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  1. Luis Arraez has captured the hearts of Twins Territory. Should the team make an effort to lock him up past his current contract? With four seasons of arbitration before he reaches free agency, Arraez will earn built-in raises, starting with an estimated $2 million in 2022. With relevant comps and projections, let’s examine the case for an extension beyond those four years. The Case FOR Extension Arraez is a joy to watch. It’s not just his elite propensity to spit on or foul off the most challenging pitches or his uncanny ability to spray line drives all over the field. Arraez, 24, plays the game with pure giddiness and buzz. He’s someone you want on your team and in your lineup. In a league with more and more swing and miss, Arraez is a welcomed change of pace. In 245 games, Arraez has hit .313 with a sterling .374 On-Base Percentage. The man coined as “La Regadera” (The Sprinkler) finished 2021 in the 100th percentile in whiff rate and the 99th percentile in strikeout rate. Since making his debut in 2019, Arraez ranks first on the Twins in average (.313), second in hits (271), and fifth in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (4.7). Any reasonable expectation you had for Arraez, who ranked as the Twins’ 17th best prospect in 2019, has been exceeded. Arraez saved five runs at third base in 2021 with a positive Outs Above Average score. He’s far from a butcher at the hot corner. While he was poor defensively at second base in 2019, Arraez has bounced back with two positive DRS seasons and graded favorably in left field. The defensive concerns have been somewhat overblown. As it stands, Arraez is a Twin through his age-28 season (2024). The built-in raises will likely push his contract value to $22-25 million. It’s already a very affordable deal for the Twins, but an extension could create even more weight if he adds some pop and improves defensively. EXTENSION COMP: David Fletcher, Los Angeles Angels Angels' second baseman Fletcher is an excellent comp when considering extension numbers. Fletcher, 27, is older than Arraez but almost identical as a player. Fletcher hit .292/.346/.386 in 283 games before a horrific 2021. He’s a high-contact second baseman with solid offensive numbers. Arraez is a better hitter, but Fletcher is one of baseball's best defensive second baseman. Fletcher inked a five-year, $26 million deal with two option years, potentially taking him through his age-33 season. Fletcher, like Arraez, was set to be a free agent following the 2024 season. The Case AGAINST Extension Like any player and even our favorites, Arraez has apparent flaws. While his defense grades out nicely, he’s visibly stretched at second base and lacks the arm strength to make plays consistently at third. His experiment in left field wasn’t impressive, and he has no home with Jorge Polanco entrenched at second and myriad outfielders coming, plus José Miranda. Arraez has a history of knee problems, with stints on the injured list a common occurrence. Extending him beyond four years and into his 30s seems like more of a risk than it would be for other 24-year-olds. One of the pulls with Arraez is that he seems like a constant. The sluggers will streak, but Arraez is a consistent sparkplug. That wasn’t quite the case in 2021. Arraez was incredibly streaky, which is even more damaging for a hitter with zero power. When Arraez isn’t slashing the ball or walking, he adds virtually nothing to the lineup. The positive streaks are also less valuable when you aren’t punishing home runs. The Twins boast a glut at Arraez’s central positions. Polanco is a Twin through at least 2025, and Miranda is knocking. Josh Donaldson is still on the team, and Alex Kirilloff looks like the future at first base. Add Trevor Larnach in left field, and things get murkier. The best call might be to trade Arraez before his knees become a more significant issue. Or maybe the Twins bounce him around, including at DH, and re-assess in four seasons. There’s no urgency here. The Bottom Line The Twins are at a pivotal point. They must address the starting rotation and build a winner. While it’s true that Arraez would likely bring back an excellent return, this is a fanbase that needs any positive vibes it can get. Arraez is beloved and can help fans stay engaged and return to the ballpark. The reaction to an Arraez extension would be overwhelmingly positive. That shouldn’t dictate whether the Twins decide to pursue it, but it should be a consideration, as it was with Byron Buxton. An Arraez extension wouldn’t touch the $100 million the Twins guaranteed to their star centerfielder for the reasons mentioned above. You mitigate risk by adding in a couple million on top of what Arraez would earn, plus a few more guaranteed years. This is not a Buxton-type extension. It’s not feasible to expect Arraez to significantly outplay a contract, which is a reason against such a deal. What he could do, though, is cement himself as another central face for the next 5-10 years at a reasonable cost to the team. Comment your thoughts below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Whenever the time comes for the MLB lockout to end, a flood of transactions will occur from almost every team across MLB. The Twins may not be the most active team with little time remaining on the Hot Stove market, but they will undoubtedly make a few moves when that time comes. One of the significant speculations among Twins fans and beat writers is that the Twins will likely consider trading utility man Luis Arraez to a team to receive quality starting pitching in return. The main reason for this common speculation is because Arraez does not have a position he can currently play every day with Jorge Polanco at second base and Josh Donaldson at third. Not to mention the likelihood of Jose Miranda being called up to receive more playing time at third if the Twins decide to have Donaldson move into the DH role more often. That leaves left field the last place where Arraez plays comfortably, where he could be penned into the lineup each day. However, two players are everyday outfielders that the Twins hope to give more playing time to in Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff and see improvements from their 2021 season in 2022 in left field. Could the Twins possibly consider playing Arraez at shortstop if they don't end up trading him to start the 2022 season? No. Only if they have everyone else who can play shortstop, injured, or unavailable on a given day. Arraez has only started at shortstop three times and totaled eight games at the position at the Major League level. All of these games took place in 2019 during his rookie season. The Twins may not be willing to take that gamble of starting Arraez at short every day if they believe they can sign one of the everyday shortstops remaining on the market or see a massive breakthrough from Royce Lewis and Austin Martin in the minors this season. That leaves the only possible option of trading Arraez to give him the playing time he deserves with another team. Yet the Twins should not consider Arraez as a trade option to start pitching. He has become one of the best contact hitters in the game over the first three seasons of his career and a valuable asset to the clubhouse culture that started in 2019. But the number one reason why the Twins should not trade Arraez is to keep him around to fill infield voids that could come from player injuries. Every fan or writer knows injuries will happen each season, but there is always the hope going into spring training that their team will be 100 percent healthy for as long as possible. No one likes to predict player injuries at any point in any sports season, but injuries in MLB are more common than ever each season than they ever have been in the history of the sport. Based on the injury history of Donaldson, most Twins fans would expect to see him on the IL at some point during the 2022 season if that does happen. Even though this writer does not hope it will, that will free up more playing time for Arraez at third or DH. Still, Arraez himself has a skeptical injury history, too, with his knees going into his age 25 season. That problem will follow him wherever he is for the longevity of his career, whether it's with the Twins or another team. Without Arraez, the Twins may not have another player who can consistently hit over .300 throughout the season. However, contact hitting is undervalued now in modern MLB, where three true outcome hitting is king. There will be a time again when teams need a player or two they can consistently count on for hitting over .300 and having a high on-base percentage to go along with it without having to hit home runs. Arraez is that guy for the Twins right now, and it's hard to say if they will have another .300 hitter in their lineup for 2022 if they end up trading him. The Twins may not have a position they can play Arraez at consistently right now, but that could change throughout the 2022 season. And even if the likes of Martin and Miranda are raking in the minors to start 2022, who's to say their performance will pan out equally in the majors right away? There is still another reality for the Twins in 2022, where Polanco and Donaldson are relatively healthy all season. If they keep Arraez, his playing time will become secondary to their own. And maybe Miranda if he repeats his 2021 success with the Saints in 2022 in the Bigs. If the Twins do not trade Arraez and the above reality plays out, they will likely rotate Arraez at 2B and 3B a couple of times a week to give either Donaldson or Polanco a day off at their position or time at DH. Arraez will likely be the DH for the Twins on Opening Day if they keep him. With the team's current appearance, that is likely the best spot to pen him in until Miranda arrives. Potential injuries, prospects not panning out in MLB right away, and the need for a .300 hitter in the lineup are undoubtedly good reasons for the Twins to hold off on trading Arraez for the 2022 season, possibly. Arraez could undoubtedly bring back a good starter if the right trade partner is found, but his bat and clubhouse presence might be worth holding onto to see if the Twins can pull together a winning 2022 season. View full article
  3. Last week's second installment of my annual top 20 Twins assets rankings included Luis Arraez at #11. I concluded his blurb with what I feel is a fairly obvious reality: Arraez is a prime trade candidate. The sour reaction to that idea hints at how such a move would be widely received, regardless of the strategic logic behind it. Luis Arraez is an extremely popular player. This is known. Merely bringing up the idea of trading him can stir up considerable emotion and anger, as I've learned here and on Twitter. I get it. It's easy to see why he is so popular. Arraez has earned the affinity of casual fans and hardcores alike. His consistent .300 batting averages, in an era where those are increasingly rare, endear him to the more traditional follower. For those who gravitate more toward sabermetrics and advanced stats, it is the healthy OBPs driven by Arraez's bat and discipline that define his indispensable value. Everyone can agree that his personality and his amusing mannerisms on the field are treasures. Arraez is a joy to behold. But the front office can't make decisions based solely on likability or popularity if they want to steer this ship back into contention. They need to make savvy moves and opportunistic improvements. They need to make hard choices. Trading Arraez would certainly qualify, but the logic is undeniable: The 24-year-old's considerable strengths are balanced by significant detriments. His knees have already proven to be a chronic issue at his young age. He's not a defensive asset anywhere on the field. He doesn't hit for any power. Despite these drawbacks, he'd clearly be a coveted asset on the trade market. Arraez is still at the front end of his physical prime, with three remaining years of team control. He's a bona fide OBP machine at the top of the lineup, and still has a chance to develop some pop. His defensive versatility could be viewed as highly appealing for many teams. However... Arraez is very redundant within the Twins' roster planning. The two positions he's most capable of playing — second and third — are manned by two of the team's best veteran players, who are both under guaranteed contract for the next two years. Meanwhile, top prospects Austin Martin and Jose Miranda also seem destined to end up at one of the three positions Arraez has played most (2B/3B/LF). A year ago, ultra-plugged national reporter Ken Rosenthal mentioned the idea of Arraez being floated as a trade piece, suggesting the Twins had at least entertained such discussions. That was before the arrival of Martin and the emergence of Miranda. In the present situation, there's an urgency to clear a logjam and acquire impact pitching in the process. Arraez doesn't necessarily have to be the guy sent out in such an undertaking, but he sure strikes me as the most likely. Are fans ready for that? Is the front office ready for the reaction that would likely follow? How about ownership, which was reportedly applying pressure for a Byron Buxton contract extension in part because of dwindling fan morale? The Twins and their decision makers aren't exactly on firm footing in the eyes of a fanbase beaten down by a brutal season and totally inactive offseason thus far. If they make a move like this, the return had better be undeniably strong, as well as the messaging. 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
