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  1. Since we last checked in, the Twins have made news with a number of noteworthy moves: trading third baseman Gio Urshela, acquiring shortstop Kyle Farmer, tendering reliever Emilio Pagan. Let's take a quick look at the details behind each of these decisions, and where they leave the state of the roster as the Winter Meetings fast approach on December 4th. Twins Trade Urshela to Angels Just ahead of the arbitration contract tender deadline on November 18th, the Twins shipped one of their eligible players – the most difficult decision among them – to the Angels in exchange for minor-league pitcher Alejandro Hidalgo. A 19-year-old right-hander who hasn't yet advanced past Low-A ball, Hidalgo is a modestly intriguing young arm, but the return for Urshela was expectedly small. He's a valuable player, but at his projected arbitration cost in the $9 million range, a bit less appealing – especially for a Twins team that hopes to usher Jose Miranda in as regular third baseman next year. For the Angels, Urshela is an odd fit. Like the Twins, they seem to view him as strictly a corner infielder ... but they already have Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh entrenched at third and first, with Shohei Ohtani typically occupying DH. It is very difficult to understand LA's motivation in making this move from the current view. Hidalgo's your usual big-stuff/bad-control lotto ticket. Certainly a preferable outcome to non-tendering Urshela for nothing in return. Pagan Is Coming Back for Another Year With Urshela shipped out, the Twins tendered contracts to all of their remaining arbitration-eligible players – including, controversially, the embattled Pagan. He'll earn a projected $3.7 million in his final year of team control, coming off a season where he earned the ire of fans with numerous lapses in crucial moments. He was the poster child for a bullpen that helped derail a promising Twins season. Now we'll see if he can become the figurehead for its triumphant turnaround. Amidst all the backlash this decision understandably provoked, I tried to explore the team's reasoning, noting that Pagan saw improved results down the stretch with a pitch mix change under pitching coaches Pete Maki and Colby Suggs. It's hard to give up on stuff of that caliber, and the upside it entails. While many fans struggle to make sense of it, Pagan does seem to be viewed much more highly in baseball circles than from the outside. Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported that the reliever "drew much more interest" than Urshela ahead of the non-tender deadline. Farmer Enters the Fold Not long after parting with some veteran depth in Urshela, the Twins quickly backfilled with the addition of Farmer, acquired from the Reds in exchange for minor-league righty Casey Legumina. This deal was, in many ways, the reverse of the Urshela trade: Farmer is a valuable enough player, but wasn't that valuable to Cincinnati at his arbitration price point, so they sent him to a team that could use the depth in exchange for a pitching flier. In this case, it's much easier to see the fit for Farmer, who could fill a number of different roles depending on what the Twins do elsewhere. For now, he's slotted in as their starting shortstop, and an adequate interim fill-in for Royce Lewis if that is the front office's leaning. In addition to his defensive flexibility, one aspect of Farmer's profile that surely attracted the Twins is his excellence against left-handed pitching. This looks like an effort to offset one of the offense's key weaknesses in 2021, when they slashed .240/.310/.391 against southpaws. Twins Showing Interest in Rodon Hayes wrote in a roster projection column over the weekend that the team has "definite interest" in Carlos Rodon, which comes as no surprise. However, Hayes adds, "his contract is likely to soar to areas it might not feel comfortable paying, perhaps as high as $160 million over five years." In a column unpacking the troubling realities of buying high on free agent pitching, I examined this very conundrum: Rodon is exactly the kind of proven ace that the Twins should be looking to land this offseason. He's a dominant force coming off an excellent season, and his addition would energize the fanbase while fortifying the rotation. But, he's also entering the market at peak value, have pressed a career-high workload upon a shoulder that has endlessly tormented him. With Rodon, you're going to be paying purely for the upside we just saw, and hoping it sustains. And the price tag will be quite high, with the free-spending Dodgers already in the mix as suitors. One Current Opening on the 40-Man Roster As a sum result of all this moving and shaking, along with the additions of prospects Edouard Julien, Brent Headrick, and Matt Canterino to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, Minnesota's 40-man roster currently stands at 39: Should the Twins need to be make room for more additions, the most vulnerable 40-man spots likely belong to Mark Contreras, Cole Sands, and Trevor Megill. Roster and Payroll Projection: v2 In looking at the projected 2023 roster in its current form, you can see how the Twins are setting a floor. They've basically got all they need to field a competent ballclub next year: a rotation with five proven big-league starters, a fairly deep bullpen with back-end power, and a credible – albeit somewhat underwhelming on whole – stable of position players. The only openings are a backup catcher and utility infielder for the bench, easily filled. That is not to say going forward with this group would be acceptable in anyone's eyes. But the point is that the Twins aren't backed into any corners, needing to allocate their funds in any specific way – just how they like it. With nearly $50 million in spending room just to get back to the 2022 payroll baseline, we'll see how opportunistic this front office can be, free from any kind of restraint. If you want to read up on all of the team's many options available at positions across the board, the Offseason Handbook is now available in full to download, with 39 pages covering the Hot Stove landscape from every angle. It's free to all Caretakers! Grab a copy and build your own 2023 blueprint.
