Minnesota Twins: 5 undervalued free agent hitters to pursue

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Yonder Alonso
ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Yonder Alonso /
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Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins /

As the Minnesota Twins look to the offseason, where could they possibly invest some money to get a bargain bat?

The Minnesota Twins have been rumored by a number of writers to have a significant amount of money to use. Instead of going after the “big” bats like Eric Hosmer, Carlos Santana, and J.D. Martinez, could the Twins be better served by pursuing one (or even multiple) undervalued options on the market?

We’ll look at 5 possibilities, going in alphabetical order…

Yonder Alonso, 1B

Age on Opening Day: 30
2017 Salary: $4 million
2017 Stats: .266/.365/.501, 521 PA, 28 HR, 2 SB, 13.1% BB, 22.6% K
Info: One of the strongest benefactors of the “swing plane revolution” this season, Alfonso was a guy coming out of college who was considered an elite hitter, likely to hit for both average and power. The Twins actually drafted Alonso coming out of high school in Florida before he went to the University of Miami and was taken 7th overall in 2008 by the Reds.

After 2 partial seasons at the major league level with the Reds, he was part of the Mat Latos trade with San Diego where the Reds sent a quartet of young players that all developed into quality major league players to the Padres for Latos. Alonso showed himself to be an elite defender at first base but struggled to stay healthy with the Padres while also not producing the power expected from a first baseman.

The Padres traded him to the Oakland Athletics before the 2016 season in a deal that involved Drew Pomeranz going to San Diego. His first season in Oakland he produced more power than he’d shown in San Diego with 34 doubles in Oakland’s big park. Then he spent the offseason working with the A’s coaches to improve his launch angle.

The result was 22 doubles and 28 home runs between Oakland and Seattle in two fairly expansive home ballparks. He essentially flipped his ground ball rate and fly ball rate, keeping his line drive rate the same, adding a tick to his medium strength contact and nearly 4% to his hard contact, leaving only 13.2% of his balls classified as soft contact.

With that much hard contact, it’s fairly easy to see Alonso continuing his progress in 2018, and though he’d be another lefty bat, signing him to something like a 3-year, $33 million deal with an option or two if he can keep up what he did in 2017 along with some incentives based on production.