  4. With four seasons of arbitration before he reaches free agency, Arraez will earn built-in raises, starting with an estimated $2 million in 2022. With relevant comps and projections, let’s examine the case for an extension beyond those four years. The Case FOR Extension Arraez is a joy to watch. It’s not just his elite propensity to spit on or foul off the most challenging pitches or his uncanny ability to spray line drives all over the field. Arraez, 24, plays the game with pure giddiness and buzz. He’s someone you want on your team and in your lineup. In a league with more and more swing and miss, Arraez is a welcomed change of pace. In 245 games, Arraez has hit .313 with a sterling .374 On-Base Percentage. The man coined as “La Regadera” (The Sprinkler) finished 2021 in the 100th percentile in whiff rate and the 99th percentile in strikeout rate. Since making his debut in 2019, Arraez ranks first on the Twins in average (.313), second in hits (271), and fifth in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (4.7). Any reasonable expectation you had for Arraez, who ranked as the Twins’ 17th best prospect in 2019, has been exceeded. Arraez saved five runs at third base in 2021 with a positive Outs Above Average score. He’s far from a butcher at the hot corner. While he was poor defensively at second base in 2019, Arraez has bounced back with two positive DRS seasons and graded favorably in left field. The defensive concerns have been somewhat overblown. As it stands, Arraez is a Twin through his age-28 season (2024). The built-in raises will likely push his contract value to $22-25 million. It’s already a very affordable deal for the Twins, but an extension could create even more weight if he adds some pop and improves defensively. EXTENSION COMP: David Fletcher, Los Angeles Angels Angels' second baseman Fletcher is an excellent comp when considering extension numbers. Fletcher, 27, is older than Arraez but almost identical as a player. Fletcher hit .292/.346/.386 in 283 games before a horrific 2021. He’s a high-contact second baseman with solid offensive numbers. Arraez is a better hitter, but Fletcher is one of baseball's best defensive second baseman. Fletcher inked a five-year, $26 million deal with two option years, potentially taking him through his age-33 season. Fletcher, like Arraez, was set to be a free agent following the 2024 season. The Case AGAINST Extension Like any player and even our favorites, Arraez has apparent flaws. While his defense grades out nicely, he’s visibly stretched at second base and lacks the arm strength to make plays consistently at third. His experiment in left field wasn’t impressive, and he has no home with Jorge Polanco entrenched at second and myriad outfielders coming, plus José Miranda. Arraez has a history of knee problems, with stints on the injured list a common occurrence. Extending him beyond four years and into his 30s seems like more of a risk than it would be for other 24-year-olds. One of the pulls with Arraez is that he seems like a constant. The sluggers will streak, but Arraez is a consistent sparkplug. That wasn’t quite the case in 2021. Arraez was incredibly streaky, which is even more damaging for a hitter with zero power. When Arraez isn’t slashing the ball or walking, he adds virtually nothing to the lineup. The positive streaks are also less valuable when you aren’t punishing home runs. The Twins boast a glut at Arraez’s central positions. Polanco is a Twin through at least 2025, and Miranda is knocking. Josh Donaldson is still on the team, and Alex Kirilloff looks like the future at first base. Add Trevor Larnach in left field, and things get murkier. The best call might be to trade Arraez before his knees become a more significant issue. Or maybe the Twins bounce him around, including at DH, and re-assess in four seasons. There’s no urgency here. The Bottom Line The Twins are at a pivotal point. They must address the starting rotation and build a winner. While it’s true that Arraez would likely bring back an excellent return, this is a fanbase that needs any positive vibes it can get. Arraez is beloved and can help fans stay engaged and return to the ballpark. The reaction to an Arraez extension would be overwhelmingly positive. That shouldn’t dictate whether the Twins decide to pursue it, but it should be a consideration, as it was with Byron Buxton. An Arraez extension wouldn’t touch the $100 million the Twins guaranteed to their star centerfielder for the reasons mentioned above. You mitigate risk by adding in a couple million on top of what Arraez would earn, plus a few more guaranteed years. This is not a Buxton-type extension. It’s not feasible to expect Arraez to significantly outplay a contract, which is a reason against such a deal. What he could do, though, is cement himself as another central face for the next 5-10 years at a reasonable cost to the team. Comment your thoughts below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. With four years remaining till free agency, extending Luis Arraez isn't an urgent need, but it could be a savvy move. Arraez is beloved by the fan base and an affordable extension would bring some positive energy at a time when it's needed. What do you think? Comment below!
  6. With four years remaining till free agency, extending Luis Arraez isn't an urgent need, but it could be a savvy move. Arraez is beloved by the fan base and an affordable extension would bring some positive energy at a time when it's needed. What do you think? Comment below! View full video
  7. One of the significant speculations among Twins fans and beat writers is that the Twins will likely consider trading utility man Luis Arraez to a team to receive quality starting pitching in return. The main reason for this common speculation is because Arraez does not have a position he can currently play every day with Jorge Polanco at second base and Josh Donaldson at third. Not to mention the likelihood of Jose Miranda being called up to receive more playing time at third if the Twins decide to have Donaldson move into the DH role more often. That leaves left field the last place where Arraez plays comfortably, where he could be penned into the lineup each day. However, two players are everyday outfielders that the Twins hope to give more playing time to in Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff and see improvements from their 2021 season in 2022 in left field. Could the Twins possibly consider playing Arraez at shortstop if they don't end up trading him to start the 2022 season? No. Only if they have everyone else who can play shortstop, injured, or unavailable on a given day. Arraez has only started at shortstop three times and totaled eight games at the position at the Major League level. All of these games took place in 2019 during his rookie season. The Twins may not be willing to take that gamble of starting Arraez at short every day if they believe they can sign one of the everyday shortstops remaining on the market or see a massive breakthrough from Royce Lewis and Austin Martin in the minors this season. That leaves the only possible option of trading Arraez to give him the playing time he deserves with another team. Yet the Twins should not consider Arraez as a trade option to start pitching. He has become one of the best contact hitters in the game over the first three seasons of his career and a valuable asset to the clubhouse culture that started in 2019. But the number one reason why the Twins should not trade Arraez is to keep him around to fill infield voids that could come from player injuries. Every fan or writer knows injuries will happen each season, but there is always the hope going into spring training that their team will be 100 percent healthy for as long as possible. No one likes to predict player injuries at any point in any sports season, but injuries in MLB are more common than ever each season than they ever have been in the history of the sport. Based on the injury history of Donaldson, most Twins fans would expect to see him on the IL at some point during the 2022 season if that does happen. Even though this writer does not hope it will, that will free up more playing time for Arraez at third or DH. Still, Arraez himself has a skeptical injury history, too, with his knees going into his age 25 season. That problem will follow him wherever he is for the longevity of his career, whether it's with the Twins or another team. Without Arraez, the Twins may not have another player who can consistently hit over .300 throughout the season. However, contact hitting is undervalued now in modern MLB, where three true outcome hitting is king. There will be a time again when teams need a player or two they can consistently count on for hitting over .300 and having a high on-base percentage to go along with it without having to hit home runs. Arraez is that guy for the Twins right now, and it's hard to say if they will have another .300 hitter in their lineup for 2022 if they end up trading him. The Twins may not have a position they can play Arraez at consistently right now, but that could change throughout the 2022 season. And even if the likes of Martin and Miranda are raking in the minors to start 2022, who's to say their performance will pan out equally in the majors right away? There is still another reality for the Twins in 2022, where Polanco and Donaldson are relatively healthy all season. If they keep Arraez, his playing time will become secondary to their own. And maybe Miranda if he repeats his 2021 success with the Saints in 2022 in the Bigs. If the Twins do not trade Arraez and the above reality plays out, they will likely rotate Arraez at 2B and 3B a couple of times a week to give either Donaldson or Polanco a day off at their position or time at DH. Arraez will likely be the DH for the Twins on Opening Day if they keep him. With the team's current appearance, that is likely the best spot to pen him in until Miranda arrives. Potential injuries, prospects not panning out in MLB right away, and the need for a .300 hitter in the lineup are undoubtedly good reasons for the Twins to hold off on trading Arraez for the 2022 season, possibly. Arraez could undoubtedly bring back a good starter if the right trade partner is found, but his bat and clubhouse presence might be worth holding onto to see if the Twins can pull together a winning 2022 season.
