MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins have much work to do after missing out on Carlos Correa, and their search for impact continued on Friday with the addition of slugging outfielder Joey Gallo on a one-year, $11 million deal, a source told MLB.com’s Mark fine sand. The club has not confirmed the deal.
Gallo is coming off a difficult 2022 in which he slashed .160/.280/.357 with 19 homers and a 39.8% strikeout rate for the Yankees and Dodgers, struggling immensely after moving to the Bronx with a spike in his already-high strikeout numbers, which limited his ability to get to his otherworldly power. For now, he’s an odd positional fit on a Twins roster already deep in left-handed corner outfielders.
But any one-year deal carries relatively little risk, particularly considering Gallo’s strong defensive ability (including experience in center field), and there’s plenty of upside the Twins can hope to tap into, considering Gallo is only one season removed from posting a career- best 4.7 WAR in 2021 with the Rangers and Yankees, thanks to his perhaps one-of-a-kind power and ability to draw walks.
Considering how often Gallo has stared out at comically exaggerated infield and outfield shifts (including four-man outfields), there has to be thought that the 29-year-old will stand to benefit from the newly enacted limitation on defensive shifts for the 2023 season and beyond. Per baseball savant, Gallo has faced infield shifts on at least 82% of his plate appearances in each of the last six seasons.
If nothing else, the 2022 Twins took a step back in their ability to hit the ball over the fence, as only Byron Buxton (28 homers) and Correa (22) exceeded 20 roundtrippers. Gallo hits homers with the best of them, most recently hitting 38 blasts in ’21 before struggling in ’22. He’ll give the Twins middle-of-the-order pop from all over the diamond, fitting into their preferred mold of defensive flexibility.
Even so, the Twins didn’t need any more left-handed corner outfielders, where they already have Max Kepler, Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Matt Wallner and Nick Gordon as such options, and this signing seems like an even stronger indication that Minnesota could be looking to trade one or more of those players in search of a big impact addition on the pitching staff or elsewhere.
“I am anticipating based on the calls that we’ve had of late that [the trade market] will start to come maybe just after Christmas, somewhere right around the turn of the year, that there’s just going to be a little bit more of a heavy focus on the trade market,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “We’ll be in those conversations.”
Kepler has long been a buzzy name in trade rumors, but considering his offensive struggles, it doesn’t appear likely that he could headline a deal that would bring back a frontline pitcher. That could take a younger, higher-ceiling player like Larnach or Wallner — and perhaps more.
Falvey acknowledged on Friday that the Twins are drawing “a lot of interest” in several of their Major League players, and they have to be open to such deals if they wish to avoid further depleting a farm system that has grown much less robust in the last year. As the market transitions from free agency to trades in the coming weeks, there’s still plenty of work remaining, as Minnesota could still use a shortstop, right-handed pop and impact pitching.
“Well, I think our roster isn’t done, so I would say our view right now is that we need to continue to get through the offseason,” Falvey said. “It’s Dec. 16, and I think there’s more time for us to figure out what our group and outfield look like.”
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