After Edouard Julien's demotion, Kyle Farmer might be living on borrowed time

It might be make-or-break time for Kyle Farmer after the Twins opted to keep him on the roster over Edouard Julien.
Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles
Minnesota Twins v Baltimore Orioles / Scott Taetsch/GettyImages

Royce Lewis will finally make his triumphant return to the Minnesota Twins lineup this week in New York, but someone he started the season with won't be there.

Edouard Julien was optioned to Triple-A St. Paul on Monday morning as the corresponding move to make room for Lewis on the 26-man roster. Julien was hitting .206 and had one of the highest non-swinging strikeout rates in the majors this year -- hardly the dominant offensive force he was last season.

News of his demotion still a bit of a surprise. For as rough as he's looked this season, there seemed to be at least two other roster moves the Twins could have made to make room for Lewis while keeping Julien in the majors.

One of those moves would have been designating Kyle Farmer for assignment, and the fact that the Twins opted not to do that only further adds pressure on him to turn things around before it's too late.

The clock is ticking on Kyle Farmer's time with the Twins

Farmer might have survived a roster move this time around but another one is going to come at some point in the near future. Either Brooks Lee is going to finally get called up or Julien is going to bounce back and prove he needs to be back in the Majors.

Lee started his rehab assignment in Fort Myers last week and the hope is that he'll be back in St. Paul soon. Julien hasn't looked himself this season but he's less than a year removed from earning Rookie of the Year votes as one of the best offensive players in baseball.

All of that is to say, Farmer is running our of road and if he keeps hitting .163 and failing to find a role defensively then it's going to be hard to justify him continuing to occupy a roster spot over Lee or Julien.

Farmer's struggles are magnified by the $6 million deal the Twins gave him this winter -- an offseason in which the team slashed $30 million from the payroll and refused to make meaningful moves. The most money the team put on the books was Farmer's arbitration settlement, something that acted as de facto free agent signing since nothing else the team spent came close to touching that amount.

That's why watching him struggle has been so brutal. Minnesota made a big investment in him to be a guy who helps add offense to the lineup while being able to play all over the field but neither of those things are happening. He owns a .513 OPS and a -0.3 WAR, which is one of the reasons he's getting boxed out defensively.

It's hard to figure out where Farmer fits right now. He's not hitting so designated hitter isn't option, and the resurgence of Jose Miranda means he's not getting looks at third base. Willi Castro has been the go-to at shortstop when Carlos Correa needs a day off, and he's worked his way into the outfield rotation alongside Trevor Larnach (which is a Manuel Margot problem that also could be a solution if Minnesota needs a roster spot).

The Twins seem to be giving him a last chance to prove himself by demoting Julien and presumably handing second base duties over to Farmer for the time being. Lee would occupy the same space on the depth chart, which means if all goes well with his rehab then Farmer will be officially on the ropes.

He's not a bad player, and is well-respected in the clubhouse, which is why this is all so frustrating and heartbreaking. He promised a win in the AL Wild Card, which he helped deliver on, and was worthy of the Twins bringing him back this winter. It was a steep price but his solid play and good standing with fans was why it was easier to stomach than it otherwise could have been.

This slump has completely changed things. Minnesota did not pay for this version of Farmer and if things continue they might not have to keep paying for very much longer.

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