The Minnesota Twins traded last season’s opening day starting left fielder during the season.
Manager Ron Gardenhire is expected to have one of his two returning center fielders as his everyday left fielder.
The in-house candidates:
Pros: The 23-year-old five-tool outfielder may be ready for a full-time spot on a big league roster. He has the potential to hit 30 home runs, have a .300 batting average, steal 20 bases, and possesses center field defensive range and a right field arm. He is a right-handed hitter that can hit anywhere in the batting order. He is a career .284 hitter in six minor league seasons with season-highs of 27 home runs, 19 stolen bases, 67 RBIs, 81 runs scored and 58 walks.
Cons: He needs to be more consistent and continue his development. After six seasons in the minors, he needs to prove he can consistently hit major league quality pitching. He may not be ready for a fulltime Major League role.
Pros: The 23-year-old outfielder is about speed. He can fly. When he hits the ball on the ground, it is almost certain that he will beat it out for a hit. When on the bases, he is always in scoring position. Defensively, he covers more ground than any outfielder in the league. He possesses a leftfielder’s arm.
Cons: He fits better in centerfield than left because of his range. He needs to improve his offensive consistency. He hit .267 with a .310 on-base percentage last season. He is not a middle of the order type of hitter with no power, which is something you generally look for in a corner outfielder.
Pros: The 27-year-old outfielder is fast. He can cover a lot of ground, especially playing next to someone faster than him. He is the second best defensive outfielder on the Twins team. He is the best leadoff hitter the Twins have on its active roster. He is a gap-to-gap hitter that turn singles into doubles and doubles into triples. His career on-base percentage is right there with the game’s best active leadoff hitters (ahead of Jose Reyes of the Miami Marlins and only nine points behind Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners).
Cons: Last season’s head injury clouds his future a bit. He has defensive issues, mostly involving communication breakdowns on fly balls. He is not a middle of the order type of hitter with limited power, which is something you generally look for in a corner outfielder.
Pros: The 25-year-old Canadian outfielder got his first taste of the big league’s last season. Despite hitting just about the Mendoza line (.200), had several very big hits for the Twins. Some of those hits came as a pinch hitter. He could end up being the best left-handed pinch-hitter the team the Twins have had since Randy Bush. He has proven that he can hit for power in the minors.
Cons: He needs to be more consistent and make more contact. He is not a burner on the base paths or in the field and does not have a lot of power. His left-handed bat could give the Twins too many lefthanders in its everyday lineup.
Pros: The 32-year-old outfielder is a right-handed power bat that will fit perfectly into the middle of the Twins batting order. He is not going to hit gap-to-gap, but will have no problem yanking pitches into the left field bleachers at Target Field. He is a disciplined hitter that will take walks. He is a good athlete with a very good arm. He is a former catcher that can deter a running game.
Cons: He lacks really good speed and is not a great base runner. He has a tendency to over swing, which leads to too many strikeouts. He has a history of injuries and is not a versatile player. He has played 662 games in leftfield and just 49 games at other positions (rightfield, catcher, first base and designated hitter).
Free agent options:
Pat Burrell. The 35-year-old right-hander would pop to the middle of the order. However, he has limited defensive skills and range in the outfield and doesn’t hit for a high average. He may be forced to retire due to a foot injury.
Jonny Gomes. The 31-year-old right-hander is coming off a down year. He hit just .209 with 14 home runs while splitting the season with the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals. He is a power hitter with plus offensive skills, but has limited range and average defensive skills.
Ryan Ludwick. The 33-year-old right-hander is a power hitter that may not be an everyday player any more. He had a few good years, but has declined to low-teens power production and low-.200 batting averages.
Right now the everyday left fielder should be:
Span. He may have a stronger arm, but Revere’s range and better defense make him a better center field candidate. The starting left field spot will most likely be the “loser” of the battle for center field. I don’t see the Twins bringing in a free agent to battle either player for starting time.