Urshela dealt to Angels for RHP prospect

November 19th, 2022

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins traded third baseman Gio Urshela to the Angels on Friday in exchange for Minor League right-hander Alejandro Hidalgo, resolving one of their more significant arbitration decisions and a crowded corner infield situation ahead of Friday evening’s non-tender deadline. Outside of Urshela, Minnesota tendered 2023 contracts to all of its arbitration-eligible players.

With Urshela’s departure, the Twins’ offseason picture grows even more wide open, as the veteran was projected by Cot’s Baseball Contracts to earn $8.45 million in his fourth and final year of arbitration eligibility in 2023. The move opens the door for Jose Miranda to play more consistently at third base, where he is most comfortable, with Alex Kirilloff and Luis Arraez serving as options at first base.


Twins receive: RHP Alejandro Hidalgo (MLB Pipeline No. 25)
Angels receive: INF Gio Urshela

Right-handed reliever Emilio Pagán represented the Twins’ other significant non-tender decision on Friday, and the club tendered him a contract, along with the other arbitration-eligible players who were relatively secure in their places in the organization: Tyler Mahle, Luis Arraez, Chris Paddack, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge López and Jorge Alcala.

Had the Twins simply non-tendered Urshela to clear their corner infield situation, he would have departed the organization with no return for Minnesota. With this move, the Twins secure a prospect lottery ticket -- Hidalgo will slot in as the organization’s No. 25 prospect, per MLB Pipeline -- while dealing from an area of relative depth in their corner infield. Miranda, who likely has a higher offensive ceiling than Urshela, now has a consistent defensive home.

Urshela was critical to that depth in ‘22 amid an extreme rash of injuries throughout the Twins’ roster. He was both durable and productive, matching the team lead with a career-high 144 games played, during which he slashed .285/.338/.429 with 13 homers and 27 doubles. Urshela’s average was the highest by a qualified third baseman for the Twins since Nick Punto in 2006, and his stats remained steady throughout the year -- with a penchant for clutch hits (.306 average in high-leverage situations).

The Twins still need a starting shortstop and timeshare catcher. With their roster’s left-handed skew, they’re likely in the market for an impact right-handed bat or two as part of their outfield picture in particular.

Hidalgo, 19, has a career 4.64 ERA across two Minor League seasons with 89 strikeouts in 66 innings and made 10 starts for Single-A Inland Empire in the Angels’ system in ‘22. He’s mostly a fastball-curveball pitcher, with a developing changeup that could be important to his continued viability as a starter.

Despite Pagán’s turbulent 2022 -- marred by 12 homers allowed in 63 innings and a tumble from the high-leverage bullpen corps -- the Twins stuck with the right-handed reliever through the end of the season and tendered him a ‘23 contract. He’s projected to earn $4.25 million in his third year of arbitration eligibility.

Pagán could still carry back-end upside, considering he ranked 10th in strikeout rate among all American League pitchers to throw at least 60 innings last season. The quality of the stuff hasn’t necessarily been the problem; the penchant to allow homers in big situations was the issue, though Pagán dropped his ERA from 5.23 in the first half to 3.56 in the second half, including a 2.25 ERA with 17 strikeouts and five walks in 12 innings over September and October.

Either way, Pagán won’t face much pressure to pitch in those big situations if his performance doesn’t warrant it, as the Twins’ 2023 bullpen already looks to be a deeper unit on paper, anchored by Jhoan Duran, López, Griffin Jax, Alcala, Thielbar and Jovani Moran, who should give the Twins a solid combination of late-inning and middle-inning relief.