The Minnesota Twins placed Eddie Rosario on outright waivers Tuesday night and, while it’s still possible he returns, it’s no longer plausible. Eddie is young and he’s a good baseball player so we’ll be seeing him around the MLB for awhile. Hopefully he lands somewhere he can flourish.
The Twins’ front office waived their left fielder because he isn’t worth $10M next season, but they’re also very well-equipped to handle such a middle-of-the-lineup loss.
Their farm system is stocked with power-hitting corner outfielders, who are ready to contribute in the big leagues now. On top of that, the free agent market could be saturated with outfielders by the end of the day, Wednesday. That’s the deadline for arbitration players to be offered contracts or be non-tendered.
Ian Happ believes the salary arbitration process needs to be moved up from January to earlier in the offseason because MLB teams want cost certainty and don’t get aggressive in free agency until they have that certainty.— 670 The Score (@670TheScore) November 24, 2020
“It makes the offseason pretty boring,” Happ says.
Alex Kirilloff | Age: 23 | Highest Level: MLB
Out of these three guys, Kirilloff was the most recent call up for the Twins. He played in the 2nd of two playoff games vs the Houston Astros and Fans got excited off of just that one appearance. It’d be a big surprise if any in-house option was chosen over Kirilloff to start 2021.
Brent Rooker | Age: 26 | Highest Level: MLB
Kirilloff may have gotten the last call up of 2020, but Rooker got the first. Brent was called up in September and was impressive in that 7-game stint, posting a .316 BA and a HR. He was hit by a wild Zach Plesac changeup September 14 and was ruled out for the season days later. After surgery, Rooker is back to full-health (according to The Athletic) and ready to compete for this newly-opened outfield position.
Trevor Larnach | Age: 24 | Highest Level: AA
Larnach is the dark-horse candidate in this race but some evaluators have him ranked highest out of all three prospects. Larnach has dominated his competition going back to his College World Series run with Oregon State. He would have played AAA ball last season, had it not been canceled for minor leaguers. He was part of the 60-man taxi squad that trained and stayed ready in St. Paul all season.
Free Agent Options
The more research I do on free agent corner outfielders, the more I hate this option. Guys who might be better than the in-house options listed above, are going to be more expensive than what the Twins want to pay at that position. Here’s what I mean:
Marcell Ozuna | Formerly: Atlanta Braves | Age: 30 — Spotrac.com says Ozuna will cost his new team approximately $20 million per year… Nobody on the Minnesota Twins roster makes that kind of money, outside of Josh Donaldson. Ozuna’s stats (.276 AVG, .801 OPS) are pretty good… but not $20M good. He’s coming off of a smoking hot 60-game season in 2020, where he hit over .330 and had an OPS that ballooned to 1.067. Whoever gets him will pay top dollar.
Jackie Bradley Jr | Formerly: Boston Red Sox | Age: 31 — Bradley Jr. is they type of talent that is currently available in the second tier of free agent corner outfielders. He’s past 30 and hasn’t been that impressive through his first 7 MLB seasons, posting a career .238 AVG and .732 OPS. He’s a reliable, seasoned veteran but his price tag is estimated at $11.2M for 2021. Forget the cost, I’d take Kirilloff, Rooker or Larnach over Bradley Jr, period.
Waiting for Wednesday Evening
After arbitration contracts are all offered by Wednesday evening, we’ll know more about who will be available to the Twins in free agency. But as you can see from the type of talent and price tags available now, their in-house options seem like the no-brainer choices.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan