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  1. Last offseason the Twins made a shocking trade with the Yankees, parting with one of their highest paid players and their assumed future shortstop for a couple of pieces back. Now that we have a full season of data, it’s time to revisit. Image courtesy of Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports The Twins previous offseason was a flurry of surprising moves. A team that was typically pretty quiet and tame in terms of their acquisitions made several big trades in an attempt to return to relevance in the standings. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition, but is it possible that parting with their starting third baseman and new shortstop actually better positioned them? The Twins Trade Away Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa Despite the remaining 2 years and $42m remaining on his contract, the Twins traded Donaldson to the Bronx last winter with whispers swirling that he had worn out his welcome. The former MVP played in 135 games in 2021, his most since his fantastic 2019, but still had modest results. Seeking to cleanse the clubhouse and avoid a potential drop off in production, this side of the Twins gamble worked. Donaldson continued causing issues in New York and he had his worst offensive year since 2012. He slashed .222/.308/.374, 3% below league average despite the harsh offensive environment. His defense did rebound and he stayed healthy for 132 games, but it’s safe to say the Twins are happy with this decision. Isiah Kiner-Falefa wasn’t on the Twins long enough to even have jerseys made, having been acquired shortly before in the Mitch Garver deal. The assumed starting shortstop, IKF had a reputation as a gamer even though he lacked any standout skills. He had the kind of season you’d expect from the light-hitting infielder, slashing .261/.314/.327. As usual, his defense was good or bad depending on the metric. This pair being shipped out allowed the Twins to sign Correa, who undeniably provided significantly more value than their initial plan at shortstop. IKF wasn’t even the starting shortstop more often than not come playoff time for the Yankees, a testament to how this trade just did not work out for New York at all. The Twins Receive Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela Gary Sanchez had a strange year. The Yankees just didn’t want him behind the plate anymore regardless of his bat, so naturally he came to Minnesota and his skills behind the plate became his carrying tool. His .205/.282/.377 line was surprisingly bad, as his standout bat completely cratered but his framing and general defense was his boon. In other circumstances it’s possible Sanchez would have either lost significant playing time or not finish the season on the team. Injuries, however, had him starting near everyday. His struggles will likely cost him this winter, as it’s doubtful a team will suddenly see him as a plus-defender and it seems the Twins were left holding the bag on his offensive dropoff. Gio Urshela was the prize of this deal. Similar to Kiner-Falefa, defensive metrics conflict on his value, but he routinely makes some eye-popping plays at the hot corner. His .285/.338/.429 slash line was a trip back to his 2019 and 2020 peak offensive seasons, both of which looked to be a product of the juiced ball and a shortened schedule. Sure enough however, Urshela was one of the Twins few bright spots down the stretch, and surely played himself into being tendered a contract for 2023. “Winning a trade” is all about opinion. Some argue the aggregate value tells the story, others like to be receiving the best player in the deal. In the Twins case, they won on both measures. Donaldson (1.6) and Kiner-Falefa (1.3) combined for 2.9 fWAR in comparison to Sanchez (1.3) and Urshela (2.4) equaling 3.7. If that wasn’t convincing enough, consider that Donaldson has another year remaining for $21m plus another $8M guaranteed in the form of a 2024 buyout. No longer a middle of the order bat and at increased risk for another injury, possible disaster looms for whatever team he’s on in 2023. IKF also has one remaining arbitration year, which is likely to either get non-tendered or traded after failing to nail down the shortstop job with several prospects on the horizon for the Yankees. On the Twins end, they certainly could’ve done better than Gary Sanchez with the $9m he was paid, but that was the cost of doing business and he’s off their books moving forward. Urshela’s arbitration value will likely settle around $9-10m, a reasonable price if he approaches anything near his 2022 output. In both the 2022 season and moving forward, this deal has created headaches on the Yankees side while the Twins undoubtedly became a better team as a result. This is without even mentioning the door to the Correa signing that was opened. Biases aside, it’s hard not to call this trade a win for the Twins. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that even Yankee fans would agree. There’s a chance this deal evens back out based on Donaldson’s or Kiner-Falefa’s performances in 2023, but there’s a better chance it gets even worse. Do you agree that this was a massive win for the Twins? Is it too early to make a determination? Let us know below! View full article
