It wasn’t that Plouffe was suddenly bad, Miguel Sano is simply better and cheaper. Add to that the reality that Plouffe was about to become expensive; MLBTR projected the 30-year-old would receive about $8.2M in arbitration this year. That’s not much in today’s game really but Sano is 23 years old, not arbitration eligible until 2019 and the Twins are on a tight budget.
A series of niggling injuries in 2013 including missing a week on the concussion list, a calf strain and a wrist injury affected his production but 2014 saw him rebound nicely.
Injuries again restricted Plouffe this year allowing him to play only 84 games, 62 of those at third.
He missed the last half of April with a strained right intercostal muscle
Fractured left rib on July seventh
Strained left oblique on September ninth
Those things make his line equal to about a half a season’s play. In that context he posted a .260/.303/.420/.723 line over 344 PA that included 12 homers, 13 doubles, 60 strikeouts and 20 walks.
Baseball-Reference shows a career interleague line of .279/.343/.513/.856 including 15 homers and 23 doubles in 343PA /308AB.
His first year at third defensively wasn’t pretty but he improved as he settled into the role. He’s a solid player and a potentially inexpensive upgrade at a position in short supply. The Braves will certainly be interested enough to do their due diligence and explore the possibility of signing him.
Aug 28, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe (24) hits a single during the ninth inning in a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. The Toronto Blue Jays won 9-6. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY
What Would it Cost?
The market has a few teams looking for a third baseman but the most obvious suitors outside of Atlanta would be the Mets and Giants. Over the last for years he compiled .253/.313/.418/.431 line with 62 homers. That makes him a league average bat with 15 homer power playing at a slight pitcher’s park. The league average contract for a third baseman is $11M.
That production and positional scarcity should earn him three to four years at $24-$32M.
That’s a Wrap
I think third base will be an issue for the Braves again this year. I know the Braves said they were happy to start the season with Adonis Garcia at third and I remember well his seemingly miraculous transition from concrete handed outfielder playing the infield to a more dependable defender. I’m just not sure that transformation was permanent and I don;t believe the Braves are either.
Garcia obviously enjoyed hitting second but that role is likely going to belong to Dansby Swanson this year. He’s also a year older and while he doesn’t strike out much he also doesn’t walk much (≤4%). I know the Braves said they were happy to start the season with him at third but adding a proven player like Plouffe must be tempting.
I’ve seen suggestion that we trade for Nick Castellanos or Todd Frazier. Both would cost prospects while Plouffe would only cost a little money. Overall Plouffe has been better than Castellanos and while not as good as Frazier, the Todd father would probably be a one year rental.