The Phillies have signed former Minnesota Twins third baseman Trevor Plouffe to a minor league deal. The 31-year-old infielder signed a similar minor league deal with the Texas Rangers this offseason, in hopes of cracking the Major League roster. After failing to do so, Plouffe began the season with the Rangers’ AAA affiliate, the Round Rock Express. Plouffe collected three hits in 11 at bats, adding six walks, for a .273 batting average and a .529 on base percentage. With no big league chance appearing on the horizon, Plouffe asked for his release, which he was granted by the Rangers.
Plouffe was drafted out of high school by the Minnesota Twins with the 20th pick in the 2004 amateur draft, a pick before the Phillies selected outfielder Greg Golson. He finished the 2004 season with the Twins rookie ball club, playing in 60 games and hitting .283 as an 18-year-old.
The infielder spent the entire 2005 season with the Twins’ Single A affiliate, the Beloit Snappers. Plouffe played in 127 games, picking up over 500 at bats, but struggled with consistency, hitting just .223. He did hit 13 homeruns and drive in 60 runs as the primary power source for the Snappers. He was named one of the league’s best prospects for the 2005 season, ranking 12th among all minor leaguers.
Despite his low average, the Twins advanced the then-20-year-old to Advanced A Fort Myers for the 2006 season. Once more, Plouffe spent the duration of the season with the singular club. He saw better results in 125 games, hitting .246 and posting a .333 on base percentage. The power was down, as Plouffe hit just four homeruns in 125 games, driving in 45. It would be in 2006 that Plouffe would begin his move to third base, from his originally drafted shortstop position.
Plouffe continued his year ascension to begin 2007, as he started and finished the season with the AA New Britain Rock Cats. His average continued to climb, as Plouffe hit .274 over 126 games played. He hit nine homeruns over that span, driving in 50 runs as well.
For the first time in his career, Plouffe played in multiple levels during the 2008 season. He split time between New Britain and the AAA Rochester Red Wings, playing in 58 games in AA and 66 in AAA. Combined, Plouffe finished the season hitting .262 with nine homeruns. He tied a career high with 60 RBIs in the season. Plouffe did strkeout 90 times over the course of the season, the second most punchouts in his minor league career. Despite the high strikeout total, Plouffe was added to the Twins’ 40-man roster at the conclusion of the regular season.
Plouffe spent the entirety of 2009 with the Red Wings. He played in 118 games, hitting .260. For the second year in a row, Plouffe drove in 60 runs, but he needed six less games to do so. He walked four more times and struckout 22 less times than the season prior.
The infielder once more began the 2010 season in AAA, but was called up and made his Major League debut on May 21 of that year. He stayed in the Major Leagues for three weeks, hitting just .130 before he was sent back down to Rochester in late June. A month later, he was recalled due to an injury to former-Phillie Nick Punto. Plouffe eventually played in 22 Major League games that season, hitting .146. He hit two homeruns and drove in six runs. His time in AAA was more fruitful, as Plouffe hit .244 with 15 homeruns and 49 RBIs in 102 games.
Plouffe returned to Rochester to begin the 2011 season, but was recalled by the Twins in early May. He would eventually appear in half the Twins’ game that season, showing far better results than his first campaign. Plouffe hit .238 with eight homeruns and 31 RBIs. He did, however, strikeout 71 times in those 81 games, walking just 25 times.
He spent all but two of his 2012 games with the Minnesota Twins, playing in 119 big league games that year. Plouffe missed two weeks at the end of July with a bruised thumb. He finished his first full season in the big leagues hitting .235. The biggest uptick offensively came in his power, as the then-26-year-old hit a career high 24 homeruns, driving in 55 runs.
From 2013-2015, Plouffe was an integral part of the Twins’ lineup, appearing in 417 games over the three year span. He hit 14 homeruns in consecutive seasons before hitting 22 in 2015. He drove in a career high 80 runs in 2014 and followed that up with another career benchmark, driving in 86 in 2015. He was placed on the disabled list twice in three years, missing time due to a left calf strain in 2013 and an injured rib in 2014.
2016 was an injury riddled seaso for Plouffe, who played in just 84 games. He hit the disabled three separate times, in April, July and September with continued rib issues that led to greater oblique problems. Plouffe hit .260 with 12 homeruns and 47 RBIs despite the shortened season. At the end of 2016, Plouffe was outrighted off the Twins’ Major League roster, making him a free agent for the first time in his career.
Plouffe signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Athletics that offseason. He played in 58 games with the A’s, hitting .214 with seven homeruns and 14 RBIs. The strikeout numbers were way up, as he struck out 58 times over that 58 game stretch. On June 15, Oakland designated Plouffe for assignment. He was traded two days later to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash considerations. Plouffe finished the 2017 season with the Rays, appearing in 42 games. He hit well below the Mendonza Line, at .168, managing just 17 hits in 42 games. Plouffe elected free agency at the end of the season.
While there are currently few details about the signing, it is likely that Plouffe will begin his Phillies’ tenure in AAA Lehigh Valley, where he’ll play multiple positions. With Mitch Walding playing well to begin the year at third base, it’ll be hard to find Plouffe much playing time at the hot corner. This appears to be little more than a depth signing for the organization.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports