Here's something that seems to be lost on Twins fans at times; not all prospects are created equal. Cave was acquired from the Yankees this offseason, and was someone the front office targeted back during the Jaime Garcia flip. While he isn't the pride of the organization, he is included among MLB Pipeline's Top 30 for the Twins, and makes a similar appearance on Seth Stohs' list (from Twins Daily). At 25 years old, he's cut from a similar cloth to a player like Mitch Garver.
For the Twins, Cave presents an opportunity that should be capitalized upon. With a three man outfield all but set in stone, finding the regular fourth that can contribute in all phases should be something of importance. Robbie Grossman filled the role admirably in his first season with the Twins. His .828 OPS was a career high by a longshot, and he proved to be an on base machine. Since then, he's came back down to earth, and in 2018, he's no longer a replacement level player.
When targeting a fourth outfielder, Minnesota should want someone with a little pop, that can provide value as a bat off the bench. Ideally, the player can field in all three spots, and assets including speed and arm strength would be ideal. Cave checks off the boxes, and has gotten just 19 big league at bats to show anything.
Looking back at their respective abilities, Grossman is definitely a stronger player when it comes to commanding the strike zone. He's long been an on base guy and that's heavily bolstered by his ability to draw walks. While Cave lags a bit in that category, he's not some sort of massive black hole either. Showing a bit more pop over the course of his minor league career, there's a bit of give and take at play here.
Last season, Cave posted a .921 OPS at Triple-A across 72 games. The downside is that it came with an 82/18 K/BB ratio. This season in the Twins organization, he has just a .735 OPS across 58 Triple-A games, but the K/BB ratio has improved to a respectable 55/26. Those strides are both significant and important.
Right now, Grossman is a 28 year old with 470 major league games under his belt. He's turned the opportunities into 1.2 fWAR, or essentially just scratching the surface above replacement level. If that doesn't suggest an opportunity to improve upon that spot on the roster, I'm not sure what does.
Down in Florida for spring training, I heard rumblings of Grossman being saved by manager Paul Molitor. It was the front office who acquired Cave, and despite being arguably the better player and one with more upside, the skipper had stuck his neck out to keep Robbie around. Again, what he did for the Twins in 2016 was nothing short of exceptional but that performance is also long gone.
With the Twins season trending in the direction it has, and regardless of how it goes from here, I'd much prefer to see Cave get consistent opportunities. At some point, Byron Buxton is going to return to the 25 man roster. From that point forward, Cave could have the opportunities that Grossman has been given. Losing an asset is never ideal, but at that point, DFA'ing Grossman makes a lot of sense.
Being a betting man, I'd lean towards the Twins not going about it this way. That said, I'd hope it's the point in which the rubber meets the road. Falvey and Levine should exert their will on this roster, and one way of doing so would be choosing Jake over Robbie.