Twins Rumors: Former Dodgers star could be the perfect sleeper free agent target

Minnesota Twins v Los Angeles Dodgers
Minnesota Twins v Los Angeles Dodgers / Harry How/GettyImages

Silent Night is more than just a Christmas song for folks in Twins Territory, as it doubles as a description of how things have gone for Minnesota’s front office this winter.

After snapping a brutal 19-year postseason losing streak, the Twins chased their success by slashing the payroll and blocking out any notion of participating in the pre-holiday market. It’s not totally surprising to see the Twins sitting things out, as historically they’ve waited until the New Year to start making deals, but the optics are extremely frustrating.

Slashing the payroll was a brutal tone to set for the offseason, but it hasn’t stopped the Twins from being mentioned in rumors around the league. The hot stove remains cold in Minnesota, but there are potential free agent matches who could make sense once the Twins wake up from their offseason hibernation.

Could Twins take a chance on Enrique Hernandez?

Bleacher Report’s Zachary D. Rymer tossed out a free agent signing for every MLB team, and for the Twins he mentioned a name we haven’t yet heard attached to the team — former Red Sox and Dodgers utility hero Enrique Hernandez.

“Enrique Hernández would be perfect. He's generally a good defender wherever he plays, but center field is one of his best spots. And after a down year in 2023, he can probably be had on a one-year deal in the seven-figure range,” Rymer wrote.

It’s a little surprising we haven’t heard him mentioned with the Twins much, as Hernandez feels like a classic Twins player. To be fair, he specifically feels like the type of utility player who makes his bones in Minnesota before going off and having the career that he’s had over the last few years.

Hernandez has been a meaningful contributor to a pair of championship-caliber teams, including a Dodgers team that won the World Series in 2020. His performance in the NLCS, which included an iconic pinch-hit home run that helped pull Los Angeles back into a critical Game 6, sticks out as a particular high-point.

Fans know his name beyond that, though, as he’s been a reliable part of lineups in Boston and Los Angeles since 2015, bouncing between coasts at various points. Landing in Minnesota would mean being in a situation where he can be Nick Punto-style glue in the lineup and is essentially the final form of guys like Willi Castro and Nick Gordon.

With money being an issue for the Twins, Hernandez’s market value of $4.5 million is a little steep but also sits well within reasonable range for what the team could spend on a guy like him. The counter argument would be to quesiton spending on a guy you already have versions of, but his championship contributions and experience put him over the top.

Minnesota has no shortage of utility players, which is another reason a deal might not be as attractive as B/R paints it out it be. If anything pegging the Twins as a landing spot for Hernandez might be more a symptom if how unknown Minnesota’s offseason plans are at the national level than anything else, but he’s an interesting candidate to at least consider.

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