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  1. The Twins had a roster jam and an offseason of moves on the horizon when they dumped Gio Urshela for what was essentially salary relief. Given how the rest of the offseason has played out, this move appears to have been a mistake. Image courtesy of Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports We’ve received more straightforward news on the Max Kepler front these last few days. After speculation grew regarding the Twins possibly keeping the left-handed outfielder, Dan Hayes reports that Kepler sticking around is likely at this point. It’s been discussed how Max Kepler still has value in the right role to help the Twins if he stays. This news does make us second guess parting with Gio Urshela earlier this winter, however. The Twins decision to trade Gio Urshela was straightforward at the time. Jose Miranda is getting a fair crack at being the everyday third baseman, and Urshela’s projected arbitration salary was a bit high for a player whose role wasn’t certain. They followed it up by signing Joey Gallo to a one-year, $11 million prove-it deal. This all but cemented the fact that Max Kepler was on the way out, as six left-handed corner outfielders on the 40-man roster is beyond excessive. With the addition of Gallo and Kepler apparently staying around, however, the Twins may have misplayed their hand. It appears the plan with Kepler still being in the mix is for Joey Gallo to play a lot of first base in 2023. With Alex Kirilloff’s health being in question and Gallo having some experience there, it makes sense given the state of the current 40-man roster. Consider however that given Joey Gallo's recent offensive struggles, a fair bit of his floor value comes from his defense in the outfield. Perhaps his offense rebounds to passable levels for a first baseman, but his ability to cover ground and throw out runners on the base paths would be all but nullified by a move to first base. Make no mistake, the debate didn’t have to be Urshela vs Gallo for the first base platoon role. It seemed that the plan was to trade Max Kepler for much of the offseason. The Twins asking price appeared to have been high all along, but given the level of player Kepler is at this point and the context of the roster, it’s confusing why they’d play hardball on his price on the trade market. Urshela was a far more valuable player than Kepler in 2022 by any Wins Above Replacement measure and was essentially given away for free because of his redundancy with Miranda moving over to the hot corner. The irony in this is that the Twins now have Gallo, Larnach, Gordon, Wallner, Kirilloff, and Kepler as left-handed corner outfield options and it appears they haven’t lowered their asking price at all. Kepler has a $10 million option for 2024, but do the Twins really plan on paying that if Kepler’s performance from the last two years continues? The Twins current roster includes a massive left-handed logjam with players like Joey Gallo out of position where his skillset isn’t being maximized. Several young players such as Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner who should be nearing their chance to show what they can do are now pushed further down the line by the excessive outfield depth chart. They could have a better platoon partner for Kirilloff and one more right-handed bat in Gio Urshela for less money, but instead, they traded this scenario away for a 19-year-old pitching prospect in the low minors. It’s hard to say there weren’t miscalculations on the Twins part this offseason. Looking at the roster now, it becomes clear that Urshela’s value to the team exceeded the value he carried on the trade market. This is further exacerbated by the Twins appearing to overvalue Kepler on the trade market despite the obvious lack of need for him on the roster. If they valued Kepler this highly, why sign Joey Gallo at all as opposed to keeping Gio Urshela or designating that $11 million to a right-handed hitter with more experience at first base? It’s possible Max Kepler is still traded before the season and that the roster makes a lot more sense on Opening Day. As things stand now, however, it sure looks like dumping Gio Urshela for anything they could get was a mistake. Do you agree? View full article
  2. Teammates prepare for difficult conversations about emojis and nymphs. Image courtesy of © David Banks-USA TODAY Sports When the offseason began, there were two certainties: The Twins would move heaven and earth to get Carlos Correa back, and Max Kepler was going to be traded. Through a wild series of events, Correa is back in Minnesota for a while. However, that second certainty? At this writing, it’s uncertain at best. “Spring Training is two weeks away and Max (Kepler, Twins outfielder) is still here,” said Twins outfielder Trevor Larnach. “We sort of removed him from all of our group chats. It’s weird.” The signing of fellow lefthanded corner outfielder Joey Gallo seemed to signal that Kepler’s time as a Twin was nearing an end. The trade for Michael A. Taylor seemed to put an exclamation point to it. And yet. “I sort of moved my stuff into his locker at Target Field,” said Larnach. “It’s going to be awkward already when we start texting him out of the blue about Fort Myers restaurants and agreeing he’s right about how great German chocolate is. We get it, bro, you’re from Germany. The locker is harder to explain.” Fellow outfielder Byron Buxton agrees that it’s going to take a little finesse. “We all kind of thought he was gone,” said Buxton. “And he doesn’t quite have a handle on how we use emojis here, so if we welcome him back with the wrong one, it could get sideways. The ‘cry laughing’ one means something so disturbing where he’s from that he didn’t talk to (Ryan) Jeffers for two months.” Larnach was asked if Kepler might be open to bargaining. “I just read some Grimm’s Fairy Tales to acquaint myself with his culture,” said Larnach. “These stories are messed up. The Godfather Death ruins harvests and the Three Nymphs of the Black Forest steal your soul and your maiden fair. I don’t know what a maiden fair even is. Maybe I should just buy him a car?” View full article
  3. The Minnesota Twins outfielders coined a phrase “Nothing Falls but Raindrops” a few seasons ago, and while it was fitting, none of them knew what was coming. This collection could be the best in the sport, and it may not even be close. Image courtesy of © Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports Yes, gone is Eddie Rosario, and maybe Max Kepler will be jettisoned at some point as well. What stands as truth either way, however, is that Rocco Baldelli should lay claim to having baseball’s best outfield. As always, Byron Buxton needs to stay healthy. That has been the case forever and will continue to be as much. His 92 games last season was the most he has played since 2017, and that was the last time he won a Gold Glove. We aren’t just hoping for a guy to contribute in the field anymore either, as when Buxton is out there, he’s among the best in the game. Now having developed into a Mike Trout or Aaron Judge type on a per-game basis, Buxton represents the gold standard in centerfield. When the Twins brought in Joey Gallo, it immediately made more sense for them to move Kepler. With Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach vying for time on the corners, and all being left handed, the glut had to be reduced somehow. Still, Kepler being parted out for nothing makes little sense. Although the offensive profile is nowhere near that of Buxton’s he contributes to a very similar level on defense. Rating highly by both defensive runs saved and outs above average, Kepler is among the premier players in right field. Gallo is traditionally seen as the slugging bat that is home run or bust. That simplifies his game far more than should be warranted. He is also a strong on-base contributor, and among the best outfielders in the game by his own right. Able to play any of the three spots on the grass, Gallo is quicker than you’d expect given his size, and the arm strength is notable as well. He has two Gold Glove awards to his credit, and neither are simply a byproduct of what he did on offense. Behind the starters is where Minnesota has also made massive strides. Rather than needing to play Jake Cave, or ask Tim Beckham to learn a new position, Michael A. Taylor represents the next man up. His bat has never been anything to write home about, but he represents a Gold Glove caliber centerfield talent, and could start on nearly any other team in baseball. With a desire to keep Buxton off his feet on occasion, filling in with that level of defensive talent is beyond impressive. From there the Twins could turn to either Nick Gordon, who filled in admirably last year, or Gilberto Celestino. Gordon showed a consistent level of development as he worked to acclimate himself in centerfield. His arm strength has been a question at shortstop, but his speed and closing ability played well in the outfield. Now more of a utility talent, being capable on the grass gives him plenty of opportunity. Celestino has always looked the part of a strong defender, and the growth he showed during year two in the big leagues was substantial. There is probably more to unlock with him, and Minnesota should continue to find ways to do so. At the end of the day there won’t be a surefire way to replace the production lost by either Buxton or Gallo if either miss time. Dealing Kepler could hurt should Minnesota need to replace injured bodies. When Spring Training commences though, it’s hard to think of another roster in baseball that can lay claim to the same level of defensive talent. One would hope that Royce Lewis can return this summer and play on the dirt. He found his way to the outfield last year with guys missing time and the roster needing help. The latter part should no longer be an issue, and with Target Field having an expansive amount of space to cover, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have given their pitchers the best players to do it. A season ago Minnesota was a top five unit in the outfield defensively. For 2023, the focus should be 1st or bust. View full article
  4. We’ve received more straightforward news on the Max Kepler front these last few days. After speculation grew regarding the Twins possibly keeping the left-handed outfielder, Dan Hayes reports that Kepler sticking around is likely at this point. It’s been discussed how Max Kepler still has value in the right role to help the Twins if he stays. This news does make us second guess parting with Gio Urshela earlier this winter, however. The Twins decision to trade Gio Urshela was straightforward at the time. Jose Miranda is getting a fair crack at being the everyday third baseman, and Urshela’s projected arbitration salary was a bit high for a player whose role wasn’t certain. They followed it up by signing Joey Gallo to a one-year, $11 million prove-it deal. This all but cemented the fact that Max Kepler was on the way out, as six left-handed corner outfielders on the 40-man roster is beyond excessive. With the addition of Gallo and Kepler apparently staying around, however, the Twins may have misplayed their hand. It appears the plan with Kepler still being in the mix is for Joey Gallo to play a lot of first base in 2023. With Alex Kirilloff’s health being in question and Gallo having some experience there, it makes sense given the state of the current 40-man roster. Consider however that given Joey Gallo's recent offensive struggles, a fair bit of his floor value comes from his defense in the outfield. Perhaps his offense rebounds to passable levels for a first baseman, but his ability to cover ground and throw out runners on the base paths would be all but nullified by a move to first base. Make no mistake, the debate didn’t have to be Urshela vs Gallo for the first base platoon role. It seemed that the plan was to trade Max Kepler for much of the offseason. The Twins asking price appeared to have been high all along, but given the level of player Kepler is at this point and the context of the roster, it’s confusing why they’d play hardball on his price on the trade market. Urshela was a far more valuable player than Kepler in 2022 by any Wins Above Replacement measure and was essentially given away for free because of his redundancy with Miranda moving over to the hot corner. The irony in this is that the Twins now have Gallo, Larnach, Gordon, Wallner, Kirilloff, and Kepler as left-handed corner outfield options and it appears they haven’t lowered their asking price at all. Kepler has a $10 million option for 2024, but do the Twins really plan on paying that if Kepler’s performance from the last two years continues? The Twins current roster includes a massive left-handed logjam with players like Joey Gallo out of position where his skillset isn’t being maximized. Several young players such as Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner who should be nearing their chance to show what they can do are now pushed further down the line by the excessive outfield depth chart. They could have a better platoon partner for Kirilloff and one more right-handed bat in Gio Urshela for less money, but instead, they traded this scenario away for a 19-year-old pitching prospect in the low minors. It’s hard to say there weren’t miscalculations on the Twins part this offseason. Looking at the roster now, it becomes clear that Urshela’s value to the team exceeded the value he carried on the trade market. This is further exacerbated by the Twins appearing to overvalue Kepler on the trade market despite the obvious lack of need for him on the roster. If they valued Kepler this highly, why sign Joey Gallo at all as opposed to keeping Gio Urshela or designating that $11 million to a right-handed hitter with more experience at first base? It’s possible Max Kepler is still traded before the season and that the roster makes a lot more sense on Opening Day. As things stand now, however, it sure looks like dumping Gio Urshela for anything they could get was a mistake. Do you agree?
