Mark it back-to-back seasons the Minnesota Twins have struck a deal with the Miami Marlins, only this one is a little lower key than the first time around.
Last January the Twins traded Luis Arraez to the Marlins to acquire Pablo Lopez, a deal that every fan in Minnesota would do eleven times out of ten despite how difficult it was in the moment. Arraez was beloved by fans, and the AL batting champ was the cost needed to bring in a guy who finally gave the Twins the ace they've been seeking for the better part of a decade.
The result was Lopez being on the mound for a game that broke the team's miserable 19-year postseason losing streak while turning in a gem in his next start in the ALDS.
It's vastly different circumstances, but the Twins have sent another fan favorite down south to Miami to acquire some pitching help.
According to FanSided's Robert Murray, the Twins are trading Gordon to the Miami Marlins. Aaron Gleeman confirmed that reliever Steven Okert is heading back to Minnesota in return.
Twins trade Nick Gordon to Marlins: Full details and grade
The trade comes less than a day after an arbitration hearing ruled in favor of the Twins and Gordon's salary was locked in at $900,000 rather than the $1.25M he was seeking.
It's unlikely that the hearing had anything to do with the trade, rather it stems from the glut of infield and utility talent Minnesota is set to roll into Opening Day with. Kyle Farmer was brought back at around $6M and the Twins also have Willi Castro to fill in any gaps that might be left with Gordon heading to Miami.
Austin Martin and Brooks Lee are also expected to be called up this year, with the former probably factoring into the 26-man Opening Day roster. So, essentially, the Twins flipped a guy who might not have seen that much playing time for another shot in the arm for the bullpen -- a unit that struggled last season and needs to get right.
The rise of so many utility players made Gordon a bit of a redundancy, and trading him to keep padding pitching depth makes sense. Okert will likely have a chance to make a bigger impact coming out of the bullpen, as he brings with him a 3.70 ERA and 220 strikeouts in 194 career MLB innings.
Okert feels like a perfect left-handed reliever addition to the pen who can use a pretty solid sinker/slider to help the Twins get middle innings. He costs more than Gordon did after arbitration, but his $1.1M salary is less than what the team was bidgeting for had the ruling went the other way.
Minnesota already had a top graded bullpen according to FanGraphs, and the front office is just piling on at this point. It's notable that Miami was a team fans had circled as a potential trade partner for a bigger deal centered around Max Kepler and Jesus Luzardo, but this smaller stone in the pond is still something both sides can feel good about.