MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins acquired veteran Michael A. Taylor from the Kansas City Royals on Monday night, adding depth and defense to their outfield in exchange for two relief pitching prospects.
The 31-year-old Taylor batted .254 with nine home runs and 43 RBIs in 414 at-bats last season for the Royals, his second year with the club after spending his first seven major league seasons with the Washington Nationals.
The Twins sent 23-year-old right-hander Steven Cruz and 25-year-old left-hander Evan Sisk to the Royals.
Taylor’s best offensive season came in 2017 with the Nationals, when he hit .271 with 19 homers, 53 RBIs and an .806 OPS in 118 games. His greatest value is in the grass, though. Taylor was a Gold Glove winner in his Royals debut in 2021 and gives the Twins a third outfielder on their roster who has won the award, joining Byron Buxton (2017) and newcomer Joey Gallo (2020 and 2021).
Taylor is a natural center fielder who will give the Twins a solid backup plan behind Buxton, whose injuries have kept him from playing more than 92 games in a season all but once in eight years in the major leagues.
Gallo can play all three outfield spots, with most of his 2022 experience in left field, where Trevor Larnach will also be in the mix. Gallo won his Gold Glove awards as a right fielder. Max Kepler, another strong defender, has been the regular right fielder for the past seven seasons. With the recent departure via trade of AL batting champion Luis Arraez, Alex Kirilloff is in line to take the lead at first base with Gallo also likely in the mix.
The Twins have had an aggressive start to the new year, highlighted by the surprise re-signing of shortstop Carlos Correa after deals fell through for him with two other teams. They sent Arraez to Miami for starting pitcher Pablo Lopez.
The middle initial “A” in Taylor’s name stands for Anthony. Taylor, who is from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was drafted by the Nationals in the sixth round in 2009. He had the initial added to his name to distinguish him from another Michael Taylor who played outfield in the major leagues, from 2011 to ’14.
The 6-foot-6 Cruz, who is from the Dominican Republic, went 1-4 with a 5.14 ERA, 35 walks and 72 strikeouts in 56 innings last season for Double-A Wichita. In 120 career minor league appearances, Cruz has 259 strikeouts in 192⅓ innings.
Sisk, who was originally drafted by St. Louis in the 16th round in 2018 out of the College of Charleston, split last season between Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul. He went 5-1 with a 1.57 ERA, 29 walks and 76 strikeouts in 63 innings between the teams. Sisk was acquired by the Twins in a 2021 trade that sent starting pitcher J.A. Happ to the Cardinals.