Minnesota Twins Trevor Plouffe: Patience Pays
The Minnesota Twins’ decision to keep Trevor Plouffe has left fans scratching their heads.
As a fan favorite, Trevor Plouffe has had some spectacular moments with the Twins, but his future value does not hold a candle to that of fellow third baseman, Miguel Sano. As such, many believed that the Twins would trade Plouffe to get the young slugger in the field regularly. Trading Aaron Hicks in early November showed that the Twins were willing to make aggressive moves to make room for their youth movement.
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After the Hicks trade, the team made clear that Plouffe would remain in Minnesota and Sano would transition to the outfield. In early December the team signed Byung Ho Park, further blocking Sano’s time at designated hitter and first base. Moving Sano to the outfield has drawn plenty of criticism, notably due to his lack of experience in the outfield at any point in his career and the team’s wide range of prospects that could better defend from that position.
The decision to keep Plouffe has left fans scratching their heads, and yet holding onto the third baseman allows the ball-club greater flexibility. If an injury happens at third base or in the outfield, the team is now better equipped to put a quality replacement in the game. Similarly, the performances of our young players are not guaranteed. If just one of the following happens: a Buxton bust, a Rosario regression, or a problematic Park; then Plouffe suddenly becomes a much needed player in the line-up.
If just one of the following happens: a Buxton bust, a Rosario regression, or a problematic Park; then Plouffe suddenly becomes a much needed player in the line-up.
In 2015 Plouffe was near the league average slashing .244/.307/.435 with 22 home runs. He was the Twins leader in runs batted in, a large part of the Twins decision to keep him. When asked about moving Plouffe, General Manager Terry Ryan stated, “We had trouble scoring runs last year.” Critics suggest that Plouffe’s run production would be of interest to other teams. If the 2015 free agent class is any indication, there is little the Twins could get in return for the third baseman.
The free agent class included replacement level options such as Casey McGehee and Alberto Callaspo, as well as a cheap veteran third baseman in Juan Uribe. Teams needing a player at third may choose to take a shot with Luis Yander La O, a 24 year old Cuban that was recently declared a free agent. In Cuban play, La O has hit .329/.388/.406, and although there are adjustment concerns, there is plenty of upside for a team to get excited about.
The free agent best suited for a Plouffe comparison is David Freese. Though four years older than Plouffe, his .258/.322/.401 with 24 homers could provide a similar value to any team. With under a month until Spring Training begins, Freese remains a free agent. This should speak to the trade value of Trevor Plouffe this off-season. Though it is possible that teams have expressed interest to the Twins, the offers have likely been underwhelming when compared to the depth and flexibility he provides to Minnesota.
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Minnesota is in a win-win scenario. If the young players all perform to their talents, then Trevor Plouffe provides an impact bat from the bench. If the young players falter, then Plouffe can continue to be their everyday third baseman. If another team finds themselves desperate for a contributing third baseman through injury or otherwise, then Plouffe’s value on the market could suddenly skyrocket. The decision to hold onto Plouffe may appear like typical Minnesotan ‘these are our guys’ baseball, but it may turn out to be shrewd asset management. Only time will tell.