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  1. With Luis Arraez off to less green pastures, what kind of lineup combinations can we expect, assuming full (or terrible) health? Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports The Twins would seem to have quite a hole to fill in their lineup, and some utility lost given Luis Arraez’s ability to play multiple positions. The reality is that, as much as we love Luis, his production is replaceable (but not his at-bats), and his fielding is very replaceable. He also would have made it difficult for Nick Gordon, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach to get at-bats as they each approach the second half of their twenties. So what kind of lineup combinations can we expect this year sans Arraez? With Joey Gallo and Michael A. Taylor aboard, here’s my projection for opening day against a righty: You can quibble with whether Buxton or Polanco leads off (or Gallo for that matter), but I wouldn’t expect much deviation from this configuration, even though I would certainly prefer Gallo further down in the lineup. Lefties dominated Twins hitters last year, especially down the stretch. How will the 2023 team counter? Probably something like this: This is also where I could see the team looking at Luke Voit or possibly Anthony Santander, because it seems like this iteration of the lineup is a bat short. It does have the potential to defend really well, however. If the infield is even average, the outfield alone makes this a top-five defense. Let’s run through a few more just for fun: The Sunday Getaway Day Lineup The Outfield gets Besmirched AGAIN (This one assumes that we suffer the same number of season-ending outfield injuries as last year) The Trade for Anthony Santander (Santander had a .913 OPS against lefties last year and the Orioles are listening) The Miranda Can’t Handle Third (If the team wants to avoid putting Gordon on the infield, this outcome means Larnach is sent down. Hope the sexy new body helps, Jose!) The Lewis and Lee have Arrived and Aren’t Taking Prisoners (AKA what the front office prays for every night) And lastly, my personal favorite: Nick Gordon Leading Off on Opening Day He’ll be the skinniest DH in history, but I’ll bet he makes the score 1-0 more times than you would think. How would you configure the 2023 lineup? Should the team make more additions? Who would you put in the leadoff spot? View full article
  2. The Twins would seem to have quite a hole to fill in their lineup, and some utility lost given Luis Arraez’s ability to play multiple positions. The reality is that, as much as we love Luis, his production is replaceable (but not his at-bats), and his fielding is very replaceable. He also would have made it difficult for Nick Gordon, Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach to get at-bats as they each approach the second half of their twenties. So what kind of lineup combinations can we expect this year sans Arraez? With Joey Gallo and Michael A. Taylor aboard, here’s my projection for opening day against a righty: You can quibble with whether Buxton or Polanco leads off (or Gallo for that matter), but I wouldn’t expect much deviation from this configuration, even though I would certainly prefer Gallo further down in the lineup. Lefties dominated Twins hitters last year, especially down the stretch. How will the 2023 team counter? Probably something like this: This is also where I could see the team looking at Luke Voit or possibly Anthony Santander, because it seems like this iteration of the lineup is a bat short. It does have the potential to defend really well, however. If the infield is even average, the outfield alone makes this a top-five defense. Let’s run through a few more just for fun: The Sunday Getaway Day Lineup The Outfield gets Besmirched AGAIN (This one assumes that we suffer the same number of season-ending outfield injuries as last year) The Trade for Anthony Santander (Santander had a .913 OPS against lefties last year and the Orioles are listening) The Miranda Can’t Handle Third (If the team wants to avoid putting Gordon on the infield, this outcome means Larnach is sent down. Hope the sexy new body helps, Jose!) The Lewis and Lee have Arrived and Aren’t Taking Prisoners (AKA what the front office prays for every night) And lastly, my personal favorite: Nick Gordon Leading Off on Opening Day He’ll be the skinniest DH in history, but I’ll bet he makes the score 1-0 more times than you would think. How would you configure the 2023 lineup? Should the team make more additions? Who would you put in the leadoff spot?
  3. Minnesota has made seven significant moves so far this off-season, and each one will impact the roster differently in 2023. Here's how the team's moves rank so far. Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports Throughout the winter, fans will react differently to any transaction the club makes, from significant acquisitions to prospects left off the 40-man roster. Teams can trade away fan-favorite players or sign free agents to multi-million dollar deals. There are no guarantees in baseball, and the Twins front office has left themselves open to praise or criticism depending on the long-term outcome of these moves. On paper, the Twins have improved and added depth throughout the roster, which projects to have the team back in playoff contention. 7. Trading Gio Urshela for Alejandro Hidalgo According to Baseball Reference, Urshela provided the fourth-most WAR on the team in 2022. One of the keys to his value was that he tied Luis Arraez for the team lead with 144 games played. Minnesota traded him to the Angels for Alejandro Hidalgo, a 19-year-old pitcher with a career 4.64 ERA in 17 appearances. Urshela is in his last arbitration season, and the Twins were ready to give Jose Miranda the starting job at third base. It's at the bottom of the list because the trade return was minimal. 6. Signing Joey Gallo to a 1-year, $11 million deal The Twins front office thinks Gallo can return to his previous form, but it will take time to know if signing him was the correct decision. Last season, Gallo hit just .160/.280/.357 (.638) with 19 home runs and 163 strikeouts in 126 games. He was an All-Star in 2021, leading the AL with 111 walks while hitting 38 home runs. Gallo is a multi-time All-Star and has won two Gold Gloves, but there is no guarantee he will return to that level in 2023. 5. Trading Steven Cruz and Evan Sisk for Michael A. Taylor Many thought the Twins were in the market for a right-handed hitting outfielder on the free agent market. The Twins decided to go in a different direction and traded for one of baseball's best outfield defenders. On paper, it seems like a solid plan to use Taylor for games when Buxton is not available to play in the field. He can bat at the bottom of the line-up and help the pitching staff on the defensive side. This move has the potential to be a sneaky-good move for the Twins, especially if it helps Buxton play over 100 games. 4. Trading Casey Legumina for Kyle Farmer Adding Farmer helped the Twins establish a floor for their middle infield this winter. If Correa signed elsewhere, Farmer would likely take over the starting shortstop role until Royce Lewis returned in the second half. Instead, Farmer can shift to a utility role that suits his skill set. Over the last two seasons, he has averaged over 145 games per season while playing every infield position. He's not a player to get excited about, but fans will come to appreciate what he adds to the roster. 3. Trading Luis Arraez for Pablo Lopez, Jose Salas, and Byron Chourio It was tough for the front office to trade away Luis Arraez, a fan favorite, but the return helps the team in the short- and long term. Lopez adds depth to the starting rotation, especially with injury concerns tied to multiple arms. Arraez's 2022 season showcased his peak value, but there is little upside in a first baseman with little to no power. The Twins also received two prospects in the deal, including one that already ranks in the team's top 10 prospects. Minnesota needs Lopez to be the pitcher he was in 2022, and it will be a bonus if either prospect is a regular at the big-league level. 2. Signing Christian Vazquez to a 3-year, $30 million deal The Twins had to improve behind the plate, and Vazquez should help to solidify one of baseball's most important positions. He's been on multiple World Series teams and has caught over 1,900 innings over the last two seasons. Minnesota will be relying on some young pitchers in the coming years, and Vazquez can be a veteran presence to help usher them into their big-league careers. Adding Vazquez was a move the Twins had to make, and that's why it ranks so high on this list. 1. Signing Carlos Correa to a 6-year, $200 million deal No other transaction will define the Twins franchise more over the next decade than signing Correa... the second time. He is one of baseball's best two-way players and has the rare ability to impact nearly all facets of the game. Minnesota saw what he provided on and off the field, so they were eager for him to return, even with questions about his ankle. Fans may have yet to fully embrace Correa because it looked like his Twins tenure would be short-lived. Now, there is a chance he will end his career in Minnesota, and that's something for fans to enjoy. How would you rank this winter's moves? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. Throughout the winter, fans will react differently to any transaction the club makes, from significant acquisitions to prospects left off the 40-man roster. Teams can trade away fan-favorite players or sign free agents to multi-million dollar deals. There are no guarantees in baseball, and the Twins front office has left themselves open to praise or criticism depending on the long-term outcome of these moves. On paper, the Twins have improved and added depth throughout the roster, which projects to have the team back in playoff contention. 7. Trading Gio Urshela for Alejandro Hidalgo According to Baseball Reference, Urshela provided the fourth-most WAR on the team in 2022. One of the keys to his value was that he tied Luis Arraez for the team lead with 144 games played. Minnesota traded him to the Angels for Alejandro Hidalgo, a 19-year-old pitcher with a career 4.64 ERA in 17 appearances. Urshela is in his last arbitration season, and the Twins were ready to give Jose Miranda the starting job at third base. It's at the bottom of the list because the trade return was minimal. 6. Signing Joey Gallo to a 1-year, $11 million deal The Twins front office thinks Gallo can return to his previous form, but it will take time to know if signing him was the correct decision. Last season, Gallo hit just .160/.280/.357 (.638) with 19 home runs and 163 strikeouts in 126 games. He was an All-Star in 2021, leading the AL with 111 walks while hitting 38 home runs. Gallo is a multi-time All-Star and has won two Gold Gloves, but there is no guarantee he will return to that level in 2023. 5. Trading Steven Cruz and Evan Sisk for Michael A. Taylor Many thought the Twins were in the market for a right-handed hitting outfielder on the free agent market. The Twins decided to go in a different direction and traded for one of baseball's best outfield defenders. On paper, it seems like a solid plan to use Taylor for games when Buxton is not available to play in the field. He can bat at the bottom of the line-up and help the pitching staff on the defensive side. This move has the potential to be a sneaky-good move for the Twins, especially if it helps Buxton play over 100 games. 4. Trading Casey Legumina for Kyle Farmer Adding Farmer helped the Twins establish a floor for their middle infield this winter. If Correa signed elsewhere, Farmer would likely take over the starting shortstop role until Royce Lewis returned in the second half. Instead, Farmer can shift to a utility role that suits his skill set. Over the last two seasons, he has averaged over 145 games per season while playing every infield position. He's not a player to get excited about, but fans will come to appreciate what he adds to the roster. 3. Trading Luis Arraez for Pablo Lopez, Jose Salas, and Byron Chourio It was tough for the front office to trade away Luis Arraez, a fan favorite, but the return helps the team in the short- and long term. Lopez adds depth to the starting rotation, especially with injury concerns tied to multiple arms. Arraez's 2022 season showcased his peak value, but there is little upside in a first baseman with little to no power. The Twins also received two prospects in the deal, including one that already ranks in the team's top 10 prospects. Minnesota needs Lopez to be the pitcher he was in 2022, and it will be a bonus if either prospect is a regular at the big-league level. 2. Signing Christian Vazquez to a 3-year, $30 million deal The Twins had to improve behind the plate, and Vazquez should help to solidify one of baseball's most important positions. He's been on multiple World Series teams and has caught over 1,900 innings over the last two seasons. Minnesota will be relying on some young pitchers in the coming years, and Vazquez can be a veteran presence to help usher them into their big-league careers. Adding Vazquez was a move the Twins had to make, and that's why it ranks so high on this list. 1. Signing Carlos Correa to a 6-year, $200 million deal No other transaction will define the Twins franchise more over the next decade than signing Correa... the second time. He is one of baseball's best two-way players and has the rare ability to impact nearly all facets of the game. Minnesota saw what he provided on and off the field, so they were eager for him to return, even with questions about his ankle. Fans may have yet to fully embrace Correa because it looked like his Twins tenure would be short-lived. Now, there is a chance he will end his career in Minnesota, and that's something for fans to enjoy. How would you rank this winter's moves? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. It wasn’t long ago that Jose Miranda could lay claim to having arguably the best offensive season in minor-league baseball. Despite having been a second round pick, he had never shown up on any top prospect lists, and it wasn’t until the 2021 explosion that he got recognition nationally. Now with a rookie season in his rear view mirror, the next step at the Major League level could be a fun one. Image courtesy of © Nick Wosika-USA TODAY Sports Following a .973 OPS across 124 games split between Double-A and Triple-A, Jose Miranda found his way into the Baseball America and MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospect lists coming into the 2022 season. Even as he tore up the two levels previously, there just wasn’t room for him on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Rocco Baldelli broke camp with Miguel Sano as his first baseman and Gio Urshela manning the hot corner. Luis Arraez was a utility defender factoring in both places, and Nick Gordon was even further insurance. As much as Miranda did the year prior, he was going to need to force his way in or wait for an opportunity. It was an incredibly small sample size for Miranda before making his May 2nd debut with the Twins. Playing in only 21 games for Triple-A St. Paul last year, he posted just a .737 OPS during a cold month of April. His 10 doubles were promising, as were the two blasts, but everyone knew what they saw a season ago was real. When the dust settled on his rookie season, Miranda wound up playing in 125 games for the Twins. His 116 OPS+ was a very promising start, and he rocketed his first 15 homers while still contributing a .325 on-base percentage. Through his first 80 games Miranda had an extremely impressive .811 OPS, and it wasn’t until pitchers began to figure him out and make adjustments that numbers slipped late. Entering 2023, plenty more is known for Miranda. Urshela and Arraez are both gone. He will play the hot corner, a position he has more traditionally called home. Despite being lackluster defensively at first base last season, it’s at third where he shines a bit brighter. He’ll again have veteran Carlos Correa to guide him on the left side, and their friendship has only strengthened since the Puerto Rican descended upon Spring Training last year. Knowing where he stands within the organization should provide some level of comfort this spring. Miranda is projected to be worth 2.6 fWAR per Steamer, which would more than double his 2022 value. A .269/.324/.449 slash line reflects a nice jump in overall OPS, and 20 homers would be a good boost from the power production a season ago. Steamer also has these numbers derived from just 133 games, which would only be slightly more than Miranda played at the big league level last season. Barring an untimely injury, he should be expected to cruise past that number. While it looked as though Correa may head to New York and play third base alongside fellow Puerto Rican Francisco Lindor, his return to Minnesota keeps him at shortstop and still has him playing alongside a countrymen. Miranda has already established himself as a substantial part of the Twins future, but it’s in 2023 that he could break out to an even higher level. For a guy that is not at all unaware of success in this sport, seeing growth in year two of the majors would be a substantial boost for all involved. Plenty of the Twins lineup will be reliant on youth doing the heavy lifting, and for a team that isn’t old by any means, there is no reason why the 24-year-old Miranda can’t be right in the thick of it. The rookie debut was a fun one, but a breakout similar to that of which we saw on the farm in 2021 would carry the Twins youngster to new heights. View full article
  6. A big month of January has redefined the Twins' offseason, generating a sense of excitement that was palpable at TwinsFest and the Winter Meltdown. As spring training fast approaches, let's get up to speed on the action and chart what moves (if any) might still be left on the table. Image courtesy of Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports Just after the New Year, we were lamenting the failed pursuit of Carlos Correa and puzzling over Michael Wacha rumors amidst what felt like a very unfulfilling offseason for the Twins. Less than a month later, we can safely call this the splashiest winter in franchise history. The highlight of January was the stunning and record-shattering Correa signing. But in the weeks since, there's been more significant activity to round out the roster. The front office followed up its biggest move with perhaps its most controversial. Twins Trade Arraez to Acquire López from Marlins It's extremely rare for a team to trade away the reigning batting champion – hasn't happened since 1978 – but the Twins did just that (again) when they agreed to send Luis Arraez to Miami in exchange for starting pitcher Pablo López and two prospects. Arraez was coming off a career year that saw him make the All-Star team in addition to winning the AL batting title and taking home a Silver Slugger award. He was the only Twins player to receive MVP votes. Needless to say, his value was at a high point, which made him appealing to the bat-needy Marlins. Undeniably a tough price to pay, but that's what it takes to get controllable, young, high-end pitching, and there's a good argument to be made that the Twins were wise to sell high on Arraez. López adds crucial veteran depth to a rotation besieged by question marks, significantly raising both the unit's floor and ceiling. He doesn't quite clear the Sonny Gray Threshold but he reaches it, and that makes him a worthy addition to the Twins rotation mix. Crucially, the 26-year-old right-hander is under control for an additional year, in 2024, which gives the Twins some much-needed ongoing pitching stability with Gray, along with Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda, due for free agency next offseason. Of course, López's two years of team control equates to one fewer than Arraez, so the pressure is on for the hurler to deliver big returns in order to keep this deal from looming as an unforgivable misstep in the eyes of many fans. The Twins were able to offset their risk a bit by acquiring a pair of teenaged prospects, Jose Salas and Byron Chourio, with considerable upside. Michael A. Becomes Plan B in Center Field The Twins can and will hope for the best with Byron Buxton this year, but they can't plan for it. And they know that. It's what compelled them to swing yet another trade shortly after completing the Marlins deal, when they acquired outfielder Michael A. Taylor from the Royals in exchange for a pair of unexceptional pitching prospects, lefty Evan Sisk and righty Steven Cruz. It's a modest but meaningful price to pay for a modest but meaningful addition to the Twins roster. While hardly a star, Taylor is an elite defensive outfielder and has been a regular for Kansas City over the past two seasons, posting 3.4 fWAR over 266 games. For reference, Arraez was worth 4.8 fWAR over 265 games in the same span, albeit in the exact opposite fashion: all offensive value, no defense. In Taylor's case, fielding prowess is the selling point and it's an appealing one. He won a Gold Glove in 2021 and has consistently rated out brilliantly by defensive metrics. His Statcast sliders from last year pretty much tell the whole story: elite range, reactions, and arm that enable him to cover all three outfield positions extremely well. With Taylor around, the Twins have a veteran starting center fielder lined up right behind Buxton -- a sizable upgrade from a year ago when Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino made do in a pinch. Rocco Baldelli can feel much more comfortable writing in Buck as DH frequently knowing that there will be no defensive downgrade in center from doing so. Taylor's righty bat lines up nicely for spelling the lefty-swinging corner outfielders as well, but glovework is the highlight here and I can't wait to watch him work. More Moves Left to Come? Are the Twins done? Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks. Their roster is in pretty good shape after the January flurry, but there are a few areas that could still stand to be addressed. The first is their logjam of lefty-swinging corner outfielders, which was worsened instead of relieved by adding Joey Gallo while Max Kepler (for now) stays put. All offseason we heard that Kepler had more trade value than people perceived, but as things wind down the front office seems to content holding him instead of dealing for an unsatisfactory return. (Maybe his trade value isn't really THAT much higher than perceived.) Kepler remains a quality player on a reasonable contract, so keeping him isn't the worst thing in the world, but it sure feels like his roster spots could be better used by, say, a righty-swinging DH/1B type. (The Twins have been connected to Yuli Gurriel, who remains available.) The bullpen is one other area that could still benefit from one more addition. Finding one more semi-stable option for the middle innings would be akin to supplementing the rotation with López. (And I don't mean Jorge López, who lends to this unit's volatility factor.) Michael Fulmer is still sitting out there, oddly unsigned... Roster & Payroll Projection v. 7 Unless the Twins make one of the above moves, or another that falls outside of expectations, this might be our last offseason status update and roster projection until we get to spring training and can start mapping things out with increasing confidence. As it stands, what you see below is roughly the group they'll be planning to roll with this year. Team payroll is above $150 million, which would set a new franchise record. Meanwhile, the rest of the division has barely done a thing all winter. You can't win anything in the offseason, and the Twins are coming from a tough position off a third place finish with all their injury concerns. But there's not much more they could have done to address the weaknesses that pulled them down in 2022. View full article
  7. Just after the New Year, we were lamenting the failed pursuit of Carlos Correa and puzzling over Michael Wacha rumors amidst what felt like a very unfulfilling offseason for the Twins. Less than a month later, we can safely call this the splashiest winter in franchise history. The highlight of January was the stunning and record-shattering Correa signing. But in the weeks since, there's been more significant activity to round out the roster. The front office followed up its biggest move with perhaps its most controversial. Twins Trade Arraez to Acquire López from Marlins It's extremely rare for a team to trade away the reigning batting champion – hasn't happened since 1978 – but the Twins did just that (again) when they agreed to send Luis Arraez to Miami in exchange for starting pitcher Pablo López and two prospects. Arraez was coming off a career year that saw him make the All-Star team in addition to winning the AL batting title and taking home a Silver Slugger award. He was the only Twins player to receive MVP votes. Needless to say, his value was at a high point, which made him appealing to the bat-needy Marlins. Undeniably a tough price to pay, but that's what it takes to get controllable, young, high-end pitching, and there's a good argument to be made that the Twins were wise to sell high on Arraez. López adds crucial veteran depth to a rotation besieged by question marks, significantly raising both the unit's floor and ceiling. He doesn't quite clear the Sonny Gray Threshold but he reaches it, and that makes him a worthy addition to the Twins rotation mix. Crucially, the 26-year-old right-hander is under control for an additional year, in 2024, which gives the Twins some much-needed ongoing pitching stability with Gray, along with Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda, due for free agency next offseason. Of course, López's two years of team control equates to one fewer than Arraez, so the pressure is on for the hurler to deliver big returns in order to keep this deal from looming as an unforgivable misstep in the eyes of many fans. The Twins were able to offset their risk a bit by acquiring a pair of teenaged prospects, Jose Salas and Byron Chourio, with considerable upside. Michael A. Becomes Plan B in Center Field The Twins can and will hope for the best with Byron Buxton this year, but they can't plan for it. And they know that. It's what compelled them to swing yet another trade shortly after completing the Marlins deal, when they acquired outfielder Michael A. Taylor from the Royals in exchange for a pair of unexceptional pitching prospects, lefty Evan Sisk and righty Steven Cruz. It's a modest but meaningful price to pay for a modest but meaningful addition to the Twins roster. While hardly a star, Taylor is an elite defensive outfielder and has been a regular for Kansas City over the past two seasons, posting 3.4 fWAR over 266 games. For reference, Arraez was worth 4.8 fWAR over 265 games in the same span, albeit in the exact opposite fashion: all offensive value, no defense. In Taylor's case, fielding prowess is the selling point and it's an appealing one. He won a Gold Glove in 2021 and has consistently rated out brilliantly by defensive metrics. His Statcast sliders from last year pretty much tell the whole story: elite range, reactions, and arm that enable him to cover all three outfield positions extremely well. With Taylor around, the Twins have a veteran starting center fielder lined up right behind Buxton -- a sizable upgrade from a year ago when Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino made do in a pinch. Rocco Baldelli can feel much more comfortable writing in Buck as DH frequently knowing that there will be no defensive downgrade in center from doing so. Taylor's righty bat lines up nicely for spelling the lefty-swinging corner outfielders as well, but glovework is the highlight here and I can't wait to watch him work. More Moves Left to Come? Are the Twins done? Pitchers and catchers report in two weeks. Their roster is in pretty good shape after the January flurry, but there are a few areas that could still stand to be addressed. The first is their logjam of lefty-swinging corner outfielders, which was worsened instead of relieved by adding Joey Gallo while Max Kepler (for now) stays put. All offseason we heard that Kepler had more trade value than people perceived, but as things wind down the front office seems to content holding him instead of dealing for an unsatisfactory return. (Maybe his trade value isn't really THAT much higher than perceived.) Kepler remains a quality player on a reasonable contract, so keeping him isn't the worst thing in the world, but it sure feels like his roster spots could be better used by, say, a righty-swinging DH/1B type. (The Twins have been connected to Yuli Gurriel, who remains available.) The bullpen is one other area that could still benefit from one more addition. Finding one more semi-stable option for the middle innings would be akin to supplementing the rotation with López. (And I don't mean Jorge López, who lends to this unit's volatility factor.) Michael Fulmer is still sitting out there, oddly unsigned... Roster & Payroll Projection v. 7 Unless the Twins make one of the above moves, or another that falls outside of expectations, this might be our last offseason status update and roster projection until we get to spring training and can start mapping things out with increasing confidence. As it stands, what you see below is roughly the group they'll be planning to roll with this year. Team payroll is above $150 million, which would set a new franchise record. Meanwhile, the rest of the division has barely done a thing all winter. You can't win anything in the offseason, and the Twins are coming from a tough position off a third place finish with all their injury concerns. But there's not much more they could have done to address the weaknesses that pulled them down in 2022.
  8. Following a .973 OPS across 124 games split between Double-A and Triple-A, Jose Miranda found his way into the Baseball America and MLB Pipeline Top 100 prospect lists coming into the 2022 season. Even as he tore up the two levels previously, there just wasn’t room for him on the Opening Day roster. Last season, Rocco Baldelli broke camp with Miguel Sano as his first baseman and Gio Urshela manning the hot corner. Luis Arraez was a utility defender factoring in both places, and Nick Gordon was even further insurance. As much as Miranda did the year prior, he was going to need to force his way in or wait for an opportunity. It was an incredibly small sample size for Miranda before making his May 2nd debut with the Twins. Playing in only 21 games for Triple-A St. Paul last year, he posted just a .737 OPS during a cold month of April. His 10 doubles were promising, as were the two blasts, but everyone knew what they saw a season ago was real. When the dust settled on his rookie season, Miranda wound up playing in 125 games for the Twins. His 116 OPS+ was a very promising start, and he rocketed his first 15 homers while still contributing a .325 on-base percentage. Through his first 80 games Miranda had an extremely impressive .811 OPS, and it wasn’t until pitchers began to figure him out and make adjustments that numbers slipped late. Entering 2023, plenty more is known for Miranda. Urshela and Arraez are both gone. He will play the hot corner, a position he has more traditionally called home. Despite being lackluster defensively at first base last season, it’s at third where he shines a bit brighter. He’ll again have veteran Carlos Correa to guide him on the left side, and their friendship has only strengthened since the Puerto Rican descended upon Spring Training last year. Knowing where he stands within the organization should provide some level of comfort this spring. Miranda is projected to be worth 2.6 fWAR per Steamer, which would more than double his 2022 value. A .269/.324/.449 slash line reflects a nice jump in overall OPS, and 20 homers would be a good boost from the power production a season ago. Steamer also has these numbers derived from just 133 games, which would only be slightly more than Miranda played at the big league level last season. Barring an untimely injury, he should be expected to cruise past that number. While it looked as though Correa may head to New York and play third base alongside fellow Puerto Rican Francisco Lindor, his return to Minnesota keeps him at shortstop and still has him playing alongside a countrymen. Miranda has already established himself as a substantial part of the Twins future, but it’s in 2023 that he could break out to an even higher level. For a guy that is not at all unaware of success in this sport, seeing growth in year two of the majors would be a substantial boost for all involved. Plenty of the Twins lineup will be reliant on youth doing the heavy lifting, and for a team that isn’t old by any means, there is no reason why the 24-year-old Miranda can’t be right in the thick of it. The rookie debut was a fun one, but a breakout similar to that of which we saw on the farm in 2021 would carry the Twins youngster to new heights.
  9. With the trade of Luis Arraez to the Marlins, the Twins are taking a risk by swapping a critical bat in their line up in the hope of pitching depth. But as many analysts here have shown, the trade leaves quite a few questions. So is it possible the Twins know something about the health of their players that we currently do not? Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports The Twins neither had to drop one of the best bats in the American League nor acquire more pitching depth to technically have a successful off season. In fact, the hitters are now almost obviously in a worse place without Arraez leading off every day. But this is also a team prone to injuries—so much it led to a new trainer coming in this off season—and it is likely the Twins made this trade on knowledge of what team might be playing in 2023. Let’s start on the pitching side. Depending on who you talk to, the Twins either had eight starting pitchers heading into the off season or two. Although no longer requiring the services of the Dylan Bundys and Chris Archers of the world, the rotation set up for this year has been beaten and bruised in recent years: Tyler Mahle’s shoulder, Bailey Ober’s groin, Tommy John for Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddack (the Twins at least seem some potential upside with Paddack, signing him to an extremely team friendly extension). Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan made it through the season quite well, but neither grabbed enough innings to even qualify for awards at the end of the season. The prospects show a lot of upside, but none are an ace. With Correa and Buxton both hitting their peak seasons, the Twins aren’t necessarily interested in a bet when the American League Central remains easily taken. Lopez thus seems like an easy, but not necessarily ideal, addition to the team. He’s certainly a great, and possibly All Star caliber pitcher, but is clearly a step below what many Twins fans hoped for at the beginning of the season. Additionally, he has similar injury questions over the last couple years. However, one way the trade makes more sense is if you assume that those possible injuries are not just hypotheticals but still real. Maeda and Ober last year seemed to be mysteries waiting in the wing for returns with deadlines kicked down the can. Falvey and co. have painted an optimistic picture but have seemingly remained tight lipped on what to expect, particularly on Mahle. If the Twins know if any of these pitchers are actually in the same trouble as before, the Lopez trade becomes not so much as padding as a necessity. The Twins themselves have hinted at returning Ober to Triple A, perhaps in part due to maybe looming injury concerns. On the upside of things, this also means the Twins have likely been able to see enough upside finally on Alex Kirilloff. Anytime the word “experimental” is used to describe a surgery can cause worry, but the Twins likely knew enough that they could trade their All Star first baseman as Kirilloff was ready to fill the void. According to Aaron Gleeman at The Athletic, “Whereas last offseason Kirilloff had to shut down his hitting for a month, this year there have been no such shutdowns.” The various projection models seem at least positive on him, hitting around .260 and a positive WRC+, which would nowhere near put him in the All Star level but also help clear the way for the next round of prospects as Jose Miranda eventually makes a mid season move there. The question for Kirilloff is not necessarily that he be fantastic as much as healthy on the field. The Twins, it seems, have seen enough to pull the trigger on what would otherwise be a somewhat alarming trade, especially after Arraez won a Gold Glove for his work at the position. Nobody truly loves this trade, but the problem seems to in part by seeing the Twins at full strength rather than what might actually be the case. Sometimes front offices do have to make bets, but they know quite a bit more about the status of the players coming into camp next month. If the Twins see two pitchers go down by the end of April, having Lopez will be an absolute welcome. And if Kirilloff plays well enough, Arraez’s production will still be aesthetically missed, but not necessarily lost. If anything, knowing they should make this trade only confirms the worries that the team that won't be obvious to us until players report to Fort Meyers. View full article
