The only player more valuable than him according to fWAR on the 2015 Twins roster is Brian Dozier. He's tied for second on the team in home runs. He leads the team in RBI. He hit cleanup for part of the season until shortly after Miguel Sano arrived.
He also may not have a spot on the roster next season.
Having roster depth is something I champion and feel some teams undervalue. They can be convinced that Option B is better than Option A, so they trade or let go of A via free agency. Sometimes it pays off (bumping A.J. Pierzynski for Joe Mauer). Sometimes it bombs (losing David Ortiz and keeping Matthew LeCroy). Occasionally though we do see teams hold on to their depth, such as the Washington Nationals and their abundance of starting pitching. With Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann, Gio Gonzalez, and Doug Fister, there wasn't room for Tanner Roark (31 starts in 2014) or Blake Treinen (7 starts in 2014). However, the Nationals chose to stash Roark and Treinen in the bullpen, and it worked out as "sure things" Strasburg and Fister have struggled this year. They've also benefited from the emergence of Joe Ross, but their pitching staff would have been worse off had they chosen to part with either Roark or Treinen in the offseason.
This brings me back to the Twins and Plouffe. Sano has shown no issues with the transition from Double-A to the majors, which theoretically suggests he's guaranteed a roster spot for next season. However, he's a third baseman that's DH-ing because of Plouffe's entrenchment at third. It would be nice to perhaps move Plouffe to another position to make way for Sano, but the truth is that it's not likely to happen. You see, Plouffe can't move to the outfield because the team is already chock full of outfielders. Eddie Rosario isn't going anywhere at the moment. Aaron Hicks finally broke out, and Byron Buxton deserves to man center field. This doesn't even include Oswaldo Arcia, who I think might be on his way out thanks to his disastrous season in Triple-A.
There's always the possibility of keeping Plouffe next year. Since I like roster depth, this is my preferred choice. Yes, it keeps Sano at DH and as an occasional corner infielder, but Sano's bat is his biggest value. Plouffe is the superior defender at third base. Plus, Plouffe has turned himself into a good all-around player, and there's no guarantee that clearing DH for someone like Kennys Vargas will pay off.
But, and there's a very big "but" here, that completely ignores whatever return could come from trading Plouffe. Even though the bullpen has been iffy this year, I think we'd be undervaluing Plouffe if we think getting a reliever in return is a fair deal. (We don't need a Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps 2.0 trade here). The Twins might be able to procure an unproven shortstop or catcher from the right team, but we'd have to understand that it might cost additional pieces on top of Plouffe - and no, I don't think Plouffe and Arcia will work. Arcia's only tool right now is power, and teams didn't exactly fall over each other trying to sign Wily Mo Pena back in the day. The starting rotation is full, so you can't go that route, which means perhaps getting that reliever or two will be the way to go, as much as I hate that idea.
If you factor in that return along with the possible value Vargas could provide at DH, there is a chance that you get an equal or better contribution than keeping Plouffe. Of course, there's risk in that as Vargas looked overmatched this year in the majors, and I'm in favor of minimizing risk. I'd much rather keep both Plouffe and Sano and force Vargas to prove he belongs in the majors rather than handing him a job.
What do you think? What is the best course of action for the Twins and Trevor Plouffe this offseason?