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  1. In 2019 and 2020 the former Guardians veteran became one of baseball’s best at the hot corner. Gio Urshela posted a .310/.359/.523 slash line and hit 27 homers across 175 games. The Yankees made him a fixture in their lineup and he was seen as a key contributor after taking the position from Miguel Andujar. Urshela went through it for the first time since his breakout last year. After posting a 134 OPS+ in 2019 and 2020, he contributed a below league-average 95 OPS+. Given his dealings with Covid multiple times, as well as suffering injury, it was explainable why the production had dipped. The hope for Minnesota was undoubtedly that a change of scenery and clean bill of health would result in rebounding to where he was at his peak. Now 30-years-old, Urshela is 27 games into his Twins career and the 83 OPS+ is a bottoming out of sorts. He hasn’t dropped to the irrelevance of his time in Cleveland, but at a time when offense is down across the board, he’s finding ways to contribute even less. Urshela is not a hulking slugger by any means, but across nearly 100 plate appearances he has just three extra-base hits and only one homer. If there’s a silver lining for Urshela, it’s that we may just be dealing with a small sample. His expected batting average is 30 points higher at .263 and his xwOBA sits near the 2019 mark at .338. He’s at his career average when it comes to hard-hit rate, and Urshela still has a good process at the plate posting just a 12/9 K/BB. Rocco Baldelli is certainly hoping his third basemen figures it out, otherwise, that could be an avenue for someone like Royce Lewis or Luis Arraez to steal playing time. Behind the dish was never going to be a calling card for Gary Sanchez, regardless of a new change in scenery. He’s a rough backstop, but his bat used to carry him. Coincidentally, Sanchez’s 83 OPS+ is the exact same mark as his trade partner, Urshela. There was a time the Dominican native was competing for Rookie of the Year awards and picking up All-Star game selections. 2019 and his .841 OPS seem like a distant memory at this point, however. The last two seasons in New York equated to a 90 OPS+ for Sanchez, and he’s now dipped well below. Across 80 plate appearances, Sanchez owns a .203/.263/.338 slash line. He is a power producer but has homered only once while tacking on seven doubles. Unlike Urshela, Sanchez’s expected batting average is actually worse than what he’s generated and although the xwOBA is better, it’s insignificant with just an eight-point swing. Sanchez is still hitting with a similar hard-hit rate to when he was at his best in 2019, but he’s bumped the fly all rate up to 53% and halved a very solid 20% line drive rate from that season. Getting too far under the baseball, and being bit by a ball that’s deadened, Sanchez has just a 3.6% HR/FB ratio after seeing a whopping 26.4% ratio in 2019. Although he’s making the most contact of his career, pitchers are also forcing him to chase at a career-worst rate. For Sanchez the bat has to play for there to be any value. He’s been worth -0.3 fWAR because it hasn’t and his time behind the dish will always be flawed. Minnesota doesn’t have other options at catcher and that makes the leash extremely long here. Still, getting him anything more than rotational at-bats becomes unnecessary if this is the production Baldelli can expect. It was a fine move to swap out Josh Donaldson. His place in the clubhouse may not have been ideal, and the move freed up the opportunity to sign Carlos Correa. That said, the Twins can’t afford to have a lineup with two players producing so little offensively. New York has bit Minnesota plenty over the years, and right now it’s happening from within. How long are you willing to wait and find out if these two find it?
  2. 15: Jim Thome: 21 HR Thome became a home run legend during his Hall of Fame career. He hit the first walk-off home run in Target Field history, and it is still one of the best moments in Minnesota Twins history. 13. Oswaldo Arcia/ Kennys Vargas: 22 HR Arcia and Vargas were supposed to be part of the first wave of prospects that helped the Twins turn things around at the big-league level in the 2010s. That didn't come to fruition, but they each were known for their power in their prospect careers. 12. Mitch Garver: 27 HR During the Bomba Squad season, Garver had multiple important home runs. He broke Earl Battey's Twins single-season home run record, which stood since 1963. He also hit the home run that broke the season home run record. 11. Eduardo Escobar: 28 HR Escobar became a beloved figure in Twins history, and he has gone on to have a solid big-league career. His most valuable home run at Target Field came with the Twins trailing by two in the bottom of the eighth inning. Which home run do you remember the most? Which player do you think hits Minnesota's 1,000th home run at Target Field? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. Shortly after the lockout ended, the Twins engaged in a frenzied activity to reshape their roster and prepare for the 2022 season. One of the first moves they made, was trading fan favorite Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who eventually was flipped to the Yankees to shed Josh Donaldson’s contract. Trading an aging catcher, with a lengthy injury history, made a lot of sense, even if Twins fans didn’t like the move. How the trade would be reflected upon, depended largely on the development of Ryan Jeffers and what he could offer offensively in 2022. Early in the 2022 season, the returns are promising. Jeffers’ development since being taken in the second round of the 2018 draft out of UNC Wilmington has been remarkable. At the time, the pick was immediately labeled a reach from Minnesota. The Twins, however, saw a solid power bat and a cerebral player they felt they could develop defensively, despite not having had a college catching coach. Jeffers was essentially self-taught defensively. Let’s dig into his offensive and defensive production in 2022 to see what’s under the hood. Offense When Jeffers was first called up in 2020, hitting .273/.355/.436 and managed a 120 wRC+ in a small, 26-game sample. 2021 was, by comparison, a disaster. Jeffers lost his strike zone control, walking less and striking out more, and struggled to get bat to ball, managing 0.6 fWAR in 86 games. In 18 games in 2022, Jeffers has already matched his season-long fWAR from 2021, hitting .228/.302/.456 to go along with a 125 wRC+. Looking at Jeffers’ Statcast profile tells its own interesting and encouraging tale. Jeffers ranks in the 96th percentile for Barrel % and 89th percentile for xSLG, those are elite numbers. You may not like the profile of hitter, but Jeffers is settling in on being a slugger that will strike out a lot but make a ton of hard, effective contact. That’s valuable in and of itself, for a catcher, even more so. There are a number of factors that hurt the perception of Jeffers’ offensive profile and production. Firstly, Mitch Garver’s 2019 season. It was a unicorn season, both for Garver and in the history of the position. Combine it with Garver’s approach at the plate, which combined elite power and strike-zone control, and it’s easy to wave away Jeffers’ low OBP as uninteresting and lacking value. Let’s put his numbers early in 2022 in some positional context. Jeffers ranks fifth in fWAR among all MLB catchers, seventh in SLG, seventh in wRC+, and ninth in wOBA. He just doesn't get on base a lot, and that’s OK. If Jeffers maintains his offensive production and a wRC+ of slightly above 100, he’s going to have an incredibly valuable 2022 season for the Twins. Defense Let’s start with the obvious, Ryan Jeffers is not good at throwing out runners. He ranks fifth last in this category among catchers in 2022. Also, who cares? Jeffers has had four bases stolen on his watch in 2022, and has thrown out one runner, for a CS% of 20%. Yadier Molina is at 29%. Base stealing has become such an irrelevant part of the game that this area of weakness is inconsequential. Measuring defense is difficult, for catchers, it’s almost impossible. There are no effective metrics to help understand the effectiveness with which a catcher ‘calls’ a game. Here’s what we do know about Jeffers. Per Statcast, he’s in the 84th percentile for framing among MLB catchers. Per Baseball Prospectus, he’s seventh-best in baseball. Rdrs/yr measures the number of runs above or below average a fielder would save over 1,200 innings (approximately 135 games). Jeffers sits at 36, that’s good for second-best among catchers in baseball. This is reflected in the eye test for Jeffers. How many run-saving blocks has he already made this year? While the defensive numbers can’t paint the full picture, the outline is clear. Jeffers is a defensive standout. All of this, of course, is a relatively meaningless sample of around 20 games. There’s plenty of season left to go right or go wrong. The early indicators point to Ryan Jeffers as an extremely valuable long-term commodity for the Minnesota Twins.
  4. One question that I have been asked frequently over the past couple of offseasons was, “How would you split up the catcher position between Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers?” It was a great question and one I enjoyed answering. In my mind, there was a great answer. Play both of them half of the time. Keep them both fresh. Keep them both playing often. Help both of them keep their legs underneath them. The two backstops are so similar in so many ways offensively and defensively in such a way that should allow for continuity for the pitchers. Physically, Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are both big catchers. Garver is about 6-1 and 230 pounds. Jeffers stands 6-4 and about 240 pounds. I think in some ways, their size gave both of them a perception of poor defense. Garver certainly acknowledged his defensive deficiencies early in his career and set out to improve behind the plate with the help of then-minor-league catching coordinator Tanner Swanson. True to the hard work, over one season he went from the worst pitch framer in baseball to league average. That’s more impressive when you consider that it was becoming a huge focus in the game and the overall framing numbers were improving. Like Garver, Jeffers was drafted as an offense-first catcher, at least in the eyes of national sources. However, the Twins scouts saw something in Jeffers that told them he can be a very good catcher. When he got into pro ball and started having the technology and analysis to determine such things, it showed that he was a plus-pitch framer. And he has continued to rank highly even in his first two big-league seasons. Jeffers and Garver are both very smart away from the baseball field. Garver went to the University of New Mexico to become a chiropractor and play a little baseball. Jeffers was a physics major at UNCW. Aside from general intelligence, both have a very high Baseball IQ. Both are analytical and study the game. They put in the time before the game to understand what the opposing hitters like and how that day’s pitcher could use their repertoire to get each hitter out. As important, both are tremendous communicators. They work well with their pitchers and their coaches. They both have talked about their communication with each other on pre-game scouting reports and planning. And yes, both are fantastic with the media too. And then there is the offense. Yes, both can mash. Both have had rough spots in their careers, but overall, these guys can really hit Mitch Garver posted an OPS over 1.000 in his junior and senior seasons at New Mexico. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter in 2014 when he played at Cedar Rapids, and in 2017 with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. He made his MLB debut late that season. He has been in the big leagues since. He earned the American League’s Silver Slugger Award in 2019 when he hit .273/.365/.630 (.995) with 16 doubles and 31 home runs. Yes, he struggled and was hurt in the shortened 2020 season. But after a slow April in 2021, he was back. Overall, he hit .256/.358/.517 (.875) with 15 doubles and 13 home runs in 68 games. Jeffers posted an OPS over 1.000 in all three seasons he played at UNC-Wilmington. Along with power, he walked more than he struck out, something that was important to him. After being drafted in 2018, he crushed the ball at both Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. He split the 2019 season between Ft. Myers and Double-A Pensacola. He was invited to the Twins’ alternate site in St. Paul, and when Garver was hurt, the Twins went directly to Jeffers. In 26 games, he hit .277/.355/.436 (.791) with three homers. He had a rough season offensively in 2021 as Garver began the season by getting significantly more playing time. While he hit just .199, he still provided the team with 10 doubles and 14 home runs. His power is legit. Following the lockout, the Twins front office traded Garver, 31, to the Texas Rangers which started a series of moves. A week later, Ben Rortvedt was included in a deal with the New York Yankees. After having the question about how to split up playing time between Garver and Jeffers for a couple of years, there were questions about the Twins’ sudden lack of catcher depth behind Jeffers. Yes, they acquired veteran Gary Sanchez from the Yankees, but he will certainly do less catching and more DHing. That’s why they added minor-league veteran Jose Godoy on a waiver claim to provide another body, a guy who can play good defense. And, after Jeffers’ disappointing .199 batting average in 2021, it is fair for some Twins fans to question the decision of handing him the reins behind the plate. However, if one thing is clear, it’s that the Twins front office has complete confidence in the abilities behind the plate and at the plate of 24-year-old Ryan Jeffers. When a team is looking for a catcher, there is a mental checklist that a front office marks up in their mind as they evaluate a player. For a catcher, that list includes defense, framing, leadership, communication, and then offense, quality plate appearances, power, etc. While needing to show more consistency, Jeffers is a guy who checks all the boxes. So why even bring up Mitch Garver in this article? Why not just speak on the accolades and talents of Jeffers? I think it's important for a couple of reasons. First, it's OK for Twins fans to miss Mitch Garver. He was great with fans and media alike. And, he was a senior sign who made it big, against the odds, to be a Top 5 player at his position. Second, and certainly more important to the Twins and their fans going forward, I think it showed the similarities. Just because players are similar does not mean that the results will be similar. However, it is important to understand what kind of potential Ryan Jeffers has. In 2022, Ryan Jeffers will start getting that opportunity to prove it on a larger scale, as the Twins’ primary catcher. He will likely be able to hit toward the bottom of the lineup which may help take a little bit of the pressure off of his bat. He will be challenged with a pitching staff with three new veteran starters and two pitchers with less than one year of service time. That is a lot to take on, to be sure, but Jeffers is certainly up for the challenge.