  2. The Twins previous offseason was a flurry of surprising moves. A team that was typically pretty quiet and tame in terms of their acquisitions made several big trades in an attempt to return to relevance in the standings. Unfortunately, this didn’t come to fruition, but is it possible that parting with their starting third baseman and new shortstop actually better positioned them? The Twins Trade Away Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa Despite the remaining 2 years and $42m remaining on his contract, the Twins traded Donaldson to the Bronx last winter with whispers swirling that he had worn out his welcome. The former MVP played in 135 games in 2021, his most since his fantastic 2019, but still had modest results. Seeking to cleanse the clubhouse and avoid a potential drop off in production, this side of the Twins gamble worked. Donaldson continued causing issues in New York and he had his worst offensive year since 2012. He slashed .222/.308/.374, 3% below league average despite the harsh offensive environment. His defense did rebound and he stayed healthy for 132 games, but it’s safe to say the Twins are happy with this decision. Isiah Kiner-Falefa wasn’t on the Twins long enough to even have jerseys made, having been acquired shortly before in the Mitch Garver deal. The assumed starting shortstop, IKF had a reputation as a gamer even though he lacked any standout skills. He had the kind of season you’d expect from the light-hitting infielder, slashing .261/.314/.327. As usual, his defense was good or bad depending on the metric. This pair being shipped out allowed the Twins to sign Correa, who undeniably provided significantly more value than their initial plan at shortstop. IKF wasn’t even the starting shortstop more often than not come playoff time for the Yankees, a testament to how this trade just did not work out for New York at all. The Twins Receive Gary Sanchez and Gio Urshela Gary Sanchez had a strange year. The Yankees just didn’t want him behind the plate anymore regardless of his bat, so naturally he came to Minnesota and his skills behind the plate became his carrying tool. His .205/.282/.377 line was surprisingly bad, as his standout bat completely cratered but his framing and general defense was his boon. In other circumstances it’s possible Sanchez would have either lost significant playing time or not finish the season on the team. Injuries, however, had him starting near everyday. His struggles will likely cost him this winter, as it’s doubtful a team will suddenly see him as a plus-defender and it seems the Twins were left holding the bag on his offensive dropoff. Gio Urshela was the prize of this deal. Similar to Kiner-Falefa, defensive metrics conflict on his value, but he routinely makes some eye-popping plays at the hot corner. His .285/.338/.429 slash line was a trip back to his 2019 and 2020 peak offensive seasons, both of which looked to be a product of the juiced ball and a shortened schedule. Sure enough however, Urshela was one of the Twins few bright spots down the stretch, and surely played himself into being tendered a contract for 2023. “Winning a trade” is all about opinion. Some argue the aggregate value tells the story, others like to be receiving the best player in the deal. In the Twins case, they won on both measures. Donaldson (1.6) and Kiner-Falefa (1.3) combined for 2.9 fWAR in comparison to Sanchez (1.3) and Urshela (2.4) equaling 3.7. If that wasn’t convincing enough, consider that Donaldson has another year remaining for $21m plus another $8M guaranteed in the form of a 2024 buyout. No longer a middle of the order bat and at increased risk for another injury, possible disaster looms for whatever team he’s on in 2023. IKF also has one remaining arbitration year, which is likely to either get non-tendered or traded after failing to nail down the shortstop job with several prospects on the horizon for the Yankees. On the Twins end, they certainly could’ve done better than Gary Sanchez with the $9m he was paid, but that was the cost of doing business and he’s off their books moving forward. Urshela’s arbitration value will likely settle around $9-10m, a reasonable price if he approaches anything near his 2022 output. In both the 2022 season and moving forward, this deal has created headaches on the Yankees side while the Twins undoubtedly became a better team as a result. This is without even mentioning the door to the Correa signing that was opened. Biases aside, it’s hard not to call this trade a win for the Twins. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that even Yankee fans would agree. There’s a chance this deal evens back out based on Donaldson’s or Kiner-Falefa’s performances in 2023, but there’s a better chance it gets even worse. Do you agree that this was a massive win for the Twins? Is it too early to make a determination? Let us know below!
