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  1. This offseason, after dealing Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers, Minnesota flipped Josh Donaldson and Ben Rortvedt to the New York Yankees for Gio Urshela and Gary Sanchez. They filled two starting lineup spots with the trade, but there’s yet to be production from either player. In 2019 and 2020 the former Guardians veteran became one of baseball’s best at the hot corner. Gio Urshela posted a .310/.359/.523 slash line and hit 27 homers across 175 games. The Yankees made him a fixture in their lineup and he was seen as a key contributor after taking the position from Miguel Andujar. Urshela went through it for the first time since his breakout last year. After posting a 134 OPS+ in 2019 and 2020, he contributed a below league-average 95 OPS+. Given his dealings with Covid multiple times, as well as suffering injury, it was explainable why the production had dipped. The hope for Minnesota was undoubtedly that a change of scenery and clean bill of health would result in rebounding to where he was at his peak. Now 30-years-old, Urshela is 27 games into his Twins career and the 83 OPS+ is a bottoming out of sorts. He hasn’t dropped to the irrelevance of his time in Cleveland, but at a time when offense is down across the board, he’s finding ways to contribute even less. Urshela is not a hulking slugger by any means, but across nearly 100 plate appearances he has just three extra-base hits and only one homer. If there’s a silver lining for Urshela, it’s that we may just be dealing with a small sample. His expected batting average is 30 points higher at .263 and his xwOBA sits near the 2019 mark at .338. He’s at his career average when it comes to hard-hit rate, and Urshela still has a good process at the plate posting just a 12/9 K/BB. Rocco Baldelli is certainly hoping his third basemen figures it out, otherwise, that could be an avenue for someone like Royce Lewis or Luis Arraez to steal playing time. Behind the dish was never going to be a calling card for Gary Sanchez, regardless of a new change in scenery. He’s a rough backstop, but his bat used to carry him. Coincidentally, Sanchez’s 83 OPS+ is the exact same mark as his trade partner, Urshela. There was a time the Dominican native was competing for Rookie of the Year awards and picking up All-Star game selections. 2019 and his .841 OPS seem like a distant memory at this point, however. The last two seasons in New York equated to a 90 OPS+ for Sanchez, and he’s now dipped well below. Across 80 plate appearances, Sanchez owns a .203/.263/.338 slash line. He is a power producer but has homered only once while tacking on seven doubles. Unlike Urshela, Sanchez’s expected batting average is actually worse than what he’s generated and although the xwOBA is better, it’s insignificant with just an eight-point swing. Sanchez is still hitting with a similar hard-hit rate to when he was at his best in 2019, but he’s bumped the fly all rate up to 53% and halved a very solid 20% line drive rate from that season. Getting too far under the baseball, and being bit by a ball that’s deadened, Sanchez has just a 3.6% HR/FB ratio after seeing a whopping 26.4% ratio in 2019. Although he’s making the most contact of his career, pitchers are also forcing him to chase at a career-worst rate. For Sanchez the bat has to play for there to be any value. He’s been worth -0.3 fWAR because it hasn’t and his time behind the dish will always be flawed. Minnesota doesn’t have other options at catcher and that makes the leash extremely long here. Still, getting him anything more than rotational at-bats becomes unnecessary if this is the production Baldelli can expect. It was a fine move to swap out Josh Donaldson. His place in the clubhouse may not have been ideal, and the move freed up the opportunity to sign Carlos Correa. That said, the Twins can’t afford to have a lineup with two players producing so little offensively. New York has bit Minnesota plenty over the years, and right now it’s happening from within. How long are you willing to wait and find out if these two find it? View full article
  2. In 2019 and 2020 the former Guardians veteran became one of baseball’s best at the hot corner. Gio Urshela posted a .310/.359/.523 slash line and hit 27 homers across 175 games. The Yankees made him a fixture in their lineup and he was seen as a key contributor after taking the position from Miguel Andujar. Urshela went through it for the first time since his breakout last year. After posting a 134 OPS+ in 2019 and 2020, he contributed a below league-average 95 OPS+. Given his dealings with Covid multiple times, as well as suffering injury, it was explainable why the production had dipped. The hope for Minnesota was undoubtedly that a change of scenery and clean bill of health would result in rebounding to where he was at his peak. Now 30-years-old, Urshela is 27 games into his Twins career and the 83 OPS+ is a bottoming out of sorts. He hasn’t dropped to the irrelevance of his time in Cleveland, but at a time when offense is down across the board, he’s finding ways to contribute even less. Urshela is not a hulking slugger by any means, but across nearly 100 plate appearances he has just three extra-base hits and only one homer. If there’s a silver lining for Urshela, it’s that we may just be dealing with a small sample. His expected batting average is 30 points higher at .263 and his xwOBA sits near the 2019 mark at .338. He’s at his career average when it comes to hard-hit rate, and Urshela still has a good process at the plate posting just a 12/9 K/BB. Rocco Baldelli is certainly hoping his third basemen figures it out, otherwise, that could be an avenue for someone like Royce Lewis or Luis Arraez to steal playing time. Behind the dish was never going to be a calling card for Gary Sanchez, regardless of a new change in scenery. He’s a rough backstop, but his bat used to carry him. Coincidentally, Sanchez’s 83 OPS+ is the exact same mark as his trade partner, Urshela. There was a time the Dominican native was competing for Rookie of the Year awards and picking up All-Star game selections. 2019 and his .841 OPS seem like a distant memory at this point, however. The last two seasons in New York equated to a 90 OPS+ for Sanchez, and he’s now dipped well below. Across 80 plate appearances, Sanchez owns a .203/.263/.338 slash line. He is a power producer but has homered only once while tacking on seven doubles. Unlike Urshela, Sanchez’s expected batting average is actually worse than what he’s generated and although the xwOBA is better, it’s insignificant with just an eight-point swing. Sanchez is still hitting with a similar hard-hit rate to when he was at his best in 2019, but he’s bumped the fly all rate up to 53% and halved a very solid 20% line drive rate from that season. Getting too far under the baseball, and being bit by a ball that’s deadened, Sanchez has just a 3.6% HR/FB ratio after seeing a whopping 26.4% ratio in 2019. Although he’s making the most contact of his career, pitchers are also forcing him to chase at a career-worst rate. For Sanchez the bat has to play for there to be any value. He’s been worth -0.3 fWAR because it hasn’t and his time behind the dish will always be flawed. Minnesota doesn’t have other options at catcher and that makes the leash extremely long here. Still, getting him anything more than rotational at-bats becomes unnecessary if this is the production Baldelli can expect. It was a fine move to swap out Josh Donaldson. His place in the clubhouse may not have been ideal, and the move freed up the opportunity to sign Carlos Correa. That said, the Twins can’t afford to have a lineup with two players producing so little offensively. New York has bit Minnesota plenty over the years, and right now it’s happening from within. How long are you willing to wait and find out if these two find it?
  3. It’s early in the 2022 season, but Ryan Jeffers’ strong start should give Twins fans reason for optimism. He's a top ten catcher in MLB right now. Shortly after the lockout ended, the Twins engaged in a frenzied activity to reshape their roster and prepare for the 2022 season. One of the first moves they made, was trading fan favorite Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who eventually was flipped to the Yankees to shed Josh Donaldson’s contract. Trading an aging catcher, with a lengthy injury history, made a lot of sense, even if Twins fans didn’t like the move. How the trade would be reflected upon, depended largely on the development of Ryan Jeffers and what he could offer offensively in 2022. Early in the 2022 season, the returns are promising. Jeffers’ development since being taken in the second round of the 2018 draft out of UNC Wilmington has been remarkable. At the time, the pick was immediately labeled a reach from Minnesota. The Twins, however, saw a solid power bat and a cerebral player they felt they could develop defensively, despite not having had a college catching coach. Jeffers was essentially self-taught defensively. Let’s dig into his offensive and defensive production in 2022 to see what’s under the hood. Offense When Jeffers was first called up in 2020, hitting .273/.355/.436 and managed a 120 wRC+ in a small, 26-game sample. 2021 was, by comparison, a disaster. Jeffers lost his strike zone control, walking less and striking out more, and struggled to get bat to ball, managing 0.6 fWAR in 86 games. In 18 games in 2022, Jeffers has already matched his season-long fWAR from 2021, hitting .228/.302/.456 to go along with a 125 wRC+. Looking at Jeffers’ Statcast profile tells its own interesting and encouraging tale. Jeffers ranks in the 96th percentile for Barrel % and 89th percentile for xSLG, those are elite numbers. You may not like the profile of hitter, but Jeffers is settling in on being a slugger that will strike out a lot but make a ton of hard, effective contact. That’s valuable in and of itself, for a catcher, even more so. There are a number of factors that hurt the perception of Jeffers’ offensive profile and production. Firstly, Mitch Garver’s 2019 season. It was a unicorn season, both for Garver and in the history of the position. Combine it with Garver’s approach at the plate, which combined elite power and strike-zone control, and it’s easy to wave away Jeffers’ low OBP as uninteresting and lacking value. Let’s put his numbers early in 2022 in some positional context. Jeffers ranks fifth in fWAR among all MLB catchers, seventh in SLG, seventh in wRC+, and ninth in wOBA. He just doesn't get on base a lot, and that’s OK. If Jeffers maintains his offensive production and a wRC+ of slightly above 100, he’s going to have an incredibly valuable 2022 season for the Twins. Defense Let’s start with the obvious, Ryan Jeffers is not good at throwing out runners. He ranks fifth last in this category among catchers in 2022. Also, who cares? Jeffers has had four bases stolen on his watch in 2022, and has thrown out one runner, for a CS% of 20%. Yadier Molina is at 29%. Base stealing has become such an irrelevant part of the game that this area of weakness is inconsequential. Measuring defense is difficult, for catchers, it’s almost impossible. There are no effective metrics to help understand the effectiveness with which a catcher ‘calls’ a game. Here’s what we do know about Jeffers. Per Statcast, he’s in the 84th percentile for framing among MLB catchers. Per Baseball Prospectus, he’s seventh-best in baseball. Rdrs/yr measures the number of runs above or below average a fielder would save over 1,200 innings (approximately 135 games). Jeffers sits at 36, that’s good for second-best among catchers in baseball. This is reflected in the eye test for Jeffers. How many run-saving blocks has he already made this year? While the defensive numbers can’t paint the full picture, the outline is clear. Jeffers is a defensive standout. All of this, of course, is a relatively meaningless sample of around 20 games. There’s plenty of season left to go right or go wrong. The early indicators point to Ryan Jeffers as an extremely valuable long-term commodity for the Minnesota Twins. View full article
  4. As we countdown the days to Target Fields's 1000th home run, let's countdown the Twins who made it happen. Here are the 11th through 15th best home run hitters in Target Field history and their biggest hits. 15: Jim Thome: 21 HR Thome became a home run legend during his Hall of Fame career. He hit the first walk-off home run in Target Field history, and it is still one of the best moments in Minnesota Twins history. 13. Oswaldo Arcia/ Kennys Vargas: 22 HR Arcia and Vargas were supposed to be part of the first wave of prospects that helped the Twins turn things around at the big-league level in the 2010s. That didn't come to fruition, but they each were known for their power in their prospect careers. 12. Mitch Garver: 27 HR During the Bomba Squad season, Garver had multiple important home runs. He broke Earl Battey's Twins single-season home run record, which stood since 1963. He also hit the home run that broke the season home run record. 11. Eduardo Escobar: 28 HR Escobar became a beloved figure in Twins history, and he has gone on to have a solid big-league career. His most valuable home run at Target Field came with the Twins trailing by two in the bottom of the eighth inning. Which home run do you remember the most? Which player do you think hits Minnesota's 1,000th home run at Target Field? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  5. 15: Jim Thome: 21 HR Thome became a home run legend during his Hall of Fame career. He hit the first walk-off home run in Target Field history, and it is still one of the best moments in Minnesota Twins history. 13. Oswaldo Arcia/ Kennys Vargas: 22 HR Arcia and Vargas were supposed to be part of the first wave of prospects that helped the Twins turn things around at the big-league level in the 2010s. That didn't come to fruition, but they each were known for their power in their prospect careers. 12. Mitch Garver: 27 HR During the Bomba Squad season, Garver had multiple important home runs. He broke Earl Battey's Twins single-season home run record, which stood since 1963. He also hit the home run that broke the season home run record. 11. Eduardo Escobar: 28 HR Escobar became a beloved figure in Twins history, and he has gone on to have a solid big-league career. His most valuable home run at Target Field came with the Twins trailing by two in the bottom of the eighth inning. Which home run do you remember the most? Which player do you think hits Minnesota's 1,000th home run at Target Field? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  6. Shortly after the lockout ended, the Twins engaged in a frenzied activity to reshape their roster and prepare for the 2022 season. One of the first moves they made, was trading fan favorite Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, who eventually was flipped to the Yankees to shed Josh Donaldson’s contract. Trading an aging catcher, with a lengthy injury history, made a lot of sense, even if Twins fans didn’t like the move. How the trade would be reflected upon, depended largely on the development of Ryan Jeffers and what he could offer offensively in 2022. Early in the 2022 season, the returns are promising. Jeffers’ development since being taken in the second round of the 2018 draft out of UNC Wilmington has been remarkable. At the time, the pick was immediately labeled a reach from Minnesota. The Twins, however, saw a solid power bat and a cerebral player they felt they could develop defensively, despite not having had a college catching coach. Jeffers was essentially self-taught defensively. Let’s dig into his offensive and defensive production in 2022 to see what’s under the hood. Offense When Jeffers was first called up in 2020, hitting .273/.355/.436 and managed a 120 wRC+ in a small, 26-game sample. 