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  • Twins Make Boring, Necessary Trade for Michael A. Taylor


    Matt Braun

    Well, someone had to do it.

    Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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    The Twins ate their veggies on Monday, trading away minor league relievers Evan Sisk and Steven Cruz for Royals outfielder Michael A. Taylor. Minnesota’s flirtation with the veteran first hit radars when news slithered in that Kansas City—perhaps under the influence of some real good stuff—asked for Josh Winder in return for their outfielder. The Twins glared around the room with the same look you give when grandma says something out of pocket during family dinner and promptly hung up the phone.

    Kansas City dropped their ask, instead greenlighting LHP Evan Sisk and RHP Steven Cruz as an acceptable return. Although so tantalizingly close to donning a Twins cap, Sisk remained in the minors for all of 2022. Half of the return for J.A. Happ in 2021—yes, a team gave up real, breathing players for him—Sisk held preposterously low earned run totals at Double-A and Triple-A, but poor command kept him east of the river. He will probably pitch for the Royals in 2023.

    Cruz is a similar story. The aesthetically ideal big, hard-throwing reliever struck out 28% of batters with Wichita last season but walked 13.6% of them as well; command has always been his bugaboo. No team selected Cruz in the Rule 5 draft, and now the Royals will decide how to fix his aim.

    Taylor will immediately slot in as Minnesota’s fourth outfielder. A more sure bet than Nick Gordon, or Joey Gallo in center, Taylor owns a strong arm, quick feet, and artful routes; he’s the ultimate defensive package. The Twins will likely start Taylor in center consistently, allowing Byron Buxton to DH on days he feels any sort of malady while Taylor glides around the outfield, allowing Minnesota not to miss a beat defensively. His bat isn’t great—Taylor owns a career .241/.296/.381 slash line—but his league-relative numbers perked up a touch in 2022, perhaps implying he has more in the tank.

    The big question is this: how in the world do the Twins set up their outfield? With Max Kepler, Buxton, Gallo, Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Gordon, Gilberto Celestino, and now Taylor, the team has eight legitimate outfielders for three spots; creativity must be in the cards. 

    Celestino is probably the biggest loser in the deal. With a similar playstyle as the new guy, it's easy to read the trade as a vote of no confidence in him; Minnesota probably grew frustrated with his consistent mental errors, always costing the team an extra base with poor decision-making. The deal likely knocks Celestino down to Triple-A, allowing him to grow as a ballplayer in a less stressful atmosphere. He has yet to celebrate his 24th birthday.

    This is unlikely to be the final trade for Minnesota. With more outfielders than available spots, dominos will probably fall over the next month. While Kepler appears to be the most apparent trade target—as he has been for about three years now—the Twins could surprise us, instead packaging some of their younger bats in a deal. 

    But who knows? Derek Falvey loves keeping us on our toes.

     

     

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    There is a month or more for trades to happen. it would be better before spring training started, but bettter to not make a bad deal.

    Perhaps the Terry Ryan analytic that walks are bad wasn’t wrong

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    Kirilloff is basically going to be playing 1B/DH rather than the OF (he wasn't much out there and might be a superior defender at 1B with consistent work), Larnach is probably the starting DH against RHP, but will certainly get time in the corners when Kepler or Gallo need a break. Gordon will likely find more time in the infield, since Farmer is the only other player we have that can play 2B or 3B.

    There's likely enough playing time to go around what with the injury potential, but also the desire to keep players fresh.

    Kepler could still be moved, but the roster is still plenty functional. Dang, the OF defense could be amazing.

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    Good trade for the Twins. An elite defender to back up Buxton and allow more flexibility to push him into DH at bats. Twins have an incredible collection of outfield defenders at the moment with Buxton, Gallo, Kepler, and Taylor.

    Also like the flexibility this gives you to trade more, if you wish. Kepler, Celestino, Gordon, there are a number of names that could make sense for the right price, but the Twins can comfortably wait for an offer they like or just hold their cards.