  3. Over the weekend, Josh Donaldson was involved in an altercation with Chicago's Tim Anderson. Donaldson allegedly called Anderson "Jackie," a reference to Jackie Robinson, that he thought was an inside joke between the two players. Major League Baseball investigated the incident, which involves multiple layers, and suspended Donaldson for one game. During his Twins tenure, Donaldson made headlines for multiple incidents, including calling out Gerrit Cole for his use of sticky substances and an ejection after hitting a home run. Originally, the Twins signed Donaldson as a veteran presence on a team in the middle of their winning window. Across two seasons, he hit .243/.355/.474 (.829) with a 129 OPS+ in 163 games. During the playoffs following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Donaldson wasn't available, and the Twins were terrible in 2021. He was entering his age-36 season, and the front office found a way to get out from under his contract. On March 13, the Twins finalized a deal that sent Donaldson to the Yankees along with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt. In return, Minnesota received Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela. All five players projected to be in each team's plans for the entire 2022 season, but baseball doesn't always work out that way. Yankees Acquisitions: Donaldson (1.6 WAR), Kiner-Falefa (0.3 WAR), Rortvedt (60-day IL) When making a trade, teams usually don't like to surrender the best player involved in the deal. Minnesota clearly did that as Donaldson is having a tremendous season as the Yankees sit five games up in the AL East. Age doesn't seem to be catching up to Donaldson, as he has a 126 OPS+ for the fourth consecutive season. Defensively, he is also having a resurgence as he ranks in the 81st percentile for Outs Above Average (OAA). Even with this kind of production, Donaldson has other baggage that some teams want to avoid. It remains to be seen if he can keep up this production through a 162-game schedule. Kiner-Falefa never appeared in a game for the Twins after being acquired from the Rangers as part of the Mitch Garver trade. So far this season, he has hit .264/.317/.312 (.629) with an 88 OPS+, which is seven points higher than his career mark. His Whiff% is in the 95th percentile, and his OAA (6th percentile) is one of the lowest marks among shortstops. Rortvedt underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery and may not be available until after the All-Star break. Twins Acquisitions: Sánchez (0.4 WAR), Urshela (0.1 WAR) A couple of weeks ago, Ted examined Minnesota's acquisitions from the Donaldson trade. Both players had yet to make a significant mark on the team, but those results may slowly change in the Twins' favor. Sánchez has surprised in multiple ways as he has an OPS+ of over 110 for the first time since he was an All-Star in 2019. He has also improved his framing metrics as he ranks in the 64th percentile, his highest mark since 2018. According to Win Probability Added, Sánchez ranks fourth on the Twins hitters behind Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Luis Arraez. In 2019 and 2020, Urshela hit .310/.359/.523 (.881) with a 134 OPS+, and that's the player the Twins were hoping to unlock. So far in 2022, he has been closer to the 2021 version of Urshela that posted a 96 OPS+ in 116 games. His K% is in the 91st percentile, and he provides little defensive value with an OAA in the 11th percentile. Over his last 100 plate appearances, his xwOBA has been above the league average, so there may still be hope for him breaking out of his offensive slump. At the end of the day, it's clear the Twins wanted to be "out of the Josh Donaldson business." His on-the-field performance outweighs the value the Twins got in return, but his other antics can rub a clubhouse the wrong way. Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa provide a different kind of leadership for the Twins, and Minnesota is better off with him off the roster. What are your thoughts as you look back on the Donaldson trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. Former Twin Josh Donaldson had his name in the news for all the wrong reasons this weekend. Even with his on-field successes, it’s clear that the Twins were correct in moving on from Donaldson. Over the weekend, Josh Donaldson was involved in an altercation with Chicago's Tim Anderson. Donaldson allegedly called Anderson "Jackie," a reference to Jackie Robinson, that he thought was an inside joke between the two players. Major League Baseball investigated the incident, which involves multiple layers, and suspended Donaldson for one game. During his Twins tenure, Donaldson made headlines for multiple incidents, including calling out Gerrit Cole for his use of sticky substances and an ejection after hitting a home run. Originally, the Twins signed Donaldson as a veteran presence on a team in the middle of their winning window. Across two seasons, he hit .243/.355/.474 (.829) with a 129 OPS+ in 163 