  2. The Twins have been relatively busy early in the offseason, with a couple of trades reshaping their infield outlook and an embattled reliever receiving a controversial contract tender. Read on to catch up on what the front office has done so far and where the roster currently stands. Image courtesy of Brad Rempel and Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports Since we last checked in, the Twins have made news with a number of noteworthy moves: trading third baseman Gio Urshela, acquiring shortstop Kyle Farmer, tendering reliever Emilio Pagan. Let's take a quick look at the details behind each of these decisions, and where they leave the state of the roster as the Winter Meetings fast approach on December 4th. Twins Trade Urshela to Angels Just ahead of the arbitration contract tender deadline on November 18th, the Twins shipped one of their eligible players – the most difficult decision among them – to the Angels in exchange for minor-league pitcher Alejandro Hidalgo. A 19-year-old right-hander who hasn't yet advanced past Low-A ball, Hidalgo is a modestly intriguing young arm, but the return for Urshela was expectedly small. He's a valuable player, but at his projected arbitration cost in the $9 million range, a bit less appealing – especially for a Twins team that hopes to usher Jose Miranda in as regular third baseman next year. For the Angels, Urshela is an odd fit. Like the Twins, they seem to view him as strictly a corner infielder ... but they already have Anthony Rendon and Jared Walsh entrenched at third and first, with Shohei Ohtani typically occupying DH. It is very difficult to understand LA's motivation in making this move from the current view. Hidalgo's your usual big-stuff/bad-control lotto ticket. Certainly a preferable outcome to non-tendering Urshela for nothing in return. Pagan Is Coming Back for Another Year With Urshela shipped out, the Twins tendered contracts to all of their remaining arbitration-eligible players – including, controversially, the embattled Pagan. He'll earn a projected $3.7 million in his final year of team control, coming off a season where he earned the ire of fans with numerous lapses in crucial moments. He was the poster child for a bullpen that helped derail a promising Twins season. Now we'll see if he can become the figurehead for its triumphant turnaround. Amidst all the backlash this decision understandably provoked, I tried to explore the team's reasoning, noting that Pagan saw improved results down the stretch with a pitch mix change under pitching coaches Pete Maki and Colby Suggs. It's hard to give up on stuff of that caliber, and the upside it entails. While many fans struggle to make sense of it, Pagan does seem to be viewed much more highly in baseball circles than from the outside. Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported that the reliever "drew much more interest" than Urshela ahead of the non-tender deadline. Farmer Enters the Fold Not long after parting with some veteran depth in Urshela, the Twins quickly backfilled with the addition of Farmer, acquired from the Reds in exchange for minor-league righty Casey Legumina. This deal was, in many ways, the reverse of the Urshela trade: Farmer is a valuable enough player, but wasn't that valuable to Cincinnati at his arbitration price point, so they sent him to a team that could use the depth in exchange for a pitching flier. In this case, it's much easier to see the fit for Farmer, who could fill a number of different roles depending on what the Twins do elsewhere. For now, he's slotted in as their starting shortstop, and an adequate interim fill-in for Royce Lewis if that is the front office's leaning. In addition to his defensive flexibility, one aspect of Farmer's profile that surely attracted the Twins is his excellence against left-handed pitching. This looks like an effort to offset one of the offense's key weaknesses in 2021, when they slashed .240/.310/.391 against southpaws. Twins Showing Interest in Rodon Hayes wrote in a roster projection column over the weekend that the team has "definite interest" in Carlos Rodon, which comes as no surprise. However, Hayes adds, "his contract is likely to soar to areas it might not feel comfortable paying, perhaps as high as $160 million over five years." In a column unpacking the troubling realities of buying high on free agent pitching, I examined this very conundrum: Rodon is exactly the kind of proven ace that the Twins should be looking to land this offseason. He's a dominant force coming off an excellent season, and his addition would energize the fanbase while fortifying the rotation. But, he's also entering the market at peak value, have pressed a career-high workload upon a shoulder that has endlessly tormented him. With Rodon, you're going to be paying purely for the upside we just saw, and hoping it sustains. And the price tag will be quite high, with the free-spending Dodgers already in the mix as suitors. One Current Opening on the 40-Man Roster As a sum result of all this moving and shaking, along with the additions of prospects Edouard Julien, Brent Headrick, and Matt Canterino to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, Minnesota's 40-man roster currently stands at 39: Should the Twins need to be make room for more additions, the most vulnerable 40-man spots likely belong to Mark Contreras, Cole Sands, and Trevor Megill. Roster and Payroll Projection: v2 In looking at the projected 2023 roster in its current form, you can see how the Twins are setting a floor. They've basically got all they need to field a competent ballclub next year: a rotation with five proven big-league starters, a fairly deep bullpen with back-end power, and a credible – albeit somewhat underwhelming on whole – stable of position players. The only openings are a backup catcher and utility infielder for the bench, easily filled. That is not to say going forward with this group would be acceptable in anyone's eyes. But the point is that the Twins aren't backed into any corners, needing to allocate their funds in any specific way – just how they like it. With nearly $50 million in spending room just to get back to the 2022 payroll baseline, we'll see how opportunistic this front office can be, free from any kind of restraint. If you want to read up on all of the team's many options available at positions across the board, the Offseason Handbook is now available in full to download, with 39 pages covering the Hot Stove landscape from every angle. It's free to all Caretakers! Grab a copy and build your own 2023 blueprint. View full article
  3. Minnesota traded Gio Urshela last week and handed Jose Miranda the third base job. So, what does the upper minors' depth chart look like at the hot corner? Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Gio Urshela was one of Minnesota's most consistent players in 2022, but that didn't guarantee him a spot on the 2023 roster. Comments from the front office at the season's end pointed to them wanting to hand the reins to Jose Miranda after a strong rookie campaign. Offensively, Miranda struggled down the stretch, but he was one of the organization's top prospects entering the season. His future's still bright, but where will the Twins turn if he struggles or gets injured? MLB Options: Jose Miranda, Kyle Farmer, Luis Arraez Minnesota is entering the season with Miranda penciled in as the starting third baseman. He isn't the strongest defender, so Miranda will likely see time at first base and designated hitter. Last season, he played over 70% of his innings at first base, but Urshela's presence forced the Twins to use the better defender at the hot corner. Last week, the Twins also acquired Farmer in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. During the 2022 season, Farmer played 74% of his defensive innings at shortstop, but he started 35 games at third base. At shortstop, only two qualified players had a lower SDI total than Farmer. He posted -2 defensive runs saved at third base with a 0.1 UZR. He has defensive flexibility, but he currently projects as the team's starting shortstop. Arraez is coming off a season where he won the AL Batting Title and a Silver Slugger as a utility player. The Twins likely want Arraez to move back to the utility spot to try and keep him healthier than last season. During the 2021 season, Arraez played over 400 innings at third, but the presence of better defenders meant he was limited to fewer than 45 innings last season. Nick Gordon can fill in at third base in a pinch, but he saw very limited innings at the position last season. Triple-A Options: Andrew Bechtold, Yunior Severino, Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee Bechtold played over 80 innings at four defensive positions in 2022, but third base was the lone position he logged over 400 innings. In 123 games, he hit .233/.329/.400 (.729) with 16 doubles and 19 home runs. Severino split time between second and third base last season while reaching Double-A. He's been limited to fewer than 100 games in two consecutive seasons, but he posted a .907 OPS during the 2022 campaign. Neither player is on the 40-man roster, so that adds an extra wrinkle if they are needed at the big-league level. Fans can debate whether Lewis or Lee is the Twins' top prospect, but both can fit into the team's future plans at third base. Lewis is out following his second ACL surgery until the middle of the 2023 season. He has played 21 defensive innings at third base in his professional career. Lee's played shortstop since the Twins drafted him with the eighth overall pick, but many project him to move off the position. Lee likely starts the year at Double-A, but the Twins showed last season that they would be aggressive with his promotions, especially with his college experience. Double-A Options: Edouard Julien, Seth Gray, Jake Rucker Julien was one of Minnesota's breakout prospects in the 2022 season, and he'd likely get a big-league shot before the other minor-league options on this list. He played 113 games at Double-A last season and hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. His success continued in the Arizona Fall League, where MLB recently named him the AFL's Breakout Player of the Year. Julien hasn't played a lot of innings at third in the minors, but his bat will perform at any defensive position. Minnesota took Gray in the fourth round of the 2019 Draft, and he spent most of 2022 at High-A. In Cedar Rapids, he had a .740 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 113 games. He splits time between both corner infield positions, but he likely needs more upper-minor experience. Rucker played at three levels last season, even getting a short stint at Triple-A. Last season, he made 47 starts at third base, the position he played most regularly in college. In 124 games, he hit .236/.333/.378 (.711) with 25 doubles, six triples, and nine home runs. Who do you think the Twins will turn to if Miranda struggles or gets injured? Does Minnesota have enough depth at third base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. It is an overreaction to assume that Minnesota's acquisition of Kyle Farmer from the Reds on Friday means they are canceling their pursuit of Carlos Correa or another top-tier shortstop. With this understanding, however, Farmer does seem like a bit of an odd fit. Why pay almost $6 million for a potentially superfluous piece? I can see three different possible valuable usages for Farmer in 2023, depending on which directions the team takes elsewhere. Image courtesy of David Banks-USA TODAY Sports Acquired in exchange for minor-league pitcher Casey Legumina last week, Kyle Farmer has followed an interesting career path in terms of defensive development. Formerly a star high school baseball star and quarterback (he made a cameo in The Blind Side!), he played shortstop at the University of Georgia before being drafted as a catcher by Los Angeles in the 13th round in 2013. Farmer had never played catcher, but the Dodgers and other teams liked him at the position because of his big frame and strong arm. He split time between there and at third while working his way up to the majors, where it took him four years to get his long-coveted chance at a return to shortstop. "Farmer didn’t receive an opportunity to play shortstop regularly until he met with Reds manager David Bell in spring training before the 2020 season and told him that he could do it," wrote Bobby Nightingale for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Farmer has since made 234 starts over three seasons at the position, after totaling NINE – majors and minors – through his first seven years as a pro. Farmer has made 81% of his 289 starts since 2020 at shortstop, impressing enough with the glove to keep getting nods there from Bell and Co. in Cincy, and now to be targeted by the Twins largely for his SS ability. But there are other skills in Farmer's defensive toolkit that make the versatile infielder a player who fits under several different scenarios. Which is exactly what the front office liked about him. Scenario A: Farmer is the interim starting shortstop until Royce Lewis or Brooks Lee is ready. If the Twins believe that Lewis is on track to fully recover and take over as long-term starting shortstop midway through the season, then this will be the course of action. In fact, to be honest, this will very likely be the course of action unless they can sign one of the top four (highly coveted) shortstops on the market, which means it's probably just going to happen. It's not the worst thing in the world! Depending on your view of Lewis. Farmer is far from a top-tier starter at shortstop but he's perfectly adequate, with a solid glove and a bit of pop at the plate. He's really rough against right-handed pitching, which limits his appeal as a regular at any position, but the Twins could theoretically rotate in Jorge Polanco or Nick Gordon occasionally. If