Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Twins Begin Weighing Possibilities With Plouffe

Coming into the 2016 Major League Baseball season, there was plenty of reason to believe that the Minnesota Twins should have moved Trevor Plouffe. Playing third base while pushing teammate Miguel Sano to the outfield, it was over the offseason that Plouffe's value was likely at its peak. Fast forward to where we are now however, and the narrative couldn't be any more different.

Starting with Sano, I had plenty of belief that he could be a capable right fielder. To say he has been far off from that is probably somewhat controversial. Looking at the power hitting corner guys such as J.D. Martinez and Jose Bautista however, he's holding his own just fine. The argument for Sano in right was always that if the power played, the rest wouldn't matter. That has held relatively true for the most part. Right up until the point in which he got hurt.

Now with a balky hamstring that's going to be more susceptible to injury the rest of the way, Minnesota is absolutely faced with a decision. That involves figuring out a way to get Sano back into the infield, and have him focus more on his bat and glove, rather than running down fly balls.

This is where Trevor Plouffe enters the equation.

In 2016, Plouffe was worth 2.5 fWAR, the second highest mark of his career. His 22 longballs were his highest total since launching 24 back in 2012. With a 3.6 fWAR season in 2014, and continuing improvement defensively, it appeared as if Plouffe was a late bloomer and his best seasons may be ahead of him. Minnesota probably could have (and maybe should have) dealt Plouffe before the 2016 season started, but the market for third basemen was lukewarm at best, and the club decided to hold on.

Now 50 games into his 2016 season, Plouffe is slashing .239/.264/.362 with just five homers and eight doubles to his credit. Normally an extra base hit machine, he's looked anything but the player Twins fans have come to know him as. Posting a -0.6 fWAR thus far, it's been as much a struggle for Plouffe as it has the hapless Twins this season.

As things stand currently, Minnesota has reached a point in which a crossroads must be addressed. To be completely fair, the situation probably should have been cleared up prior to this point. Miguel Sano is likely going to go out on a rehab assignment in the coming week or so. When he returns, he's going to need a place in the lineup, and it's not going to be in the outfield. Paul Molitor could do some shuffling with Byung Ho Park, but really, this one is on Terry Ryan.

It's time, trade Trevor Plouffe.

Without being connected to the front office, it's hard to imagine what phone calls the Twins have made or received. However, there are some teams out there that absolutely have some needs. Kelly Johnson isn't going to be the lone answer for the Mets, and it would stand to reason that Minnesota should start there. When linked to the Angels during the offseason, Plouffe's return was speculated as equivalent to that of a relief prospect. Right now, that caution can almost be thrown to the wind.

Making $7.2 million with a final year of arbitration eligibility in front of him, Plouffe's value to the Twins is becoming addition by subtraction. Right now, whatever return Ryan could finagle for Plouffe should turn into an afterthought. Opening up third base, allowing Sano, Mauer, and Park to all coexist harmoniously, that should be the goal.

Over the past seven years, Trevor Plouffe has done a lot for the Twins. He's grown up in Minnesota, matured as a pro, and become a relevant big leaguer. Cut the ties, allow him to go to a winner, and start to make the kids a priority in the Twins lineup.

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