Kyle Farmer’s role with the Minnesota Twins has continued to change since they traded for him last November. He was the Opening Day shortstop, then a utility man and backup corner outfielder. Farmer is the emergency outfielder, and now he’s filling in as the everyday third baseman.
Farmer has become a spark plug for a Twins offense that was proven inconsistent early in the year. They lost something when Lucas Giolito accidentally hit him with a 92 mph fastball on April 12. The medical staff put him in an ambulance and rushed him to the hospital, where they reset and added wiring to Farmer’s teeth.
His first shining moment happened five days earlier when Farmer walked off the Houston Astros in the home opener. He followed it up the next day, going three for four with a three-run home run. But Farmer went hitless the next three games before Giolito hit him with a stray fastball.
Fortunately, Farmer has recovered and was in the lineup on May 10 against the San Diego Padres. Not even a full calendar month had gone by, and he returned to the Twins lineup at a crucial time.
Sophomore third baseman José Miranda had been struggling all of April. It became evident that he needed time to reset in Triple-A. Farmer was fully healthy and ready to return. Therefore, nobody was surprised when the Twins sent Miranda down to make room for Farmer.
Despite suffering from a broken jaw 13 games into the season, Farmer has proven to be a reliable bat for the Twins since his return from the injured list.
In Farmer’s five games since his return, he’s been unstoppable in the Twins lineup. Farmer has started a small on-base streak that has lasted all five games. He had a game-tying home run that kept Minnesota within reach of the Padres Thursday afternoon. And he went three for five yesterday, driving in a couple of runs in their 16-3 blowout win over the Chicago Cubs.
Farmer will eventually cool off. But his consistency in an inconsistent lineup means he will continue to be on the field for the Twins every day for the rest of May.
Royce Lewis started his rehab assignment last week, but it’s uncertain when he’ll return from his second ACL tear. Miranda might need some time. In his three games with Triple-A St. Paul, he only has two hits in 13 at-bats.
There’s also the uncertainty of knowing whether the other infielders will remain healthy between now and the end of the month. Even if Carlos Correa, Jorge Polanco, or Donovan Solano are healthy one day, they may not be the next. That’s why Farmer’s defensive versatility and the consistency of plate appearances are vital to this team.
The Twins may have acquired him as a contingency plan for their Opening Day shortstop, but now they have the player who could earn the unofficial utility man of the year award. At the very least, Farmer could be the man who could win the newest version of the Gold Glove award.
For now, Farmer looks to be a lock at third base. Still, the Twins will not run out of roles for him whenever Lewis or Miranda return to the lineup. Not to mention Edouard Julien’s return to the majors at some point during the season.
There’s also the possibility that the Twins add Brooks Lee, another hot infield prospect, to the 40-man roster before the season concludes. Lee has played all but two of his 29 games in Wichita this season at shortstop. But Lee may not stay at short depending on Correa’s long-term health and how well Lee plays shortstop.
Add on top of that is the possibility that Lee will compete for playing time at second base or third base against Miranda, Lewis, Polanco, Julien, and even Farmer. The Twins have too many infielders, and it’s proving to be a good problem seven weeks into the season.
Farmer has already spent time on the IL this year, but his injury didn’t change Minnesota’s plans for him to get consistent playing time. Even if the season continues with Farmer seeing less frequent playing time as a starter at any of the infield positions, he’s proven that he’ll be an essential part of the Twins’ 26-man roster.
No matter which direction the season goes for the Twins infielder’s health or performance, Farmer has a defined role on the team, not unlike Polanco and Correa. Farmer is an upgraded version of Marwin Gonzalez from 2019, someone who will provide quality leadership for the young players arriving from the minors later this year.