games. During the playoffs following the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Donaldson wasn't available, and the Twins were terrible in 2021. He was entering his age-36 season, and the front office found a way to get out from under his contract. On March 13, the Twins finalized a deal that sent Donaldson to the Yankees along with Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ben Rortvedt. In return, Minnesota received Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela. All five players projected to be in each team's plans for the entire 2022 season, but baseball doesn't always work out that way. Yankees Acquisitions: Donaldson (1.6 WAR), Kiner-Falefa (0.3 WAR), Rortvedt (60-day IL) When making a trade, teams usually don't like to surrender the best player involved in the deal. Minnesota clearly did that as Donaldson is having a tremendous season as the Yankees sit five games up in the AL East. Age doesn't seem to be catching up to Donaldson, as he has a 126 OPS+ for the fourth consecutive season. Defensively, he is also having a resurgence as he ranks in the 81st percentile for Outs Above Average (OAA). Even with this kind of production, Donaldson has other baggage that some teams want to avoid. It remains to be seen if he can keep up this production through a 162-game schedule. Kiner-Falefa never appeared in a game for the Twins after being acquired from the Rangers as part of the Mitch Garver trade. So far this season, he has hit .264/.317/.312 (.629) with an 88 OPS+, which is seven points higher than his career mark. His Whiff% is in the 95th percentile, and his OAA (6th percentile) is one of the lowest marks among shortstops. Rortvedt underwent arthroscopic left knee surgery and may not be available until after the All-Star break. Twins Acquisitions: Sánchez (0.4 WAR), Urshela (0.1 WAR) A couple of weeks ago, Ted examined Minnesota's acquisitions from the Donaldson trade. Both players had yet to make a significant mark on the team, but those results may slowly change in the Twins' favor. Sánchez has surprised in multiple ways as he has an OPS+ of over 110 for the first time since he was an All-Star in 2019. He has also improved his framing metrics as he ranks in the 64th percentile, his highest mark since 2018. According to Win Probability Added, Sánchez ranks fourth on the Twins hitters behind Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and Luis Arraez. In 2019 and 2020, Urshela hit .310/.359/.523 (.881) with a 134 OPS+, and that's the player the Twins were hoping to unlock. So far in 2022, he has been closer to the 2021 version of Urshela that posted a 96 OPS+ in 116 games. His K% is in the 91st percentile, and he provides little defensive value with an OAA in the 11th percentile. Over his last 100 plate appearances, his xwOBA has been above the league average, so there may still be hope for him breaking out of his offensive slump. At the end of the day, it's clear the Twins wanted to be "out of the Josh Donaldson business." His on-the-field performance outweighs the value the Twins got in return, but his other antics can rub a clubhouse the wrong way. Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa provide a different kind of leadership for the Twins, and Minnesota is better off with him off the roster. What are your thoughts as you look back on the Donaldson trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  5. An eventful weekend receives a stunning final twist. According to multiple reports, the Twins are sending Josh Donaldson and newly-acquired shortstop Isiah Kinfer-Falefa to the New York Yankees in exchange for catcher Gary Sanchez and infielder Gio Urshela. Talk about a blockbuster. Jon Heyman was first to break the news that Gary Sanchez was heading to Minnesota. Jeff Passan quickly followed up with an elaboration: Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are headed to New York in the deal. We soon learned the Twins are also giving up catcher Ben Rortvedt and getting infielder Gio Urshela, who will presumably be the Twins' new third baseman or shortstop. There's a lot going on here, and we'll surely spend the next several days unpacking it, but let's try and wrap our arms around this thing. To summarize the move, Yankees get: 3B Josh Donaldson, SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa, C Ben Rortvedt Twins get: C/DH Gary Sánchez, 3B/SS Gio Urshela It was already a whirlwind weekend before this move. Now the roster has been completely uprooted and transformed over a span of two days. Donaldson's presence and salary both looked like odd fits with the Twins seemingly entering a transitional year. Shipping him to the Yankees makes sense in terms of their contention status and spending capabilities. Donaldson also feels like a proper personality fit in the Bronx. Kiner-Falefa's inclusion in the deal is stunning. The Twins acquired him from Texas on Saturday in exchange for Mitch Garver. Were they setting up this deal all along? Did the acquisition pique New York's interest? Either