Every year when September rolls around, it brings with it back to school moments, football season, fall weather, and for baseball season, September Call-Ups. When the rosters expand, teams often bring up some of their top MLB-ready prospects for a playoff run. The Minnesota Twins however, went another direction.
None of these moves come as a surprise, as Larnach had been on the IL for more than sixty days, so that move was procedural. Davis had been discussed as a lefty reliever to be called up ever since he was claimed from the Red Sox. Hamilton was going to add speed to a roster currently lacking it. Were these the right moves though?
Did the Minnesota Twins make the right September Call-Up moves?
Davis was put on waivers by the Red Sox for a reason. In 50 games for the Red Sox this year, Davis put up a 5.47 ERA and 1.564 WHIP. His 3.95 FIP and 10.1 K/9 suggest that he could improve in a more friendly ballpark, but his atrocious 4.8 BB/9 rate and mediocre Baseball Savant numbers suggests that there’s really not a lot there.
Instead of adding Davis, the Twins could have called up left-handed reliever Evan Sisk. Sisk, who was brought over in the trade that sent J.A. Happ to the St. Louis Cardinals, currently sports a 1.88 ERA, 1.042 WHIP, and a 10.9 K/9 rate in 22 games at AAA. The side-armer has been a lefty-killer, even despite walking nearly 4.9 batters per nine innings.
Calling on a 29-year-old with no future in the organization over a 25-year-old with killer numbers makes zero sense. Davis doesn’t move the needle in any way, so if it’s a lefty you wanted, the Twins should have looked at their own roster.
Adding Billy Hamilton makes a little more sense. Amongst active players, Hamilton ranks third all-time in stolen bases with 321 stolen bases, and speed is something the Twins are sorely lacking. No player on the team has more than six steals, while Hamilton has seven in just 20 games.
Hamilton is also a good defender. In 1,291 innings since 2018, Hamilton didn’t commit a single error playing in all three outfield positions. Advanced metrics suggest that he’s merely very solid, but even still, that’s an impressive stretch.
Make no mistake though, Hamilton’s speed and defense is all he has. A career .239/.293/.326 hitter, he doesn’t offer anything at the dish. He hasn’t over .220 since 2018, but he’s still carved out a nice role for himself as a player who latches on with potential playoff teams as bench speed.
For the Twins, that’s all he’ll need to do. Working as a defensive/speed substitution will be helpful in this final stretch of the season, but despite it being a more sensible move than adding Davis, does it really move the needle?
Nick Gordon has made some brutal running plays and is a worse outfielder than Hamilton, and Gilberto Celestino hasn’t done well on the basepaths either, but couldn’t they have added someone who could help out with the bat? Maybe, they could have, but I think these moves might be the right call.
I’ve seen a lot of Twins fans clamoring for Louie Varland and Matt Wallner to get these spots, and I understand. Both are two of the team’s top prospects right now (No. 12 and No. 8 respectively), so it’s easy to understand wanting those guys in Minnesota Twins jerseys ASAP. But I understand not making the moves.
Calling up Varland and moving Archer to the bullpen would probably be an upgrade, but with Bailey Ober and Josh Winder making rehab starts, Varland would be sent back down in less than two weeks. Both players will be moved back on to the active roster soon, and despite Varland’s great start at AAA, I understand the Twins wanting him to get a little more seasoning.
Wallner is a slightly different situation. Hitting for the cycle last night boosted Wallner’s stat line to a .245/.379/.453 slashline, but he had just a .746 OPS coming into the game. The Twins definitely want Wallner to stay in AAA and get a little more experience before battling for a starting job next spring.
Both Davis and Hamilton are extremely expendable, so in a sense, these moves make sense. When Winder, Ober, Larnach, Ryan Jeffers, Randy Dobnak, and hopefully Byron Buxton come back, some players will have to get the boot. Caleb Hamilton is for sure gone, but who else?
By adding these two to their roster now, the Twins will likely save valuable options on young prospects (like Varland and Wallner) by simply designating Davis and Hamilton for assignment, using the two players for a couple weeks and moving on. As Lord Beckett says in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies: “It’s just good business.”
The Minnesota Twins are officially just one game back of the Cleveland Guardians, and with both teams practically equal in strength of schedule, the eight games the two teams play the rest of the way will likely decide the division. Let’s hope that these roster moves help them get through this final upcoming stretch and into the playoffs.