Minnesota Twins: Tender or Pass on 2023 Arbitration Candidates

Minnesota Twins third baseman Gio Urshela hits a two-run home run against the Chicago White Sox. (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
Minnesota Twins third baseman Gio Urshela hits a two-run home run against the Chicago White Sox. (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Minnesota Twins 2022 season was a disappointing one, with the hot start and a spectacular crash that resulted in the team going from first to third in the span of less than a month. Now, the team is left picking up the pieces and preparing for 2023.

The team is in a good spot, with most of the key members of the team under contract (save for Carlos Correa, which was a foregone conclusion) and plenty of money to spend. Unfortunately, they have some major needs, including catcher, shortstop, outfield depth, and most importantly, bullpen.

The team has already begun clearing out the bottom of their roster as well. Jermaine Palacios, Caleb Hamilton, and Jake Cave were all DFA’d and claimed off of waivers, meaning their time in Minnesota is over (at least for now). The team also outrighted Jhon Romero and Devin Smeltzer off the 40-Man, with Smeltzer opting for free agency.

Several other Minnesota Twins players will head to free agency by the time the World Series wraps up, but barring any major team option surprises, the next big decisions will come by November 30th, the league’s non-tender deadline for arbitration players.

Which arbitration players should the Minnesota Twins tender a contract to this offseason?

The Twins will have eleven arbitration-eligible players up for contracts this year, and using MLB Trade Rumors’ trade values, we have a pretty good idea of what each player will be offered. All that’s left is to see if the Twins will tender them.

With that in mind, we take a look at whether each player will be offered a contract or will be non-tendered and head to free agency, starting with the easiest call on this list and working our way to the hardest choices.

Luis Arraez, 2B

EAA (Estimated Arbitration Amount): $5 Million

Luis Arraez comes with a low number as he’s just 25 and has only 3.121 years of service time under his belt. The reigning American League batting champion likely could make more, but there’s no way he isn’t tendered. Verdict: Tender.

Tyler Mahle, SP

EAA: $7.2 million

Tyler Mahle is another easy choice. The Twins gave up substantial prospect capital to land Mahle, who is bona fide playoff starter when healthy. He may have finished the season on the injured list, but he’s a big part of the team’s plans in 2023. Verdict: Tender.

Jorge Alcala, RP

EAA: $800k

Let’s keep moving through these easy ones. Jorge Alcala was expected to be the Twins’ best reliever going into 2022, but a shoulder injury limited him to just two games all year. He has electric stuff and at just $800k, that’s an easy decision for a team that needs as many impact relievers as possible. Verdict: Tender

Caleb Thielbar, RP

EAA: $2.4 million

Caleb Thielbar was one of the Minnesota Twins’ best relievers in 2022, posting some of the best strikeout numbers of his career and some excellent analytic stats. He’ll be 36 when next year starts, but there’s no reason to get rid of a very reliable reliever with less mileage while the bullpen needs help. Verdict: Tender.

Jorge Lopez, RP

EAA: $3.7 million

Jorge Lopez is the first case where the Twins might have slight hesitation. His walks and ERA jumped dramatically when he arrived in Minnesota, while his strikeout numbers dropped. With that being said though, the team can’t turn down relievers with talent at this point, especially one they gave up multiple assets for. Verdict: Tender.

Chris Paddack, SP

EAA: $2.4 million

Chris Paddack is another tough case, but one with only one real solution. Paddack looked decent in his short first run in 2022, before an arm injury forced him out. He’ll be out until August at the earliest, but the team is still likely to tender him a deal at such a low number. He’ll be off the 40-man roster early too, so it doesn’t take up much. Verdict: Tender.

Gio Urshela, 3B

EAA: $9.2 million

At first glance, you might wonder why Gio Urshela isn’t higher on this list. Urshela was fourth on the team in bWAR and third in batting average. On a team with no clear starter at third, why wouldn’t he be back?

Well for starters, Urshela’s defense, while flashy, wasn’t anything more than average. Despite good contact numbers, he also didn’t post strong power numbers either, something a typical third baseman has. Lastly, his number is VERY high at $9.2 million, which is another moment of pause, but with his skillset, it’s worth it. Verdict: Tender.

Danny Coulombe, RP

EAA: $800k

After a hot start to 2022, Danny Coulombe spent most of the season injured and now the Twins face a complicated decision. Coulombe has been solid when healthy and his arbitration number is low, but the Twins need to make space for other, better relievers, meaning Coulombe should be on the outside looking in. Verdict: Non-Tender.

Emilio Pagan, RP

EAA: $3.7 million

Emilio Pagan had a very hard 2022, where he was just awful from April to August before quietly turning in an incredible stretch from August 14th through the end of the year:

  • 4/10-8/13: 43 G, 41.1 IP 5.23 ERA (4.76 FIP) 58-18 K-BB ratio
  • 8/14-10/4: 16 G, 21.2 IP, 2.91 ERA (3.16 FIP) 26-8 K-BB ratio

Pagan has some excellent stuff, so there’s reason to understand why the Twins kept him this long. With Pagan seemingly proving them right late in the year, it seems likely that the organization will bring him back, even if the fans desperately want him gone. Verdict: Tender.

Kyle Garlick, OF

EAA: $1.1 million

Kyle Garlick is another tough decision. Garlick’s value to the Minnesota Twins is clear. He’s dominant against lefties, a skillset that the Twins clearly lack with so many left-handed outfielders. Unfortunately, he can only do that one thing, offering nothing in terms of speed, defense, or against righties, making him an unlikely candidate to return. Verdict: Non-tender.

Cody Stashak, RP

EAA: $800k

The last player on this list is a personal favorite of mine. Cody Stashak has been a very solid reliever with good stuff when healthy, but after playing 55 games in his first four seasons due to injury, he hasn’t been able to show it. The Twins need roster spots for relievers who can stay healthy though, so it may be time for the team to cut ties. Verdict: Non-tender.

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