way, the brevity of his Minnesota career would make Jaime Garcia blush (he was also instantly flipped to the Yankees in 2017, incidentally). Between Garver and now Rortvedt, the Twins have completely wiped out their pre-existing catching depth around Ryan Jeffers. However, they added some back in the form of Sánchez, who's coming off two tough seasons but is a two-time All-Star with 138 career home runs at age 29. He's due for free agency after the 2022 season. Urshela, who is two years from free agency (like Kiner-Falefa was) started 28 games at shortstop for the Yankees last year, and 96 at third base. He had started only 13 total games at short in his previous five seasons. Do the Twins envision him playing there, with Jose Miranda taking over at third? Or are they clearing salary room for Trevor Story? This feels like a stepping stone to something else. For now, it feels confusing and pretty overwhelming. Share your thoughts in the comments section. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  6. Jon Heyman was first to break the news that Gary Sanchez was heading to Minnesota. Jeff Passan quickly followed up with an elaboration: Josh Donaldson and Isiah Kiner-Falefa are headed to New York in the deal. We soon learned the Twins are also giving up catcher Ben Rortvedt and getting infielder Gio Urshela, who will presumably be the Twins' new third baseman or shortstop. There's a lot going on here, and we'll surely spend the next several days unpacking it, but let's try and wrap our arms around this thing. To summarize the move, Yankees get: 3B Josh Donaldson, SS Isiah Kiner-Falefa, C Ben Rortvedt Twins get: C/DH Gary Sánchez, 3B/SS Gio Urshela It was already a whirlwind weekend before this move. Now the roster has been completely uprooted and transformed over a span of two days. Donaldson's presence and salary both looked like odd fits with the Twins seemingly entering a transitional year. Shipping him to the Yankees makes sense in terms of their contention status and spending capabilities. Donaldson also feels like a proper personality fit in the Bronx. Kiner-Falefa's inclusion in the deal is stunning. The Twins acquired him from Texas on Saturday in exchange for Mitch Garver. Were they setting up this deal all along? Did the acquisition pique New York's interest? Either way, the brevity of his Minnesota career would make Jaime Garcia blush (he was also instantly flipped to the Yankees in 2017, incidentally). Between Garver and now Rortvedt, the Twins have completely wiped out their pre-existing catching depth around Ryan Jeffers. However, they added some back in the form of Sánchez, who's coming off two tough seasons but is a two-time All-Star with 138 career home runs at age 29. He's due for free agency after the 2022 season. Urshela, who is two years from free agency (like Kiner-Falefa was) started 28 games at shortstop for the Yankees last year, and 96 at third base. He had started only 13 total games at short in his previous five seasons. Do the Twins envision him playing there, with Jose Miranda taking over at third? Or are they clearing salary room for Trevor Story? This feels like a stepping stone to something else. For now, it feels confusing and pretty overwhelming. Share your thoughts in the comments section. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Just when you thought the Twins had done enough this weekend to keep us on our toes, Derek Falvey went ahead and blew the roof off. A blockbuster with the Yankees started as Jon Heyman suggested a catcher was coming to Minnesota. Then the bomb dropped that Josh Donaldson was moving, and things got crazy. Another deal in which the player totals aren’t even; the Twins sent the additional talent this time. Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt are going to New York. In exchange, Minnesota gets catcher Gary Sanchez and third basemen Gio Urshela. There’s no level of this deal that shouldn’t make your head spin, so let’s break it down into smaller pieces. Third Base This is straightforward. Josh Donaldson is moved off the position, and Minnesota is no longer on the hook for his contract's remaining $50 million. Set to make $21.75 million in 2022, a team with something like $35 million in payroll flexibility just pushed that number over $50 million. Donaldson wound up playing just 163 games across two seasons with Minnesota. The shortened pandemic season didn’t help the longevity, but his nagging calf issues were present the first season. There was never a reason why the Twins should’ve considered a cash dump regarding Donaldson and his salary. Still playing at a high level in 2022, any move needed to come with a certain level of return. Ultimately, that’s what ended up happening. Gio Urshela debuted with Cleveland back in 2015 but posted just a .587 OPS through his first 148 Major League games. After a short stint in Toronto, he wound up in New York, and boy did Gio arrive in a big way. During 2019 Urshela posted an .889 OPS with 21 homers. He all but replicated that in 2020 before