By revealing a plan to cut salary through 2024, the Minnesota Twins have created reason to speculate about trading their highest-paid player. According to the list, it currently costs 120 million dollars and The athletics While they reportedly expect to have opening day salaries in the $125-140 million range, any move to add existing players via trade or free agency would likely require selling veterans.
But which ones? The elimination process removes most of the guesswork required. Only seven Twins players will earn more than $5 million in 2024. Two of them, Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton, have long-term contracts with no-trade protection. Another is Pablo Lopez, who just signed a four-year extension in his first season.
Correa, Buxton and Lopez aren’t going anywhere, which leaves four players to ask, “Which veterans should the Twins trade?” It is a clear answer. Question. Here they are, the pros and cons of trading each player, what they might be worth in return, and the impact their departures will have on the rest of the Twins’ roster.
Kyle Farmer, SS/3B/2B
Kyle Farmer was offered an arbitration-eligible contract until Friday’s deadline, meaning some team would pay him a projected $6.6 million salary through 2024. But will it be the twins? They want to keep Farmer, who averaged a league-average 98 OPS+ with 20 plus starts, but that’s a big price for a bench player on a team with a shrinking payroll.
Last season, the Twins traded reliever Casey LeGumina to Farmer for $5.6 million, so what changed? First, their payroll is expected to decrease, meaning cuts will have to come from somewhere. Beyond that, Farmer originally came in as a placeholder shortstop, with Correa signed through 2028 as unnecessary.
The farmer’s value as a player hasn’t really changed. He’s 33 now, not 32, and he’s a year removed from playing shortstop regularly, so open teams there might have some doubts about whether he can handle a starting job. But he was solid at shortstop, third base and second base for the Twins and hit his best, including a big-game homer in the second half.
Ideally, the Twins would return the farmhand to a similar role last season, providing much-needed depth, but at $6.6 million, it’s a luxury that doesn’t fit his self-imposed budget. That salary means other teams won’t be clamoring to get him, but at $9 million like Gio Urshela did last season, the Twins need to get a low-end prospect.
Christian Vazquez, c
Ryan Jeffers’ disappointing 2022 season left the Twins in the market for a new No. 1 prospect, signing free agent Christian Vazquez to a three-year, $30 million contract. Jeffers responded with a 26-year layoff, leading all MLB catchers with an .858 OPS and reclaiming his debut from Vazquez, who is now the most expensive No. 2 catcher.
Vazquez received offers from several teams last offseason for $20 million over two years before the Twins added a third year. There are two years and $20 million left on that deal, but Vazquez is more than a year into a point where decline is occurring quickly, and he could play well enough in his age-32 season to fend off former suitors. It probably carries a slightly negative trade value.
Having two veteran hitters playing regularly isn’t a bad thing, and the Twins are big believers in the importance of keeping everyone fresh in the workload behind the plate. Jefferies and Vazquez will make around $13 million combined in 2024, not too shabby for a key position. But if the Twins are cutting payroll, a $10 million backup is the obvious place to do it.
For Triple-A St. They have a replacement for Vazquez in the 24-year-old, a solid defensive catcher who boosted Paul’s prospects by hitting .259/.323/.503 in 90 games. Given how much of Vazquez’s remaining money the Twins have to eat, it would make sense to void the contract and pair Jeffers with the underpaid Camargo.
Jorge Polanco, 2B/3B
Jorge Polanco is the most underrated Twins player in the Target Field era and will be an easy choice to join the team’s Hall of Fame one day, but he’s an oft-injured 30-year-old with a $10.5 million salary cap. , cheap options – Edouard Julien, Brooks Lee and Austin Martin – are waiting in the wings. And like Farmer or Vazquez, the trade value could be very strong.
There is speculation off the field with Polanco as well. He’s the Twins’ longest-tenured player, having joined the organization in 2009 as a 16-year-old, and Polanco is a respected clubhouse leader who was willing to trade his position midway through the season to keep Julien at second base. But a Polanco trade would reduce salary and bring value, so the Twins are at least something to consider.
It is not clear how much. Polanco has been on the injured list five times since midway through 2022 and has needed surgery in three of the past four seasons. But he was vintage Polanco in the second half, hitting .258/.361/.456 in 50 games with no plans to exercise his $10.5 million option for 2024. He is better than any free agent second baseman and has a reasonable $12 million option for 2025.
Polanco is still one of the Twins’ best players, so there’s no reason to move him just for the sake of moving him. But trading Polanco for a veteran pitcher and turning second base to Julien — or trading for the future and freeing up $10 million for a pitcher — would check a lot of boxes for the Twins. It’s also something to look forward to revisiting mid-season when Lee and/or Martin are ready to join the mix.
Max Kepler, R.F
It’s become an annual tradition to see Max Kepler as a prime trade candidate, and that’s not going to change as he heads into his 31st year and final year under team control, with a $10 million salary. However, the Twins’ front office is more valuable than what the teams have offered in past seasons, and has kept the faith in Kepler through several difficult years and has made many reasons to move on.
They were wrong about Kepler in 2021 (98 OPS+) and 2022 (92 OPS+), and last season looked more of the same when he hit .207/.279/.409 in the first half. But he finally proved himself with a monster second half, hitting .306/.377/.549 in 66 games. Kepler finished with a 121 OPS+ and 24 homers, the second-highest career mark, making his $10 million option an easy call.
If the Twins were interested in sticking with Kepler after 2 1/2 poor seasons, they would be interested in sticking with him after the prime of his career, but cost and impending free agency are big factors now. However, Matt Wallner has already been penciled into the opening day lineup and with Trevor Larnach missing many opportunities, no young cornerbacks will be blocked by Kepler.
At this point, trading Kepler only makes sense if the Twins get high value in return. No team has ever met his asking price before and they’re only buying Kepler for one season, but he was legitimately good in the second half and is as good as any free agent corner outfielder for a long time. Salary. You will find many discounts for Kepler. Will you finally take one?
(Top photo of Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco: Brace Hemmelgarn / Minnesota Twins / Getty Images)