    The J.A. Happ trade grows a branch, is welcome and hella unexpected. Lots of things coming up pretty nice since that Carlos Correa fella resigned a while back. I'm ready for spring training (let's take Michael Fulmer in some luggage, please).

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    Nothing but Rain Drops bobbleheads volume 2.  Really though, I'm excited to see the next couple moves.  Still not over losing Arraez, but excited at the moves.  This is so much more exciting than the Terry Ryan model.

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    MAT was a fan favorite in DC. A good guy, capable fill-in at almost starter level in CF. He's defense is great- not as flashy as Buxton but less likely to kill himself too. His hitting is what held him back, but just barely, on some really good teams. He's also got surprising power. 

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    3 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

    Kirilloff is basically going to be playing 1B/DH rather than the OF (he wasn't much out there and might be a superior defender at 1B with consistent work), Larnach is probably the starting DH against RHP, but will certainly get time in the corners when Kepler or Gallo need a break. Gordon will likely find more time in the infield, since Farmer is the only other player we have that can play 2B or 3B.

    There's likely enough playing time to go around what with the injury potential, but also the desire to keep players fresh.

    Kepler could still be moved, but the roster is still plenty functional. Dang, the OF defense could be amazing.

    "There's likely enough playing time to go around what with the injury potential, but also the desire to keep players fresh."

    Pretty much agree with everything else, but this makes me nervous.  This assumes all the players on the roster are relatively equal; that there are not "starters", and "bench players", or reserves.  Everyone plays in a rotation, with everyone getting a certain number of at bats.  In this extremely humble observer's experience, that leads to one of two outcomes:  we either finish first, as everyone is that good, so of course we play them all, or we finish somewhere in the pack (like the last two years), as everyone is average, so of course we might as well play them all.  Do we really think we have 13 starting caliber players?  If so, play them all in rotation.  If not, play your best players the vast majority of the time (unless hurt), and sub only as needed.  Players get paid based on their skill levels and production; why we would play lesser players as much, or at least almost as much, as the top skill players befuddles me, but then I am not one of the smartest guys in the room.  Let's hope our brain trust is (at least this time around).  😉

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    This puts celestino and wallner in AAA for 2023. TL is a DH guy only… every 4th day. AK is 1st/DH. Buxton will DH 62 games play CF 99 games if he doesn’t get injured.  We now have redundant elite defense everywhere but 3rd base…. Until Lewis takes over. Farmer sits alot and Miranda will DH alot after June. 

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    Glad you threw in the "as he has been for three years" after saying the Kepler is the most likely trade target.  He's not moving for one of two reasons.  One good, one bad.

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    They must have something else in the works, as the outfield situation is untenable with way too many players for spots--Buck, Kepler, Taylor, Larnach, Wallner, Gallo, Gordon, Celestino, and maybe Martin coming up, and possibly Kirilloff if they decide to give Miranda a little time at first when Lewis is ready, and Farmer available as well.  Giving Celestino more AAA time is not a bad idea, but I am not sure parking Wallner there does that much for his development.  And, even with Arraez gone, the infield is going to be pretty crowded later in the summer with Kirilloff, Miranda, Polanco, Correa, Lewis, Gordon and Farmer, and with Julien, Lee and Martin on the cusp of the bigs. It has been awhile since Twins have had this much competition on the roster.  Where is Gordon going to fit in on this roster now that Taylor, Gallo and Farmer are on the roster?

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    Terrible trade!  If you liked Pedro Florimon's bat and Andtrelton Simmon's bat...you will love this guy.  Both players we gave up will pitch in the majors.  Sisk this year and Cruz in 2-3 years(6'7"...he will figure out the strike zone in a few years.)  Everyone will be complaining about why this guy is getting playing time when Walner, Larnach, etc should be playing.  Heck...this guy makes Gordon look like a stud!