lacking power production last season. His 96 OPS+ basically was league average, however, and he’s just 30-years-old. He’s not the defensive stalwart Donaldson is at the hot corner, but he’s hardly a butcher either. What Urshela does offer is an easier path to playing time for the likes of Jose Miranda. Should the newly acquired piece continue to decline or start slow, Minnesota won’t hesitate to promote the 2021 standout prospect. Urshela is owed just $6.55M this season, and Miranda will get his opportunity to push for playing time at the hot corner. This is also another area that Luis Arraez could contribute. Shortstop Minnesota had its Opening Day shortstop for something like 35 hours. After acquiring Kiner-Falefa, he was sent to New York, who has been tied to the biggest names at the position. Kiner-Falefa was basically a replica of Andrelton Simmons, minus the weirdness, and now Falvey will go back on the hunt there. Urshela has accumulated just over 200 innings at shortstop, but he shouldn’t be considered an option there. Jorge Polanco is not moving back across the diamond, which again turns us back to the market. With so much cash while both Carlos Correa and Trevor Story are still on the market, there’s reasonable speculation that Minnesota could have their sights set there. Both presumably want long-term contracts, and neither Royce Lewis nor Austin Martin are slam dunks to remain at short. Catcher A former All-Star and Silver Slugger, Gary Sanchez joins the Twins as a backup for Ryan Jeffers. He’s not good defensively, and his bat has been lost since 2019, but maybe Minnesota can turn it around for the 29-year-old. Sanchez has solid on-base skills and does show a good amount of discipline in the box. His power potential is immense, with two 30+ home run seasons to his credit, but the key will be finding consistency. If it wasn’t apparent when the Twins dealt Mitch Garver, it’s certainly clear now that they’ve leaned all the way into Jeffers as their regular. Ben Rortvedt also went to the Yankees, and he’d be considered the most well-rounded defender of that trio. Jeffers obviously has made enough strides to feel comfort in pairing him with Sanchez, and there shouldn’t be an emphasis on splitting time evenly. Removing Donaldson opened up a rotational designated hitter spot for Minnesota, but it should be immediately accounted for by Sanchez, who will see regular starts there as well. It’s clear that Minnesota has solidified their plan at catcher, however. This was a huge move, the second of the day for Minnesota. Now with so much payroll flexibility and an arrow pointed towards competing, there’s no guessing how crazy this front office will get next. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  8. Another deal in which the player totals aren’t even; the Twins sent the additional talent this time. Josh Donaldson, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, and Ben Rortvedt are going to New York. In exchange, Minnesota gets catcher Gary Sanchez and third basemen Gio Urshela. There’s no level of this deal that shouldn’t make your head spin, so let’s break it down into smaller pieces. Third Base This is straightforward. Josh Donaldson is moved off the position, and Minnesota is no longer on the hook for his contract's remaining $50 million. Set to make $21.75 million in 2022, a team with something like $35 million in payroll flexibility just pushed that number over $50 million. Donaldson wound up playing just 163 games across two seasons with Minnesota. The shortened pandemic season didn’t help the longevity, but his nagging calf issues were present the first season. There was never a reason why the Twins should’ve considered a cash dump regarding Donaldson and his salary. Still playing at a high level in 2022, any move needed to come with a certain level of return. Ultimately, that’s what ended up happening. Gio Urshela debuted with Cleveland back in 2015 but posted just a .587 OPS through his first 148 Major League games. After a short stint in Toronto, he wound up in New York, and boy did Gio arrive in a big way. During 2019 Urshela posted an .889 OPS with 21 homers. He all but replicated that in 2020 before lacking power production last season. His 96 OPS+ basically was league average, however, and he’s just 30-years-old. He’s not the defensive stalwart Donaldson is at the hot corner, but he’s hardly a butcher either. What Urshela does offer is an easier path to playing time for the likes of Jose Miranda. Should the newly acquired piece continue to decline or start slow, Minnesota won’t hesitate to promote the 2021 standout prospect. Urshela is owed just $6.55M this season, and Miranda will get his opportunity to push for playing time at the hot corner. This is also another area that Luis Arraez could contribute. Shortstop Minnesota had its Opening Day shortstop for something like 35 hours. After acquiring Kiner-Falefa, he was sent to New York, who has been tied to the biggest names at the position. Kiner-Falefa was basically a replica