Twins’ Shortstop Questions Start, Cannot End with Royce Lewis
In the likely scenario that Derek Falvey, Thad Levine are unsuccessful in luring Carlos Correa back to Target Field this offseason, the Minnesota Twins will have to find a new starting shortstop for Opening Day, 2023.
But how the Twins want to go about their offseason SS search revolves somewhat around how the organization views Royce Lewis’ future. The one-time top prospect’s ceiling is in flux once again, after he blew out his knee (again) last season, playing out of position in center field for an injured Byron Buxton.
Holding SS for Royce Lewis
It’s true that the rollercoaster ride with Lewis has been more down than up, as he’s worked his way through the minors early in his career. But the 23-year-old’s brief stint with the big club last season — one in which he slashed .300/.317/.550 with a 145 OPS+ (40 PA) — was enough to re-excite everyone within Twins Territory.
Royce Lewis's first career home run is a grand slam! pic.twitter.com/pi3Yvapt1A— MLB (@MLB) May 14, 2022
But do the Twins still see Royce Lewis as their future shortstop? If so, his recovery timeline ends midway through next season. Does that mean Falvine is looking for a quick bridge or stop-gap shortstop to hold the position down until Lewis is healthy?
If so, they could pick through some different internal and external options, then use the budget surplus left by Correa’s departure to better improve elsewhere on the roster. But is that the best way to approach the questions at shortstop?
Long Term Fix > Short Term Fix
After his ACL surgery, it’s difficult to know what Lewis’ future holds. The safer route for Falvine to travel wades through a pool of better, more long-term, SS options for 2023 and beyond. There are a handful of them in free agency. Trades are always an option, too.
Let’s be real. If the Minnesota Twins sign a longer-term SS option this offseason, and Royce Lewis returns to form as a stud shortstop when he returns, then that’s a damn good problem to have. One that can work out for the better, no matter the final solution (position change, trade, etc).
We all want Royce Lewis to succeed but I’d much rather have a Trea Turner or Dansby Swanson insurance policy than I would a Jose Iglesias (FA) or Austin Martin (internal) policy.
When the Twins are putting their roster together throughout this offseason, the shortstop questions might start with Royce Lewis. But, they shouldn’t end with him. Not if Falvine & Co. expect to win games and push for the playoffs in 2023.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan