The Good Lord put Kyle Garlick on this Earth to do one thing: mash left-handed pitching. The 30-year-old isn’t a great fielder, has never taken more than 200 plate appearances in a season at the major league level, and consistently fails to hold a Duolingo streak (allegedly). But, he can put a hurt on a ball thrown from a southpaw like few players in MLB.
Garlick’s career slash line against lefties is a lopsided .251/.301/.538, almost a mirror image of Byron Buxton’s .224/.306/.526 total effort in 2022, and a hearty upgrade over the average AL slash line against lefties in 2022 (.246/.315/.399). I tried typing Garlick’s line against right-handers, but the power ominously flicked on and off while a ghastly voice told me the day of my death.
For Minnesota, the fit is obvious; the team is 21st in MLB in OPS against lefties dating back to the 2020 season, as core players like Max Kepler and, strangely, Miguel Sanó have found themselves flummoxed when facing southpaws. While other lefty killers like Mitch Garver and C.J. Cron have exited stage right, the Twins have struggled to find replacements, and the team that dominated lefties in 2019 (.872 OPS!!) needs aid against them.
This is an aside, but Nelson Cruz hit .361/.438/.730 against lefties while in a Twins uniform. Man, that guy rocked.
For Garlick, the deal is a nice safety net; players who break into the league at the age of 27 don’t usually become roster fixtures, and Garlick’s two-year tenure with the Twins has so far represented the heftiest playing time any major-league franchise has offered him. Health has also failed Garlick. The outfielder suffered four separate injuries in 2022 while a sports hernia knocked out most of his 2021 campaign. His new contract worth $750,000 is now a little over the veteran minimum of $700,000, making the deal a slight perk up to his paycheck.
Garlick will never be an impact player, but every team needs tertiary specialists, and the Twins have been significantly lacking in players who can thump a lefty. It’s easy to imagine a late-game scenario where Rocco Baldelli pinch-hits Garlick with a lefty reliever stuck on the mound, giving the Twins a better chance to nab an extra-base hit, potentially securing a crucial run. Or, maybe, Garlick starts against a tough lefty, cranking two homers in a rousing effort.
You don’t even need to imagine that one because he did it last year against Shane McClanahan.
In any case, the deal is a low-stakes buy-in for a player who helps fix a desperate roster need. If healthy, Garlick could be a useful piece against a niche, yet important, variety of pitcher. If he isn't healthy, the team is down a sum of money any good accountant could wipe away with ease.