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Inbox: Will Gibson, Shelton be back in 2020?

Beat reporter Do-Hyoung Park answers Twins fans' questions
@dohyoungpark
October 21, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS -- Many of the questions for this week's Twins Inbox asked about the upcoming cycle of free agency and the Twins' role in that space, but again, I'm going to hold off on many of those questions until the World Series ends and the offseason actually begins in earnest.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Many of the questions for this week's Twins Inbox asked about the upcoming cycle of free agency and the Twins' role in that space, but again, I'm going to hold off on many of those questions until the World Series ends and the offseason actually begins in earnest.

There's plenty to bridge the gap until then, so let's dive in without any further delay:

Kyle Gibson had a pretty bad year due to some medical issues that followed him for most of the year. Would the Twins look to bring him back on a 1-year deal? Try for a bounce-back year. Essentially take the Martin Pérez deal thing.
-- Erik M., St. Paul, Minn.

This could depend on how Gibson's offseason medical consultations go and how the Twins' starting rotation is looking later in free agency. Coming off a breakout 2018 during which Gibson posted a rotation-best 3.62 ERA as he served as the club's most consistent starter, he struggled to a 4.84 ERA in '19 as he dealt with ulcerative colitis and the associated weakness and sleep deprivation for much of the season after he first contracted a bout of E. coli during the offseason.

Gibson said he will have his condition examined more thoroughly this winter, which means that both he and the Twins could know more about the management and prognosis for the issue in the coming months. Based on Gibson's lackluster 2019, it seems quite unlikely that he'll get a multiyear deal anywhere in free agency, and wherever he ends up, it looks like it could be on a one-year "prove it" deal -- much like Jonathan Schoop -- to build his stock for his next go-round.

The 31-year-old Gibson is the longest-tenured member of the Twins, and his family is integrated in the Twin Cities community. He has said openly in the past that he would like to remain in Minnesota. If there were to be an opening on the Twins' staff when the dust settles, Minnesota certainly knows about Gibson's upside better than any other team in baseball.

Twins bench coach Derek Shelton is reportedly garnering interest for several managerial vacancies across baseball. If the 49-year-old were to depart the organization for his first Major League managerial gig, the primary void left to fill would be in replacing Shelton's big league coaching experience, especially with Rocco Baldelli entering only his second year as a manager and not much experience at the game's highest level elsewhere on the coaching staff.

Baldelli has not been shy in talking about how he leaned on Shelton's experience throughout the season, and gave his bench coach most of the credit for organizing the Twins' Spring Training schedule and workouts. Considering that, and the relative lack of experience around the rest of the coaching staff and throughout the organization, it could help the Twins to look around for another experienced voice if Shelton were to depart.

I think you're overstating Eddie Rosario's trade value. Yes, he has two years of team control remaining and is coming off a 32-homer season, but his declining value on defense and lack of on-base ability likely hamstring his value. It's also the case that Rosario has never posted a full-season OPS above .836. He posted only 1.6 WAR last season, per Baseball-Reference.

Consider also that the Twins were reportedly being asked for the likes of Byron Buxton in talks for Noah Syndergaard at last season's Trade Deadline, and the idea of Rosario garnering such a starter in a trade appears far-fetched.

As for the idea of trading Rosario this offseason, I don't think anything is off the table for the Twins, but there's also risk in taking away from one part of the roster to add to another, especially when the Twins appear to be entering win-now mode. Yes, the Twins need lots of help in the starting rotation, but is that worth moving one of the most consistent contributors in the lineup -- in terms of power and playing time -- over the past few seasons, when there's not much proven outfield depth behind him?

The Twins have Jake Cave, LaMonte Wade, Brent Rooker and Luke Raley as less experienced outfield options who could play a factor, but Alex Kirilloff (No. 2 Twins prospect per MLB Pipeline) and Trevor Larnach (No. 5) still haven't played a day above Double-A. Is the possibility of, say, a mid-tier starting option worth the Twins taking that drop-off in immediate guaranteed production? That's what they'll need to explore this offseason.

It'll almost certainly be an extra pitcher. There's no such thing as too much pitching during the grind of the regular season, as evidenced by how Baldelli and his staff kept that eighth bullpen spot as a revolving door of Triple-A length arms throughout most of the regular season to keep the stress off of everybody else in the relief corps as much as possible. The number of days that a player will need to remain in the Minors after being optioned will also increase from 10 to 15 as part of the expansion to a 26-man roster, meaning that it will be more difficult to regularly rotate pitchers like that next season and thus more important to have enough pitchers in the Majors.

Unless Minnesota deals with deep injury issues again next season, the Twins' roster composition also makes an extra position player less useful because they already have tremendous versatility from Willians Astudillo, Marwin Gonzalez, Ehire Adrianza and even Luis Arraez when needed.

No. I'd say the chances of Mitch Garver transitioning from catcher to first base are slim to none. (And probably closer to none.) Garver is coming off a breakout season during which he had more homers (31) and a higher slugging percentage (.630) than any catcher in Twins history, and with Jason Castro set for free agency, Garver is in line to be this team's starting catcher next season. There's really no reason for the team to move his historic production to another position where those numbers might be less valuable, especially because Astudillo hasn't shown enough at the plate to warrant a starting gig.

And even though Garver has spent some limited time at first base and even played some outfield last spring, he likes to catch and he wants to be a catcher. He worked hard over the past year to become a better receiver behind the plate, improving from 109th in framing runs in 2018 to a remarkable 24th in '19, according to Baseball Prospectus. He's clearly in his comfort zone behind the plate, a strong asset at one of the most important positions on the diamond.

Disclaimer that my Korean food picks around the Twin Cities haven't really been updated since I grew up here a decade ago, but my family's go-to locations were Sole Cafe off Snelling Avenue, Dong Yang Oriental Foods in Columbia Heights and Kings Restaurant near Fridley. I've heard there are more places that have popped up around Uptown, but I haven't had a chance to try them out.

As for the socks, I haven't seen anything -- or even asked about it -- but I'll add it to my list of topics to look into next spring.

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.