MINNEAPOLIS — The stove is still hot for the busy Twins, who met their need for right-handed outfield depth by acquiring former Gold Glove-winning center fielder Michael A. Taylor from the Royals on Monday in exchange for the relievers of Minor League Evan Sisk and Steven Cruz.
Taylor doesn’t provide an impact bat, as he had a .670 OPS in 2022, but his role is significant as right-handed insurance for Byron Buxton, whose injury history is well documented. Taylor should be an immediate improvement in depth over youngster Gilberto Celestino, who posted a .615 OPS as he was forced into considerable action (122 games) last season.
The twins receive: BY Michael A. Taylor
Members of the Royal Family receive: RHP Steven Cruz (Twins No. 28 prospect), LHP Evan Sisk
Taylor is in the final year of a two-year, $9 million deal and offers the Twins a right-handed option to mix and match in center field should Buxton go down, with left-hander hitting Joey Gallo and Nick Gordon. also in the fray. Considering how much the Twins like to form a squad, Taylor’s career OPS of .722 against lefties could be an important consideration, even as an outside corner option or late-game defensive replacement when Buxton is in. good health.
This deal further encumbers an already jam-packed outfield situation, with Buxton, Gallo, Gordon, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Matt Wallner, Celestino, Taylor and even Kyle Farmer serving as potential options to roam the grass. With Luis Arraez having been traded, Kirilloff and Gallo could factor more heavily at first base – although that could negate Gallo’s defensive value – while several could turn DH.
With the Twins potentially in need of bullpen depth, they could still look to deal from that outfield depth as well, with Kepler’s name continuing to crop up in trade rumors throughout the offseason. .
One thing is clear, though: In its current form, between Buxton, Kepler, Gallo and Taylor, it has the potential to be one of the Twins’ best defensive fields in just about any configuration, with four gloves gold between them and Kepler’s copy. Statcast metrics in the field. This could be a boon especially for Joe Ryan and Tyler Mahle, who generate above average fly ball rates.
On paper, this is a deep move that won’t be big on the national radar – but it has the potential to be big for the Twins. Consider Celestino, Jake Cave and Mark Contreras combined for 585 plate appearances last season due to Twins outfield injuries, or Cave, Celestino and Rob Refsnyder combined for 397 plate appearances in 2021.
Due to Buxton’s health considerations and Kirilloff and Larnach’s pockmarked injury histories, outfield depth has played an outsized role in the Twins’ recent history — and Taylor could bring some stability to the veterans there.
In exchange, the Twins dealt a pair of unpolished relief prospects to Cruz and Sisk, who both had intriguing potential in the high minors but struggled with their control.
Cruz, at 6-foot-7 with a huge fastball, peaked at Double-A Wichita, but struggled to walk. Sisk was one of the Twins’ most intriguing bullpen options at Triple-A St. Paul due to his left-handed sidearm with extreme crossfire movement — but his high takedown rate was also toned down by control problems and very pronounced platoon splits. He was originally acquired as part of the JA Happ deal with the Cardinals at the 2021 trade deadline.