Matt Wallner to Twins: Promote Me, or Trade Me

Matt Wallner
Photo: Minda Haas Kuhlman

When the Minnesota Twins opened their 2024 Major League Baseball season Rocco Baldelli had outfielder Matt Wallner on his 26-man roster. It took just 13 games before he earned a demotion, but the tides have turned, at least for one side of the equation.

A former first round pick by the Minnesota Twins, Matt Wallner is a Forest Lake native and seeing him put up strong numbers last season as a rookie was exciting for the “one of us” narratives. Needing to work his way back, he is making more than a compelling case, but the Twins have passed him over once already.

Matt Wallner is making a mockery of Minnesota Twins farm

At Triple-A St. Paul, Matt Wallner’s big league struggles followed him to the farm, out of the gate. The strikeouts continued to rack up, and he was unable to produce the way he did prior to earning a promotion last year.

Through his first 31 games, Wallner owned a .185/.270/.361 slash line with a 52/14 K/BB and just five homers in 137 plate appearances. But then, in upstate New York late last month, something clicked.

Facing the Twins’ former Triple-A affiliate Rochester Red Wings, Wallner started on an offensive heater that has yet to cool. Over his past 19 games, the outfielder has slashed .365/.434/.892 with six doubles, 11 home runs, and a 19/8 K/BB.

His OPS in the month of June alone is 1.384, and he has hits in all but one of 14 games. With two four-hit games in that span, opposing pitchers would be better off just avoiding him until he no longer plays for the Saints.

To suggest that Wallner is seeing the ball well would be putting it way too lightly. He is dialed in to another level, and although he crushed at times before his final promotion last year, this is something else.

So are the Minnesota Twins trading Matt Wallner?

Recently local insider Darren “Doogie” Wolfson said to keep an eye on Wallner being a trade candidate for Minnesota before the deadline. He was recently passed up for a promotion when the Twins demoted Alex Kirilloff down, but they recalled Austin Martin instead.

From the sounds of it, Wallner wasn’t even being considered for that spot. It could be a situation where the sample size isn’t yet large enough for the Twins to trust he’s ready to be called up for good, but it’s hard to ignore what the hometown kid is doing across the river.

There is the reality that major league teams also like to feature players in a positive light, to prop up value. Wallner coming back across town, only to slump, would sap any of the positive momentum he has built. Keeping him at Triple-A for the next month and a half would send a pretty clear message, and teams have previously called on his services.

Related: Sounds Like Homegrown Matt Wallner is on MN Twins Trade Block… and He’s Not Mad About It

No matter what the Twins do with Wallner, they have to make the right decisions in their corner outfield spots. Max Kepler is an impending free agent, and Kirilloff was just sent down yet again.

Trevor Larnach looks solid, since his return, but he has struggled to stay healthy. Between Wallner, Kirilloff, and Larnach, Minnesota needs two of the three to hit. And if they deal one, they can’t afford to pick the wrong guy.

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