Mitch Garver had an unforgettable season in 2019, one he'd like to forget as soon as possible in 2020 and somehow had both of those combined in 2021.
At his best, as he was in 2019, Garver has devastating power at catcher: 31 homers in 311 at bats that year, with an eye-popping .995 OPS. At his worst, his swing falls apart, his health fails him and his defensive shortcomings are magnified (.511 OPS in just 72 at bats in 2020).
In 2021, the home run swing returned (13 homers in 207 at bats with an .875 OPS), even as his year was derailed in the middle by a gruesome groin injury. Those are the numbers of a potential Twins cornerstone player. But they are also numbers that any number of teams would covet.
As such, I have no idea why I've never even considered the notion of trading Garver. It only caught my eye and wormed into my brain after reading Phil Miller's player-by-player breakdown of the 2021 Twins. Miller writes of Garver, "don't be surprised if he's moved," and notes that Ryan Jeffers — a lesser hitter but a better defensive catcher — looks like the Twins' catcher of the future.
I talked about the notion of trading Garver on Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast, and it only makes more sense as I think about it.
Aside from outfield, where the Twins have enough current and future depth to consider making a trade, catcher was a rare strength on a 73-89 team. Jeffers hit just .199, but he's only 24, has good defensive skills, hit 14 homers in 267 at bats and should improve at the plate while taking on a larger role at a low salary.
Both catchers are good enough to command 400-450 plate appearances each, but neither is going to get there if both are on the roster. Garver is more accomplished and therefore has more trade value, but as Miller notes he will only make about $3 million in 2022. That could be a bargain for a catcher-needy team.
Finding a trading match isn't a guarantee. Cleveland could be a good fit if the Twins are OK trading within the division. But the math is simple: Find a team that has some pitching depth and trade some catching depth, even at the risk of regretting letting Garver go.