  5. [Author's Note: Naturally, MINUTES after I said to myself, "Okay, probably safe to post this, the action has gotta be wrapped up for the weekend," we learned of a major blockbuster trade between the Twins and Yankees. You can learn about it here. And then read on to learn about the state of the roster ... just BEFORE that move.] Twins Send Garver to Texas for Kiner-Falefa Minnesota's front office checked off the "shortstop" box before turning its attention to the pitching staff, acquiring Isiah Kiner-Falefa from the Rangers alongside pitching prospect Ronny Henriquez. The cost was extremely high: Mitch Garver is gone. To procure this package from Texas, the Twins had to part with the 31-year-old who they drafted-and-developed, from ninth-round pick into elite slugging catcher and self-made pitch-framing specialist. Garver, under control for two more seasons just like Kiner-Falefa, is one of the biggest difference-making bats in the league as a nearly unrivaled offensive force from the catcher position. Despite his dwindling team control, I ranked Garver this year as the eighth-most valuable asset in the organization, and when sizing up the club's top trade candidates, I didn't see him as one of the top-five most likely to go. "One could theoretically add Mitch Garver or Ryan Jeffers to this list," I wrote, "although I'm not sure I have enough confidence in either one to feel good about trading the other." Therein lies my struggle with this move. Jeffers hasn't shown enough yet to be confident in his status as "The Guy" going forward, and the Twins are woefully short on qualified depth behind him and Ben Rortvedt in the system. The Twins gave up a lot for a light-hitting defensive specialist. Too much, in my opinion. But the team has firmly addressed its need at shortstop with a versatile young player who was highly regarded in Texas. The price they paid says a great deal about their belief in Kiner-Falefa. Frontline Pitching at Last: Twins Get Gray from Reds for Petty The rotation looks a lot more legitimate now than it did coming out of the lockout. There was plenty of buzz indicating the Twins were pursuing high-end pitching on the trade market, and the rumors came to fruition on Sunday with the extraction of right-hander Sonny Gray from the Reds. In this deal, the Twins gave up all future value, sending 2021 first-round draft pick Chase Petty to Cincinnati. I recently wrote the profile on Petty as our #9 Twins prospect, and got myself all jazzed about dreaming on his upside, but even the most optimistic analysis of Petty has to acknowledge his sky-high burnout risk. To exchange such a volatile asset for an established top-of-rotation for starter with two years of reasonably-priced team control remaining ($10.2M in 2022 with a $12M option for '23) should be viewed as a big win. Gray is a two-time All-Star with an extensive pitch mix, a bulldog mentality, and excellent strikeout rates (10.6 K/9 since 2019) who figures to benefit from a move away from Cincinnati's hitter-friendly ballpark. He posted a 3.44 ERA with six home runs allowed in 12 road starts last year, compared to 4.89 with 13 homers in 14 home starts. The addition of Gray certainly makes the Twins a better team in 2022, but between this and the Kiner-Falefa pickup – both players having team control for two more years – one can sense that the front office is primarily focused on building toward 2023, when Kenta Maeda returns to the fold. An Updated Look at the Roster and Payroll With Gray and Kiner-Falefa joining the party, here's how the Twins roster now projects. The payroll (which includes about $15M in new salary for those two, as well as Gray's $1M trade bonus, paid by the Twins) is creeping up on $100M. The team could theoretically fill the DH role with in-house options – rotating guys like Miguel Sanó, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Arraez. Same goes for the remaining bullpen openings – Juan Minaya, Lewis Thorpe, Griffin Jax, etc. But I think they need at least one more bat and a couple of back-end caliber arms to call roster complete. They definitely need at least one more starting pitcher. The team is reportedly pursuing some of the top remaining veteran names in the remaining middle tier of free agency, including Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, and old friend Michael Pineda. Spring training has already begun, but the Twins certainly aren't done shopping. Stay tuned into Twins Daily as we cover the moves in real-time. I'll keep these periodic status updates running as the fragmented offseason extends into camp. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. According to Jeff Passan, the Twins may have found their shortstop, Isiah Kiner-Falefa. As excited as I was to hear about Kiner-Falefa, that positive feeling went out the door when learning that the Twins were dealing Mitch Garver to the Rangers in the deal. Garver is a Silver Slugging catcher who, after an injury-plagued 2020 season, And despite some freak injuries in 2021, he hit .256/.358/.517 (.875) with 15 doubles and 13 homers in 68 games. Defensively, he wasn't going to be a Gold Glover, but as one former coach told me, he went from being perhaps the worst pitch framer in the league to an average, or even above average, pitch framer in a league that had shown improvements across the board. The move certainly puts the pressure on Ryan Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt, likely the Twins catchers on Opening Day. Before the lockout, the Rangers made a big splash with signing both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager in free agency. That made Kiner-Falefa available. The 27-year-old played in 158 games for the Rangers in 2021, starting 155 of them at shortstop. In 2020, he won the AL Gold Glove at third base. He is really good defensively. Will he hit? In 2021, he hit .271/.312/.357 (.670) with 25 doubles, three triples and eight home runs. Henriquez split the 2021 season between High-A Hickory, where he was 1-3 with a 3.75 ERA in five starts. The 21-year-old then moved up to Double-A Frisco where he went 4-4 with a 5.04 ERA in 16 games (11 starts). In 93 2/3 combined innings, he struck out 105 batters and walked just 25. He also gave up an alarming 17 home runs. Henriquez is small. He's listed at 5-10 and just 155 pounds. Still plenty of room to gain strength. He has a mid-90s fastball that touches 97 and a good slider. He also throws a changeup that is inconsistent. He has thrown a lot of strikes and shown good control and decent command. Most see him as a long-reliever in the big leagues someday, maybe as early as 2022. He was the Rangers #29-ranked prospect according to Baseball America coming into this season. Mitch Garver ends his Twins tenure having spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues. He was a senior sign as the Twins ninth-round draft pick in 2013 out of the University of New Mexico. In 310 games with the Twins, he hit .256 with 52 doubles, six triples, and 53 home runs. He won that Silver Slugger Award in 2019. In addition, Garver was twice a Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year (2014, Cedar Rapids, 2017, Rochester), and he even came to a Twins Daily Winter Meltdown for awhile.
  7. Up to this point, the Twins most significant deficiency was starting pitching, with their greatest asset being a potent lineup. Needing a shortstop, Derek Falvey opted to part with one of his best bats in favor of a strong glove at an integral position. Let’s break down the path forward on a position-by-position basis. Catcher There’s very little argument to be made against Mitch Garver being among the best offensive catchers in baseball. He owns a career .835 OPS, with an .894 mark since 2019. Since his debut in 2017, no catcher in baseball has posted a higher OPS. Defensively Garver was always a work in progress. Initially somewhat of a rough receiver, he worked himself to the point of being a successful framer, and in 2021 his 50.5% strike rate ranked 5th in baseball. Working against Garver has been health. In 2020 he appeared in just 23 games and posted a .511 OPS while battling a muscle injury. He played in only 68 games last season after being struck with a foul tip in the groin. It’s hardly fair to tie the second situation to future injury potential, but it is worth noting he recently turned 31-years-old and may benefit from less time behind the plate. Moving off a player like Garver suggests the front office has significant belief in the alternative, which at this point is Ryan Jeffers. A .791 OPS and 119 OPS+ quantified an impressive 26 game debut in 2020. When drafted, Jeffers was thought to be a bat-first player, and there were concerns about whether he could stick behind the dish. Minnesota nabbed him in the second round suggesting a firm belief he would. Last season Jeffers generated a 49.2% strike rate, slightly behind Garver. Of the two, though, he’s still a better defender. Jeffers and Garver provide a level of redundancy when paired together in that they’re both right-handed. There’s no platoon advantage, and Jeffers’ assumed production is higher than a traditional backup. ZiPS doesn’t like Jeffers much this year, projecting just a .671 OPS, but if there’s anything close to what was seen in 2020, he’ll surpass that level with ease. At just 24-years-old Jeffers goes into the season as Minnesota’s clear starter while being backed up by Ben Rortvedt. Rortvedt posted a .750 OPS at Triple-A last year but owned just a .510 OPS in 39 Major League games. He’s got a big arm and brings a solid defensive profile with little ability to contribute offensively. If Rortvedt can get to even a .600 OPS and stay there, a long career in the vein of a Drew Butera type seems plausible. Shortstop Needing a replacement for Andrelton Simmons, the Twins went out and got...Andrelton Simmons, kind of. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is a Gold Glove defender that doesn’t hit. A converted catcher, Kiner-Falefa owns a career .670 OPS in 392 Major League games. He’ll be 27-years-old and is under team control for each of the next two seasons. Among qualified shortstops last season, Kiner-Falefa ranked behind only Carlos Correa (20), and Simmons (15) in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) with 10. Last season was the first year in which he’s primarily played shortstop, but he’s been a defensive asset at third base and second base as well. Statcast’s outs above average had Kiner-Falefa with a -7 mark in 2021, but it’s clear the advanced fielding metrics are generally favorable for him. There was always the thought that Minnesota could opt to move Jorge Polanco back on the other side of the diamond, but both health and production suggested that wasn’t wise. After a breakout in 2021, Polanco’s home appears to now be cemented at second base, and that means Luis Arraez is a utility man at best. With this configuration, it’s also more challenging to see where Jose Miranda fits into the picture at any point in the immediate future. Knowing that pitching can benefit significantly from solid defense, it’s clear the front office is attempting to run it back, with that being the calling card of the infield's most demanding position. Starting Pitcher Team control always comes at a cost, and while Garver has that too, he’s older and has an injury history working against him. Still, though, it’s good to see that Kiner-Falefa’s roster status wasn’t enough for Garver on his own. Texas also sent Ronny Henriquez to Minnesota. Henriquez is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher that sat in the middle of the Rangers top 30 prospects. Making it to Double-A last season, Henriquez put up substantial strikeout numbers and has a 10.9 K/9 in just over 230 minor league innings. His command has also been sharp, with a walk rate of just 2.3 BB/9. Last season the major bugaboo for Henriquez was the long ball, giving up 17 of them in just 93 and 2/3 innings. He’s still at least a year away from the majors, but this is another arm the Twins staff can go to work on. All in all, there are a few takeaways from this deal. First and foremost, it’s that defense remains a priority for Minnesota. Kiner-Falefa can remain at shortstop if Royce Lewis isn’t going to take over, and he has the positional flexibility to move as well. Garver’s bat will sorely be missed, but it’s a clear indication of a big-time belief in Jeffers. The pitching holes probably won’t all be patched up in 2022, and this is a way to help while also looking towards the future. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  8. I have been watching baseball for as long as I can remember. I have always loved everything about baseball; the sounds of the park, the food, and every play on the field. I learned a lot watching what happens on the field, in the dugout, and the bullpen, but one thing that I had yet to learn was that the struggle to get to that place meant putting a lot of stuff on hold, including relationships. Since they were in high school, Allie and Sarah have been with their husbands, Brent Rooker and Mitchell Garver, respectively. While the couples have been together for over ten years, "together" is a relative term when you're in a baseball family. The term "grind" was mentioned frequently in the interview because that's what being a baseball player is. When the guys aren't playing, they are training. There is never a time when they aren't getting ready for the next game. Because the guys are always on the go, independence has always been important to the wives. All women have their own lives, careers, and individuality, which is empowering. At the same time, they are proud to be Mrs. Cave, Mrs. Garver, and Mrs. Rooker. Saige, Sarah, and Allie are friends, daughters, career women, and mothers. The time they spent growing up while they supported their spouses, Allie and Sarah didn't know in high school or even early into college that the guys would play baseball outside of college. Contrary to popular belief, the women with their spouses from an early age genuinely don't rely on their spouses "being drafted ." The reality of players making it into the majors is that Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players, will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Approximately one in 200 or roughly 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team. Allie and Sarah knew that their individuality and success were just as crucial as their husband's baseball careers. Allie and Brent Rooker went to different colleges out of high school, and long-distance didn't stop until after the Minnesota Twins drafted Brent in the 1st round (35th overall pick) of the 2017 amateur draft. Along with Brent being drafted, he and Allie got engaged in 2017. Still, there was no time to get into family mode because Allie graduated as an RN and started working in her field after college. And for Brent, the grind toward the majors began immediately. When the Minnesota Twins drafted Mitch Garver in the 9th round of the 2013 amateur draft, Sarah was in the middle of Veterinary School. They spent more time apart as Mitch found himself playing minor league ball with the Twins and Sarah finished her degree in Oregon. They had been together at the University of New Mexico, but Sarah had goals of becoming a vet, and she knew that would mean more time apart to attend school in Oregon, so while Mitch went off to play baseball in Florida, Sarah went to OSU to complete Vet school and graduated in 2018 with her Doctorate. Even though she graduated, she couldn’t join Mitch yet on the road as she started working in New Mexico. She officially joined Mitch in 2020, just in time for the pandemic. Saige and Jake Cave met when they were a little bit older. Saige had just graduated from college in Florida, and Jake was playing in the New York Yankees minor league system in Tampa. Saige was out walking her dog when they crossed paths, and that is the story. The simplicity of the story is as genuine as they are. She had already graduated college and was a nanny full-time. As a former D2 athlete, Saige vowed that she would never marry an athlete because she knows the grind and the demand, but she couldn't say no to Jake's charm, and the rest is history. They spent a lot of time as a new couple bouncing back and forth in Pennsylvania in the minor-league system. The travel was arduous, but luckily, Saige is from Pennsylvania and had family there. Their lives collided together in 2018 when Jake was traded from New York to Minnesota. The three women were very close and confided in me when I asked, "How important is this circle?" "It's incredibly important." Says Sarah. "I don't know what I would have done without these two," says Saige. "They literally are so welcoming and loving, and we spend all day texting and snap chatting back and forth. Allie sends the funniest stuff." "It's nice to know that someone gets it," Allie says, "Jake and Brent are also really close, and there is a picture of them from Brent's first day on the field smiling and Jake congratulating Brent." The women genuinely care for each other and look out for each other. None of the wives got the opportunity to travel with their husbands to games in 2020, which subsequently was the pandemic year, making 2021 their first full-time travel year. It blew my mind to think about that. These couples put their heart and soul into not only themselves but also grinding through rookie-ball, minor league ball, trades, and finally landing on your feet with a team, and life throws you a literal curve-ball. Their lives aren't all glam and cash-flow, which is how some people think it happens. It's not. The three of them, while they show their strong sides, show concern for what happens on the field. Sarah said that baseball is a day-to-day job. There is no guarantee, as demonstrated by the pandemic and the current lockout. If they don't have their careers, when baseball stops, so does the income, and that's a terrifying idea. All three wives recall their husbands having scary, possibly career-ending injuries and the fear that went into those moments. Brent suffered a displaced fracture of his right forearm on September 13th, 2020, when a pitch hit him against Cleveland. Jake played with a broken back in 2021 and ended up on the sixty-day injured list for rehab. And Mitch took a foul tip to the groin on June 1st, 2021, during a game with Baltimore and ended up on the injured list after emergency surgery late that night. Sarah and Allie both told me that the scariest thing for them was that they were not only not at the games where their husbands were injured, but their phones were blowing up with people asking if their husbands were okay. Having to take in that emotion and sort through the truth and what is being said in the media is very frustrating. "I am already VERY pregnant at this point and very emotional," says Sarah, "and I can't do anything for him right now, and that got to me. Thank God for the medical team." "Yes! The trainers, the Twins medical staff, they are our best friends," pipes in Allie, "They are there waiting for the guys in the waiting room to give us updates and reassure us." "They are literal lifelines," Says Saige, beyond thankful for the staff who helped bring Jake back from a broken back. "He broke his back giving himself to baseball, and it was reassuring that they were dedicated to helping him get better." Between the pandemic and injuries, 2020 and 2021 were stressful, and 2022 isn't any less stressful. While Sarah and Allie have their jobs to help cover the bills. The guys must stay in shape and ready to go to spring training at a moment's notice. Staying in baseball shape and baseball-ready means putting in eight to ten-hour days. It's bad enough when your husband is amid a lockout that threatens his career, but during the season, there are also bad days, bad games, and bad plays that haunt the guys when they come home. While the wives say they certainly need their space after a bad day, they are never petulant, maybe just a little in their head or a little off. What cures their post-game blues? Babies. The adorable babies that they come home to after a game. The kids, Gamble (Sarah and Mitch) and Blair (Allie and Brent), are close together in age and are rumored to be betrothed later in life. The oldest of the crew is Sloane, Jake and Saige's daughter, and she had the job of entertaining us and did a great job! That morning we talked; we were all in our sweats, hair up, kids and dogs everywhere. It was the most laid back conversation, and I realized that these are moms, just like me, like the other women baseball fans. Their main priorities are their families, the kids, and keeping life as simple as possible in a chaotic role. Finding the balance between being an individual, friend, daughter, wife, and mom is not easy. But they do it. And they do it with grace, messy buns, and a smile. Having a solid community is essential because the outside world can be cruel. Their husbands have a bad day at work, and everyone knows about it. What makes it harder about bad games and injuries is what people say about their husbands online. Talking to the women about what they go through, reading, and seeing those things changed my life and outlook on baseball. These three baseball players are not millionaires, as people have been screaming about on Twitter for the past six weeks. But they do fall into the 65% of MLB players who make under $1MM. The lockout is not easy on the families. Mitch is in his second year of arbitration, and makes more than league minimum, but that doesn’t change the impact of the lock out. They may make more than the average Joe, but the average Joe has one home, one State to live in, and a job he can drive to every day. These families have to be prepared for the season with housing for spring training, a house or apartment in the State where they play ball full time, and their place in their home state. Their paychecks ensure that they can afford to play next season and take care of their family in the off-season. Even with all the stress, crazy schedules, the current lockout, I have never seen stronger, happier women. These women not only empower their husbands, but they also empower each other. As a baseball fan, I was shocked that they wouldn't watch baseball without their husbands playing. But, watching their husbands play is one of the most endearing, exciting things they experience. Their first at-bats stick out as core memories for the wives. "Don't strike out" is the only thing Sarah is thinking as Mitch takes the plate for the first time on August 19th, 2017, knowing that is a genuine possibility. They laugh about their passion for the game and how it never leaves their minds. On off-days, any of them can ask their husband, "What are you thinking about?" Saige says, "Usually Jake says, 'my hitting,'" as she laughs. The players are either thinking about training for baseball, their last game, their upcoming game, or their swing. While they don't know specifics about their game day routines or superstitions, one thing they do know is the smiles on their husband's faces as they play the game they grew up loving. As dedicated as the players are to their craft, they are devoted equally at home. All three women talked about how amazing the guys are with the kids. The lockout has left the families stressed, but the ability to have more time together, which none take for granted. Already following in dad's footsteps is Sloane Cave. Sloane loves to play baseball, and Jake loves to help her play. Sloane talks about going on the field with dad and watching him play, but some of her fondest memories she will have with dad allow her to play on her youth team with dad being the coach and the mentor. She loves that one-on-one quality time with Jake. The kids have a unique advantage that many kids don't, and that's watching dad play baseball, going on the field, in the dugout, and hanging out with the other major-league players and their families. When it comes to strength, baseball players are some of the strongest athletes I have encountered. Mentally and physically, players have to be ready for quite literally anything that happens in a game, from injury to a long stretch or dive to get the ball or to be fast enough to round the bases when a line drive hugs the foul line deep into left field. But, what's more, vital to the players are the families that stand behind them. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  9. Catcher is a difficult position both physically and mentally. Manning the backstop is what cost one of the all-time great Twins in Joe Mauer so dearly in his prime. Even if Mauer had avoided the concussion that resulted in his move to first base, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where he would have prematurely declined due to the demands of his position. The Twins may want to try to avoid a similar scenario when it comes to Mitch Garver. Garver is far from the typical catcher in today’s baseball environment. Regulars at the position are typically expected to provide strong defense and adequately call a game for a pitching staff. If they can hold their own offensively that’s just a bonus. Garver on the other hand is a bat-first catcher. He’s far from terrible defensively and has made great strides in things like framing where he ranked in the 93rd percentile in 2021. He may not win any gold gloves but he doesn’t have to given his ability in the batter’s box. Not only has he been an above-average hitter in three of the last four seasons, but he’s also been flat-out incredible in two of them. Garver uses a mastery of the strike zone to lay off borderline pitches and force pitchers into making mistakes. His 2019 was argued as the best offensive season by a catcher since Mike Piazza when he was 55% above league average offensively and nearly put up 4 fWAR in under 400 plate appearances. It’s possible his disastrous 2020 where he posted a .167/.247/.264 line was injury-related, as in 2021 he returned to form hitting .256/.358/.517, good for 37% above the league average hitter. It’s become clear that Garver shouldn’t be valued just for his offensive skills as a catcher, but for his offensive skills in general. With other candidates for the position debuting such as Ryan Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt, perhaps it’s time to better set Garver up for success moving forward. Garver has played first base to some extent in every season of his career, although his career-high in innings at the position is 24 in 2017. Still, it may benefit the Twins to make a more concerted effort to get Garver time at a less physically demanding position. Not only is his concussion history worrisome, but it’s fair to wonder at 31 how soon the wear and tear throughout the season could begin to impact his ability to perform at the plate. Besides injury risk, moving Garver even part-time off of catcher could make him available in the lineup more often while allowing Rortvedt and Jeffers to get more exposure. Jeffers in particular was held down in 2021 by getting the bulk of at-bats against right-handers in order to allow Garver to crush lefties whenever possible. It was a tough ask of a rookie and Jeffers understandably struggled at the plate seeing almost exclusively same-handed pitching. Alex Kirilloff will be back in 2022 hopefully as the everyday first baseman with Miguel Sano rotating in. Still, Kirilloff will likely see some outfield innings and Sano and Garver can share first base and DH duties. In the last two seasons, Sano has inexplicably been well below league average against left-handed pitching, an area you can always expect Garver to excel in. If those trends continue, Garver could just overtake Sano’s at-bats altogether. Much like the eternal question “How will we find enough at-bats for Player X?” The question of how to fit Garver into DH or first base on occasion would work itself out if the Twins choose to go that route. The question is whether they decide it’s time to do so. I’d argue that it can only help. Garver’s bat will be all the more important without Nelson Cruz in 2022 and the skills that make him such a force on offense should be able to age gracefully if he can avoid injury. Is it time to start easing him off of his natural position to try to keep him effective at the plate longer? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  10. On the Twins 40-man roster, there are five position players who played college baseball. All five of these players had great success in college, leading them to get drafted in the top ten rounds of the MLB draft. Josh Donaldson, C/IF, Auburn After hitting .515 as a senior in high school, the future Twins third baseman decided to take his talents to Auburn University. In Donaldson's freshman year, he immediately made an impact on the Tigers. After seeing limited playing time for the first month of the season, he became their everyday third baseman in their series against Arkansas and never looked back. Donaldson finished his freshman campaign hitting .294/.347/.477 (.824) with seven doubles, seven home runs, and 26 RBI. Donaldson came into his sophomore year with increased responsibilities, as he was asked to catch. He made 56 starts (every game), with 36 being behind the dish and 20 being at third base. He once again was a very solid bat for the Tigers, hitting .276/.331/.487 (.818) with 16 doubles, ten home runs, and 42 RBI. This season earned him Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American status heading into his junior year. In Donaldson's junior year, he was stellar in all facets of the game. He hit .349/.444/.591 (1.035) with 19 doubles, 11 home runs, and 54 RBI. He also walked 38 times compared to only 27 strikeouts. One aspect of Donaldson’s game that really came into fruition was his baserunning. Donaldson stole 17 bases after only stealing one base between his first two years. It was clear from this standout season that Donaldson was ready for the big leagues, so he got drafted with the 48th overall pick by the Chicago Cubs after his junior season. Donaldson finished his career hitting .307/.378/.522 (.900) with 42 doubles, 28 home runs, and 122 RBI in 158 career games with the Tigers. Mitch Garver, C, University of New Mexico In 2013, the Twins used their ninth-round pick on a bat-first catcher out of the University of New Mexico by the name of Mitch Garver. A hometown kid, Garver grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was lucky enough to be able to stay at his hometown university for college at UNM. As a freshman, Garver served as the backup catcher to former Brewers farmhand Rafael Neda. He made 11 starts and hit .277/.351/.385 (.736) with five doubles and 15 RBI. Neda got drafted after this year, and Garver took the reins his sophomore year in which he started all 61 games. He improved at the plate, hitting .300/.380/.400 (.780) with 13 doubles, two home runs, 28 walks (led team), and 27 RBI. Garver went from a solid hitter his first two years to an absolute powerhouse his junior year. In his junior year, Garver once again started all 61 games, hitting .377/.438/.612 (1.050) with 27 doubles (led team), ten home runs, and 57 RBI. He earned Co-Mountain West Player of the Year honors, was named a national finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, and was named a second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger. Defensively, he was great, throwing out 39.6 percent of base stealers In his senior year, Garver once again started every game. He set the record for most consecutive games started at UNM with 181. He also hit .390/.458/.589 with 21 doubles, five triples, and six home runs. He also drove in 68 runs and was once again named a Johnny Bench finalist, Co-MW Player of the Year, and an Academic All-American for the fourth straight year. He finished his Lobo career 5th all-time in doubles and had the most career hits as a catcher in Lobo history. Ryan Jeffers, C, UNC Wilmington When Ryan Jeffers decided to go to UNC Wilmington, he would only be heading about two hours south from his hometown of Raleigh, NC. The three-time all-conference player in high school would go on to have an unbelievable career at Wilmington where he was one of the best catchers in the country. His freshman year, he served as the backup catcher behind future Diamondback farmhand Gavin Stupienski. Jeffers appeared in 13 games as a freshman, going 8-for-23 (.348) at the plate with three doubles and a home run. Although he did not see a whole lot of action in his freshman year of 2016, Jeffers showed a lot of promise and it was clear that he would be one of their best guys going forward, with Stupienski getting drafted following the 2016 season. In Jeffers’ sophomore campaign, he started 52 games and proved his success in 2016 was no fluke. He hit .328/.422/.604 (1.026) with 19 doubles, ten home runs, and 32 RBI. He also received a variety of honors, including NCCSIA First-Team All-State, ABCA All-East First-Team, and First-Team All-CAA. His third and final year at UNC Wilmington, he started all 62 games, hitting .315/.460/.635 (1.095) with 22 doubles, 16 home runs, 59 RBI, and 51 walks. He led the Colonial Athletic Association in doubles, home runs, OBP, and slugging percentage. He was once again named First-Team All-CAA and to the NCAA Greenville All-Regional team. Jeffers was rewarded for his great season by being drafted in the second round with the 59th pick by the Twins in the 2018 draft. Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State Despite being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the MLB Draft out of high school, Trevor Larnach opted not to sign and headed up to Corvallis, Oregon to start his college baseball career. Larnach’s freshman season at Oregon State was quite unremarkable. In 28 games (12 starts), Larnach hit a measly .157/.271/.176 (.447) with one double and three RBI. In increased playing time sophomore year (58 starts), Larnach hit .303/.421/.429 (.850) with 16 doubles, three home runs, 39 walks (led team), and 48 RBI (led team). He was named All-Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention and was also named to the Corvallis Regional All-Tournament Team. The Oregon State Beavers made it to the semifinals of the College World Series before falling to LSU. In 2018, Larnach’s junior year, he was one of the best players in the country. Larnach hit .344/.458/.648 (1.106) with 18 doubles, 19 home runs, and 76 RBI. He was named to the All-American team, PAC-12 All-Conference Team, and received many other prestigious awards. On top of all of that, Larnach’s Beavers won the College World Series, much to his help. In the College World Series, Larnach hit .417/.447/.694 (1.142) with five doubles, one home run, and nine RBI. He also had the biggest hit of the World Series, a tie-breaking two home run in Oregon State’s elimination game with two outs in the top of the ninth. Larnach was drafted by the Twins in the first round (20th overall) in 2018. Larnach is a legend in Corvallis, and hopefully he can bring some of that playoff magic to the Minnesota Twins in the near future. Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State Rooker, unlike Larnach, was relatively unknown going into his freshman year at Mississippi State. Rooker did not see any action in his first year as a Bulldog, taking a redshirt year. His sophomore year, he played in 34 of the team’s 54 games, making 20 starts. He hit .257/.325/.378 (.703) with three doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBI. He primarily served as the team’s designated hitter and played a couple of games in left field. In Rooker's junior year, he took a major step forward. He hit .324/.376/.578 (.954) and had a team-best 11 home runs and 54 RBI. For this effort, Rooker was named to the All-SEC second team and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round. However, Rooker opted not to sign and came back to Mississippi State for his senior season. Rooker just did that, having a historic 2017 for the Bulldogs. Rooker absolutely mashed, hitting .387/.495/.810 (1.305!!!). Rooker set the single-season Mississippi State record for doubles in a season with 30. He led the SEC in doubles, home runs (23), batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and RBI (82). He even stole 18 bases. He was named All-SEC first team, All-American, SEC player of the year, and National Player of the Year. Rooker’s 2017 season is one of the best seasons by any college player in recent history, and he was drafted in the first round by the Twins with the 35th overall pick. Had Rooker signed in 2016, he would have received a $1,000 signing bonus. In 2017, he received a $1.935 million dollar signing bonus. Rooker bet on himself and it paid off. Who had the best college career out of these five? Which current Twins prospects that attended college are you most excited for? Leave a comment below and start a discussion Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email.
  11. After a breakout in 2019 as a member of the Bomba Squad, Garver dealt with an injury that severely limited effectiveness in 2020. While the team took a step backward last year, the New Mexico native returned to the upper-tier among catchers and could be considered as one of the best in the game. With baseball currently locked out, the Twins backstop hasn’t yet begun the journey to prove 2021 was again the real deal. He’s offered quips on social media, alluding to frustration there is no action, and he’s chomping at the bit with readiness to go. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with him, and we covered a handful of topics. Here’s what Garver had to say: Twins Daily: The 2021 season didn’t go as planned, but much of the talent there in 2019 and 2020 remained. What was the toughest aspect of the year? Mitch Garver: The hardest part was balancing the off-field issues that many of us were dealing with. We lost our bench coach Mike Bell during spring training which affected everyone differently. There was a lot of mourning for him and his family as he was an amazing person and baseball mind. With less than a week until the regular season started, I think many of the guys that played for him really felt the hole that was empty in our organization. Early in the year, there was also a lot of concern with Covid and the social injustices in Minneapolis that were weighing heavy on our team. Covid itself was its own monster because of the strict protocols and the uncertainty of what the virus could be (as you can see from our canceled series with LA and the doubleheaders with Oakland). TD: You dealt with some unfortunate injuries but more than established yourself as among the best catchers in baseball when you were out there. What led to the offensive resurgence last season? MG: Baseball is such a funny sport; you can be on top of the world one week and feel like the worst hitter in baseball the next. It's a game of constant physical, mental, and emotional struggles. I had a poor showing in 2020 and didn't quite get off to the start I wanted in 2021, but with the help of our staff, I was able to feel more comfortable in the box and make some adjustments I had been needing to make. It also helps when you have such a potent offense surrounding you that some of the pressure is taken off. TD: With the lockout expected since the World Series, how has this offseason been different for you? Has it been challenging to prepare for a season that has an undecided start date? MG: I think it's been difficult for a lot of guys. We, as players, want to be on the field, and some of the issues we are fighting for are for the greater good of the next generation of players. There has been obvious stalling from the league to get the season started. After locking out the players, the league waited a month and a half to meet us (players) at the bargaining table to get some things worked out. The people it hurts the most are the fans. I feel like baseball is at a really good point right now with some real star players being in their prime. We could be potentially missing out on Ohtani repeating as an MVP, we are yet to see the best of guys like Soto, Bichette, De Grom, and the list goes on and on. These are the players that have changed the game at a level of talent we have never seen before in this sport. As for me personally, my offseason program has been designed with the lockout in mind. I am currently working up to game speed by taking live at-bats and catching bullpens a few times a week. I also get a little more time with my seven-month-old son, Gamble. TD: Eventually, the sport will return. What are you most looking forward to personally for the 2022 season? What individually would make your year a success? MG: I know all players look to get back on the field and play the game we love. I try not to set my expectations on reaching statistical goals or accolades. My career has been riddled with some injuries over the past few years, some I can control, and others that are out of my hands. I'm doing my best to prepare my body and mind to be healthy the whole year and be on the field with my teammates. TD: How do the Twins get back on top of the AL Central? It’s been fun to see that rivalry with Chicago renewed. MG: We have one of the best offenses in baseball, and when we are all on the same page, everyone 1-9 can do damage. I think we have some really good young pitching that will take a step forward this year, and I am excited to see them grow as individuals and a staff. The rivalry with Chicago is a fun one; they have a really strong team with a good offensive and a pitching staff to respect. I think we all rise to the occasion to play each other, which makes games pretty fun. TD: To wrap it up, what’s the one thing you’re most focused on improving for yourself in the year ahead? MG: I have come to the point in my career where I know what I need to do each day to be successful. It started in the offseason, and as we approach the season, I am prepared for the year ahead. However many games we get to play this year, I'd like to say I have prepared in a way that allows me to stay on the field. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook , or email
