn't come back to haunt us.

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    I like Taylor, he doesn't hit for much but his OBP's not bad. Problem is they plug one hole and create another. Sisk might have been a valuable piece in the bull pen as the season wears on.

     

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    We may be seeing a lot more of Taylor this year than anyone here is predicting. This is far more than an "emergency outfielder", he's immediately going to be a big part of the OF rotation. 

    Think about it: Larnach gets off to a slow start or aggravates an injury in training camp and begins the year in AAA. Gallo goes into a deep slump.  Buxton is relegated to DH 3 games per week, so we're seeing Taylor basically in a timeshare with Buxton out there, and he's giving Gordon a rest in left field once or twice a week as well. 

    Bold prediction: Taylor gets 400 AB this year in a Twins uniform. 

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    One Gold Glove two years ago. Will be 32 years old this season. Should we be feeling more than a little underwhelmed?

     

    A LOT underwhelmed.  We will all be complaining about why this light hitting outfielder is getting playing time over Walner, Larnach, and even Gordon.  Gallo, Kepler, and Celestino can all play solid centerfield and not give up the at bat in the batting order.  Heck,,,,even Gordon would be better.  Terrible trade!

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    Just another name for Rocco to use when he changes the lineup every day. If you thought Buxton was going to get time off in CF before this trade you gotta believe that just went up ten fold now. As for him being a light hitting outfielder, his .254 BA last year makes him a better option in RF than Kepler. It'll be interesting to see how much playing time he gets in CF verses LF or RF.

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    13 hours ago, Dman said:

    Not sure why the Twins didn't care for Sisk as his numbers were good last year.  I guess I don't understand the Walks issue as his WHIP was only 1.02.  They left Sisk unprotected in rule V and nobody grabbed him so there must something that other teams didn't like or think he wasn't ready for MLB ball.  Personally I think this is a good get for KC.  6 Years of control of a likely solid Lefty reliever and a gamble on flame thrower Cruz who was starting to find more control.  Cruz had tendency to groove pitches though so there is work to be done. 

    The Twins get one year of control for Taylor and he is great Buxton insurance in the field not so much with the bat.  Probably a necessary move.  I assume an outfielder gets moved here shortly?

    Man the Twins are getting picked over on the pitching prospect side of things, but they got Sisk in the Happ deal so kind of found money\asset there and Cruz is a lottery ticket for KC so not a bad deal I guess.

    Pretty sure you hit the nail on the head with Sisk, that no one took him in rule 5.  I mean KC could have taken him, but they chose not too, but instead take him in a trade, so they do not need to put on MLB roster all year.  Meaning they were not even sold on him being on the MLB roster next year.  It is possible he is finally figuring it out, but last year was by far his best year in the minors, and college ball.  Although his WHIP at AAA was just over 1.000, it does not include his 4 batters hit.  He only pitched 34.2, which when you include the 4 hit batters, he goes up to about 1.2 WHIP.  He still averaged 4.7 walks per 9.  He is not someone I would want in high leverage any time soon.  When you average a walk every other inning, you are putting a lot of guys on base for free in high leverage situations.  He is still just a reliever that will pitch 50 to 60 innings at best a year.  

    Maybe he will be good and we will wish we never made the trade, but when every team in baseball says he is not MLB ready I tend to trust the fact that the full MLB are not missing something. 

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    I can see why the Twins went with this trade. It's the result of a failed experiment with CF Keon Broxton who was signed to a minor league contract in 2021. He was a ++++ OF'er who could only manage to hit .173 with 9 HR's in AAA. He was a twin of Taylor in every other respect at 6' 3", 200 ibs. and also from Florida. He was exciting in spring training and I had hopes that he would be brought up but he wasn't. And then in 2022 he was gone and Celestino was brought up instead.

    I think that the Twins saw how electric that a ++++ outfielder can be to watch, especially if Buck is injured, The fans still want to see an exciting glove. And now the Twins have found one worth trading for in Michael Taylor who basically has the same voltage as Keon Broxton would have provided in 2021 had he been able to hit the ball like he did in spring training. Their profiles are too similar to ignore. A right handed ++++  OF'er is what the Twins need to help win some games & fill the seats when Buck isn't on the field.

    Unless they want to use Gordon's left hand bat at times. But Gordon can also DH and play other positions.