Lewis can return in May or June and pick up where he left off, then Farmer shifts into the role outlined in Scenario B at that point. Meanwhile, the Twins have conserved tens of millions of dollars to spend elsewhere while maintaining flexibility to usher in Lewis or Lee as the shortstop of the future. Scenario B: Farmer is a semi-regular at third base who fills in around the infield. What if the Twins manage to land Carlos Correa, or another top shortstop via free agency or trade? In this case, Farmer can still fill a valuable role, albeit it with a less intensive workload. In this scenario, he fills a lesser version of the role Gio Urshela after Miranda came up in 2022, starting a couple times a week at third while Miranda rests, or slides to first base or DH. Farmer is the steadier and more reliable glove at third base, and frankly the book is still out on Miranda's defense. There's great value in dependable veteran depth. Farmer can make himself useful on days where Miranda is at third by stepping in at short, second or first. He's even a viable DH option against southpaws thanks to his .837 career OPS vs. LHP. Scenario C: Farmer is a super-utility backup who plugs in all around the field. Let's say the Twins are more committed to Miranda at third than I think they are, or should be. And let's also say they find another superior player to start at shortstop. In this case, Farmer probably becomes more of a true utilityman, making starts all over the field to spell starters and backfill injuries. "When the Reds acquired him from the Los Angeles Dodgers," notes Nightingale, "he was viewed as a utility guy with extra value as a third catcher." This could be the role Minnesota envisions for him, with his bat platooning around the field against lefties. In addition to shortstop, catcher, and third, Farmer has experience at second, first, and left field. His viability at shortstop can make him the top backup at that position (they currently have none, with Jermaine Palacios gone), and he can also serve as third-string catcher, which figures to be a need since they're currently without even Caleb Hamilton-caliber secondary depth. As mentioned, the ultimate role for Farmer in 2023 will be dictated by what the Twins do elsewhere. But unless they turn around and trade him a la Isiah Kiner-Falefa (who, incidentally, was a trade target to fill almost the exact same role), he'll almost certainly end up being used in one of these three capacities. View full article
  5. Gio Urshela was one of Minnesota's most consistent players in 2022, but that didn't guarantee him a spot on the 2023 roster. Comments from the front office at the season's end pointed to them wanting to hand the reins to Jose Miranda after a strong rookie campaign. Offensively, Miranda struggled down the stretch, but he was one of the organization's top prospects entering the season. His future's still bright, but where will the Twins turn if he struggles or gets injured? MLB Options: Jose Miranda, Kyle Farmer, Luis Arraez Minnesota is entering the season with Miranda penciled in as the starting third baseman. He isn't the strongest defender, so Miranda will likely see time at first base and designated hitter. Last season, he played over 70% of his innings at first base, but Urshela's presence forced the Twins to use the better defender at the hot corner. Last week, the Twins also acquired Farmer in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds. During the 2022 season, Farmer played 74% of his defensive innings at shortstop, but he started 35 games at third base. At shortstop, only two qualified players had a lower SDI total than Farmer. He posted -2 defensive runs saved at third base with a 0.1 UZR. He has defensive flexibility, but he currently projects as the team's starting shortstop. Arraez is coming off a season where he won the AL Batting Title and a Silver Slugger as a utility player. The Twins likely want Arraez to move back to the utility spot to try and keep him healthier than last season. During the 2021 season, Arraez played over 400 innings at third, but the presence of better defenders meant he was limited to fewer than 45 innings last season. Nick Gordon can fill in at third base in a pinch, but he saw very limited innings at the position last season. Triple-A Options: Andrew Bechtold, Yunior Severino, Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee Bechtold played over 80 innings at four defensive positions in 2022, but third base was the lone position he logged over 400 innings. In 123 games, he hit .233/.329/.400 (.729) with 16 doubles and 19 home runs. Severino split time between second and third base last season while reaching Double-A. He's been limited to fewer than 100 games in two consecutive seasons, but he posted a .907 OPS during the 2022 campaign. Neither player is on the 40-man roster, so that adds an extra wrinkle if they are needed at the big-league level. Fans can debate whether Lewis or Lee is the Twins' top prospect, but both can fit into the team's future plans at third base. Lewis is out following his second ACL surgery until the middle of the 2023 season. He has played 21 defensive innings at third base in his professional career. Lee's played shortstop since the Twins drafted him with the eighth overall pick, but many project him to move off the position. Lee likely starts the year at Double-A, but the Twins showed last season that they would be aggressive with his promotions, especially with his college experience. Double-A Options: Edouard Julien, Seth Gray, Jake Rucker Julien was one of Minnesota's breakout prospects in the 2022 season, and he'd likely get a big-league shot before the other minor-league options on this list. He played 113 games at Double-A last season and hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. His success continued in the Arizona Fall League, where MLB recently named him the AFL's Breakout Player of the Year. Julien hasn't played a lot of innings at third in the minors, but his bat will perform at any defensive position. Minnesota took Gray in the fourth round of the 2019 Draft, and he spent most of 2022 at High-A. In Cedar Rapids, he had a .740 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 113 games. He splits time between both corner infield positions, but he likely needs more upper-minor experience. Rucker played at three levels last season, even getting a short stint at Triple-A. Last season, he made 47 starts at third base, the position he played most regularly in college. In 124 games, he hit .236/.333/.378 (.711) with 25 doubles, six triples, and nine home runs. Who do you think the Twins will turn to if Miranda struggles or gets injured? Does Minnesota have enough depth at third base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  6. There’s no time for a traditional intro paragraph; let’s talk about what Kyle Farmer can bring to the Minnesota Twins. Image courtesy of Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK Kyle Farmer is, to be kind, an obscure baseball presence. A former catcher, raised in the blue-blood Dodgers farm system—something he has in common with his Twins garlicky brother in Kyle—Farmer’s major league impact has been a ripple, not a wave. There was the time he walked off the Giants in his major league debut, but two full seasons OPSing at a below-average rate with the Reds doesn’t place you on many radars. At least, not worthwhile ones. At a cursory glance, the Twins may have sent away Gio Urshela just to acquire an older, cheaper, and slightly worse Gio Urshela. But that narrative sells Farmer short; his OPS over the past two seasons is nearly bang-on league average for a shortstop (.716 for Farmer, .714 for the league), while, at least in 2021, Statcast’s OAA measure clocked Farmer as one of the finest glovemen at his position, crediting him with six outs above average while handling shortstop. That placed him as the 9th-best fielding shortstop that year. His defense in 2022 was not as sparkling, though, and which Farmer the Twins will receive defensively appears to be an open question—one made murkier with shift-aided success in 2021. With new rules limiting where infielders are allowed to stand, those bonus outs to the right of 2nd base will no longer exist; whether Farmer can regain his form at the traditional shortstop position will be up to him. His bat, however, has remained consistent, especially against lefties. As the great Tom Froemming has pointed out, Farmer is infield Kyle Garlick, pillaging southpaw villages while leaving fire and rubble in his wake. Lefties loathed facing Farmer, allowing a .948 OPS against him in 2022, a significant step up from his already hefty career line of .288/.345/.492 against them. The Twins, as pointed out by this author, have struggled against lefties since the 2019 season; any extra boost rounds out the team offensively. The debate now focuses on where he fits on the team. While he could technically start as the everyday shortstop, a certain 28-year-old Puerto Rican is the preferred target of Twins fans. The Great Carlos Correa Question remains unanswered, and until his pen touches paper once again, the Twins’ shortstop position will operate with split-pea soup haziness. It’s unlikely that the team will open business in late March with Farmer as the starting shortstop; instead, this author guesses he will operate as a super-utility infielder focusing on playing against lefties. Farmer has played every position in the infield—indeed, that means every position—and even subbed in for four frames in the outfield. The Twins lack a player in that mold, especially one who has flashed an ability to hold down shortstop at an exceptional level. But who knows? The Twins relish acquiring baseline players early to set up bigger splashes later. Trying to guess Farmer’s roster contribution in November is like being a stockbroker in 1929. More moves will fill in the roster, creating a much clearer picture, but for now, the Twins appear to have a helpful infielder who can mash lefties, something they have needed for years. View full article
  7. The Minnesota Twins would love to bring back free agent shortstop Carlos Correa and have made a serious offer. What does the contract look like? We don't have the exact specifics, but John Bonnes of Twins Daily relayed that the offer is in excess of eight years, $250 million on the most recent podcast episode of Gleeman and the Geek. Will that be enough to get it done?
  8. The Minnesota Twins would love to bring back free agent shortstop Carlos Correa and have made a serious offer. What does the contract look like? We don't have the exact specifics, but John Bonnes of Twins Daily relayed that the offer is in excess of eight years, $250 million on the most recent podcast episode of Gleeman and the Geek. Will that be enough to get it done? View full video
  9. Kyle Farmer is, to be kind, an obscure baseball presence. A former catcher, raised in the blue-blood Dodgers farm system—something he has in common with his Twins garlicky brother in Kyle—Farmer’s major league impact has been a ripple, not a wave. There was the time he walked off the Giants in his major league debut, but two full seasons OPSing at a below-average rate with the Reds doesn’t place you on many radars. At least, not worthwhile ones. At a cursory glance, the Twins may have sent away Gio Urshela just to acquire an older, cheaper, and slightly worse Gio Urshela. But that narrative sells Farmer short; his OPS over the past two seasons is nearly bang-on league average for a shortstop (.716 for Farmer, .714 for the league), while, at least in 2021, Statcast’s OAA measure clocked Farmer as one of the finest glovemen at his position, crediting him with six outs above average while handling shortstop. That placed him as the 9th-best fielding shortstop that year. His defense in 2022 was not as sparkling, though, and which Farmer the Twins will receive defensively appears to be an open question—one made murkier with shift-aided success in 2021. With new rules limiting where infielders are allowed to stand, those bonus outs to the right of 2nd base will no longer exist; whether Farmer can regain his form at the traditional shortstop position will be up to him. His bat, however, has remained consistent, especially against lefties. As the great Tom Froemming has pointed out, Farmer is infield Kyle Garlick, pillaging southpaw villages while leaving fire and rubble in his wake. Lefties loathed facing Farmer, allowing a .948 OPS against him in 2022, a significant step up from his already hefty career line of .288/.345/.492 against them. The Twins, as pointed out by this author, have struggled against lefties since the 2019 season; any extra boost rounds out the team offensively. The debate now focuses on where he fits on the team. While he could technically start as the everyday shortstop, a certain 28-year-old Puerto Rican is the preferred target of Twins fans. The Great Carlos Correa Question remains unanswered, and until his pen touches paper once again, the Twins’ shortstop position will operate with split-pea soup haziness. It’s unlikely that the team will open business in late March with Farmer as the starting shortstop; instead, this author guesses he will operate as a super-utility infielder focusing on playing against lefties. Farmer has played every position in the infield—indeed, that means every position—and even subbed in for four frames in the outfield. The Twins lack a player in that mold, especially one who has flashed an ability to hold down shortstop at an exceptional level. But who knows? The Twins relish acquiring baseline players early to set up bigger splashes later. Trying to guess Farmer’s roster contribution in November is like being a stockbroker in 1929. More moves will fill in the roster, creating a much clearer picture, but for now, the Twins appear to have a helpful infielder who can mash lefties, something they have needed for years.
  10. Acquired in exchange for minor-league pitcher Casey Legumina last week, Kyle Farmer has followed an interesting career path in terms of defensive development. Formerly a star high school baseball star and quarterback (he made a cameo in The Blind Side!), he played shortstop at the University of Georgia before being drafted as a catcher by Los Angeles in the 13th round in 2013. Farmer had never played catcher, but the Dodgers and other teams liked him at the position because of his big frame and strong arm. He split time between there and at third while working his way up to the majors, where it took him four years to get his long-coveted chance at a return to shortstop. "Farmer didn’t receive an opportunity to play shortstop regularly until he met with Reds manager David Bell in spring training before the 2020 season and told him that he could do it," wrote Bobby Nightingale for the Cincinnati Enquirer. Farmer has since made 234 starts over three seasons at the position, after totaling NINE – majors and minors – through his first seven years as a pro. Farmer has made 81% of his 289 starts since 2020 at shortstop, impressing enough with the glove to keep getting nods there from Bell and Co. in Cincy, and now to be targeted by the Twins largely for his SS ability. But there are other skills in Farmer's defensive toolkit that make the versatile infielder a player who fits under several different scenarios. Which is exactly what the front office liked about him. Scenario A: Farmer is the interim starting shortstop until Royce Lewis or Brooks Lee is ready. If the Twins believe that Lewis is on track to fully recover and take over as long-term starting shortstop midway through the season, then this will be the course of action. In fact, to be honest, this will very likely be the course of action unless they can sign one of the top four (highly coveted) shortstops on the market, which means it's probably just going to happen. It's not the worst thing in the world! Depending on your view of Lewis. Farmer is far from a top-tier starter at shortstop but he's perfectly adequate, with a solid glove and a bit of pop at the plate. He's really rough against right-handed pitching, which limits his appeal as a regular at any position, but the Twins could theoretically rotate in Jorge Polanco or Nick Gordon occasionally. If Lewis can return in May or June and pick up where he left off, then Farmer shifts into the role outlined in Scenario B at that point. Meanwhile, the Twins have conserved tens of millions of dollars to spend elsewhere while maintaining flexibility to usher in Lewis or Lee as the shortstop of the future. Scenario B: Farmer is a semi-regular at third base who fills in around the infield. What if the Twins manage to land Carlos Correa, or another top shortstop via free agency or trade? In this case, Farmer can still fill a valuable role, albeit it with a less intensive workload. In this scenario, he fills a lesser version of the role Gio Urshela after Miranda came up in 2022, starting a couple times a week at third while Miranda rests, or slides to first base or DH. Farmer is the steadier and more reliable glove at third base, and frankly the book is still out on Miranda's defense. There's great value in dependable veteran depth. Farmer can make himself useful on days where Miranda is at third by stepping in at short, second or first. He's even a viable DH option against southpaws thanks to his .837 career OPS vs. LHP. Scenario C: Farmer is a super-utility backup who plugs in all around the field. Let's say the Twins are more committed to Miranda at third than I think they are, or should be. And let's also say they find another superior player to start at shortstop. In this case, Farmer probably becomes more of a true utilityman, making starts all over the field to spell starters and backfill injuries. "When the Reds acquired him from the Los Angeles Dodgers," notes Nightingale, "he was viewed as a utility guy with extra value as a third catcher." This could be the role Minnesota envisions for him, with his bat platooning around the field against lefties. In addition to shortstop, catcher, and third, Farmer has experience at second, first, and left field. His viability at shortstop can make him the top backup at that position (they currently have none, with Jermaine Palacios gone), and he can also serve as third-string catcher, which figures to be a need since they're currently without even Caleb Hamilton-caliber secondary depth. As mentioned, the ultimate role for Farmer in 2023 will be dictated by what the Twins do elsewhere. But unless they turn around and trade him a la Isiah Kiner-Falefa (who, incidentally, was a trade target to fill almost the exact same role), he'll almost certainly end up being used in one of these three capacities.
  11. Hours after trading infielder Gio Urshela to the Angels, the Twins have acquired infielder Kyle Farmer from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for right-handed pitcher Casey Legumina. Image courtesy of Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports The Twins reached out to a team they have become quite familiar with in trade talks in the past year. Infielder Kyle Farmer was traded to the Twins from the Reds in exchange for right-hander Casey Legumina. The 32-year-old infielder from the University of Georgia has been the Reds primary shortstop the past two seasons. In 2022, Farmer played in 145 games and hit .255/.315/.386 (.701) with 25 doubles and 14 home runs. Farmer made his MLB debut back in 2017 with the Dodgers and played some for them again in 2018. He was part of a trade with Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood that sent Homer Bailey, Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray to the Dodgers in December of 2018. In 2019, he played six defensive positions for the Reds. Since 2021, he has been the team's primary shortstop, and he is terrific defensively no matter where they put him. In 2021, he played in 121 games at shortstop and 10 or fewer games at the other infield spots and left field. In 2022, he played in 98 games at shortstop, 36 at third base, and two games at first base. On the surface, Farmer seems to have a lot of similarities to a guy the team acquired in March, Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Both are solid shortstops who make all of the routine plays. Both have a solid, contact, line-drive type of swing that can generate some extra-base hits. However, they are guys that will hit closer to the bottom of the lineup. In his first season of arbitration eligibility, he played the 2022 season for $3.155 million. He will make somewhere around $5 million in 2023 and will be under team control for 2024 as well. Essentially, he's going to cost about half of what Gio Urshela would have, but he's a guy you can feel comfortable with playing at shortstop while waiting for Carlos Correa to sign (you never know) or Royce Lewis to return, and at that point, he can fill a utility role. He also can provide depth at third base should Jose Miranda struggle with the glove. Casey Legumina was the Twins' eighth-round draft pick in 2019 from Gonzaga. His numbers don't jump out, but his stuff is something that clearly will excite several pitching coaches. That is why he was added to the 40-man roster earlier this week. In the past six or seven months, the Twins have sent Legumina, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Steve Hajjar, and Chase Petty to the Reds in exchange for Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, and now Kyle Farmer. In reality, this move probably completely opens up third base for Spencer Steer to take and run with. Do you Remember? This highlight was all over the place in 2017. Farmer had a very nice major-league debut. One Reds Fan's Perspective on the Trade Kyle's Biggest Fan View full article
