When the Minnesota Twins were making the final adjustments to their roster last winter, they figured they were putting the finishing touches on a contender. With Alexander Colomé in the bullpen, Matt Shoemaker in the rotation, and Andrelton Simmons in the infield, the Twins believed they had added depth and shored up their weaknesses heading into Spring Training.
Two months into the season, a majority of their offseason moves have failed. The Twins are currently tied for last place in the division. However, with the trade deadline approaching, the team must decide whether they will cut their losses and move forward.
Kyle Garlick has been the exception to this mess as the Twins made a wise move claiming the right-hander off waivers. Although Garlick recently succumbed to the injuries that have plagued Minnesota’s outfield, his absence hurts in the short term, and he could be a source of depth beyond this season.
Defensively, an outs above average of zero doesn’t sound spectacular. But after watching Eddie Rosario’s adventures in left field and Minnesota’s overall struggles this season, not having a liability in the outfield is a big boost for the Twins.
By not having mental lapses, the Twins defense has at least been able to count on one of the corner spots. But, unfortunately, that’s something they haven’t been able to say due to the rash of injuries.
Garlick hasn’t become a local legend like Rob Refsnyder, but he’s provided value when facing left-handed pitchers. Entering Wednesday, Garlick was hitting .271/.302/.576 against southpaws, including four homers. That performance has helped lift the Twins to 12th in MLB with a .748 OPS against left-handers.
Before landing in Minnesota, Garlick’s career represented the typical path for a fourth outfielder. Garlick was a 28th round pick by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2015 draft but didn’t make his major league debut until 2018.
After hitting .253 with three home runs and six RBI with the Dodgers, Garlick spent most of the 2019 season at Triple-A Oklahoma City. In 81 games, Garlick raked, hitting .314/.382/.675 with 23 home runs and 59 RBI.
Despite his performance, the Dodgers didn’t have any room to keep Garlick on the roster, and he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies, where he made a 12-game cameo last year. But once again, Garlick was the odd man out, designated for assignment with the signing of J.T. Realmuto. He was claimed by the Atlanta Braves, who DFA’d him when they signed Marcell Ozuna.
Garlick’s production in 2019 may have convinced the Twins to take a gamble on him. They claimed Garlick on waivers and brought him to spring training. Garlick earned a spot on the Opening Day roster after hitting .293/.304/.683 with five home runs and 13 RBI in 18 Grapefruit League games.
Once on the team, Garlick carved out a role as the team’s fifth outfielder. A role that became necessary when all three of Minnesota’s starting outfield spent time on the injured list and thrust Garlick into an everyday role.
He has done enough to solidify a spot as a corner outfielder, filling in admirably with Max Kepler and Alex Kirilloff out. Although Garlick’s performance at the plate has tailed off through the first two-plus months of the season, he could be an asset once everyone is healthy. He could help the Twins build depth for next season, potentially making Garlick part of the near-term future. After years of moving from team to team only to be DFA’d, he may have found a home in Minnesota.