Minnesota Twins with Something to Prove No. 2: Max Kepler
Max Kepler is in somewhat of a unique spot on this list. His contract is lengthy when you consider the options, but unlike Dobnak, Kepler would more than likely be traded if this year isn’t working out.
It’s easy to see why he’s an asset. Kepler’s deal runs through 2023 with a team option for 2024 at only $10 million. That’s a very reasonable deal for a corner outfielder with solid power, speed, and defense. Even when he’s not performing at his highest level, his floor is makes him a good third outfielder and a championship-caliber fourth outfielder.
Unfortunately, the Twins need more from him. In 2019, Kepler had his best season as a pro, slashing .252/.336/.519 with 36 homers and 90 RBI, picking up some down-ballot MVP votes along the way. Since then, he’s dealt with injuries and inefficiency, and has looked nowhere near the same on offense.
The Twins would love to have production like that back, but even a return to 2020’s production would be acceptable. If he can’t return to that in 2022, Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff’s rise could push him out of Minnesota. If Kepler can work back to the player he was pre-2020, Kirilloff can slot in at first base and the Twins will be all the better for it. Speaking of first base though….