  10. Last season the Minnesota Twins sold fewer tickets than they have at any point over the past decade. Attendance at Target Field dipped to levels that we haven’t seen since the Metrodome, and for the second straight season, a losing record was partly to blame. After announcing discounted tickets, Luis Arraez was traded, and fans now have voices with dollars again. Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports What Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are betting on is that winning will matter most. There is no denying that Luis Arraez is a good baseball player. He was an All-Star while winning a Silver Slugger and being crowned the American League batting champion in 2022. His .316 average and .375 on-base percentage were noteworthy, and he posted those numbers while transitioning to an entirely new position. When the Twins re-signed Carlos Correa this offseason, he was reunited with an infield he got to know last year. Arraez was his first baseman, and the group with Jose Miranda and Jorge Polanco became friends. It was a tight-knit infield, and moving on from any of them would bring up a few hurt feelings. What Correa wants to do, however, is win, and that’s where the front office is focused as well. It’s not as though the Twins couldn’t win with Arraez, but they certainly have more options at first base than they do in the starting rotation. Pablo Lopez was acquired not to be an ace but instead to fill a need to stock the starting five with as many quality arms as possible. With Lopez raising the bar and providing more pitching depth, it should be expected that Minnesota’s chances go up for the season. When it was announced that Arraez was being dealt to the Miami Marlins, many fans would miss their batting champion. The last time a reigning batting champ was dealt came at the hands of Minnesota as well, when Rod Carew was sent to the Angels before the 1979 season. Having been fondly compared to each other and being someone incredibly easy to root for, a departure of Arraez was never going to sit well with many. Entering the 2023 season, Lopez needs to pitch well for the sake of doing so and will forever be connected as the guy Minnesota acquired in giving up Arraez. Fans didn’t need to view Arraez through the same lens as they did Willians Astudillo. The former is a good player with actual utility, whereas the latter was much more of a mascot to distract from poor play. The casual fan may have ventured out to the ballpark wanting to see Arraez, and maybe they’ll stay away scorned at his departure. What has to matter most is generating as many wins as possible. The Twins need to be both exciting and good at the same time. Eighty-one home games is a substantial amount, and the Twins look to pull as much as possible from ticket sales. There has never been a more affordable sport to watch in person than baseball, yet a team with Arraez and Correa last season wasn’t enough to break records. Wanting to flip the script on another losing season, figuring out a way to push the win total up is where Minnesota knows the money is. As the 2023 Major League Baseball season gets underway, many fans will still be disappointed that Arraez isn’t in the dugout or taking the field. When the dust settles in October, plenty more fans will have shown up to a team that is committed to winning and puts the right foot forward on a nightly basis. It’s never easy for a front office to trade a fan favorite, but Minnesota is not Pittsburgh dealing in only goodwill. This team can be good, and when Correa throws over to Alex Kirilloff in securing a postseason victory, everyone will have forgotten about what was while enjoying what is. View full article
  11. What Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are betting on is that winning will matter most. There is no denying that Luis Arraez is a good baseball player. He was an All-Star while winning a Silver Slugger and being crowned the American League batting champion in 2022. His .316 average and .375 on-base percentage were noteworthy, and he posted those numbers while transitioning to an entirely new position. When the Twins re-signed Carlos Correa this offseason, he was reunited with an infield he got to know last year. Arraez was his first baseman, and the group with Jose Miranda and Jorge Polanco became friends. It was a tight-knit infield, and moving on from any of them would bring up a few hurt feelings. What Correa wants to do, however, is win, and that’s where the front office is focused as well. It’s not as though the Twins couldn’t win with Arraez, but they certainly have more options at first base than they do in the starting rotation. Pablo Lopez was acquired not to be an ace but instead to fill a need to stock the starting five with as many quality arms as possible. With Lopez raising the bar and providing more pitching depth, it should be expected that Minnesota’s chances go up for the season. When it was announced that Arraez was being dealt to the Miami Marlins, many fans would miss their batting champion. The last time a reigning batting champ was dealt came at the hands of Minnesota as well, when Rod Carew was sent to the Angels before the 1979 season. Having been fondly compared to each other and being someone incredibly easy to root for, a departure of Arraez was never going to sit well with many. Entering the 2023 season, Lopez needs to pitch well for the sake of doing so and will forever be connected as the guy Minnesota acquired in giving up Arraez. Fans didn’t need to view Arraez through the same lens as they did Willians Astudillo. The former is a good player with actual utility, whereas the latter was much more of a mascot to distract from poor play. The casual fan may have ventured out to the ballpark wanting to see Arraez, and maybe they’ll stay away scorned at his departure. What has to matter most is generating as many wins as possible. The Twins need to be both exciting and good at the same time. Eighty-one home games is a substantial amount, and the Twins look to pull as much as possible from ticket sales. There has never been a more affordable sport to watch in person than baseball, yet a team with Arraez and Correa last season wasn’t enough to break records. Wanting to flip the script on another losing season, figuring out a way to push the win total up is where Minnesota knows the money is. As the 2023 Major League Baseball season gets underway, many fans will still be disappointed that Arraez isn’t in the dugout or taking the field. When the dust settles in October, plenty more fans will have shown up to a team that is committed to winning and puts the right foot forward on a nightly basis. It’s never easy for a front office to trade a fan favorite, but Minnesota is not Pittsburgh dealing in only goodwill. This team can be good, and when Correa throws over to Alex Kirilloff in securing a postseason victory, everyone will have forgotten about what was while enjoying what is.
  12. The Twins neither had to drop one of the best bats in the American League nor acquire more pitching depth to technically have a successful off season. In fact, the hitters are now almost obviously in a worse place without Arraez leading off every day. But this is also a team prone to injuries—so much it led to a new trainer coming in this off season—and it is likely the Twins made this trade on knowledge of what team might be playing in 2023. Let’s start on the pitching side. Depending on who you talk to, the Twins either had eight starting pitchers heading into the off season or two. Although no longer requiring the services of the Dylan Bundys and Chris Archers of the world, the rotation set up for this year has been beaten and bruised in recent years: Tyler Mahle’s shoulder, Bailey Ober’s groin, Tommy John for Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddack (the Twins at least seem some potential upside with Paddack, signing him to an extremely team friendly extension). Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan made it through the season quite well, but neither grabbed enough innings to even qualify for awards at the end of the season. The prospects show a lot of upside, but none are an ace. With Correa and Buxton both hitting their peak seasons, the Twins aren’t necessarily interested in a bet when the American League Central remains easily taken. Lopez thus seems like an easy, but not necessarily ideal, addition to the team. He’s certainly a great, and possibly All Star caliber pitcher, but is clearly a step below what many Twins fans hoped for at the beginning of the season. Additionally, he has similar injury questions over the last couple years. However, one way the trade makes more sense is if you assume that those possible injuries are not just hypotheticals but still real. Maeda and Ober last year seemed to be mysteries waiting in the wing for returns with deadlines kicked down the can. Falvey and co. have painted an optimistic picture but have seemingly remained tight lipped on what to expect, particularly on Mahle. If the Twins know if any of these pitchers are actually in the same trouble as before, the Lopez trade becomes not so much as padding as a necessity. The Twins themselves have hinted at returning Ober to Triple A, perhaps in part due to maybe looming injury concerns. On the upside of things, this also means the Twins have likely been able to see enough upside finally on Alex Kirilloff. Anytime the word “experimental” is used to describe a surgery can cause worry, but the Twins likely knew enough that they could trade their All Star first baseman as Kirilloff was ready to fill the void. According to Aaron Gleeman at The Athletic, “Whereas last offseason Kirilloff had to shut down his hitting for a month, this year there have been no such shutdowns.” The various projection models seem at least positive on him, hitting around .260 and a positive WRC+, which would nowhere near put him in the All Star level but also help clear the way for the next round of prospects as Jose Miranda eventually makes a mid season move there. The question for Kirilloff is not necessarily that he be fantastic as much as healthy on the field. The Twins, it seems, have seen enough to pull the trigger on what would otherwise be a somewhat alarming trade, especially after Arraez won a Gold Glove for his work at the position. Nobody truly loves this trade, but the problem seems to in part by seeing the Twins at full strength rather than what might actually be the case. Sometimes front offices do have to make bets, but they know quite a bit more about the status of the players coming into camp next month. If the Twins see two pitchers go down by the end of April, having Lopez will be an absolute welcome. And if Kirilloff plays well enough, Arraez’s production will still be aesthetically missed, but not necessarily lost. If anything, knowing they should make this trade only confirms the worries that the team that won't be obvious to us until players report to Fort Meyers.
