Twins Have Too Many Young Bats

AP Photo: Craig Lassig

The Major League Baseball trade deadline is 1.5 months down the road (Aug. 2) and we’re still a couple of weeks away from chatter heating up between front offices. But we know a few things, already. First, the Minnesota Twins should be buyers and what they should be shopping for is obvious. Pitching. They need a front-rotation starter and multiple relievers worthy of a playoff bullpen.

What else sticks out? There are a lot of young, MLB-ready bats on the Twins’ 40-man roster. In fact, they have such a plethora of 23-26 year-old hitters, either ready for the big leagues or who have already been up, that they’re stashing some of them in the minors, where they’re left to abuse Triple-A pitching while they wait for an injury call-up to the MLB roster.

  • Gilberto Celestino (23 y/o) | GP: 40 MLB, 2 MiLB
  • Alex Kirilloff (24 y/o) | GP: 10 MLB, 35 MiLB
  • Jose Miranda (24 y/o) | GP: 33 MLB, 21 MiLB
  • Spencer Steer (24 y/o) | GP: 0 MLB, 54 MiLB
  • Luis Arraez (25 y/o) | GP: 55 MLB, 0 MiLB
  • Trevor Larnach (25 y/o) | GP: 45 MLB, 7 MiLB
  • Nick Gordon (26 y/o) | GP: 48 MLB, 0 MiLB

Stashed in St. Paul

This season, Alex Kirilloff and Spencer Steer have been the odd bats left out of the Minnesota Twins lineup. Left to punish minor league pitching across the river in St. Paul. Kirilloff (24 y/o) was up with the big league club to start the season, but a sore wrist led to bad play and he was sent down, after posting a .172 batting average (0 HR, 0 RBI) through 10 games.

In 28 games with the Saints, since being demoted on May 15, Alex Kirilloff is batting .385, with 10 HR and 31 RBI. It’s safe to say his cortisone shot was successful.

Spencer Steer (24 y/o) is still patiently waiting for his first MLB call-up. A 3rd/2nd baseman, Steer’s been raking in the minors for two seasons, including this year for the Saints (AAA) and Wind Surge (AA). His combined 16 HR, 49 RBI, .287 BA, with a .974 OPS puts him on pace to win MiLB player of the year.

Log Jam of Young Hitters

Alex Kirilloff is getting called back up to the Twins this weekend, only because Jorge Polanco is going to the IL for his sore back. As for Steer, I’m starting to doubt he’ll get his call-up at all. Why? Because the Twins’ 2021 minor league player of the year, Jose Miranda, is already up and hitting well (.328 BA, .915 OPS since May 20). But Miranda too, is only in the lineup because of injuries. If everyone is healthy, there’s no room for him either.

Don’t forget about Nick Gordon, who is ready to return from injury, as well. Gordon fills a key bench role for the Twins because he can competently play anywhere on the field, outside of catcher. Gilberto Celestino, who is hitting .321 on the season, has become a crucial piece to the Twins’ puzzle, given how well he plays CF when Byron Buxton is penciled in at DH. And as much as fans may want to forget about him, Miguel Sano is on the verge of returning too (per Darren Wolfson – SKOR North).

When you step back and look at the Minnesota Twins roster, it becomes clear that they have too many young, big league caliber hitters. That may seem ridiculous to read out loud, but it’s the truth. With Max Kepler, Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco and Trevor Larnach already on cheap contracts, with plenty of years remaining, there’s no room for the rest of these young sluggers, who are ready to take the next step in their careers.

Trade Deadline Balancing Act

Obviously, a spoil of riches is never a bad thing. But it has created an opportunity. Unlike the offense, the Minnesota Twins’ pitching staff is short on high-caliber talent. If they do not get a top-rotation starter and a couple of elite bullpen arms before the trade deadline, their postseason dreams will go up in smoke just as fast as they have the last 18 tries.

Teams ready to sell at the trade deadline covet big-league ready prospects, above those who are just getting their professional careers started. Sellers would much rather get back a piece that’s proven himself at the minor league level, if not in the MLB. Lucky for those teams, the Minnesota Twins have exactly what they are looking for.

Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Spencer Steer and Jose Miranda would be perfect headliners to a blockbuster trade deadline deal that lands them a No. 1 starting pitcher like Frankie Montas (A’s) or Luis Castillo (Reds).

That gives Derek Falvey and Thad Levine a perfect opportunity to make themselves a legitimate World Series contender at the deadline, while also balancing out the team’s roster depth. Buy high-end pitching by parting with one of their high-end young bats.

It seems too perfect.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan