The Minnesota Twins turned some heads during the offseason by trading center fielders Denard Span and Ben Revere, thus giving every opportunity to former first-round pick Aaron Hicks to earn the starting job. He confirmed the organization’s faith in him with a strong spring, but he has just two hits in his first 35 at-bats thus far along with 16 strike outs. Hicks also drew the ire of manager Ron Gardenhire for not aggressively running out a pop-up, which was ultimately dropped by center fielder Lorenzo Cain, against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night.
Hicks made the jump from Double-A in 2012 to the big leagues this year, and he may benefit from a demotion to work out his struggles. The decision to send Hicks down could come very soon if things don’t start to turn around, leaving Darin Mastroianni as Minnesota’s primary center fielder. That is not an ideal situation, so could the Twins look to add another outfielder?
Julio Borbon was designated for assignment by the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN-Twin Cities has reported the Twins are “kicking the tires” on him. A trade could be worked out, but the Twins are currently fourth in the waiver wire order if Borbon hits waivers next week and they could just wait for that opportunity.
Borbon played in just one game for the Rangers this year, with one at-bat, and has a career batting average of .283 with 40 stolen bases in 746 plate appearances over four seasons. His minor league track record is more extensive, with over 1,800 plate appearances over five seasons, and he had a nice season at Triple-A Round Rock in 2012 (.304, 10 home runs, 56 RBI and 20 stolen bases).
If Hicks is demoted, the possible options the Twins have in Triple-A to replace him (Joe Benson, Oswaldo Arcia, Clete Thomas and Brandon Boggs) are not ideal for one reason or another. Borbon has predominantly played center field during his pro career, including 169 games in that spot with the Rangers, so he looks like a good fit for the Twins based on that alone.
Multiple teams may have interest in adding Borbon, but giving up anything of significant value for him seems foolish when he would hit waivers next week. The Twins should wait for that waiver process to start and be ready to make a claim, but they should not feel like they missed out on a difference-making player if Borbon lands elsewhere.
Brad Berreman is a contributing writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.