Good analysis. This article points out something we all kind of know and supports it with real data. Kepler is an above average fielding corner outfielder with a well below average bat. I don't think moving him to centerfield really helps a lot because tat minimizes his one asset, an above average glove, because he would be an average at best centerfielder. The problem is he just can't hit and for some reason he is unwilling to do anything other than pull the ball on regular basis. He's got to be the easiest guy in the American League to shift against.
With these flaws, I think it's unlikely that we would be able to trade him for much pitching unless we included an upside prospect with him in a package. Maybe somebody who is not an elite or even strong prospect but projects to be a possible mid to back rotation starter or solid bullpen piece regarding whom there is still some doubt. That might be someone like Winder or Strotman or, if we are willing to take more risk on the return side, maybe someone like Jax or Barnes.
I will say that if I'm right on the possible return, Kepler probably has more value to the Twins than he does to anybody else. We are probably still a year away from having a capable replacement given the somewhat gaping hole we presently have in left field. Even if Kirilloff becomes our regular leftfielder and continues his development as a solid or better than that hitter, it's not like we have another outfielder banging on the door to take Kepler's place in 2022. Larnach wasn't quite ready when he came up this year and neither is Celestino or Rooker.
I think the best thing for Kepler is to continue to work with him on learning to hit the ball to left field while at the same time effectively platooning him with who we think is our best right-handed hitting outfield prospect to give that player a chance to develop. In my view, that's probably Celestino given how well he hit at AAA when he went back down. We use the 1st half to two thirds of 2022 to see if the younger player can develop and/or if Kepler and finally gets a better approach at the plate and each of them and effectively also functions as the backup centerfielder. I just don't think trading him makes sense because of the low likely return and I do think the Twins highest priority in the off-season is to re-sign Buxton
Until one of the newbies proves themselves to be better, and until we sign Buxton long term (?) I don't have a problem with keeping Max for awhile. Work with him on bunting down the third base line when he is shifted on, and things might open up more. And the fact he can play both right and center at a pretty decent level is quite the insurance policy for Buxton leaving (?) or the newbies taking more time than anticipated. I think he is a reclamation project worth working on, especially at his price. And if the guys coming up beat him out, a trade can be worked out, but what's the hurry? Now, if we can get a decent pitcher for him...........I will deny I ever wrote this.