Report: Twins Trade Garver to the Rangers for Kiner-Falefaby Carter LaCorte March 13, 2022 0 comments
The first post-lockout trade is no minor one, as the Minnesota Twins have sent power-hitting catcher Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers for great defender Isiah Kiner-Falefa and pitcher Ronny Henriquez. The Rangers, who are suddenly exiting their rebuild, are unsurprisingly dealing Kiner-Falefa. While he was one of their best players in 2021, the signings of Corey Seager and Marcus Semien made him obsolete. All he would have been in 2022 is the team’s third baseman until top prospect Josh Jung rehabs from injury. Yes, Kiner-Falefa would make a great backup infielder following that, but the value here is too good to pass up.
Garver has never really had a big sample size in a season, but when he has played, he has been very good. In 2019, he hit 31 home runs with a .995 OPS in 93 games. This past season, he had a .358 OBP with an OPS of .875 in 68. For a catcher, that is outstanding production. Couple that with his well-regarded pitch-framing ability, and Garver is arguably a top-ten catcher in baseball. Getting that for a backup infielder and a prospect is amazing.
Henriquez is a ranked prospect for them on MLB Pipeline, but he was not good at AA this year. There is potential, but he was tradeable. Acquiring Garver opens up Texas to more potential deals. Their previous catcher tandem of Jonah Heim and Jose Trevino brought little offensive help, but both are elite at framing pitches. They could get a decent prospect back in a trade.
Trading Garver seems like an odd move, but the Twins get some benefits out of it. As the team looks to be rebuilding, the 24-year-old Ryan Jeffers could make more sense behind the plate than the 31-year-old Garver, who hits free agency in 2024. Jeffers was the primary Twins catcher with Garver injured in 2021. While he struggled to hit, his defensive work was decent and the hard-hit rates weren’t bad.
Kiner-Falefa is a very interesting player to judge, but he will help the young pitchers of Minnesota. FanGraphs credits him with ten defensive runs saved in 2021, while BaseballSavant gave him -7 outs above average. Baseball-Reference seems to be on Kiner-Falefa’s side, as he had a 2.0 dWAR and a total WAR of 3.7, which is about an all-star level player. If you look at it like that, then the Twins didn’t get such a bad deal.
Kiner-Falefa will replace Andrelton Simmons at shortstop after the latter signed a deal with the Cubs. While they aren’t great, Kiner-Falefa’s offensive numbers are infinitely superior to Simmons. He hit eight home runs with a .271 average, a .670 OPS, and 20 stolen bases, which was tied for tenth in the American League.
The other piece going to the Twins is Henriquez, who MLB Pipeline rated as Texas’ 15th best prospect. A small 21-year-old with a hard fastball, Henriquez dominated in the Dominican Summer League in 2018 but has struggled in the higher levels since. He split 2021 between High-A and AA, with the majority for the latter. Frisco saw Henriquez pitch to a 5.04 ERA in 16 outings (11 starts), while striking out 78 in 69.2 innings. The main issue for him was the longball, allowing 15 home runs.
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