2021 was, by comparison, a disaster. Jeffers lost his strike zone control, walking less and striking out more, and struggled to get bat to ball, managing 0.6 fWAR in 86 games. In 18 games in 2022, Jeffers has already matched his season-long fWAR from 2021, hitting .228/.302/.456 to go along with a 125 wRC+. Looking at Jeffers’ Statcast profile tells its own interesting and encouraging tale. Jeffers ranks in the 96th percentile for Barrel % and 89th percentile for xSLG, those are elite numbers. You may not like the profile of hitter, but Jeffers is settling in on being a slugger that will strike out a lot but make a ton of hard, effective contact. That’s valuable in and of itself, for a catcher, even more so. There are a number of factors that hurt the perception of Jeffers’ offensive profile and production. Firstly, Mitch Garver’s 2019 season. It was a unicorn season, both for Garver and in the history of the position. Combine it with Garver’s approach at the plate, which combined elite power and strike-zone control, and it’s easy to wave away Jeffers’ low OBP as uninteresting and lacking value. Let’s put his numbers early in 2022 in some positional context. Jeffers ranks fifth in fWAR among all MLB catchers, seventh in SLG, seventh in wRC+, and ninth in wOBA. He just doesn't get on base a lot, and that’s OK. If Jeffers maintains his offensive production and a wRC+ of slightly above 100, he’s going to have an incredibly valuable 2022 season for the Twins. Defense Let’s start with the obvious, Ryan Jeffers is not good at throwing out runners. He ranks fifth last in this category among catchers in 2022. Also, who cares? Jeffers has had four bases stolen on his watch in 2022, and has thrown out one runner, for a CS% of 20%. Yadier Molina is at 29%. Base stealing has become such an irrelevant part of the game that this area of weakness is inconsequential. Measuring defense is difficult, for catchers, it’s almost impossible. There are no effective metrics to help understand the effectiveness with which a catcher ‘calls’ a game. Here’s what we do know about Jeffers. Per Statcast, he’s in the 84th percentile for framing among MLB catchers. Per Baseball Prospectus, he’s seventh-best in baseball. Rdrs/yr measures the number of runs above or below average a fielder would save over 1,200 innings (approximately 135 games). Jeffers sits at 36, that’s good for second-best among catchers in baseball. This is reflected in the eye test for Jeffers. How many run-saving blocks has he already made this year? While the defensive numbers can’t paint the full picture, the outline is clear. Jeffers is a defensive standout. All of this, of course, is a relatively meaningless sample of around 20 games. There’s plenty of season left to go right or go wrong. The early indicators point to Ryan Jeffers as an extremely valuable long-term commodity for the Minnesota Twins.
  7. When Twins manager Rocco Baldelli announced that Joe Ryan will be making the Opening Day start for the Twins next week, it showed how much the team and front office believe in Ryan. Speaking of belief in Ryan, when the Twins traded catchers Mitch Garver and Ben Rortvedt last month, they showed their belief in Ryan Jeffers. One question that I have been asked frequently over the past couple of offseasons was, “How would you split up the catcher position between Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers?” It was a great question and one I enjoyed answering. In my mind, there was a great answer. Play both of them half of the time. Keep them both fresh. Keep them both playing often. Help both of them keep their legs underneath them. The two backstops are so similar in so many ways offensively and defensively in such a way that should allow for continuity for the pitchers. Physically, Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are both big catchers. Garver is about 6-1 and 230 pounds. Jeffers stands 6-4 and about 240 pounds. I think in some ways, their size gave both of them a perception of poor defense. Garver certainly acknowledged his defensive deficiencies early in his career and set out to improve behind the plate with the help of then-minor-league catching coordinator Tanner Swanson. True to the hard work, over one season he went from the worst pitch framer in baseball to league average. That’s more impressive when you consider that it was becoming a huge focus in the game and the overall framing numbers were improving. Like Garver, Jeffers was drafted as an offense-first catcher, at least in the eyes of national sources. However, the Twins scouts saw something in Jeffers that told them he can be a very good catcher. When he got into pro ball and started having the technology and analysis to determine such things, it showed that he was a plus-pitch framer. And he has continued to rank highly even in his first two big-league seasons. Jeffers and Garver are both very smart away from the baseball field. Garver went to the University of New Mexico to become a chiropractor and play a little baseball. Jeffers was a physics major at UNCW. Aside from general intelligence, both have a very high Baseball IQ. Both are analytical and study the game. They put in the time before the game to understand what the opposing hitters like and how that day’s pitcher could use their repertoire to get each hitter out. As important, both are tremendous communicators. They work well with their pitchers and their coaches. They both have talked about their communication with each other on pre-game scouting reports and planning. And yes, both are fantastic with the media too. And then there is the offense. Yes, both can mash. Both have had rough spots in their careers, but overall, these guys can really hit Mitch Garver posted an OPS over 1.000 in his junior and senior seasons at New Mexico. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter in 2014 when he played at Cedar Rapids, and in 2017 with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. He made his MLB debut late that season. He has been in the big leagues since. He earned the American League’s Silver Slugger Award in 2019 when he hit .273/.365/.630 (.995) with 16 doubles and 31 home runs. Yes, he struggled and was hurt in the shortened 2020 season. But after a slow April in 2021, he was back. Overall, he hit .256/.358/.517 (.875) with 15 doubles and 13 home runs in 68 games. Jeffers posted an OPS over 1.000 in all three seasons he played at UNC-Wilmington. Along with power, he walked more than he struck out, something that was important to him. After being drafted in 2018, he crushed the ball at both Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. He split the 2019 season between Ft. Myers and Double-A Pensacola. He was invited to the Twins’ alternate site in St. Paul, and when Garver was hurt, the Twins went directly to Jeffers. In 26 games, he hit .277/.355/.436 (.791) with three homers. He had a rough season offensively in 2021 as Garver began the season by getting significantly more playing time. While he hit just .199, he still provided the team with 10 doubles and 14 home runs. His power is legit. Following the lockout, the Twins front office traded Garver, 31, to the Texas Rangers which started a series of moves. A week later, Ben Rortvedt was included in a deal with the New York Yankees. After having the question about how to split up playing time between Garver and Jeffers for a couple of years, there were questions about the Twins’ sudden lack of catcher depth behind Jeffers. Yes, they acquired veteran Gary Sanchez from the Yankees, but he will certainly do less catching and more DHing. That’s why they added minor-league veteran Jose Godoy on a waiver claim to provide another body, a guy who can play good defense. And, after Jeffers’ disappointing .199 batting average in 2021, it is fair for some Twins fans to question the decision of handing him the reins behind the plate. However, if one thing is clear, it’s that the Twins front office has complete confidence in the abilities behind the plate and at the plate of 24-year-old Ryan Jeffers. When a team is looking for a catcher, there is a mental checklist that a front office marks up in their mind as they evaluate a player. For a catcher, that list includes defense, framing, leadership, communication, and then offense, quality plate appearances, power, etc. While needing to show more consistency, Jeffers is a guy who checks all the boxes. So why even bring up Mitch Garver in this article? Why not just speak on the accolades and talents of Jeffers? I think it's important for a couple of reasons. First, it's OK for Twins fans to miss Mitch Garver. He was great with fans and media alike. And, he was a senior sign who made it big, against the odds, to be a Top 5 player at his position. Second, and certainly more important to the Twins and their fans going forward, I think it showed the similarities. Just because players are similar does not mean that the results will be similar. However, it is important to understand what kind of potential Ryan Jeffers has. In 2022, Ryan Jeffers will start getting that opportunity to prove it on a larger scale, as the Twins’ primary catcher. He will likely be able to hit toward the bottom of the lineup which may help take a little bit of the pressure off of his bat. He will be challenged with a pitching staff with three new veteran starters and two pitchers with less than one year of service time. That is a lot to take on, to be sure, but Jeffers is certainly up for the challenge. View full article
  8. One question that I have been asked frequently over the past couple of offseasons was, “How would you split up the catcher position between Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers?” It was a great question and one I enjoyed answering. In my mind, there was a great answer. Play both of them half of the time. Keep them both fresh. Keep them both playing often. Help both of them keep their legs underneath them. The two backstops are so similar in so many ways offensively and defensively in such a way that should allow for continuity for the pitchers. Physically, Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are both big catchers. Garver is about 6-1 and 230 pounds. Jeffers stands 6-4 and about 240 pounds. I think in some ways, their size gave both of them a perception of poor defense. Garver certainly acknowledged his defensive deficiencies early in his career and set out to improve behind the plate with the help of then-minor-league catching coordinator Tanner Swanson. True to the hard work, over one season he went from the worst pitch framer in baseball to league average. That’s more impressive when you consider that it was becoming a huge focus in the game and the overall framing numbers were improving. Like Garver, Jeffers was drafted as an offense-first catcher, at least in the eyes of national sources. However, the Twins scouts saw something in Jeffers that told them he can be a very good catcher. When he got into pro ball and started having the technology and analysis to determine such things, it showed that he was a plus-pitch framer. And he has continued to rank highly even in his first two big-league seasons. Jeffers and Garver are both very smart away from the baseball field. Garver went to the University of New Mexico to become a chiropractor and play a little baseball. Jeffers was a physics major at UNCW. Aside from general intelligence, both have a very high Baseball IQ. Both are analytical and study the game. They put in the time before the game to understand what the opposing hitters like and how that day’s pitcher could use their repertoire to get each hitter out. As important, both are tremendous communicators. They work well with their pitchers and their coaches. They both have talked about their communication with each other on pre-game scouting reports and planning. And yes, both are fantastic with the media too. And then there is the offense. Yes, both can mash. Both have had rough spots in their careers, but overall, these guys can really hit Mitch Garver posted an OPS over 1.000 in his junior and senior seasons at New Mexico. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter in 2014 when he played at Cedar Rapids, and in 2017 with the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings. He made his MLB debut late that season. He has been in the big leagues since. He earned the American League’s Silver Slugger Award in 2019 when he hit .273/.365/.630 (.995) with 16 doubles and 31 home runs. Yes, he struggled and was hurt in the shortened 2020 season. But after a slow April in 2021, he was back. Overall, he hit .256/.358/.517 (.875) with 15 doubles and 13 home runs in 68 games. Jeffers posted an OPS over 1.000 in all three seasons he played at UNC-Wilmington. Along with power, he walked more than he struck out, something that was important to him. After being drafted in 2018, he crushed the ball at both Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. He split the 2019 season between Ft. Myers and Double-A Pensacola. He was invited to the Twins’ alternate site in St. Paul, and when Garver was hurt, the Twins went directly to Jeffers. In 26 games, he hit .277/.355/.436 (.791) with three homers. He had a rough season offensively in 2021 as Garver began the season by getting significantly more playing time. While he hit just .199, he still provided the team with 10 doubles and 14 home runs. His power is legit. Following the lockout, the Twins front office traded Garver, 31, to the Texas Rangers which started a series of moves. A week later, Ben Rortvedt was included in a deal with the New York Yankees. After having the question about how to split up playing time between Garver and Jeffers for a couple of years, there were questions about the Twins’ sudden lack of catcher depth behind Jeffers. Yes, they acquired veteran Gary Sanchez from the Yankees, but he will certainly do less catching and more DHing. That’s why they added minor-league veteran Jose Godoy on a waiver claim to provide another body, a guy who can play good defense. And, after Jeffers’ disappointing .199 batting average in 2021, it is fair for some Twins fans to question the decision of handing him the reins behind the plate. However, if one thing is clear, it’s that the Twins front office has complete confidence in the abilities behind the plate and at the plate of 24-year-old Ryan Jeffers. When a team is looking for a catcher, there is a mental checklist that a front office marks up in their mind as they evaluate a player. For a catcher, that list includes defense, framing, leadership, communication, and then offense, quality plate appearances, power, etc. While needing to show more consistency, Jeffers is a guy who checks all the boxes. So why even bring up Mitch Garver in this article? Why not just speak on the accolades and talents of Jeffers? I think it's important for a couple of reasons. First, it's OK for Twins fans to miss Mitch Garver. He was great with fans and media alike. And, he was a senior sign who made it big, against the odds, to be a Top 5 player at his position. Second, and certainly more important to the Twins and their fans going forward, I think it showed the similarities. Just because players are similar does not mean that the results will be similar. However, it is important to understand what kind of potential Ryan Jeffers has. In 2022, Ryan Jeffers will start getting that opportunity to prove it on a larger scale, as the Twins’ primary catcher. He will likely be able to hit toward the bottom of the lineup which may help take a little bit of the pressure off of his bat. He will be challenged with a pitching staff with three new veteran starters and two pitchers with less than one year of service time. That is a lot to take on, to be sure, but Jeffers is certainly up for the challenge.