  13. The Luis Arraez for Pablo Lopez (plus prospects) trade is one that entirely makes sense on paper. For Twins fans, it seems destined to be unpopular. It isn’t that Twins fans do not understand the point; instead, the question is: what makes for good baseball? Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports For the last decade, players, fans, owners, and the media have become obsessed with “fixing” baseball. Some of these complaints have been unfairly placed on “analytics,” which has become a catch-all term for anything not understood by older generations. But the rise of Three True Outcome baseball has fundamentally changed the game, and not by making it necessarily as pleasing to the eye as it once was. That’s why players like Arraez have remained almost as important as winning. He provides unique, aesthetic entertainment value. When Luis Arraez stepped up to the plate, it wasn’t just the excitement that he might score another hit and put the Twins in the potential place of winning. It was the question of how he might do it. Arraez would essentially perform something akin to a TikTok dance of quick moves, funny glances, and incredible gestures. His little swings were hardly the elegance of big boppers, but like strange little darts to foul balls that would surprise when he made contact. Whenever he poked one into foul territory or even took a critical ball just off the plate, he would jump up and down with excitement. There was a reason veterans like Rod Carew and Ichiro Suzuki quickly saw the potential for a batting title champ. He seemed transported from their era of baseball. Any look at Baseball Reference or FanGraphs will show something different of course: Arraez made plenty of contact but ultimately was not worth the same as players like Buxton or Correa. Part of that came from his lack of defensive skill—though he notably was cited as a Gold Glove finalist after moving to first base—but also because the way statistics have changed our understanding of value. To put it in context, incoming Twin Joey Gallo produced more WAR hitting under .200 but with 38 homers in his 2021 season than Arraez did in 2022. Singles aren’t worth much when the home run ball is the only thing that matters. But this has been the precise problem in baseball that many are trying to fix. Whether it’s high strikeouts, low BABIP, or just the exceedingly long pace of play, baseball is in need of some fixes. When Theo Epstein, who revolutionized both the Red Sox and the Cubs into World Series winners, joined the MLB Commissioner’s Office in 2021, he joked in part it was to reverse trends he had helped create. Does it matter what the game looks like if it isn’t particularly fun to watch anymore? The new rules coming in place this year are responding to exactly that. For some, and in the eyes of a recent book on the Astros by Evan Drelich, Winning Fixes Everything. And for a lot of Twins fans, a playoff win is the only thing that will fix the problem. But the reason Arraez was so special for so many fans was not necessarily about his on-field production. He represented an entire aesthetic experience that has been dwindling in baseball (his Wario-like twin Willians Astudillo was similar though lacked an ability to make it to first, making Arraez a bit better of a balance). His plate appearances became appointment viewing because you were about to see something that few other hitters might do. He has always seemed determined to buck the trend of what baseball is supposed to look like, waving his finger at pitchers he refused to hit. Losing Arraez’s ballet at the plate will sting no matter how many swings Lopez gets on his change-up. Years ago, former baseball writer Sam Miller explained why we watch baseball in what became a bit of insider lore on the sport: That might seem a little drastic, but part of the point for us to ask us to actually define the entertainment of baseball, in which we demand so much from people that we will never meet in our lives doing something none of us could do even to a sliver of a percentile as better. I understand for many Twins fans, watching the best baseball team possible is the point. But for many of us who cherished Luis Arraez, the point was in part, to see them having as much fun as we did. I know I won’t be the only Twins fan checking in at Marlins games this season. View full article
  14. The Minnesota Twins dealt Luis Arraez last week and, in doing so, created a hole at both first base and atop the lineup. While Pablo Lopez is a nice get in return, he’s not going to bat leadoff, and a new alternative must be found. Image courtesy of © Rob Schumacher/The Republic / USA TODAY NETWORK As manager for the Minnesota Twins, Rocco Baldelli has tried to remain relatively consistent with his lineups. Although shuffling has been necessary due to injury or ineffectiveness, nothing was more certain than Luis Arraez's batting leadoff last year. In 92 of the 144 games he appeared, it was Arraez stepping into the box first. We know that Alex Kirilloff is all but ticketed to start at first base now, but we have yet to see who will replace Arraez in the lineup. A potential candidate could be slugger Byron Buxton, which may be where Baldelli starts. Although Buxton doesn’t have the on-base prowess of a prototypical leadoff man, checking in at just .316 over the past four seasons, an additional 30 at-bats should be valuable for one of the team's best hitters. There is something left to be desired from Buxton atop the lineup if he’s going to hit for power, however. In a breakout of long balls, Buxton blasted 28 a year ago. Leading off, plenty of those will wind up being solo shots and limit run production potential. He also has significantly dialed back stolen base attempts in recent seasons, creating less noise on the base paths. While not attempting to take Buxton out of the equation entirely, a recent acquisition could be the best bet. Enter Joey Gallo. The former Texas Rangers star would love to throw away his 2022. From flopping in New York to only a mild production boost with the Dodgers, there is nothing pretty about his career low 79 OPS+. It shouldn’t be controversial to suggest that Gallo may find it again with Minnesota, and despite being known for his power production, he will rely upon plenty in the field. Baldelli could also peg him as his leadoff hitter, and a greater swing in styles seems unfathomable. In 2021 with the Rangers, Gallo led the league in strikeouts. His 111 walks also led the league, and to quantify how little batting average matters, his .199 was coupled with a .351 on-base percentage. As a first-time All-Star in 2019, Gallo posted a .389 OBP, which Arraez only surpassed during his rookie season that same year. Along the same lines as Buxton, it may seem counterproductive to put Gallo’s home run prowess in the leadoff spot. Ideally, you’d like him to hit with runners on base and drive them in, but he could provide those opportunities for the likes of Buxton, Carlos Correa, and Alex Kirilloff. By leading off Gallo, Minnesota would have one of its best on-base threats stepping in early, and combining that with the threat of a home run immediately puts pressure on an opposing pitcher. Last season Gallo never hit at the top of the lineup for the Yankees or Los Angeles. In fact, across his 752 career games, he has never made a start while batting leadoff. Conventional wisdom says to hit someone like Gallo in the heart of the order or down near the seven-spot. Minnesota has been progressively managed and worked with new initiatives under this regime, however, and a change like this could make some sense. If I were betting on it right now, I’d still lean towards Buxton being the first batter for the Twins on Opening Day. I don’t think it should be a shock to see Gallo get his first start there this season. However, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it became something of a trend. View full article
  15. It is no secret that every Twins fan on social media wants pitching. When Carlos Correa signed for at least six more years, many fans still asked, “can he pitch?” or “why aren’t we getting any pitchers?” Every pitching acquisition comes with a cost, whether money or players. Good pitching costs more than good hitting, and the Twins were in a perfect situation to acquire pitching. Let’s dive into it. Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn/USA Today Last year, the Twins starting pitching ranked 20th in ERA, 18th in FIP, 23rd in K/9, and allowed the 11th most HR/9. If this team was going to improve from a .500ish team to a playoff team, starting pitching needed to be upgraded. Enter Pablo López. In case you haven’t seen, All-Star 1B/DH Luis Arraez was traded to the Miami Marlins for López, INF Jose Salas, and OF Byron Chourio. Arraez hit .316/.375/.420 last year with a 131 wRC+. López was 10-10 with a 3.75 ERA and a 3.71 FIP. Arraez put up a 3.2 fWAR season compared to López’s 2.8. However, Arraez has an extra year of team control, which is why the Twins had such a high asking price for the 25 year old. According to Baseball Prospectus, Salas is the 93rd-best prospect, and Chourio had a .838 OPS in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old. More than ever, pitching is at a premium in Major League Baseball. In the 2022-23 offseason, MLB teams usually receive more bang for their buck when signing position players instead of starting pitchers on the free agent market. As we have seen in the past few years, the current Twins front office prefers to trade for starting pitchers, and this premium on the free agent market could be the main reason. Using Steamer’s 2023 projection system, we can see how each player projects in the 2023 season. In the age of analytics, the primary statistic that gets players paid is Wins Above Replacement. On average, the top 31 free-agent starting pitchers this offseason signed for $7.21 million per WAR accumulated. On average, the top 31 free-agent position players signed for $6.44 million per win. This shows how much pitching is valued in today’s game and how teams are willing to spend more money to get more pitching. Like many professional sports executives, Derek Falvey was an economics major and knows that running a successful business or franchise is challenging. To get something, you must give something in return. The first two economic principles you will learn in an ECON 101 class are scarcity and opportunity cost. Scarcity means that the demand for a good (or, in our case, player) will always be greater than the availability of that good. In the current game of baseball, above-average pitching is more scarce than a first baseman with an OPS of around .800. Pitching is so valuable, and every team needs it. While Arraez is a great player and probably more valuable by WAR than López, he plays a position full of guys who can produce offensively, reducing his value. As we saw with the Twins last year, good pitching is scarce. López is not an ace by any means, but he would've led the Twins staff in pitching WAR (2.8) and innings pitched (180) in 2022. Above-average pitching isn't something the Twins have had much of in recent years, so López should significantly improve their pitching staff. Opportunity cost is the second economic principle used in every business decision. Opportunity cost is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. Every dollar you spend on a player is a dollar you can’t pay another player. Every dollar you give Correa is a dollar you can’t spend on pitching, and vice versa. This Twins front office may see it advantageous to spend big money on position players, given the market premium for pitching. The opportunity cost of trading Arraez is lower than one may think. You may get a slight decrease in production at first base from Jose Miranda and Alex Kirilloff, but both have shown that they are more than serviceable options. You are downgrading slightly in the infield and effectively upgrading from Bailey Ober to López while adding to the improved rotation depth. Another reason the Twins could trade Arraez was their surplus of infielders. The Twins now have seven infielders on their 40-man roster. They are Correa, Jorge Polanco, Miranda, Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Kyle Farmer, and Edouard Julien. Correa, Polanco, and Miranda are all but penciled into the opening-day lineup. Kirilloff has had some of the best batted-ball data in the league when his wrist has been healthy. Lewis looks to be a future difference-maker once he returns mid-season from his second torn ACL. Farmer is a utility infielder who is solid defensively everywhere and hits lefties well. Julien had a .931 OPS in AA last year and a 1.248 OPS in the Arizona Fall League across 96 plate appearances. The only infielder among these seven who is worse defensively than Arraez is arguably Kirilloff, but he is first base only as a left-handed thrower. Arraez was only seen as a 1B/DH by the Twins' front office, significantly diminishing his value as a player. Once Lewis is ready to go, and Brooks Lee gets to the majors, Miranda would move to first, creating an odd-man-out situation. Having so many infield options that could be plugged in and perform well is a good problem. Economics always factor into these decisions that can make or break a franchise. Many decisions come down to opportunity cost and all the different routes front offices can take from offseason to offseason. Nobody likes it when their favorite player is traded. It sucks. It can make it less enjoyable to watch a team, and Arraez is one of the most fun Twins players in the last ten years. But putting all personal bias aside, from a business standpoint, this move makes sense. You are giving up a player at a position where you have a surplus of options in exchange for a position with less talent. Thank you for reading, and Go, Twins! View full article
