The Twins front office has some decisions to make for 2023 with time likely running out on their job security. With so many players set to return, there are some tough decisions to be made in order to shake this roster up and try to build a winner following two massively disappointing seasons. Gio Urshela is one of those many decisions.
Having made $6.55 million in 2022 and being a decent supporting piece, Urshela has likely set himself up for something like a $10m payday for 2023 if they run through the arbitration process. He’s done his part in making the team want to bring him back with a bounce-back season of being over 15% above league average. His Wins Above Replacement of over 2.0 would make a $10m salary a worthwhile investment. That being said, there are several independent factors that will determine how the Twins proceed with their current starting third baseman.
Jose Miranda was a third baseman throughout most of his minor league career. It was only after losing Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff that he made the switch to playing first for most of the season. As someone who had rarely played the position in his career, he was a bit rough around the edges and established himself as a terrible fielder in the eyes of fans. That being said, his numbers at third base were predictably better. Miranda was a neutral 0 Defensive Runs Saved and Outs Above Average at the hot corner. It's possible the Twins don’t see him as a long-term third baseman, but if they have any hope at all of him holding down that position it’s easy to see them paying him the league minimum and spreading Urshela’s money around elsewhere.
A lot has to do with health and other moves as well. Kirilloff in theory has the kind of bat you don’t platoon, and if he’s finally healthy in 2023, the goal is likely for him to play first every day. The Twins have also lacked some offensive thump against left-handed pitching for years. They could bring in several established options who play a legit first base such as Josh Bell or Trey Mancini to replace Urshela’s spot in the lineup while turning third base over to their star rookie. Their options are wide open.
In terms of sure-fire free agents, the best third baseman on the market this winter may be Matt Carpenter. It’s one of the worst free agent third base markets in recent history and could be an opportunity for Urshela to cash in if he’s cut loose. Instead, the Twins could play it smart and tender him a contract regardless of their plans. Teams are certain to be in need of third base help and the Twins could shop him around on the trade market to teams who are too competitive to pencil in Marwin Gonzalez as their everyday third baseman.
Gio Urshela is a likable player and has single-handedly made the Donaldson trade an inarguable win. That being said the Twins face a tricky offseason with the need to shake things up while having so many returning players in place. You don’t want him playing over Miranda, Polanco, or a healthy Kirilloff. It’ll be a difficult decision, but it’s just one of the many considerations this front office will have to take into account as they ponder how to restore the faith of the fanbase and ownership.
How should the Twins handle Gio Urshela in 2023? Should he be the starting third baseman? Platoon/utility player? Should he perhaps be playing for another team entirely?