  5. The Twins haven’t gotten the offers they were hoping for in a Kepler trade, which means he’s likely to be on the Opening Day roster. With nine outfielders on the active roster, what is the role of each player? View full video
  6. The Twins haven’t gotten the offers they were hoping for in a Kepler trade, which means he’s likely to be on the Opening Day roster. With nine outfielders on the active roster, what is the role of each player?
  7. Yes, gone is Eddie Rosario, and maybe Max Kepler will be jettisoned at some point as well. What stands as truth either way, however, is that Rocco Baldelli should lay claim to having baseball’s best outfield. As always, Byron Buxton needs to stay healthy. That has been the case forever and will continue to be as much. His 92 games last season was the most he has played since 2017, and that was the last time he won a Gold Glove. We aren’t just hoping for a guy to contribute in the field anymore either, as when Buxton is out there, he’s among the best in the game. Now having developed into a Mike Trout or Aaron Judge type on a per-game basis, Buxton represents the gold standard in centerfield. When the Twins brought in Joey Gallo, it immediately made more sense for them to move Kepler. With Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach vying for time on the corners, and all being left handed, the glut had to be reduced somehow. Still, Kepler being parted out for nothing makes little sense. Although the offensive profile is nowhere near that of Buxton’s he contributes to a very similar level on defense. Rating highly by both defensive runs saved and outs above average, Kepler is among the premier players in right field. Gallo is traditionally seen as the slugging bat that is home run or bust. That simplifies his game far more than should be warranted. He is also a strong on-base contributor, and among the best outfielders in the game by his own right. Able to play any of the three spots on the grass, Gallo is quicker than you’d expect given his size, and the arm strength is notable as well. He has two Gold Glove awards to his credit, and neither are simply a byproduct of what he did on offense. Behind the starters is where Minnesota has also made massive strides. Rather than needing to play Jake Cave, or ask Tim Beckham to learn a new position, Michael A. Taylor represents the next man up. His bat has never been anything to write home about, but he represents a Gold Glove caliber centerfield talent, and could start on nearly any other team in baseball. With a desire to keep Buxton off his feet on occasion, filling in with that level of defensive talent is beyond impressive. From there the Twins could turn to either Nick Gordon, who filled in admirably last year, or Gilberto Celestino. Gordon showed a consistent level of development as he worked to acclimate himself in centerfield. His arm strength has been a question at shortstop, but his speed and closing ability played well in the outfield. Now more of a utility talent, being capable on the grass gives him plenty of opportunity. Celestino has always looked the part of a strong defender, and the growth he showed during year two in the big leagues was substantial. There is probably more to unlock with him, and Minnesota should continue to find ways to do so. At the end of the day there won’t be a surefire way to replace the production lost by either Buxton or Gallo if either miss time. Dealing Kepler could hurt should Minnesota need to replace injured bodies. When Spring Training commences though, it’s hard to think of another roster in baseball that can lay claim to the same level of defensive talent. One would hope that Royce Lewis can return this summer and play on the dirt. He found his way to the outfield last year with guys missing time and the roster needing help. The latter part should no longer be an issue, and with Target Field having an expansive amount of space to cover, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have given their pitchers the best players to do it. A season ago Minnesota was a top five unit in the outfield defensively. For 2023, the focus should be 1st or bust.
  8. When the offseason began, there were two certainties: The Twins would move heaven and earth to get Carlos Correa back, and Max Kepler was going to be traded. Through a wild series of events, Correa is back in Minnesota for a while. However, that second certainty? At this writing, it’s uncertain at best. “Spring Training is two weeks away and Max (Kepler, Twins outfielder) is still here,” said Twins outfielder Trevor Larnach. “We sort of removed him from all of our group chats. It’s weird.” The signing of fellow lefthanded corner outfielder Joey Gallo seemed to signal that Kepler’s time as a Twin was nearing an end. The trade for Michael A. Taylor seemed to put an exclamation point to it. And yet. “I sort of moved my stuff into his locker at Target Field,” said Larnach. “It’s going to be awkward already when we start texting him out of the blue about Fort Myers restaurants and agreeing he’s right about how great German chocolate is. We get it, bro, you’re from Germany. The locker is harder to explain.” Fellow outfielder Byron Buxton agrees that it’s going to take a little finesse. “We all kind of thought he was gone,” said Buxton. “And he doesn’t quite have a handle on how we use emojis here, so if we welcome him back with the wrong one, it could get sideways. The ‘cry laughing’ one means something so disturbing where he’s from that he didn’t talk to (Ryan) Jeffers for two months.” Larnach was asked if Kepler might be open to bargaining. “I just read some Grimm’s Fairy Tales to acquaint myself with his culture,” said Larnach. “These stories are messed up. The Godfather Death ruins harvests and the Three Nymphs of the Black Forest steal your soul and your maiden fair. I don’t know what a maiden fair even is. Maybe I should just buy him a car?”
  9. Over the weekend Roch Kabotka of MASN Sports said the Baltimore orioles need a “defensive minded corner outfielder to complete their off-season”. Although, specifically looking for a left fielder, the Twins and Orioles could come together for their second trade in six months. View full video
  10. Over the weekend Roch Kabotka of MASN Sports said the Baltimore orioles need a “defensive minded corner outfielder to complete their off-season”. Although, specifically looking for a left fielder, the Twins and Orioles could come together for their second trade in six months.
