The Twins have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran utilityman Niko Goodrum, per the team’s transaction log at MLB.com. It’s a homecoming for the Roc Nation client, who was originally selected by Minnesota in the second round (71st overall) of the 2010 draft. Presumably, the switch-hitter will be in big league camp with the Twins this spring and compete for a bench role.
Now 31 years old (32 in February), Goodrum made his big league debut as a Twin back in 2017, but he appeared in only 11 games late in the season, going 1-for-17 in that brief MLB audition. Minnesota removed him from the 40-man roster that winter, and he quickly signed a minor league deal with the division-rival Tigers. It proved to be a shrewd move for Detroit, as Goodrum spent the next four seasons there and enjoyed two particularly productive years as a highly versatile utilityman.
In four seasons as a Tiger, Goodrum hit .232/.306/.401 in 1468 plate appearances. It was below-average production (10% worse than average, by measure of wRC+), though that’s weighed down by shaky performances in his final two seasons there. From 2018-19, Goodrum turned in a roughly average .247/.318/.427 slash with 28 homers and 24 steals in 968 plate appearances. He moved all over the diamond during his time with the Tigers, logging action at every position other than catcher and pitcher. During that two-year stretch in ’18-’19, however, Goodrum’s glovework graded out especially well. Statcast credited him with a whopping 10 Outs Above Average at shortstop in just 326 innings during the 2019 campaign.
Since that four-year stint with the Tigers, Goodrum has been with the Astros (for whom he made a brief MLB appearance in ’22), Red Sox and the KBO’s Lotte Giants. He concluded the 2023 season with that KBO run, posting a nice .295/.373/.387 slash (114 wRC+). Goodrum didn’t homer during his KBO time — a surprise considering he’s typically shown double-digit home run pop in North American ball — but walked at a hefty 11.4% clip.
The Twins’ bench currently projects to include catcher Christian Vazquez, infielder Kyle Farmer and utilitymen Willi Castro and Nick Gordon. Vazquez and particularly Farmer are trade candidates this winter, however, as Minnesota looks to scale back payroll amid uncertainty regarding their television rights situation. Gordon, meanwhile, struggled immensely in 93 plate appearances last year before fouling a ball into his leg and suffering a broken tibia that ended his season. He’s out of minor league options, so he’ll need a nice spring showing to solidify his place on the club. Depending on how things play out with Farmer’s trade candidacy and Gordon’s spring performance, it’s possible Goodrum could force his way into the mix. If not, he’ll likely head to Triple-A St. Paul and give Minnesota a veteran depth option who could provide insurance at the majority of spots on the diamond.