StaTuesday: How Logan Morrison fits in with the Twins

Plot twist: the Minnesota Twins aren’t just chasing Yu Darvish and adding arms anymore.

The Thad Levine/Derek Falvey brain trust went out and added a big bat once the free-agent stove finally started heating up, signing first baseman and designated hitter Logan Morrison to a one-year deal that includes just $6.5 million in guaranteed cash.

Morrison mashed a career-high 38 home runs and 85 RBI a year ago, his eighth season in the majors, hitting .246/.353/.516 with an .868 OPS (that last one was good for 16th in the American League). He would have led the Twins in both homers and walks (81) last year.

Here’s how that looks at Target Field.

Note the red dots in right center field, particularly the red dots that are well into the second deck. Also note the yellow and pink dots that are just as likely gone. Assuming the adjustments Morrison made to his swing didn’t produce an anomaly, he could be on pace for a few more homers in 2018.

Morrison has a career 1.537 OPS and a .387/.472/1.065 line in 36 plate appearances at his new home. He went deep twice at Target Field last season, including this no-doubter off Hector Santiago.

But where’s he going to play?

Morrison spent most of the 2017 season at first base, making 126 appearances there (with 119 starts), and another 17 as a designated hitter. He’s also spent significant time in left field throughout his career (243 games, although just three there and 11 in right field since 2013).

With Joe Mauer playing Gold Glove-caliber defense at first and the outfield covered pretty thoroughly by the likes of Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, Zach Granite and co., Morrison’s role seems pretty clear: He is here to mash and do little else.

The odd man out is likely Robbie Grossman, who hit .246/.361/.380 and just nine home runs last year while spending most of his time at DH and moonlighting as an outfielder. Unfortunately for Grossman, his skillset overlaps pretty neatly with Morrison’s.

So, what do you get when you slot Morrison in for Grossman?

The Twins were already a fine slugging team last season — they finished 16th in the majors with 206 homers — but replace Grossman’s production with Morrison’s, and they’re among the league’s elite.

TEAM HR (2017)
NY Yankees 241
Houston 238
Texas 237
Minnesota (w/Morrison) 235
Oakland 234
Baltimore 232
Tampa Bay 228
Milwaukee 224
NY Mets 224
Chicago Cubs 223

 Apart from syphoning a few DH appearances away from Mauer and Miguel Sano, the biggest side effect of the Morrison deal could involve the future of Kennys Vargas.

Vargas hit .253/.314/.444 last season with 11 home runs, and could find his role as a part-time slugger in jeopardy with so many bats jostling for position.