December 25, 2023

We hardly knew ye, Tyler Mahle

Don’t expect me to wax nostalgic about pitcher Tyler Mahle’s time in Minnesota because he made a total of nine starts over two seasons before going under the knife for Tommy John surgery, and then exited stage left after agreeing to a free-agent deal with the Texas Rangers. He is set to make $22 million over two seasons.

This isn’t the worst trade in Twins history, but it certainly is among them after the Twins sent three prospects to the Cincinnati Reds to get Mahle, two of whom made an immediate impact at the major league level.

Who are they? University of Oregon man Spencer Steer and Oklahoma State man Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Steer played so well he attracted enough Rookie of the Year votes to finish sixth in that category in the National League.

In 2023, Steer slashed .271/.356/.464 with 37 doubles and 23 home runs over 156 games. Although he struck out 139 times, he also earned 68 free passes to first base which would have led the Twins this past season.

Encarnacion-Strand didn’t play in as many games (only 63), but still came away hitting .270/.328/.477 with 13 home runs.

Extra innings …

-Well, the Los Angeles Dodgers certainly are making the case that baseball needs to come up with some new competitive balance benchmarks because nothing is fair about the kind of money they are throwing around right now. They have signed three players — slugger Shohei Ohtani and pitchers Tyler Glasnow and Yoshinobu Yamamoto — for more than $1 billion.

And although $700 million for Ohtani is ridiculous, he has at least shown he can hit major league pitching. Yoshinobu, as far as I know, has never faced major league hitters and yet received $325 million guaranteed!

Meanwhile, the Twins have signed former Twins prospect Niko Goodrum and pitcher A.J. Alexy to minor league deals, and re-signed two players they previously non-tendered: Jovani Moran and Ronny Henriquez.

What’s wrong with this picture? None of them are named Ohtani, Glasnow or Yamamoto. Of course, the Twins were never in the running for those players as were most of the teams in the major leagues.

So, what’s fair? A friend suggested a 60 percent rule: 60 percent of the roster has to be home grown, 20 percent can come via trades and the final 20 percent could be free agents. I would raise the bar even higher: 80 percent of the roster has to be home grown, 15 percent can come via trades and only five percent for free agents.

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, MLB Trade Rumors.

COMMENTS

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.