  12. The Twins reached out to a team they have become quite familiar with in trade talks in the past year. Infielder Kyle Farmer was traded to the Twins from the Reds in exchange for right-hander Casey Legumina. The 32-year-old infielder from the University of Georgia has been the Reds primary shortstop the past two seasons. In 2022, Farmer played in 145 games and hit .255/.315/.386 (.701) with 25 doubles and 14 home runs. Farmer made his MLB debut back in 2017 with the Dodgers and played some for them again in 2018. He was part of a trade with Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood that sent Homer Bailey, Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray to the Dodgers in December of 2018. In 2019, he played six defensive positions for the Reds. Since 2021, he has been the team's primary shortstop, and he is terrific defensively no matter where they put him. In 2021, he played in 121 games at shortstop and 10 or fewer games at the other infield spots and left field. In 2022, he played in 98 games at shortstop, 36 at third base, and two games at first base. On the surface, Farmer seems to have a lot of similarities to a guy the team acquired in March, Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Both are solid shortstops who make all of the routine plays. Both have a solid, contact, line-drive type of swing that can generate some extra-base hits. However, they are guys that will hit closer to the bottom of the lineup. In his first season of arbitration eligibility, he played the 2022 season for $3.155 million. He will make somewhere around $5 million in 2023 and will be under team control for 2024 as well. Essentially, he's going to cost about half of what Gio Urshela would have, but he's a guy you can feel comfortable with playing at shortstop while waiting for Carlos Correa to sign (you never know) or Royce Lewis to return, and at that point, he can fill a utility role. He also can provide depth at third base should Jose Miranda struggle with the glove. Casey Legumina was the Twins' eighth-round draft pick in 2019 from Gonzaga. His numbers don't jump out, but his stuff is something that clearly will excite several pitching coaches. That is why he was added to the 40-man roster earlier this week. In the past six or seven months, the Twins have sent Legumina, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Steve Hajjar, and Chase Petty to the Reds in exchange for Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, and now Kyle Farmer. In reality, this move probably completely opens up third base for Spencer Steer to take and run with. Do you Remember? This highlight was all over the place in 2017. Farmer had a very nice major-league debut. One Reds Fan's Perspective on the Trade Kyle's Biggest Fan
  13. For the third offseason in a row, the Twins will venture into the unknown in need of a shortstop. Carlos Correa is technically on the roster—MLB roster rules currently limit premature exits—but he will almost certainly opt out of his contract. If the Twins make the perfectly reasonable move of not re-signing a likely future Hall of Famer in his prime, here are a few under-the-radar players for Minnesota to target. Image courtesy of Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports Miguel Rojas Batting ability eludes Miguel Rojas—the 33-year-old owns a .260/.314/.358 career slash line, after all—but his defensive acumen stands somewhere between “slick” and “wizard-like.” Advanced stats and traditional numbers agree on his ability; Rojas is the 13th-best shortstop by OAA over the last three years, and his .980 career fielding percentage is 7th amongst 23 shortstops who have played at least 5,000 innings since 2014. That first boot drops with extra authority, though; Rojas owns a "stomachable" 85 OPS+, but his line dropped across the board in 2022, and his OPS barely churned water above the .600 mark (.605). If the Twins acquire Rojas, his offensive ceiling will look similar to Andrelton Simmons’, and Simmons only became one of the most disliked Twins in recent memory. According to Jim Bowden, the apparently frugal Yankees targeted Rojas at the trade deadline in 2022 but balked at the Marlins’ high asking price. Although their main target was pitcher Pablo López, not Rojas, New York’s interest reveals that a successful team, one that can undoubtedly aim higher, covets Rojas as a potential starter. Rojas signed an extension with the Marlins that will pay him $4.5 million in 2023, making him a cheap alternative to the expensive shortstops hitting free agency following the World Series. Rojas is a leader in Miami’s clubhouse and acts as their MLBPA representative—two critical skills Rojas could bring to a team potentially losing a well-respected player in Correa. Kyle Farmer The Twins have already poached 40% of the Reds' starting rotation; why not take their starting shortstop as well? Kyle Farmer can hit a touch more than Rojas—he owned an 88 OPS+ in 2021 and a 90 mark in 2022—but his defense remains more enigmatic; OAA loved his work in 2021 (92, very good) but found it repulsive in 2022 (34, not very good). Let’s talk about that bat: Farmer is a tough batter to strike out—his 17.6% K rate over the last two seasons is the 37th lowest amongst 118 hitters with 1,000 plate appearances—and as you can glean from that previous stat, he has been durable as well; Farmer has played in 292 games over that stretch. He won’t wow anyone with his offensive capability, and moving from the Wiffle ball stadium that is Great American Ballpark likely will not help his numbers, but true versatility and availability are skills the Twins have lacked since the excellent 2019 season. Farmer can play every infield position—including catcher—and owns a handful of innings in the outfield, although that should be a “break glass in case of emergency” option. The 31-year-old former Georgia Bulldog will not become a free agent until after the 2024 season. C. Trent Rosecrans, the great Athletic beat writer covering the Reds, writes that “[i]n a clubhouse full of good guys (from the media standpoint), Farmer stood out.” Win or lose, and there were many losses on that Reds team, Farmer was always available to talk to the media. You never know how a guy will fit into a team, but acquiring a player with great character could be an unseen boost to the Twins. Nico Hoerner It’s implausible that the Cubs will trade Nico Hoerner; the 25-year-old enjoyed a true breakout 2022 season slashing .281/.327/.410 with excellent defense on a mediocre Cubs team. A player capable of that production