The Marlins and Twins reached an agreement that will send the infielder/outfielder Nick Gordon to Miami in exchange for left-handed Steven Okert. Robert Murray of FanSided (link) was the first to report that Gordon was being transferred to the Fish, while the Miami Herald’s Craig Mish reported (via X) that Okert was headed to Minnesota.
Gordon was the fifth overall pick in the 2014 draft and a top prospect for much of his time in the Twins’ farm system, even though his star began to fade due to injuries and struggles in the upper minors. With a slash line of .248/.298/.361 in 829 Triple-A plate appearances, Gordon still made his MLB debut in 2021 appearing in 73 games for the Twins, and later took on a larger role with 443 PA in 136 games in 2022. Gordon earned that extra playing time by hitting .272/.316/.427 during the 2022 campaign, and his ability to play multiple positions made him a particularly valuable asset on a team of Minnesota beset by injuries.
Unfortunately, the injury problem hit Gordon himself again last year, as he fractured his right shin after committing a foul on May 17. This ended his MLB season after just 34 games, and Gordon returned for six Triple-A games. in September, but he was not ready to return to the active roster before the end of the regular season. Gordon had gotten off to a rough start even before his injury, hitting just .176/.185/.319 in 93 PAs.
The trade comes just a day after the results of Gordon’s arbitration hearing, and the panel sided with the Twins in deciding on a $900,000 salary for Gordon in 2024, instead of his desired figure of $1. 25 million. Gordon is approaching his age-28 season, but is still referee controlled through the 2027 campaign based on his Super Two status. Okert offers only slightly less control, as he was eligible for arbitration on the first of three occasions this winter and avoided arbitration by agreeing with the Marlins to a salary of $1,062,500 for the 2024 season.
It was just over a year ago that the Twins and Marlins aligned in the blockbuster four-player trade that sent Luis Arraez to miami and Pablo Lopez to Minnesota. Today’s move isn’t all that notable, but it does mark the fifth transaction between the two franchises in the last 13 months, as the Twins’ comfort level with Miami’s front office has continued even now that Peter Bendix has replaced Kim. Ng as head of the Marlins’ baseball operations department.
Gordon has spent most of his time in the majors as a second baseman, center fielder and right fielder, with some appearances at shortstop, third base and right field. Public defensive metrics have not been wowed by Gordon’s glove work at any of his positions, however, his versatility makes him an interesting asset on Miami’s roster. Gordon isn’t likely to be the answer to the Marlins’ needs at shortstop, although he is jon berti ends up getting the majority of playing time in the short term, Gordon could fill Berti’s old role as the top utility option.
As Anthony Franco recently noted in an article for MLBTR Front Office subscribers, the Marlins entered the offseason with plenty of left-handed relief depth, between Okert, Tanner Scott, AJ Pukand andres nardi. It didn’t seem likely that Scott would be moved given his role as Miami’s projected closer, and unlike Okert, Scott and Puk have minor league options remaining. Since Gordon is also out of options, this one-for-one trade helps both teams address some needs at the cost of a potentially expendable player.
Okert, a veteran of six MLB seasons with the Giants and Marlins, posted a 2.89 ERA in 87 1/3 innings of relief for Miami in 2021-22, aided by a .224 BABIP. Some course correction came in 2023, as Okert had a .295 BABIP and 4.45 ERA in 58 2/3 frames, and a fairly varied mix of peripherals. Okert’s strikeout and hard hit rates were well above average, but his walk and barrel rates were below league average. Okert, 32, is also an extreme fly ball thrower, so his effectiveness has tended to depend on how well he keeps the ball in the park.
On the plus side, Okert has good numbers against both left-handed and right-handed hitters, and has been a workhorse with 124 appearances over the past two seasons. He will now join Caleb Thielbar as the best left-handed options on Minnesota’s solid relief corps, and rookie Kody Funderburk provides another interesting left-handed arm who could be moved back and forth from Triple-A as circumstances dictate.
Between payroll cuts and concerns about their television contract, the Twins’ offseason has only begun to accelerate in recent weeks. Minnesota has already taken care of both Jorge Polanco and Gordon in an effort to improve their pitching depth at the expense of a somewhat crowded group of position players, particularly in the infield. Even without Gordon, Willi Castro and kyle farmer can take over from the utility man on the Twins roster and the best prospects Austin Martin and Lee Brooks Both are expected to make their MLB debuts in 2024.