Minnesota Twins: The Twins need to Option or DFA Emilio Pagán
By Otto Johnson
There comes a time in every Minnesota Twins player’s career that the fans decide the Twins should move on from that player. For some, like Joe Mauer and Harmon Killebrew, the majority of fans wanted to see those players retire as Twins and be done when their ability began to fade. For others, like Andrelton Simmons, fans, myself included, wanted him gone as soon as possible.
For the 2022 Twins, there are players that fit in the first category. Byron Buxton and Luis Arraez are both extremely fun players to watch. After yet another brutal night yesterday, Emilio Pagán should officially be firmly in the latter category.
The Minnesota Twins need to either option or designate Emilio Pagán for assignment.
To be clear, the loss is on Nick Gordon and the Twins offense. The team went 0-14 with runners in scoring position, including failing to produce with the runner on second in both of the extra innings, and Gordon’s dive allowed two tying runs to score and almost ended the game in the ninth. Three runs in eleven innings against the Los Angeles Angels sucks. But Emilio Pagán didn’t help.
In the tenth inning, Pagán entered with a speedy runner on. Following a sacrifice that advanced the runner to third, the Twins wisely walked last year’s MVP, Shohei Ohtani, and brought Luis Rengifo to the plate. Pagán threw a 97 MPH fastball that Rengifo hit that should have ended the game. Luckily, Byron Buxton exists:
Buxton’s heroics and Ohtani’s abysmal running aside, Pagán didn’t actually do very much to escape to the tenth. A sacrifice, intentional walk, and miracle play did all the work, while Pagan got hit hard. Not to worry though, Pagán would have another chance to mess things up.
In the eleventh, jumped out to a 1-2 lead on Taylor Ward, who’s been one of the Angels’ best hitters all year, before throwing two straight balls to fill the count. His sixth pitch was another 97 MPH heater, right down the middle that Ward blasted into right field. Ballgame. But this isn’t new for Pagán:
That’s embarrassing. A team with playoff aspirations cannot continue to employ a pitcher who gives up more homers than any reliever ever. To make matters worse, it’s one they insist on pitching in high-leverage moments. One of the Twins writers at the Athletic about this:
Rocco’s answer about Pagán makes sense. The Twins know he has good stuff. You can’t teach velocity, and Pagán has plenty of it. It’s always helpful to have a pitcher who can throw in the upper 90s. His Baseball Savant page offers some positivity, like his elite strikeout rates and fastball spin, but that’s not enough.
The Minnesota Twins can’t keep expecting him to figure it out and better locate his stuff, and they definitely can’t have him doing it in extra innings of must win ball games. The team moved on from a veteran in Tyler Duffey, so why is Pagán different?
He should be your team’s last resort, but both Trevor Megill and Cole Sands were available for use, but neither got the call. Both would have been better options than relying on Pagán again in that situation.. I know too that Sands is only here as a placeholder for Jovani Moran, but the fact that I would trust either one of them more than Pagán says a lot.
I go to bat for Rocco and the Minnesota Twins as an organization a lot, because they generally are doing a decent job. Minnesota sports fans are extremely loyal to their teams, but when they have high expectations that aren’t being met, they are quick to express it. I haven’t wanted to give up on his stuff (because hard-throwing pitchers are massively important), but there’s no other choice. He’s got to go.
At some point, underlying stats (K/9, xERA, xFIP) and good velocity don’t matter as much as performance, and Pagán’s performance has been nightmarish. I understand that he has a year of control and was a part of the maligned Chris Paddack-Taylor Rogers trade, but enough is enough.
He has an option left, so if he’s willing to move to Triple-A and work on his stuff there, the Minnesota Twins should jump at that chance. If he doesn’t accept the option, the team should cut their losses and designate him for release or assignment and give someone else a shot.