Minnesota Twins 2018 positional recap, part 3- Second basemen
By Matt Smith
Second base is one of the Minnesota Twins’ biggest question marks heading into the 2019 season. There’s no easy answer as to how the team should address the position. The only viable option currently on the active roster is Adrianza, though he is likely better suited for a utility role than a starting job. Looking to the farm system, infielder Nick Gordon is likely to debut at some point in 2019, but after back to back seasons of hardly any 2nd half production (from July through the end of the season, he hit .219 in 2017 and .191 in 2018), there is skepticism about how much he will contribute at the major league level. Gordon doesn’t hit for power and isn’t overly speedy, so his contributions will have to come through hitting for a high average. Needless to say, his second half lines from the past 2 seasons leave a bit to be desired.
There has been talk over the past few years of Jorge Polanco moving from shortstop to second base, with Gordon or Royce Lewis taking over as the long term shortstop. With lots of uncertainty surrounding Gordon, and Lewis rising to one of the highest rated prospects in the MLB, the Minnesota Twins will likely wait for Lewis to reach the big leagues before considering moving Polanco to second base. Lewis likely won’t debut until 2020 at the earliest, so there’s no need to have Polanco swing over to 2B heading into 2019.
Add all this together, and you have a team without a great option for second base next year. Good news, though- there is a fairly wide assortment of second basemen available in free agency this year. The grouping is headlined by Brian Dozier and DJ LeMahieu. A reunion with Dozier has seemed unlikely, reading between the lines of statements by him and actions taken by the front office, but after a dreadful 2nd half to the season, Dozier may have scared off some teams that were previously interested in him. If his price has fallen enough, it could be possible for him to sign back with Minnesota, likely on a contract no longer than 3 years. LeMahieu, on the other hand, is sure to have several teams interested in him. The 2-time All-Star and 2-time Gold Glove winner has a career batting average of .298, though he has never hit more than 15 home runs in a season (even hitting at Coors field), and hasn’t typically driven in many runs (though to be fair, he’s hit almost exclusively 1st or 2nd in the lineup, meaning not a whole lot of RBI opportunities have generally available to him. With Dozier’s poor second half, and several quality teams needing a 2B for 2019 and beyond, it wouldn’t be surprising to see LeMahieu’s price tag be too high for the Twins to make a play at him.
There are, however, still a wide range of options. Players like Daniel Murphy, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, and Ian Kinsler are all veterans that likely will end up with shorter term deals that could match what the Twins are looking for. The same goes for Logan Forsythe, who could find his way back to Minnesota. Of this group, Murphy is the most talented, but likely could end up receiving a contract worth more than $14 million per year, likely too much for the Twins. The others, though, won’t be as expensive, and any of them could fit in well. The Minnesota Twins are likely looking for a veteran on a cheaper, 1-2 year contract to bridge the gap until Royce Lewis debuts and takes over shortstop. Cabrera, Lowrie, and Kinsler all fit that mold, and each have quietly been pretty solid players. Forsythe could be in play as well, but after his cold finish to the season, the Twins may look to bring in someone else instead.