We’re officially deep into the offseason, as the Winter Meetings are behind us and some of the biggest dominos have fallen.
The Winter Meetings were surprisingly quiet this year, although some big deals were made. Things got started with the Atlanta Braves acquiring Jarred Kelenic from the Seattle Mariners and ended with the New York Yankees trading for Juan Soto (who also traded for Alex Verdugo).
Shohei Ohtani was the biggest domino to fall, and now that he's signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers it feels like the market is going to get moving. For the Minnesota Twins, though, it's not a question of when the market starts to move rather when the team will stop sitting on its hands and start taking action.
A reduced payroll has handcuffed the front office, as using trade chips like Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler might be the currency the team uses to make additions. If staying cheap is the name of the game, the Atlanta Braves might have just gifted the Twins a classic low-risk, high-upside type of veteran the organization loves to take a chance on.
Should Twins pursue Matt Carpenter after Braves release?
After acquiring him from the San Diego Padres, the Braves released infielder Matt Carpenter on Monday morning. Carpenter was filler in the deal, as Atlanta mostly wanted Ray Kerr for its bullpen, but Minnesota might tangentially benefit from the whole deal.
Carpenter didn't have as incredible a season last year with the Padres as he did with the Yankees in 2022, but that's the gamble the Twins would be making. He slashed .305/.412/.727 with 15 home runs in just 154 at-bats with New York, which was a return to the type of play that made him a fan favorite in St. Louis for so many years.
The flip side of that was hitting just .176/.322/.319 with San Diego last year, but the silver lining is how cheap Carpenter would be for the Twins to take a chance on him. He signed a two-year, $12 million deal with the Padres last winter but Minnesota would only have to pay him the league minimum; Atlanta and San Diego would be on the hook for the rest of his $6 milloin salary.
That's the type of deal the Twins front office loves to bargain shop for, and Carpenter is the type of veteran the team has historically loved to see if there's anything left. Nelson Cruz and Joey Gallo fit this bill from the past few seasons and Carpenter feels like a natural continuation to that thread.
He also potentially fills a need, rather than just being a lottery ticket.
It remains to be seen whether Alex Kirilloff will be healthy enough to start the season on the Opening Day roster, which creates a similar situation to last season where the Twins need to figure out depth at first base.
Edouard Julien could be an option, but he'll likely play second base if Jorge Polanco is traded. Jose Miranda is another name to watch but a combination of injuries and slumped hard last season have seemingly forced him into a make-or-break situation.
Carpenter can fill the role that Gallo and Donovan Solano did last year in helping platoon at first, even when Kirilloff returns to the lineup. If he can recapture even some of the magic he had in 2022, he can serve as an optin for DH in the lineup as well.
Minnesota won't be the only team thinking this way, but it feels like a perfect way for the Twins two dip into the market while staying true to penny pinching ways.