  8. Like last year, a delayed period of international free agency begins on January 15th. What is the history and pedigree of the Twins in making these signing periods count? The international free agent signing period will get underway on January 15th. After being delayed by the pandemic, the current crop of IFAs can sign with MLB teams provided they turn 17 before September 1st, 2022. This week at Twins Daily, Cody Christie and I will look at the Twins history in International Free Agency, dating back to 2009. What were the Twins' biggest swings and misses? Where did they acquire or miss out on value? Later in the week, we’ll provide offensive and defensive profiles for three prospects likely to sign with the Twins. Note: The current MLB lockout WILL NOT impact international free agent signing as this period has been delayed since last summer. 2009 - The 99th Percentile Outcome Year In 2009, the Twins had a defining year in international free agency. They signed: Miguel Sano to a $3.15 million signing bonus Max Kepler to an $800,000 signing bonus Jorge Polanco to a $700,000 signing bonus The majority of international free agents don’t make it to the majors, let alone have multi-year MLB careers, let alone get extended by the teams that signed them. To have signed three players which fit that description in one signing cycle is a remarkable outcome. It’s not melodramatic to suggest that the IFA period in 2009 changed the trajectory of the Twins franchise. In 2021, Sano, Kepler, and Polanco formed core pieces in the Twins lineup. Kepler and Polanco, in particular, are signed to owner-friendly long-term deals. Last season, the three combined for 6.2 fWAR, just south of $50 million in value. Not bad for a $4.6 million investment. 2013 - 2017 - Twins Find Value, Miss on Big Names In 2013, the Twins signed a diminutive Venezuelan infielder to a $40,000 signing bonus. For an international free agent, this money is an afterthought, a lottery ticket. Throughout six MiLB seasons, he managed a .310 AVG, and .385 OBP. He already had a nickname when he came into the Twins system, ‘La Regadera’ (the sprinkler) due to his ability to spray the ball all over the field. His name? Luis Arraez. Arraez is a great reminder that international free agency is a lottery. Often the biggest name prospects underachieve, and players signed to middling or small bonuses can become superstars. In 2014 the Twins signed Huascar Ynoa for an $800,000 bonus. He was later traded to Atlanta for Jaime Garcia. Ynoa put up 1.4 fWAR in just 17 starts for the Braves in 2021, managing a 27% K%. Another significant free-agent signing in 2014 was from the Diamondbacks organization. Jhoan Duran, a lanky, hard-throwing RHP, signed for just $65,000. He’s now the #5 overall prospect in the Twins organization. In 2015 the Twins went bigger, signing Wander Javier, the #8 overall prospect, to a $4 million bonus. Javier’s career has been largely derailed by injuries. He struck out 34% of the time and managed just a 86 wRC+ at A+ Cedar Rapids in 2021. Gilberto Celestino was also signed by the Astros in 2015. The #7 prospect came to the Twins by way of the Ryan Pressly trade. Lastly, of note, two prospects further down the MLB Pipeline rankings in 2015? Juan Soto (#22) and Fernando Tatis Jr (#27). 2018 - Current - Too Early to Tell It’s difficult to draw conclusions from 2018 onwards as prospects have had limited time in the minors, particularly when considering a lost 2020 season. In 2018, Misael Urbina was signed to a $2.75 million bonus. The Venezuelan OF struggled at A ball last season, but with time on his side at just 19 years old, is an extremely promising prospect and ranked #12 overall in the Twins system. Emmanuel Rodriguez was the big get in 2019. He was signed to a $2.5 million bonus. The left-handed OF is currently the Twins #20 overall prospect, after being ranked #8 in his international free agent class. Rodriguez’s professional career began in earnest in 2021, where he managed a 124 wRC+ and slugged 10 HR in just 37 games. Rodriguez is one to keep an eye on in 2022. Finally, in 2020, the Twins signed Danny De Andrade, another diminutive infield prospect, who currently sits at #24 in the Twins system. Ranked as the #16 IFA in his class, De Andrade projects as a strong hitter for both average and solid power and has the defensive chops to remain at shortstop. De Andrade managed a .340 OBP in his first season with the DSL Twins. What’s Next? International scouting, and free agency, is a complex, challenging lottery. For a mid-market organization like the Twins, it’s critical in adding organizational talent, and potentially, adding impact MLB level talent. Throughout the week, Cody and I will have offensive and defensive profiles of the three major prospects linked to Minnesota, starting tomorrow with the younger brother of an MLB superstar. View full article
  9. Luis Arraez is an extremely popular player. This is known. Merely bringing up the idea of trading him can stir up considerable emotion and anger, as I've learned here and on Twitter. I get it. It's easy to see why he is so popular. Arraez has earned the affinity of casual fans and hardcores alike. His consistent .300 batting averages, in an era where those are increasingly rare, endear him to the more traditional follower. For those who gravitate more toward sabermetrics and advanced stats, it is the healthy OBPs driven by Arraez's bat and discipline that define his indispensable value. Everyone can agree that his personality and his amusing mannerisms on the field are treasures. Arraez is a joy to behold. But the front office can't make decisions based solely on likability or popularity if they want to steer this ship back into contention. They need to make savvy moves and opportunistic improvements. They need to make hard choices. Trading Arraez would certainly qualify, but the logic is undeniable: The 24-year-old's considerable strengths are balanced by significant detriments. His knees have already proven to be a chronic issue at his young age. He's not a defensive asset anywhere on the field. He doesn't hit for any power. Despite these drawbacks, he'd clearly be a coveted asset on the trade market. Arraez is still at the front end of his physical prime, with three remaining years of team control. He's a bona fide OBP machine at the top of the lineup, and still has a chance to develop some pop. His defensive versatility could be viewed as highly appealing for many teams. However... Arraez is very redundant within the Twins' roster planning. The two positions he's most capable of playing — second and third — are manned by two of the team's best veteran players, who are both under guaranteed contract for the next two years. Meanwhile, top prospects Austin Martin and Jose Miranda also seem destined to end up at one of the three positions Arraez has played most (2B/3B/LF). A year ago, ultra-plugged national reporter Ken Rosenthal mentioned the idea of Arraez being floated as a trade piece, suggesting the Twins had at least entertained such discussions. That was before the arrival of Martin and the emergence of Miranda. In the present situation, there's an urgency to clear a logjam and acquire impact pitching in the process. Arraez doesn't necessarily have to be the guy sent out in such an undertaking, but he sure strikes me as the most likely. Are fans ready for that? Is the front office ready for the reaction that would likely follow? How about ownership, which was reportedly applying pressure for a Byron Buxton contract extension in part because of dwindling fan morale? The Twins and their decision makers aren't exactly on firm footing in the eyes of a fanbase beaten down by a brutal season and totally inactive offseason thus far. If they make a move like this, the return had better be undeniably strong, as well as the messaging. 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
  10. The Minnesota Twins may be active on the trade market once the MLB lockout ends, could Max Kepler be on his way out? I discuss Kepler's trade value, as well as Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver and Taylor Rogers.
