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CINCINNATI – There was a stretch this season when the Twins struggled to hit lefthanded pitching and they had a need for a righthanded-hitting outfielder.

Spencer Steer, who will likely receive National League rookie of the year votes, could have been that player. The Twins traded Steer to the Cincinnati Reds, along with first baseman Christian Encarnacion-Strand, in the Tyler Mahle deal at the 2022 trade deadline.

Steer had three hits against his former organization Monday, raising his batting average to .269 with 22 homers, 32 doubles and 82 RBI through 147 games. His 22 homers are the third most by a Reds rookie, trailing only Joey Votto (24 in 2008) and Frank Robinson (38 in 1956).

"You hear your name in rumors and all that stuff, but you never know until it happens, right?" Steer said. "It's kind of a weird feeling. Looking back on it, nothing but gratitude toward that organization for how much they helped develop me as a baseball player."

Steer was a popular target in trade talks last year. Mahle, who underwent Tommy John surgery in May, made only nine starts with the Twins.

One of the reasons why the Twins were willing to trade Steer was their infield depth. Rookies Edouard Julien and Royce Lewis carved everyday playing time. The Twins expected Jose Miranda to be an everyday starter until his 2023 season was derailed because of a shoulder injury. Brooks Lee, a top prospect, made it to Class AAA this year.

Steer entered the season as the Reds' starting third baseman, but he has transitioned into a left fielder after Reds top prospects, including Encarnacion-Strand, moved into the infield.

"If I were with the Twins, it might have been a completely different story this year with the situation they've got over there," Steer said. "I think it's worked out pretty good for both sides."

Steer, who added power when the Twins' player development staff helped him add a leg kick in 2020, never spent much time thinking about the roster crunch when he was a Twins minor leaguer. He chatted with Julien and Matt Wallner — "Nothing but love for those guys. There are some amazing people over there," he said — before the game.

"You show up to spring training every year and there are a million outfielders, a million infielders and a million pitchers, it seems like," he said. "You just have to find a way to make yourself stand out at that point. It's all good competition. When you have a lot of really talented players around you, it elevates your game. I think that's what happened over there."

Encarnacion-Strand, another righthanded hitter, is batting .273 in 53 games with eight homers and 26 RBI.

"I think everything happens for a reason," Encarnacion-Strand said. "Being here and having to get traded, no bad blood. No nothing. I'm just happy I'm in the position where I'm at today."

The Reds have Steer and Encarnacion-Strand under team control for another five seasons. Mahle will become a free agent at the end of the season.

Safe to say the Reds won the trade?

"No comment," Encarnacion-Strand said.

Five Twins headed to St. Paul

The Twins are expected to have five players on rehab assignments at Class AAA St. Paul on Tuesday: Relievers Brock Stewart, Chris Paddack and Jorge Alcala, along with position players Joey Gallo and Nick Gordon.

Stewart could rejoin the Twins bullpen on their next homestand if he comes out of Tuesday healthy. He threw a scoreless inning with two strikeouts last Friday. Paddack and Alcala previously made outings at Class A Fort Myers and Class AA Wichita.

Gallo will begin a rehab assignment after he went on the injured list because of a left foot contusion. Gordon is 0-for-7 with two strikeouts through two rehab games.


* The Twins activated center fielder Michael A. Taylor from the injured list before Monday's game. Outfielder Jordan Luplow was designated for assignment.

* Kyle Farmer was honored before Monday's game in Cincinnati for earning the Reds' team MVP and media good guy award in 2022. "He's truly been, I can speak for the coaching staff, probably one of our favorite players we've ever been around," Tingler said.