would typically never swap teams, but the Cubs—always lustfully searching for their next terrible contract—could dump a pool of money on Trea Turner or Dansby Swanson and choose to swap Hoerner. This move isn’t likely to happen, but where’s the fun in only thinking logically? Hoerner is a player in the model of the Piranhas of old: a fast, high-batting average infielder with slick handles and a fun name. He could provide the Yin to the power/OBP Yang so prevalent in a modern Twins lineup, creating the peskiest 1-2 punch in baseball when paired with Luis Arraez. Hoerner and Arraez combined struck out at a lower rate than the average MLB hitter in 2022. Hoerner can also play passably in center field. The Twins would have to part with several prospects and young players—4 WAR infielders yet to hit arbitration do not grow on trees—but a package focused on a few redundant young arms and outfielders could do the trick. Ian Happ, Chicago’s main attraction, hits free agency soon, and the Cubs have not developed a good, young starter since Jake Arrieta grew out his beard. Again, this move is unlikely, but baseball is always good for a shocking transaction or two every off-season. Digging for unexpected players is always a fun activity, but this practice left a single impression: the Twins need to re-sign Correa. With as much respect as possible, players like Rojas and Farmer seem like great clubhouse fits, but neither moves the needle much for on-field ability, and these were some of the better players apparently available. The Twins should probably act on Correa instead; good shortstops don’t grow on trees, and the ones that do like it when their paycheck reads “$300 million.” Rojas and Farmer are fun, upstanding players, but they feel like re-arranging one’s room rather than buying new furniture. We shall see what the Twins decide to do in the off-season, but these are a few players to keep your eye on View full article
  14. Miguel Rojas Batting ability eludes Miguel Rojas—the 33-year-old owns a .260/.314/.358 career slash line, after all—but his defensive acumen stands somewhere between “slick” and “wizard-like.” Advanced stats and traditional numbers agree on his ability; Rojas is the 13th-best shortstop by OAA over the last three years, and his .980 career fielding percentage is 7th amongst 23 shortstops who have played at least 5,000 innings since 2014. That first boot drops with extra authority, though; Rojas owns a "stomachable" 85 OPS+, but his line dropped across the board in 2022, and his OPS barely churned water above the .600 mark (.605). If the Twins acquire Rojas, his offensive ceiling will look similar to Andrelton Simmons’, and Simmons only became one of the most disliked Twins in recent memory. According to Jim Bowden, the apparently frugal Yankees targeted Rojas at the trade deadline in 2022 but balked at the Marlins’ high asking price. Although their main target was pitcher Pablo López, not Rojas, New York’s interest reveals that a successful team, one that can undoubtedly aim higher, covets Rojas as a potential starter. Rojas signed an extension with the Marlins that will pay him $4.5 million in 2023, making him a cheap alternative to the expensive shortstops hitting free agency following the World Series. Rojas is a leader in Miami’s clubhouse and acts as their MLBPA representative—two critical skills Rojas could bring to a team potentially losing a well-respected player in Correa. Kyle Farmer The Twins have already poached 40% of the Reds' starting rotation; why not take their starting shortstop as well? Kyle Farmer can hit a touch more than Rojas—he owned an 88 OPS+ in 2021 and a 90 mark in 2022—but his defense remains more enigmatic; OAA loved his work in 2021 (92, very good) but found it repulsive in 2022 (34, not very good). Let’s talk about that bat: Farmer is a tough batter to strike out—his 17.6% K rate over the last two seasons is the 37th lowest amongst 118 hitters with 1,000 plate appearances—and as you can glean from that previous stat, he has been durable as well; Farmer has played in 292 games over that stretch. He won’t wow anyone with his offensive capability, and moving from the Wiffle ball stadium that is Great American Ballpark likely will not help his numbers, but true versatility and availability are skills the Twins have lacked since the excellent 2019 season. Farmer can play every infield position—including catcher—and owns a handful of innings in the outfield, although that should be a “break glass in case of emergency” option. The 31-year-old former Georgia Bulldog will not become a free agent until after the 2024 season. C. Trent Rosecrans, the great Athletic beat writer covering the Reds, writes that “[i]n a clubhouse full of good guys (from the media standpoint), Farmer stood out.” Win or lose, and there were many losses on that Reds team, Farmer was always available to talk to the media. You never know how a guy will fit into a team, but acquiring a player with great character could be an unseen boost to the Twins. Nico Hoerner It’s implausible that the Cubs will trade Nico Hoerner; the 25-year-old enjoyed a true breakout 2022 season slashing .281/.327/.410 with excellent defense on a mediocre Cubs team. A player capable of that production would typically never swap teams, but the Cubs—always lustfully searching for their next terrible contract—could dump a pool of money on Trea Turner or Dansby Swanson and choose to swap Hoerner. This move isn’t likely to happen, but where’s the fun in only thinking logically? Hoerner is a player in the model of the Piranhas of old: a fast, high-batting average infielder with slick handles and a fun name. He could provide the Yin to the power/OBP Yang so prevalent in a modern Twins lineup, creating the peskiest 1-2 punch in baseball when paired with Luis Arraez. Hoerner and Arraez combined struck out at a lower rate than the average MLB hitter in 2022. Hoerner can also play passably in center field. The Twins would have to part with several prospects and young players—4 WAR infielders yet to hit arbitration do not grow on trees—but a package focused on a few redundant young arms and outfielders could do the trick. Ian Happ, Chicago’s main attraction, hits free agency soon, and the Cubs have not developed a good, young starter since Jake Arrieta grew out his beard. Again, this move is unlikely, but baseball is always good for a shocking transaction or two every off-season. Digging for unexpected players is always a fun activity, but this practice left a single impression: the Twins need to re-sign Correa. With as much respect as possible, players like Rojas and Farmer seem like great clubhouse fits, but neither moves the needle much for on-field ability, and these were some of the better players apparently available. The Twins should probably act on Correa instead; good shortstops don’t grow on trees, and the ones that do like it when their paycheck reads “$300 million.” Rojas and Farmer are fun, upstanding players, but they feel like re-arranging one’s room rather than buying new furniture. We shall see what the Twins decide to do in the off-season, but these are a few players to keep your eye on
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