With the trade deadline quickly approaching, Twins fans are rightly focused on adding pitching to the major league roster. The offensive is still on a record setting home run pace and has great major and minor league depth, so any offensive additions would be superfluous. However, the Twins may be able to add by subtraction.
Jonathan Schoop may have been the least significant offseason offense upgrade the Twins added due to the savvy additions of Nelson Cruz and Marwin Gonzalez. However, the front office still had high hopes for Schoop who was signed on a one year deal. Schoop, of course was an all-star in 2017, when he had a career year with Baltimore slashing .293/.338/.503 for an OPS of .841. He mashed 32 long balls and 105 RBI in a 160 games. Schoop came crashing back down to earth in 2018 with and ugly .682 OPS between Baltimore and Milwaukee. While Falvey and company many have been dreaming of a return to 2017, it certainly wasn’t out of the question to expect something closer to Schoop's career averages.
And to be fair to Schoop this is what he has done. He is currently slashing .256/.305/.458 for an OPS of .763 while playing slightly above average second base. This is even slightly better than Schoop’s career averages. He has been good for 1.5 Bref WAR and by all accounts is a beloved member in the clubhouse. However, while Schoop looked like his former 2017 self coming out of the gate (OPS of .819 through May 31), more recently he has looked like the Schoop of 2018 (OPS of .672 since June 1). More frustrating to fans, Schoop seems to excel in blowout games (how many garbage time HRs has he hit?) while consistently striking out in "clutch" situations. The numbers seem to back up the eye as Schoop is hitting .163/.230/.438 with RISP and .205/.279/.231 in late inning pressure situations. The problem is with a lineup full of power hitters, Schoop becomes a bit redundant, and more importantly the Twins have better options for second base. Plenty of them as it turns out. Let’s take a look.
Luis Arraez has been nothing short of amazing in his first big league stint. He is currently slashing .385/.444/.510 for an OPS of .955. In 29 games he has already accumulated 1.1 Bref WAR. Arraez is obviously playing a bit over his head right now, but he has been a good hitter throughout his minor league career; and between Double-A and Triple-A this year he hit .344/.409/.401. He is not going to hit .400 or slug over .500 long term but his plate approach is very refreshing. On a team of free swingers and power hitters Arraez looks like a nice table setter, and in his short time with the Twins has come up with several "clutch" hits. His rather twitchy batting style is also extremely entertaining to watch. Arraez has played all over the field for the Twins, including third base, short stop, and left field, but he is clearly best suited for second base where he has spent the majority of his minor league career. Arraez is firmly implanted as the front runner for second base next year and it is also becoming increasingly apparent that he is the answer now.
Both Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza currently appear to be better options than Schoop at second base as well. A large part of the value in both of these players is their versatility, so sticking Arraez at second clearly makes the most sense. However, were something to happen to Arraez both of these players are more than capable of filling in. Both players started the year ice cold so their stats took a bit of a dip because of this (pretty much the opposite of Schoop). Gonzales currently has an OPS of .748 with a 1.9 Bref War and Adrianza has a .788 OPS with a 1.1 bWAR in only 148 at plate appearances. If one of them were to fill in at second for Schoop (or Arraez) the other would still be available for the utility role.
What to do with Schoop?
Cutting Schoop is probably ill advised. Although it would give more at bats to the previously mentioned trio, Schoop has played well enough that cutting him wouldn’t really make sense. Could he be traded for pitching? This is very unlikely as he is on a one-year deal and the Twins will most likely be trading with non-contenders who are uninterested in a rental. There are, however, a couple of long-shot possibilities. One would be a three-way trade with Schoop going to another contender (presumably because of an injuring to the team’s second baseman) and a pitcher from the third non-contending club coming to the twins. Another possibility could be Schoop being a thrown-in to offshoot an incoming player’s salary (similar to the Twins acquiring Logan Forsythe from the Dodgers in the Dozier trade). Again, this is unlikely.
The best course of action is probably just to keep Schoop and relegate him to a bench role with less and less playing time. He could occasionally fill in against lefties and seems like the ideal guy to have around the clubhouse (assuming he doesn’t become bitter about his decreased roll). He would also be a valuable depth piece as we have seen how hard injuries can hit.
What do you think? Should Schoop be our starting second baseman, a role player, or be removed from the team all together?