  16. When I published these rankings for the sixth time this year, I mentioned how much more challenging I found the exercise than in the past. "For one thing," I wrote, "it feels like we're in the midst of a slow-developing offseason journey with big twists still ahead. I have a strong feeling there will be noticeable changes to this list by March 30th." Sure enough, we've seen plenty of upheaval since, and it's not even January 30th yet. The blockbuster moves that took place within the past two weeks have shaken up the franchise's talent layout in profound ways, to the extent that it feels worthwhile to revisit those rankings. The Twins shattered their precedent by signing Carlos Correa to a $200 million deal. They traded an controllable young All-Star and batting champ in Luis Arraez for a new pitcher. How do these additions fit into the overall hierarchy of talent in the organization? Let's take a look. The Original Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023 The idea of these rankings was to provide a relative view of Twins players and prospects by appraising their big-picture value to the organization. The goal was to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? I published my latest annual rankings at the beginning of January. You can read the explanations for each in that four-part series of articles ... Part 1: #20-16 Part 2: #15-11 Part 3: #10-6 Part 1: #5-1 ... But to summarize, here are the original 2023 rankings as I had them laid out: Byron Buxton, CF Brooks Lee, SS Joe Ryan, RHP Jorge Polanco, 2B Royce Lewis, SS Bailey Ober, RHP Jhoan Durán, RHP Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF José Miranda, 3B Luis Arraez, IF Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Connor Prielipp, LHP Austin Martin, OF Trevor Larnach, OF Ryan Jeffers, C Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Jorge López, RHP Sonny Gray, RHP Louie Varland, RHP Matt Wallner, OF Now the Twins have re-signed their reigning team MVP to a six-year contract, and traded the player previously ranked #10 for a pitcher and two prospects. How do these game-changing moves affect the big picture? I took a shot at updating my rankings and here's where I landed: The Revised Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023 Byron Buxton, CF Carlos Correa, SS Brooks Lee, SS Joe Ryan, RHP Jorge Polanco, 2B Royce Lewis, SS Bailey Ober, RHP Jhoan Durán, RHP Pablo López, RHP Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF José Miranda, 3B Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Connor Prielipp, LHP Austin Martin, OF Trevor Larnach, OF Ryan Jeffers, C Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Jorge López, RH Louie Varland, RHP Matt Wallner, OF There are a few significant changes in this update, including a shakeup in the top 10. Here's a look at the additions and subtractions, and how the thought process played out: Correa is in at #2. Locking up a superstar player for six years at age 28 on a contract like this, with team-friendly terms at the back end, can't be viewed as anything more than a huge win. I contemplated putting him ahead of Buxton but Correa has his own unique heightened injury risk attached and his deal isn't quite so favorable to the team as Buck's. Either way, these are clearly their two foundational assets going forward. Pablo López is in at #9. This felt like the right spot to me. He's got two years of control remaining compared to five apiece for Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober, so I don't view him as quite the same level of value even if he's probably a cut above in terms of talent. Still, a big addition for a franchise that really needed more controllable starting pitching. Previously I had Arraez ranked as the #10 asset, so this looks like a winning trade through that lens even before you account for prospects Jose Salas and Byron Chourio, who would likely fall in the 25-35 range. Gray drops out from #18. The addition of Lopez also makes Sonny Gray a bit less indispensable, in my mind. I had him 18th in the original rankings because, "As things currently stand, Gray is the only pitcher in the organization who can credibly be looked at as a dependable frontline starter for 2023." That's no longer the case. With López aboard, and under control for an additional year, I actually think the Twins could feasibly trade Gray if the right offer came along, which wasn't much of an option before. (That's not to say I would advise it.) When I assembled these rankings the first time around, I was feeling pretty decent about the state of the Twins franchise both today and going forward. Needless to say, I'm feeling even better now. While the loss of a top-10 asset in Arraez hurts, the Twins recouped that value and then some by acquiring López and a pair of high-upside teenaged prospects. Meanwhile, the stunning Correa signing reshapes this franchise's future, embedding another true MVP-caliber talent in his prime alongside Buxton to lead the way. Simply put, the Twins are in a significantly better place now than they were a month ago. Catch up on past editions of the top 20 Twins asset rankings: Top 20 Twins Assets: 2018 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2019 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2020 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2021 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2022
  17. At the turn of the new year, I took a shot at ranking the top 20 assets in the Twins organization, in an attempt to contextualize the players and prospects most vital to fulfilling a championship vision. Some major developments have since taken place, so it feels appropriate to try and update the list. Image courtesy of Michael McLoone, Tommy Gilligan, Tim Heitman–USA Today Sports When I published these rankings for the sixth time this year, I mentioned how much more challenging I found the exercise than in the past. "For one thing," I wrote, "it feels like we're in the midst of a slow-developing offseason journey with big twists still ahead. I have a strong feeling there will be noticeable changes to this list by March 30th." Sure enough, we've seen plenty of upheaval since, and it's not even January 30th yet. The blockbuster moves that took place within the past two weeks have shaken up the franchise's talent layout in profound ways, to the extent that it feels worthwhile to revisit those rankings. The Twins shattered their precedent by signing Carlos Correa to a $200 million deal. They traded an controllable young All-Star and batting champ in Luis Arraez for a new pitcher. How do these additions fit into the overall hierarchy of talent in the organization? Let's take a look. The Original Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023 The idea of these rankings was to provide a relative view of Twins players and prospects by appraising their big-picture value to the organization. The goal was to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? I published my latest annual rankings at the beginning of January. You can read the explanations for each in that four-part series of articles ... Part 1: #20-16 Part 2: #15-11 Part 3: #10-6 Part 1: #5-1 ... But to summarize, here are the original 2023 rankings as I had them laid out: Byron Buxton, CF Brooks Lee, SS Joe Ryan, RHP Jorge Polanco, 2B Royce Lewis, SS Bailey Ober, RHP Jhoan Durán, RHP Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF José Miranda, 3B Luis Arraez, IF Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Connor Prielipp, LHP Austin Martin, OF Trevor Larnach, OF Ryan Jeffers, C Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Jorge López, RHP Sonny Gray, RHP Louie Varland, RHP Matt Wallner, OF Now the Twins have re-signed their reigning team MVP to a six-year contract, and traded the player previously ranked #10 for a pitcher and two prospects. How do these game-changing moves affect the big picture? I took a shot at updating my rankings and here's where I landed: The Revised Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023 Byron Buxton, CF Carlos Correa, SS Brooks Lee, SS Joe Ryan, RHP Jorge Polanco, 2B Royce Lewis, SS Bailey Ober, RHP Jhoan Durán, RHP Pablo López, RHP Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF José Miranda, 3B Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Connor Prielipp, LHP Austin Martin, OF Trevor Larnach, OF Ryan Jeffers, C Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Jorge López, RH Louie Varland, RHP Matt Wallner, OF There are a few significant changes in this update, including a shakeup in the top 10. Here's a look at the additions and subtractions, and how the thought process played out: Correa is in at #2. Locking up a superstar player for six years at age 28 on a contract like this, with team-friendly terms at the back end, can't be viewed as anything more than a huge win. I contemplated putting him ahead of Buxton but Correa has his own unique heightened injury risk attached and his deal isn't quite so favorable to the team as Buck's. Either way, these are clearly their two foundational assets going forward. Pablo López is in at #9. This felt like the right spot to me. He's got two years of control remaining compared to five apiece for Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober, so I don't view him as quite the same level of value even if he's probably a cut above in terms of talent. Still, a big addition for a franchise that really needed more controllable starting pitching. Previously I had Arraez ranked as the #10 asset, so this looks like a winning trade through that lens even before you account for prospects Jose Salas and Byron Chourio, who would likely fall in the 25-35 range. Gray drops out from #18. The addition of Lopez also makes Sonny Gray a bit less indispensable, in my mind. I had him 18th in the original rankings because, "As things currently stand, Gray is the only pitcher in the organization who can credibly be looked at as a dependable frontline starter for 2023." That's no longer the case. With López aboard, and under control for an additional year, I actually think the Twins could feasibly trade Gray if the right offer came along, which wasn't much of an option before. (That's not to say I would advise it.) When I assembled these rankings the first time around, I was feeling pretty decent about the state of the Twins franchise both today and going forward. Needless to say, I'm feeling even better now. While the loss of a top-10 asset in Arraez hurts, the Twins recouped that value and then some by acquiring López and a pair of high-upside teenaged prospects. Meanwhile, the stunning Correa signing reshapes this franchise's future, embedding another true MVP-caliber talent in his prime alongside Buxton to lead the way. Simply put, the Twins are in a significantly better place now than they were a month ago. Catch up on past editions of the top 20 Twins asset rankings: Top 20 Twins Assets: 2018 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2019 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2020 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2021 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2022 View full article
