If you wondered whether Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the new braintrust in charge of the Minnesota Twins, were going to be different from their predecessors, we now have an answer. Mike Berardino, of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the club is parting ways with longtime third baseman Trevor Plouffe:
Plouffe, frankly, was everything that was wrong with the previous Terry Ryan-led regime in a nutshell. Plouffe chosen in the first round as a shortstop in 2004. He moved very slowly through the Twins system, not debuting until his seventh professional season. It quickly became clear that he could not play shortstop in the Majors, but it was unclear if he had the bat to play anywhere else. He managed to cobble together a few years of decent production in Minnesota, however, eventually pairing a roughly average bat with above average defense at third base.
This was great while Plouffe was relatively young and making near the league minimum, but as he got more expensive, his contributions grew less valuable. With Miguel Sano poised to take over third base, many Twins fans figured the club would part ways with Plouffe last year. Alas, a poor trade market for third baseman and loyalty ultimately won out, and Plouffe came back. He was injured for much of 2016 and hit poorly over the first half of the season, but his presence inspired the ill-fated Miguel-Sano-Is-Our-Right-Fielder experiment.
A disappointing minor league track record, a low ceiling, injuries, and unearned loyalty that winds up hamstringing the team? That sounds like the 2011-2016 Minnesota Twins all right. But that’s not how Falvey and Levine are determined to run things:
Moving on from Plouffe saves the Twins somewhere between $8 and $9 million in arbitration and signals that, once again, there wasn’t a huge trade market out there for a mediocre third baseman who struggles against right handed pitching. Releasing him will give the Twins a great deal more flexibility going forward regarding how they use Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco.
This is not to say that Plouffe is a bad player. When healthy, he is a solid fielder at third base, and hits lefties well. A smart team can find a good role for him as lefty-mashing four-corners type for a few million bucks. Perhaps like the Twins, he can move on to bigger and better things.