Max Kepler Making Conversations About His Future with Twins Much More Interesting…

Max Kepler
Matt Blewett-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Matt Blewett-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins had a couple of players they could have traded this offseason with an ownership group determined to cut payroll. Max Kepler was among the key names in that group. Ultimately though, Kep stayed and it was Jorge Polanco sent packing, instead.

Max Kepler has been scorching for Minnesota Twins

On Opening Day, Max Kepler fouled a ball off of his leg and was clearly in pain. When he attempted to play through it, he went a putrid 1-for-20. Finally, the decision to put him on the injured list was made.

After 15 days on the IL, Kepler returned to the Twins’ lineup on April 22nd while manager Rocco Baldelli was searching for answers. As it turned out, Kepler was a big part of what was missing. He posted a 1.089 OPS through his first eight games. And he hasn’t looked back since.

In May, Kepler is slashing .333/.403/.623 with 10 doubles and three homers. His wRC+ this month puts him fourth in baseball behind only Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, and Kyle Tucker. What he is doing has helped to provide a necessary thump for a Twins lineup that couldn’t get out of its own way at the beginning of the year.

This to follow up one of the best half seasons of his career to end 2023. Of course, we aren’t even halfway through the 2024 season, but but if Kepler continues to produce like he has for nearly a full year now, the Minnesota Twins will have a big decision to make this offseason.

Another year in Minnesota for Max Kepler?

In the final year of his six-year extension (signed before the 2019 season), Kepler is set to become a free agent for the first time in his career, after this season.

Next summer, Max will be 32 years old, meaning he’s unlikely to get peak value or length of term on the open market. Should he continue to go like this though, Derek Falvey will be hard pressed not to dabble with a qualifying offer.

Max Kepler
Photo: John Leyba-USA TODAY SportsCredit: John Leyba-USA TODAY Sports

For 2025, the qualifying offer should be expected to check in around $20 million. While that might seem like a lot for Kepler, keeping him in right field provides a consistency on both offense and defense that the Twins can’t really afford to lose.

Minnesota has some emerging stars that can play the outfield, but the other corner position is hardly cemented at this point. And as long as Byron Buxton is the center fielder, they will need help at that position too. And Max has made it clear that CF is not for him.

Related: Walker Jenkins and Brooks Lee Both Launch Rehab Assignments for Minnesota Twins

It’s hard to fathom that the guy who struggled to post a league average OPS+ in either 2021 or 2022, and has been a constant source of trade talk throughout his career, would be back (especially at $20M) but that’s where we are.

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