The Twins are including some outfield depth, reportedly agreeing to accumulate Michael A. Taylor from the division-rival Royals. Minor league relievers Evan Sisk and Steven Cruz are headed again to Kansas City.
Taylor has spent the previous two years in Kansas City. Initially signed to a one-year, $1.75MM assure over the 2020-21 offseason, Taylor impressed the Royals’ brass along with his wonderful outfield protection. The rangy heart fielder proved an ideal match for spacious Kauffman Stadium and a corporation that locations a premium on protection. He secured his first profession Gold Glove in 2021 and earned himself a $9MM extension overlaying the 2022-23 marketing campaign late in that season.
During the primary season of that new two-year deal, Taylor continued his sometimes wonderful defensive play. He logged simply over 1000 innings of heart area work, with Defensive Runs Saved pegging him as 19 runs higher than common on the outfield’s most demanding place. It was the second consecutive yr wherein DRS graded him at +19 runs, making him far and away the sport’s most beneficial defensive outfielder by that metric. Since the beginning of 2021, no different heart fielder has tallied greater than 21 complete DRS — with second-place Myles Straw nicely behind Taylor’s cumulative +38 mark.
Statcast wasn’t fairly as enthusiastic final season, though it additionally rated him as an above-average heart fielder. Its Outs Above Average metric put Taylor at +5 runs final yr after ranking him 14 runs above common the earlier season. Straw narrowly edges him out over the two-year stretch by that measure, however Taylor nonetheless checks in second on the place going again to the beginning of the ’21 season.
Byron Buxton, in fact, is among the few outfielders within the recreation who’s nearly as good or higher than Taylor defensively. He has not had the identical alternative to vault to the highest of the league in cumulative defensive metrics, nonetheless, as accidents have saved him off the sphere. Buxton has performed 955 heart area innings over the previous two years, fewer than Taylor has reached in every particular person season. He suffered strains in his proper hip in every of the final two seasons and missed a few months within the second half of 2021 after fracturing his left hand on a hit-by-pitch. Buxton additionally performed by means of a proper knee harm final season, one which required season-ending surgical restore as soon as the Twins fell out of playoff rivalry.
The All-Star outfielder exhibits MVP-caliber upside when wholesome and can clearly stay Minnesota’s beginning heart fielder. He’s solely as soon as topped 100 video games in a season, nonetheless, so it is comprehensible the Twins wish to strengthen their depth behind him. Gilberto Celestino was the highest reserve possibility final yr, however he hit solely .238/.313/.302 with a pair of residence runs in 347 journeys to the plate. Celestino is a high quality defender however not at Taylor’s degree. With a minor league possibility yr nonetheless remaining, the 23-year-old might open the season in Triple-A St. Paul now that he is been jumped on the depth chart.
Right fielder Max Kepler is athletic sufficient to deal with heart area if wanted, though there is not any assure he’ll even be on the roster come Opening Day. Minnesota has quite a few left-handed hitting outfielders, elevating the potential for them dealing from that group to deal with different areas like first base or the bullpen. Kepler, because the oldest participant within the group and the one with the least quantity of remaining membership management, could be probably the most easy candidate for such a transfer.
The Twins traded for an outfielder despite that seeming surplus, though Taylor’s right-handed bat will assist to steadiness issues. He’s posted below-average general offensive numbers all through his profession, carrying a .241/.296/.381 line over components of 9 huge league seasons. Aside from a strong .271/.320/.486 displaying with the Nationals in 2017, he is been a subpar hitter yearly. That has been the case whatever the pitcher’s handedness, though he is predictably been a bit of higher when holding the platoon benefit. Taylor carries a .257/.310/.412 profession line in opposition to left-handed pitching, in comparison with a .235/.290/.369 mark in opposition to righties.
Strikeouts have been the first subject for the 31-year-old. He’s punched out in 29.4% of his profession journeys to the plate whereas strolling at a meager 6.9% fee. To his credit score, Taylor did take a little bit of a step ahead in that division final season. His 23.9% strikeout fee was a private low, solely a pair proportion factors increased than the league mark. He appeared to sacrifice a bit of in the best way of influence to take action, with final season’s 32.3% arduous contact fee representing the bottom determine of his profession.
Taylor clearly will not be counted upon to supply a lot of an offensive jolt. He brings some lineup steadiness, becoming a member of Celestino as the one righty-swinging outfielder on the 40-man roster. More importantly, he’ll provide supervisor Rocco Baldelli a high quality defensive possibility both off the bench or if wanted within the occasion Buxton misses time.
It’s an reasonably priced addition for the Twins, who’ll assume the $4.5MM Taylor’s due in the course of the upcoming season earlier than hitting free company. That brings Minnesota’s projected payroll to $155MM, as calculated by Roster Resource. That’ll be a franchise-record mark, with the membership opening final yr within the $134MM vary. The Twins had been pretty quiet this offseason till the calendar flipped to 2023, however they’ve re-signed Carlos Correaflipped Luis Arraez for Pablo López and prospects and now introduced in Taylor inside a matter of weeks. Minnesota figures to proceed to scour the marketplace for upgrades, at the very least across the margins, as they battle the Guardians and White Sox within the AL Central.
The Royals, in the meantime, despatched away a veteran for future assistance on the heels of a 65-win season. Taylor regarded like one of many higher commerce candidates on the roster as an impending free agent. Kansas City set a reasonably vital ask initially, reportedly concentrating on the right-hander Josh Winder in talks with the Twins. Minnesota balked and the perimeters finally pivoted to a pair of minor leaguers.
Sisk, 26 in April, entered the skilled ranks as a Sixteenth-round choose of the Cardinals in 2018. The College of Charleston product landed in Minnesota on the 2021 commerce deadline within the deal that despatched JA Happ to St. Louis. A left-handed reliever, Sisk break up the season between Double-A Wichita and St. Paul. He threw 63 innings by means of 50 appearances, posting a superb 1.57 ERA whereas punching out a superb 29.8% of batters confronted. Yet he additionally walked an alarming 11.4% of opponents and has proven scattershot management all through his time within the minors.
It’s the same story with Cruz, a 6’7″ right-hander. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2017, he pitched 192 1/3 frames by means of 5 minor league seasons. Cruz spent your entire 2022 season in Wichita, displaying the same high-strikeout, high-walk method as Sisk. The 23-year-old fanned 28% of opponents however walked batters at a near-14% fee. Baseball America wrote final season that Cruz can contact triple-digits and owns an upper-80’s slider that offers him an opportunity to carve out an MLB bullpen spot if he can higher hone the strike-throwing.
Neither Sisk nor Cruz are on the 40-man roster. Both gamers had been left unprotected for and went undrafted on this offseason’s Rule 5 draft. They’ll give the Kansas City participant improvement workers a pair of upper-level bullpen potentialities with the clear skill to overlook bats. Both pitchers might get a glance in some unspecified time in the future in 2023. Cruz could be eligible for minor league free company if he isn’t added to the 40-man roster by subsequent offseason.
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