The Minnesota Twins have begun the process of trading away assets as the trade deadline approaches, but Kyle Gibson should not be one of those players.
The Minnesota Twins have begun the fire sale that we knew they were positioned to begin but hoped they wouldn’t have had to. One of the brilliant parts of the moves the Twins front office made this offseason was that none of the players they signed was signed for more than one or two year deals.
While we had hoped those deals would push the Twins to a playoff berth, they are instead becoming valuable trade assets as the Twins have embraced the role of seller. Plenty of Twins players are continually mentioned as the rumor mill churns and the trade deadline approaches. Eduardo Escobar has already found a new home for the rest of 2018 in Arizona. So has Ryan Pressly in Houston.
Escobar was a piece that really had to be moved the moment that the Twins decided to sell. Pressly was a bit more surprising as he has developed into a very good reliever and has team control beyond this season. The Twins were offered a package for the reliever that they just couldn’t say no to.
Kyle Gibson is probably the next most talked about Twins player and has been rumored to be gaining a lot of attention from other teams. Gibson has remade his career and is under control until after next season and is a player that the Twins should be looking to hang on to rather than trade.
As we have seen over the past year, Gibson has turned from nearly failed first round pick to now a very solid pitcher in the middle of the Twins starting rotation. In fact, Gibson has been pitching right on par with Twins team ace Jose Berrios. While Berrios received the Twins All-Star selection with 134.1 innings pitched and a 3.48 ERA, 3.66 FIP and 9.1 K/9, Gibson has countered with 129.0 innings pitched, 3.42 ERA, 3.78 FIP, and 8.8 K/9.
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There are still more encouraging signs just beyond that snapshot of statistics. Even in his remade approach, Gibson continues to be a ground ball pitcher with an approach that results in a groundball 46.2% of the time a ball is put into play. His swinging strike rate is also up to 12.2 % from 10.0% last season and 9.8 % the season before that. Among qualified pitchers Gibson sits 29th with his 23.6 % K-rate, just behind David Price. He also sits 18th in swing strike rate just behind recently traded Cole Hamels.
All offseason we were simply thrilled that Gibson may turn into a pitcher that could at least add some value to the rotation after seasons of wondering if it was time to cast him off to the waivers and another team. He has done more than just add positive value to the starting rotation, he has been the Twins next best starter right behind Berrios. That is big when it was thought that Lance Lynn, Ervin Santana, and maybe even Jake Odorizzi would fill in ahead of Gibson in the Twins starting rotation hierarchy.
As the Twins blow up the 2018 roster and look to reset for 2019, Gibson is a piece that needs to stay in place for next season. Berrios will be around and solid. Santana may not be back, Lynn hopefully won’t be back, and Odorizzi seems to just not be able to do much more than give about 5.0 innings of mediocre pitching a start. Which has value at the back end of a championship rotation, but is not better than what the Twins have in Gibson. Michael Pineda should also make his way into the rotation, but off of the long lay off, it is hard to know just what he will be able to provide.
The Twins need to be blown away even a bit more than they were for Pressly to move Gibson. In fact, instead of a trade, they should be looking to keep Gibson and even explore what an extension might look like for the starter. Gibson’s on-field performance and off the field presence in the community makes him the type of player you want as a part of your team. Trading him would be the wrong move at this point.