Minnesota clearly valued their draft picks, at least in relation to the players who had compensation attached to them this season. Waiting until the draft before swooping in and sniping a legitimate player away from better teams with better odds of playoff contention constitutes a shrewd move by the Twins' brain trust. But was it a good move, and what does it mean for the rest of the roster?
Generally speaking, I find this to be a solid move because it doesn't mortgage the future for marginal gains in the present. The contract for Kendrys Morales is a contract for $12,000,000 pro-rated over the remainder of the season for a paycheck of roughly $7.6 million. ZiPS projects him to bat .274/.327/.446 with 13 home runs over the remainder of the season, which would make him worth 1.2 wins above replacement as a designated hitter. That's roughly league average production for a designated hitter, but for a team that has been shifting DH duties to a number of different players recently (seven players have started for the Twins in their last 21 games with a DH) all it means is that there won't be a lot of playing time lost for players who really deserve it - mainly Josmil Pinto and Danny Santana.
How can we continue to get the younger players at-bats?
Pinto was the Twins' DH in 17 of their first 32 games but has done the job just twice since. Santana, meanwhile, has had the job for the last two games but has largely been playing center field with a little bit of shortstop. How can they continue to get playing time?
- Pinto has been starting for Samuel Deduno and Kevin Correia since early May. By continuing to start in 40% of the team's games at catcher, and with a start at designated hitter once a week, he'll get more playing time than he's already getting. I agree that Pinto should be getting more playing time than he already is, but that will happen naturally as the season goes along and Kurt Suzuki's numbers slowly decline.
- Danny Santana can continue to take two starts a week in center field, one start at shortstop, and an occasional go at third base and designated hitter. It should be feasible to still get Santana four starts a week.
- Kendrys Morales should get most of the designated hitter duties, with a start at first base every week or two.
Who goes to make room for Morales?
- The Twins saw an opportunity to improve the team that cost them nothing more than dollars, or...
- They really do think there's an outside chance at competing.
If it's the former, great. I appreciate that the team is willing to throw more money at the team to make it better, even if the end game for this season is limited. But if it is the latter, then the front office needs to be just as bold with the moves they need to make elsewhere on the roster. That means cutting ties with Kevin Correia and calling up Alex Meyer or Trevor May. It also means having a longer look at other positions, such as what short-term improvements can be made at third base.