  11. At points this winter, it seemed to be a foregone conclusion that Max Kepler was headed out of Minnesota. It’s starting to look like he’s staying, however, which means it’s time for the Twins to realize what they have in their former everyday right fielder. Image courtesy of Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports There have been points this winter where we were waiting for a Max Kepler trade announcement within the coming hours, such as when Joey Gallo was signed. Here we are at the end of January, however, and not only is Max Kepler still a Twin, it appears that may not change after all. When Disco Dan Hayes makes such a statement, it’s wise to listen. The Twins still see value in Kepler, at least more than other teams appear to on the trade market. It’s a fair stance. It’s hard to trade a player for less than a team feels they’re worth. That being said, if Max Kepler stays in Minnesota another year, the Twins need to get realistic about what they have in their homegrown corner outfielder. Max Kepler was seen as a breakout candidate for years before finally doing so in 2019. His 122 wRC+ that year made him appear to be a future star player, slugging 36 homers and crushing lefties, his biggest weakness as a hitter. We now have about 1,500 plate appearances prior to 2019 and over 1000 after saying that Max Kepler is not the player he was in 2019, and it’s time the Twins stop pretending he is. The realistic description of Max Kepler is that he’s a defense first strong side platoon player with a plate approach that should keep him out of the everyday lineup. In about 1,100 plate appearances since 2019, Max Kepler has slashed .220/.314/.392. His 98 wRC+ is 2% below league average for that time period, but playing the premier offensive position of corner outfield means that he’s even further below average than that relative to his positional peers. The Twins roster is ripe with reasons for Max Kepler not to have right field locked down everyday. Trevor Larnach nearly had as many Defensive Runs saved as Kepler in far fewer innings defensively in 2022, and there’s still a chance he hits left handed pitching and becomes a legitimate everyday player. Joey Gallo, for as much hate as he gets, is a legit plus player in the outfield defensively, and his career wRC+ is over 30 points higher against left handed pitching while his splits against right handed pitching are nearly identical to Kepler. Newly added outfielder Michael Taylor, who is known for being a non contributor offensively, blows Kepler away against left handed pitching for their careers. In 2022, Max Kepler took 60% of his plate appearances in the 1-4 spots of the lineup and about 43% of his plate appearances in the cleanup spot. There’s simply no justification for the Twins to continue this moving forward. With a career .744 OPS, Kepler hasn’t even reached the .720 mark since the shortened 2020 season. Even against right handed pitching Kepler has been surpassed by players such as Nick Gordon, who performed considerably better offensively as a platoon player in 2022. The Twins have assembled enough depth to keep Kepler from hitting in the heart of the lineup, and from playing in same-handed matchups at all. At 30 years old it’s time to recognize that this is the caliber of player that Max Kepler is. All of this to say that Max Kepler is a fine player… as a depth piece. There will be times where his defensive value is needed, and given the Twins recent injuries, he'll be a fine everyday fill-in for short periods if need be. In terms of 2022 calculated value per WAR, Kepler was still a value as he was paid $6.75m and was worth a bit over $10m by 2022 free agency measures. His $8.5m salary in 2023 and $10m team option for 2024 become much more in question however. If Kepler plays less in 2023 and/or his defensive value declines even slightly, he becomes less of a value and a prime candidate to have his 2024 option declined. This is why it’s still somewhat puzzling that the Twins don’t appear to be determined to trade him. With the shift ban on the horizon, it’s not a stretch to call it likely that Kepler’s value may never be higher despite the fact that it doesn’t look like he’ll benefit all that much from the rule change. The Twins may still very well trade Max Kepler. If they don’t however, they need to use him in an appropriate role. He’s not a player whose performance demands at bats. He’s not part of the core of the lineup. View full article
  12. The Twins acquired centerfielder Michael A. Taylor from the Kansas City Royals Monday evening. The trade sets him up to be the primary backup to Byron Buxton in centerfield. Does Taylor's defensive skill give the Twins their best centerfield depth in years? Image courtesy of Wendell Cruz, USA TODAY Sports The Twins didn’t make this trade to get Michael A. Taylor for his bat. He’s here to play defense, and some very good defense in ccenter field Taylor won a Gold Glove in 2021 and joining the Twins alleviates the pressure for Byron Buxton pushing his physical limits to play every day in center field. Taylor has also played the corner outfield positions in his career, but in the last two seasons, he's played exclusively in center. The acquisition of Taylor puts nine outfielders on the Twins' 40-man roster, as the Twins designated pitcher A.J. Alexy for assignment following the trade. As the roster currently stands, a Twins everyday outfield could consist of Joey Gallo in left, a Buxton/Taylor platoon in center, and Max Kepler in right. This off-season, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have worked hard to address each of the Twins' issues and added depth at each position, and brining in Taylor solidifies a commitment to put the best possible team out there and ensure more playing time for Buxton when healthy. For a Twins team needing strong outfield depth after two chaotic seasons with centerfielder after centerfielder going down with injuries, Taylor provides hope that they can avoid having a player like Rob Refsnyder playing in center field because no one else is available due to injuries. The line of duty for center field behind Buxton and Taylor is likely to fall onto Gordon if either cannot play. The Twins have also said that Gallo can be an option in center if push comes to shove. Of course there is also the option of Celestino, who is now likely to start his season in St. Paul to hone in on his hitting skills that have not translated well in the Majors. Again, Taylor’s hitting numbers don’t jump off the back of his baseball card as he hit .254/.313/.357 (.670) in 2022. However, his fielding numbers per Statcast tell a different story. His percentile for arm strength ranks one percent higher than Buxton, two percent more than Gallo and 19 percent higher than Kepler. The only outfielder on the Twins 40-man who was in a higher percentile than Taylor for the 2022 season was Gilberto Celestino, in the 93rd percentile. One area where Taylor may shine for the Twins in 2023 is stolen bases. Taylor had just four steals in 2022, but he had 14 stolen bases in 2021. With Taylor in the outfield, Twins fans can take a sigh of relief that Buxton has a great chance to hit the 100 games played threshold for the first time since 2017. Plus if injuries are down in 2023 from how high they were in 2022. Many players will enjoy more playing time and needed rest days with the Twins depth in the outfield only growing stronger. View full article
  13. There have been points this winter where we were waiting for a Max Kepler trade announcement within the coming hours, such as when Joey Gallo was signed. Here we are at the end of January, however, and not only is Max Kepler still a Twin, it appears that may not change after all. When Disco Dan Hayes makes such a statement, it’s wise to listen. The Twins still see value in Kepler, at least more than other teams appear to on the trade market. It’s a fair stance. It’s hard to trade a player for less than a team feels they’re worth. That being said, if Max Kepler stays in Minnesota another year, the Twins need to get realistic about what they have in their homegrown corner outfielder. Max Kepler was seen as a breakout candidate for years before finally doing so in 2019. His 122 wRC+ that year made him appear to be a future star player, slugging 36 homers and crushing lefties, his biggest weakness as a hitter. We now have about 1,500 plate appearances prior to 2019 and over 1000 after saying that Max Kepler is not the player he was in 2019, and it’s time the Twins stop pretending he is. The realistic description of Max Kepler is that he’s a defense first strong side platoon player with a plate approach that should keep him out of the everyday lineup. In about 1,100 plate appearances since 2019, Max Kepler has slashed .220/.314/.392. His 98 wRC+ is 2% below league average for that time period, but playing the premier offensive position of corner outfield means that he’s even further below average than that relative to his positional peers. The Twins roster is ripe with reasons for Max Kepler not to have right field locked down everyday. Trevor Larnach nearly had as many Defensive Runs saved as Kepler in far fewer innings defensively in 2022, and there’s still a chance he hits left handed pitching and becomes a legitimate everyday player. Joey Gallo, for as much hate as he gets, is a legit plus player in the outfield defensively, and his career wRC+ is over 30 points higher against left handed pitching while his splits against right handed pitching are nearly identical to Kepler. Newly added outfielder Michael Taylor, who is known for being a non contributor offensively, blows Kepler away against left handed pitching for their careers. In 2022, Max Kepler took 60% of his plate appearances in the 1-4 spots of the lineup and about 43% of his plate appearances in the cleanup spot. There’s simply no justification for the Twins to continue this moving forward. With a career .744 OPS, Kepler hasn’t even reached the .720 mark since the shortened 2020 season. Even against right handed pitching Kepler has been surpassed by players such as Nick Gordon, who performed considerably better offensively as a platoon player in 2022. The Twins have assembled enough depth to keep Kepler from hitting in the heart of the lineup, and from playing in same-handed matchups at all. At 30 years old it’s time to recognize that this is the caliber of player that Max Kepler is. All of this to say that Max Kepler is a fine player… as a depth piece. There will be times where his defensive value is needed, and given the Twins recent injuries, he'll be a fine everyday fill-in for short periods if need be. In terms of 2022 calculated value per WAR, Kepler was still a value as he was paid $6.75m and was worth a bit over $10m by 2022 free agency measures. His $8.5m salary in 2023 and $10m team option for 2024 become much more in question however. If Kepler plays less in 2023 and/or his defensive value declines even slightly, he becomes less of a value and a prime candidate to have his 2024 option declined. This is why it’s still somewhat puzzling that the Twins don’t appear to be determined to trade him. With the shift ban on the horizon, it’s not a stretch to call it likely that Kepler’s value may never be higher despite the fact that it doesn’t look like he’ll benefit all that much from the rule change. The Twins may still very well trade Max Kepler. If they don’t however, they need to use him in an appropriate role. He’s not a player whose performance demands at bats. He’s not part of the core of the lineup.
  14. The Twins didn’t make this trade to get Michael A. Taylor for his bat. He’s here to play defense, and some very good defense in ccenter field Taylor won a Gold Glove in 2021 and joining the Twins alleviates the pressure for Byron Buxton pushing his physical limits to play every day in center field. Taylor has also played the corner outfield positions in his career, but in the last two seasons, he's played exclusively in center. The acquisition of Taylor puts nine outfielders on the Twins' 40-man roster, as the Twins designated pitcher A.J. Alexy for assignment following the trade. As the roster currently stands, a Twins everyday outfield could consist of Joey Gallo in left, a Buxton/Taylor platoon in center, and Max Kepler in right. This off-season, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have worked hard to address each of the Twins' issues and added depth at each position, and brining in Taylor solidifies a commitment to put the best possible team out there and ensure more playing time for Buxton when healthy. For a Twins team needing strong outfield depth after two chaotic seasons with centerfielder after centerfielder going down with injuries, Taylor provides hope that they can avoid having a player like Rob Refsnyder playing in center field because no one else is available due to injuries. The line of duty for center field behind Buxton and Taylor is likely to fall onto Gordon if either cannot play. The Twins have also said that Gallo can be an option in center if push comes to shove. Of course there is also the option of Celestino, who is now likely to start his season in St. Paul to hone in on his hitting skills that have not translated well in the Majors. Again, Taylor’s hitting numbers don’t jump off the back of his baseball card as he hit .254/.313/.357 (.670) in 2022. However, his fielding numbers per Statcast tell a different story. His percentile for arm strength ranks one percent higher than Buxton, two percent more than Gallo and 19 percent higher than Kepler. The only outfielder on the Twins 40-man who was in a higher percentile than Taylor for the 2022 season was Gilberto Celestino, in the 93rd percentile. One area where Taylor may shine for the Twins in 2023 is stolen bases. Taylor had just four steals in 2022, but he had 14 stolen bases in 2021. With Taylor in the outfield, Twins fans can take a sigh of relief that Buxton has a great chance to hit the 100 games played threshold for the first time since 2017. Plus if injuries are down in 2023 from how high they were in 2022. Many players will enjoy more playing time and needed rest days with the Twins depth in the outfield only growing stronger.
