January 22, 2023

We hardly knew ye, Luis Arraez

Luis Arraez, the defending American League batting champion, is a 25-year-old infielder who has consistently hit near or better than .300 in his young career, a once in a generation talent who is most often compared to Hall of Famer Rod Carew, and a player who has more career walks than strikeouts — only 131 whiffs in more than 1,400 at bats — is no longer a member of the Twins after he was traded Friday to the Miami Marlins for pitcher Pablo Lopez and two prospects.

In case you can’t tell, I am against this trade. Even the Twins’ formerly cheapskate owner Calvin Griffith knew better than to trade Carew until his bigotry and ignorance forced his hand.

In return the Twins add to their pitching depth, but did they really need to? The rotation already features Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, the return of Kenta Maeda, Bailey Ober and Josh Winder. All this likely means is that someone is headed to the bullpen or will be traded.

Lopez has strikeout stuff and pitched 180 innings last season, or was his 2022 season an outlier or a sign of things to come? It’s hard not to see it as the exception because he previously never came close to pitching that many innings. His former high topped out at 111-plus innings. The Twins also received two prospects in the deal, but like all prospects, which is why I don’t write about them, a prospect is a prospect is a prospect until they prove otherwise at the major league level. And they most likely won’t get there anytime soon.

So what are the Twins left with? A back of the rotation starter and a star hitter on his way to Miami.

Some have argued that Arraez has his own injury and defensive problems, but those arguments strike me as pretty flimsy. He appeared in 144 games last season, tied for the most on the team, and he presents no serious liability at either second base or at first. And Arraez’s likely heir at first base is Alex Kirilloff, a player who can’t escape his wrist problems. In the end it is what it is: The Twins have shipped the only guy in the lineup who can hit .300 to the Marlins.

Twins Territory social media went full gonzo after learning of Friday’s news. A sampling:


Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.