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    24 minutes ago, miracleb said:

    Terrible trade!  If you liked Pedro Florimon's bat and Andtrelton Simmon's bat...you will love this guy.  Both players we gave up will pitch in the majors.  Sisk this year and Cruz in 2-3 years(6'7"...he will figure out the strike zone in a few years.)  Everyone will be complaining about why this guy is getting playing time when Walner, Larnach, etc should be playing.  Heck...this guy makes Gordon look like a stud!

    Eat Protein Bar GIF by SnickersUK

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    I am pretty sure we can stop listing Alex Kirilloff as an OF.  He clearly will be filling in at 1B and no intentions of him playing OF based on current team.  Yes, he can play it, and what he came up doing, but he will play first here on out.  Celestino will get sent down to AAA.  My guess they will trade him if a team comes knocking with a good deal, but he can be down in AAA all year if we want.  Being he is RH hitting, can play CF if needed, he will stay on team most likely. 

    Pretty sure it is clear, unless health of Larnach is still a huge concern, Kepler will be going somewhere, just where.  The hope will be that Buck does not need to DH as much this year, but it is nice to see we now will not drop off a ton on defense when he has to sit.  I like the move, and it shows the FO knows the flaws and willing to fill holes and not just hope things work out. 

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    10 hours ago, jmlease1 said:

    Kirilloff is basically going to be playing 1B/DH rather than the OF (he wasn't much out there and might be a superior defender at 1B with consistent work), Larnach is probably the starting DH against RHP, but will certainly get time in the corners when Kepler or Gallo need a break. Gordon will likely find more time in the infield, since Farmer is the only other player we have that can play 2B or 3B.

    There's likely enough playing time to go around what with the injury potential, but also the desire to keep players fresh.

    Kepler could still be moved, but the roster is still plenty functional. Dang, the OF defense could be amazing.

    I agree with you we still have a functional roster and an amazing OF. IMO it's a bad idea to put Gordon back in the INF. He's much better in the OF & could use some more polish & has more upside there.

    Even though Gallo is better in the corner OF. IMO he is better served at 1B because I think Kiriloff is still kinda iffy, I can see him starting out in AAA to get some more time to shake off some rust & get back in the groove. After that we can sort through our OFers. By that time Kepler should be putting up some better #s

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    31 minutes ago, miracleb said:

     Cruz in 2-3 years(6'7"...he will figure out the strike zone in a few years.)  

    This is giving me flashbacks of that pre-falvine revolving door of big hard throwing relievers that couldn't hit the broad side of a barn. Tyler Kinley comes to mind? I'm surprised any Twins fan at this point would be so confident

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    This is a decent trade. Taylor is one of the better, if not the best, defensive center fielders in MLB. Buxton's injury history pretty much tells you that Taylor will be needed at some point. I will give up BA for a quality defensive CF. 

    With that said, we could use one more quality bat. You know you're getting a .200 hitter in Gallo, not sure he is the best 1st base option if Kirloff falters. With the Arraez trade, other than Correa,  I am not seeing anyone that is getting on base consistently. It seems like we are going with the hitting approach of HR or bust. Kind of miss the Gardenhire days of advancing runners and small balling them into submission.     

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    With Taylor here Celestino is out. Agree there must be a trade in the works for an outfielder, likely Kepler, to save some cash. Wallner is likely headed to AAA too, though he I clearly ready for the big leagues. Maybe Larnach gets moved too in a package deal. Whatever they do, please don’t trade Lewis, Lee, or SWR.

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    1 hour ago, Fatbat said:

    This puts celestino and wallner in AAA for 2023. TL is a DH guy only… every 4th day. AK is 1st/DH. Buxton will DH 62 games play CF 99 games if he doesn’t get injured.  We now have redundant elite defense everywhere but 3rd base…. Until Lewis takes over. Farmer sits alot and Miranda will DH alot after June. 

