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  1. 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
  2. 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.
  3. 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
  4. Minnesota's 2023 roster has started to come into focus after the front office completed multiple trades in the last week. Here is how the team projects to start Opening Day. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports Last season, the lockout forced MLB to allow teams to begin the year with 28-man rosters. The lockout forced a shortened spring training, and baseball was worried about an increased chance of player injuries. For 2023, teams must narrow their final roster to 26 players. Players listed below with the ** are on the bubble for the final roster spots. Catchers (2): Christian Vazquez, Ryan Jeffers Minnesota's catching duo has been set since the club signed Vazquez to a multi-year deal. It was clear from the onset of the off-season that the Twins targeted Vazquez and paid a premium to sign him. The Twins have six catchers among their non-roster invitees to spring training, including veterans Tony Wolters, Grayson Greiner, and Chance Sisco. Teams rarely rely on just two catchers for an entire season, so the Twins will likely need help from these veterans to play at some point during the 2023 campaign. Infielders (5): Carlos Correa, Kyle Farmer, Alex Kirilloff**, Jose Miranda, Jorge Polanco Adding Correa to this group pushed Farmer to a utility role, which might be a better fit for his skill set. Miranda is getting the full-time job at third base after the team traded Gio Urshela earlier this winter. Polanco figures to get most of the playing time at second base, but it will be interesting to see if he feels any pressure from the team's top prospects. Kirilloff will get time at first base, but the team might have another option (see below) if the team wants him to get regular rest at the season's start. Top prospects like Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee, Edouard Julien, and Austin Martin can add depth to this group in the second half. Outfielders (6): Byron Buxton, Gilberto Celestino**, Joey Gallo, Nick Gordon**, Max Kepler, Michael A. Taylor By adding Taylor, the Twins have three former Gold Glove winners in the outfield and another Gold Glove finalist. Minnesota's outfield defense has the potential to be one of baseball's best, but all four players can't fit in the outfield at the same time. Gallo has logged over 746 innings at first base, so the team might be comfortable moving him to the infield so Kirilloff can slowly work his way back. Gilberto Celestino can start the year at Triple-A, a level where he has played fewer than 25 games. Nick Gordon is out of minor-league options, so the Twins will keep him based on his breakout performance in 2022. Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner add depth to the organization's outfield, but they will have to power their way from St. Paul to Minneapolis. Rotation (5): Sonny Gray, Pablo Lopez, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan Some Twins fans were disappointed the Twins traded Arraez, but Lopez lengthened the Twins' starting rotation. Depth was needed because there are injury concerns surrounding numerous players in the rotation. Since the last projection, Bailey Ober got bumped to Triple-A because of the Lopez addition. Other young pitchers like Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Jordan Balazovic will be waiting for an opportunity. It is one of the deepest rotations the Twins have had in recent memory, and the club will have to rely on that depth if/when the injury bug strikes again. Bullpen (8): Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Emilio Pagan, Jorge Alcala**, Jovani Moran**, Trevor Megill** Minnesota has done little to address the bullpen this winter, but that has been a common theme for a front office that relies on veterans and internal options. Since Twins Daily's initial roster projection, all of the above names have stayed the same. Duran and Lopez should get the bulk of the high-leverage opportunities. Jax and Thielbar will combine to be a bridge to the late-inning arms. Pagan is a wild card, but the Twins are hoping for a better performance from a player with good stuff. ZiPS projects feel like the Twins' bullpen is top-heavy, which makes sense considering the recent track record of players expected to be on the roster. Minnesota will have some decisions at the bullpen's backend with other 40-man roster options like Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, and Josh Winder. How do you feel about the team's depth at multiple positions? What changes will happen to the team's roster before Opening Day? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  5. The Twins added a right-handed outfield bat to the roster on Monday night and shipped out two minor-league relief pitchers. What does the new acquisition mean for the lineup? And who exactly did the Twins lose? View full video
  6. The Twins added a right-handed outfield bat to the roster on Monday night and shipped out two minor-league relief pitchers. What does the new acquisition mean for the lineup? And who exactly did the Twins lose?
