Saturday, February 23, 2019

Marwin the Twin

Marwin Gonzalez had a big year at the plate
in 2017 but regressed last season.
So it is happening, despite my skepticism in Friday's post. Assuming Marwin Gonzalez passes his physical, he will sign a two-year deal with the Twins.

The question I got repeatedly from colleagues at work Friday afternoon was: What position will he play?  My answer: All of them.

The Twins will use him as the Astros have the past three years. They'll get him more than 500 trips to the plate without making him the regular at any one position.

That, at least, is the ideal. More likely, somebody will get hurt, or somebody will fail. The Twins "default" lineup has plenty of upside, but also plenty of risk. I assume you already know the questions, but if we need to delve in to the details:

  • Neither Byron Buxton nor Miguel Sano has made it though a full season in the majors without injury
  • Jonathan Schoop's on-base percentage last season was a woeful .266
  • C.J. Cron has one season with more than 500 plate appearances in his career, and he's not noted for his defensive skills
  • Nelson Cruz is 38
  • Max Kepler hasn't established himself as a productive middle-of-the-order bat
  • Eddie Rosario's power falls off sharply against southpaws
  • Jorge Polanco was suspended for half of last season
Gonzalez is a nice Plan B for all these guys, just as Eduardo Escobar was in the infield for the past few years.

LaVelle Neal suggested Friday afternoon that Gonzalez frees up the Twins to trade a regular. That would be a mistake. The value of Gonzalez' versatility may be obscure, but it is genuine. Trading, let us say, Rosario to make Gonzalez the full-time left fielder actually makes Gonzalez less valuable.

There's room to use him even in the unlikely event that nobody goes on the DL or fails. Even if we discount his 2017 as a fluke season, Gonzalez has been a slightly better than league average hitter -- and does that with quality defense at all four infield slots and in an outfield corner.

He's going to play, a lot, on his own merits, even if it's not always at the same position.

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