The National League East has thus far been the winter’s most entertaining division, with each of the Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, Philadelphia Phillies, and New York Mets making big moves. The American League Central has been the inverse. The Cleveland Indians seem resigned to shedding payroll, and both the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals are too far back of them to bother. The Chicago White Sox’s intent is heretofore unclear, leaving the Minnesota Twins as the only obstacle ahead of Cleveland claiming a fourth division title in a row.
To the Twins’ credit, they’re trying. On Thursday, they agreed to a one-year deal with free-agent second baseman Jonathan Schoop, the club announced. Schoop will receive $7.5 million:
Non-tendered last week by the Milwaukee Brewers, Schoop is coming off a down season. He finished the year with an 85 OPS+ — the worst for him outside of his rookie season — in large part because he hit just .202/.246/.331 in 46 games with the Brewers.
Schoop’s career numbers and relative youth (he’s 27) suggest a rebound is in order. If so, bet on him atoning for a poor walk rate by posting a decent average and providing tons of doubles and home runs (he’s homered at least 20 times three years running). Schoop is also considered a plus fielder, and possesses perhaps the best second-base arm in the game.
The Twins had an opening at second base for a variety of reasons: Brian Dozier was traded at the deadline; Logan Forsythe, part of the return, remains a lower-tier free agent; and prospect Nick Gordon so disappointed in Triple-A that he can’t be relied upon at this point. Hence Schoop.
It’s worth noting Schoop could combine with C.J. Cron to give the Twins a different-looking right side of the infield. The Twins claimed Cron off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays earlier in the winter. Both players prioritize slugging over reaching base.