Posted on December 6, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
The Minnesota Twins have made their first notable free agent signing of the winter. On Thursday, they agreed to a deal with second baseman Jonathan Schoop. According to reports, the sides agreed on a one-year deal worth $7.5 million. Schoop has now landed on his feet after being non-tendered by the Milwaukee Brewers earlier in the offseason.
The 27-year old Schoop had his breakout season in 2017 while playing with the Baltimore Orioles. He hit .293 with 32 home runs that season while posting an OPS of .841. Those efforts were enough to make him an all-star and establish himself as Baltimore’s primary second baseman.
Unfortunately for Schoop, he fell back to earth in a big way this past season. Despite hitting 17 home runs, Schoop batted just .244 in 88 games with the Orioles the first half of the season. With Baltimore ready to rebuild, the club shipped him to Milwaukee right before the trade deadline. The Brewers gave up quite a haul for him, hoping that a change of scenery could help Schoop regain his all-star form from the previous year.
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However, that did not end up being the case. After the trade, Schoop hit just .202 with four home runs in 46 games for the Brewers. He was a non-factor in the playoffs, going 0 for 8 with three strikeouts. After the season, the Brewers decided not to tender him a contract for 2019. That sent Schoop onto the open market for the first time in his big league career.
With an opening at second base, the Twins have decided to take a chance on Schoop. Brian Dozier had been Minnesota’s primary second baseman for the last half a dozen years before he was traded to the Dodgers last July. For the first time since 2012, the Twins will have someone other than Dozier penciled in at the keystone. Schoop now appears to be in line for the job.
That being said, Schoop could have some competition at second base. The Twins also brought in Ronald Torreyes this offseason. They also have Ehire Adrianza in the organization. Both are capable of playing second base. The bigger threat to Schoop may actually be prospect Nick Gordon. With Jorge Polanco entrenched at shortstop, Gordon is now being viewed as perhaps Minnesota’s second baseman of the future. After finishing last season in triple-A, Gordon should make his major league debut at some point in 2019.
Of course, the Twins are optimistic that Schoop will be able to bounce back in 2019. They signed him with the hope that he’ll produce as he did in 2017. The Twins have to replace the power they’ve gotten from players like Dozier and Eduardo Escobar in recent years, and Schoop is seen as a viable source for that power. He also figures to form a strong defensive partnership up the middle with Polanco.
With a small-market team like the Twins committing $7.5 million to a player coming off a poor season, there is some risk involved in this move. If he has another poor season, that’s a lot of money for Minnesota to eat, even if they have other options at that position. However, Schoop proved two seasons ago that he can perform at a high level. He’s also young enough to have a bounce-back season. If that ends up happening, Schoop could be a key figure for the Twins in 2019.