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  • What To Do With Gio Urshela?


    Cody Pirkl

    Gio Urshela has certainly been serviceable with the Twins this season but enters an uncertain offseason. With one more year of arbitration to run through, will the Twins bring him back in 2023?

    Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

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    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.

    First Base
    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.

    Free Agency
    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.

    Would Urshela bring some enormous haul back? Certainly not. Even something like a decent middle reliever or prospect facing a 40-man crunch would be a nice alternative to letting Urshela just walk away for free, however. They could still dump the $10ish million to spend elsewhere and get just a little something in return if that’s the route they choose to take.

    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?

     

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    No brainer.  He is your starting 3rd baseman.  His numbers match up with virtually anyone on the team all told, less power than Buck but hits for a much better average, has numbers overall that match pretty well with Correa and Miranda, and doesn't hit as much for average as Arraez, but has more power.  Absolutely a better defensive 3rd baseman than Miranda, and I am SO sick and tired of saying 10M is too much to pay for a player with his overall performance.  

    I would sign him to an extension, maybe 2 years with a team option for a 3rd, and if the team goes south you could trade him with his contract control being a good bargaining chip.  He is a good all around player and not a problem child as far as I have ever read.  Sign him!  

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    54 minutes ago, William K Johnson said:

    Sign him for whatever he wants.    His defense is incredible, he appears to be a great clubhouse guy and hitting is acceptable.   Miranda is not the answer at third.

    His defense has been decent but certainly not incredible. He's had some very good plays, some that looked better than they were due to his lack of range, and quite a few plays that should've been made but we're either outside his limited range or just bobbled/dropped/knocked down.

    He's far from a butcher, but certainly not anywhere near incredible or gold glove status.

    For reference, Baseball Savant had his ’22 Outs Above Average as -5 at 3rd this year

     

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    The biggest issue with him is the 40 man crunch coming up.  As it sits even after you remove the FA and assuming we opt out of Sano, we have 42 guys on our 40 man roster right now, plus the few guys that will need to be added to save from rule 5 draft.  That will need to be a factor.  He is an average player, maybe slightly above, but in a perfect line up is he in the top of it?  I would say no.  

    His defense is inflated by the eye test.  He looks like he makes great plays, which at times he did, but he missed a lot of plays too that were not errors but others could have made. Not only do we have Miranda, but depending on what we decide to do with FA and SS we have possibly Lewis to slide over, Arraez, not sure Gordon has the arm to play third but sure he could fill in if needed. 

    I am not saying dump him, but I am far from the bring him back for sure stance.  It will be a hard decision. Depending on how team feels about Lee it is possible he could come up, they have been very aggressive with him so far. 

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    Honestly, I believe that we should keep him. He is exactly what a manager could have asked for. He has been durable as shown by him playing in 137 games, can play the hot corner at a very serviceable level, and he puts the ball in play. Honestly, you cannot ask for much more from a player of his caliber. 

    Not that this is something, but that trade to MN might have taken less pressure off his shoulders to perform. We all know that as a NYY if you're on the starting roster, you're expected to perform at a superstar level all the time. Plus he was coming after of a very good 3B (A-Rod) the NY had for years. But now that he is in a smaller market team, he doesn't have that same expectations to live up to. 

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    I've been contemplating this for over a month now. I love the heck out of the guy mainly because he's such a great teammate. But I see Miranda as our long term third baseman. Krilloff needs to man first and I don't know where else Miranda is capable of playing other than third base. His slow start kept his batting average down but Miranda has the ability to be an annual three hundred plus hitter with power. For that all he has to do is play an average third base. 

    But I'm fine with resigning Ursela for one year, no extension. By 2024 Julian and Lee will be ready and Lewis will be back. 

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    21 minutes ago, saviking said:

    I've been contemplating this for over a month now. I love the heck out of the guy mainly because he's such a great teammate. But I see Miranda as our long term third baseman. Krilloff needs to man first and I don't know where else Miranda is capable of playing other than third base. His slow start kept his batting average down but Miranda has the ability to be an annual three hundred plus hitter with power. For that all he has to do is play an average third base. 

