While the World Series is underway, most Minnesota Twins fans only have one eye on the action between Arizona and Texas. That eye has already been thoroughly entertained, but attention is also focused on how the Twins can make moves this offseason to ensure they're still playing this time next year.
It's a crucial offseason, perhaps the most important one in recent memory. Minnesota snapped it's miserable 19-year postseason losing streak, and with it comes expectations of sustained success. To get there, the Twins need to be mindful of what happens this winter, and some key decisions need to be made.
One of the underrated decisions is what to do with catcher Christian Vazquez. He still has two years left on his contract, but he's on a $30 million deal that gets even more noticable if the payroll shrinks this year.
Ryan Jeffers emerged late in the year as a viable everyday catching option for the Twins, which also complicated feelings about how Vazquez fits in. He was pretty brutal at the plate, slashing .223/.280/.318 while Jeffer broke out offensively.
That contrast prompted trade rumors to start swirling among Twins fans, but it seems the team has already decided on what it plans to do with Vazquez.
Christian Vazquez expected to have big role with Twins in 2024 despite trade rumors
Cody Christie over at Twins Daily pondered whether Vazquez's contract might be too expensive for the team next season. It's an idea absolutely worth considering, especially with the steps forward Jeffers took.
Star Tribune Twins beat writer Bobby Nightengale might have put that question to rest. Per Nightengale, Minnesota is expected to not only keep Vazquez this offseason but plan to more evenly divvy up catching duties with Ryan Jeffers in 2024.
"Despite Vázquez's lack of playing time in the postseason, they want him to share near-equal catching duties with Jeffers again in 2024," Nightengale reported. "The Twins will probably experience at least a small drop in player payroll after their TV contract with Diamond Sports Group ends, but they like their setup at catcher."
That last bit is pretty important, as the Twins payroll remains uncertain as Hot Stove SZN begins. Aaron Gleeman over at The Athletic predicted that Minnesota might have around $40 million in payroll to spend, but that figure all depends on the revenue stream the team gets from a TV deal.
What doesn't seem to be unclear is how Vazquez factors into the team's future.
Despite his struggles at the plate -- something that isn't expected to continue -- Vazquez is an elite defensive catcher and very much has a place in the lineup based on that alone. We'll see where this ends up going as the offseason progresses, but for now it appears Vazquez won't be going anywhere other than behind the plate for Minnesota next season.