The lone defense for the Twins trading away Luis Arraez on Friday is that pitching is more expensive than hitting in current Major League Baseball.
Terry Ryan, the former Twins general manager, used a 2-through-8 system to have his scouts evaluate players — prospects, minor leaguers and big leaguers who might be involved in trades.
Eight was all-world, 7 was a perennial All-Star, 6 was a well-above average everyday player or top-line starter, 5 was an average everyday player or midrotation starter… and on down the list.
“I gave an 8 to Joe Mauer as a high schooler,” said Mike Radcliff, a Twins vice president for player personnel. “And he was right there as a big league. There weren’t many of those.”
As a believer in the strength of the eye test, I was trying to figure out the seismic trade — at least here in Minnesota — and decided on this:
Twins had to give up a “6” position player in Arraez in order to get a “5” starter in Pablo Lopez.
Derek Falvey, the Twins CEO for baseball, was not asked to confirm that evaluation in a brief conversation Friday, but he did make this admission:
“Acquiring pitching is very expensive these days.”
He also said Arraez was the Miami player wanted in order to give up Lopez — only Arraez — and the Twins eventually decided adding a starter was more important than retaining an exceptional hitter who will turn 26 in April.
Byron Buxton’s ongoing injury problems had turned Arraez into the Twins’ most popular player, and fans will have a tendency to put an exclamation mark on this:
They gave up an American League batting champion!
The silver bat is maybe the most striking trophy in sports, and Luis will enjoy it to the fullest, but whether or not he took away a Triple Crown from the Yankees’ Aaron Judge is not the issue here.
Even though he swung way more than most, he was the source of excellent battles — long, quality at-bats with a team-low 43 strikeouts among regulars or semi-regulars, with a team-high 603 plate appearances.
Carlos Correa, when hitting second, is going to miss those six or seven pitches that Arraez allowed him to see from a pitcher. As a shortstop, Correa might enjoy having the 6-5 Joey Gallo as his target at first base, rather than the 5-10 Arraez, but he’s not going to learn much observing Gallo’s ABs — generally a race between drawing a walk or striking out .
That competition was a blowout in 2022, with Gallo striking out an astounding 163 times, compared with 56 walks, in 410 plate appearances. At least he batted .160, only 156 points below Arraez.
I feel as if this was used previously, but it’s worth another cheap shot:
Who would have guessed the No. 1 void the Twins would decide to fill in free agency was bringing in Gallo to replace Miguel Sano’s strikeouts?
Falvey offered accolades to Arraez on the Zoom interview he shared with Lopez (bright fellow) Friday afternoon, but there was a clear disconnect between the brain trust and Arraez.
Luis was said to have turned down a contract offer from the Twins before last season. And he wound up as their only player among eight eligible for arbitration this go-round to file for a hearing.
Bottom line: Arraez felt he was more valuable to the Twins than they did for at least the past two seasons.
Top line: A strong majority of fans agree with Arraez.
No matter the comments or social media we read, trading Arraez won’t cost the Twins in ticket sales. A gigantic majority of people making threats not to go to another game haven’t been to one since they got in for $1 as a Little Leaguer at the Metrodome.
Plus, the Twins are already at their lowest ebb for ticket sales in two decades — and that was with Luis winning the AL batting title that’s named for Rod Carew.
There were rumors Carew was going to come to town for Thursday’s Diamond Awards to congratulate Arraez in person. That’s off the table now.
What probably won’t end is Carew watching Marlins games on a baseball package out there in California, see Arraez pop up a couple of times, and send him a message to stop standing up straight and get back in his crouch.
Sir Rodney must have Luis’ phone number by now, so he won’t need Dick Bremer as a middle man.
Good luck Luis.
Those of us who admire a craftsman and not whiff monsters at the plate are going to miss you more than the Twins’ brainiacs.