  15. Max Kepler's name has been in trade rumors throughout the offseason, but what if he isn't traded? Is there any reason to believe that he could make some adjustments and become valuable at the plate again? Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports No position player in the Minnesota Twins organization has been less appreciated in the last few weeks/months than Max Kepler. After a hot start to the 2022 season, the German outfielder saw his offensive productivity dramatically decrease in the second half of the season, mainly after suffering a fracture in his right pinky toe in mid-July. He’s now the guy most Twins fans want the team to get rid of, but since his trade value isn’t very high right now, Minnesota might have no other option but to stick with him for now. Which brings me to the question: can Kepler get back on track and help the Twins' offense in 2023? I think there are reasons to believe so. Kepler’s regression isn’t an individual outcome Kepler had arguably the worst offensive performance of his career in 2022. With a career-worst .666 OPS. It was the first time in his big-league career that it went below .719 for a season. But he was hardly the only Twin to see his offensive productivity plummet in the last three years. In three seasons under former hitting coach James Rowson (2017-2019), Minnesota had an elite offense, ranking among the top five or six best offenses in baseball in a number of offensive metrics: fifth in baseball in wRC+ (105), sixth in OPS (.775), fifth in SLG (.445), sixth in wOBA (.330), and fifth in ISO (.185). In the following three seasons after the New York native departed the organization, the Twins failed to rank at the league’s top ten in most of those same metrics. Kepler experienced his offensive peak with Rowson as the Twins' hitting coach with back-to-back above-average seasons (wRC+ above 100). Since his departure, he regressed into a slightly below-average hitter, similar to the one he was when Rowson joined the club. The past couple of seasons have been rough for the entirety of Minnesota’s offense, which possibly had more downs than ups. David Popkins took over as the team’s hitting coach after the 2021 season, making 2022 a season of getting used to a whole new regime. Kepler struggled overall, but that doesn’t mean he did everything wrong. Here’s why. Kepler might be a few tweaks away from getting back on track When browsing through Kepler’s Baseball Savant page, you get smacked in the face with his surprisingly good 2022 Percentile Rankings. What conclusions can we draw from this? He failed to get good quality, hard contact last season. While his average exit velocity (89.1 MPH), Barrel% (7.1), and HardHit% (39.9) are still slightly above league average, last year’s percentile rankings in those metrics are some of the worst in his career. Curiously, though, all three of them were worse in 2020, the last season in which Kepler finished with an above-average wRC+. He might never have been more disciplined at the plate than last season. Despite his struggles with hitting for power, Kepler posted a career-best 14.8% K%, making him better than 88% of all hitters in baseball. Also, he had an 11% BB%, well above league average (8.4%), making it the third consecutive season with an 11% or better walk rate. He draws more walks than 84% of all major-league hitters. His Whiff% (19.9) and Chase% (23.5) are also among the league’s best. His expected stats might indicate some improvement is coming. Expected statistics are fun to look at. They aren’t necessarily predictive, but they can tell you how well a player is doing things compared to the league-wide execution. For instance, Kepler’s expected stats trended upward in the first two seasons of Rowson with the Twins, resulting in a great 2019 season for him. Then, they started trending downward for the following two seasons, resulting in a poor overall performance in 2022. But as you can see in the image above, his xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG had some of the best percentile rankings of his career. So what does Kepler need to do to improve in 2023? And will he? When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up. Assuming 2022 was Kepler’s rock bottom offensively, it is logical to believe that he’s bound for some improvement, especially after finding out he’s in an upward trend in his expected stats. This is not just a logical conclusion from myself: several projections also believe Kepler will be a better hitter in 2023. On his FanGraphs page, you can see how every pre-season projection (the green rows) expects him to reach at least 103 wRC+ this year, with the most optimistic one saying he could reach 113 wRC+. But how can that happen? Well, the good news is that we know what he needs to work on this offseason and preseason: putting the ball in the air. Kepler’s decreased productivity on offense goes hand in hand with his reduced launch angle and increased ground ball rate. In 2020, his last season with a wRC+ above 100, his launch angle average was 22.2, a career-best. In 2022, however, that came down to 11.2, the smallest one since his rookie season. His ground ball rate also increased significantly in that span, going from 32.4% in 2020 to 45.7% last year. If Kepler gets back on track, what does that mean for the Twins? Kepler is one of MLB’s best defensive outfielders, ranking sixth in the majors in OAA (11) and ninth in DRS (9). Most of his 2.0 fWAR in 2022 was thanks to his defensive contributions. If he can improve the aspects mentioned in the previous paragraph and regain some confidence offensively, he can become an important cog in the Twins' offense. But does that mean he’ll stick around long? Not necessarily. The Luis Arraez trade proved Minnesota’s front office is willing even to part ways with a fan-favorite in order to improve their roster. In the eyes of Twins fans, Kepler’s appreciation was never close to that of Arráez’s, so if Kepler actually manages to get back on track offensively, he might become a valuable trade piece. With outfielders such as Trevor Larnach, Matt Wallner, and Mark Contreras having already made their big-league debut, it’s hard to imagine Kepler, who’s in the final year of his contract, not getting dealt soon, provided he regains some of his trade value. View full article
  16. No position player in the Minnesota Twins organization has been less appreciated in the last few weeks/months than Max Kepler. After a hot start to the 2022 season, the German outfielder saw his offensive productivity dramatically decrease in the second half of the season, mainly after suffering a fracture in his right pinky toe in mid-July. He’s now the guy most Twins fans want the team to get rid of, but since his trade value isn’t very high right now, Minnesota might have no other option but to stick with him for now. Which brings me to the question: can Kepler get back on track and help the Twins' offense in 2023? I think there are reasons to believe so. Kepler’s regression isn’t an individual outcome Kepler had arguably the worst offensive performance of his career in 2022. With a career-worst .666 OPS. It was the first time in his big-league career that it went below .719 for a season. But he was hardly the only Twin to see his offensive productivity plummet in the last three years. In three seasons under former hitting coach James Rowson (2017-2019), Minnesota had an elite offense, ranking among the top five or six best offenses in baseball in a number of offensive metrics: fifth in baseball in wRC+ (105), sixth in OPS (.775), fifth in SLG (.445), sixth in wOBA (.330), and fifth in ISO (.185). In the following three seasons after the New York native departed the organization, the Twins failed to rank at the league’s top ten in most of those same metrics. Kepler experienced his offensive peak with Rowson as the Twins' hitting coach with back-to-back above-average seasons (wRC+ above 100). Since his departure, he regressed into a slightly below-average hitter, similar to the one he was when Rowson joined the club. The past couple of seasons have been rough for the entirety of Minnesota’s offense, which possibly had more downs than ups. David Popkins took over as the team’s hitting coach after the 2021 season, making 2022 a season of getting used to a whole new regime. Kepler struggled overall, but that doesn’t mean he did everything wrong. Here’s why. Kepler might be a few tweaks away from getting back on track When browsing through Kepler’s Baseball Savant page, you get smacked in the face with his surprisingly good 2022 Percentile Rankings. What conclusions can we draw from this? He failed to get good quality, hard contact last season. While his average exit velocity (89.1 MPH), Barrel% (7.1), and HardHit% (39.9) are still slightly above league average, last year’s percentile rankings in those metrics are some of the worst in his career. Curiously, though, all three of them were worse in 2020, the last season in which Kepler finished with an above-average wRC+. He might never have been more disciplined at the plate than last season. Despite his struggles with hitting for power, Kepler posted a career-best 14.8% K%, making him better than 88% of all hitters in baseball. Also, he had an 11% BB%, well above league average (8.4%), making it the third consecutive season with an 11% or better walk rate. He draws more walks than 84% of all major-league hitters. His Whiff% (19.9) and Chase% (23.5) are also among the league’s best. His expected stats might indicate some improvement is coming. Expected statistics are fun to look at. They aren’t necessarily predictive, but they can tell you how well a player is doing things compared to the league-wide execution. For instance, Kepler’s expected stats trended upward in the first two seasons of Rowson with the Twins, resulting in a great 2019 season for him. Then, they started trending downward for the following two seasons, resulting in a poor overall performance in 2022. But as you can see in the image above, his xwOBA, xBA, and xSLG had some of the best percentile rankings of his career. So what does Kepler need to do to improve in 2023? And will he? When you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up. Assuming 2022 was Kepler’s rock bottom offensively, it is logical to believe that he’s bound for some improvement, especially after finding out he’s in an upward trend in his expected stats. This is not just a logical conclusion from myself: several projections also believe Kepler will be a better hitter in 2023. On his FanGraphs page, you can see how every pre-season projection (the green rows) expects him to reach at least 103 wRC+ this year, with the most optimistic one saying he could reach 113 wRC+. But how can that happen? Well, the good news is that we know what he needs to work on this offseason and preseason: putting the ball in the air. Kepler’s decreased productivity on offense goes hand in hand with his reduced launch angle and increased ground ball rate. In 2020, his last season with a wRC+ above 100, his launch angle average was 22.2, a career-best. In 2022, however, that came down to 11.2, the smallest one since his rookie season. His ground ball rate also increased significantly in that span, going from 32.4% in 2020 to 45.7% last year. If Kepler gets back on track, what does that mean for the Twins? Kepler is one of MLB’s best defensive outfielders, ranking sixth in the majors in OAA (11) and ninth in DRS (9). Most of his 2.0 fWAR in 2022 was thanks to his defensive contributions. If he can improve the aspects mentioned in the previous paragraph and regain some confidence offensively, he can become an important cog in the Twins' offense. But does that mean he’ll stick around long? Not necessarily. The Luis Arraez trade proved Minnesota’s front office is willing even to part ways with a fan-favorite in order to improve their roster. In the eyes of Twins fans, Kepler’s appreciation was never close to that of Arráez’s, so if Kepler actually manages to get back on track offensively, he might become a valuable trade piece. With outfielders such as Trevor Larnach, Matt Wallner, and Mark Contreras having already made their big-league debut, it’s hard to imagine Kepler, who’s in the final year of his contract, not getting dealt soon, provided he regains some of his trade value.
