Minnesota Twins Trying to Trade 4 Specific Veterans

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The Minnesota Twins are in Nashville, TN, at the MLB winter meetings, without a lot of buzz surrounding their dealings this offseason. In fact, I’d argue this is the quietest offseason (so far) in the Derek Falvey era.

The biggest news, so far, has come from important pieces of the 2023 puzzle, like Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda, leaving in free agency. Unfortunately, none of this surprising.

Related: Derek Falvey Admits Twins Plan to Cut Payroll Next Season

Twins president of baseball ops, Derek Falvey, told us a few weeks ago that he’s been instructed by ownership to cut payroll going into the 2024 season, something fans and media should not accept as reasonable, no matter what TV revenue unknowns the organization might be up against.

Nonetheless, my job is to live in and write about Minnesota sports reality, no matter how depressing it might be at times. And this MLB offseason, that means acknowledging the high unlikelihood of the Twins making any major upgrades to their roster through free agency.

Minnesota Twins will rely on trade market for offseason upgrades

minnesota twins trade candidates ranked mlb trade rumors 2023 offseason
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Instead, Falvey and his front office will try to fill Sonny Gray’s shoes in the starting rotation, along with help at CF and 1B, via the offseason trade market.

The Twins are looking to add a starting pitcher, at least one who could compete with Louie Varland for the fifth spot in the rotation, and a center fielder. First base is another position the Twins will explore an external addition with Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda coming off shoulder procedures.

Bobby Nightengale (Star Tribune)

Related: 4 Starting Pitchers the Minnesota Twins Should Target in Trade Talks

But you have to give something to get something. And that’s where the announced payroll cuts come into play. Derek Falvey and his general manager, Thad Levine, have been tasked with upgrading their roster, or at least keeping it competitive, while paying less for talent.

To do that, the Twins front office will have to kill about nine birds with three stones over the next few months. Their plan? The front office hopes/believes they have veteran infielders, outfielders and a catcher, who other teams will find as worthy starting pieces in trade negotiations.

Falvey plans to use those veterans, four of them in particular, as trade bait to swap out talent at organizational positions of strength, in exchange for an influx of talent in areas of more need.

Minnesota Twins Trade Pieces Ranked by Market Value

If successful, they hope to improve their team overall, while also cutting payroll. But that’s not all. The Twins have MLB-ready talent waiting to break through in both the infield and outfield so making the right swaps this winter would also allow more playing time and development opportunities for blossoming youngsters.

Related: Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler Drawing More Trade Interest, as Twins Wait…

Will Falvey’s plan work? We’ll find out soon enough. But, in theory, they do have veterans, some of which are on very team friendly contracts, who should be able to net a positive trade return. Here are the four veterans Falvey is shopping this week at MLB winter meetings, ranked from most valuable to least valuable.

Most Valuable: 2B – Jorge Polanco: 1 Yr ($10.5 million) +’25 Club Option ($12M)

Jorge Polanco is 30 years old and still has a lot of baseball left to play in his career. His contract ($10.5 million) is very reasonable for a gold glove caliber 2nd baseman who is guaranteed to give you .750-.850 points of OPS at the plate every season.

The biggest thing working against Polanco on the trade market is his recent health history. After three straight seasons where he played over 91% of their games from 2019 through 2021, Jorge played just 104 games in 2022 and 80 in 2023.

Trading Polanco makes sense on the Twins side because they have middle infielders ready to take over as starters, specifically Eduard Julien. But phenom 2022 draft pick, Brooks Lee, could be ready to report for big league duty as early as spring training, as well. With Carlos Correa at SS and Royce Lewis at 3B, Polanco is the odd man out.

As far as value, Polanco and Kepler will probably attract similar trade packages. But the club option on Jorge gives him slightly more value than Max.

Close Runner Up: RF – Max Kepler: 1 Yr ($10 million)

The Max Kepler trade speculation has gone on for multiple offseasons but it appears as if Derek Falvey is finally ready to let his favorite German outfielder go.

The Twins have a lot of young depth in the corner outfield, including Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner, among others. He’s 30-years-old (almost 31), on the final year of a team friendly deal and he’s coming off the best season of his career.

Kepler hit .260 in 2023, up .24 points from his career average. His .816 OPS was up .63 points from his career OPS of .753. This is the highest Max Kepler’s trade value has been since the offseason between 2019 and 2020, when he was 4 years younger and coming off of his only season comparable to 2023.

It’s highly unlikely Kepler duplicates that kind of productivity and there’s no point in losing him for nothing. Max is a great defensive outfielder too, and that will surely be missed, but his gold glove caliber defense also boosts his trade value.

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Sometimes you have to cash in on an investment before it hits its expiration date and that’s what the Twins plan to do this offseason with Kepler.

Less Valuable: C – Christian Vazquez: 2 Yr ($20 million)

It’s impossible to know how much Christian Vazquez helped the Minnesota Twins reach the playoffs and win a series in 2023. He started a lot less games than expected, in part due to his poor offensive production and in part due to the emergence offensively of Ryan Jeffers.

There are other teams across the league who will still see a 33-year-old World Series champion catcher as a valuable addition to their starting roster, even if he never ends up being the offensive weapon he once was.

Is he worth what Polanco and Kepler are? No, but $10 million for a reliable catcher you know can handle any pitching staff thrown at him, is value enough to net a positive return.

Least Valuable: IF – Kyle Farmer: *1 Yr ($6.2 million)

*Final Year of Arbitration

Kyle Farmer is 33 years old and still hasn’t made it out of arbitration, showing how big league caliber starters who get a late run at professional baseball can often get caught up in the arbitration system so long that they’re nearly at retirement age by the time they get to negotiate their first free agent contract.

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Still, at $6.2 million (projection) Farmer is a steal for any infielder needy team who could use a veteran on roster who has seen some shit. Kyle Farmer is a career .250 hitter who cares more about the locker room than his at-bat count and he’s still a very solid infield glove anywhere you want to slot him in, including shortstop.

Remember, Minnesota brought Farmer in before they signed Correa to his massive contract. The plan in 2023 was for Kyle to play the majority of shortstop, until Royce Lewis proved ready to go. There are other teams waiting for developing infielders, who need a worthy stop-gap in the meantime.

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