of Andrelton Simmons, minus the weirdness, and now Falvey will go back on the hunt there. Urshela has accumulated just over 200 innings at shortstop, but he shouldn’t be considered an option there. Jorge Polanco is not moving back across the diamond, which again turns us back to the market. With so much cash while both Carlos Correa and Trevor Story are still on the market, there’s reasonable speculation that Minnesota could have their sights set there. Both presumably want long-term contracts, and neither Royce Lewis nor Austin Martin are slam dunks to remain at short. Catcher A former All-Star and Silver Slugger, Gary Sanchez joins the Twins as a backup for Ryan Jeffers. He’s not good defensively, and his bat has been lost since 2019, but maybe Minnesota can turn it around for the 29-year-old. Sanchez has solid on-base skills and does show a good amount of discipline in the box. His power potential is immense, with two 30+ home run seasons to his credit, but the key will be finding consistency. If it wasn’t apparent when the Twins dealt Mitch Garver, it’s certainly clear now that they’ve leaned all the way into Jeffers as their regular. Ben Rortvedt also went to the Yankees, and he’d be considered the most well-rounded defender of that trio. Jeffers obviously has made enough strides to feel comfort in pairing him with Sanchez, and there shouldn’t be an emphasis on splitting time evenly. Removing Donaldson opened up a rotational designated hitter spot for Minnesota, but it should be immediately accounted for by Sanchez, who will see regular starts there as well. It’s clear that Minnesota has solidified their plan at catcher, however. This was a huge move, the second of the day for Minnesota. Now with so much payroll flexibility and an arrow pointed towards competing, there’s no guessing how crazy this front office will get next. 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. Twins Territory held mixed feelings when the team traded fan favorite Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers in exchange for Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Was the team signaling a rebuild in 2022? The front office disputed that less than 24 hours later. The addition of Sonny Gray is enough to convince even the most skeptical fan that the Twins are looking to compete in 2022. It’s the right plan and one I’ve been screaming for all offseason. The Twins have the offensive pieces in place to score plenty of runs, and while inexperienced, there’s plenty to like about Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. After the team traded José Berríos to the Blue Jays and followed that by signing approximately zero impact starters before the lockout, many (myself included) wondered if there was a punt coming. All signs pointed toward a weak effort this offseason. There’s no award for compiling the prettiest roster before Opening Day. The San Diego Padres, after trading for Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove, looked like a powerhouse heading into the 2021 season. They won 79 games and fired manager Jayce Tingler, now the bench coach for the Twins. Conversely, the San Francisco Giants were an afterthought in the same division and won 107 games in a truly magnificent season. This is baseball. A team can look outstanding on paper and disappoint. Similarly, a team can look uninspiring on paper and exceed even the most optimistic expectations. There is, however, a fine line between a sleeper and a non-competitor. It’s doubtful the Baltimore Orioles will shock the world and have a winning season. You must have at least some talent, proper roster construction, and, most importantly, performance. My argument has been: the Twins have the bare-bones pieces to build around for this season. There’s a misconception that the Twins can’t conceivably invest in 2022 without hurting the future, specifically 2023 when they should see a plethora of top prospects emerge. What if I told you that they could accomplish both goals with the right moves? By trading Chase Petty, who likely isn't in the Major League plans until at least 2024, the Twins thread that needle. Jorge Polanco is coming off a terrific season and remains one of the more underrated players in MLB. A healthy Byron Buxton is a complete game-changer for the Twins, as is Josh Donaldson. Luis Arraez is an excellent leadoff hitter, and there’s massive offensive upside within Miguel Sanó. Not to mention the potential emergences of Alex Kirilloff, José Miranda, Ryan Jeffers, and or Trevor Larnach. This offense can bang. What the Twins so desperately need is a competent enough pitching staff. A staff that can support a potentially excellent lineup and helps the team make noise. There’s no excuse not to be in the race with an expanded playoff field as the calendar flips to August. That should be the expectation. By acquiring Gray, the Twins are signaling a plan. They have a lot of work left to do, but we’re starting to see the blueprint unfold. They are investing in the 2022 team, and rightly so. Stay tuned. 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 View full article