  17. Variance is the key word for evaluating the Twins’ 2023 chances. I heard one outside analyst refer to the thought process of Falvey and Levine as “eventually, one year, not everyone will be hurt.” The roster certainly has a different and more optimistic feel to it with the addition of Carlos Correa, but the variance is still high, particularly at the corner outfield spots. Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports In "Fun with Player Comps" I look at player comps for 30 current Twins who figure to play a role in 2023, starting with their closest age player from Baseball-Reference.com prior to 2022. Based on each player's general vibe, I then move into the best and worst-case scenarios. Previous installments: middle-infield, centerfield. With my inclusion of Luis Arraez in the middle infield (what was I thinking?!) that leaves Jose Miranda as the only strictly corner infielder on the roster, so he gets lumped in with the Twins' glut of corner outfielders. Based on Fangraphs depth chart projections, the Twins have average to above-average projections at every position player spot, except the corner outfield spots. Adam Duvall won’t change the calculus much, but there is both talent and upside here. Let’s start with the one corner outfielder that may feature neither: Max Kepler Best comp through age 29: Cory Snyder Never heard of him, but Snyder posted some decent power numbers in his early 20s with Cleveland before falling off a cliff in his late 20s. Instead of a cliff, Kepler’s production has been more of an unattended rickshaw rolling down a mild incline and gaining speed, buoyed only by his excellent defensive work. Worst case: Andrew Jacob Cave This feels harsh, but both players hit for low averages, provide nothing against lefties, have average power, and play good corner outfield defense, though Kepler's defense is a solid grade ahead of Cave's. If this scenario holds, let's hope it's with another team, ideally one that greatly overestimates the benefits Kepler will receive from the shift ban, because it isn't likely he will benefit. Sadly, the dumb teams in baseball are starting to invest in more intelligent front offices, leaving only the Rockies as a team that might overpay for Max. Best case: Jason Heyward My methodology here is that I assume Kepler gets worse as he ages. If he stays where he is or even if he unlocks something elsewhere, Heyward is a good comp. Heyward was a decent player prior to signing with the Cubs in 2016, providing power, patience, and either elite fielding ability in right field or decent fielding in center. The Cubs, and many others, felt there was more offense to unlock, and even if that didn't happen, they could at least bank on him being a plus defender. He never did figure it out with the bat and was never worth his contract, but he did provide some value; for instance, in his 2019-2020 seasons, he hit for a combined 106 OPS+. Were Kepler to post a similar number, his plus defense and baserunning could provide real value. If he was traded to a contender, like the Yankees or Dodgers, he might be more agreeable to a platoon and maximize his impact even further. Jose Miranda (No comp available) Worst case: Willians Astudillo If Miranda takes a step back, it will be because he gets too antsy at the plate and turns his elite contact ability into a liability, rolling weak grounders off pitches outside the zone. If pitchers don't think they have to throw him a strike, he won't be able to get to his above-average power, and if he doesn't hit for power, he may end up with La Tortuga in Japan. Miranda's path to being a long-term asset rests solely with his bat, as his defense can only hope to grade out as "doesn't kill ya," and his baserunning is uncomfortable to watch. Best case: Wal-Mart Rafael Devers Devers is an offensive-minded third baseman with elite bat-to-ball skills and prodigious power. Miranda doesn't have the power or the elite natural gifts that Devers has with a bat, but he isn't that far off if he takes a step forward in 2023. in 2018, Devers' first full(ish) season in the majors, he hit .240/.298/.433 with poor defense and 66 RBI. Miranda just posted .268/.325/.426 with poor defense and 66 RBI. If he improves his selectivity, as Devers did in his 2019 breakout, he'll be a big part of the Twins' future. Trevor Larnach (Telling that there are no comps for the next two) Worst case: Kyle Blanks Blanks got a lot of chances as a big-bodied right fielder who looked like he could hit coming up with the Padres. But he couldn't stay on the field and was out of the game at 28. Larnach tantalizes with his tools, but it may be fair to wonder if his large frame can handle the rigors of being a major league outfielder. On the other hand, his injuries in 2021 were of the hand and foot variety. Blanks was victimized by back and Achilles issues, among other ailments. Best case: Paul O'Neill Larnach has a chance to be a better defender than O'Neill but has less contact ability. O'Neill's career line of .288/.363/.470 looks like something Larnach could achieve in his prime if he stays healthy and reaches his potential. To do that, he simply needs his body to cooperate and to lay off breaking pitches like he did the first two months of 2022 when he posted an .890 OPS and strong defensive metrics. Alex Kirilloff Worst case: Nolan Reimold Reimold teased Orioles fans with a solid rookie season in Baltimore. He was a top 100 prospect who had just posted a .831 OPS in 2009 but couldn't stay healthy. Believing in his potential, the Orioles kept giving him chances. Eventually, they gave up and released him in 2014, only to bring him back a year later, which.. didn't go any better. Best case: Less patient Will Clark Clark should probably be a Hall-of-Famer, but he never quite hit for the kind of power that came in vogue among first basemen in the 1990s. Nevertheless, he posted 56.5 bWAR for his career and hit .303. Kirilloff, too, doesn't strike me as the type to post numerous thirty home run seasons even if things break right for him, but his plate coverage and power the other way could allow him to approach Clark's career AVG and SLG numbers. Kyle Garlick (Still no comps for Garlick, who is still with the Twins as of this writing.) Worst case: Josh Hamilton (with the Angels) When Hamilton hit free agency after the 2012 season, no one really knew how to evaluate him, similar to how Byron Buxton may have looked to the market if the Twins had not extended him: He's great, but how often? Luckily for Hamilton, the Los Angeles Angels exist and gave him 113M. Unluckily for the Angels, Hamilton didn't offer the hedge that Buxton does, where he can give you four WAR in half a season based on his defense and baserunning. Hamilton provided 2.7 bWAR in total to the Angels. If Garlick posted those numbers over a two-year span, it wouldn't be so bad, but like Hamilton and Buxton, Garlick has an impossible time staying on the field. Best case: A Good Ryan Raburn year Raburn was a frustrating player to watch and would frequently alternate .500 and .900 OPS seasons. For his career, however, he hit for a .818 OPS versus lefties and, in his good years, was a force from the right side who was generally healthy. Matt Wallner (No comps, he's just a boy) Worst case: Logan Morrison LoMo had some hype as a prospect but almost always disappointed, never posting an OPS above .800 until his outlier year with the Rays when he popped 38 home runs. Besides that, Morrison struggled to stay healthy, swung and missed a lot, and provided negative defensive value. His career bWAR was 3.9. Best case: Joey Gallo Gallo and Wallner may each have a top-five arm for an outfielder in the game, and Gallo made himself into a strong outfielder despite coming up as a third baseman. He swung and missed a ton, but made enough hard contact to be an All-Star. He may have reached another level in 2019 when he raised his average to .253 and had a .986 OPS in July as a 25-year-old. But he broke his wrist and has never shown that kind of output since. Gallo is a frustrating player type, but Wallner getting to 85% of his peak would be a great outcome for such a low-contact hitter. Whatever the Twins achieve in 2023 will hinge a lot on what they get from Kirilloff, Larnach, Miranda, and to a lesser extent, Gallo. If the KLM boys stay reasonably healthy, there’s a good chance one of them truly breaks out, which lengthens the lineup considerably and solves the corner outfield problem. If they stall in their development, that puts a lot of pressure on Gallo to rebound, and in the last installment in this series, I compared him to the White Sox era Adam Dunn. Stay tuned for the next installment, catchers and closers. See previous entries here. View full article
  18. The offseason is quickly nearing its close and we are something like a month away from pitchers and catchers reporting for Spring Training. Although the offseason is not done for the Minnesota Twins, and Derek Falvey still has work to do, can the argument be made that the roster is already better? Image courtesy of © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports Coming into the winter, it was beyond evident that Carlos Correa was the chief focus for the front office. We saw them come up short on initial dollars, and then things came full circle when his re-signing saved the offseason. Save may need to be used loosely as we still have plenty of areas to see Minnesota improve, but through three major signings, it’s worth wondering if they have already accomplished that goal over 2022. Christian Vazquez over Gary Sanchez Minnesota gambled on Sanchez being better in a new situation. His greatest asset may have been helping the Twins dump Josh Donaldson, and while that was beneficial, his play was not so much. His 89 OPS+ tied a full-season career low, and although his framing skills took a step forward, he was still relatively atrocious defensively. The Twins hoped that Sanchez could regain his 2019 All-Star form, but that was not meant to be. There is no certainty that Vazquez is a better player offensively, but there should also be no question about who has a safer floor. Vazquez was coming off winning a World Series with the Houston Astros and posted a 99 OPS+. Minnesota hopes to avoid his 77 OPS+ in 2021, but the 95 OPS+ dating back to 2019 makes him virtually league average. He’s a solid defender and a great clubhouse presence. Even if marginally, the Twins should stand to benefit here. Joey Gallo over Max Kepler Presumably, the Twins will eventually