  11. The Minnesota Twins may be active on the trade market once the MLB lockout ends, could Max Kepler be on his way out? I discuss Kepler's trade value, as well as Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver and Taylor Rogers. View full video
  12. The international free agent signing period will get underway on January 15th. After being delayed by the pandemic, the current crop of IFAs can sign with MLB teams provided they turn 17 before September 1st, 2022. This week at Twins Daily, Cody Christie and I will look at the Twins history in International Free Agency, dating back to 2009. What were the Twins' biggest swings and misses? Where did they acquire or miss out on value? Later in the week, we’ll provide offensive and defensive profiles for three prospects likely to sign with the Twins. Note: The current MLB lockout WILL NOT impact international free agent signing as this period has been delayed since last summer. 2009 - The 99th Percentile Outcome Year In 2009, the Twins had a defining year in international free agency. They signed: Miguel Sano to a $3.15 million signing bonus Max Kepler to an $800,000 signing bonus Jorge Polanco to a $700,000 signing bonus The majority of international free agents don’t make it to the majors, let alone have multi-year MLB careers, let alone get extended by the teams that signed them. To have signed three players which fit that description in one signing cycle is a remarkable outcome. It’s not melodramatic to suggest that the IFA period in 2009 changed the trajectory of the Twins franchise. In 2021, Sano, Kepler, and Polanco formed core pieces in the Twins lineup. Kepler and Polanco, in particular, are signed to owner-friendly long-term deals. Last season, the three combined for 6.2 fWAR, just south of $50 million in value. Not bad for a $4.6 million investment. 2013 - 2017 - Twins Find Value, Miss on Big Names In 2013, the Twins signed a diminutive Venezuelan infielder to a $40,000 signing bonus. For an international free agent, this money is an afterthought, a lottery ticket. Throughout six MiLB seasons, he managed a .310 AVG, and .385 OBP. He already had a nickname when he came into the Twins system, ‘La Regadera’ (the sprinkler) due to his ability to spray the ball all over the field. His name? Luis Arraez. Arraez is a great reminder that international free agency is a lottery. Often the biggest name prospects underachieve, and players signed to middling or small bonuses can become superstars. In 2014 the Twins signed Huascar Ynoa for an $800,000 bonus. He was later traded to Atlanta for Jaime Garcia. Ynoa put up 1.4 fWAR in just 17 starts for the Braves in 2021, managing a 27% K%. Another significant free-agent signing in 2014 was from the Diamondbacks organization. Jhoan Duran, a lanky, hard-throwing RHP, signed for just $65,000. He’s now the #5 overall prospect in the Twins organization. In 2015 the Twins went bigger, signing Wander Javier, the #8 overall prospect, to a $4 million bonus. Javier’s career has been largely derailed by injuries. He struck out 34% of the time and managed just a 86 wRC+ at A+ Cedar Rapids in 2021. Gilberto Celestino was also signed by the Astros in 2015. The #7 prospect came to the Twins by way of the Ryan Pressly trade. Lastly, of note, two prospects further down the MLB Pipeline rankings in 2015? Juan Soto (#22) and Fernando Tatis Jr (#27). 2018 - Current - Too Early to Tell It’s difficult to draw conclusions from 2018 onwards as prospects have had limited time in the minors, particularly when considering a lost 2020 season. In 2018, Misael Urbina was signed to a $2.75 million bonus. The Venezuelan OF struggled at A ball last season, but with time on his side at just 19 years old, is an extremely promising prospect and ranked #12 overall in the Twins system. Emmanuel Rodriguez was the big get in 2019. He was signed to a $2.5 million bonus. The left-handed OF is currently the Twins #20 overall prospect, after being ranked #8 in his international free agent class. Rodriguez’s professional career began in earnest in 2021, where he managed a 124 wRC+ and slugged 10 HR in just 37 games. Rodriguez is one to keep an eye on in 2022. Finally, in 2020, the Twins signed Danny De Andrade, another diminutive infield prospect, who currently sits at #24 in the Twins system. Ranked as the #16 IFA in his class, De Andrade projects as a strong hitter for both average and solid power and has the defensive chops to remain at shortstop. De Andrade managed a .340 OBP in his first season with the DSL Twins. What’s Next? International scouting, and free agency, is a complex, challenging lottery. For a mid-market organization like the Twins, it’s critical in adding organizational talent, and potentially, adding impact MLB level talent. Throughout the week, Cody and I will have offensive and defensive profiles of the three major prospects linked to Minnesota, starting tomorrow with the younger brother of an MLB superstar.
  13. Continuing our rankings of the most valuable player assets in the Minnesota Twins organization, we highlight our picks for 11 through 15. This list attempts to answer a simple question: Which 20 players and prospects are most indispensable in the team's quest to win a championship? Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment. Here are the players we've ranked so far: 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP From there, we dive into the top 15. Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 11 through 15 15. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 2021 Ranking: NR The system's shining star of 2021. Since being drafted in the second round back in 2016, Miranda always seemed on the verge of a breakout, and last year it finally came. In 127 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he slashed .344/.401/.572 with 30 homers and 94 RBIs. The infielder's emergence was no accident. Similar to former Twin (and fellow Puerto Rican) Eddie Rosario, Miranda is gifted with amazing bat-to-ball skills, which can lead to overly aggressive tendencies. In 2021, the 23-year-old turned a corner that Rosario never really did. "At instructs last fall, our guys worked with Jose on the value of hard contact, of going deeper into counts if it meant getting a better pitch,” Derek Falvey told Phil Miller. “He saw the advantage of patience.” That's not to say drawing walks was a strength for Miranda. He's an aggressive hitter who wants to swing, and in 2021 he did damage. So much that it's impossible to dismiss as a one-off outlier from a perennial underperformer. The infielder's bat is legit. The question is HOW legit, and where will he settle in defensively. 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2021 Ranking: 12 In the last installment, I talked about the clustered grouping of minor-league pitchers at the back end of this list. As a composite, they're pivotal to the franchise's future, but individually, none have separated all that much. Duran and Jordan Balazovic are the pitching prospects in this system that have separated. Duran's demonstrated upside may exceed that of Balazovic, but injuries hold him back as an asset. In 2021, Duran was able to throw only 16 total innings, with an elbow strain costing him nearly the whole season. Surgery was not deemed necessary, and that hopeful sign keeps him relatively high on this year's rankings. With Brusdar Graterol gone, there isn't a more powerful arm in the system. It now seems more likely than ever that Duran will follow Graterol's path and wind up as a flamethrowing reliever, but he can bring huge value in that role. 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2021 Ranking: 13 While he didn't avoid the injury bug entirely, missing the first month with a back issue, Balazovic held up better than most pitching prospects in 2021's return to action. He set a career high with 97 innings, and threw well at Double-A: 3.62 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 9 HR allowed in 20 GS. The fact that 97 IP marked a new personal record shows how slowly Balazovic has come along from a workload standpoint. Drafted back in 2016, he has accrued only 325 total innings as a pro. He's still very much on a starting pitcher track, but it's going to take some time to build his stamina to the level of a traditional SP workload. Maybe that's not what the Twins have in mind. 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 2021 Ranking: 10 Coming into the 2021 season, Larnach was one of the Twins' most outstanding outfield prospects. His debut brought forth both sides of that descriptor: "outstanding" and "prospect." During his first few weeks in the big leagues, Larnach looked like a natural, working counts and driving the ball with authority. Before long he was routinely batting third in Rocco Baldelli's lineups. Then, we were reminded that Larnach is a 24-year-old whose development was rushed by circumstance. While not quite as out-of-place in the majors as Gilberto Celestino, Larnach was definitely called up out of necessity, having only three Triple-A games under his belt after a lost year. To his credit, he handled it well, for a while. Through 32 games and 118 PA, Larnach was slashing .273/.390/.434 with a 29% K-rate. In the next 47 games and 183 PA, he'd slash .193/.279/.298 with a 38% K-rate. He further struggled after returning to Triple-A. It's hard to get a true feel for where he's at, and how heavily we should weigh the flaws that dragged him down after that good start. I tend to lean toward favoring his pedigree, reputation for adjustments, and raw skill. Larnach remains a crux piece for this organization going forward. 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 2021 Ranking: 11 Many won't like to hear it, but this is a very generous ranking for Arraez. He's extremely popular and beloved among fans – understandably so – but there are a number of factors detracting from his value as an asset. First, there are the bad knees. They've frequently forced him off the field, and hobbled him while playing. Not a great long-term indicator for a 24-year-old. Then there is the lack of defensive impact. He's not above-average anywhere he plays, maybe not even average. Also, Arraez hasn't hit for any power, having turned in a paltry .376 slugging percentage last year. It feels necessary to get these drawbacks out of the way, only because anyone who's watched him knows Arraez is special. He has rarefied bat-to-ball skills, and a keen eye at the plate. His on-base proficiency is key to making a power-driven Twins lineup run. Arraez has a .313 average and .374 OBP through three big-league seasons. Those numbers speak for themselves. Though he's not great defensively at any one position, Arraez's ability to hold his own at several could be viewed as a major strength. I'm just not sure it's one that fits well with the Twins and their current situation. Will they trade him? Check back in next week for Part 3, where we'll crack into the top 10 of our rankings! 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
  14. Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment. Here are the players we've ranked so far: 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP From there, we dive into the top 15. Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 11 through 15 15. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 2021 Ranking: NR The system's shining star of 2021. Since being drafted in the second round back in 2016, Miranda always seemed on the verge of a breakout, and last year it finally came. In 127 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he slashed .344/.401/.572 with 30 homers and 94 RBIs. The infielder's emergence was no accident. Similar to former Twin (and fellow Puerto Rican) Eddie Rosario, Miranda is gifted with amazing bat-to-ball skills, which can lead to overly aggressive tendencies. In 2021, the 23-year-old turned a corner that Rosario never really did. "At instructs last fall, our guys worked with Jose on the value of hard contact, of going deeper into counts if it meant getting a better pitch,” Derek Falvey told Phil Miller. “He saw the advantage of patience.” That's not to say drawing walks was a strength for Miranda. He's an aggressive hitter who wants to swing, and in 2021 he did damage. So much that it's impossible to dismiss as a one-off outlier from a perennial underperformer. The infielder's bat is legit. The question is HOW legit, and where will he settle in defensively. 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2021 Ranking: 12 In the last installment, I talked about the clustered grouping of minor-league pitchers at the back end of this list. As a composite, they're pivotal to the franchise's future, but individually, none have separated all that much. Duran and Jordan Balazovic are the pitching prospects in this system that have separated. Duran's demonstrated upside may exceed that of Balazovic, but injuries hold him back as an asset. In 2021, Duran was able to throw only 16 total innings, with an elbow strain costing him nearly the whole season. Surgery was not deemed necessary, and that hopeful sign keeps him relatively high on this year's rankings. With Brusdar Graterol gone, there isn't a more powerful arm in the system. It now seems more likely than ever that Duran will follow Graterol's path and wind up as a flamethrowing reliever, but he can bring huge value in that role. 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2021 Ranking: 13 While he didn't avoid the injury bug entirely, missing the first month with a back issue, Balazovic held up better than most pitching prospects in 2021's return to action. He set a career high with 97 innings, and threw well at Double-A: 3.62 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 9 HR allowed in 20 GS. The fact that 97 IP marked a new personal record shows how slowly Balazovic has come along from a workload standpoint. Drafted back in 2016, he has accrued only 325 total innings as a pro. He's still very much on a starting pitcher track, but it's going to take some time to build his stamina to the level of a traditional SP workload. Maybe that's not what the Twins have in mind. 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 2021 Ranking: 10 Coming into the 2021 season, Larnach was one of the Twins' most outstanding outfield prospects. His debut brought forth both sides of that descriptor: "outstanding" and "prospect." During his first few weeks in the big leagues, Larnach looked like a natural, working counts and driving the ball with authority. Before long he was routinely batting third in Rocco Baldelli's lineups. Then, we were reminded that Larnach is a 24-year-old whose development was rushed by circumstance. While not quite as out-of-place in the majors as Gilberto Celestino, Larnach was definitely called up out of necessity, having only three Triple-A games under his belt after a lost year. To his credit, he handled it well, for a while. Through 32 games and 118 PA, Larnach was slashing .273/.390/.434 with a 29% K-rate. In the next 47 games and 183 PA, he'd slash .193/.279/.298 with a 38% K-rate. He further struggled after returning to Triple-A. It's hard to get a true feel for where he's at, and how heavily we should weigh the flaws that dragged him down after that good start. I tend to lean toward favoring his pedigree, reputation for adjustments, and raw skill. Larnach remains a crux piece for this organization going forward. 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 2021 Ranking: 11 Many won't like to hear it, but this is a very generous ranking for Arraez. He's extremely popular and beloved among fans – understandably so – but there are a number of factors detracting from his value as an asset. First, there are the bad knees. They've frequently forced him off the field, and hobbled him while playing. Not a great long-term indicator for a 24-year-old. Then there is the lack of defensive impact. He's not above-average anywhere he plays, maybe not even average. Also, Arraez hasn't hit for any power, having turned in a paltry .376 slugging percentage last year. It feels necessary to get these drawbacks out of the way, only because anyone who's watched him knows Arraez is special. He has rarefied bat-to-ball skills, and a keen eye at the plate. His on-base proficiency is key to making a power-driven Twins lineup run. Arraez has a .313 average and .374 OBP through three big-league seasons. Those numbers speak for themselves. Though he's not great defensively at any one position, Arraez's ability to hold his own at several could be viewed as a major strength. I'm just not sure it's one that fits well with the Twins and their current situation. Will they trade him? Check back in next week for Part 3, where we'll crack into the top 10 of our rankings! 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
  15. The Minnesota Twins' need for starting pitching has been well-documented, but what if the Twins pivoted and went all-in on offense? The Minnesota Twins have long struggled to acquire top-end starting pitching. This was the case with prior Twins’ front offices and has been the case under Falvey/Levine’s leadership. Whether it is because of injuries (Kenta Maeda) or poor evaluation (J.A. Happ), betting on starting pitchers is extremely risky as the Twins have seen play out season after season. After getting largely shut out from the first wave of free agent starting pitchers, the Twins have now found themselves in a spot where they need to sign Carlos Rodón, trade for starting pitching (they shouldn’t), or be in for another long season with a better shot of fighting for the number one pick in the draft than a playoff spot. But what if there is another direction that the Twins could go? What if the Twins went all in on offense? While there is a shortage of impact starting pitching left on the free agency market, there are no shortage of bats. This surplus of bats on the market could present an opportunity for the Twins to pivot, settle for back-of-the-rotation arms, and instead go heavy on bats to bolster up what is already a strength of the Minnesota Twins. Names like Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Nicolas Castellanos, and Michael Conforto are all all-star bats and are all still available as free agents. Not only is there a nice supply of big bats left on the free agent market, but the Twins have a need to fill multiple holes in their lineup as well, including shortstop, outfield and (potentially) designated hitter. The Minnesota Twins committed to Byron Buxton this offseason with a seven year contract. Additionally, the Twins have the young bats of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin ready to contribute for the next decade as well. An intriguing path for the Minnesota Twins to take would be for them to sign even more bats, completely lean into their offense and take on the identity of a bat-first team that will out-hit all of its opponents for years to come. Assuming that the Twins have $55M to spend this offseason, they would have the funds to bring in two superstar bats this offseason like Trevor Story and Kris Bryant. They could then fill out the rest of their team with fringe starting pitching, or trade Max Kepler and a marginal prospect for a moldable arm. Yes, this would leave the Twins with quite the shaky starting rotation, but with a lineup core of Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, and Alex Kirilloff, on top of Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco. John Bonnes could be pitching for the Minnesota Twins and they’d be in good shape with that potent lineup. I mean..just look at this team: You hear about football teams that take on an offensive identity and out-score their opponents in order to win games, but you hardly find that in baseball. The Twins are in a position that they could go all in on offense and outscore the rest of the league by producing fireworks all Summer at Target Field. What do you think? View full article
  16. The Minnesota Twins largely missed the boat on the big time free agents this offseason, as only a few remain after the pre-lockout frenzy. While the trade market could be the next place to look, the front office would be wise to steer clear. The two areas that the Minnesota Twins had an immense need heading into this offseason were starting pitcher and shortstop. Now, the cupboards are all but bare in each of these areas with 13 of Aaron Gleeman’s top 15 free agent starting pitchers and four of Gleeman’s top six free agent shortstops off the board entirely. Aside from signing one of the star free agent shortstops (not likely) or Carlos Rodón (possible), the Minnesota Twins will need to utilize the trade market if they want to bring in any difference-making talent this offseason. Doing so, though, would not be wise. I’m not breaking any news here, but the Minnesota Twins were not a good baseball team last year. The Twins just had their worst season since 2016, and did not show at any point in the season that they were on the verge of being a successful team. In only one full month in 2021 did the Minnesota Twins finish with a record above .500, when they went 14-13 in the month of August. On top of that, the Twins traded away their best starting pitcher since Johan Santana and their best power hitter since Jim Thome. The most likely path for the Minnesota Twins to acquire difference-making talent via the trade market would be by packaging one (or multiple) future prospects to a rebuilding team in exchange for a win-now player. Trade ideas as proposed by Twins Daily writer, JD Cameron, include Trevor Larnach for Chris Bassit or Jordan Balazovic and Ryan Jeffers for Sonny Gray. While the exact prospects that the Twins would need to part with in these trades could be different, the core idea remains the same…the Twins would need to part with key future prospects if they want to acquire top-shelf talent. The problem, and why they should avoid making deals this offseason, is that the Twins have not shown that they are close to competing and that adding a starting pitcher like Bassit or Gray (or both, even!) would suddenly turn the Twins into contenders. The Twins finished last in the American League Central last season and got worse, while the White Sox, Tigers and Royals all figure to improve. Trading away future pieces such as a Trevor Larnach or a Jordan Balazovic only to marginally improve a still-bad baseball team could prove catastrophic in terms of rebuilding efforts down the line. The other option that the Twins could look at on the trade market would be to trade away a non-prospect batter for some top-line pitching talent. Names like Max Kepler or Luis Arraez could potentially be expendable on a team with more hitting depth than pitching. While this type of trade would prove more palatable for an underwhelming Twins team, they are very difficult to come by. The teams that are looking to add MLB-ready bats are typically not the teams that are willing to part with MLB-ready arms. While it’s possible, I don’t see the Twins making this kind of trade. The best path for the Minnesota Twins to follow in 2022 would be to round out their pitching rotation this offseason with number three or four starting pitchers such as Michael Pineda or Danny Duffy. Then, simply let the season play out. If the Twins’ young arms show that they are the real deal and in turn the Twins prove to be more competitive in 2022 than predicted, Minnesota can then move prospects for win-now arms at the trade deadline. Making a trade now, though, could prove extremely costly. View full article
  17. The Minnesota Twins have long struggled to acquire top-end starting pitching. This was the case with prior Twins’ front offices and has been the case under Falvey/Levine’s leadership. Whether it is because of injuries (Kenta Maeda) or poor evaluation (J.A. Happ), betting on starting pitchers is extremely risky as the Twins have seen play out season after season. After getting largely shut out from the first wave of free agent starting pitchers, the Twins have now found themselves in a spot where they need to sign Carlos Rodón, trade for starting pitching (they shouldn’t), or be in for another long season with a better shot of fighting for the number one pick in the draft than a playoff spot. But what if there is another direction that the Twins could go? What if the Twins went all in on offense? While there is a shortage of impact starting pitching left on the free agency market, there are no shortage of bats. This surplus of bats on the market could present an opportunity for the Twins to pivot, settle for back-of-the-rotation arms, and instead go heavy on bats to bolster up what is already a strength of the Minnesota Twins. Names like Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Nicolas Castellanos, and Michael Conforto are all all-star bats and are all still available as free agents. Not only is there a nice supply of big bats left on the free agent market, but the Twins have a need to fill multiple holes in their lineup as well, including shortstop, outfield and (potentially) designated hitter. The Minnesota Twins committed to Byron Buxton this offseason with a seven year contract. Additionally, the Twins have the young bats of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin ready to contribute for the next decade as well. An intriguing path for the Minnesota Twins to take would be for them to sign even more bats, completely lean into their offense and take on the identity of a bat-first team that will out-hit all of its opponents for years to come. Assuming that the Twins have $55M to spend this offseason, they would have the funds to bring in two superstar bats this offseason like Trevor Story and Kris Bryant. They could then fill out the rest of their team with fringe starting pitching, or trade Max Kepler and a marginal prospect for a moldable arm. Yes, this would leave the Twins with quite the shaky starting rotation, but with a lineup core of Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, and Alex Kirilloff, on top of Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco. John Bonnes could be pitching for the Minnesota Twins and they’d be in good shape with that potent lineup. I mean..just look at this team: You hear about football teams that take on an offensive identity and out-score their opponents in order to win games, but you hardly find that in baseball. The Twins are in a position that they could go all in on offense and outscore the rest of the league by producing fireworks all Summer at Target Field. What do you think?
  18. The two areas that the Minnesota Twins had an immense need heading into this offseason were starting pitcher and shortstop. Now, the cupboards are all but bare in each of these areas with 13 of Aaron Gleeman’s top 15 free agent starting pitchers and four of Gleeman’s top six free agent shortstops off the board entirely. Aside from signing one of the star free agent shortstops (not likely) or Carlos Rodón (possible), the Minnesota Twins will need to utilize the trade market if they want to bring in any difference-making talent this offseason. Doing so, though, would not be wise. I’m not breaking any news here, but the Minnesota Twins were not a good baseball team last year. The Twins just had their worst season since 2016, and did not show at any point in the season that they were on the verge of being a successful team. In only one full month in 2021 did the Minnesota Twins finish with a record above .500, when they went 14-13 in the month of August. On top of that, the Twins traded away their best starting pitcher since Johan Santana and their best power hitter since Jim Thome. The most likely path for the Minnesota Twins to acquire difference-making talent via the trade market would be by packaging one (or multiple) future prospects to a rebuilding team in exchange for a win-now player. Trade ideas as proposed by Twins Daily writer, JD Cameron, include Trevor Larnach for Chris Bassit or Jordan Balazovic and Ryan Jeffers for Sonny Gray. While the exact prospects that the Twins would need to part with in these trades could be different, the core idea remains the same…the Twins would need to part with key future prospects if they want to acquire top-shelf talent. The problem, and why they should avoid making deals this offseason, is that the Twins have not shown that they are close to competing and that adding a starting pitcher like Bassit or Gray (or both, even!) would suddenly turn the Twins into contenders. The Twins finished last in the American League Central last season and got worse, while the White Sox, Tigers and Royals all figure to improve. Trading away future pieces such as a Trevor Larnach or a Jordan Balazovic only to marginally improve a still-bad baseball team could prove catastrophic in terms of rebuilding efforts down the line. The other option that the Twins could look at on the trade market would be to trade away a non-prospect batter for some top-line pitching talent. Names like Max Kepler or Luis Arraez could potentially be expendable on a team with more hitting depth than pitching. While this type of trade would prove more palatable for an underwhelming Twins team, they are very difficult to come by. The teams that are looking to add MLB-ready bats are typically not the teams that are willing to part with MLB-ready arms. While it’s possible, I don’t see the Twins making this kind of trade. The best path for the Minnesota Twins to follow in 2022 would be to round out their pitching rotation this offseason with number three or four starting pitchers such as Michael Pineda or Danny Duffy. Then, simply let the season play out. If the Twins’ young arms show that they are the real deal and in turn the Twins prove to be more competitive in 2022 than predicted, Minnesota can then move prospects for win-now arms at the trade deadline. Making a trade now, though, could prove extremely costly.
  19. In the third of a three-part series, we look at the Miami Marlins as a trade partner for the Minnesota Twins to acquire starting pitching post-lockout. Who might be a fit? How much might they cost? As the lockout meanders into the holiday season, Twins fans find themselves in starting pitching limbo. The floor of the rotation was raised marginally by the addition of Dylan Bundy prior to the lockout. Minnesota, however, still has significant business to accomplish if they are to field a competitive rotation, with only Bundy, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober currently locked into spots for 2022. In the third of a three-part series (part one - Cincinnati Reds, part two - Oakland Athletics), I’ll look at some potential pitching targets from an organization flush with starting pitching capital, the Miami Marlins. NOTE: The trades mentioned are designed to give an approximate idea of the value of each potential starting pitching addition. They don’t necessarily correlate with the exact needs of the Marlins. Pablo Lopez At just 25, Lopez has improved both steadily and significantly since he made his MLB debut in 2018. In 102 2/3 innings pitched in 2021, Lopez accumulated a 3.29 FIP, 2.3 fWAR, a 27.5% K% and a measly 6.2% BB% Talk about a high floor. Lopez relies on a four-pitch mix including a mid-90s fastball, an excellent changeup, a cutter, and a curveball. Lopez is under team control until 2025 and would be pricey, but this is the position the Twins find themselves if they want to improve their rotation significantly through trade. Possible Trade: The Twins trade INF Luis Arraez, C Ryan Jeffers and a PTBNL to Miami for RHP Pablo Lopez Jesus Luzardo A former consensus top pitching prospect, very little has gone right for Luzardo since his first significant MLB stint in 2019 for the Athletics. In 95 MLB innings in 2021 between the A’s and Marlins, Luzardo managed a 22.4% K% (fine), an 11% BB% (not fine), a 5.48 FIP, and -0.2 fWAR (yikes). So, what’s to like here? For one, you don’t sit atop prospect rankings for multiple years for no reason. Luzardo still has electric stuff. A fastball that sits at 95 mph at the low end and a good slider he throws around 23% of the time. This combination falls into the wheelhouse of the Twins pitching preferences, but they’d have to be confident in next steps for Luzardo to pull the trigger on trading for him. Possible Trade: The Twins trade OF Brent Rooker and RHP Cole Sands to Miami for LHP Jesus Luzardo Sixto Sanchez The Twins would be trading into the upper echelons of ‘stuff’ if they were to acquire Sanchez. Still a top pitching prospect, the 23-year-old boasts front of the rotation firepower. Sanchez relies on a fastball that sits at 98 mph. It gets fewer strikeouts than a pitch of that velocity should due to a lack of movement, but it’s his changeup that is the star of the show. In just 40 MLB innings in 2021, Sanchez had a 20.9% K%, 7% BB%, a 3.50 FIP, and accumulated 1.0 fWAR (that’s around 4.5 fWAR pace over a season). Sanchez could be poised for a monster 2022. Possible Trade: The Twins trade OF Max Kepler to the Marlins for RHP Sixto Sanchez The Marlins have a huge amount of additional starting pitching assets, including Trevor Rogers, Elieser Hernandez, Edward Cabrera, and Max Meyer who I chose not to include as targets as I felt the Marlins would be unlikely to part with them (Rogers and Meyer) or the Twins wouldn’t be confident enough in the floor they would give the rotation to execute the trade. Which of these targets feel like the best fit for the Twins? What direction do you think the team will take to improve the rotation when the lockout ends? Join the discussion below. View full article
  20. As the lockout meanders into the holiday season, Twins fans find themselves in starting pitching limbo. The floor of the rotation was raised marginally by the addition of Dylan Bundy prior to the lockout. Minnesota, however, still has significant business to accomplish if they are to field a competitive rotation, with only Bundy, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober currently locked into spots for 2022. In the third of a three-part series (part one - Cincinnati Reds, part two - Oakland Athletics), I’ll look at some potential pitching targets from an organization flush with starting pitching capital, the Miami Marlins. NOTE: The trades mentioned are designed to give an approximate idea of the value of each potential starting pitching addition. They don’t necessarily correlate with the exact needs of the Marlins. Pablo Lopez At just 25, Lopez has improved both steadily and significantly since he made his MLB debut in 2018. In 102 2/3 innings pitched in 2021, Lopez accumulated a 3.29 FIP, 2.3 fWAR, a 27.5% K% and a measly 6.2% BB% Talk about a high floor. Lopez relies on a four-pitch mix including a mid-90s fastball, an excellent changeup, a cutter, and a curveball. Lopez is under team control until 2025 and would be pricey, but this is the position the Twins find themselves if they want to improve their rotation significantly through trade. Possible Trade: The Twins trade INF Luis Arraez, C Ryan Jeffers and a PTBNL to Miami for RHP Pablo Lopez Jesus Luzardo A former consensus top pitching prospect, very little has gone right for Luzardo since his first significant MLB stint in 2019 for the Athletics. In 95 MLB innings in 2021 between the A’s and Marlins, Luzardo managed a 22.4% K% (fine), an 11% BB% (not fine), a 5.48 FIP, and -0.2 fWAR (yikes). So, what’s to like here? For one, you don’t sit atop prospect rankings for multiple years for no reason. Luzardo still has electric stuff. A fastball that sits at 95 mph at the low end and a good slider he throws around 23% of the time. This combination falls into the wheelhouse of the Twins pitching preferences, but they’d have to be confident in next steps for Luzardo to pull the trigger on trading for him. Possible Trade: The Twins trade OF Brent Rooker and RHP Cole Sands to Miami for LHP Jesus Luzardo Sixto Sanchez The Twins would be trading into the upper echelons of ‘stuff’ if they were to acquire Sanchez. Still a top pitching prospect, the 23-year-old boasts front of the rotation firepower. Sanchez relies on a fastball that sits at 98 mph. It gets fewer strikeouts than a pitch of that velocity should due to a lack of movement, but it’s his changeup that is the star of the show. In just 40 MLB innings in 2021, Sanchez had a 20.9% K%, 7% BB%, a 3.50 FIP, and accumulated 1.0 fWAR (that’s around 4.5 fWAR pace over a season). Sanchez could be poised for a monster 2022. Possible Trade: The Twins trade OF Max Kepler to the Marlins for RHP Sixto Sanchez The Marlins have a huge amount of additional starting pitching assets, including Trevor Rogers, Elieser Hernandez, Edward Cabrera, and Max Meyer who I chose not to include as targets as I felt the Marlins would be unlikely to part with them (Rogers and Meyer) or the Twins wouldn’t be confident enough in the floor they would give the rotation to execute the trade. Which of these targets feel like the best fit for the Twins? What direction do you think the team will take to improve the rotation when the lockout ends? Join the discussion below.
  21. Josh Donaldson is two years into one of the biggest free-agent contracts in team history. With an aging Donaldson, what prospects are ready to take over at the hot corner? Current Third Baseman: Josh Donaldson Over the last two seasons, the Twins have gotten what they expected from Donaldson. He has hit .243/.355/.474 (.829) with 28 doubles and 32 home runs in 163 games. Donaldson has posted an OPS+ of 127 or higher in both seasons, which is better than his season in Atlanta. Offensive regression is expected with a player like Donaldson as he reaches his mid-to-late 30s, but that has yet to be the case. Defensively, Donaldson made 91 starts at third base last season, and age might be catching up to him on this side of the ball. He was worth one defensive run saved and posted a career-worst -6.2 UZR. 40-Man Roster Options Minnesota's best defensive third baseman last season was Luis Arraez. Only four AL third basemen ranked higher than him according to SABR's Defensive Index. This may surprise some fans because the Twins moved Arraez to a utility position last season because his defense was poor at second base. If the Twins use Donaldson more at DH, Arraez can continue to get more reps at third base. Minnesota's long-term third baseman looks to be Jose Miranda, the 2021 Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year. At Double- and Triple-A, Miranda hit .344/.401/.572 (.973) with 32 doubles and 30 home runs. It was one of the biggest breakout seasons in recent Twins history. Minnesota left him unprotected in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, so he was an easy addition to the 40-man roster this winter. Miranda has firmly planted himself in Minnesota's long-term plans. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's third base depth. Minnesota has multiple third-base options populating the rosters in the upper minors. Miranda likely won't be in the big leagues to start the season, so he will return to St. Paul to start the season. Andrew Bechtold has a chance to join him on the Saints roster, but he is also eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Last season, he played the entire year at Double-A and posted a .786 OPS with 23 doubles and 18 home runs. In the Arizona Fall League, Bechtold went 14-for-59 (.237) with four doubles. He can play both corner infield positions, and he caught five games in the AFL. Minnesota selected Seth Gray in the 4th round back in 2019 from Wright State University. He played all of the 2021 season at High-A and hit .212/.321/.333 (.655) with 27 extra-base hits in 113 games. He was slightly older than the average age of the competition this season, so it seems likely for him to play most of the 2022 season at Double-A. In the minor's lower levels, the Twins have two 22-year-old players that took different paths to this point. Jake Rucker was taken in the 7th round in 2021 from the University of Tennessee, while Wander Valdez was signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2016. Rucker posted a .700 OPS in 22 games after being drafted last year. Valdez split time between Fort Myers and the FCL Twins with a .689 OPS in 55 games. Overall, Minnesota has a veteran at the MLB level with a top prospect ready to debut. What do you think about the organization's third base depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base View full article
  22. Last season, Jorge Polanco was the Twins' Most Valuable Player after he shifted to being a full-time second baseman. Even with Polanco, what does the future of second base look like in the Twins organization? Current Second Baseman: Jorge Polanco Entering last season, Polanco struggled through parts of the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He dealt with ankle issues that required surgery in back-to-back offseasons. Minnesota shifted him to second base, putting together his most valuable season in his big-league career. In 152 games, he hit .269/.323/.503 (.826) with 35 doubles and 33 home runs. Defensively, he finished the season as the AL's fourth highest-ranked second baseman, according to SDI. Minnesota used him occasionally at shortstop, but it's in the team's best interest to keep him at second base. 40-Man Roster Options Luis Arráez and Nick Gordon are two potential second basemen on the 40-man roster. However, both players fit better into a utility role for the team. Last season, Arráez posted a 105 OPS+, and he was one of the league's best defenders at third base. Gordon, a former first-round pick, made his big-league debut in 2021, but he is already 25-years-old. He showed some defensive flexibility that may be valuable in a bench role, and he hit .240/.292/.355 (.647) in 73 games. Arráez and Gordon can fill in at second base to keep Polanco's ankles healthy if the need arises. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's second base depth. Minnesota has multiple second-base options populating the rosters in the upper minors. Spencer Steer was a third-round pick in 2019, and he has shown defensive flexibility throughout his professional career, including playing over 40 games at both second and third base last season. In 2021, he split time between High- and Double-A while hitting .254/.348/.484 with 45 extra-base hits in 110 games. Next season, he will be 24 years old, and he should see time at Triple-A by the season's end. At Double-A, there are a pair of intriguing young options. Minnesota signed Yunior Severino for over $2.5 million after MLB penalized the Braves for infractions committed on the international market. Last year, he split time between Low- and High-A with a .802 OPS. At 21-years-old, he was young for both levels, but the Twins left him unprotected in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. Edouard Julien made his professional debut last year and hit .266/.434/.480 (.914) between Low- and High-A. He collected 110 walks in 112 games and stole 34 bases while only being caught five times. Anthony Prato was the organization's 7th round pick in 2019, and he played at three different levels last season. As a 23-year-old, he was older than the average age of the competition at each level, and he was limited to 47 games due to a broken hamate. Minnesota drafted Alerick Soularie in the second round in 2020, but his pro-debut was delayed because of a broken foot. After returning from injury, he posted a .668 OPS in 28 games in Fort Myers. The Twins took Mikey Perez in the 15th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, and he went 16-for-30 with six extra-base hits in his pro-debut. Overall, Minnesota has multiple strong options at the MLB level with a few prospects that should move up the ladder during the 2022 campaign. What do you think about the organization's depth at second base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base View full article