  7. The Twins have been looking for a right-handed hitting outfielder. According to a variety of reports on Monday evening, they acquired a Gold-Glove caliber outfielder, Michael A. Taylor, from the Kansas City Royals. Image courtesy of Peter Aiken-USA TODAY Sports Since the Minnesota Twins signed Joey Gallo it has looked like the outfield was packed with a glut of left-handed bats. Needing someone on the right hand side of the batter’s box, preferably with an ability to play centerfield, has been a must. Now they have that man in Michael A. Taylor. Michael A. Taylor was a 6th round pick by the Washington Nationals way back in 2009. He spent the bulk of his career there prior to joining the Kansas City Royals two seasons ago. Across 266 games for Kansas City, Taylor has compiled just an 83 OPS+ while slashing .249/.304/.347. If the Twins were only looking for a masher to replace Kyle Garlick, Taylor probably isn’t it. He is as light-hitting as it gets, and had very marginal differences between splits last season. Taylor did hit 12 home runs in 2021, but has never replicated the 19 he blasted in 2017 with the Nationals. Over the course of his career, the .722 OPS against lefties is better than the .660 mark against righties, but we’re grasping at straws there. More importantly for Minnesota, Taylor represents some level of insurance behind Byron Buxton in centerfield. Certainly Joey Gallo can play there, and if Max Kepler remains on the roster he can as well. Both of them are a bit more stretched than Taylor however, as 605 of his 661 career starts have come in centerfield. With the Royals last season, Taylor posted a 1.5 fWAR after a 2.0 mark in 2021. His career best was 3.2 back in 2017, and the bulk of it has always been defensively derived. His 19 defensive runs saved in Kansas City last year pair well with five outs above average. Among centerfielders in 2022, no one posted a higher DRS total than Taylor. Should Buxton go down or miss time, Rocco Baldelli has a surefire defensive star to replace him. The Twins traded away Triple-A left-handed reliever Evan Sisk and Double-A flame-thrower Steven Cruz in exchange for the outfielder. The Twins traded away Triple-A left-handed reliever Evan Sisk and Double-A flame-thrower Steven Cruz in exchange for the outfielder. The Twins acquired Sisk in exchange for J.A. Happ when they dealt with the St. Louis Cardinals. He lit up the strikeout numbers last season at Triple-A St. Paul, but his walk rates were scary, and Minnesota was clearly never convinced enough to call him up. Cruz has an electric fastball that can touch triple-digits, but he too has struggled with walks and hasn't put it together while reaching Double-A. So, there you have it, the Twins have a right-handed, but not-very-good-hitting outfielder who can play centerfield when Byron Buxton gets days off in the field, which I think this signals we will see a lot of. We will add more details as we learn them, so be sure to check back and let us know what you think of this intra-divisional trade for the Twins. Leave your comments below some Michael A. Taylor highlights from 2022. View full article
  8. Well, someone had to do it. Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports The Twins ate their veggies on Monday, trading away minor league relievers Evan Sisk and Steven Cruz for Royals outfielder Michael A. Taylor. Minnesota’s flirtation with the veteran first hit radars when news slithered in that Kansas City—perhaps under the influence of some real good stuff—asked for Josh Winder in return for their outfielder. The Twins glared around the room with the same look you give when grandma says something out of pocket during family dinner and promptly hung up the phone. Kansas City dropped their ask, instead greenlighting LHP Evan Sisk and RHP Steven Cruz as an acceptable return. Although so tantalizingly close to donning a Twins cap, Sisk remained in the minors for all of 2022. Half of the return for J.A. Happ in 2021—yes, a team gave up real, breathing players for him—Sisk held preposterously low earned run totals at Double-A and Triple-A, but poor command kept him east of the river. He will probably pitch for the Royals in 2023. Cruz is a similar story. The aesthetically ideal big, hard-throwing reliever struck out 28% of batters with Wichita last season but walked 13.6% of them as well; command has always been his bugaboo. No team selected Cruz in the Rule 5 draft, and now the Royals will decide how to fix his aim. Taylor will immediately slot in as Minnesota’s fourth outfielder. A more sure bet than Nick Gordon, or Joey Gallo in center, Taylor owns a strong arm, quick feet, and artful routes; he’s the ultimate defensive package. The Twins will likely start Taylor in center consistently, allowing Byron Buxton to DH on days he feels any sort of malady while Taylor glides around the outfield, allowing Minnesota not to miss a beat defensively. His bat isn’t great—Taylor owns a career .241/.296/.381 slash line—but his league-relative numbers perked up a touch in 2022, perhaps implying he has more in the tank. The big question is this: how in the world do the Twins set up their outfield? With Max Kepler, Buxton, Gallo, Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Gordon, Gilberto Celestino, and now Taylor, the team has eight legitimate outfielders for three spots; creativity must be in the cards. Celestino is probably the biggest loser in the deal. With a similar playstyle as the new guy, it's easy to read the trade as a vote of no confidence in him; Minnesota probably grew frustrated with his consistent mental errors, always costing the team an extra base with poor decision-making. The deal likely knocks Celestino down to Triple-A, allowing him to grow as a ballplayer in a less stressful atmosphere. He has yet to celebrate his 24th birthday. This is unlikely to be the final trade for Minnesota. With more outfielders than available spots, dominos will probably fall over the next month. While Kepler appears to be the most apparent trade target—as he has been for about three years now—the Twins could surprise us, instead packaging some of their younger bats in a deal. But who knows? Derek Falvey loves keeping us on our toes. View full article
  9. 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.