  12. Mitch Garver, 31, was incredible during the Twins’ magical 2019 run to a division title. He hit 31 homers and drove in 67 runs in 359 plate appearances. Since then, he struggled in a shortened 2020 and bounced back in 2021. Let’s examine his case for an extension. The Case FOR Extension Among catchers with at least 600 plate appearances over the last three seasons, Garver ties Dodgers’ Will Smith for the highest wRC+ (135). He’s arguably been the best-hitting catcher in the league over that span, even with a brutal 2020 season. Garver has produced 29.2 FanGraphs offensive WAR since 2019, ranking right behind Phillies’ star J.T. Realmuto among catchers. To have an elite bat at the catcher spot is one of the most valued commodities in the sport. Garver qualifies as that. Nine Twins have logged 1,000 or more plate appearances since 2018. Only Nelson Cruz (162) has a higher OPS+ than Garver (124), who has hit .256/.341/.494 since becoming a regular. An intercostal strain and ineffectiveness marred Garver’s COVID season, but he returned to form in 2021. Garver had 28 extra-base hits in just 68 games. If not for a brutal injury shortening his season, the Albuquerque native was on pace for a repeat of 2019. He set career-highs in hard-hit rate (54%) and walk rate (13%). Garver ranked in the 93rd percentile in pitch framing, furthering his progression behind the plate. Garver was negative-17 in Defensive Runs Saved in 2018. Since then, he’s been a plus-defender, saving four runs. He’s made serious strides and is now a masher who you can rely on defensively. Extension Comp: James McCann, New York Mets This is a little tricky, but McCann was around the same age as Garver when he signed a four-year, $40.6 million deal with the Mets. McCann was a free agent coming off two terrific seasons in Chicago. Both are right-handed sluggers who crush left-handed pitching. McCann tanked in his first season in New York with a .643 OPS and negative-bWAR, but he provides a solid look at what a Garver deal could encompass. Garver projects to make $3.1 million in 2022 and about $6 million in 2023 via arbitration. The Case AGAINST Extension That Garver is a catcher has been a significant plus in addition to his offense. The Twins are assuming he remains a solid catcher in an extension like this. That’s a rosy assumption. Garver is heading into his 30s and has already dealt with multiple injuries over the last few years. There’s also redundancy with two right-handed catchers on the roster. Ryan Jeffers looks very similar to Garver, with strong framing skills and differing splits against right and left-handed pitchers. It’s not an ideal tandem, but that’s not to say it’s impossible to navigate. Garver has had periods where he’s late on fastballs, and he doesn’t precisely limit his strikeout rate. There’s plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, and he has been streaky at specific points. When Garver's on, he’s lethal. When he’s not, you get stretches like 2020 and the first month of 2021. The Bottom Line Garver, like Luis Arraez and Taylor Rogers, is a staple of the Twins. He’s another favorite who has given Twins fans unforgettable moments of cheer since his debut. He’s become a rock-solid defender and has combined it with a beautiful right-handed swing. It’s always important to note that you are paying for the future in any discussion of a new contract. Garver has been great up to this point, but will he age well into his 30s? Can the Twins afford to invest in their catcher with so much uncertainty in the rotation? With an open DH spot in 2022, it’s conceivable that Garver will get to 500 plate appearances. What if he mashes, and the Twins risk losing him after 2023? Now could be the time to avoid that fate. Or maybe you ride out the next two years and move along at that point. What do you think? Should the Twins extend Mitch Garver? Comment your thoughts below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment, and also read up on our picks for #11-15. Here are the players we've ranked so far: 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP 15. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL From there, we crack into the top 10. Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 6 through 10 10. Ryan Jeffers, C 2021 Ranking: 7 Two-way catchers are among the most valuable commodities in baseball. It's not yet clear that Jeffers will be one, but his young major-league career has offered promising signs. Defensively, Jeffers established himself as a strong pitcher framer and good overall backstop. His instincts and reaction speed enable him to make special plays. He seems to have the confidence of the pitching staff – no small feat for a 24-year-old who went from college to the majors in two years. Offensively, his rushed development has been evident. After an impressive rookie showing in 2020, Jeffers saw his OPS drop by 120 points as lacking plate discipline derailed his production. But while the .199 average and .270 on-base percentage were tough to stomach, Jeffers kept bringing the power with 14 home runs in 85 games. At worst, Jeffers looks like a good defensive catcher who can take one deep here and there. (A poor man's Salvador Perez, perhaps?) If he can evolve a bit in the batter's box, he'll become a highly coveted asset – the heralded two-way catcher. It's important to keep in mind Jeffers' age and experience; when Mitch Garver was 24, he was posting a .688 OPS in Single-A. 9. Max Kepler, RF 2021 Ranking: 3 Kepler is an average hitter and an elite defensive right fielder with a very favorable contract. That combination would have more value to a lot of other teams than it does to the Twins, who wouldn't mind spending on an outfielder and already have a top-notch defender in center. A persistent inability to turn the corner offensively – outside of a short-lived breakout in 2019 – has made Kepler a frustrating player to follow. But when you look past that, he's an excellent athlete and quality regular, still a year short of 30 and under team control at reasonable rates for the next two seasons, with a $10M option in 2024. 8. Mitch Garver, C 2021 Ranking: 8 Garver's struggles with the bat in 2020 carried over into the beginning of 2021, where he slashed .151/.196/.321 through 17 games while striking out half the time. As the catcher's incredible 2019 faded further from view, many began to wonder if his approach was broken. Maybe it was, but Garver fixed it in a hurry. He homered twice in his last game of April, and pretty much never looked back, hitting .292/.406/.584 with 11 homers and 12 doubles in 51 games the rest of the way. Garver rediscovered his plate discipline, and as soon as that happened, he got back to dominating and basically out-homering the world (on a per-rate basis). It was a second consecutive season for Garver that was cut short by injuries. The punishment he's taken behind the plate, along with the increasingly evident need to have his bat in the lineup, could compel the Twins to start shifting Garver to different positions more. But that needs to be weighed against the tremendous advantage gained by writing him in at catcher. Since 2019 Garver ranks second among all MLB backstops in wOBA (min. 500 PA). He'd be higher on this list if not for his waning team control, with free agency only two seasons away. 7. Joe Ryan, RHP 2021 Ranking: NR Managing to secure Ryan in exchange for Nelson Cruz ahead of the trade deadline was a nifty bit of work by the front office, and one that probably doesn't get talked about often enough. As a 40-year-old designated hitter approaching free agency, Cruz had limited value, but the Twins leveraged Tampa's situation and were able to add an asset that immediately becomes a key part of their plans. The 25-year-old Ryan dominated at Triple-A this year, and translated his performance to the majors. In five starts for the Twins, he struck out six times as many batters as he walked, and allowed only 16 hits in 26 ⅓ innings. The right-hander cemented his spot in a needy rotation, and he's lined up to be an inexpensive fixture for years to come. All in return for an aging and expensive DH who didn't really help the Rays that much, and is now a free agent. In terms of asset upgrades, it doesn't get much better than what the Twins pulled off here. 6. Bailey Ober, RHP 2021 Ranking: NR Like Ryan, Ober is a newcomer to the rankings and finds himself near the top. But unlike Ryan, he's not a newcomer to the system. The former 12th-round draft pick boosted his stock immensely over the past couple years by significantly increasing his velocity to shed the "soft-tossing" label. Aided by a more effective fastball, which plays up from his 6-foot-9 frame, Ober was highly impressive as a rookie. There was nothing particularly fluky about his performance for the Twins, although home runs were a bit of a recurring issue. He looks the part of a mid-rotation staple, and a guy you'd feel okay about starting in the playoffs. We've seen how difficult it is for the Twins to acquire impact pitching via free agency. Developing cost-controlled arms is instrumental to this front office's vision for success. That's why Ober and Ryan rank so highly on this list: the team's fate (especially in the short-term) is tied to them. Check back in on Wednesday when we wrap up these rankings with our picks for the top 5! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. As the lockout meanders into the holiday season, Twins fans find themselves in starting pitching limbo. The floor of the rotation was raised marginally by the addition of Dylan Bundy prior to the lockout. Minnesota, however, still has significant business to accomplish if they are to field a competitive rotation, with only Bundy, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober currently locked into spots for 2022. In the third of a three-part series (part one - Cincinnati Reds, part two - Oakland Athletics), I’ll look at some potential pitching targets from an organization flush with starting pitching capital, the Miami Marlins. NOTE: The trades mentioned are designed to give an approximate idea of the value of each potential starting pitching addition. They don’t necessarily correlate with the exact needs of the Marlins. Pablo Lopez At just 25, Lopez has improved both steadily and significantly since he made his MLB debut in 2018. In 102 2/3 innings pitched in 2021, Lopez accumulated a 3.29 FIP, 2.3 fWAR, a 27.5% K% and a measly 6.2% BB% Talk about a high floor. Lopez relies on a four-pitch mix including a mid-90s fastball, an excellent changeup, a cutter, and a curveball. Lopez is under team control until 2025 and would be pricey, but this is the position the Twins find themselves if they want to improve their rotation significantly through trade. Possible Trade: The Twins trade INF Luis Arraez, C Ryan Jeffers and a PTBNL to Miami for RHP Pablo Lopez Jesus Luzardo A former consensus top pitching prospect, very little has gone right for Luzardo since his first significant MLB stint in 2019 for the Athletics. In 95 MLB innings in 2021 between the A’s and Marlins, Luzardo managed a 22.4% K% (fine), an 11% BB% (not fine), a 5.48 FIP, and -0.2 fWAR (yikes). So, what’s to like here? For one, you don’t sit atop prospect rankings for multiple years for no reason. Luzardo still has electric stuff. A fastball that sits at 95 mph at the low end and a good slider he throws around 23% of the time. This combination falls into the wheelhouse of the Twins pitching preferences, but they’d have to be confident in next steps for Luzardo to pull the trigger on trading for him. Possible Trade: The Twins trade OF Brent Rooker and RHP Cole Sands to Miami for LHP Jesus Luzardo Sixto Sanchez The Twins would be trading into the upper echelons of ‘stuff’ if they were to acquire Sanchez. Still a top pitching prospect, the 23-year-old boasts front of the rotation firepower. Sanchez relies on a fastball that sits at 98 mph. It gets fewer strikeouts than a pitch of that velocity should due to a lack of movement, but it’s his changeup that is the star of the show. In just 40 MLB innings in 2021, Sanchez had a 20.9% K%, 7% BB%, a 3.50 FIP, and accumulated 1.0 fWAR (that’s around 4.5 fWAR pace over a season). Sanchez could be poised for a monster 2022. Possible Trade: The Twins trade OF Max Kepler to the Marlins for RHP Sixto Sanchez The Marlins have a huge amount of additional starting pitching assets, including Trevor Rogers, Elieser Hernandez, Edward Cabrera, and Max Meyer who I chose not to include as targets as I felt the Marlins would be unlikely to part with them (Rogers and Meyer) or the Twins wouldn’t be confident enough in the floor they would give the rotation to execute the trade. Which of these targets feel like the best fit for the Twins? What direction do you think the team will take to improve the rotation when the lockout ends? Join the discussion below.
  15. Current Catchers: Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers Like most of the Twins roster, Garver and Jeffers struggled out of the gate before the team decided to make some changes. Garver ended April with a .644 OPS while Jeffers sat with a .393 OPS and a Triple-A demotion. In May, Garver raised his OPS by nearly 200 points, with Jeffers out of the picture. Unfortunately, he suffered a gruesome groin injury at the beginning of June that forced him to the sidelines until July 19. Jeffers took advantage of the opportunity to post a .905 OPS in his first 15 games after the Garver injury. The hot streak didn't last as he hit .191/.269/.382 (.651) in his final 59 games. Garver returned from injury with two home runs in his first game back. He looked like the 2019 version of Garver for the season's final 27 games as he posted a .927 OPS. With two MLB caliber catchers, Minnesota has an opportunity to trade one of their controllable assets this winter. However, keeping both catchers allows the team a chance to do what they planned in 2021. Jeffers has an opportunity to prove his season was a fluke, and Garver can continue to mash. 40-Man Roster Options Outside of Garver and Jeffers, Ben Rortvedt is the only other catcher on the 40-man roster. Last season, he made his big-league debut and hit .169/.229/.281 (.510) in 39 games. Rortvedt's scouting report is a defense-first catcher as he has a career .672 OPS in five seasons. Last season, he threw out seve4n of a potential 16 runners for a 44% caught stealing percentage while the league average was 23%. Rortvedt should spend most of 2022 at Triple-A while filling in when needed at the big-league level. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's catching depth. Minnesota has a slough of veteran catching options populating the rosters in the upper minors. Besides Rortvedt, all four of the projected Triple-A catchers are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. David Bañuelos, Stevie Berman, Caleb Hamilton, and Chris Williams all saw catching time, with multiple players also getting time at first base. Berman was acquired last August from the Dodgers for LHP Andrew Vasquez. Obviously, there won't be five catchers on the Triple-A roster, so some of these players will be used at other levels. At Double-A, Jair Camargo and Jeferson Morales have the potential to be a very good catching duo. Camargo joined the Twins as part of the Kenta Maeda trade, and he collected 21 extra-base hits in 71 games last year. Morales combined for an .808 OPS last season with 12 home runs and 24 doubles between Low- and High-A. Both players will be 23 years old to start next season, and it seems more likely for them to end the season at Double-A. There are a few other names to watch in the minor's lower levels. Charles Mack was Minnesota's 6th round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft out of high school in New York. Last year as a 21-year-old, he spent the entire season at Low-A with a .738 OPS in 73 games. Patrick Winkel and Noah Cardenas were taken in last year's draft's 8th and 9th rounds. Each should debut at Low-A next season. Overall, Minnesota has catching strength at the MLB level with a few prospects to watch during the 2022 campaign. What do you think about the organization's depth at catcher? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. As we begin the dead period induced by the end of the current CBA, the rest of the AL Central continues to improve while the Twins stand pat. The Tigers and Javy Baez agreed on a six-year, $140 million contract Tuesday, frustratingly adding a premier shortstop to the division, in a position of need for the Twins. In spite of the understandable pessimism with which Twins fandom has greeted the beginning of free agency, the Byron Buxton extension still provides a spark of optimism for me. I simply cannot see a team extending an MVP-caliber center fielder and not continuing to build around him. Earlier this week, I looked at the Reds as an ideal trade candidate in the Twins search for playoff-caliber starting pitching. Today, we’ll turn our attention to the Oakland Athletics, who appear to be on the cusp of a rebuild after a disappointing 2021. The A's off-season got off to a disastrous start when manager Bob Melvin was coaxed to San Diego. Long-term stadium troubles and the exit of premier players like Mark Canha may make for a long winter in northern California. So who does Oakland have? Why should the Twins want them? And what might it take to acquire them? Chris Bassitt If the Twins want to contend for the AL Central in 2022, Bassitt should be their number one target from Oakland. Despite his season being derailed by a facial fracture sustained in August, Bassitt had a memorable season. He amassed career-highs in fWAR (3.3), K/9 (9.1), and managed a 3.34 FIP over just 157 innings. The primary downside to Bassitt is he’s a free agent in 2023, so the Twins would only be acquiring one year of Bassitt, which would make him a little cheaper than other options. Potential trade: Twins trade OF Trevor Larnach to Oakland for RHP Chris Bassitt Frankie Montas Montas really put it together last season with the A's. In 2021, he managed 4.1 fWAR, 9.96 K/9 and a 3.37 FIP while throwing a 97 mph heater and an exceptional slider. Montas is under contract until 2024, and at 28, has age on his side. Consequently, his price would be more expensive than other starting pitching options with two years of team control. Potential Trade: Twins trade INF Luis Arraez and INF Keoni Cavaco to Oakland for RHP Frankie Montas Sean Manaea Manaea comprises the left-handed prong of Oaklands top three starting pitchers, and similarly to Montas and Bassitt, had his best season to date in 2021 (which Nash Walker recently covered). Manaea managed 3.3 fWAR, 9.7 K/9 and a 3.66 FIP over 179 innings of work. Manaea also has some injury history and less explosive stuff than Montas or Bassitt, his fastball sitting at around 91 mph. Manaea is a free agent in 2023 and unless the asking price is cheaper than my trade proposal, I wouldn’t pursue him strongly if I were the Twins as there are too many orange flags. Potential trade: The Twins trade C Mitch Garver to Oakland for LHP Sean Manaea What would you offer in a trade with Oakland? Which of their starting pitchers appeals to you the most?
  17. That seems like a silly question because the answer is undoubtedly yes; however, many of Minnesota’s most logical pieces to go have some very real warts. How does that position them with potential suitors, and what does it mean when it comes to crafting a package for a deal? Going through some of the expected names, it’s worth wondering who can overcome the drawbacks, and it will be interesting to see how Derek Falvey positions each asset. Max Kepler Kepler is probably the guy most expected to be moved. With a glut of corner-outfield talent behind him, Minnesota could try to open up an avenue for playing time and allow Kepler the opportunity to flourish somewhere else. Kepler is on a team-friendly deal and plays incredible defense, but the problem is his bat has never blossomed to be what was expected. After the 123 OPS+ in 2019, it dipped to 109 in 2020 and just 98 last year. There’s power from the left side, but a corner outfielder putting up an OPS in the low-.700’s isn’t exactly enticing. The value is likely on an upside play, and the hope that 29 is the year Kepler finally puts it all together for good. Luis Arraez Another popular name when constructing hypothetical trades for the Twins, Arraez is known for being one of the best pure hitters in the game. He has extreme plate discipline and is nearly impossible to strike out. Add in the career .313 batting average, and you’ve got a modern-day Tony Gwynn. Therein lies the problem, though, that skillset translates much differently today. Arraez doesn’t hit for power (just six homers in nearly 1,000 plate appearances), and he isn’t exactly fast either. He can play second base but is stretched there defensively, and both third and left field are adequate roles at best for him. Add in the bulky knees while being just 24-years-old, and that’s probably not something that’s going to get better with age. He’s a utility man with no true defensive home, and while he can be a table-setter, you best have the lineup behind him that can drive in runs. Royce Lewis If you want to start looking at prospects, it’s worth considering the best of the farm. Lewis is a former first overall pick and has been ranked as high as 5th on top 100 prospect lists. He’s now returning following an ACL tear before last season, and he hasn’t played in a minor league game since September 2, 2019. Following the .803 OPS in 2018 as a 19-year-old, Lewis sunk to just a .661 OPS in 2019. He needed to re-establish himself, and reports coming out of St. Paul from the alternative site in 2020 were fantastic. There’s plenty to be uncertain about at this point, though, and it’d be a pretty big misstep to flip such a talent at what could be his lowest value. The Prospect Arms Maybe you want to deal from the pool of depth that should be soon supplementing the big league rotation. Take your pick on the names Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Josh Winder. Each of them is near the top of Minnesota’s pitching prospects, and all of them missed time in 2021 due to injury. The lack of game action in 2020 wreaked havoc on so many this season, but the Twins got hit hard in this group especially. How healthy are they each expected to return, and how does the opposition view those internal beliefs when considering a swap? There’s a lot of boom or bust potential with regards to any of these talents. Mitch Garver Included last because he may currently be the Twins best trade asset, but also the one I least want to see go. Ryan Jeffers has hardly established himself as the next backstop, and while more playing time could aid that, Garver is coming off an .875 OPS. Playing through muscle strains in 2020, it was clear that the 2019 .995 OPS wasn’t simply an outlier. Garver was a late-blooming prospect, but at 31, he will be one of the best catchers in baseball. His bat is a catalyst in the Minnesota lineup, and that production would not be easy to replace. If there’s a struggle in flipping Garver for the right value, it’s probably because most organizations are not focused on upgrades behind the dish. Miami was considered the best suitor but recently addressed the position in acquiring Jacob Stallings from the Pirates. Unlike the rest of this group, Garver is the type of trade asset that looks the best on paper, but I’m all for him staying put. Deals are going to be halted for a while now, but when they resume, Minnesota will have to find a delicate balance between moving players for the right value and hanging onto the ones that they expect to benefit most from. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. For more on each of these arbitration-eligible players, you can read much more in The Question: To Tender or Not To Tender. Here is the quick summary: John Gant cleared waivers and became a free agent. Rob Refsnyder was DFAd and became a free agent. Willians Astudillo was DFAd, cleared waviers and was released. Jake Cave signed a one year, $800,000 for 2022. In addition to those four arbitration-eligible players, lefty Devin Smeltzer was DFAd, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. You might have heard, the Twins have agreed to terms with Byron Buxton on a seven-year, $100 million contract extension which also includes some creative, interesting incentives. But there is more work to be done, and today (Tuesday) should be an interesting day. The team still have to make decisions on seven more arbitration-eligible players. Here is some information on each of those players (mostly from Sunday's article), but we will have a spot ready to update whenever we hear any news on any of the players. Also, be sure to vote on whether or not you would a.) Tender a contract, b.) Non-tender the player, or c.) Try to reach an agreement at a lower dollar value. If player won't, then non-tender. LUIS ARRAEZ - UT (24) Service Time: 2 years, 121 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 4 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $2 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1.5 million JHAREL COTTON - RHP (30) Service Time: 3 years, 52 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.2 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: N/A DANNY COULOMBE - LHP (32) Service Time: 3 years, 8 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $800,000 Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1 million TYLER DUFFEY - RHP (31) Service Time: 5 years, 74 days Arbitration Year: 3rd of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.7 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3.5 million MITCH GARVER - C (31) Service Time: 4 years, 45 days Arbitration Year: 2nd of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.1 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3.5 million JUAN MINAYA - RHP (31) Service Time: 2 years, 140 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.1 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1 million TAYLOR ROGERS - LHP (31) Service Time: 5 years, 145 days Arbitration Year: 4th of 4 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $6.7 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $7 million CALEB THIELBAR - LHP (35) Service Time: 3 years, 131 days Arbitration Year: 2nd of 4 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.2 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1.5 million Again, we will update this article throughout the day on Tuesday until we learn what the resolution is for each player. There may be some agreements, maybe even multi-year deals. There will be contracts tendered without an agreement. At that point, numbers will be exchanged by the team and the player. There are likely to be a non-tender or two as well which will make those players free agents immediately, like happened with Eddie Rosario a year ago.
  19. There is a small chance the Twins will consider a reunion with Nelson Cruz, but a few factors will impact his return. First of all, his performance significantly declined after being traded to the Rays. Secondly, there is a good chance the National League adds the DH for 2022, which opens the possibility of Cruz signing with many other teams. Cruz was outstanding during his time in Minnesota, but it seems likely for the Twins to move on for next season. After the Cruz trade, the Twins started using a rotational system at DH for various reasons. "We saw the benefit play through the season, whether it was [Donaldson] -- he was dealing with a couple of things along the way, and if he wasn't feeling the best, he could go DH for a day," Derek Falvey said. "[Jorge] Polanco, right? As well as anybody, maybe go get him a day. Get him off his feet. Maybe not play second today, but go DH. So the benefits are the ability to rotate through." There are obvious benefits to playing Josh Donaldson at DH. In recent years, Donaldson's health has been a concern, but playing him at DH can give his legs a break while still keeping his bat in the line-up. However, in 2021, Donaldson's OPS was nearly 170 points lower when serving as the team's DH. Donaldson isn't the team's only option at DH, especially if they will use a rotational system. Out of players on the Twins, Miguel Sanó best fits the mold of a traditional DH as he is a power-hitting slugger who struggles on the ball's defensive side. Sanó was the second-worst defensive first baseman in 2021, and the Twins have a natural replacement at the position. Alex Kirilloff can see defensive time at first base or in the outfield, with him having a chance to be an above-average defensive first baseman. Throughout his career, Sanó has over 645 plate appearances as a DH, and he has hit .230/.336/.417 (.753). Another potential option is to get Mitch Garver more regular at-bats by using him as a DH. Manager Rocco Baldelli likes to give his catchers regular rest, and that's one of the reasons Garver has only started 18 games at DH throughout his career. Falvey knows it is essential to keep Garver's bat in the line-up, and he said that he could get more time at DH and first base next season. There are plenty of other options for the Twins at DH. Jorge Polanco is coming off his best big-league season, but he has struggled with ankle issues in the past. Brent Rooker has little left to prove in the minor leagues, and there have been questions about his defensive skills in the past. Luis Arraez slid into the utility role last season, and his bat is tough to keep out of the line-up if he is healthy. Because of the players listed above, Minnesota seems destined to use a rotational system at DH next season. There is also a chance the team adds other offensive options in free agency, which would add another bat to the DH equation. How do you think the Twins approach the DH spot next season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email.
  20. Typically, baseball assumes that you’re dealing from a pool of future talent to acquire something usable now, or vice versa. That is a logical assumption, but one that may not fit the Twins current mold. If their goal is to get better now, without embarking on a complete rebuild, dealing from a position of depth could be a path to accomplishing that goal. When looking at the Twins roster, there are three current regulars that all provide an enticing level of opportunity regarding the trade market. At catcher, it’s Mitch Garver. From an infield or utility perspective, it’s Luis Arraez. In the outfield, it’s Max Kepler. Sure, if we’re not re-signing Byron Buxton, then he has to be moved, but I choose not to live in a online world where that may be a possibility. With that said, let’s explore the three options. Mitch Garver Rebounding to the tune of an .875 OPS following a down year in 2020, Garver looked again like a top-tier bat behind the plate. He’s an adept pitch framer and has made considerable strides defensively. While age isn’t on his side for a future payday, he’s still plenty ripe for a prime stretch at 31-years-old being a late-blooming prospect. With Ryan Jeffers as his backup, it could be argued that Minnesota has a luxury in their backstop stable. 2020 showed a brief glimpse of what Jeffers may be, and as a future starter, he could push toward the upper tier for the position. Behind him, however, is Ben Rortvedt, who is almost certainly going to be a defense-only type of player. Moving Garver could net the Twins a handsome return, and catcher is one of the most challenging places in the sport to squeeze out offensive production. The Twins may desire to do this if Garver’s future prognosis trends more towards designated hitter duties as injuries mount. Selfishly, I’d like them to avoid this route. Give me all the Garv Sauce. Luis Arraez Formerly a fill-in for Jorge Polanco at second base, Arraez has established himself as one of baseball’s best pure hitters. He’s a contact guy that will always hit for average, and he has an incredible sense of plate discipline. Not a great defender anywhere; he truly can play everywhere after being thrust into a left-field role at times during the 2021 season. Assuming that Minnesota opts to keep Polanco at second base and sign a shortstop, that leaves Arraez looking at a utility role once again. He can spell Josh Donaldson at the hot corner and take reps in the outfield, but his defensive home will cease to exist. There’s no denying the at-bats will always be there for him with the Twins, but what is the gain should he be flipped to a team that sees him as their everyday option in the same defensive role? I don’t know that moving Arraez is an opportunity cost that Minnesota should be looking into. His utility is invaluable, and he covers multiple guys necessary of a true insurance policy. Max Kepler We’ve made it to the one player in this trio that finds themselves still seeking peak value. The .719 OPS in 2021 was a career-low, and the .855 mark during the 2019 Bomba Squad year looks as distant as ever. There is this, though, as Twins Daily’s Tom Froemming pointed out, Kepler’s expected results are drastically different from what reality is giving us. I’ve consistently hoped that Kepler would elevate the baseball and see the payoff due to his hard-hit contact potential. We noticed some of that in 2019, and that consistency is the biggest thing holding him back. Under team control through 2023 and tied to a 2024 team option, Kepler’s contract is among the most enticing things about him. He’s not turning any heads with a 98 OPS+, but at 123 or even 109 in 2020, he’s an above-average player that’s stellar on defense and could net something nice. Kepler’s value is hard to pinpoint given the results in comparison to what you’d hope he’s capable of. Getting the right team to bite on the right return is the goal, and with young outfield talent behind him, a flip could be more than beneficial for both sides. What do you think? If you’re trading a regular from the Twins lineup, who is it that you’re moving, and who do you think has the most value
  21. In 2020, Ryan Jeffers burst onto the scene like a supernova, crushing major league pitching to the tune of a 120 wRC+ in his maiden MLB season. Although a small sample size (62 plate appearances in a pandemic-shortened season), Jeffers’ emergence wasn’t completely surprising. Before being called up, the bat-first catcher drafted by the front office out of UNC Wilmington had crushed minor league pitching, averaging a 135 wRC+ between High-A and Double-A in 2019. Then, 2021 happened. Jeffers' star came crashing back down to earth. In 2021, he managed an 82 wRC+ and spent a significant amount of time at Triple-A St. Paul. So who is the real Ryan Jeffers? Can he ascend to his 2019 heights in 2022? What does the performance of his bat mean for Minnesota’s potentially dynamic catching tandem? Jeffers’ Range of Outcomes In 2020, Jeffers carried a BABIP of .364, unsustainably good. In 2021, it fell to .236, unsustainable bad. Could 2020 and 2021 simply be indicators of Jeffers’ one hundredth and first percentile outcomes, respectively? Possibly. But digging into Jeffers’ underlying numbers shows some interesting trends and opportunities to improve. What was Different in 2021? Scanning Jeffers’ underlying hitting numbers raises no immediate cause for alarm. In 2021, he increased his Barrel% from 13.9% to 14.5%, his Hard Hit% from 41.7% to 44%. Additionally, his max exit velocity remained consistent with 2020. We know Ryan Jeffers can destroy baseballs. So what changed? Despite some improvements in hard contact, Jeffers’ xBA fell from .232 to .211, his xwWOBA from .332 to .300. Why? Jeffers had less effective control of the strike zone and made contact less often in 2021. While Jeffers’ BB% remained consistent with his 2020 numbers, his o-swing% (the amount he swings at pitches outside the strike zone) increased sharply, from 26% to 33%. Indeed, his z-swing% (the amount he swings at pitches inside the zone) increased 5% from his 2020 numbers. In short, Jeffers was significantly less selective in 2021, which led to a sharp increase in K% from 2020. It’s also worth noting the quality of the contact Jeffers made against various pitches in 2021. Looking at his exit velocities against each pitch type, it’s noticeable that he is hitting the ball less solidly against fastballs and off-speed pitches in 2021. It’s also notable that Jeffers’ average launch angle against the pitches increased significantly last season. In other words, he is swinging underneath fastballs and off-speed pitches more frequently, generating more fly balls and pop-ups. In combination with a decrease in his control of the strike zone, this led to his overall offensive decline in 2021. What about 2022? How do we evaluate Jeffers as a catching option going into 2022? It’s worth noting here that Jeffers is a solid catcher and ranked in the 74th percentile in MLB for pitch framing in 2021 (remarkable for a player who did not have a catching coach in college). If Jeffers falls roughly between his 2020 and 2021 numbers next season, his offensive performance would equate to approximately a 100wRC+, a league-average hitter, but above league average for a catcher, with the pop we have come to expect from his bat. While there has been some speculation that Mitch Garver could be traded, I think it is more likely that the Twins rotate their catchers heavily through the DH spot next season. I’m intrigued by the possibility of Jeffers making adjustments from a poor offensive output in 2021. What are your thoughts on the starting catching situation in 2022? Do you think Jeffers can bounce back? Are you in favor of trading a catcher? Join the discussion below.
  22. The job of the catcher is physically demanding. It is certainly a position of attrition. Over the years, the body takes a beating. Squatting behind home plate in eight pounds of gear. Blocking balls in the dirt with the chest protector, or whatever body part gets hit. Throwing to the bases. Framing pitches. In addition to the physical demands, the mental part of the game, knowing the opposing batters, working with his pitcher, and the home plate ump. Often, the catcher is overlooked and under-appreciated. However, it is one of the most critical roles on the team. While the pitcher gets all the accolades, the catcher deserves a ton of credit for all he does before and during the games to help the pitcher. Even though Joe Mauer didn’t catch for years prior to his retirement, the Twins organization has not let us down by having solid players in the catcher position. While none may have been a "hometown hero," Mitch Garver has become a fan favorite. The 31-year-old baseball player has not slowed down since coming into the 40 man roster in 2017. Garver's age based on the way he recovers and plays is certainly not a factor - not only for him but for baseball in general. The catcher is typically the oldest position on the field - simply because it's hard to find a good catcher, and when you do, you sign them. The average age of a catcher has continued to change over the years. While 30 years old is in the 86th percentile of the age bracket for catchers, his predecessor would show that the average is just another statistic (Joe Mauer retired in 2018 at the age of 35, but was done catching at the age of 30). Garver has no intention of allowing his age to be a setback. Due to an IL stint early in 2021, Mitch Garver had two years in a row that weren’t nearly as good or productive as 2019. As if 2020 wasn't enough of a buzz-kill thanks to Covid-19, Garver was already suffering from an intercostal strain making his defensive play less than desirable. Twins Daily writer J. Cameron wrote a link on March 7th describing why 2020 was a poor season for Garver and 2021 wasn't as glamorous as 2019. However, he was undoubtedly poised for hitting the ball, still being one of the best hitting catchers in MLB. That came to a screeching halt on June 1st, while playing against the Orioles. Garver took a foul tip to the groin, putting the player on the IL and requiring surgery. The plague of injuries continued not only for Garver but the Twins. Garver had a successful emergency surgery and addressed the fans, thanking them for their well-wishes and prayers. Garver spent the next seven weeks? Rehabbing for St. Paul just before paternity leave. We got a glimpse of the 2019 Garver when he smacked a line-drive solo shot to left field off Detroit Tigers righty Reynaldo López in the second inning. He also lobbed a solo shot to center field off reliever Matt Foster in the fifth inning. To solidify his place in the lineup - for the first time in his career, Garver hit a grand-slam in the July 27th game - just his second game back after rehab - off pitcher Tyler Alexander 433 feet into left-center bleachers. Garver only played in 68 games, started out the season with the team as the starting catcher, but then left in June, had three separate stints in the Injured List, spent time on the paternity list, and still gave the fans and the front office a reason to cheer. With 243 plate appearances, the catcher hit 15 doubles, 13 homers and had 34 RBI. He was up above league average in OPS, slugging percentage and had a solid on-base percentage OBP. His max velocity averaged in the 86th percentile for 2021 among other catchers in the league. Garver had also not lost his touch behind the plate. He has a strong chemistry with the pitching staff that seems to be second to none. He understands the players at the plate, their strengths and weaknesses, and exploits them. He has greatly improved his pitch framing which gives his pitchers more strikes. His small defensive movements to frame the ball just enough to pull off strikes is pure magic. Garver finished at number 12 in the MLB framing leader board for 2021 despite playing just 68 games played. That may not mean a lot to everyone, and that's fine - but what it shows is that Garver is a catching mastermind and knows how to work the plate, umps, and batters, something that select few catchers seem to do very well. Chemistry is not easy to find between a catcher and pitcher, and it can affect how a game turns out. Rortvedt and Jeffers also have great chemistry with the pitchers, but they haven’t been around as long as Garver in the organization, giving him an edge. When Garver returned from both the groin injury, hand injury and paternity leave, the Twins games improved. Not to say Garver carried the team, as Byron Buxton also returned, but his return and position in the line up is an asset to the team. Ryan Jeffers, while younger, and defensively sound, does not show as much solidarity as Garver all around. Garver hopefully has years left behind the plate, but the other two catchers are not ready for the demand of a 162- game season. While Jeffers and Rortvedt have good defensive skill and offensive potential (especially Jeffers), now is not the time to trade Mitch Garver. If you were in charge, what would the Twins catching situation look like in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 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  23. Considerations: Expectations Projections Results Injury Leverage/Value *MINIMUM 200 PLATE APPEARANCES TO QUALIFY* JORGE POLANCO 2021: 152 games, .269/.323/.503 (125 OPS+), 33 HR, 35 2B, 98 RBI, 18% K, 7% BB Undoubtedly the brightest star on the 2021 Twins, Polanco ultimately surged after a troubling start. Written off by many following a disappointing 2020 and treacherous April, "Polo" hit .279/.333/.541 with 32 homers and 31 doubles over his last 129 games. He hit a remarkable .333 with a 1.048 OPS with runners in scoring position. Polanco’s outstanding season didn’t offset the overall disappointment of the team but provided positivity and hope in times of need for Twins fans. He is one of the few sure things for 2022. That’s important. Polo was a much better second baseman than shortstop, ranking almost dead even in Outs Above Average (OAA) and Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). It went as well as any could’ve hoped. GRADE: A+ JOSH DONALDSON 2021: 135 games, .247/.352/.475 (127 OPS+), 26 HR, 26 2B, 72 RBI, 21% K, 13.6% BB Donaldson’s season halted before it started when he came up lame while running out a double on Opening Day. His leg horrors had returned, and it once again looked like his season would be significantly compromised. Donaldson indeed dealt with some aliments along the way, but he never again landed on the IL and produced his customary, strong season. He ranked fifth among MLB third baseman in wRC+ (124) and ninth in Win Probability Added (1.45). Defensively, Donaldson was average at third base. The perception of JD’s campaign might differ if he hadn’t started 0-for-18 with two outs and runners in scoring position. Or if he didn’t miss half the season in 2020. All-in-all, he remains one of the best third basemen in the world. GRADE: B MIGUEL SANÓ 2021: 135 games, .223/.312/.466 (113 OPS+), 30 HR, 24 2B, 75 RBI, 34% K, 11% BB By the time he got going at the plate, the Twins were out of contention, and many had tuned out. That’s an unfortunate reality, as Sanó was both healthy and productive for the season’s final three months. The streaky nature of Sanó’s game was on full display again in 2021. He was unplayable out of the gate, hitting .157/.271/.381 over his first 40 games. The Twins moved him to a platoon role, and he responded by hitting .250/.329/.500 with 21 homers over his last 377 plate appearances, earning back his starting job. It’s hard to argue that Sanó notably contributed to the team, evidenced by his 0.4 Wins Above Replacement mark at FanGraphs. But finishing with 30 homers after such a brutal start certainly helped his stock. GRADE: C- MITCH GARVER 2021: 68 games, .256/.358/.517 (140 OPS+), 13 HR, 15 2B, 34 RBI, 29.2%, 12.8% BB Like Polanco and Sanó, Garver got off to a brutal start, hitting .161/.212/.387 with 12 strikeouts and two walks in his first 33 plate appearances. And like his counterparts, he quickly turned it around. In 102 plate appearances from April 16th until June 1st, Garver hit .247/.373/.541 with six homers and seven doubles. His walk rate climbed to nearly 17% over that span. Sadly, a brutal injury knocked him out for the next month and a half. Garver returned and was even better, hitting .297 with a .927 OPS over his final 27 games. The Sauce was back as a premier offensive catcher, and he also ranked in the 93rd percentile in framing. GRADE: A- RYAN JEFFERS 2021: 85 G, .199/.270/.401 (83 OPS+), 14 HR, 10 2B, 3B, 35 RBI, 37% K, 7.5% BB The Twins thrust Jeffers into an unfavorable role from the outset, with Garver getting the starts against lefties and the rookie left to deal with right-handers. It didn’t go well. Jeffers went 5-for-34 (.147) with 18 strikeouts and three walks in April which earned him a spot on the Saints roster. Called up and handed the reigns after Garver went down, Jeffers hit lefties reasonably well and had some stretches of productivity. The sky-high strikeout rate and lack of consistent walks are both issues, but Jeffers graded favorably on the defensive side with above-average framing. The Twins will likely leave their Designated Hitter hole open for rotation in 2022. This allows Garver and Jeffers to start against lefties, which is a much better plan for the duo than the 2021 misread. GRADE: D+ ANDRELTON SIMMONS 2021: 131 games, .223/.283/.274 (57 OPS+), 3 HR, 12 2B, 31 RBI, 13.8% K, 7.1% BB The Twins signed Simmons to upgrade the infield defense drastically, a move that looked brilliant at the time. What they didn’t know is that he’d be one of the most extensive lineup holes they’ve had in years. Simmons’ .558 OPS is the lowest by a Twin in over 20 years (min. 450 PA). Simmons entered the season with a career .696 OPS. His defense was close to as advertised. Simmons ranked second to Nicky Lopez among AL shortstops in Outs Above Average (16) and second to Carlos Correa in Defensive Runs Saved (14). Still, it wasn’t nearly enough to make up for a historically bad offensive performance. Simmons went 9-for-20 out of the gate and then hit .212/.265/.258 with 12 extra-base hits the rest of the way. GRADE: D NICK GORDON 2021: 73 G, .240/.292/.355 (79 OPS+), 4 HR, 9 2B, 3B, 23 RBI, 10 SB, 25% K, 6% BB Gordon reaching the Twins is a significant accomplishment in itself. He went through a lot to finally land in the bigs, and he earned an extended look down the stretch. Gordon hit .263/.316/.391 with 14 extra-base hits over his first 66 games before going one for his last 21. He held his own at multiple defensive spots, instilling confidence in many that he could fill a utility role for the team in 2022 and beyond. Gordon logged innings at second base, shortstop, third base, centerfield, left field, and right field. There’s definite value in that. Gordon’s overall line isn’t fantastic, and he’ll need to draw more walks or strike out less to improve offensively. There’s some power in his bat, he’s great on the bases, and his versatility is tantalizing. GRADE: B- 2021 MINNESOTA TWINS GRADES Starting Pitchers Infielders Relief Pitchers - Coming Soon! Outfielders - Coming Soon! 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  24. Coming off a pandemic-shortened 2020, the Twins did a solid job holding serve regarding payroll. While it dropped, it didn’t fall off a cliff. I don’t know where I expect Minnesota to be in terms of dollars this season, but I think we’re in for an offseason that sees some major-league assets moved. If that’s going to be the case, who are the combinations that are defined by value and expendability? Max Kepler I’m torn on the idea of moving Kepler, given the Twins commitment to getting more out of him. He posted just a .719 OPS this season, and it was a down year. He remains one of the best outfield defenders in baseball, however, and that has significant value. For a guy that plays on the corners, you’d certainly like to see the power production of 2019 return. Given his name was dangled at the deadline, I can’t imagine Minnesota is against the idea of moving him, but it’d need to be a situation where someone is parting with assets based on what they believe Kepler can be rather than what he is currently. Alex Kirilloff can fill some of the gap here, and Trevor Larnach is also an option should the Twins move on. Mitch Garver After a down year in the shortened 2020 season, Garver has rebounded with a vengeance. Mitch is back to hunting fastballs, and despite some fluke injuries this season, he put up impressive numbers from the minute he got settled in. His final 51 games were played to the tune of a .991 OPS. I’m reluctant to hand the reigns over to Ryan Jeffers full-time, but Garver is the older of the two, and this is a position where Minnesota could exploit the strength and use it to secure pitching help. The Twins don’t have much for a backup option unless they want to go defense only with Ben Rortvedt behind the plate. That said, a veteran backup shouldn’t cost much on the open market, and there’s plenty of names they could chase after. Cody recently did a great breakdown of a partner for Garver. Luis Arraez Once again near the top of the league in batting average, Luis Arraez continues to be as predictable as they come. 2021 was his first season with an average south of .300, but that’s more related to a late-season slide than it is the body of work. He is always going to hit, there’s not much in terms of speed or pop, and his glove is just ok in the field. What Minnesota has to determine is where Jorge Polanco will play and what they want to do at shortstop. Arraez is either a rotational player with plenty of avenues for playing time, or he’s a luxury that they can parlay into something more necessary. A lot of Arraez’s functionality for this club directly correlates to the build-out of their infield. Miguel Sano In the final year of his three-year extension, Sano will cost Minnesota just over $9 million this season. He hasn’t lived up to the .923 OPS he posted in 2019, but he has plenty of functionality as a bottom-of-the-order hitter. He’s continued to post OPS+ numbers north of league average, and the power potential was once again evident in a season where he blasted 30 homers. I can’t imagine his value bringing back a whole lot for the Twins, but with the designated hitter expected to be league-wide, there may be more suitors interested in his services. I prefer the Twins don’t utilize a consistent batter as a designated hitter this season, but that’s definitely where Sano is at his best. Rocco Baldelli will also need to balance first base playing time with Alex Kirilloff returning to action. Obviously, if the Twins decide against paying Byron Buxton, then he’d likely be on the move as well and bring the greatest return. I can’t see a scenario in which any arms are moved, most notably because of that being Minnesota’s greatest need. Who else could you see as potential interest for another organization? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. But before we get to Polanco, let's discuss those athletes who finished just short. HONORABLE MENTIONS Byron Buxton, CF: 61 G, .306/.358/.647, 23 2B, 19 HR, 9 SB, 4.2 fWAR, 169 wRC+ Jorge Alcala, RHP: 59 2/3 IP, 3.92 ERA, 61 K, 14 BB, 10 HR allowed, 90 ERA- Byron Buxton would have undoubtedly landed in the top spot on this list had he stayed healthy, but even still, one could argue that he should have placed in the top three. (Full discloser: Buxton received my top vote.) No one in the history of the Minnesota Twins has ever performed better overall than Buxton did throughout his 61 games. His 4.2 fWAR and 169 wRC+ led the team by a significant margin, with only Jorge Polanco's and arguably Mitch Garver's advanced metrics able to hold a candle to what he put forth (*hint hint*). Alcala, on the other hand, finished the season strongly after getting off to a slow start. He allowed only eight earned runs in 25 innings following the All-Star break while striking out 30 and walking five. His performance in September and October was particularly encouraging as he surrendered only a single run and struck out 15 of the 44 batters he faced. Had his first half of the season not been a relative stinker (4.67 ERA, 3.9 K:BB ratio), he maybe would have squeezed into the top three. Show: Caleb Thielbar, LHP 64 IP, 3.23 ERA, 77 K, 21 BB, 8 HR allowed, 75 ERA-, 0.9 fWAR It would be difficult to find a better story among the 2021 Twins roster than that of Caleb Thielbar. An 18th-round pick out of South Dakota State in the 2009 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, Thielbar posted career-highs in virtually every statistical category en route to putting together the best season of his career at age 34. Thielbar was arguably the team's top performer overall out of the pen, placing third in ERA- (Tyler Duffey, 73; Juan Minaya, 57) and second in fWAR (Taylor Rogers, 1.6) among the relievers who threw at least 40 innings. He was able to accomplish the feats due in large part to possessing one of the best fastball-slider combinations in the game. While he is arguably more well-known for his borderline-eephus curveball, which sits in the upper-60s, Thielbar's fastball and slider accounted for most of his outs this past summer. The four-seam fastball has always been his most utilized pitch — it accounted for 49% of the offerings to batters in 2021 — Thielbar more than doubled the use of his slider compared to 2020 while cutting his curveball usage nearly in half, according to Baseball Savant. Opposing batters could not figure out his slider as they slugged a meager .296 and struck out 19 times. It registered an average of 14.4 inches of horizontal break in 2021, which was a whopping 5.4 inches above average. Similarly, they couldn't touch his fastball with regularity despite it sitting in the low-90s. Thielbar's heater was worth a Run Value of -12, meaning it theoretically allowed 12 fewer runs over the course of the season compared to an average fastball. Thielbar's 2021 performance showed that his 2020 season wasn't a fluke and cemented himself a prominent role during 2022. Runner-Up: Mitch Garver, C 68 G, .256/.358/.517, 15 2B, 13 HR, 2.1 fWAR, 137 wRC+ 2021 Mitch Garver was a facsimile of 2019 Mitch Garver, which should be encouraging to Twins fans; the only blemish on his otherwise great season was a plethora of injuries that limited him to only 68 games. The reason for Garver's turnaround from a disastrous 2020 that saw him slash .167/.247/.264 in 23 games? He remembered how to hit fastballs. Not only did Garver hit fastballs in 2021, he destroyed them to the tune of a .688 slugging percentage with 10 home runs and 10 doubles. These numbers approximate his .829, 25, and 12 rates from the juiced-ball 2019 season, re-establishing him as one of the most powerful catchers in MLB Garver will likely enter the 2022 season as the team's primary catcher and will once again split time with Ryan Jeffers, barring an offseason trade. There's little reason to doubt that he can't put forth a similarly strong season if he can remain healthy, and doing so would make the Twins' offense that much scarier. Winner: Jorge Polanco, 2B 152 G, .269/.323/.503, 35 2B, 33 HR, 11 SB, 3.9 fWAR, 122 wRC+ Jorge Polanco was the Twins' best player, and he put together arguably his best season one year after ankle injuries debilitated him to the degree that many wondered if he'd be long for the team. Polanco became the first Twins' second baseman not named Brian Dozier to eclipse the 30 homer mark in a season, and his 35 doubles were the most on the team by nearly double-digits; Josh Donaldson's 26 came in second. His numbers would have looked even better had he not hit .237 with a near 7:1 K:BB ratio during the final month of the season. Polanco's meteoric rise from light-hitting albeit promising prospect to an All-Star-caliber, 30-home run middle infielder has been a joyous surprise to watch. His 2021 season reinvigorated his status in the fans' minds and likely the front office as well, as he figures to again be a staple of the Twins' lineup for years to come. Others receiving votes: Rob Refsnyder, Juan Minaya, Danny Coulombe, Miguel Sano, Nick Gordon, Taylor Rogers, Bailey Ober MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here
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