    Broxton stats:   https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/b/broxtke01.shtml

     

     

     

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    With Martin & Lewis (marketing op there for all the 80 plus retirees) being groomed as potential outfielders and with Walner & Larnach & Kirilof on the verge of performing with Big Club, I think Celestino should settle in at St. Paul and wait to be traded. Hope he improves there, don’t see a fit with the Twins.

    Gallo - Taylor - Kepler all gone after ‘23 or sooner? Gotta assume yes.

    Buxton is going to be a 50% of season in CF guy, hopefully, and another 30% at DH. This is with good health.

    Not having Garlick in OF is a good thing. I still see Gordon in CF for 40-50 games. Taylor starts in 35 games against Lefty starters. Late inning replacement as lefties come out of the Pen & he can PH & stay in OF. Ensures good/really good outfield play.

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    I think we learned a lot by this move.

    First, I liked the potential Sisk had.  As confirmed by the Rule 5 draft, appears nobody in baseball with a hell of a lot more knowledge than I did.  

    Second, We don't know what type of player Celestino will become.  We do know that he arrived way too early and now will have a chance to develop at St. Paul.

    Third, Look for Buxton to now get a lot of days at DH.  In the past, when he was at DH our outfield D took a big hit.  With the departure of Arraez last week, who would be our primary DH was the biggest unknown on the team.  With a top defender now on the roster, look for Buxton to DH about half the time.  Should that get him to 130-140 games this year, this will have been a FANTASTIC trade.

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    41 minutes ago, roger said:

    Third, Look for Buxton to now get a lot of days at DH.  In the past, when he was at DH our outfield D took a big hit.  With the departure of Arraez last week, who would be our DH was the biggest unknown on the team.  With a top defender now on the roster, look for Buxton to DH about half the time.  Should that get him to 130-140 games this year, this will have been a FANTASTIC trade.

    I don't agree that Buxton will be the DH quite as much as some think. He did not injure his knee playing CF last year, but was injured while sliding. And in the offseason he had surgery to clean up the tendonitis issue. There weren't any tears or other damage according to the FO.

    Sure he'll DH sometimes but IMO not all that much unless injury prevents him from playing CF.. Every game that he doesn't play the OF for purely preventative reasons could end up costing the Twins the Division. We know that they'll want to keep him healthy but there's a fine line between winning & losing. It may depend on how good that Taylor can hit. If Taylor doesn't hit due to not enough AB's then he could be as much of a liability as Kepler. Maybe Taylor will become more of a utility OF'er, a late inning defensive replacement and for days off.

    Surgery report:

    https://www.cbsnews.com/minnesota/news/twins-star-byron-buxton-set-to-have-knee-surgery-done-for-the-season/

     

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    I'm moving on from Celestino. He has showed what he has last season. He does not overwhelm with his over all play. Also. Here is a guy given a great opportunity to play as a result of injured outfielders. Still he is BENCH for let say a poor attitude and lackadaisical play. By the usual expressions on his face you would think he is a deserving Hall A Fame player. Nope.

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    15 minutes ago, sun said:

    I don't agree that Buxton will be the DH quite as much as some think. He did not injure his knee in the field last year, but was injured while sliding. And in the offseason he had surgery to clean up the tendonitis issue. There weren't any tears or other damage according to the FO.

    Sure he'll DH sometimes but IMO not all that much unless injury prevents him from playing the OF. Every game that he doesn't play the OF for purely preventative reasons could end up costing the Twins the Division. We know that they'll want to keep him healthy but there's a fine line between winning & losing. It may depend on how good that Taylor can hit. If Taylor doesn't hit due to not enough AB's then he could be as much of a liability as Kepler. Maybe Taylor will become more of a utility OF'er, a late inning defensive replacement and for days off.

    Surgery report:

    https://www.cbsnews.com/minnesota/news/twins-star-byron-buxton-set-to-have-knee-surgery-done-for-the-season/

     

    Taylor was the Gold Glove winner in 2021. Theoretically, if Buxton didn’t play a game in CF we’d be good! Seeing an athlete make spectacular plays in the outfield is cool but having Buxton in the batter’s box is what will give the Team the most value!!

    He played 92 games in 2022 & that’s the MOST he’s played since 2017……….doesn’t matter why/how he got hurt - he’s often hurt. Having him play 75 games in CF & DH 60 games would be wonderful!

    Gordon plays Center when there’s a RH starting pitcher. He could start 55 games there. Buxton 75 games. Taylor, the 32 games vs. LH starting pitching, while Buxton is DH.

    Later innings - lefty in from pen to face Gallo/Gordon…….Taylor pinch hits ands stays in OF. Win/Win…….better situational offense & then better defense. Could see this happening couple times per week.

