Minnesota Twins: What Garlick’s deal means for the 2023 Twins Outfield

Minnesota Twins right fielder Kyle Garlick catches a fly ball. (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)
Minnesota Twins right fielder Kyle Garlick catches a fly ball. (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports) /

Last season, the Minnesota Twins outfield was a true problem for the team. The team’s three 2022 Opening Day starters (Byron Buxton, Alex Kirilloff, and Max Kepler) combined to play just 252 games (84 per player), and the team was forced to use thirteen different players in the outfield last season.

Heading into the 2022-23 offseason, changes were expected, especially to the team’s depth. With such a fragile starting trio (Buxton, Kirilloff, and Trevor Larnach), the expectation has been that the team would make some adjustments to avoid having similar issues in 2023. With their first agreement of the season though, it seems that the team may be gearing up for more of the same:

Now don’t get me wrong: Kyle Garlick is at the very least a semi-valuable player. Garlick had an .805 against lefties last season (and a career .839 mark), so his ability as a platoon hitter for a lineup that’s littered with lefty outfielders (Larnach, Kirilloff, Kepler, and Gordon) has value. The team needs someone with his skillset, especially at his price ($750k).

What does the new contract for Kyle Garlick mean for the Minnesota Twins outfield?

But even though his skillset holds value, is he the guy you want? Even after moving on from Jake Cave, Billy Hamilton, and Tim Beckham (all were expected), the team still has nine players from the 2022 team with outfield ability on the 40-Man roster (Garlick, Buxton, Larnach, Kirilloff, Gordon, Kepler, Celestino, Mark Contreras, and Matt Wallner). That’s too many average outfielders to carry.

The question then is, with the 40-Man roster deadline tomorrow, what does the team do? It’s completely unsustainable to have your outfield look like this, and with spots needed to be opened, what does the team do in this last day now that Garlick is locked in?

Well, the short answer is, one of the outfielders needs to be moved. Buxton, Larnach, and Kirilloff aren’t going anywhere. I’d guess Wallner, Gordon, and now Garlick are safe too, which leaves Kepler, Celestino, and Contreras.

If there’s any type of roster crunch, Mark Contreras could be outrighted first. With an abysmal 24 OPS+ in 28 games at the MLB level, the lefty is very redundant despite a good glove and speed that plays at all three positions.

For Kepler, I could see the real possibility of a trade. Kepler is an elite defender on a decent contract, so it’s easy to see the team being able to flip him as part of a package for a reliever. A deal remains unlikely though, as Kepler’s offensive issues hamper his value.

Celestino offers upside, so a team taking a chance on the former Top 30 prospect isn’t out of the question, and Nick Gordon can temporarily back up Buck if needed. Garlick could even still be moved, as a team with a similar platoon need could see value in a swap.

The team just simply cannot carry all ten of these outfielders, especially in a free agent outfield class with plenty of options. In an offseason where a lot of change has always been the expectation, the deal ahead of arbitration for Kyle Garlick adds a new wrinkle. Tomorrow’s 40-Man roster deadline should be an interesting one for both the Minnesota Twins and all of baseball.

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