  10. Last season, the lockout forced MLB to allow teams to begin the year with 28-man rosters. The lockout forced a shortened spring training, and baseball was worried about an increased chance of player injuries. For 2023, teams must narrow their final roster to 26 players. Players listed below with the ** are on the bubble for the final roster spots. Catchers (2): Christian Vazquez, Ryan Jeffers Minnesota's catching duo has been set since the club signed Vazquez to a multi-year deal. It was clear from the onset of the off-season that the Twins targeted Vazquez and paid a premium to sign him. The Twins have six catchers among their non-roster invitees to spring training, including veterans Tony Wolters, Grayson Greiner, and Chance Sisco. Teams rarely rely on just two catchers for an entire season, so the Twins will likely need help from these veterans to play at some point during the 2023 campaign. Infielders (5): Carlos Correa, Kyle Farmer, Alex Kirilloff**, Jose Miranda, Jorge Polanco Adding Correa to this group pushed Farmer to a utility role, which might be a better fit for his skill set. Miranda is getting the full-time job at third base after the team traded Gio Urshela earlier this winter. Polanco figures to get most of the playing time at second base, but it will be interesting to see if he feels any pressure from the team's top prospects. Kirilloff will get time at first base, but the team might have another option (see below) if the team wants him to get regular rest at the season's start. Top prospects like Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee, Edouard Julien, and Austin Martin can add depth to this group in the second half. Outfielders (6): Byron Buxton, Gilberto Celestino**, Joey Gallo, Nick Gordon**, Max Kepler, Michael A. Taylor By adding Taylor, the Twins have three former Gold Glove winners in the outfield and another Gold Glove finalist. Minnesota's outfield defense has the potential to be one of baseball's best, but all four players can't fit in the outfield at the same time. Gallo has logged over 746 innings at first base, so the team might be comfortable moving him to the infield so Kirilloff can slowly work his way back. Gilberto Celestino can start the year at Triple-A, a level where he has played fewer than 25 games. Nick Gordon is out of minor-league options, so the Twins will keep him based on his breakout performance in 2022. Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner add depth to the organization's outfield, but they will have to power their way from St. Paul to Minneapolis. Rotation (5): Sonny Gray, Pablo Lopez, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan Some Twins fans were disappointed the Twins traded Arraez, but Lopez lengthened the Twins' starting rotation. Depth was needed because there are injury concerns surrounding numerous players in the rotation. Since the last projection, Bailey Ober got bumped to Triple-A because of the Lopez addition. Other young pitchers like Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Jordan Balazovic will be waiting for an opportunity. It is one of the deepest rotations the Twins have had in recent memory, and the club will have to rely on that depth if/when the injury bug strikes again. Bullpen (8): Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Emilio Pagan, Jorge Alcala**, Jovani Moran**, Trevor Megill** Minnesota has done little to address the bullpen this winter, but that has been a common theme for a front office that relies on veterans and internal options. Since Twins Daily's initial roster projection, all of the above names have stayed the same. Duran and Lopez should get the bulk of the high-leverage opportunities. Jax and Thielbar will combine to be a bridge to the late-inning arms. Pagan is a wild card, but the Twins are hoping for a better performance from a player with good stuff. ZiPS projects feel like the Twins' bullpen is top-heavy, which makes sense considering the recent track record of players expected to be on the roster. Minnesota will have some decisions at the bullpen's backend with other 40-man roster options like Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, and Josh Winder. How do you feel about the team's depth at multiple positions? What changes will happen to the team's roster before Opening Day? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  11. The Twins ate their veggies on Monday, trading away minor league relievers Evan Sisk and Steven Cruz for Royals outfielder Michael A. Taylor. Minnesota’s flirtation with the veteran first hit radars when news slithered in that Kansas City—perhaps under the influence of some real good stuff—asked for Josh Winder in return for their outfielder. The Twins glared around the room with the same look you give when grandma says something out of pocket during family dinner and promptly hung up the phone. Kansas City dropped their ask, instead greenlighting LHP Evan Sisk and RHP Steven Cruz as an acceptable return. Although so tantalizingly close to donning a Twins cap, Sisk remained in the minors for all of 2022. Half of the return for J.A. Happ in 2021—yes, a team gave up