Did the Twins make a mistake not re-signing Michael A. Taylor?

Rather than run things back with Taylor, the Twins traded for Manuel Margot and have been paying for it ever since.
Pittsburgh Pirates v Oakland Athletics
Pittsburgh Pirates v Oakland Athletics / Ezra Shaw/GettyImages

It was a bummer of an offseason for the Minnesota Twins, and there’s really no way around that.

A successful postseason run, by the team’s historically bad standards, was chased by the payroll testing slashed for the most boring corporate reason ever. Fans were hoping the roster would get solidified but instead the Twins approached it with frugal patchwork that resulted in some curious decisions.

One of those as the refusal to bring back outfielder Michael A. Taylor, despite the tremendous season he had last year. Taylor was acquired in a trade with Kansas City to provide some insurance for Byron Buxton and to form an elite defensive tandem out in centerfield.

After injuries forced Buxton to not play a single inning in the field, Taylor became the tema’s everyday centerfielder and thrived. Rather than land a deal he toiled in free agency all winter before landing with the Pittsburgh Pirates and he’s been making the Twins look foolish for not bringing him back ever since.

Michael A. Taylor is making the Twins look foolish for not bringing him back

Perhaps no former Twins player is having a better year so far than Taylor has, and it’s the one that stings the most.

Don’t get it twisted, fans are ecstatic that Taylor is thriving in Pittsburgh, it’s just that the optics of him doing so well with the Pirates is juxtaposed against the struggles of the guy Minnesota went with instead.

The Twins opted to trade for Manuel Margot rather than re-sign Taylor, despite how late in the offseason the move happened. Everyone assumed that because of the way Taylor played last year while subbing in for Byron Buxton that he’d get a nice contract early in fre agency, but that didn’t happen.

As he sat on the open market the idea of bringing him back as insurance for Buxton again kept making more sense. Instead, the Twins traded for Margot due to the potential offense he’d provide — which at the time seemed like a decent bet.

Taylor is slashing 232/.279/.295 with a .574 OPS while Margot is hitting .171 and a OPS+ of just 38. He’s also struggled a bit defensively as well, something that Twins fans watched in awe last season while Taylor effectively replaced Buxton in the outfield.

Lest we forget the AL Wild Card Game where Taylor essentially saved the season with an incredible defensively play in center. In the sixth inning he made a highlight reel catch that might have broken the game open for Toronto and ruined Minnesota’s quest to end a 19-year postseason losing strea.

Twins fans remain grateful to Taylor for that catch, but it’s also something that keeps coming to mind when wondering why Minnesota didn’t bring him back. While Margot offered better overall stats offensively, it’s not like Taylor had a bad season in 2023.

He finished with a career-high in home runs and 51 RBI, while posting the second-highest OPS+ of his career. Margot offered more power, but there was balance with Taylor and that’s proven to be consistent this year as he puts up another decent season at the plate.

Austin Martin was tabbed as potential insurance for Buxton during the offseason but he also ended up getting bumped by Margot and still remains on the fringe of the lineup despite having a better season. Putting an exclamation point on the whole matter is the fact that Margot and Taylor are getting paid the exact same salary, despite the fact that it seemed the latter would be in for a deal closer to $7 million AAV.

That’s what makes this look worse. Minnesota could have kept Taylor and gotten a better player while still pinching pennies. Instead the team gambled when it should have done some elsewhere and is now paying the price.

Nobody is upset that Taylor is having a good season, it’s just that Twins fans wish he was having it in Minnesota rather than Pittsburgh.

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