Gordon was once ranked the No. 1 prospect in the organization and very popular in the Minnesota clubhouse for his energy and enthusiasm for his teammates, but he was out of Minor League options and the way he would have fit onto this version of the Twins’ roster was unclear, especially coming off a 2023 season almost totally lost to underperformance, then injury.
Okert is also out of options, but there’s much more of a fit on this roster for another slider-first reliever who misses plenty of bats, and the 32-year-old should slot in alongside Caleb Thielbar as another left-handed option manager in Rocco Baldelli’s bullpen, with young southpaw Kody Funderburk also in the mix for a roster spot.
TWINS RECEIVE: LHP Steven Okert
MARLINS RECEIVE: UTIL Nick Gordon
The arrival of Okert continues to fortify a bullpen that already figured to be one of the better units in the sport. Though the Twins haven’t acquired a flashy starting pitcher this offseason, they have bolstered their relief corps with the arrivals of Okert, Josh Staumont, Jay Jackson and Justin Topa to fill out their bridge depth behind their back-end options like Jhoan Duran, Brock Stewart and Griffin Jax.
Okert had a great first half and a less effective second half last season, when he finished with a 4.45 ERA in 58 2/3 innings following two seasons of sub-3 ERAs in 2021 and ‘22. He struck out more batters than innings pitched in all three years with Miami and saw his strikeout rate rise to a career-best 29.6% last season, with both his FIP (4.09) and xERA (3.87) suggesting he underperformed his expected stats.
Though Gordon was once the No. 5 overall pick in the 2014 MLB Draft, it took him longer than expected to reach the Majors due to prolonged gastrointestinal issues. He showed signs of a breakout with a .743 OPS in 2022, but he struggled mightily at the plate and then fractured his right leg on a foul ball last season, when he was held to a .503 OPS in 34 games.
Because of Willi Castro’s highly regarded emergence last season as the Twins’ go-to utility option at all the positions Gordon would normally have played, Gordon’s roster fit looked very tenuous entering this spring, especially considering the abundance of left-handed bats around the Twins’ projected group.