real, breathing players for him—Sisk held preposterously low earned run totals at Double-A and Triple-A, but poor command kept him east of the river. He will probably pitch for the Royals in 2023. Cruz is a similar story. The aesthetically ideal big, hard-throwing reliever struck out 28% of batters with Wichita last season but walked 13.6% of them as well; command has always been his bugaboo. No team selected Cruz in the Rule 5 draft, and now the Royals will decide how to fix his aim. Taylor will immediately slot in as Minnesota’s fourth outfielder. A more sure bet than Nick Gordon, or Joey Gallo in center, Taylor owns a strong arm, quick feet, and artful routes; he’s the ultimate defensive package. The Twins will likely start Taylor in center consistently, allowing Byron Buxton to DH on days he feels any sort of malady while Taylor glides around the outfield, allowing Minnesota not to miss a beat defensively. His bat isn’t great—Taylor owns a career .241/.296/.381 slash line—but his league-relative numbers perked up a touch in 2022, perhaps implying he has more in the tank. The big question is this: how in the world do the Twins set up their outfield? With Max Kepler, Buxton, Gallo, Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Gordon, Gilberto Celestino, and now Taylor, the team has eight legitimate outfielders for three spots; creativity must be in the cards. Celestino is probably the biggest loser in the deal. With a similar playstyle as the new guy, it's easy to read the trade as a vote of no confidence in him; Minnesota probably grew frustrated with his consistent mental errors, always costing the team an extra base with poor decision-making. The deal likely knocks Celestino down to Triple-A, allowing him to grow as a ballplayer in a less stressful atmosphere. He has yet to celebrate his 24th birthday. This is unlikely to be the final trade for Minnesota. With more outfielders than available spots, dominos will probably fall over the next month. While Kepler appears to be the most apparent trade target—as he has been for about three years now—the Twins could surprise us, instead packaging some of their younger bats in a deal. But who knows? Derek Falvey loves keeping us on our toes.
  12. Since the Minnesota Twins signed Joey Gallo it has looked like the outfield was packed with a glut of left-handed bats. Needing someone on the right hand side of the batter’s box, preferably with an ability to play centerfield, has been a must. Now they have that man in Michael A. Taylor. Michael A. Taylor was a 6th round pick by the Washington Nationals way back in 2009. He spent the bulk of his career there prior to joining the Kansas City Royals two seasons ago. Across 266 games for Kansas City, Taylor has compiled just an 83 OPS+ while slashing .249/.304/.347. If the Twins were only looking for a masher to replace Kyle Garlick, Taylor probably isn’t it. He is as light-hitting as it gets, and had very marginal differences between splits last season. Taylor did hit 12 home runs in 2021, but has never replicated the 19 he blasted in 2017 with the Nationals. Over the course of his career, the .722 OPS against lefties is better than the .660 mark against righties, but we’re grasping at straws there. More importantly for Minnesota, Taylor represents some level of insurance behind Byron Buxton in centerfield. Certainly Joey Gallo can play there, and if Max Kepler remains on the roster he can as well. Both of them are a bit more stretched than Taylor however, as 605 of his 661 career starts have come in centerfield. With the Royals last season, Taylor posted a 1.5 fWAR after a 2.0 mark in 2021. His career best was 3.2 back in 2017, and the bulk of it has always been defensively derived. His 19 defensive runs saved in Kansas City last year pair well with five outs above average. Among centerfielders in 2022, no one posted a higher DRS total than Taylor. Should Buxton go down or miss time, Rocco Baldelli has a surefire defensive star to replace him. The Twins traded away Triple-A left-handed reliever Evan Sisk and Double-A flame-thrower Steven Cruz in exchange for the outfielder. The Twins traded away Triple-A left-handed reliever Evan Sisk and Double-A flame-thrower Steven Cruz in exchange for the outfielder. The Twins acquired Sisk in exchange for J.A. Happ when they dealt with the St. Louis Cardinals. He lit up the strikeout numbers last season at Triple-A St. Paul, but his walk rates were scary, and Minnesota was clearly never convinced enough to call him up. Cruz has an electric fastball that can touch triple-digits, but he too has struggled with walks and hasn't put it together while reaching Double-A. So, there you have it, the Twins have a right-handed, but not-very-good-hitting outfielder who can play centerfield when Byron Buxton gets days off in the field, which I think this signals we will see a lot of. We will add more details as we learn them, so be sure to check back and let us know what you think of this intra-divisional trade for the Twins. Leave your comments below some Michael A. Taylor highlights from 2022.
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