Twins acquire outfielder Michael A. Taylor for pair of minor leaguers

The Twins have acquired Michael A. Taylor from Kansas City, the team announced Monday, swapping a pair of minor league pitchers for the veteran outfielder.

The Twins sent left-handed reliever Evan Sisk, who posted a 1.57 earned-run average between Double and Triple-A last season, and righty Steven Cruz (5.14 ERA at Double-A) to the Royals in return. Neither pitcher was in the Twins’ top 30 prospects, per MLB Pipeline.

The Twins have a robust group of outfielders already, but the trade gives the Twins an elite defender in center who hits right-handed; many of their options are left-handed corner outfielders.

Taylor’s 20 defensive runs saved, per Fielding Bible, was fourth in the majors last season, and the 31-year-old veteran was a Gold Glover in center field in 2021. He posted a 3.2 bWAR (Wins Above Replacement per Baseball Reference) last season, hitting .254 with a .670 OPS.

Taylor, who is a free agent after this season, is due $4.5 million in 2023. To make room for him on the 40-man roster, the Twins designated right-handed pitcher A.J. Alexy for release or assignment. Alexy was acquired by the Twins from the Washington Nationals on Jan. 10.

While Taylor has been the Royals’ starting center fielder over the past couple seasons, it seems as if he will be called upon to fill the role on the roster that Gilberto Celestino has held recently: backing up center fielder Byron Buxton and filling in when Buxton is the team’s designated hitter or in the event of an injury.

Taylor is the second outfielder the Twins have added this offseason. In December, the Twins signed free agent Joey Gallo, another Gold Glover, in a move that will also help bolster their defense.

Gallo will likely slot in often in left field alongside Max Kepler in right and Buxton in center, though he could also be called upon to play some first base and DH, especially after the trade of Luis Arraez to Miami last week. Alex Kirllioff, it would seem, will likely spend most of his time now at first base.

The Twins also have Nick Gordon, Trevor Larnach, Celestino and Matt Wallner, one of the team’s top prospects, in the mix for roster spots, though Gordon’s spot as a utilityman appears to be secure and the latter two appear likely ticketed for Triple-A to begin the season.

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