The Twins have reportedly added another player in free agency, signing Marwin Gonzalez to a two-year contract worth $21 million.
You might be wondering why they're spending money on a utility player – not a pitcher – and that's totally reasonable. But at the same time, what do they have to lose by signing him?
Gonzalez is more than just a utility man, in fact, he's got the abilities to make the Twins quite a bit better this season.
Gonzalez can play pretty much anywhere on the diamond. Here's how he was used with Houston in 2018
- 73 games in left field
- 39 games at shortstop
- 32 games at second base
- 24 at first base
You can bank on first-year manager Rocco Baldelli using him at all those positions and more this season.
He's also a switch hitter and despite never having a permanent position, he's exceeded 500 plate appearances each of the last three seasons.
The guy always finds his way into the lineup, and at $10 million a season, it'll be no different in Minnesota.
The new Escobar
Remember fan-favorite Eduardo Escobar, who the Twins traded away and you never understood why?
Well Gonzalez is basically the same player as Escobar but with slightly better numbers.
- Gonzalez career slash: .262/.318/.419
- Escobar career slash: .257/.308/.417
Funny enough, each player received the same amount of money this winter with their new teams. Escobar is getting $21 million over three years from Arizona and the same amount of dough for Gonzalez, albeit for one year less.
Buxton and Sano band-aid
The Twins are (once again) betting on Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano putting it all together in 2019.
It's far too early to label either player a bust, despite what their numbers indicate, but if they do falter or even find themselves on the disabled list, that's where Gonzalez becomes even more valuable.
He's spent the majority of his career at the bottom of the lineup but his power has allowed him to move up to the middle when needed.
It's safe to say Gonzalez can hit anywhere between 5-9 in a lineup.
Let's say Buxton gets injured. Well, an outfield of Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario and Marwin Gonzalez doesn't sound that bad, does it?
Or if Sano gets injured, Gonzalez could can step in at third base in a pinch. In fact, the main reason he was moved from third base was because Alex Bregman blossomed into a budding superstar for the Astros.
It also wouldn't be surprising to see Gonzalez man third base and Sano transition to first base, especially Sano's body won't allow him to play a demanding position.
So Baldelli has plenty of options with an infield of Gonzalez, Jorge Polanco, Jonathan Schoop, Ronald Torreyes and Ehire Adrianza all capable of holding down multiple positions.
World Series winner
You might think it's overrated but outside of Nelson Cruz – another free agent add this winter – there's not a single player in the Twins lineup who has World Series experience.
Everyone knows Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, but people forget just how important Gonzalez was to the 2017 Houston Astros capturing their first World Series title.
His .907 OPS (on base + slugging percentage) was the third best on the team behind Altuve and Correa, and his 4.3 WAR (wins above replacement) was fourth best.
In 134 games that season, Gonzalez hit .303 with 23 home runs, 90 RBI, 57 extra-base hits and even showed up in the MVP vote.
Since he's only put up those numbers once, it might not be accurate to assume he can do it again. But if he does, he'll be worth way more than the $10 million a season the Twins are paying him.