How Will the Twins Survive in the Absence of Royce Lewis?

With Royce Lewis on the IL, the Minnesota Twins are tasked with replacing a potential MVP candidate in the lineup.

Royce Lewis of the Minnesota Twins looks on during a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals on March 13, 2024 at the Lee County Sports Complex.
FORT MYERS, FL- MARCH 13: Royce Lewis #23 of the Minnesota Twins looks on during a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals on March 13, 2024 at the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

In their first game of the season, the Twins lost possibly their best player. Royce Lewis suffered a quad strain trying to go first to home on a Carlos Correa double. For a Twins team that made minimal additions in the offseason, Lewis’ injury leaves a gaping hole in the lineup.

Lewis entered the year as a potential MVP candidate. Many were hoping that he was finally going to be able to stay healthy and make a substantial impact over the course of a full season. His accomplishments in a handful of games in 2022 and ’23 were nothing short of incredible. His 153 wRC+ in his first 70 games had Twins fans very excited.

Now, unfortunately, Lewis will be on the mend for at least a month or so. Thus, the Twins are tasked with replacing his production. There is no way to completely replace him offensively, but Minnesota is going to have to try. Here are some options the Twins have at their disposal.

Minnesota Twins’ Options at Third Base

Willi Castro

Willi Castro came into the season eyeing a super-utility role, looking to see time in both the outfield and infield on a regular basis. He has started all six of the Twins’ games this season, four of them at third base since Lewis went down.

Ad – content continues below

Castro is coming off the best season of his major league career. He posted 2.5 fWAR last year for the Twins. His 109 wRC+ was his highest in a full season, and he managed 33 stolen bases on 38 attempts. In addition, he played solid defense at third, good for three defensive runs saved and two outs above average. He is going to be the regular third baseman until Lewis comes back – or until he gives the Twins a reason to sit him.

Castro is going to have to prove that his career year wasn’t an anomaly if he wishes to remain the starting third baseman while Lewis recovers. If he can maintain a wRC+ around 100 and continue to be productive on the base paths, he should retain his role at third.

Kyle Farmer

The only player other than Castro to start a game at third base since Lewis went down is Kyle Farmer. The veteran came into the season as a platoon player, splitting time with Edouard Julien at second base.

Farmer should see the occasional start at third while Lewis is recovering. However, the Twins likely want to limit those starts due to his lack of offensive production. Farmer has only once posted a wRC+ above 100 in seven major league seasons. That was a 101 wRC+ last year. Farmer is a solid bench player but nothing more.

Brooks Lee

Brooks Lee is a legitimate candidate to play third if it takes Lewis a little longer to bounce back. Lee is currently Just Baseball’s No. 51 prospect. The only hesitation when it comes to Lee is that he struggled in a Triple-A stint last season and is set to miss the first month or so of this season with a lower back issue.

Lee has demonstrated strong bat-to-ball skills throughout the minors. However, his average took a significant hit in the transition from Double-A to Triple-A. It fell from .292 to .237. That said, he did hit .333 in spring training this year over 37 plate appearances.

Ad – content continues below

If others fail to make an impact offensively and the Twins struggle to fill in the void in the lineup, Lee could get a look. It is a long shot since Lee is also injured at the moment, but if Lee comes back and hits well, he could get a quick promotion, especially if Lewis faces any setbacks.

Jose Miranda

Jose Miranda is a tough case to crack. Miranda really struggled last season in the majors as well as this year during spring training. The main concern during the spring was his lack of impact on the baseball. His exit velocities were quite concerning.

In 2021, Miranda was one of the best hitters in all of the minor leagues. He followed that up with a solid rookie campaign in 2022, in which he posted a 117 wRC+. Yet in 2023, he really struggled. He put up a 57 wRC+ in the majors and a 74 wRC+ at Triple-A as he battled injuries. It was a tough pill to swallow for such a promising young player.

Austin Martin

Austin Martin is not going to see any time at third base, but he is still worth keeping an eye on. The 25-year-old was called up following the injury to Lewis. However, he should spend most of his playing time spelling Byron Buxton in center field.

In order to have an impact at the plate, Martin needs to get on base. Reaching base is the primary way he has excelled in the minors. He walked at a 14% clip in Triple-A last season. Moreover, Martin is a threat on the bases once he gets there. He stole 16 bags last year and 34 in 2022.

Unfortunately, Martin lacks the offensive impact he needs to really be an option on a regular basis. That said, if can run a high OBP and affect the game on the bases, he will earn more playing time and help the Twins replace some of the production lost from Lewis.

Ad – content continues below

Seller’s Remorse?

With the unfortunate situation the Twins find themselves in, one can’t help but wonder if they are having seller’s remorse regarding the Jorge Polanco trade. Had the Twins kept Polanco, he could have slid right in at third base and offered a better offensive profile than any of their current options.

Still, the answer at the end of the day has to be no. For one thing, it is really difficult to foresee an injury like this one. Even as Lewis starts to look like an injury-prone player, it is still really hard to plan for these types of things.

Secondly, the Twins had a fairly crowded infield before making the trade. With Lewis, Correa, Farmer, Julien, Polanco, and Castro all fighting for playing time, it just didn’t make sense to keep everyone around. Polanco offered enough trade value to justify the deal.

The Twins also have a young player knocking on the door, Brooks Lee, who could very well be just as good as Polanco at the dish. If it weren’t for Lee, the Twins may have felt differently about letting Polanco go.

However, the Twins drafted Lee because he was viewed as a major league-ready bat. He has climbed through the minors and now looks like he could join the Twins after some seasoning in Triple-A.

Obviously, given the injury to Lewis, it would be nice for the Twins if they still had Polanco around. Yet, when you take a step back and look at the big picture, it is hard to see the Twins having real remorse given their in-house options to replace Lewis.

Ad – content continues below