whittle down their outfield. At the moment, they are extremely left-hand-heavy, and there are probably too many mouths to feed when it comes to playing time. With Gallo being signed for a one-year deal, he could start in left field or at first base, but the assumption would be that Minnesota makes a move to deal Kepler. Gallo had a down 2022 but has extreme athleticism, and his 117 OPS+ from 2017-2021 is much more productive than Kepler’s 101 OPS+. The problem for Kepler has never been on defense. He’s a similar Gold Glove-caliber talent in right field, but he has only ever put it together with the bat once. Outside of his Bomba Squad breakout year, Kepler has insisted on hitting the ball with less-than-ideal trajectories. He continues to give himself little room for opportunity at the dish, and his time in Minnesota trying to work through it has run its course. This may be a wash if Gallo bottoms out again, but Minnesota stands to gain on this move big time. Carlos Correa over Everyone Initially, this could have been argued as Correa over Kyle Farmer. You could have even included internal options such as Jorge Polanco and Nick Gordon, but Minnesota would never entertain those. Correa being brought back isn’t a gain, as he manned the position a season ago, but there is no denying that anyone playing this role instead would have been a lesser option. The Twins have a shortstop on a Hall of Fame trajectory for his second year with the Twins. He’s now acclimated to a new team and city while being able to further expand on a leadership process he took alongside Byron Buxton. It wasn’t the most likely of ways to bring him back, but Minnesota got it done. Rocco Baldelli’s team has not yet added the starting pitcher they covet, but Kenta Maeda being back for 2023 is a win. The bullpen has yet to be filled out, and Michael Fulmer has departed, but both Jorge Lopez and Emilio Pagan were retained as acquired holdovers. As a whole, and even having made just three key moves, you should be able to argue that Minnesota is better than they were a year ago. Health will remain important again, and finishing this offseason by continuing to add is a must, but the Twins will be relevant in the Central again. View full article
  19. In "Fun with Player Comps" I look at player comps for 30 current Twins who figure to play a role in 2023, starting with their closest age player from Baseball-Reference.com prior to 2022. Based on each player's general vibe, I then move into the best and worst-case scenarios. Previous installments: middle-infield, centerfield. With my inclusion of Luis Arraez in the middle infield (what was I thinking?!) that leaves Jose Miranda as the only strictly corner infielder on the roster, so he gets lumped in with the Twins' glut of corner outfielders. Based on Fangraphs depth chart projections, the Twins have average to above-average projections at every position player spot, except the corner outfield spots. Adam Duvall won’t change the calculus much, but there is both talent and upside here. Let’s start with the one corner outfielder that may feature neither: Max Kepler Best comp through age 29: Cory Snyder Never heard of him, but Snyder posted some decent power numbers in his early 20s with Cleveland before falling off a cliff in his late 20s. Instead of a cliff, Kepler’s production has been more of an unattended rickshaw rolling down a mild incline and gaining speed, buoyed only by his excellent defensive work. Worst case: Andrew Jacob Cave This feels harsh, but both players hit for low averages, provide nothing against lefties, have average power, and play good corner outfield defense, though Kepler's defense is a solid grade ahead of Cave's. If this scenario holds, let's hope it's with another team, ideally one that greatly overestimates the benefits Kepler will receive from the shift ban, because it isn't likely he will benefit. Sadly, the dumb teams in baseball are starting to invest in more intelligent front offices, leaving only the Rockies as a team that might overpay for Max. Best case: Jason Heyward My methodology here is that I assume Kepler gets worse as he ages. If he stays where he is or even if he unlocks something elsewhere, Heyward is a good comp. Heyward was a decent player prior to signing with the Cubs in 2016, providing power, patience, and either elite fielding ability in right field or decent fielding in center. The Cubs, and many others, felt there was more offense to unlock, and even if that didn't happen, they could at least bank on him being a plus defender. He never did figure it out with the bat and was never worth his contract, but he did provide some value; for instance, in his 2019-2020 seasons, he hit for a combined 106 OPS+. Were Kepler to post a similar number, his plus defense and baserunning could provide real value. If he was traded to a contender, like the Yankees or Dodgers, he might be more agreeable to a platoon and maximize his impact even further. Jose Miranda (No comp available) Worst case: Willians Astudillo If Miranda takes a step back, it will be because he gets too antsy at the plate and turns his elite contact ability into a liability, rolling weak grounders off pitches outside the zone. If pitchers don't think they have to throw him a strike, he won't be able to get to his above-average power, and if he doesn't hit for power, he may end up with La Tortuga in Japan. Miranda's path to being a long-term asset rests solely with his bat, as his defense can only hope to grade out as "doesn't kill ya," and his baserunning is uncomfortable to watch. Best case: Wal-Mart Rafael Devers Devers is an offensive-minded third baseman with elite bat-to-ball skills and prodigious power. Miranda doesn't have the power or the elite natural gifts that Devers has with a bat, but he isn't that far off if he takes a step forward in 2023. in 2018, Devers' first full(ish) season in the majors, he hit .240/.298/.433 with poor defense and 66 RBI. Miranda just posted .268/.325/.426 with poor defense and 66 RBI. If he improves his selectivity, as Devers did in his 2019 breakout, he'll be a big part of the Twins' future. Trevor Larnach (Telling that there are no comps for the next two) Worst case: Kyle Blanks Blanks got a lot of chances as a big-bodied right fielder who looked like he could hit coming up with the Padres. But he couldn't stay on the field and was out of the game at 28. Larnach tantalizes with his tools, but it may be fair to wonder if his large frame can handle the rigors of being a major league outfielder. On the other hand, his injuries in 2021 were of the hand and foot variety. Blanks was victimized by back and Achilles issues, among other ailments. Best case: Paul O'Neill Larnach has a chance to be a better defender than O'Neill but has less contact ability. O'Neill's career line of .288/.363/.470 looks like something Larnach could achieve in his prime if he stays healthy and reaches his potential. To do that, he simply needs his body to cooperate and to lay off breaking pitches like he did the first two months of 2022 when he posted an .890 OPS and strong defensive metrics. Alex Kirilloff Worst case: Nolan Reimold Reimold teased Orioles fans with a solid rookie season in Baltimore. He was a top 100 prospect who had just posted a .831 OPS in 2009 but couldn't stay healthy. Believing in his potential, the Orioles kept giving him chances. Eventually, they gave up and released him in 2014, only to bring him back a year later, which.. didn't go any better. Best case: Less patient Will Clark Clark should probably be a Hall-of-Famer, but he never quite hit for the kind of power that came in vogue among first basemen in the 1990s. Nevertheless, he posted 56.5 bWAR for his career and hit .303. Kirilloff, too, doesn't strike me as the type to post numerous thirty home run seasons even if things break right for him, but his plate coverage and power the other way could allow him to approach Clark's career AVG and SLG numbers. Kyle Garlick (Still no comps for Garlick, who is still with the Twins as of this writing.) Worst case: Josh Hamilton (with the Angels) When Hamilton hit free agency after the 2012 season, no one really knew how to evaluate him, similar to how Byron Buxton may have looked to the market if the Twins had not extended him: He's great, but how often? Luckily for Hamilton, the Los Angeles Angels exist and gave him 113M. Unluckily for the Angels, Hamilton didn't offer the hedge that Buxton does, where he can give you four WAR in half a season based on his defense and baserunning. Hamilton provided 2.7 bWAR in total to the Angels. If Garlick posted those numbers over a two-year span, it wouldn't be so bad, but like Hamilton and Buxton, Garlick has an impossible time staying on the field. Best case: A Good Ryan Raburn year Raburn was a frustrating player to watch and would frequently alternate .500 and .900 OPS seasons. For his career, however, he hit for a .818 OPS versus lefties and, in his good years, was a force from the right side who was generally healthy. Matt Wallner (No comps, he's just a boy) Worst case: Logan Morrison LoMo had some hype as a prospect but almost always disappointed, never posting an OPS above .800 until his outlier year with the Rays when he popped 38 home runs. Besides that, Morrison struggled to stay healthy, swung and missed a lot, and provided negative defensive value. His career bWAR was 3.9. Best case: Joey Gallo Gallo and Wallner may each have a top-five arm for an outfielder in the game, and Gallo made himself into a strong outfielder despite coming up as a third baseman. He swung and missed a ton, but made enough hard contact to be an All-Star. He may have reached another level in 2019 when he raised his average to .253 and had a .986 OPS in July as a 25-year-old. But he broke his wrist and has never shown that kind of output since. Gallo is a frustrating player type, but Wallner getting to 85% of his peak would be a great outcome for such a low-contact hitter. Whatever the Twins achieve in 2023 will hinge a lot on what they get from Kirilloff, Larnach, Miranda, and to a lesser extent, Gallo. If the KLM boys stay reasonably healthy, there’s a good chance one of them truly breaks out, which lengthens the lineup considerably and solves the corner outfield problem. If they stall in their development, that puts a lot of pressure on Gallo to rebound, and in the last installment in this series, I compared him to the White Sox era Adam Dunn. Stay tuned for the next installment, catchers and closers. See previous entries here.
