The Twins have traded 2014 fifth-overall pick Nick Gordon to the Miami Marlins for left-handed reliever Steven Okert. The former top prospect will have a chance to earn an Opening Day roster spot in Miami, while the Twins picked up yet another reliable bullpen arm.
The Miami Marlins are acquiring outfielder/infielder Nick Gordon via trade with the Minnesota Twins per source. Miami is sending relief pitcher Steven Okert to the Twins in return.— Craig Mish (@CraigMish) February 11, 2024
Okert is a 32-year-old veteran who carved himself out a nice niche in Miami but had three lefties ahead of him on the Marlins’ depth chart in Tanner Scott, AJ Puk, and Andrew Nardi. After two great years, he took a bit of a step back in 2023 with a 4.45 ERA in 58.2 innings. However, he also struck out 11.2 batters per nine innings while putting up his lowest walk rate since becoming a regular.
His sidearm delivery creates a different look for the batter and will pair nicely with Thielbar’s more over-the-top delivery from the left side. While it’s a different look, the pitching profile is still exactly what you would expect from a Derek Falvey target. Okert throws a great slider, helped by the unique release, and a fastball that could use some improvement. I would expect him to rely even more heavily on that pitch in 2024. Okert is also under team control for two more seasons, giving them a potential Thielbar replacement in future years.
The trade puts the Twins’ bullpen in an excellent position, with depth and reliability across the board. Currently, FanGraphs projects the Twins to have the best bullpen in the AL and second-best in MLB, a huge credit to the front office given the ownership-imposed financial restraints. With the starters likely taking a small step back this season, it’s nice to have a relief core that is legitimately eight players deep with solid veterans and younger players like Louie Varland, Jorge Alcala, and Kody Funderburk ready to go in St. Paul.
While Gordon never lived up to his draft position, he still managed to create a meaningful role for himself in the bigs. Unfortunately, it was one the Twins didn’t need, with his role largely taken over by Willi Castro after he got hurt last season. They provide similar offensive value, but Castro does it from both sides of the plate while Gordon is a lefty, which the Twins’ roster is chock full of. Additionally, while Gordon is technically a utility player, that’s more due to him not having a strong enough bat to warrant a full-time position and isn’t a good enough defender anywhere to justify playing him over the regular starters.
Perhaps Gordon’s best stretch at any level of professional baseball came in the second half of 2022. With the Twins offense ravaged by injuries and the Cleveland Guardians closing in on the division, Gordon hit .280/.326/.454 down the stretch while filling in for Byron Buxton in center field, a position he had never played up until that point. He provided some life to an offense that desperately needed it.
Similar to Jordan Balazovic, who was DFA’d earlier this week, Gordon’s largest impediment to remaining with the Twins was his roster status. Out of options and without a clear role on the big league squad, Gordon had a long road to justify being one of the 26. A team like the Marlins, who are heavy on right-handed outfield bats, gives Gordon a better chance to reestablish himself after a lost 2023.