  10. The addition of Sonny Gray is enough to convince even the most skeptical fan that the Twins are looking to compete in 2022. It’s the right plan and one I’ve been screaming for all offseason. The Twins have the offensive pieces in place to score plenty of runs, and while inexperienced, there’s plenty to like about Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. After the team traded José Berríos to the Blue Jays and followed that by signing approximately zero impact starters before the lockout, many (myself included) wondered if there was a punt coming. All signs pointed toward a weak effort this offseason. There’s no award for compiling the prettiest roster before Opening Day. The San Diego Padres, after trading for Yu Darvish, Blake Snell, and Joe Musgrove, looked like a powerhouse heading into the 2021 season. They won 79 games and fired manager Jayce Tingler, now the bench coach for the Twins. Conversely, the San Francisco Giants were an afterthought in the same division and won 107 games in a truly magnificent season. This is baseball. A team can look outstanding on paper and disappoint. Similarly, a team can look uninspiring on paper and exceed even the most optimistic expectations. There is, however, a fine line between a sleeper and a non-competitor. It’s doubtful the Baltimore Orioles will shock the world and have a winning season. You must have at least some talent, proper roster construction, and, most importantly, performance. My argument has been: the Twins have the bare-bones pieces to build around for this season. There’s a misconception that the Twins can’t conceivably invest in 2022 without hurting the future, specifically 2023 when they should see a plethora of top prospects emerge. What if I told you that they could accomplish both goals with the right moves? By trading Chase Petty, who likely isn't in the Major League plans until at least 2024, the Twins thread that needle. Jorge Polanco is coming off a terrific season and remains one of the more underrated players in MLB. A healthy Byron Buxton is a complete game-changer for the Twins, as is Josh Donaldson. Luis Arraez is an excellent leadoff hitter, and there’s massive offensive upside within Miguel Sanó. Not to mention the potential emergences of Alex Kirilloff, José Miranda, Ryan Jeffers, and or Trevor Larnach. This offense can bang. What the Twins so desperately need is a competent enough pitching staff. A staff that can support a potentially excellent lineup and helps the team make noise. There’s no excuse not to be in the race with an expanded playoff field as the calendar flips to August. That should be the expectation. By acquiring Gray, the Twins are signaling a plan. They have a lot of work left to do, but we’re starting to see the blueprint unfold. They are investing in the 2022 team, and rightly so. Stay tuned. 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
  11. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Twins have an agreement with the Texas Rangers to acquire shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. 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. View full article
  12. 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.
  13. After three months of lockout-induced stagnancy, Major League Baseball reopened for business over the weekend with a flurry of activity across the league. Your Minnesota Twins got in on the action with a pair of high-wattage trades addressing key areas of need. Let's catch up and reset the roster outlook as spring training officially gets underway. [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 View full article
  14. [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
  15. This offseason, the Minnesota Twins have always been expected to be active on the trade market, but the moves were assumed to be for pitching. After swapping Mitch Garver for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, we now have a whole new angle to figure out in terms of roster construction. 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 View full article
  16. 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
  17. The Minnesota Twins desperately need starting pitching. Mitch Garver was among their most-attractive bats to dangle on the trade market. Today, Derek Falvey and Co. agreed to deal Garver for ... glove-first shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Also coming to Minnesota is 21-year-old pitching prospect Ronny Henriquez. Here's my reaction to the deal. View full video
  18. The Minnesota Twins desperately need starting pitching. Mitch Garver was among their most-attractive bats to dangle on the trade market. Today, Derek Falvey and Co. agreed to deal Garver for ... glove-first shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Also coming to Minnesota is 21-year-old pitching prospect Ronny Henriquez. Here's my reaction to the deal.
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