  20. There’s little doubt that anything suggesting the Twins should bring Miguel Sanó will be met with eye rolls (at best) or emphatic statements that include some expletives (at worst), but at least hear me out. Miguel Sanó was one of the best prospects in baseball; one of the most highly-touted prospects the Twins have ever had in their organization. Miguel Sanó is one of the biggest Twins disappointments in club history; a global top prospect who never lived up to his billing. Image courtesy of Matt Blewitt, USA Today The Twins paid Miguel Sano over $9 million for only one home run among five hits in 60 at-bats in 2022. And then paid him another $3 million to simply go away. Much has been made of Sanó’s inability to stay healthy or in shape or, simply, not show up a few dozen pounds overweight. Everything above is completely true. So true, in fact, that even those who look for silver linings aren’t going to have much of an argument to make. But I still think the Twins should consider bringing him back into the fold. The expectations surrounding Sanó were sky-high well before he made his major-league debut as a 22-year-old in the summer of 2015. And despite striking out in over a third of his plate appearance, he still managed to hit 18 home runs in 80 games, reach base over 38% of the time and put up an OPS of .916. He rarely played in the field as he was coming off missing the 204 season because of Tommy John surgery, but the vision of being the third baseman of the future was still bright. Of course, we all know what happened the next year: someone got the wise idea that Miguel Sanó could be a right-fielder (while literally every not-as-smart person knew he couldn’t) and Sanó was back to playing third base exclusively by July 1. Getting jerked around caused him to struggle offensively, but still he managed 25 home runs and bounced back to be an All-Star in the 2017 season. The 2018 and 2020 seasons were both really bad, but sandwiched around a 34-home run year in 2019 where Sanó post a career-high .923 OPS. You could take the 2020 season for what it was - short with a lack of time to prepare - add it to the 30 home run season in 2021 and think maybe, just maybe, Miguel Sanó could get back on track in 2022. But that train derailed before even leaving the station. A torn meniscus on April 26 and more knee issues almost immediately after returning in July caused an abrupt end to a short, disappointing season. The Twins paid Sanó more than $34 million as a major leaguer and watched him strike out over 1000(!) times. And when his Twins career ended unceremoniously when they bought out his contract, many were happy to wipe their hands off him. And that’s fine. But as you look at the current construction of the Twins roster, you can’t help but wonder about the health and depth of first base. Luis Arraez - all 5’ 10” of him - is expected to be the Opening Day starter. Arreaz was fantastic in 2021 and led the league in hitting, but is not your prototypical first baseman… and he’s not exactly a model of healthy knees. Jose Miranda played a lot of first base last year… but with Gio Urshela getting traded, Miranda is the primary third baseman. Alex Kirilloff is a solution… if he recovers from having his arm shortened after battling wrist that cut short his last two seasons. Max Kepler and Joey Gallo are both options in the sense that they’re bigger targets, but neither has played a lot of first base recently. But that’s an easy fix. Tell ‘em Wash. And there’s where Sanó should enter the conversation. On a minor-league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. If he shows up overweight and out of shape, you can cut him. If he shows up a little overweight and in a shape other than completely round, you can send him to St. Paul to hit bombs and be a call away if the questionable depth fails in front of him. Miguel Sanó doesn’t have to be the #3 hitter. There doesn’t have to be the expectations of being an All-Star or hitting 30 home runs. But any gas that might still be in his almost-30-year-old tank sure beats the idea of rostering the likes of the Curtis Terrys, Roy Moraleses and Tim Beckhams of the world. It does for me anyway. View full article
  21. At this point in the offseason, the Minnesota Twins may employ as many outfielders as possible. While there are three positions on the grass, nearly 25% of the 40-man roster is dedicated solely to players listed as outfielders. With so many, changes are coming. Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports For the past year or so, the Twins' outfield has remained in flux behind the starters. Last year left field was a question mark more often than it wasn’t, and Byron Buxton’s latest injury left him out of centerfield more often than not. Plenty of guys were given chances, and while some are now gone (thanks for the memories, Tim Beckham), the group still has too many mouths to feed. I’d expect the Opening Day roster to have five outfielders, but a few have positional flexibility. Looking at the nine names currently categorized by the 40-man roster, here is a probable path for them in 2023. Byron Buxton This one should be straightforward. If he’s healthy, he plays. Last season the Twins got nearly 100 games out of Buxton despite him battling a significant knee injury early on. Many of his injuries in the past have been fluky, but let’s dream of a world where Nick Paparesta and a new training staff focus on giving us what we’ve all been waiting for. He’s among the best in the game, and Rocco Baldelli’s team is much better when he takes the field. Gilberto Celestino Right now, I’m not sure what to think about Celestino. He has been called on in trade discussions and is a guy I’d prefer not to see the front office move. Last year was a good year of development, and still young; there is plenty of room for him to grow. As a right-handed bat, he has that going for him, and defensively he’s an ideal backup option behind Buxton. Joey Gallo Signed to a one-year deal, there is no doubt that Gallo is making the 26-man roster. He’ll play plenty of corner outfield and can play center as well. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Minnesota have him ready at first base, and despite the bat being his calling card, his athleticism and glove are equally as impressive. Nick Gordon Listed as an outfielder by the Twins roster designation, Gordon filled into a utility role well last year. The bat played more, and although he’s limited on the infield, he played outfield well. Gordon looked the part of a centerfielder at times, and more reps could make that even more fluid. He should be a relative lock for the Opening Day roster and will again play all over the field. Max Kepler If there is a guy to bet on being traded this offseason, Kepler is it. He bats left-handed as too many of his counterparts do, and Gallo wasn’t signed to be a redundant form of what the German brings to the table. There has been plenty of interest in the strong defensive right fielder, and it should be a matter of when and not if he goes. Alex Kirilloff The Twins need this to be the year that Kirilloff’s wrist is right. After undergoing a more intense procedure to shave down his bone, there aren't many other surgical options. All reports thus far have been positive, and Kirilloff is a talent Minnesota has been waiting on at the big-league level for some time. He should factor in most as a left fielder, but he can also potentially be a star at first base. He’ll get time at both spots this year, and the only thing holding him back has been health. Trevor Larnach We started seeing what a rolling Larnach looked like at points last season, but the core muscle injury killed the momentum. He’s a power bat with a substantial amount of plate discipline, and he, too, should be expected to contribute from left field. There is no reason he can’t be a middle-of-the-order bat, and we saw the arm play plenty when opposing runners tried to test him a season ago. Like Kirilloff, health is all Minnesota needs here. Matt Wallner Making his debut after such a solid 2022 in the minors, Wallner looked the part in a very small major league sample size. His 105 OPS+ was above league average; he made substantial strides last year when controlling the zone and taking walks. There is probably no room for him on Opening Day, but Wallner didn’t slow down last year at Triple-A St. Paul and could quickly force Minnesota’s hand if he comes out of the gates hot. The Twins have more than a few decisions to make on the grass this season, and right now, things are a bit lefty-heavy. We’ll see how this turns out before the club shows up in Fort Myers. View full article
  22. Coming into the winter, it was beyond evident that Carlos Correa was the chief focus for the front office. We saw them come up short on initial dollars, and then things came full circle when his re-signing saved the offseason. Save may need to be used loosely as we still have plenty of areas to see Minnesota improve, but through three major signings, it’s worth wondering if they have already accomplished that goal over 2022. Christian Vazquez over Gary Sanchez Minnesota gambled on Sanchez being better in a new situation. His greatest asset may have been helping the Twins dump Josh Donaldson, and while that was beneficial, his play was not so much. His 89 OPS+ tied a full-season career low, and although his framing skills took a step forward, he was still relatively atrocious defensively. The Twins hoped that Sanchez could regain his 2019 All-Star form, but that was not meant to be. There is no certainty that Vazquez is a better player offensively, but there should also be no question about who has a safer floor. Vazquez was coming off winning a World Series with the Houston Astros and posted a 99 OPS+. Minnesota hopes to avoid his 77 OPS+ in 2021, but the 95 OPS+ dating back to 2019 makes him virtually league average. He’s a solid defender and a great clubhouse presence. Even if marginally, the Twins should stand to benefit here. Joey Gallo over Max Kepler Presumably, the Twins will eventually whittle down their outfield. At the moment, they are extremely left-hand-heavy, and there are probably too many mouths to feed when it comes to playing time. With Gallo being signed for a one-year deal, he could start in left field or at first base, but the assumption would be that Minnesota makes a move to deal Kepler. Gallo had a down 2022 but has extreme athleticism, and his 117 OPS+ from 2017-2021 is much more productive than Kepler’s 101 OPS+. The problem for Kepler has never been on defense. He’s a similar Gold Glove-caliber talent in right field, but he has only ever put it together with the bat once. Outside of his Bomba Squad breakout year, Kepler has insisted on hitting the ball with less-than-ideal trajectories. He continues to give himself little room for opportunity at the dish, and his time in Minnesota trying to work through it has run its course. This may be a wash if Gallo bottoms out again, but Minnesota stands to gain on this move big time. Carlos Correa over Everyone Initially, this could have been argued as Correa over Kyle Farmer. You could have even included internal options such as Jorge Polanco and Nick Gordon, but Minnesota would never entertain those. Correa being brought back isn’t a gain, as he manned the position a season ago, but there is no denying that anyone playing this role instead would have been a lesser option. The Twins have a shortstop on a Hall of Fame trajectory for his second year with the Twins. He’s now acclimated to a new team and city while being able to further expand on a leadership process he took alongside Byron Buxton. It wasn’t the most likely of ways to bring him back, but Minnesota got it done. Rocco Baldelli’s team has not yet added the starting pitcher they covet, but Kenta Maeda being back for 2023 is a win. The bullpen has yet to be filled out, and Michael Fulmer has departed, but both Jorge Lopez and Emilio Pagan were retained as acquired holdovers. As a whole, and even having made just three key moves, you should be able to argue that Minnesota is better than they were a year ago. Health will remain important again, and finishing this offseason by continuing to add is a must, but the Twins will be relevant in the Central again.