  9. According to Jeff Passan of ESPN, the Twins have an agreement with the Texas Rangers to acquire shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. According to Jeff Passan, the Twins may have found their shortstop, Isiah Kiner-Falefa. As excited as I was to hear about Kiner-Falefa, that positive feeling went out the door when learning that the Twins were dealing Mitch Garver to the Rangers in the deal. Garver is a Silver Slugging catcher who, after an injury-plagued 2020 season, And despite some freak injuries in 2021, he hit .256/.358/.517 (.875) with 15 doubles and 13 homers in 68 games. Defensively, he wasn't going to be a Gold Glover, but as one former coach told me, he went from being perhaps the worst pitch framer in the league to an average, or even above average, pitch framer in a league that had shown improvements across the board. The move certainly puts the pressure on Ryan Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt, likely the Twins catchers on Opening Day. Before the lockout, the Rangers made a big splash with signing both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager in free agency. That made Kiner-Falefa available. The 27-year-old played in 158 games for the Rangers in 2021, starting 155 of them at shortstop. In 2020, he won the AL Gold Glove at third base. He is really good defensively. Will he hit? In 2021, he hit .271/.312/.357 (.670) with 25 doubles, three triples and eight home runs. Henriquez split the 2021 season between High-A Hickory, where he was 1-3 with a 3.75 ERA in five starts. The 21-year-old then moved up to Double-A Frisco where he went 4-4 with a 5.04 ERA in 16 games (11 starts). In 93 2/3 combined innings, he struck out 105 batters and walked just 25. He also gave up an alarming 17 home runs. Henriquez is small. He's listed at 5-10 and just 155 pounds. Still plenty of room to gain strength. He has a mid-90s fastball that touches 97 and a good slider. He also throws a changeup that is inconsistent. He has thrown a lot of strikes and shown good control and decent command. Most see him as a long-reliever in the big leagues someday, maybe as early as 2022. He was the Rangers #29-ranked prospect according to Baseball America coming into this season. Mitch Garver ends his Twins tenure having spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues. He was a senior sign as the Twins ninth-round draft pick in 2013 out of the University of New Mexico. In 310 games with the Twins, he hit .256 with 52 doubles, six triples, and 53 home runs. He won that Silver Slugger Award in 2019. In addition, Garver was twice a Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year (2014, Cedar Rapids, 2017, Rochester), and he even came to a Twins Daily Winter Meltdown for awhile. View full article
  10. After three months of lockout-induced stagnancy, Major League Baseball reopened for business over the weekend with a flurry of activity across the league. Your Minnesota Twins got in on the action with a pair of high-wattage trades addressing key areas of need. Let's catch up and reset the roster outlook as spring training officially gets underway. [Author's Note: Naturally, MINUTES after I said to myself, "Okay, probably safe to post this, the action has gotta be wrapped up for the weekend," we learned of a major blockbuster trade between the Twins and Yankees. You can learn about it here. And then read on to learn about the state of the roster ... just BEFORE that move.] Twins Send Garver to Texas for Kiner-Falefa Minnesota's front office checked off the "shortstop" box before turning its attention to the pitching staff, acquiring Isiah Kiner-Falefa from the Rangers alongside pitching prospect Ronny Henriquez. The cost was extremely high: Mitch Garver is gone. To procure this package from Texas, the Twins had to part with the 31-year-old who they drafted-and-developed, from ninth-round pick into elite slugging catcher and self-made pitch-framing specialist. Garver, under control for two more seasons just like Kiner-Falefa, is one of the biggest difference-making bats in the league as a nearly unrivaled offensive force from the catcher position. Despite his dwindling team control, I ranked Garver this year as the eighth-most valuable asset in the organization, and when sizing up the club's top trade candidates, I didn't see him as one of the top-five most likely to go. "One could theoretically add Mitch Garver or Ryan Jeffers to this list," I wrote, "although I'm not sure I have enough confidence in either one to feel good about trading the other." Therein lies my struggle with this move. Jeffers hasn't shown enough yet to be confident in his status as "The Guy" going forward, and the Twins are woefully short on qualified depth behind him and Ben Rortvedt in the system. The Twins gave up a lot for a light-hitting defensive specialist. Too much, in my opinion. But the team has firmly addressed its need at shortstop with a versatile young player who was highly regarded in Texas. The price they paid says a great deal about their belief in Kiner-Falefa. Frontline Pitching at Last: Twins Get Gray from Reds for Petty The rotation looks a lot more legitimate now than it did coming out of the lockout. There was plenty of buzz indicating the Twins were pursuing high-end pitching on the trade market, and the rumors came to fruition on Sunday with the extraction of right-hander Sonny Gray from the Reds. In this deal, the Twins gave up all future value, sending 2021 first-round draft pick Chase Petty to Cincinnati. I recently wrote the profile on Petty as our #9 Twins prospect, and got myself all jazzed about dreaming on his upside, but even the most optimistic analysis of Petty has to acknowledge his sky-high burnout risk. To exchange such a volatile asset for an established top-of-rotation for starter with two years of reasonably-priced team control remaining ($10.2M in 2022 with a $12M option for '23) should be viewed as a big win. Gray is a two-time All-Star with an extensive pitch mix, a bulldog mentality, and excellent strikeout rates (10.6 K/9 since 2019) who figures to benefit from a move away from Cincinnati's hitter-friendly ballpark. He posted a 3.44 ERA with six home runs allowed in 12 road starts last year, compared to 4.89 with 13 homers in 14 home starts. The addition of Gray certainly makes the Twins a better team in 2022, but between this and the Kiner-Falefa pickup – both players having team control for two more years – one can sense that the front office is primarily focused on building toward 2023, when Kenta Maeda returns to the fold. An Updated Look at the Roster and Payroll With Gray and Kiner-Falefa joining the party, here's how the Twins roster now projects. The payroll (which includes about $15M in new salary for those two, as well as Gray's $1M trade bonus, paid by the Twins) is creeping up on $100M. The team could theoretically fill the DH role with in-house options – rotating guys like Miguel Sanó, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Arraez. Same goes for the remaining bullpen openings – Juan Minaya, Lewis Thorpe, Griffin Jax, etc. But I think they need at least one more bat and a couple of back-end caliber arms to call roster complete. They definitely need at least one more starting pitcher. The team is reportedly pursuing some of the top remaining veteran names in the remaining middle tier of free agency, including Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, and old friend Michael Pineda. Spring training has already begun, but the Twins certainly aren't done shopping. Stay tuned into Twins Daily as we cover the moves in real-time. I'll keep these periodic status updates running as the fragmented offseason extends into camp. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  11. [Author's Note: Naturally, MINUTES after I said to myself, "Okay, probably safe to post this, the action has gotta be wrapped up for the weekend," we learned of a major blockbuster trade between the Twins and Yankees. You can learn about it here. And then read on to learn about the state of the roster ... just BEFORE that move.] Twins Send Garver to Texas for Kiner-Falefa Minnesota's front office checked off the "shortstop" box before turning its attention to the pitching staff, acquiring Isiah Kiner-Falefa from the Rangers alongside pitching prospect Ronny Henriquez. The cost was extremely high: Mitch Garver is gone. To procure this package from Texas, the Twins had to part with the 31-year-old who they drafted-and-developed, from ninth-round pick into elite slugging catcher and self-made pitch-framing specialist. Garver, under control for two more seasons just like Kiner-Falefa, is one of the biggest difference-making bats in the league as a nearly unrivaled offensive force from the catcher position. Despite his dwindling team control, I ranked Garver this year as the eighth-most valuable asset in the organization, and when sizing up the club's top trade candidates, I didn't see him as one of the top-five most likely to go. "One could theoretically add Mitch Garver or Ryan Jeffers to this list," I wrote, "although I'm not sure I have enough confidence in either one to feel good about trading the other." Therein lies my struggle with this move. Jeffers hasn't shown enough yet to be confident in his status as "The Guy" going forward, and the Twins are woefully short on qualified depth behind him and Ben Rortvedt in the system. The Twins gave up a lot for a light-hitting defensive specialist. Too much, in my opinion. But the team has firmly addressed its need at shortstop with a versatile young player who was highly regarded in Texas. The price they paid says a great deal about their belief in Kiner-Falefa. Frontline Pitching at Last: Twins Get Gray from Reds for Petty The rotation looks a lot more legitimate now than it did coming out of the lockout. There was plenty of buzz indicating the Twins were pursuing high-end pitching on the trade market, and the rumors came to fruition on Sunday with the extraction of right-hander Sonny Gray from the Reds. In this deal, the Twins gave up all future value, sending 2021 first-round draft pick Chase Petty to Cincinnati. I recently wrote the profile on Petty as our #9 Twins prospect, and got myself all jazzed about dreaming on his upside, but even the most optimistic analysis of Petty has to acknowledge his sky-high burnout risk. To exchange such a volatile asset for an established top-of-rotation for starter with two years of reasonably-priced team control remaining ($10.2M in 2022 with a $12M option for '23) should be viewed as a big win. Gray is a two-time All-Star with an extensive pitch mix, a bulldog mentality, and excellent strikeout rates (10.6 K/9 since 2019) who figures to benefit from a move away from Cincinnati's hitter-friendly ballpark. He posted a 3.44 ERA with six home runs allowed in 12 road starts last year, compared to 4.89 with 13 homers in 14 home starts. The addition of Gray certainly makes the Twins a better team in 2022, but between this and the Kiner-Falefa pickup – both players having team control for two more years – one can sense that the front office is primarily focused on building toward 2023, when Kenta Maeda returns to the fold. An Updated Look at the Roster and Payroll With Gray and Kiner-Falefa joining the party, here's how the Twins roster now projects. The payroll (which includes about $15M in new salary for those two, as well as Gray's $1M trade bonus, paid by the Twins) is creeping up on $100M. The team could theoretically fill the DH role with in-house options – rotating guys like Miguel Sanó, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Arraez. Same goes for the remaining bullpen openings – Juan Minaya, Lewis Thorpe, Griffin Jax, etc. But I think they need at least one more bat and a couple of back-end caliber arms to call roster complete. They definitely need at least one more starting pitcher. The team is reportedly pursuing some of the top remaining veteran names in the remaining middle tier of free agency, including Johnny Cueto, Zack Greinke, and old friend Michael Pineda. Spring training has already begun, but the Twins certainly aren't done shopping. Stay tuned into Twins Daily as we cover the moves in real-time. I'll keep these periodic status updates running as the fragmented offseason extends into camp. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. This offseason, the Minnesota Twins have always been expected to be active on the trade market, but the moves were assumed to be for pitching. After swapping Mitch Garver for Isiah Kiner-Falefa, we now have a whole new angle to figure out in terms of roster construction. Up to this point, the Twins most significant deficiency was starting pitching, with their greatest asset being a potent lineup. Needing a shortstop, Derek Falvey opted to part with one of his best bats in favor of a strong glove at an integral position. Let’s break down the path forward on a position-by-position basis. Catcher There’s very little argument to be made against Mitch Garver being among the best offensive catchers in baseball. He owns a career .835 OPS, with an .894 mark since 2019. Since his debut in 2017, no catcher in baseball has posted a higher OPS. Defensively Garver was always a work in progress. Initially somewhat of a rough receiver, he worked himself to the point of being a successful framer, and in 2021 his 50.5% strike rate ranked 5th in baseball. Working against Garver has been health. In 2020 he appeared in just 23 games and posted a .511 OPS while battling a muscle injury. He played in only 68 games last season after being struck with a foul tip in the groin. It’s hardly fair to tie the second situation to future injury potential, but it is worth noting he recently turned 31-years-old and may benefit from less time behind the plate. Moving off a player like Garver suggests the front office has significant belief in the alternative, which at this point is Ryan Jeffers. A .791 OPS and 119 OPS+ quantified an impressive 26 game debut in 2020. When drafted, Jeffers was thought to be a bat-first player, and there were concerns about whether he could stick behind the dish. Minnesota nabbed him in the second round suggesting a firm belief he would. Last season Jeffers generated a 49.2% strike rate, slightly behind Garver. Of the two, though, he’s still a better defender. Jeffers and Garver provide a level of redundancy when paired together in that they’re both right-handed. There’s no platoon advantage, and Jeffers’ assumed production is higher than a traditional backup. ZiPS doesn’t like Jeffers much this year, projecting just a .671 OPS, but if there’s anything close to what was seen in 2020, he’ll surpass that level with ease. At just 24-years-old Jeffers goes into the season as Minnesota’s clear starter while being backed up by Ben Rortvedt. Rortvedt posted a .750 OPS at Triple-A last year but owned just a .510 OPS in 39 Major League games. He’s got a big arm and brings a solid defensive profile with little ability to contribute offensively. If Rortvedt can get to even a .600 OPS and stay there, a long career in the vein of a Drew Butera type seems plausible. Shortstop Needing a replacement for Andrelton Simmons, the Twins went out and got...Andrelton Simmons, kind of. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is a Gold Glove defender that doesn’t hit. A converted catcher, Kiner-Falefa owns a career .670 OPS in 392 Major League games. He’ll be 27-years-old and is under team control for each of the next two seasons. Among qualified shortstops last season, Kiner-Falefa ranked behind only Carlos Correa (20), and Simmons (15) in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) with 10. Last season was the first year in which he’s primarily played shortstop, but he’s been a defensive asset at third base and second base as well. Statcast’s outs above average had Kiner-Falefa with a -7 mark in 2021, but it’s clear the advanced fielding metrics are generally favorable for him. There was always the thought that Minnesota could opt to move Jorge Polanco back on the other side of the diamond, but both health and production suggested that wasn’t wise. After a breakout in 2021, Polanco’s home appears to now be cemented at second base, and that means Luis Arraez is a utility man at best. With this configuration, it’s also more challenging to see where Jose Miranda fits into the picture at any point in the immediate future. Knowing that pitching can benefit significantly from solid defense, it’s clear the front office is attempting to run it back, with that being the calling card of the infield's most demanding position. Starting Pitcher Team control always comes at a cost, and while Garver has that too, he’s older and has an injury history working against him. Still, though, it’s good to see that Kiner-Falefa’s roster status wasn’t enough for Garver on his own. Texas also sent Ronny Henriquez to Minnesota. Henriquez is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher that sat in the middle of the Rangers top 30 prospects. Making it to Double-A last season, Henriquez put up substantial strikeout numbers and has a 10.9 K/9 in just over 230 minor league innings. His command has also been sharp, with a walk rate of just 2.3 BB/9. Last season the major bugaboo for Henriquez was the long ball, giving up 17 of them in just 93 and 2/3 innings. He’s still at least a year away from the majors, but this is another arm the Twins staff can go to work on. All in all, there are a few takeaways from this deal. First and foremost, it’s that defense remains a priority for Minnesota. Kiner-Falefa can remain at shortstop if Royce Lewis isn’t going to take over, and he has the positional flexibility to move as well. Garver’s bat will sorely be missed, but it’s a clear indication of a big-time belief in Jeffers. The pitching holes probably won’t all be patched up in 2022, and this is a way to help while also looking towards the future. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  13. According to Jeff Passan, the Twins may have found their shortstop, Isiah Kiner-Falefa. As excited as I was to hear about Kiner-Falefa, that positive feeling went out the door when learning that the Twins were dealing Mitch Garver to the Rangers in the deal. Garver is a Silver Slugging catcher who, after an injury-plagued 2020 season, And despite some freak injuries in 2021, he hit .256/.358/.517 (.875) with 15 doubles and 13 homers in 68 games. Defensively, he wasn't going to be a Gold Glover, but as one former coach told me, he went from being perhaps the worst pitch framer in the league to an average, or even above average, pitch framer in a league that had shown improvements across the board. The move certainly puts the pressure on Ryan Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt, likely the Twins catchers on Opening Day. Before the lockout, the Rangers made a big splash with signing both Marcus Semien and Corey Seager in free agency. That made Kiner-Falefa available. The 27-year-old played in 158 games for the Rangers in 2021, starting 155 of them at shortstop. In 2020, he won the AL Gold Glove at third base. He is really good defensively. Will he hit? In 2021, he hit .271/.312/.357 (.670) with 25 doubles, three triples and eight home runs. Henriquez split the 2021 season between High-A Hickory, where he was 1-3 with a 3.75 ERA in five starts. The 21-year-old then moved up to Double-A Frisco where he went 4-4 with a 5.04 ERA in 16 games (11 starts). In 93 2/3 combined innings, he struck out 105 batters and walked just 25. He also gave up an alarming 17 home runs. Henriquez is small. He's listed at 5-10 and just 155 pounds. Still plenty of room to gain strength. He has a mid-90s fastball that touches 97 and a good slider. He also throws a changeup that is inconsistent. He has thrown a lot of strikes and shown good control and decent command. Most see him as a long-reliever in the big leagues someday, maybe as early as 2022. He was the Rangers #29-ranked prospect according to Baseball America coming into this season. Mitch Garver ends his Twins tenure having spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues. He was a senior sign as the Twins ninth-round draft pick in 2013 out of the University of New Mexico. In 310 games with the Twins, he hit .256 with 52 doubles, six triples, and 53 home runs. He won that Silver Slugger Award in 2019. In addition, Garver was twice a Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year (2014, Cedar Rapids, 2017, Rochester), and he even came to a Twins Daily Winter Meltdown for awhile.
  14. Up to this point, the Twins most significant deficiency was starting pitching, with their greatest asset being a potent lineup. Needing a shortstop, Derek Falvey opted to part with one of his best bats in favor of a strong glove at an integral position. Let’s break down the path forward on a position-by-position basis. Catcher There’s very little argument to be made against Mitch Garver being among the best offensive catchers in baseball. He owns a career .835 OPS, with an .894 mark since 2019. Since his debut in 2017, no catcher in baseball has posted a higher OPS. Defensively Garver was always a work in progress. Initially somewhat of a rough receiver, he worked himself to the point of being a successful framer, and in 2021 his 50.5% strike rate ranked 5th in baseball. Working against Garver has been health. In 2020 he appeared in just 23 games and posted a .511 OPS while battling a muscle injury. He played in only 68 games last season after being struck with a foul tip in the groin. It’s hardly fair to tie the second situation to future injury potential, but it is worth noting he recently turned 31-years-old and may benefit from less time behind the plate. Moving off a player like Garver suggests the front office has significant belief in the alternative, which at this point is Ryan Jeffers. A .791 OPS and 119 OPS+ quantified an impressive 26 game debut in 2020. When drafted, Jeffers was thought to be a bat-first player, and there were concerns about whether he could stick behind the dish. Minnesota nabbed him in the second round suggesting a firm belief he would. Last season Jeffers generated a 49.2% strike rate, slightly behind Garver. Of the two, though, he’s still a better defender. Jeffers and Garver provide a level of redundancy when paired together in that they’re both right-handed. There’s no platoon advantage, and Jeffers’ assumed production is higher than a traditional backup. ZiPS doesn’t like Jeffers much this year, projecting just a .671 OPS, but if there’s anything close to what was seen in 2020, he’ll surpass that level with ease. At just 24-years-old Jeffers goes into the season as Minnesota’s clear starter while being backed up by Ben Rortvedt. Rortvedt posted a .750 OPS at Triple-A last year but owned just a .510 OPS in 39 Major League games. He’s got a big arm and brings a solid defensive profile with little ability to contribute offensively. If Rortvedt can get to even a .600 OPS and stay there, a long career in the vein of a Drew Butera type seems plausible. Shortstop Needing a replacement for Andrelton Simmons, the Twins went out and got...Andrelton Simmons, kind of. Isiah Kiner-Falefa is a Gold Glove defender that doesn’t hit. A converted catcher, Kiner-Falefa owns a career .670 OPS in 392 Major League games. He’ll be 27-years-old and is under team control for each of the next two seasons. Among qualified shortstops last season, Kiner-Falefa ranked behind only Carlos Correa (20), and Simmons (15) in Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) with 10. Last season was the first year in which he’s primarily played shortstop, but he’s been a defensive asset at third base and second base as well. Statcast’s outs above average had Kiner-Falefa with a -7 mark in 2021, but it’s clear the advanced fielding metrics are generally favorable for him. There was always the thought that Minnesota could opt to move Jorge Polanco back on the other side of the diamond, but both health and production suggested that wasn’t wise. After a breakout in 2021, Polanco’s home appears to now be cemented at second base, and that means Luis Arraez is a utility man at best. With this configuration, it’s also more challenging to see where Jose Miranda fits into the picture at any point in the immediate future. Knowing that pitching can benefit significantly from solid defense, it’s clear the front office is attempting to run it back, with that being the calling card of the infield's most demanding position. Starting Pitcher Team control always comes at a cost, and while Garver has that too, he’s older and has an injury history working against him. Still, though, it’s good to see that Kiner-Falefa’s roster status wasn’t enough for Garver on his own. Texas also sent Ronny Henriquez to Minnesota. Henriquez is a 21-year-old right-handed pitcher that sat in the middle of the Rangers top 30 prospects. Making it to Double-A last season, Henriquez put up substantial strikeout numbers and has a 10.9 K/9 in just over 230 minor league innings. His command has also been sharp, with a walk rate of just 2.3 BB/9. Last season the major bugaboo for Henriquez was the long ball, giving up 17 of them in just 93 and 2/3 innings. He’s still at least a year away from the majors, but this is another arm the Twins staff can go to work on. All in all, there are a few takeaways from this deal. First and foremost, it’s that defense remains a priority for Minnesota. Kiner-Falefa can remain at shortstop if Royce Lewis isn’t going to take over, and he has the positional flexibility to move as well. Garver’s bat will sorely be missed, but it’s a clear indication of a big-time belief in Jeffers. The pitching holes probably won’t all be patched up in 2022, and this is a way to help while also looking towards the future. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  15. The Minnesota Twins desperately need starting pitching. Mitch Garver was among their most-attractive bats to dangle on the trade market. Today, Derek Falvey and Co. agreed to deal Garver for ... glove-first shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Also coming to Minnesota is 21-year-old pitching prospect Ronny Henriquez. Here's my reaction to the deal. View full video
  16. Despite a pandemic that severely altered expectations for how the 2020 Major League Baseball season would go, Minnesota returned to the diamond with a catching duo expected to turn heads. It didn’t go that way, but hope returns for 2022, and Mitch Garver looks as primed as ever. After a breakout in 2019 as a member of the Bomba Squad, Garver dealt with an injury that severely limited effectiveness in 2020. While the team took a step backward last year, the New Mexico native returned to the upper-tier among catchers and could be considered as one of the best in the game. With baseball currently locked out, the Twins backstop hasn’t yet begun the journey to prove 2021 was again the real deal. He’s offered quips on social media, alluding to frustration there is no action, and he’s chomping at the bit with readiness to go. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with him, and we covered a handful of topics. Here’s what Garver had to say: Twins Daily: The 2021 season didn’t go as planned, but much of the talent there in 2019 and 2020 remained. What was the toughest aspect of the year? Mitch Garver: The hardest part was balancing the off-field issues that many of us were dealing with. We lost our bench coach Mike Bell during spring training which affected everyone differently. There was a lot of mourning for him and his family as he was an amazing person and baseball mind. With less than a week until the regular season started, I think many of the guys that played for him really felt the hole that was empty in our organization. Early in the year, there was also a lot of concern with Covid and the social injustices in Minneapolis that were weighing heavy on our team. Covid itself was its own monster because of the strict protocols and the uncertainty of what the virus could be (as you can see from our canceled series with LA and the doubleheaders with Oakland). TD: You dealt with some unfortunate injuries but more than established yourself as among the best catchers in baseball when you were out there. What led to the offensive resurgence last season? MG: Baseball is such a funny sport; you can be on top of the world one week and feel like the worst hitter in baseball the next. It's a game of constant physical, mental, and emotional struggles. I had a poor showing in 2020 and didn't quite get off to the start I wanted in 2021, but with the help of our staff, I was able to feel more comfortable in the box and make some adjustments I had been needing to make. It also helps when you have such a potent offense surrounding you that some of the pressure is taken off. TD: With the lockout expected since the World Series, how has this offseason been different for you? Has it been challenging to prepare for a season that has an undecided start date? MG: I think it's been difficult for a lot of guys. We, as players, want to be on the field, and some of the issues we are fighting for are for the greater good of the next generation of players. There has been obvious stalling from the league to get the season started. After locking out the players, the league waited a month and a half to meet us (players) at the bargaining table to get some things worked out. The people it hurts the most are the fans. I feel like baseball is at a really good point right now with some real star players being in their prime. We could be potentially missing out on Ohtani repeating as an MVP, we are yet to see the best of guys like Soto, Bichette, De Grom, and the list goes on and on. These are the players that have changed the game at a level of talent we have never seen before in this sport. As for me personally, my offseason program has been designed with the lockout in mind. I am currently working up to game speed by taking live at-bats and catching bullpens a few times a week. I also get a little more time with my seven-month-old son, Gamble. TD: Eventually, the sport will return. What are you most looking forward to personally for the 2022 season? What individually would make your year a success? MG: I know all players look to get back on the field and play the game we love. I try not to set my expectations on reaching statistical goals or accolades. My career has been riddled with some injuries over the past few years, some I can control, and others that are out of my hands. I'm doing my best to prepare my body and mind to be healthy the whole year and be on the field with my teammates. TD: How do the Twins get back on top of the AL Central? It’s been fun to see that rivalry with Chicago renewed. MG: We have one of the best offenses in baseball, and when we are all on the same page, everyone 1-9 can do damage. I think we have some really good young pitching that will take a step forward this year, and I am excited to see them grow as individuals and a staff. The rivalry with Chicago is a fun one; they have a really strong team with a good offensive and a pitching staff to respect. I think we all rise to the occasion to play each other, which makes games pretty fun. TD: To wrap it up, what’s the one thing you’re most focused on improving for yourself in the year ahead? MG: I have come to the point in my career where I know what I need to do each day to be successful. It started in the offseason, and as we approach the season, I am prepared for the year ahead. However many games we get to play this year, I'd like to say I have prepared in a way that allows me to stay on the field. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook , or email View full article
  17. The Minnesota Twins desperately need starting pitching. Mitch Garver was among their most-attractive bats to dangle on the trade market. Today, Derek Falvey and Co. agreed to deal Garver for ... glove-first shortstop Isiah Kiner-Falefa. Also coming to Minnesota is 21-year-old pitching prospect Ronny Henriquez. Here's my reaction to the deal.