  18. Last year, the Twins starting pitching ranked 20th in ERA, 18th in FIP, 23rd in K/9, and allowed the 11th most HR/9. If this team was going to improve from a .500ish team to a playoff team, starting pitching needed to be upgraded. Enter Pablo López. In case you haven’t seen, All-Star 1B/DH Luis Arraez was traded to the Miami Marlins for López, INF Jose Salas, and OF Byron Chourio. Arraez hit .316/.375/.420 last year with a 131 wRC+. López was 10-10 with a 3.75 ERA and a 3.71 FIP. Arraez put up a 3.2 fWAR season compared to López’s 2.8. However, Arraez has an extra year of team control, which is why the Twins had such a high asking price for the 25 year old. According to Baseball Prospectus, Salas is the 93rd-best prospect, and Chourio had a .838 OPS in the Dominican Summer League as a 17-year-old. More than ever, pitching is at a premium in Major League Baseball. In the 2022-23 offseason, MLB teams usually receive more bang for their buck when signing position players instead of starting pitchers on the free agent market. As we have seen in the past few years, the current Twins front office prefers to trade for starting pitchers, and this premium on the free agent market could be the main reason. Using Steamer’s 2023 projection system, we can see how each player projects in the 2023 season. In the age of analytics, the primary statistic that gets players paid is Wins Above Replacement. On average, the top 31 free-agent starting pitchers this offseason signed for $7.21 million per WAR accumulated. On average, the top 31 free-agent position players signed for $6.44 million per win. This shows how much pitching is valued in today’s game and how teams are willing to spend more money to get more pitching. Like many professional sports executives, Derek Falvey was an economics major and knows that running a successful business or franchise is challenging. To get something, you must give something in return. The first two economic principles you will learn in an ECON 101 class are scarcity and opportunity cost. Scarcity means that the demand for a good (or, in our case, player) will always be greater than the availability of that good. In the current game of baseball, above-average pitching is more scarce than a first baseman with an OPS of around .800. Pitching is so valuable, and every team needs it. While Arraez is a great player and probably more valuable by WAR than López, he plays a position full of guys who can produce offensively, reducing his value. As we saw with the Twins last year, good pitching is scarce. López is not an ace by any means, but he would've led the Twins staff in pitching WAR (2.8) and innings pitched (180) in 2022. Above-average pitching isn't something the Twins have had much of in recent years, so López should significantly improve their pitching staff. Opportunity cost is the second economic principle used in every business decision. Opportunity cost is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen. Every dollar you spend on a player is a dollar you can’t pay another player. Every dollar you give Correa is a dollar you can’t spend on pitching, and vice versa. This Twins front office may see it advantageous to spend big money on position players, given the market premium for pitching. The opportunity cost of trading Arraez is lower than one may think. You may get a slight decrease in production at first base from Jose Miranda and Alex Kirilloff, but both have shown that they are more than serviceable options. You are downgrading slightly in the infield and effectively upgrading from Bailey Ober to López while adding to the improved rotation depth. Another reason the Twins could trade Arraez was their surplus of infielders. The Twins now have seven infielders on their 40-man roster. They are Correa, Jorge Polanco, Miranda, Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, Kyle Farmer, and Edouard Julien. Correa, Polanco, and Miranda are all but penciled into the opening-day lineup. Kirilloff has had some of the best batted-ball data in the league when his wrist has been healthy. Lewis looks to be a future difference-maker once he returns mid-season from his second torn ACL. Farmer is a utility infielder who is solid defensively everywhere and hits lefties well. Julien had a .931 OPS in AA last year and a 1.248 OPS in the Arizona Fall League across 96 plate appearances. The only infielder among these seven who is worse defensively than Arraez is arguably Kirilloff, but he is first base only as a left-handed thrower. Arraez was only seen as a 1B/DH by the Twins' front office, significantly diminishing his value as a player. Once Lewis is ready to go, and Brooks Lee gets to the majors, Miranda would move to first, creating an odd-man-out situation. Having so many infield options that could be plugged in and perform well is a good problem. Economics always factor into these decisions that can make or break a franchise. Many decisions come down to opportunity cost and all the different routes front offices can take from offseason to offseason. Nobody likes it when their favorite player is traded. It sucks. It can make it less enjoyable to watch a team, and Arraez is one of the most fun Twins players in the last ten years. But putting all personal bias aside, from a business standpoint, this move makes sense. You are giving up a player at a position where you have a surplus of options in exchange for a position with less talent. Thank you for reading, and Go, Twins!
  19. For the last decade, players, fans, owners, and the media have become obsessed with “fixing” baseball. Some of these complaints have been unfairly placed on “analytics,” which has become a catch-all term for anything not understood by older generations. But the rise of Three True Outcome baseball has fundamentally changed the game, and not by making it necessarily as pleasing to the eye as it once was. That’s why players like Arraez have remained almost as important as winning. He provides unique, aesthetic entertainment value. When Luis Arraez stepped up to the plate, it wasn’t just the excitement that he might score another hit and put the Twins in the potential place of winning. It was the question of how he might do it. Arraez would essentially perform something akin to a TikTok dance of quick moves, funny glances, and incredible gestures. His little swings were hardly the elegance of big boppers, but like strange little darts to foul balls that would surprise when he made contact. Whenever he poked one into foul territory or even took a critical ball just off the plate, he would jump up and down with excitement. There was a reason veterans like Rod Carew and Ichiro Suzuki quickly saw the potential for a batting title champ. He seemed transported from their era of baseball. Any look at Baseball Reference or FanGraphs will show something different of course: Arraez made plenty of contact but ultimately was not worth the same as players like Buxton or Correa. Part of that came from his lack of defensive skill—though he notably was cited as a Gold Glove finalist after moving to first base—but also because the way statistics have changed our understanding of value. To put it in context, incoming Twin Joey Gallo produced more WAR hitting under .200 but with 38 homers in his 2021 season than Arraez did in 2022. Singles aren’t worth much when the home run ball is the only thing that matters. But this has been the precise problem in baseball that many are trying to fix. Whether it’s high strikeouts, low BABIP, or just the exceedingly long pace of play, baseball is in need of some fixes. When Theo Epstein, who revolutionized both the Red Sox and the Cubs into World Series winners, joined the MLB Commissioner’s Office in 2021, he joked in part it was to reverse trends he had helped create. Does it matter what the game looks like if it isn’t particularly fun to watch anymore? The new rules coming in place this year are responding to exactly that. For some, and in the eyes of a recent book on the Astros by Evan Drelich, Winning Fixes Everything. And for a lot of Twins fans, a playoff win is the only thing that will fix the problem. But the reason Arraez was so special for so many fans was not necessarily about his on-field production. He represented an entire aesthetic experience that has been dwindling in baseball (his Wario-like twin Willians Astudillo was similar though lacked an ability to make it to first, making Arraez a bit better of a balance). His plate appearances became appointment viewing because you were about to see something that few other hitters might do. He has always seemed determined to buck the trend of what baseball is supposed to look like, waving his finger at pitchers he refused to hit. Losing Arraez’s ballet at the plate will sting no matter how many swings Lopez gets on his change-up. Years ago, former baseball writer Sam Miller explained why we watch baseball in what became a bit of insider lore on the sport: That might seem a little drastic, but part of the point for us to ask us to actually define the entertainment of baseball, in which we demand so much from people that we will never meet in our lives doing something none of us could do even to a sliver of a percentile as better. I understand for many Twins fans, watching the best baseball team possible is the point. But for many of us who cherished Luis Arraez, the point was in part, to see them having as much fun as we did. I know I won’t be the only Twins fan checking in at Marlins games this season.
  20. As manager for the Minnesota Twins, Rocco Baldelli has tried to remain relatively consistent with his lineups. Although shuffling has been necessary due to injury or ineffectiveness, nothing was more certain than Luis Arraez's batting leadoff last year. In 92 of the 144 games he appeared, it was Arraez stepping into the box first. We know that Alex Kirilloff is all but ticketed to start at first base now, but we have yet to see who will replace Arraez in the lineup. A potential candidate could be slugger Byron Buxton, which may be where Baldelli starts. Although Buxton doesn’t have the on-base prowess of a prototypical leadoff man, checking in at just .316 over the past four seasons, an additional 30 at-bats should be valuable for one of the team's best hitters. There is something left to be desired from Buxton atop the lineup if he’s going to hit for power, however. In a breakout of long balls, Buxton blasted 28 a year ago. Leading off, plenty of those will wind up being solo shots and limit run production potential. He also has significantly dialed back stolen base attempts in recent seasons, creating less noise on the base paths. While not attempting to take Buxton out of the equation entirely, a recent acquisition could be the best bet. Enter Joey Gallo. The former Texas Rangers star would love to throw away his 2022. From flopping in New York to only a mild production boost with the Dodgers, there is nothing pretty about his career low 79 OPS+. It shouldn’t be controversial to suggest that Gallo may find it again with Minnesota, and despite being known for his power production, he will rely upon plenty in the field. Baldelli could also peg him as his leadoff hitter, and a greater swing in styles seems unfathomable. In 2021 with the Rangers, Gallo led the league in strikeouts. His 111 walks also led the league, and to quantify how little batting average matters, his .199 was coupled with a .351 on-base percentage. As a first-time All-Star in 2019, Gallo posted a .389 OBP, which Arraez only surpassed during his rookie season that same year. Along the same lines as Buxton, it may seem counterproductive to put Gallo’s home run prowess in the leadoff spot. Ideally, you’d like him to hit with runners on base and drive them in, but he could provide those opportunities for the likes of Buxton, Carlos Correa, and Alex Kirilloff. By leading off Gallo, Minnesota would have one of its best on-base threats stepping in early, and combining that with the threat of a home run immediately puts pressure on an opposing pitcher. Last season Gallo never hit at the top of the lineup for the Yankees or Los Angeles. In fact, across his 752 career games, he has never made a start while batting leadoff. Conventional wisdom says to hit someone like Gallo in the heart of the order or down near the seven-spot. Minnesota has been progressively managed and worked with new initiatives under this regime, however, and a change like this could make some sense. If I were betting on it right now, I’d still lean towards Buxton being the first batter for the Twins on Opening Day. I don’t think it should be a shock to see Gallo get his first start there this season. However, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if it became something of a trend.