    But I'm fine with resigning Ursela for one year, no extension. By 2024 Julian and Lee will be ready and Lewis will be back. 

    Agree with most of this, the only caveat being Miranda as long term 3B. Maybe that happens, but I would guess one of Lee or Lewis makes that transition in '24. Next season is about figuring out who plays where in the IF.  AK needs to prove he can stay healthy, and be effective coming off the wrist. I hope they dont build the infield on an assumption that AK is going to seamlessly work back into FT duty at 1B. Hire a 1B tutor for Miranda over the winter, let him figure out how to play the position. Maybe that means Urshela is back on a 1yr deal, and as others have suggested, he could be a movable piece in July if one or two of the IF prospects show any staying power. I can't see them committing to Urshela beyond 1 yr though.

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    if it's a decision of him or Miranda (at min salary) to get playing time....go w Miranda...put the 10million into the pitching staff.......like Gio, wasn't sold on him early...but had a good year.....

    Guys whose bats need to be in the lineup everyday: Miranda, Aarez,  Kirloff, Gordon as Super Utility.......also depends what they do at Short.....

     

     

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    I would not consider this season as "disappointing" except the last month where our injuries finally caught up with us. We were in first place longer than any other Central division club and we did this essentially without a bullpen. I'd sign Urshella, try to keep Correa and dump Sano. I don't think we can count on Kiriloff for next year as he may be the new Buxton with getting hurt all the time. We need pitching- especially relief pitching- if we are ever going to win the division. THAT needs to be our main concern. Ryan is our top dog. Maeda may bounce back. Ober could be as good as Ryan. The other starters are fair. Archer should be a middle reliever if he returns. And Rocco is a big question.

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    1 hour ago, Trov said:

    The biggest issue with him is the 40 man crunch coming up.  As it sits even after you remove the FA and assuming we opt out of Sano, we have 42 guys on our 40 man roster right now, plus the few guys that will need to be added to save from rule 5 draft.  That will need to be a factor.  He is an average player, maybe slightly above, but in a perfect line up is he in the top of it?  I would say no.  

    His defense is inflated by the eye test.  He looks like he makes great plays, which at times he did, but he missed a lot of plays too that were not errors but others could have made. Not only do we have Miranda, but depending on what we decide to do with FA and SS we have possibly Lewis to slide over, Arraez, not sure Gordon has the arm to play third but sure he could fill in if needed. 

    I am not saying dump him, but I am far from the bring him back for sure stance.  It will be a hard decision. Depending on how team feels about Lee it is possible he could come up, they have been very aggressive with him so far. 

    Why should there be a crunch in the 40 man roster? Do you really want to keep Jake Cave on there? Sano? Thielbar? Archer, even Sanchez? C'mon. There has to be minor leaguers better than them. And cheaper too. And what does "ready" really mean? Prospect lists come and go and some of those on the team now doing ok were never top 10 prospects. If a player is that good, then play him. If not, then ????

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    I know this is probably shouting from the bleachers, so to speak, a minority of one, probably.  What if we were to sign Urshela, leaving him at 3rd, trade Polanco while he still has decent value, put Arraez at 2nd primarily with Gordon as the utility guy filling in, use Miranda and Kirilloff at 1st with the other DHing when not in the field.  That is one medium priced IF guy and 4 pretty cheap ones, and a pretty decent batting order.  It leaves money to sign Correa, or pitching if Carlos leaves, and the outfield has more than enough guys to fight it out for 4 spots.  And find a catcher!!  

    Now, if Carlos does leave, we may have to live with a stop gap FA for a year until one of our guys are ready, but we could fit one into the budget.  

    I will try not to read the responses; I get scolded enough at home.  :)  

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    The roster crunch is interesting, but we will have some guys moving off the 40-man (Sano, Bundy, and Archer, for example) who make it less of a problem and there's some fungible relievers as well.

    I think offering Urshela arbitration makes sense, even if his number comes in at $10M. He's been more than worth that this season and there's little reason to think he can't be a 2-3 bWAR player; 2021 looks more like the aberration year for him not the expected. He's not an elite defender, but he's still a solid one, and has some positional flexibility if needed (I wouldn't want him playing SS on the regular, but it's nice to have options in an emergency and I expect he could slot in at 2B or 1B if needed without too much aggro). He get hits, has enough pop in his bat to be a threat and fit in very nicely in the bottom 3rd of your order to not give pitchers a break.

