Are the Minnesota Twins prepared to replace Max Kepler if he is traded?
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins have been working the trade market and Max Kepler is wanted by other teams. Are the Twins ready to replace him in their lineup?
The Minnesota Twins have been in pursuit of starting pitching help this offseason. They were reportedly in on Yu Darvish and willing to give him something in the area of 5 years and $100 million. In the end, Darvish chose the 6 years and $126 million that the Chicago Cubs offered him.
As that news came to be known the question became, “Now what Twins?” There are still free agent starting pitchers like Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn, and Alex Cobb available. A trade is also an option and the name that keeps coming up as a trade target is Chris Archer. Around the same time that the Darvish deal was becoming final there was also the report that the Twins had made an offer to the Tampa Bay Rays for Archer within the last several weeks.
With the report of the offer was also the report that the Rays are interested in Twins outfielder Max Kepler. No matter the trade partner there have also been reports that if the Rays trade one of their pitchers, whether it is Archer or Jake Odorizzi, they may want to include Denard Span‘s contract with any deal. A lot to chew on their as a Twins fan.
Would the Twins want to or should they part ways with the left-handed Kepler? Kepler is only 25 years old and could very well still be coming into his own as a baseball player since the Twins signed him at 16-years old as an athlete who had little experience with the game. There could still be plenty of ways Kepler could make some big leaps towards becoming a polished baseball player.
In 2017, Kepler slashed .243/.312/.425 and had an OPS of .737. He has also shown the ability to play a good defensive right field. When Kepler is hitting well he can be a very dangerous hitter with power potential. He did show some warts this year as he struggled to hit left-handed pitching. In 125 at-bats he only slashed .152/.213/.240 with 2 home runs against lefties. In a small sample size, those numbers seemed to improve towards the end of 2017 but still certainly a question mark moving forward.
The Rays are clearly interested but are the Twins ready to deal Kepler and enough with him to get Archer? Do the Twins have a good contingency plan for the outfield if they trade Kepler? We are going to explore just that question.