  23. The Twins paid Miguel Sano over $9 million for only one home run among five hits in 60 at-bats in 2022. And then paid him another $3 million to simply go away. Much has been made of Sanó’s inability to stay healthy or in shape or, simply, not show up a few dozen pounds overweight. Everything above is completely true. So true, in fact, that even those who look for silver linings aren’t going to have much of an argument to make. But I still think the Twins should consider bringing him back into the fold. The expectations surrounding Sanó were sky-high well before he made his major-league debut as a 22-year-old in the summer of 2015. And despite striking out in over a third of his plate appearance, he still managed to hit 18 home runs in 80 games, reach base over 38% of the time and put up an OPS of .916. He rarely played in the field as he was coming off missing the 204 season because of Tommy John surgery, but the vision of being the third baseman of the future was still bright. Of course, we all know what happened the next year: someone got the wise idea that Miguel Sanó could be a right-fielder (while literally every not-as-smart person knew he couldn’t) and Sanó was back to playing third base exclusively by July 1. Getting jerked around caused him to struggle offensively, but still he managed 25 home runs and bounced back to be an All-Star in the 2017 season. The 2018 and 2020 seasons were both really bad, but sandwiched around a 34-home run year in 2019 where Sanó post a career-high .923 OPS. You could take the 2020 season for what it was - short with a lack of time to prepare - add it to the 30 home run season in 2021 and think maybe, just maybe, Miguel Sanó could get back on track in 2022. But that train derailed before even leaving the station. A torn meniscus on April 26 and more knee issues almost immediately after returning in July caused an abrupt end to a short, disappointing season. The Twins paid Sanó more than $34 million as a major leaguer and watched him strike out over 1000(!) times. And when his Twins career ended unceremoniously when they bought out his contract, many were happy to wipe their hands off him. And that’s fine. But as you look at the current construction of the Twins roster, you can’t help but wonder about the health and depth of first base. Luis Arraez - all 5’ 10” of him - is expected to be the Opening Day starter. Arreaz was fantastic in 2021 and led the league in hitting, but is not your prototypical first baseman… and he’s not exactly a model of healthy knees. Jose Miranda played a lot of first base last year… but with Gio Urshela getting traded, Miranda is the primary third baseman. Alex Kirilloff is a solution… if he recovers from having his arm shortened after battling wrist that cut short his last two seasons. Max Kepler and Joey Gallo are both options in the sense that they’re bigger targets, but neither has played a lot of first base recently. But that’s an easy fix. Tell ‘em Wash. And there’s where Sanó should enter the conversation. On a minor-league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. If he shows up overweight and out of shape, you can cut him. If he shows up a little overweight and in a shape other than completely round, you can send him to St. Paul to hit bombs and be a call away if the questionable depth fails in front of him. Miguel Sanó doesn’t have to be the #3 hitter. There doesn’t have to be the expectations of being an All-Star or hitting 30 home runs. But any gas that might still be in his almost-30-year-old tank sure beats the idea of rostering the likes of the Curtis Terrys, Roy Moraleses and Tim Beckhams of the world. It does for me anyway.
  24. For the past year or so, the Twins' outfield has remained in flux behind the starters. Last year left field was a question mark more often than it wasn’t, and Byron Buxton’s latest injury left him out of centerfield more often than not. Plenty of guys were given chances, and while some are now gone (thanks for the memories, Tim Beckham), the group still has too many mouths to feed. I’d expect the Opening Day roster to have five outfielders, but a few have positional flexibility. Looking at the nine names currently categorized by the 40-man roster, here is a probable path for them in 2023. Byron Buxton This one should be straightforward. If he’s healthy, he plays. Last season the Twins got nearly 100 games out of Buxton despite him battling a significant knee injury early on. Many of his injuries in the past have been fluky, but let’s dream of a world where Nick Paparesta and a new training staff focus on giving us what we’ve all been waiting for. He’s among the best in the game, and Rocco Baldelli’s team is much better when he takes the field. Gilberto Celestino Right now, I’m not sure what to think about Celestino. He has been called on in trade discussions and is a guy I’d prefer not to see the front office move. Last year was a good year of development, and still young; there is plenty of room for him to grow. As a right-handed bat, he has that going for him, and defensively he’s an ideal backup option behind Buxton. Joey Gallo Signed to a one-year deal, there is no doubt that Gallo is making the 26-man roster. He’ll play plenty of corner outfield and can play center as well. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Minnesota have him ready at first base, and despite the bat being his calling card, his athleticism and glove are equally as impressive. Nick Gordon Listed as an outfielder by the Twins roster designation, Gordon filled into a utility role well last year. The bat played more, and although he’s limited on the infield, he played outfield well. Gordon looked the part of a centerfielder at times, and more reps could make that even more fluid. He should be a relative lock for the Opening Day roster and will again play all over the field. Max Kepler If there is a guy to bet on being traded this offseason, Kepler is it. He bats left-handed as too many of his counterparts do, and Gallo wasn’t signed to be a redundant form of what the German brings to the table. There has been plenty of interest in the strong defensive right fielder, and it should be a matter of when and not if he goes. Alex Kirilloff The Twins need this to be the year that Kirilloff’s wrist is right. After undergoing a more intense procedure to shave down his bone, there aren't many other surgical options. All reports thus far have been positive, and Kirilloff is a talent Minnesota has been waiting on at the big-league level for some time. He should factor in most as a left fielder, but he can also potentially be a star at first base. He’ll get time at both spots this year, and the only thing holding him back has been health. Trevor Larnach We started seeing what a rolling Larnach looked like at points last season, but the core muscle injury killed the momentum. He’s a power bat with a substantial amount of plate discipline, and he, too, should be expected to contribute from left field. There is no reason he can’t be a middle-of-the-order bat, and we saw the arm play plenty when opposing runners tried to test him a season ago. Like Kirilloff, health is all Minnesota needs here. Matt Wallner Making his debut after such a solid 2022 in the minors, Wallner looked the part in a very small major league sample size. His 105 OPS+ was above league average; he made substantial strides last year when controlling the zone and taking walks. There is probably no room for him on Opening Day, but Wallner didn’t slow down last year at Triple-A St. Paul and could quickly force Minnesota’s hand if he comes out of the gates hot. The Twins have more than a few decisions to make on the grass this season, and right now, things are a bit lefty-heavy. We’ll see how this turns out before the club shows up in Fort Myers.
  25. With many top free agents off the market, trading players is the best way for the Twins to impact the 2023 roster. Here are the team's most likely trade chips before the season begins. Image courtesy of Lon Horwedel, USA Today Sports Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have done this before to Twins fans. Their offseason mantra is to show patience before making multiple moves closer to the start of spring training. Last year, the lockout impacted the organization's ability to make moves, but the Twins traded for Sonny Gray and signed Carlos Correa in March. Few top free-agent targets remain available, so the Twins need to make trades to supplement the roster. Here are five players the Twins are most likely to trade in the coming weeks. 5. <Insert Utility Infielder Name> Correa's signing to a long-term deal means the Twins can afford to move one of their infielders. The Twins traded for Kyle Farmer to add to the shortstop depth chart, but he is now expendable with Correa in the fold. Nick Gordon is out of minor league options, so the Twins might not see a place for him on the 2023 roster. Neither player would warrant a large return, but the club doesn't need both of them on the Opening Day roster. 4. <Insert Corner Outfielder Not Named Max Kepler> One corner outfielder is the team's most likely trade chip (see below), but the Twins also have plenty of other options at these positions. Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, and Matt Wallner are of similar ages and fit a similar skill set. Larnach and Kirilloff suffered injuries during the 2022 season, which may give Wallner the highest trade value. Teams have also inquired about Gilberto Celestino , but the Twins might need him to be Byron Buxton's insurance. 3. Luis Arraez , Utility Arraez's name has been tied to trade rumors this winter for various reasons. He's coming off a year where he won the AL Batting Title, and Twins Daily named him the team MVP. His trade value may never be higher based on his 2022 performance. Arraez has dealt with injuries in the past, and the Twins may look to capitalize on trading him for controllable starting pitching. Multiple members of the starting rotation have one year of team control remaining. Reports have Miami open to trading multiple pieces from their starting rotation, so that is a possible landing spot for Arraez. 2. Sonny Gray, SP It may seem counterproductive for the Twins to trade their best-starting pitcher if the club wants to contend in 2023. However, Gray is entering his final year of team control, and the Twins might not be interested in signing him to a long-term deal. Other members of the starting staff are returning from injury, so it seems more likely for Gray to be traded over Kenta Maeda or Tyler Mahle . If Gray isn't part of the team's long-term plans, this winter might be the best opportunity to maximize his trade value before he hits free agency. 1. Max Kepler, RF The writing was on the wall when the Twins signed Joey Gallo to a one-year deal; Minnesota will trade Max Kepler . Minnesota has multiple left-handed hitting corner outfield options, and the Twins have two years of team control over Kepler. Offensively, Kepler has failed to replicate his breakout performance from 2019, but he continues to be an elite defensive outfielder. The Twins should be able to get something of value in return for Kepler; surprisingly, he is still on the roster. Who else should be included in the rankings? Will Kepler be the only player traded? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
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