  18. Recently, I had the privilege to sit down with three outstanding wives of Minnesota Twins players. After the meeting was over, I sat back in my chair and took a deep breath because as impressive as the players are, their wives are the real MVPs, and these are their stories. I have been watching baseball for as long as I can remember. I have always loved everything about baseball; the sounds of the park, the food, and every play on the field. I learned a lot watching what happens on the field, in the dugout, and the bullpen, but one thing that I had yet to learn was that the struggle to get to that place meant putting a lot of stuff on hold, including relationships. Since they were in high school, Allie and Sarah have been with their husbands, Brent Rooker and Mitchell Garver, respectively. While the couples have been together for over ten years, "together" is a relative term when you're in a baseball family. The term "grind" was mentioned frequently in the interview because that's what being a baseball player is. When the guys aren't playing, they are training. There is never a time when they aren't getting ready for the next game. Because the guys are always on the go, independence has always been important to the wives. All women have their own lives, careers, and individuality, which is empowering. At the same time, they are proud to be Mrs. Cave, Mrs. Garver, and Mrs. Rooker. Saige, Sarah, and Allie are friends, daughters, career women, and mothers. The time they spent growing up while they supported their spouses, Allie and Sarah didn't know in high school or even early into college that the guys would play baseball outside of college. Contrary to popular belief, the women with their spouses from an early age genuinely don't rely on their spouses "being drafted ." The reality of players making it into the majors is that Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players, will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Approximately one in 200 or roughly 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team. Allie and Sarah knew that their individuality and success were just as crucial as their husband's baseball careers. Allie and Brent Rooker went to different colleges out of high school, and long-distance didn't stop until after the Minnesota Twins drafted Brent in the 1st round (35th overall pick) of the 2017 amateur draft. Along with Brent being drafted, he and Allie got engaged in 2017. Still, there was no time to get into family mode because Allie graduated as an RN and started working in her field after college. And for Brent, the grind toward the majors began immediately. When the Minnesota Twins drafted Mitch Garver in the 9th round of the 2013 amateur draft, Sarah was in the middle of Veterinary School. They spent more time apart as Mitch found himself playing minor league ball with the Twins and Sarah finished her degree in Oregon. They had been together at the University of New Mexico, but Sarah had goals of becoming a vet, and she knew that would mean more time apart to attend school in Oregon, so while Mitch went off to play baseball in Florida, Sarah went to OSU to complete Vet school and graduated in 2018 with her Doctorate. Even though she graduated, she couldn’t join Mitch yet on the road as she started working in New Mexico. She officially joined Mitch in 2020, just in time for the pandemic. Saige and Jake Cave met when they were a little bit older. Saige had just graduated from college in Florida, and Jake was playing in the New York Yankees minor league system in Tampa. Saige was out walking her dog when they crossed paths, and that is the story. The simplicity of the story is as genuine as they are. She had already graduated college and was a nanny full-time. As a former D2 athlete, Saige vowed that she would never marry an athlete because she knows the grind and the demand, but she couldn't say no to Jake's charm, and the rest is history. They spent a lot of time as a new couple bouncing back and forth in Pennsylvania in the minor-league system. The travel was arduous, but luckily, Saige is from Pennsylvania and had family there. Their lives collided together in 2018 when Jake was traded from New York to Minnesota. The three women were very close and confided in me when I asked, "How important is this circle?" "It's incredibly important." Says Sarah. "I don't know what I would have done without these two," says Saige. "They literally are so welcoming and loving, and we spend all day texting and snap chatting back and forth. Allie sends the funniest stuff." "It's nice to know that someone gets it," Allie says, "Jake and Brent are also really close, and there is a picture of them from Brent's first day on the field smiling and Jake congratulating Brent." The women genuinely care for each other and look out for each other. None of the wives got the opportunity to travel with their husbands to games in 2020, which subsequently was the pandemic year, making 2021 their first full-time travel year. It blew my mind to think about that. These couples put their heart and soul into not only themselves but also grinding through rookie-ball, minor league ball, trades, and finally landing on your feet with a team, and life throws you a literal curve-ball. Their lives aren't all glam and cash-flow, which is how some people think it happens. It's not. The three of them, while they show their strong sides, show concern for what happens on the field. Sarah said that baseball is a day-to-day job. There is no guarantee, as demonstrated by the pandemic and the current lockout. If they don't have their careers, when baseball stops, so does the income, and that's a terrifying idea. All three wives recall their husbands having scary, possibly career-ending injuries and the fear that went into those moments. Brent suffered a displaced fracture of his right forearm on September 13th, 2020, when a pitch hit him against Cleveland. Jake played with a broken back in 2021 and ended up on the sixty-day injured list for rehab. And Mitch took a foul tip to the groin on June 1st, 2021, during a game with Baltimore and ended up on the injured list after emergency surgery late that night. Sarah and Allie both told me that the scariest thing for them was that they were not only not at the games where their husbands were injured, but their phones were blowing up with people asking if their husbands were okay. Having to take in that emotion and sort through the truth and what is being said in the media is very frustrating. "I am already VERY pregnant at this point and very emotional," says Sarah, "and I can't do anything for him right now, and that got to me. Thank God for the medical team." "Yes! The trainers, the Twins medical staff, they are our best friends," pipes in Allie, "They are there waiting for the guys in the waiting room to give us updates and reassure us." "They are literal lifelines," Says Saige, beyond thankful for the staff who helped bring Jake back from a broken back. "He broke his back giving himself to baseball, and it was reassuring that they were dedicated to helping him get better." Between the pandemic and injuries, 2020 and 2021 were stressful, and 2022 isn't any less stressful. While Sarah and Allie have their jobs to help cover the bills. The guys must stay in shape and ready to go to spring training at a moment's notice. Staying in baseball shape and baseball-ready means putting in eight to ten-hour days. It's bad enough when your husband is amid a lockout that threatens his career, but during the season, there are also bad days, bad games, and bad plays that haunt the guys when they come home. While the wives say they certainly need their space after a bad day, they are never petulant, maybe just a little in their head or a little off. What cures their post-game blues? Babies. The adorable babies that they come home to after a game. The kids, Gamble (Sarah and Mitch) and Blair (Allie and Brent), are close together in age and are rumored to be betrothed later in life. The oldest of the crew is Sloane, Jake and Saige's daughter, and she had the job of entertaining us and did a great job! That morning we talked; we were all in our sweats, hair up, kids and dogs everywhere. It was the most laid back conversation, and I realized that these are moms, just like me, like the other women baseball fans. Their main priorities are their families, the kids, and keeping life as simple as possible in a chaotic role. Finding the balance between being an individual, friend, daughter, wife, and mom is not easy. But they do it. And they do it with grace, messy buns, and a smile. Having a solid community is essential because the outside world can be cruel. Their husbands have a bad day at work, and everyone knows about it. What makes it harder about bad games and injuries is what people say about their husbands online. Talking to the women about what they go through, reading, and seeing those things changed my life and outlook on baseball. These three baseball players are not millionaires, as people have been screaming about on Twitter for the past six weeks. But they do fall into the 65% of MLB players who make under $1MM. The lockout is not easy on the families. Mitch is in his second year of arbitration, and makes more than league minimum, but that doesn’t change the impact of the lock out. They may make more than the average Joe, but the average Joe has one home, one State to live in, and a job he can drive to every day. These families have to be prepared for the season with housing for spring training, a house or apartment in the State where they play ball full time, and their place in their home state. Their paychecks ensure that they can afford to play next season and take care of their family in the off-season. Even with all the stress, crazy schedules, the current lockout, I have never seen stronger, happier women. These women not only empower their husbands, but they also empower each other. As a baseball fan, I was shocked that they wouldn't watch baseball without their husbands playing. But, watching their husbands play is one of the most endearing, exciting things they experience. Their first at-bats stick out as core memories for the wives. "Don't strike out" is the only thing Sarah is thinking as Mitch takes the plate for the first time on August 19th, 2017, knowing that is a genuine possibility. They laugh about their passion for the game and how it never leaves their minds. On off-days, any of them can ask their husband, "What are you thinking about?" Saige says, "Usually Jake says, 'my hitting,'" as she laughs. The players are either thinking about training for baseball, their last game, their upcoming game, or their swing. While they don't know specifics about their game day routines or superstitions, one thing they do know is the smiles on their husband's faces as they play the game they grew up loving. As dedicated as the players are to their craft, they are devoted equally at home. All three women talked about how amazing the guys are with the kids. The lockout has left the families stressed, but the ability to have more time together, which none take for granted. Already following in dad's footsteps is Sloane Cave. Sloane loves to play baseball, and Jake loves to help her play. Sloane talks about going on the field with dad and watching him play, but some of her fondest memories she will have with dad allow her to play on her youth team with dad being the coach and the mentor. She loves that one-on-one quality time with Jake. The kids have a unique advantage that many kids don't, and that's watching dad play baseball, going on the field, in the dugout, and hanging out with the other major-league players and their families. When it comes to strength, baseball players are some of the strongest athletes I have encountered. Mentally and physically, players have to be ready for quite literally anything that happens in a game, from injury to a long stretch or dive to get the ball or to be fast enough to round the bases when a line drive hugs the foul line deep into left field. But, what's more, vital to the players are the families that stand behind them. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  19. I have been watching baseball for as long as I can remember. I have always loved everything about baseball; the sounds of the park, the food, and every play on the field. I learned a lot watching what happens on the field, in the dugout, and the bullpen, but one thing that I had yet to learn was that the struggle to get to that place meant putting a lot of stuff on hold, including relationships. Since they were in high school, Allie and Sarah have been with their husbands, Brent Rooker and Mitchell Garver, respectively. While the couples have been together for over ten years, "together" is a relative term when you're in a baseball family. The term "grind" was mentioned frequently in the interview because that's what being a baseball player is. When the guys aren't playing, they are training. There is never a time when they aren't getting ready for the next game. Because the guys are always on the go, independence has always been important to the wives. All women have their own lives, careers, and individuality, which is empowering. At the same time, they are proud to be Mrs. Cave, Mrs. Garver, and Mrs. Rooker. Saige, Sarah, and Allie are friends, daughters, career women, and mothers. The time they spent growing up while they supported their spouses, Allie and Sarah didn't know in high school or even early into college that the guys would play baseball outside of college. Contrary to popular belief, the women with their spouses from an early age genuinely don't rely on their spouses "being drafted ." The reality of players making it into the majors is that Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players, will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Approximately one in 200 or roughly 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team. Allie and Sarah knew that their individuality and success were just as crucial as their husband's baseball careers. Allie and Brent Rooker went to different colleges out of high school, and long-distance didn't stop until after the Minnesota Twins drafted Brent in the 1st round (35th overall pick) of the 2017 amateur draft. Along with Brent being drafted, he and Allie got engaged in 2017. Still, there was no time to get into family mode because Allie graduated as an RN and started working in her field after college. And for Brent, the grind toward the majors began immediately. When the Minnesota Twins drafted Mitch Garver in the 9th round of the 2013 amateur draft, Sarah was in the middle of Veterinary School. They spent more time apart as Mitch found himself playing minor league ball with the Twins and Sarah finished her degree in Oregon. They had been together at the University of New Mexico, but Sarah had goals of becoming a vet, and she knew that would mean more time apart to attend school in Oregon, so while Mitch went off to play baseball in Florida, Sarah went to OSU to complete Vet school and graduated in 2018 with her Doctorate. Even though she graduated, she couldn’t join Mitch yet on the road as she started working in New Mexico. She officially joined Mitch in 2020, just in time for the pandemic. Saige and Jake Cave met when they were a little bit older. Saige had just graduated from college in Florida, and Jake was playing in the New York Yankees minor league system in Tampa. Saige was out walking her dog when they crossed paths, and that is the story. The simplicity of the story is as genuine as they are. She had already graduated college and was a nanny full-time. As a former D2 athlete, Saige vowed that she would never marry an athlete because she knows the grind and the demand, but she couldn't say no to Jake's charm, and the rest is history. They spent a lot of time as a new couple bouncing back and forth in Pennsylvania in the minor-league system. The travel was arduous, but luckily, Saige is from Pennsylvania and had family there. Their lives collided together in 2018 when Jake was traded from New York to Minnesota. The three women were very close and confided in me when I asked, "How important is this circle?" "It's incredibly important." Says Sarah. "I don't know what I would have done without these two," says Saige. "They literally are so welcoming and loving, and we spend all day texting and snap chatting back and forth. Allie sends the funniest stuff." "It's nice to know that someone gets it," Allie says, "Jake and Brent are also really close, and there is a picture of them from Brent's first day on the field smiling and Jake congratulating Brent." The women genuinely care for each other and look out for each other. None of the wives got the opportunity to travel with their husbands to games in 2020, which subsequently was the pandemic year, making 2021 their first full-time travel year. It blew my mind to think about that. These couples put their heart and soul into not only themselves but also grinding through rookie-ball, minor league ball, trades, and finally landing on your feet with a team, and life throws you a literal curve-ball. Their lives aren't all glam and cash-flow, which is how some people think it happens. It's not. The three of them, while they show their strong sides, show concern for what happens on the field. Sarah said that baseball is a day-to-day job. There is no guarantee, as demonstrated by the pandemic and the current lockout. If they don't have their careers, when baseball stops, so does the income, and that's a terrifying idea. All three wives recall their husbands having scary, possibly career-ending injuries and the fear that went into those moments. Brent suffered a displaced fracture of his right forearm on September 13th, 2020, when a pitch hit him against Cleveland. Jake played with a broken back in 2021 and ended up on the sixty-day injured list for rehab. And Mitch took a foul tip to the groin on June 1st, 2021, during a game with Baltimore and ended up on the injured list after emergency surgery late that night. Sarah and Allie both told me that the scariest thing for them was that they were not only not at the games where their husbands were injured, but their phones were blowing up with people asking if their husbands were okay. Having to take in that emotion and sort through the truth and what is being said in the media is very frustrating. "I am already VERY pregnant at this point and very emotional," says Sarah, "and I can't do anything for him right now, and that got to me. Thank God for the medical team." "Yes! The trainers, the Twins medical staff, they are our best friends," pipes in Allie, "They are there waiting for the guys in the waiting room to give us updates and reassure us." "They are literal lifelines," Says Saige, beyond thankful for the staff who helped bring Jake back from a broken back. "He broke his back giving himself to baseball, and it was reassuring that they were dedicated to helping him get better." Between the pandemic and injuries, 2020 and 2021 were stressful, and 2022 isn't any less stressful. While Sarah and Allie have their jobs to help cover the bills. The guys must stay in shape and ready to go to spring training at a moment's notice. Staying in baseball shape and baseball-ready means putting in eight to ten-hour days. It's bad enough when your husband is amid a lockout that threatens his career, but during the season, there are also bad days, bad games, and bad plays that haunt the guys when they come home. While the wives say they certainly need their space after a bad day, they are never petulant, maybe just a little in their head or a little off. What cures their post-game blues? Babies. The adorable babies that they come home to after a game. The kids, Gamble (Sarah and Mitch) and Blair (Allie and Brent), are close together in age and are rumored to be betrothed later in life. The oldest of the crew is Sloane, Jake and Saige's daughter, and she had the job of entertaining us and did a great job! That morning we talked; we were all in our sweats, hair up, kids and dogs everywhere. It was the most laid back conversation, and I realized that these are moms, just like me, like the other women baseball fans. Their main priorities are their families, the kids, and keeping life as simple as possible in a chaotic role. Finding the balance between being an individual, friend, daughter, wife, and mom is not easy. But they do it. And they do it with grace, messy buns, and a smile. Having a solid community is essential because the outside world can be cruel. Their husbands have a bad day at work, and everyone knows about it. What makes it harder about bad games and injuries is what people say about their husbands online. Talking to the women about what they go through, reading, and seeing those things changed my life and outlook on baseball. These three baseball players are not millionaires, as people have been screaming about on Twitter for the past six weeks. But they do fall into the 65% of MLB players who make under $1MM. The lockout is not easy on the families. Mitch is in his second year of arbitration, and makes more than league minimum, but that doesn’t change the impact of the lock out. They may make more than the average Joe, but the average Joe has one home, one State to live in, and a job he can drive to every day. These families have to be prepared for the season with housing for spring training, a house or apartment in the State where they play ball full time, and their place in their home state. Their paychecks ensure that they can afford to play next season and take care of their family in the off-season. Even with all the stress, crazy schedules, the current lockout, I have never seen stronger, happier women. These women not only empower their husbands, but they also empower each other. As a baseball fan, I was shocked that they wouldn't watch baseball without their husbands playing. But, watching their husbands play is one of the most endearing, exciting things they experience. Their first at-bats stick out as core memories for the wives. "Don't strike out" is the only thing Sarah is thinking as Mitch takes the plate for the first time on August 19th, 2017, knowing that is a genuine possibility. They laugh about their passion for the game and how it never leaves their minds. On off-days, any of them can ask their husband, "What are you thinking about?" Saige says, "Usually Jake says, 'my hitting,'" as she laughs. The players are either thinking about training for baseball, their last game, their upcoming game, or their swing. While they don't know specifics about their game day routines or superstitions, one thing they do know is the smiles on their husband's faces as they play the game they grew up loving. As dedicated as the players are to their craft, they are devoted equally at home. All three women talked about how amazing the guys are with the kids. The lockout has left the families stressed, but the ability to have more time together, which none take for granted. Already following in dad's footsteps is Sloane Cave. Sloane loves to play baseball, and Jake loves to help her play. Sloane talks about going on the field with dad and watching him play, but some of her fondest memories she will have with dad allow her to play on her youth team with dad being the coach and the mentor. She loves that one-on-one quality time with Jake. The kids have a unique advantage that many kids don't, and that's watching dad play baseball, going on the field, in the dugout, and hanging out with the other major-league players and their families. When it comes to strength, baseball players are some of the strongest athletes I have encountered. Mentally and physically, players have to be ready for quite literally anything that happens in a game, from injury to a long stretch or dive to get the ball or to be fast enough to round the bases when a line drive hugs the foul line deep into left field. But, what's more, vital to the players are the families that stand behind them. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  20. Mitch Garver has established himself as one of the core pieces of the Twins offense the last few years. With that in mind, it may be time for the Twins to start putting more effort into setting Garver up for long term success. Catcher is a difficult position both physically and mentally. Manning the backstop is what cost one of the all-time great Twins in Joe Mauer so dearly in his prime. Even if Mauer had avoided the concussion that resulted in his move to first base, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where he would have prematurely declined due to the demands of his position. The Twins may want to try to avoid a similar scenario when it comes to Mitch Garver. Garver is far from the typical catcher in today’s baseball environment. Regulars at the position are typically expected to provide strong defense and adequately call a game for a pitching staff. If they can hold their own offensively that’s just a bonus. Garver on the other hand is a bat-first catcher. He’s far from terrible defensively and has made great strides in things like framing where he ranked in the 93rd percentile in 2021. He may not win any gold gloves but he doesn’t have to given his ability in the batter’s box. Not only has he been an above-average hitter in three of the last four seasons, but he’s also been flat-out incredible in two of them. Garver uses a mastery of the strike zone to lay off borderline pitches and force pitchers into making mistakes. His 2019 was argued as the best offensive season by a catcher since Mike Piazza when he was 55% above league average offensively and nearly put up 4 fWAR in under 400 plate appearances. It’s possible his disastrous 2020 where he posted a .167/.247/.264 line was injury-related, as in 2021 he returned to form hitting .256/.358/.517, good for 37% above the league average hitter. It’s become clear that Garver shouldn’t be valued just for his offensive skills as a catcher, but for his offensive skills in general. With other candidates for the position debuting such as Ryan Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt, perhaps it’s time to better set Garver up for success moving forward. Garver has played first base to some extent in every season of his career, although his career-high in innings at the position is 24 in 2017. Still, it may benefit the Twins to make a more concerted effort to get Garver time at a less physically demanding position. Not only is his concussion history worrisome, but it’s fair to wonder at 31 how soon the wear and tear throughout the season could begin to impact his ability to perform at the plate. Besides injury risk, moving Garver even part-time off of catcher could make him available in the lineup more often while allowing Rortvedt and Jeffers to get more exposure. Jeffers in particular was held down in 2021 by getting the bulk of at-bats against right-handers in order to allow Garver to crush lefties whenever possible. It was a tough ask of a rookie and Jeffers understandably struggled at the plate seeing almost exclusively same-handed pitching. Alex Kirilloff will be back in 2022 hopefully as the everyday first baseman with Miguel Sano rotating in. Still, Kirilloff will likely see some outfield innings and Sano and Garver can share first base and DH duties. In the last two seasons, Sano has inexplicably been well below league average against left-handed pitching, an area you can always expect Garver to excel in. If those trends continue, Garver could just overtake Sano’s at-bats altogether. Much like the eternal question “How will we find enough at-bats for Player X?” The question of how to fit Garver into DH or first base on occasion would work itself out if the Twins choose to go that route. The question is whether they decide it’s time to do so. I’d argue that it can only help. Garver’s bat will be all the more important without Nelson Cruz in 2022 and the skills that make him such a force on offense should be able to age gracefully if he can avoid injury. Is it time to start easing him off of his natural position to try to keep him effective at the plate longer? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  21. Catcher is a difficult position both physically and mentally. Manning the backstop is what cost one of the all-time great Twins in Joe Mauer so dearly in his prime. Even if Mauer had avoided the concussion that resulted in his move to first base, it’s not hard to imagine a scenario where he would have prematurely declined due to the demands of his position. The Twins may want to try to avoid a similar scenario when it comes to Mitch Garver. Garver is far from the typical catcher in today’s baseball environment. Regulars at the position are typically expected to provide strong defense and adequately call a game for a pitching staff. If they can hold their own offensively that’s just a bonus. Garver on the other hand is a bat-first catcher. He’s far from terrible defensively and has made great strides in things like framing where he ranked in the 93rd percentile in 2021. He may not win any gold gloves but he doesn’t have to given his ability in the batter’s box. Not only has he been an above-average hitter in three of the last four seasons, but he’s also been flat-out incredible in two of them. Garver uses a mastery of the strike zone to lay off borderline pitches and force pitchers into making mistakes. His 2019 was argued as the best offensive season by a catcher since Mike Piazza when he was 55% above league average offensively and nearly put up 4 fWAR in under 400 plate appearances. It’s possible his disastrous 2020 where he posted a .167/.247/.264 line was injury-related, as in 2021 he returned to form hitting .256/.358/.517, good for 37% above the league average hitter. It’s become clear that Garver shouldn’t be valued just for his offensive skills as a catcher, but for his offensive skills in general. With other candidates for the position debuting such as Ryan Jeffers and Ben Rortvedt, perhaps it’s time to better set Garver up for success moving forward. Garver has played first base to some extent in every season of his career, although his career-high in innings at the position is 24 in 2017. Still, it may benefit the Twins to make a more concerted effort to get Garver time at a less physically demanding position. Not only is his concussion history worrisome, but it’s fair to wonder at 31 how soon the wear and tear throughout the season could begin to impact his ability to perform at the plate. Besides injury risk, moving Garver even part-time off of catcher could make him available in the lineup more often while allowing Rortvedt and Jeffers to get more exposure. Jeffers in particular was held down in 2021 by getting the bulk of at-bats against right-handers in order to allow Garver to crush lefties whenever possible. It was a tough ask of a rookie and Jeffers understandably struggled at the plate seeing almost exclusively same-handed pitching. Alex Kirilloff will be back in 2022 hopefully as the everyday first baseman with Miguel Sano rotating in. Still, Kirilloff will likely see some outfield innings and Sano and Garver can share first base and DH duties. In the last two seasons, Sano has inexplicably been well below league average against left-handed pitching, an area you can always expect Garver to excel in. If those trends continue, Garver could just overtake Sano’s at-bats altogether. Much like the eternal question “How will we find enough at-bats for Player X?” The question of how to fit Garver into DH or first base on occasion would work itself out if the Twins choose to go that route. The question is whether they decide it’s time to do so. I’d argue that it can only help. Garver’s bat will be all the more important without Nelson Cruz in 2022 and the skills that make him such a force on offense should be able to age gracefully if he can avoid injury. Is it time to start easing him off of his natural position to try to keep him effective at the plate longer? — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  22. Although MLB is in the middle of a lockout, that doesn’t mean baseball as a whole is shut down. If you find yourself missing baseball, I would highly suggest getting into college baseball. There are nearly 300 Division I baseball programs in the country, so you surely should be able to find a team to root for, wherever you may live. On the Twins 40-man roster, there are five position players who played college baseball. All five of these players had great success in college, leading them to get drafted in the top ten rounds of the MLB draft. Josh Donaldson, C/IF, Auburn After hitting .515 as a senior in high school, the future Twins third baseman decided to take his talents to Auburn University. In Donaldson's freshman year, he immediately made an impact on the Tigers. After seeing limited playing time for the first month of the season, he became their everyday third baseman in their series against Arkansas and never looked back. Donaldson finished his freshman campaign hitting .294/.347/.477 (.824) with seven doubles, seven home runs, and 26 RBI. Donaldson came into his sophomore year with increased responsibilities, as he was asked to catch. He made 56 starts (every game), with 36 being behind the dish and 20 being at third base. He once again was a very solid bat for the Tigers, hitting .276/.331/.487 (.818) with 16 doubles, ten home runs, and 42 RBI. This season earned him Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American status heading into his junior year. In Donaldson's junior year, he was stellar in all facets of the game. He hit .349/.444/.591 (1.035) with 19 doubles, 11 home runs, and 54 RBI. He also walked 38 times compared to only 27 strikeouts. One aspect of Donaldson’s game that really came into fruition was his baserunning. Donaldson stole 17 bases after only stealing one base between his first two years. It was clear from this standout season that Donaldson was ready for the big leagues, so he got drafted with the 48th overall pick by the Chicago Cubs after his junior season. Donaldson finished his career hitting .307/.378/.522 (.900) with 42 doubles, 28 home runs, and 122 RBI in 158 career games with the Tigers. Mitch Garver, C, University of New Mexico In 2013, the Twins used their ninth-round pick on a bat-first catcher out of the University of New Mexico by the name of Mitch Garver. A hometown kid, Garver grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was lucky enough to be able to stay at his hometown university for college at UNM. As a freshman, Garver served as the backup catcher to former Brewers farmhand Rafael Neda. He made 11 starts and hit .277/.351/.385 (.736) with five doubles and 15 RBI. Neda got drafted after this year, and Garver took the reins his sophomore year in which he started all 61 games. He improved at the plate, hitting .300/.380/.400 (.780) with 13 doubles, two home runs, 28 walks (led team), and 27 RBI. Garver went from a solid hitter his first two years to an absolute powerhouse his junior year. In his junior year, Garver once again started all 61 games, hitting .377/.438/.612 (1.050) with 27 doubles (led team), ten home runs, and 57 RBI. He earned Co-Mountain West Player of the Year honors, was named a national finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, and was named a second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger. Defensively, he was great, throwing out 39.6 percent of base stealers In his senior year, Garver once again started every game. He set the record for most consecutive games started at UNM with 181. He also hit .390/.458/.589 with 21 doubles, five triples, and six home runs. He also drove in 68 runs and was once again named a Johnny Bench finalist, Co-MW Player of the Year, and an Academic All-American for the fourth straight year. He finished his Lobo career 5th all-time in doubles and had the most career hits as a catcher in Lobo history. Ryan Jeffers, C, UNC Wilmington When Ryan Jeffers decided to go to UNC Wilmington, he would only be heading about two hours south from his hometown of Raleigh, NC. The three-time all-conference player in high school would go on to have an unbelievable career at Wilmington where he was one of the best catchers in the country. His freshman year, he served as the backup catcher behind future Diamondback farmhand Gavin Stupienski. Jeffers appeared in 13 games as a freshman, going 8-for-23 (.348) at the plate with three doubles and a home run. Although he did not see a whole lot of action in his freshman year of 2016, Jeffers showed a lot of promise and it was clear that he would be one of their best guys going forward, with Stupienski getting drafted following the 2016 season. In Jeffers’ sophomore campaign, he started 52 games and proved his success in 2016 was no fluke. He hit .328/.422/.604 (1.026) with 19 doubles, ten home runs, and 32 RBI. He also received a variety of honors, including NCCSIA First-Team All-State, ABCA All-East First-Team, and First-Team All-CAA. His third and final year at UNC Wilmington, he started all 62 games, hitting .315/.460/.635 (1.095) with 22 doubles, 16 home runs, 59 RBI, and 51 walks. He led the Colonial Athletic Association in doubles, home runs, OBP, and slugging percentage. He was once again named First-Team All-CAA and to the NCAA Greenville All-Regional team. Jeffers was rewarded for his great season by being drafted in the second round with the 59th pick by the Twins in the 2018 draft. Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State Despite being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the MLB Draft out of high school, Trevor Larnach opted not to sign and headed up to Corvallis, Oregon to start his college baseball career. Larnach’s freshman season at Oregon State was quite unremarkable. In 28 games (12 starts), Larnach hit a measly .157/.271/.176 (.447) with one double and three RBI. In increased playing time sophomore year (58 starts), Larnach hit .303/.421/.429 (.850) with 16 doubles, three home runs, 39 walks (led team), and 48 RBI (led team). He was named All-Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention and was also named to the Corvallis Regional All-Tournament Team. The Oregon State Beavers made it to the semifinals of the College World Series before falling to LSU. In 2018, Larnach’s junior year, he was one of the best players in the country. Larnach hit .344/.458/.648 (1.106) with 18 doubles, 19 home runs, and 76 RBI. He was named to the All-American team, PAC-12 All-Conference Team, and received many other prestigious awards. On top of all of that, Larnach’s Beavers won the College World Series, much to his help. In the College World Series, Larnach hit .417/.447/.694 (1.142) with five doubles, one home run, and nine RBI. He also had the biggest hit of the World Series, a tie-breaking two home run in Oregon State’s elimination game with two outs in the top of the ninth. Larnach was drafted by the Twins in the first round (20th overall) in 2018. Larnach is a legend in Corvallis, and hopefully he can bring some of that playoff magic to the Minnesota Twins in the near future. Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State Rooker, unlike Larnach, was relatively unknown going into his freshman year at Mississippi State. Rooker did not see any action in his first year as a Bulldog, taking a redshirt year. His sophomore year, he played in 34 of the team’s 54 games, making 20 starts. He hit .257/.325/.378 (.703) with three doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBI. He primarily served as the team’s designated hitter and played a couple of games in left field. In Rooker's junior year, he took a major step forward. He hit .324/.376/.578 (.954) and had a team-best 11 home runs and 54 RBI. For this effort, Rooker was named to the All-SEC second team and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round. However, Rooker opted not to sign and came back to Mississippi State for his senior season. Rooker just did that, having a historic 2017 for the Bulldogs. Rooker absolutely mashed, hitting .387/.495/.810 (1.305!!!). Rooker set the single-season Mississippi State record for doubles in a season with 30. He led the SEC in doubles, home runs (23), batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and RBI (82). He even stole 18 bases. He was named All-SEC first team, All-American, SEC player of the year, and National Player of the Year. Rooker’s 2017 season is one of the best seasons by any college player in recent history, and he was drafted in the first round by the Twins with the 35th overall pick. Had Rooker signed in 2016, he would have received a $1,000 signing bonus. In 2017, he received a $1.935 million dollar signing bonus. Rooker bet on himself and it paid off. Who had the best college career out of these five? Which current Twins prospects that attended college are you most excited for? Leave a comment below and start a discussion Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email. View full article
  23. On the Twins 40-man roster, there are five position players who played college baseball. All five of these players had great success in college, leading them to get drafted in the top ten rounds of the MLB draft. Josh Donaldson, C/IF, Auburn After hitting .515 as a senior in high school, the future Twins third baseman decided to take his talents to Auburn University. In Donaldson's freshman year, he immediately made an impact on the Tigers. After seeing limited playing time for the first month of the season, he became their everyday third baseman in their series against Arkansas and never looked back. Donaldson finished his freshman campaign hitting .294/.347/.477 (.824) with seven doubles, seven home runs, and 26 RBI. Donaldson came into his sophomore year with increased responsibilities, as he was asked to catch. He made 56 starts (every game), with 36 being behind the dish and 20 being at third base. He once again was a very solid bat for the Tigers, hitting .276/.331/.487 (.818) with 16 doubles, ten home runs, and 42 RBI. This season earned him Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American status heading into his junior year. In Donaldson's junior year, he was stellar in all facets of the game. He hit .349/.444/.591 (1.035) with 19 doubles, 11 home runs, and 54 RBI. He also walked 38 times compared to only 27 strikeouts. One aspect of Donaldson’s game that really came into fruition was his baserunning. Donaldson stole 17 bases after only stealing one base between his first two years. It was clear from this standout season that Donaldson was ready for the big leagues, so he got drafted with the 48th overall pick by the Chicago Cubs after his junior season. Donaldson finished his career hitting .307/.378/.522 (.900) with 42 doubles, 28 home runs, and 122 RBI in 158 career games with the Tigers. Mitch Garver, C, University of New Mexico In 2013, the Twins used their ninth-round pick on a bat-first catcher out of the University of New Mexico by the name of Mitch Garver. A hometown kid, Garver grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was lucky enough to be able to stay at his hometown university for college at UNM. As a freshman, Garver served as the backup catcher to former Brewers farmhand Rafael Neda. He made 11 starts and hit .277/.351/.385 (.736) with five doubles and 15 RBI. Neda got drafted after this year, and Garver took the reins his sophomore year in which he started all 61 games. He improved at the plate, hitting .300/.380/.400 (.780) with 13 doubles, two home runs, 28 walks (led team), and 27 RBI. Garver went from a solid hitter his first two years to an absolute powerhouse his junior year. In his junior year, Garver once again started all 61 games, hitting .377/.438/.612 (1.050) with 27 doubles (led team), ten home runs, and 57 RBI. He earned Co-Mountain West Player of the Year honors, was named a national finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, and was named a second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger. Defensively, he was great, throwing out 39.6 percent of base stealers In his senior year, Garver once again started every game. He set the record for most consecutive games started at UNM with 181. He also hit .390/.458/.589 with 21 doubles, five triples, and six home runs. He also drove in 68 runs and was once again named a Johnny Bench finalist, Co-MW Player of the Year, and an Academic All-American for the fourth straight year. He finished his Lobo career 5th all-time in doubles and had the most career hits as a catcher in Lobo history. Ryan Jeffers, C, UNC Wilmington When Ryan Jeffers decided to go to UNC Wilmington, he would only be heading about two hours south from his hometown of Raleigh, NC. The three-time all-conference player in high school would go on to have an unbelievable career at Wilmington where he was one of the best catchers in the country. His freshman year, he served as the backup catcher behind future Diamondback farmhand Gavin Stupienski. Jeffers appeared in 13 games as a freshman, going 8-for-23 (.348) at the plate with three doubles and a home run. Although he did not see a whole lot of action in his freshman year of 2016, Jeffers showed a lot of promise and it was clear that he would be one of their best guys going forward, with Stupienski getting drafted following the 2016 season. In Jeffers’ sophomore campaign, he started 52 games and proved his success in 2016 was no fluke. He hit .328/.422/.604 (1.026) with 19 doubles, ten home runs, and 32 RBI. He also received a variety of honors, including NCCSIA First-Team All-State, ABCA All-East First-Team, and First-Team All-CAA. His third and final year at UNC Wilmington, he started all 62 games, hitting .315/.460/.635 (1.095) with 22 doubles, 16 home runs, 59 RBI, and 51 walks. He led the Colonial Athletic Association in doubles, home runs, OBP, and slugging percentage. He was once again named First-Team All-CAA and to the NCAA Greenville All-Regional team. Jeffers was rewarded for his great season by being drafted in the second round with the 59th pick by the Twins in the 2018 draft. Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State Despite being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the MLB Draft out of high school, Trevor Larnach opted not to sign and headed up to Corvallis, Oregon to start his college baseball career. Larnach’s freshman season at Oregon State was quite unremarkable. In 28 games (12 starts), Larnach hit a measly .157/.271/.176 (.447) with one double and three RBI. In increased playing time sophomore year (58 starts), Larnach hit .303/.421/.429 (.850) with 16 doubles, three home runs, 39 walks (led team), and 48 RBI (led team). He was named All-Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention and was also named to the Corvallis Regional All-Tournament Team. The Oregon State Beavers made it to the semifinals of the College World Series before falling to LSU. In 2018, Larnach’s junior year, he was one of the best players in the country. Larnach hit .344/.458/.648 (1.106) with 18 doubles, 19 home runs, and 76 RBI. He was named to the All-American team, PAC-12 All-Conference Team, and received many other prestigious awards. On top of all of that, Larnach’s Beavers won the College World Series, much to his help. In the College World Series, Larnach hit .417/.447/.694 (1.142) with five doubles, one home run, and nine RBI. He also had the biggest hit of the World Series, a tie-breaking two home run in Oregon State’s elimination game with two outs in the top of the ninth. Larnach was drafted by the Twins in the first round (20th overall) in 2018. Larnach is a legend in Corvallis, and hopefully he can bring some of that playoff magic to the Minnesota Twins in the near future. Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State Rooker, unlike Larnach, was relatively unknown going into his freshman year at Mississippi State. Rooker did not see any action in his first year as a Bulldog, taking a redshirt year. His sophomore year, he played in 34 of the team’s 54 games, making 20 starts. He hit .257/.325/.378 (.703) with three doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBI. He primarily served as the team’s designated hitter and played a couple of games in left field. In Rooker's junior year, he took a major step forward. He hit .324/.376/.578 (.954) and had a team-best 11 home runs and 54 RBI. For this effort, Rooker was named to the All-SEC second team and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round. However, Rooker opted not to sign and came back to Mississippi State for his senior season. Rooker just did that, having a historic 2017 for the Bulldogs. Rooker absolutely mashed, hitting .387/.495/.810 (1.305!!!). Rooker set the single-season Mississippi State record for doubles in a season with 30. He led the SEC in doubles, home runs (23), batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and RBI (82). He even stole 18 bases. He was named All-SEC first team, All-American, SEC player of the year, and National Player of the Year. Rooker’s 2017 season is one of the best seasons by any college player in recent history, and he was drafted in the first round by the Twins with the 35th overall pick. Had Rooker signed in 2016, he would have received a $1,000 signing bonus. In 2017, he received a $1.935 million dollar signing bonus. Rooker bet on himself and it paid off. Who had the best college career out of these five? Which current Twins prospects that attended college are you most excited for? Leave a comment below and start a discussion Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email.
  24. After a breakout in 2019 as a member of the Bomba Squad, Garver dealt with an injury that severely limited effectiveness in 2020. While the team took a step backward last year, the New Mexico native returned to the upper-tier among catchers and could be considered as one of the best in the game. With baseball currently locked out, the Twins backstop hasn’t yet begun the journey to prove 2021 was again the real deal. He’s offered quips on social media, alluding to frustration there is no action, and he’s chomping at the bit with readiness to go. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with him, and we covered a handful of topics. Here’s what Garver had to say: Twins Daily: The 2021 season didn’t go as planned, but much of the talent there in 2019 and 2020 remained. What was the toughest aspect of the year? Mitch Garver: The hardest part was balancing the off-field issues that many of us were dealing with. We lost our bench coach Mike Bell during spring training which affected everyone differently. There was a lot of mourning for him and his family as he was an amazing person and baseball mind. With less than a week until the regular season started, I think many of the guys that played for him really felt the hole that was empty in our organization. Early in the year, there was also a lot of concern with Covid and the social injustices in Minneapolis that were weighing heavy on our team. Covid itself was its own monster because of the strict protocols and the uncertainty of what the virus could be (as you can see from our canceled series with LA and the doubleheaders with Oakland). TD: You dealt with some unfortunate injuries but more than established yourself as among the best catchers in baseball when you were out there. What led to the offensive resurgence last season? MG: Baseball is such a funny sport; you can be on top of the world one week and feel like the worst hitter in baseball the next. It's a game of constant physical, mental, and emotional struggles. I had a poor showing in 2020 and didn't quite get off to the start I wanted in 2021, but with the help of our staff, I was able to feel more comfortable in the box and make some adjustments I had been needing to make. It also helps when you have such a potent offense surrounding you that some of the pressure is taken off. TD: With the lockout expected since the World Series, how has this offseason been different for you? Has it been challenging to prepare for a season that has an undecided start date? MG: I think it's been difficult for a lot of guys. We, as players, want to be on the field, and some of the issues we are fighting for are for the greater good of the next generation of players. There has been obvious stalling from the league to get the season started. After locking out the players, the league waited a month and a half to meet us (players) at the bargaining table to get some things worked out. The people it hurts the most are the fans. I feel like baseball is at a really good point right now with some real star players being in their prime. We could be potentially missing out on Ohtani repeating as an MVP, we are yet to see the best of guys like Soto, Bichette, De Grom, and the list goes on and on. These are the players that have changed the game at a level of talent we have never seen before in this sport. As for me personally, my offseason program has been designed with the lockout in mind. I am currently working up to game speed by taking live at-bats and catching bullpens a few times a week. I also get a little more time with my seven-month-old son, Gamble. TD: Eventually, the sport will return. What are you most looking forward to personally for the 2022 season? What individually would make your year a success? MG: I know all players look to get back on the field and play the game we love. I try not to set my expectations on reaching statistical goals or accolades. My career has been riddled with some injuries over the past few years, some I can control, and others that are out of my hands. I'm doing my best to prepare my body and mind to be healthy the whole year and be on the field with my teammates. TD: How do the Twins get back on top of the AL Central? It’s been fun to see that rivalry with Chicago renewed. MG: We have one of the best offenses in baseball, and when we are all on the same page, everyone 1-9 can do damage. I think we have some really good young pitching that will take a step forward this year, and I am excited to see them grow as individuals and a staff. The rivalry with Chicago is a fun one; they have a really strong team with a good offensive and a pitching staff to respect. I think we all rise to the occasion to play each other, which makes games pretty fun. TD: To wrap it up, what’s the one thing you’re most focused on improving for yourself in the year ahead? MG: I have come to the point in my career where I know what I need to do each day to be successful. It started in the offseason, and as we approach the season, I am prepared for the year ahead. However many games we get to play this year, I'd like to say I have prepared in a way that allows me to stay on the field. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook , or email
  25. Mitch Garver has been one of baseball’s best offensive catchers in recent seasons. With free agency looming after the 2023 season, should the Twins extend their right-handed slugger? Mitch Garver, 31, was incredible during the Twins’ magical 2019 run to a division title. He hit 31 homers and drove in 67 runs in 359 plate appearances. Since then, he struggled in a shortened 2020 and bounced back in 2021. Let’s examine his case for an extension. The Case FOR Extension Among catchers with at least 600 plate appearances over the last three seasons, Garver ties Dodgers’ Will Smith for the highest wRC+ (135). He’s arguably been the best-hitting catcher in the league over that span, even with a brutal 2020 season. Garver has produced 29.2 FanGraphs offensive WAR since 2019, ranking right behind Phillies’ star J.T. Realmuto among catchers. To have an elite bat at the catcher spot is one of the most valued commodities in the sport. Garver qualifies as that. Nine Twins have logged 1,000 or more plate appearances since 2018. Only Nelson Cruz (162) has a higher OPS+ than Garver (124), who has hit .256/.341/.494 since becoming a regular. An intercostal strain and ineffectiveness marred Garver’s COVID season, but he returned to form in 2021. Garver had 28 extra-base hits in just 68 games. If not for a brutal injury shortening his season, the Albuquerque native was on pace for a repeat of 2019. He set career-highs in hard-hit rate (54%) and walk rate (13%). Garver ranked in the 93rd percentile in pitch framing, furthering his progression behind the plate. Garver was negative-17 in Defensive Runs Saved in 2018. Since then, he’s been a plus-defender, saving four runs. He’s made serious strides and is now a masher who you can rely on defensively. Extension Comp: James McCann, New York Mets This is a little tricky, but McCann was around the same age as Garver when he signed a four-year, $40.6 million deal with the Mets. McCann was a free agent coming off two terrific seasons in Chicago. Both are right-handed sluggers who crush left-handed pitching. McCann tanked in his first season in New York with a .643 OPS and negative-bWAR, but he provides a solid look at what a Garver deal could encompass. Garver projects to make $3.1 million in 2022 and about $6 million in 2023 via arbitration. The Case AGAINST Extension That Garver is a catcher has been a significant plus in addition to his offense. The Twins are assuming he remains a solid catcher in an extension like this. That’s a rosy assumption. Garver is heading into his 30s and has already dealt with multiple injuries over the last few years. There’s also redundancy with two right-handed catchers on the roster. Ryan Jeffers looks very similar to Garver, with strong framing skills and differing splits against right and left-handed pitchers. It’s not an ideal tandem, but that’s not to say it’s impossible to navigate. Garver has had periods where he’s late on fastballs, and he doesn’t precisely limit his strikeout rate. There’s plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, and he has been streaky at specific points. When Garver's on, he’s lethal. When he’s not, you get stretches like 2020 and the first month of 2021. The Bottom Line Garver, like Luis Arraez and Taylor Rogers, is a staple of the Twins. He’s another favorite who has given Twins fans unforgettable moments of cheer since his debut. He’s become a rock-solid defender and has combined it with a beautiful right-handed swing. It’s always important to note that you are paying for the future in any discussion of a new contract. Garver has been great up to this point, but will he age well into his 30s? Can the Twins afford to invest in their catcher with so much uncertainty in the rotation? With an open DH spot in 2022, it’s conceivable that Garver will get to 500 plate appearances. What if he mashes, and the Twins risk losing him after 2023? Now could be the time to avoid that fate. Or maybe you ride out the next two years and move along at that point. What do you think? Should the Twins extend Mitch Garver? Comment your thoughts below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
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