…no this isn’t a post taking a jab at the current state of the Twins offense; in fact that offense is pretty good. Rather, today I want to take a peek at what bats on the free agent market may pique the Twins interest in the event the club goes out of the organization to bolster its bench or starting lineup. Keep in mind, I think this is extremely unlikely.
Kelly Shoppach: Shoppach was pretty good last season in his return to his original organization, but when the Red Sox shipped him to the Mets, his productivity basically ceased. His pounding of lefties — career .658/.868 OPS split — also went awash, leaving one to wonder if it was simply small sample size, or if that’s just not part of his game anymore. I’d tend to lean towards SSS, but at age 33 next season, he could be taking that downward stroll. Shoppach continues to carry an above-average ability to nab attempting base-thieves, but he’s grown closer to mediocrity on that front for about four years running.
Miguel Olivo: Olivo has proven to be a decent catch-and-throw guy in his career, and his entire offensive profile is predicated on the home run. Olivo has really good pop, but a horrendous K/BB rate and bad numbers overall. He profiles as a nice backup catcher as long as your first guy stays healthy, and I don’t think the Twins are entirely in the market for another backstop.
Travis Hafner: A lot of dots connect with Hafner ending up in Minnesota. For one, the Twins don’t have a bench masher, unless you count Chris Parmelee. Second, Minnesota is close to ‘home’ — though I doubt Hafner makes North Dakota home, anyway. At this point, Hafner and the Twins can probably give each side what they require: 250-300 PA off the bench and occasional starting duties. For Hafner at this point in his career, that is probably the best fit. Similarly, the Twins are starving for a bench bat that could even slightly remind someone of Jim Thome. This is probably the first bat I’d target.
Kila Ka’aihue: This would be nothing more than a ‘take a chance on me’ kind of signing. Kila’s been a Quad-A type of hitter for his entire big league career, which actually still only accounts for 465 plate appearances. Heading into his age-29 season, this is probably his last chance to keep from being Petagine’d.
Jeff Keppinger: Keppinger is a bad, but not embarrassing fielder who has a terrific eye and contact rates, and quite frankly reminds me quite a bit of Placido Polanco at the plate. With the middle infield in flux for the Twins — rather, lots of guys but no real answers — Keppinger could make a nice Jamey Carroll-like acquisition for the Twins, though Kepp would also provide the competition at third base which Terry Ryan alluded to late last season when prodded about if Trevor Plouffe had yet won the job outright. All told, it would be a nice fit.
Alex Gonzalez: Sea Bass is coming off a season-ending injury from early in the 2012 season. The injury sabotaged Gonzalez’ one-year deal with the Brewers, so he’s back on the market as damaged goods at age 36. Gonzalez’ started off the season pretty well in Milwaukee, carrying a .783 OPS with four home runs in only 24 games played, and his power has always been a sneaky part of his game. The biggest problems otherwise are that he does little else with the bat, and his eye is about as discerning as Delmon Young’s. Gonzalez has always been lauded for his fielding — and let’s be honest, the Twins love infielders who can pick it historically — so there could be a fit here, even though Alex’s glove has slipped a bit in recent years.
I honestly don’t see the Twins bringing in an outfielder with the glut of guys they have right now. Maybe, maybe an organizational type, but even if the Twins went out of the box on the free agent market, it would only be for a platoon, lefty-masher like Andruw Jones. I highly doubt it.
So let’s hear it readers….who do you think the Twins will target?