The Twins entered this offseason with several holes needing to be filled. They opened another hole when they traded starting shortstop Jason Bartlett as part of a package to acquire Delmon Young, and yesterday they seemingly filled that hole by signing Adam Everett.
The Twins inked Everett, who had been non-tendered by the Astros just a day after a 5-for-1 swap sent Miguel Tejada to Houston, to a one-year deal worth $2.8 million (with an additional $200K possible in incentives). Everett seemingly serves as a stopgap until a guy like Alexi Casilla, Trevor Plouffe or Alejandro Machado is ready to take over the position. The contract is reasonable and it doesn't carry much risk. But is it a good signing?
The Twins came into this offseason badly needing to improve an offense that was one of the league's worst in 2007. As such, bringing in a player who has been one of baseball's worst regular hitters for the past several years seems like a major step in the wrong direction. In the past season, Everett batted .232/.281/.318, which is Nick Punto territory. What's worse is that there isn't much potential for Everett to produce any more than that. Throughout his career, his numbers have always been very consistent with his overall hitting line of .248/.299/.357, which is what you'd expect from a guy who hit .258/.346/.368 in the minor leagues. Everett's career high for on-base percentage is .320; for slugging percentage, .385. On top of all that, he'll turn 31 in February, so he's no spring chicken.
But here's what makes Everett a major-league player: his defense. He's a phenomenal defensive shortstop -- the best, according to many knowledgeable baseball analysts and players. Defense is important -- as Ubelmann notes, perhaps to an underrated degree. This is especially true at shortstop, which is perhaps the second-most important position on the field behind catcher. When he's at his best, Everett can save runs with his glove and help a team's pitching staff tremendously.
But this brings two questions into focus. First, will Everett be at his best? He missed much of the 2007 season after breaking his leg in June, and there's no telling how that will affect his mobility. If Everett loses even a step, his value diminishes greatly. The other question is how helpful he will be to this Twins team -- specifically, how much more helpful will he be in the field than a player like Casilla or Punto who is likely to put up better numbers offensively? With Carlos Silva departing, the Twins don't project to have a very groundball-heavy pitching staff; it is also possible that Everett's range will be less effective on artificial turf than it was on natural grass.
At this point in time, I don't like this signing. Everett is the type of player that can be valuable in the right situation, but I'm not really sure the Twins are a team that can afford the luxury of a superb defensive shortstop who can't hit worth a lick. If Bill Smith manages to fill each of the team's other holes with legitimate hitters, my mind could change; however, that seems somewhat unlikely at this point.