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    1 hour ago, JD-TWINS said:

    Taylor was the Gold Glove winner in 2021. Theoretically, if Buxton didn’t play a game in CF we’d be good! Seeing an athlete make spectacular plays in the outfield is cool but having Buxton in the batter’s box is what will give the Team the most value!!

    He played 92 games in 2022 & that’s the MOST he’s played since 2017……….doesn’t matter why/how he got hurt - he’s often hurt. Having him play 75 games in CF & DH 60 games would be wonderful!

    Gordon plays Center when there’s a RH starting pitcher. He could start 55 games there. Buxton 75 games. Taylor, the 32 games vs. LH starting pitching, while Buxton is DH.

    Later innings - lefty in from pen to face Gallo/Gordon…….Taylor pinch hits ands stays in OF. Win/Win…….better situational offense & then better defense. Could see this happening couple times per week.

    That's all very true and a lot can depend on Buxton's health. Rocco needs to come up with a winning formula or he'll be put on the hot seat to answer for his decisions if the results don't pan out. I don't blame Rocco for injuries. But absent of injuries, he's the one in charge who will either get the credit or the blame for outcomes. 

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    Not a huge fan of this move. Buxton played 57 games in CF last year. Even if Taylor is going to start 80ish games in CF assuming a healthier Buxton (a massive assumption) he's not really an insurance policy, he's a part of a platoon. Taylor being in the OF that frequently puts a lot of pressure on Gallo. The floor is low, and pretty fragile from an offensive standpoint. 

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    14 hours ago, JD-TWINS said:

    Taylor was the Gold Glove winner in 2021. Theoretically, if Buxton didn’t play a game in CF we’d be good! Seeing an athlete make spectacular plays in the outfield is cool but having Buxton in the batter’s box is what will give the Team the most value!!

    He played 92 games in 2022 & that’s the MOST he’s played since 2017……….doesn’t matter why/how he got hurt - he’s often hurt. Having him play 75 games in CF & DH 60 games would be wonderful!

    Gordon plays Center when there’s a RH starting pitcher. He could start 55 games there. Buxton 75 games. Taylor, the 32 games vs. LH starting pitching, while Buxton is DH.

    Later innings - lefty in from pen to face Gallo/Gordon…….Taylor pinch hits ands stays in OF. Win/Win…….better situational offense & then better defense. Could see this happening couple times per week.

    This will certainly allow them to work in rest for Buck, he now has days he can DH without them losing much defensively and a long term replacement if things go bad.  Taylor is a weak bat but great defender with good speed, limit his exposure and he could be an asset.  

    Having Buxton healthy for the playoffs is the goal, he can DH more in the regular season now even if that limits his counting stats and major strength.  Buxton as a CF is an insane player, Buxton as a DH is good player.  They need Buxton to be in center for the playoffs.

     

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    8 hours ago, RaoulDuke said:

    This will certainly allow them to work in rest for Buck, he now has days he can DH without them losing much defensively and a long term replacement if things go bad.  Taylor is a weak bat but great defender with good speed, limit his exposure and he could be an asset.  

    Having Buxton healthy for the playoffs is the goal, he can DH more in the regular season now even if that limits his counting stats and major strength.  Buxton as a CF is an insane player, Buxton as a DH is good player.  They need Buxton to be in center for the playoffs.

     

    I’d completely agree, essentially I do, but I have to see how he hits at DH vs. CF - can’t imagine any difference though. How the team hits - how many wins we get when he’s DHing or in CF should drive the playoff line-up choices.

    Maybe seems to be knit picking here but you can be sure someone in organization will have the data on these variables.

    The one thing that’s difficult to do is to admit we love watching Buck in CF but we don’t need him with Taylor’s World Series experience AND his 2021 Gold Glove. IMO, our need for Buxton in CF is a bit emotional. Definitely NEED him in the offensive line-up!!

    Potential play-off line-up v. Lefty pitcher:

    Vazquez - Farmer - CC - Polanco - Miranda

    Gordon - Taylor - Gallo/Kepler (whichever is on roster)

    DH - Buxton

    BENCH:

    Kirilof - Larnach - Lewis - Jeffers 

    Also, IMO, to make room for Lewis late July……..either Kepler is traded at deadline or Gallo is traded or more likely DFA’d. If Kepler isn’t traded before season it will be fun to watch the competition with Gallo for RF innings & AB’s!

     

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