  21. Aaron and John talk about the Minnesota Twins' controversial trade of Luis Arraez for Pablo Lopez. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. View full article
  22. It hurts to lose Luis Arraez, but the strategy of trading a bat for an arm is a sound one. Image courtesy of © David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports The 2022 Minnesota Twins team was ravaged by injuries, which ultimately led to the team's demise. One area of the team that was affected as much, if not more, than any other unit was the starting pitching rotation. Kenta Maeda, Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack, and Tyler Mahle all suffered severe injuries that led to minimal availability. Even Sonny Gray found himself banged up more often than the team would've liked. The Twins’ rotation prior to the trade was Gray, Mahle, Joe Ryan, Maeda, Ober. On paper, this rotation looks to be reasonably solid one through five, but with the recent injury history of most of the staff, it left Twins fans, and likely the front office, holding their breath. The Twins also have a few arms close to the majors, such as Josh Winder, Louie Varland, and Simeon Woods Richardson , but they likely want to avoid pivoting to young arms as often as they did in 2022. For depth purposes, the Twins were interested in adding one more top-of-the-rotation pitcher. The problem is, those don't typically grow on trees and can cost a pretty penny to pry one away from a team willing to deal. Luckily for the Twins, they had depth in another area they were willing to dip into to acquire a solid starting pitcher. After signing Carlos Correa, the Twins have put together a pretty impressive list of controllable hitters who gave them leverage on the trade market. I have listed below the Twins hitters on the 40-man roster who are set to compete for limited at-bats this summer. I also included the player's value according to BaseballTradeValues.com in descending order. Baseball Trade Values uses a scale to track every player's worth based on controllability, contract, and production. Jorge Polanco 2B ($34.8M) Luis Arraez 1B/DH ($26.6M) Jose Miranda 3B ($26.4M) Royce Lewis SS/OF ($22.7M) Trevor Larnach OF ($14.6M) Byron Buxton CF ($13.5M) Ryan Jeffers C ($13M) Alex Kirilloff 1B/OF ($11.9M) Max Kepler OF ($7.6M) Matt Wallner OF ($7.3M) Carlos Correa SS ($7M) Nick Gordon UTIL ($6.7M) Gilberto Celestino OF ($1.8M) Joey Gallo OF ($1.2M) Kyle Farmer UTIL ($0.4M) Christian Vázquez C (-14.2M) To put these numbers into perspective, Pablo López has an estimated value of $38.8M. The list above features 16 players who have either played a significant role for the Twins or will play a role this year. As it stands, with this many quality hitters, there are not enough at-bats to go around. The depth is excellent, but the Twins could capitalize on this depth by trading it for a solid starting pitcher. The Twins could have piece together many packages by agreeing to part ways with one or two of these players. Arraez made a lot of sense to move in a large package for a frontline starter. While Arraez brings a fire to the game that is fun to watch, he is not without his flaws. The only defensive position he has shown to be above-average at is first base, and few teams are willing to commit to a first baseman who doesn't exhibit any power. With Arraez's lengthy injury history, there's a good chance his value will never be higher, making him a reasonable trade prospect. There are many ways the Twins could have finished off the off-season, but it was paramount that they do all they could to add to their rotation. With the depth of Major League-ready hitters at their disposal, the Twins were able to turn a somewhat expendable pieces into a frontline starter who adds tremendous value to this team the way it is constructed. What are your thoughts? Should the Twins have traded a bat for an arm? Who would you have parted with? Should they consider doing something similar for a reliever? Let me know! As always, Go, Twins! View full article
  23. On Friday afternoon, the Minnesota Twins agreed to trade all-star first baseman, Luis Arraez to the Miami Marlins in exchange for right-handed starting pitcher Pablo López and two prospects. While it’s sad to see Arraez go, the Twins’ front office deserves credit for making an excellent deal. Image courtesy of Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports After the Minnesota Twins signed Carlos Correa last week, it quickly became apparent that there was a logjam in the infield and that a move would have to be made. Logically the name that made the most sense for a trade was Luis Arraez. After rumors swirled for weeks about the mutual interest between the Twins and Marlins, the two teams finally came to an agreement. Luis Arraez is no-doubt an elite contact hitter, one of the best to ever put on a Twins uniform. Arraez’s elite contact skills helped to prop up a slumping offense all summer for the Twins in 2022. The Rod Carew comps, while lofty, are not exaggerated when it comes to Luis Arraez. He is a hitting savant who will always put together a good at-bat, and almost never strike out. Arraez isn’t without his flaws, though. While an elite contact hitter, Arraez lacks much of any power at all with his left-handed bat, which severely limits his overall upside as an elite player. Additionally, Arraez has consistently struggled with knee issues and has gone from an all-around utility player to a first baseman/designated hitter. Because of the flaws noted above, it has been a question of how much value Luis Arraez could bring back in a trade. Over the countless weeks of trade speculation between the Twins and Marlins, there was talk about López for Arraez being an even swap trade, or even that the Minnesota Twins might need to toss in prospects to make the deal work. As the trade details came in, though, the trade was much more favorable to the Twins than anyone imagined, with the Twins not throwing in prospects of their own, but instead receiving multiple prospects. Pablo López isn’t a perfect pitcher by any means. His stuff doesn’t look like the stuff of an ace, and he has tended to wear down in the second half of seasons, but at 26 years old, López will slot right into the top of the rotation with Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle heading into 2023. A young (26 years old), affordable (set to earn $5.5M in 2023) and controllable (under team control through next season) starting pitcher is the exact kind of pitcher that Derek Falvey likes to go after (think Tyler Mahle). In addition to López, the Twins acquired a fringe top-100 prospect in José Salas and another prospect in Byron Chourio. (For more on Salas and Chourio, click here.) This trade was a slam dunk trade for the Twins’ front office for three reasons. First, they are doing what you always want to do in trades, selling high on their player. Luis Arraez just won the American League batting title, appeared in the most games in his career, and posted a career high in fWAR. There’s a good chance that Arraez’s value will never be higher than it is right now and cashing in on that value is really smart. Secondly, the Twins traded from a position of strength (infield bat) and acquired a position of need (starting pitcher). They managed to find a trade partner that had a weakness in the Twins’ area of strength and thus dealt from a position of power. With rumors swirling for weeks about the framework of an Arraez/López trade, it's easy to connect the dots and see that the Twins knew they were holding the better hand and could hold out for the Marlins to toss in more assets, like they ultimately ended up doing. Finally, the Twins made a slam dunk trade because they were able to recoup some of the value that they lost in 2022 when they traded away prospect depth in Chase Petty, Spencer Steer, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, among others. With this deal, the Twins have added a B and C-level prospect to replenish the farm and give them more trade ammo for down the road. It’s impossible to write a Luis Arraez trade reaction piece without talking about how big of a bummer it is to lose Luis Arraez. While I write about baseball in an era of advanced metrics and numbers, it’s impossible for me to not get caught up in the emotion of baseball and no player on the Twins encompassed the emotion of baseball and love of the game quite like Luis Arraez. Luis was a true throwback player who was a joy to watch and had more fun than anyone and losing a player like that is hard. How would you assess the Arraez trade? Leave a comment and start the conversation! Be sure to keep coming back to Twins Daily for lots more trade reactions and content over the coming days. View full article
  24. The Twins traded away Luis Arraez on Friday, trading him to the Miami Marlins in exchange for Pablo López, Jose Salas, and Byron Chourio. Here's what you need to know about the two prospects involved in the deal. Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas, USA Today Sports In a move sure to spark heated debated, fan favorite Luis Arraez was traded to the Miami Marlins on Friday for a package that includes right-handed pitcher Pablo López, infielder Jose Salas, and outfielder Byron Chourio. Let’s get to know the two prospects in the deal. Just as it emerged that the trade talks between the Twins and Marlins were at a standstill, a deal was completed in the early afternoon hours on Friday. Dan Hayes had recently reported that the Twins weren’t willing to trade Arraez for López straight up. So it proved to be, with the Twins also acquiring significant prospect capital in exchange for the 2022 AL batting champion. What do we know about the prospects involved in this deal? Let’s dig in. Jose Salas Grades (courtesy of BA) Hit: 55 Power: 50 Run: 45 Arm: 55 Field: 50 Let’s get clear, Salas is a legitimately excellent prospect. In Baseball Prospectus’ Top 101 (released this morning) he was ranked 93rd, he was 83rd in Fangraphs most recent Top 100 at the end of the 2022 season. Although not a consensus Top 100 prospect (not in MLB or Baseball America lists), he can be seen as a fringy top 100 player and one of four excellent Marlins prospects (Perez, Max Meyer, Berry), likely, the one you haven’t heard of. In Salas, the Twins have acquired an infielder who has good projectability left. He is just 19 years old and stands at 6’2. He has strong tools across the board. Salas was born in Florida, but split his time between Orlando and Venezuela growing up. Salas was signed by the Marlins during the 2019 International Free Agency period, receiving a hefty $2.8 million bonus. Salas crushed when he debuted, boasting a .578 SLG in 28 games of rookie ball before getting a debut in Low-A ball at 18 years old. After an initial drop off in his offensive output at the tail end of 2021, he began 2022 in Jupiter and adjusted nicely, increasing his Slugging Percentage from .315 to .421 before spending the second half of the season at High-A. Salas is a switch hitter who hits well from both sides of the plate. He projects to have above average power as he continues to fill out (20-25 home runs). Salas has a low-effort swing that has been ground ball prone early in his career. If he can work towards contacting the ball earlier in the strike zone, he should have a good hit tool. Salas success on the base paths are more a reflection of outstanding baserunning than great speed. In two minor league season, he's stolen 47 bases. Salas’ defensive home remains uncertain. He has a strong arm but may slow as he fills out meaning a transition to another infield position. A member of an NL operations department said of Salas: 'His tools are pretty damn impressive. He will probably be a bottom of the scale runner, hurting his chances to keep playing shortstop of even second base'. Salas’ work ethic and drive have been praised by coaches he has worked with. Bottom Line: Salas is an exciting prospect with strong tools across the board. The Twins have added another fringy top 100 prospect to their system (in addition to Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee, Emmanuel Rodriguez, Marco Raya, and Edouard Julien) and helped replenish the hit they took at the 2022 trade deadline. Salas is an exciting addition to a talented system. Byron Chourio At first glance, Chourio may seem like the lottery ticket acquisition in the Luis Arraez/Pablo Lopez trade. A Venezuelan outfielder signed by the Marlins in 2022, Chourio is just 17 years old. At 6’2, and 171 pounds, there’s plenty of room for him to add some mass as he grows and develops. The Twins seem to like what they have acquired in Chourio. Assigned to the DSL Marlins, Chourio debuted last season, hitting .344/.429/.410 (.838) with nine doubles and one home run, 23 runs batted in, and 19 stolen bases in 51 games in his first professional season in the Dominican Summer League. We’ll continue to add more information about Chourio as we get it. What are you impressions of the Twins return for Arraez? What do you think of Salas? What’s your evaluation of the trade? Join the discussion below. View full article
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