  23. Current Third Baseman: Josh Donaldson Over the last two seasons, the Twins have gotten what they expected from Donaldson. He has hit .243/.355/.474 (.829) with 28 doubles and 32 home runs in 163 games. Donaldson has posted an OPS+ of 127 or higher in both seasons, which is better than his season in Atlanta. Offensive regression is expected with a player like Donaldson as he reaches his mid-to-late 30s, but that has yet to be the case. Defensively, Donaldson made 91 starts at third base last season, and age might be catching up to him on this side of the ball. He was worth one defensive run saved and posted a career-worst -6.2 UZR. 40-Man Roster Options Minnesota's best defensive third baseman last season was Luis Arraez. Only four AL third basemen ranked higher than him according to SABR's Defensive Index. This may surprise some fans because the Twins moved Arraez to a utility position last season because his defense was poor at second base. If the Twins use Donaldson more at DH, Arraez can continue to get more reps at third base. Minnesota's long-term third baseman looks to be Jose Miranda, the 2021 Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year. At Double- and Triple-A, Miranda hit .344/.401/.572 (.973) with 32 doubles and 30 home runs. It was one of the biggest breakout seasons in recent Twins history. Minnesota left him unprotected in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, so he was an easy addition to the 40-man roster this winter. Miranda has firmly planted himself in Minnesota's long-term plans. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's third base depth. Minnesota has multiple third-base options populating the rosters in the upper minors. Miranda likely won't be in the big leagues to start the season, so he will return to St. Paul to start the season. Andrew Bechtold has a chance to join him on the Saints roster, but he is also eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Last season, he played the entire year at Double-A and posted a .786 OPS with 23 doubles and 18 home runs. In the Arizona Fall League, Bechtold went 14-for-59 (.237) with four doubles. He can play both corner infield positions, and he caught five games in the AFL. Minnesota selected Seth Gray in the 4th round back in 2019 from Wright State University. He played all of the 2021 season at High-A and hit .212/.321/.333 (.655) with 27 extra-base hits in 113 games. He was slightly older than the average age of the competition this season, so it seems likely for him to play most of the 2022 season at Double-A. In the minor's lower levels, the Twins have two 22-year-old players that took different paths to this point. Jake Rucker was taken in the 7th round in 2021 from the University of Tennessee, while Wander Valdez was signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2016. Rucker posted a .700 OPS in 22 games after being drafted last year. Valdez split time between Fort Myers and the FCL Twins with a .689 OPS in 55 games. Overall, Minnesota has a veteran at the MLB level with a top prospect ready to debut. What do you think about the organization's third base depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base
  24. Current Second Baseman: Jorge Polanco Entering last season, Polanco struggled through parts of the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He dealt with ankle issues that required surgery in back-to-back offseasons. Minnesota shifted him to second base, putting together his most valuable season in his big-league career. In 152 games, he hit .269/.323/.503 (.826) with 35 doubles and 33 home runs. Defensively, he finished the season as the AL's fourth highest-ranked second baseman, according to SDI. Minnesota used him occasionally at shortstop, but it's in the team's best interest to keep him at second base. 40-Man Roster Options Luis Arráez and Nick Gordon are two potential second basemen on the 40-man roster. However, both players fit better into a utility role for the team. Last season, Arráez posted a 105 OPS+, and he was one of the league's best defenders at third base. Gordon, a former first-round pick, made his big-league debut in 2021, but he is already 25-years-old. He showed some defensive flexibility that may be valuable in a bench role, and he hit .240/.292/.355 (.647) in 73 games. Arráez and Gordon can fill in at second base to keep Polanco's ankles healthy if the need arises. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's second base depth. Minnesota has multiple second-base options populating the rosters in the upper minors. Spencer Steer was a third-round pick in 2019, and he has shown defensive flexibility throughout his professional career, including playing over 40 games at both second and third base last season. In 2021, he split time between High- and Double-A while hitting .254/.348/.484 with 45 extra-base hits in 110 games. Next season, he will be 24 years old, and he should see time at Triple-A by the season's end. At Double-A, there are a pair of intriguing young options. Minnesota signed Yunior Severino for over $2.5 million after MLB penalized the Braves for infractions committed on the international market. Last year, he split time between Low- and High-A with a .802 OPS. At 21-years-old, he was young for both levels, but the Twins left him unprotected in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. Edouard Julien made his professional debut last year and hit .266/.434/.480 (.914) between Low- and High-A. He collected 110 walks in 112 games and stole 34 bases while only being caught five times. Anthony Prato was the organization's 7th round pick in 2019, and he played at three different levels last season. As a 23-year-old, he was older than the average age of the competition at each level, and he was limited to 47 games due to a broken hamate. Minnesota drafted Alerick Soularie in the second round in 2020, but his pro-debut was delayed because of a broken foot. After returning from injury, he posted a .668 OPS in 28 games in Fort Myers. The Twins took Mikey Perez in the 15th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, and he went 16-for-30 with six extra-base hits in his pro-debut. Overall, Minnesota has multiple strong options at the MLB level with a few prospects that should move up the ladder during the 2022 campaign. What do you think about the organization's depth at second base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base
  25. It’s long been the assumption that the Minnesota Twins would be active on the trade market this offseason. While they have money to spend, the best fit could be in shuffling the roster and grabbing players from other organizations. That said, are there pieces other teams will covet? That seems like a silly question because the answer is undoubtedly yes; however, many of Minnesota’s most logical pieces to go have some very real warts. How does that position them with potential suitors, and what does it mean when it comes to crafting a package for a deal? Going through some of the expected names, it’s worth wondering who can overcome the drawbacks, and it will be interesting to see how Derek Falvey positions each asset. Max Kepler Kepler is probably the guy most expected to be moved. With a glut of corner-outfield talent behind him, Minnesota could try to open up an avenue for playing time and allow Kepler the opportunity to flourish somewhere else. Kepler is on a team-friendly deal and plays incredible defense, but the problem is his bat has never blossomed to be what was expected. After the 123 OPS+ in 2019, it dipped to 109 in 2020 and just 98 last year. There’s power from the left side, but a corner outfielder putting up an OPS in the low-.700’s isn’t exactly enticing. The value is likely on an upside play, and the hope that 29 is the year Kepler finally puts it all together for good. Luis Arraez Another popular name when constructing hypothetical trades for the Twins, Arraez is known for being one of the best pure hitters in the game. He has extreme plate discipline and is nearly impossible to strike out. Add in the career .313 batting average, and you’ve got a modern-day Tony Gwynn. Therein lies the problem, though, that skillset translates much differently today. Arraez doesn’t hit for power (just six homers in nearly 1,000 plate appearances), and he isn’t exactly fast either. He can play second base but is stretched there defensively, and both third and left field are adequate roles at best for him. Add in the bulky knees while being just 24-years-old, and that’s probably not something that’s going to get better with age. He’s a utility man with no true defensive home, and while he can be a table-setter, you best have the lineup behind him that can drive in runs. Royce Lewis If you want to start looking at prospects, it’s worth considering the best of the farm. Lewis is a former first overall pick and has been ranked as high as 5th on top 100 prospect lists. He’s now returning following an ACL tear before last season, and he hasn’t played in a minor league game since September 2, 2019. Following the .803 OPS in 2018 as a 19-year-old, Lewis sunk to just a .661 OPS in 2019. He needed to re-establish himself, and reports coming out of St. Paul from the alternative site in 2020 were fantastic. There’s plenty to be uncertain about at this point, though, and it’d be a pretty big misstep to flip such a talent at what could be his lowest value. The Prospect Arms Maybe you want to deal from the pool of depth that should be soon supplementing the big league rotation. Take your pick on the names Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Josh Winder. Each of them is near the top of Minnesota’s pitching prospects, and all of them missed time in 2021 due to injury. The lack of game action in 2020 wreaked havoc on so many this season, but the Twins got hit hard in this group especially. How healthy are they each expected to return, and how does the opposition view those internal beliefs when considering a swap? There’s a lot of boom or bust potential with regards to any of these talents. Mitch Garver Included last because he may currently be the Twins best trade asset, but also the one I least want to see go. Ryan Jeffers has hardly established himself as the next backstop, and while more playing time could aid that, Garver is coming off an .875 OPS. Playing through muscle strains in 2020, it was clear that the 2019 .995 OPS wasn’t simply an outlier. Garver was a late-blooming prospect, but at 31, he will be one of the best catchers in baseball. His bat is a catalyst in the Minnesota lineup, and that production would not be easy to replace. If there’s a struggle in flipping Garver for the right value, it’s probably because most organizations are not focused on upgrades behind the dish. Miami was considered the best suitor but recently addressed the position in acquiring Jacob Stallings from the Pirates. Unlike the rest of this group, Garver is the type of trade asset that looks the best on paper, but I’m all for him staying put. Deals are going to be halted for a while now, but when they resume, Minnesota will have to find a delicate balance between moving players for the right value and hanging onto the ones that they expect to benefit most from. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
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