Well, the Minnesota Twins finally made a move in free agency but it’s hardly the splash anyone was expecting.
To be clear, nobody in Twins Territory was expecting that splash to be a big one but Minnesota’s move is more of a pebble toss than anything else. That being said, pebbles can cause ripples and signing Donovan Solano could end up being a move that is overlooked now but ends up being a deal that pay off for the Twins when later in the season.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the Twins agreed to a deal with Solano on Tuesday night.
The deal comes on the heels of potential moves the Twins could have made to bolster the bullpen with cheap deals for Andrew Chafin, Michael Fulmer, or Alex Reyes but elected to pass. It’s unclear if there was ever any actual activity with those players and the Twins, but optically it made fans wonder if there were any further moves to be made.
As recently as Tuesday morning the Twins seemingly passed on a potential free agent depth addition when Luke Voit joined the Milwaukee Brewers on a minor league deal, but ended the day by adding Solano.
The key question with Solano is does he add to the Twins and why would the team make this the free agent move everyone has been waiting for them to make these last few weeks?
What does Donovan Solano bring to the Minnesota Twins?
Hearing that the Twins gave Solano a minor league deal doesn’t do much to excite fans, but there’s a lot to potentially love about the flexibility he can offer in the lineup. He’s just a few years removed from being a Silver Slugger, and is one of four players four players in the National League to have a .300 batting average since 2019 (the others being Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, and Jeff McNeil).
Solano also crushes left-handed hitting, which is likely the reason Minnesota brought him in. Over the past four seasons he has slashed .321/.363/.461 line against left-handed pitching, and during his four seasons with the San Francisco Giants he hit .308/.354/.435, with his wRC+ of 113.
Here’s the good stuff: Solano can play first base. He’s an infielder by definition, but perhaps the biggest reason the Twins made this move is the potential to add depth behind Alex Kirilloff and form a platoon that potentially includes Joey Gallo. Voit is a burly slugger with the ability to hit 30 home runs in the right situation, but was a defensive liability if put into a platoon with Kirilloff, and while Gallo is a solid option he hasn’t played at first since 2019. Solano played over 200 innings at first for the Cincinnati Reds last season with 1.000 fielding percentage which was well above the league average. He was less effective when placed elsewhere, notably at second base but his ability to play there could give help take the load off Jorge Polanco or allow him to slot in as a DH on certain days.
It’s the kind of low-risk move the Twins have seemingly passed on in recent weeks, but Donovan Solano offers enough to see if he can make his way to the Opening Day roster and pay off when it counts.