    If Buxton is in the lineup 161 games next year I'll eat a crow on main street at high noon.  LOL    OMG     Put the bong down Cheech!!!!!!   Hell I'll of won the lottery and also been hit by lightening 6 times by then too!!!!!!     That , my friend , is positive thining!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    My god we have OF's now.....every team in baseball now knows they hold the chips when the brain trust calls up trying to unload Keplar.  Better call the Marlins back up.

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    The only thing I can add to this thread is that I had the privilege to watch Taylor a lot while he was with the Nats.  He's an above average defender with speed, but his bat is just mediocre and I'll be surprised if he's batting anything higher than 8th, and I would not expect him to be a regular unless the injury bug bites us in the arse again this year.  Taylor is going to quietly go about his business and wont be a spark plug, but he'll be a great 4th OF to help keep the starters mostly fresh during the season.

    Now with that said - I have to expect that Kepler is going to get unloaded.  We have too many outfielder's,

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    41 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

    I agree with you we still have a functional roster and an amazing OF. IMO it's a bad idea to put Gordon back in the INF. He's much better in the OF & could use some more polish & has more upside there.

    Even though Gallo is better in the corner OF. IMO he is better served at 1B because I think Kiriloff is still kinda iffy, I can see him starting out in AAA to get some more time to shake off some rust & get back in the groove. After that we can sort through our OFers. By that time Kepler should be putting up some better #s

    Gallo is probably our best defender of the corner OFs, though? Unless Kirilloff shows he's not healthy in spring training, I expect him to be on the MLB roster and 1B seems like the best fit for him.

    Gordon's not great defensively anywhere, really, but he's functional in a lot of places and has developed a solid hit tool now that he's gotten a little more power in his swing. He's got a lot more value if he can maintain viability in the infield, especially since Farmer is our only other infielder?

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    Could be an interesting trade.  I'm a little concerned we gave up two pitching prospects.  But they may or may not be good down the line.  I noticed Taylor was denigrated in your article as only being a career .241 hitter.  That is so odd.  Buxton is a career .244 hitter, has averaged like 73 games played throughout his 8 year career.  Byron strikes out at a rate over 29%.  I think the trade is good in that Byron probably will be injured again and we will need Taylors defense in center field quite often.  

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    Totally fine with this trade.

    I continue to watch with interest...  The Twins have a glut of:
    - Strong glove, "prove-it" bat outfielders
    - #3 SP
    - high end SS prospects stuck behind one of the better SS in baseball

    It feels like there is a big move coming.  Any 1B/3B guys on the market that might fit this trade scenario?

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    Kepler, Celestino, Gordon .. I would be fine trade any or all if the return was fair. Actually I'd rather trade Gallo than Gordon .. 

    But only for quality relief pitching ..

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    I feel like this trade is to see what Celistino may look like in 4 years - we just fast forwarded to Celistino's finished product.  Its one year and we traded some arms who had trouble issuing too many walks - not too excited and not too disappointed either.

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    2 hours ago, miracleb said:

    Terrible trade!  If you liked Pedro Florimon's bat and Andtrelton Simmon's bat...you will love this guy.  Both players we gave up will pitch in the majors.  Sisk this year and Cruz in 2-3 years(6'7"...he will figure out the strike zone in a few years.)  Everyone will be complaining about why this guy is getting playing time when Walner, Larnach, etc should be playing.  Heck...this guy makes Gordon look like a stud!

    Your viewpoint doesn't reconcile with the numbers. In 2022, Taylor had the second highest WAR (3.2) on KCR, much better than Gordon's 1.4 WAR. Taylor would have slotted in at 4th best on the Twins. I for one am looking forward to not shuddering over the shoddy defensive play all around the field. Would you not agree that Taylor is a vast improvement, defensively AND offensively, over Celestino, Garlick, Cave, and Contreras? Gordon still gets his playing time, just not against LHP.

    Both Sisk and Cruz have serious and longstanding command issues that make me skeptical that they'll be fixed. Neither are exactly spring chickens or new to those efforts.

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