Twins

The Twins Don't Need To Move Kyle Farmer

Photo Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

When the Twins traded for Kyle Farmer last off-season, there was some thought that he would be the Opening Day shortstop. Perhaps he would be a full-time stopgap until one of the young cornerstones is ready to take the reins. Flash forward one year, and there is a lot of uncertainty about his place on the roster.

With the club’s finances in flux due to the expiration of their Diamond Sports Group TV deal, many fans wonder if the Twins will trade impactful veterans from last season. Amazon recently bought a stake in Diamond Sports, so Minnesota may not shed payroll. Still, the likelihood increases with each passing week. And with a $6.3 million price tag attached to Farmer, the Twins may move him before the regular season starts.

But would that be a wise decision for a Twins team in a self-created waiting game?

Farmer may not have a firm grasp on a starting role this time, but his place in the team’s blueprint might be just as integral to their success. The Twins have filled their infield with high-ceiling players who have a recent history of injury concerns. Carlos Correa suffered through the nagging pain of plantar fasciitis last year.

While many hope he would feel relief after tearing that muscle, there’s no certainty to that theory. Royce Lewis has missed two of the last three seasons with ACL tears, plus six weeks in the final two months of last season with a hamstring strain. Jorge Polanco has battled lower-half injuries, and Alex Kirilloff has had multiple wrist surgeries.

Based on recent trends with these players and a fond reverence for Murphy’s law (which should be the unofficial credo for all professional men’s sports teams in the state), wouldn’t it be wise to have a sturdy backup plan in place if/when things get hairy? Two key players could get injured simultaneously in 2024; shouldn’t a competitive team have a Swiss army knife that can help out in multiple positions just in case?

Farmer isn’t some scrub that washed ashore in spring training. In a similar role last season, the 33-year-old more than held his own at the plate while playing rock-solid defense at three positions. He had a .256/.317/.408 slash line with 11 home runs and 46 RBI. Farmer’s production in 2023 was just above league average (101 wRC+), and he accrued 1.6 fWAR in limited opportunities.

But some numbers under the hood make his campaign even more valuable. For one, his second half was a major improvement. You could say it was one of the many reasons that Minnesota’s overall offensive production reached a new gear in the final three months of the season. Farmer hit .277/.337/.478 (8.15 OPS, 124 wRC+) in that span while playing a good amount of shortstop and third base.

While the trio of rookie sensations (Lewis, Edouard Julien, and Matt Wallner) get much of the credit for the lineup’s turnaround, and rightfully so, Farmer certainly deserves his flowers. His mammoth home run in game two of the ALDS gave the Twins an early three-run lead in their lone win in that series.

The charming slugger also bears the profile of the kind of player that the Twins would reasonably seek in free agency this year. He’s a right-handed hitter who can slide into any infield position at a reasonable price for one guaranteed year. Not to mention, Minnesota needs someone who can crush left-handed pitching. With Correa, Byron Buxton, and Jose Miranda having poor seasons by their standards last year, the club will want somebody established to hold the line if those struggles continue.

Farmer can do just that. He has a career slash line of .288/.347/.478 (.825 OPS) against southpaws, 22 percent better than league average since he debuted in 2017.

So, even with the uncertainty regarding payroll, it could behoove the Twins to make a modest investment in Farmer for one more year. Suppose everybody stays healthy and productive. Then it would be a good problem, even if he finds himself riding the bench more often than last year. Because if duty calls, the Farm dog will come running.

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