    I probably wouldn't look to extend him, though. It's unlikely he'd be interested in a deal shorter than 3-4 years and that's a little more of a commitment I want to make, especially if the AAV is $10M+. 3B is easily his best position right now, but we also have young prospects with higher upsides coming through the system and that deal might not look great in 2 years. He's not going to do 1 plus a team option or even 2 plus a team option; he might want to stay, but he's getting right at the cash in point and if he were a FA this year he'd definitely be getting 3-4 year offers. Hard to think he won't bet on himself by taking $10M and becoming a FA. Which is probably ok for both sides, really.

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    5 minutes ago, twinfan said:

    Why should there be a crunch in the 40 man roster? Do you really want to keep Jake Cave on there? Sano? Thielbar? Archer, even Sanchez? C'mon. There has to be minor leaguers better than them. And cheaper too. And what does "ready" really mean? Prospect lists come and go and some of those on the team now doing ok were never top 10 prospects. If a player is that good, then play him. If not, then ????

    Agree completely..............almost.  I still like Thielbar.  He only made 1.3M this year, and has 2 years arbitration left.  He shouldn't be too expensive for another year or two.  

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    I'd definitely keep him next year. But after that besides having Miranda at 3B, we might be looking at Lee, Lewis & Martin (what a combo) at 3B possibilities. So I wouldn't extend him. If we end up signing Correa, there might be an opportunity to trade him when Lewis is ready.

    I don't trust these defensive stats unless they match upwith the eye test.

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    18 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

    I'd definitely keep him next year. But after that besides having Miranda at 3B, we might be looking at Lee, Lewis & Martin (what a combo) at 3B possibilities. So I wouldn't extend him. If we end up signing Correa, there might be an opportunity to trade him when Lewis is ready.

    I don't trust these defensive stats unless they match upwith the eye test.

    "I don't trust these defensive stats unless they match up with the eye test."

    Agreed!

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    41 minutes ago, jmlease1 said:

    The roster crunch is interesting, but we will have some guys moving off the 40-man (Sano, Bundy, and Archer, for example) who make it less of a problem and there's some fungible relievers as well.

    I think offering Urshela arbitration makes sense, even if his number comes in at $10M. He's been more than worth that this season and there's little reason to think he can't be a 2-3 bWAR player; 2021 looks more like the aberration year for him not the expected. He's not an elite defender, but he's still a solid one, and has some positional flexibility if needed (I wouldn't want him playing SS on the regular, but it's nice to have options in an emergency and I expect he could slot in at 2B or 1B if needed without too much aggro). He get hits, has enough pop in his bat to be a threat and fit in very nicely in the bottom 3rd of your order to not give pitchers a break.

    I probably wouldn't look to extend him, though. It's unlikely he'd be interested in a deal shorter than 3-4 years and that's a little more of a commitment I want to make, especially if the AAV is $10M+. 3B is easily his best position right now, but we also have young prospects with higher upsides coming through the system and that deal might not look great in 2 years. He's not going to do 1 plus a team option or even 2 plus a team option; he might want to stay, but he's getting right at the cash in point and if he were a FA this year he'd definitely be getting 3-4 year offers. Hard to think he won't bet on himself by taking $10M and becoming a FA. Which is probably ok for both sides, really.

    Agree with most, but at the end you say if he were a FA today he would get 3-4 year offers; offers being plural.  I believe that is right; more than one team in MLB would consider that.  My thought process is if multiple other teams (at least I believe there would be) think he is worth the offer, why wouldn't we?  Our 3rd base options are a lesser fielder who we could play elsewhere, and prospects we hope will be ready soon.  A bird in the hand...........

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    He turns 31 in a couple of weeks, so I wouldn’t do anything past next year. If Royce Lewis returns and still plays like Royce Lewis, we can flip Urshela at the deadline.

    in somewhat unrelated news, anyone know where I can make $10M for being a solid performer? That sounds like a pretty good gig.

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