Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Feeling Out The Twins Tradeable Assets

As the Winter Meetings are underway, tons of scenario begin to be tossed around. Both free agents and trade candidates have names floated all over the place, and big league clubs are trying to best position themselves for the upcoming season. With the Minnesota Twins, exploring the trade route is an intriguing option, and one that Darren Wolfson has continued to suggest as likely for the hometown team. If that's the plan of action, what assets are worth keying in on?

Recently, a Pittsburgh Pirates based Twitter account tweeted out that a source confirmed the Twins were asked for Nick Gordon, Tyler Jay, and Zack Granite in exchange for Gerrit Cole. That tweet sent the Minnesota fanbase into somewhat of a frenzy as the pitching starved Twins would seem to come out well in making that exchange. Regardless of the validity surrounding those names or that tweet, there's one player that I see the Twins using as the key chip in any and all discussions.

Enter Nick Gordon.

The 5th overall pick in 2014, son of Flash, and brother of Dee, Nick has progressed to the Double-A level with Minnesota. In 2017, he slashed .270/.341/.408 and put up a career best .749 OPS. At 21 years old, he's still filling into his frame, and stands to develop even a bit further at the plate. When drafted, he was seen as a strong defender with the possibility to have an elite glove. Unfortunately, he's already begun to slide towards 2B, and errors have been an issue each of his four professional seasons.

Going forward, I'd argue that Gordon projects to have a ceiling of a sporadic All Star, with a more realistic landing spot as an average to slightly above-average regular. Despite not having the top end speed of his brother Dee, there are good wheels here. He'll need to continue to develop on the basepaths, especially in the run game, as he's got an ugly 65% success rate across 105 stolen base attempts. The bat will have to carry him further, especially if the landing spot ends up being second base. If power is going to be in relative short supply (9 homers at Double-A in 2017 was a career high), a push towards a .360 OBP would be more than a welcomed development.

Across baseball, Gordon has been ranked favorably on prospect lists each of the past three seasons. With numbers all over the place in 2015 and 2016, Baseball America, MLB Pipeline, and Baseball Prospectus all have him right around 50 prior to 2017. Going into the 2018 season, I wouldn't be surprised to see either a slight decrease considering the influx or draft talent and the relative status quo that was his season with the Lookouts.

When making a move, part of the equation is what the belief the prospect you're giving up is going to become. In dealing prospects, you're getting a known commodity in return. A Gerrit Cole, Chris Archer, or another established pitcher has a relatively safe future when it comes to projections. The future of prospects comes down to internal scouting and belief as to what lies ahead. A player like Gordon could be enticing to both part with and acquire given what the future should hold. There's a pretty safe floor, and the ceiling hardly appears to be one of those that could haunt an organization.

At the end of the day, if I'm Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, Nick Gordon is the ideal player to have teams calling on and asking for. He's not close to the Royce Lewis realm, and for the other organization, doesn't have the volatility that may come with a Wander Javier type. At this time of year, it's always incredibly difficult to figure out what rumors are true, but a phone call on Gordon should be welcomed with opened arms.

Minnesota needs to add in a few key areas given that their window of competitiveness is now open. I looked at the path of using prospects as capital recently, and if that's the desired plan of action, let's hope the organization picks the right ones.