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Kevin Slowey Rumors
The Kevin Slowey relief experiment has ended, and a change of scenery appears to be in order. The 27-year-old control artist told Twins manager Ron Gardenhire he was having a hard time as a reliever, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Slowey is headed back to Triple-A to get stretched out as a starter, but Gardenhire implied on ESPN 1500 that the right thing is to find the righty a starting opportunity with another club. After Sunday's game, Slowey had this to say to Neal:
"I understand our situation here. I understand the starters we have here, and I understand that, even given past successes as a starter, this might not be the right fit for me anymore."
That's a far cry from March of 2009, when Slowey talked to MLBTR about how he'd love to stay with the Twins long-term.
It's odd that a team with the second-worst rotation in the AL to date can't find room for Slowey, but Nick Blackburn and Scott Baker are pitching well and Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano were very good last year. There's a case to be made for replacing Brian Duensing, but the Twins may prefer to give top prospect Kyle Gibson a look.
Slowey is not without his flaws. He's a righty with a 90 mile per hour heater. He's hittable, and his high flyball rate makes him prone to the longball. He's averaged about 5.5 innings per start in recent years and hasn't reached 175 in a season since '07. Most recently, he battled a shoulder strain in April.
Some team has a chance to buy low on Slowey, though, since he is capable of a sub-4.00 ERA. Slowey is earning $2.7MM this year, and is under team control through 2013 as an arbitration eligible player. Given how the 2011 season has gone so far, his 2012 raise should be limited. Contenders like the Red Sox and Marlins are currently hurting for starting pitching, though needs will become clearer for all teams a month or two from now. The Blue Jays reportedly had interest in Slowey in early March.
Links for Wednesday, after a walk-off win for Brandon Inge and the Tigers…
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi says Pedro Feliciano has a "damaged shoulder" according to Ben Shpigel of the New York Times (on Twitter). It sounds like surgery is a possibility for the Yankees' $8MM investment.
- Tsuyoshi Nishioka’s leg injury weakened the Twins' middle infield, which means they may look for infield help, rather than relievers in potential deals, according to Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. Trade candidate Kevin Slowey hasn’t pitched in a game since April 4th because of bursitis in his right shoulder, but he could become available again this season.
- Anthony Rendon nudged out Gerrit Cole for top spot on Baseball America’s updated list of top draft eligible players.
- The Yankees were frustrated that the Astros never made them fully aware that Roy Oswalt was available last summer, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post. Credit Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. for acquiring Oswalt quietly and later denying the Yankees their primary offseason target, Cliff Lee.
Some links to browse through during your Sunday evening…
- Add the Rangers to the list of clubs that are not interested in recently released Carlos Silva, reports MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan (on Twitter). The Yankees and Cardinals are also out.
- The Angels can opt out of their stadium lease in 2016, but owner Arte Moreno told Mike DiGiovanna of The Los Angeles Times that the team has not begun exploring the possibility of building a new stadium. That process would have to start at least four years before the planned opening date.
- Indians manager Manny Acta told MLB.com's Jordan Bastian that there are likely to be roster moves made on Monday when the 25-man roster is finalized (Twitter link).
- Tom Krasovic spoke to several scouts about teams and players from all around the game.
- In regard to CBA talks, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes that the "general consensus is that a hangup or even the slightest threat of a work stoppage would be shocking."
- Within the same piece, Cafardo says the Twins aren't as willing to deal Kevin Slowey as it may seem. One scout opined that the right-hander is "throwing too well for them to deal him."
- The Rockies continue to receive calls about their middle-infield depth, but the club isn't looking to move either Eric Young Jr. or Alfredo Amezaga, according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post.
- Dave Bush earned a spot in the Rangers' bullpen as a long man, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Bush would have opted out of his contract today if he didn't make the team.
- The Red Sox' bullpen depth has drawn interest from other teams, a source tells Alex Speier of WEEI.com.
MLBTR's Luke Adams & Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
The Red Sox have five proven starters and a handful of viable alternatives, but that’s not stopping GM Theo Epstein from looking for more possibilities for the rotation, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The Red Sox are looking for starting pitching depth and would love to add a veteran who’s open to pitching at Triple-A until he’s needed.
Wakefield, Aceves and Doubront are the team’s primary alternatives to the starting five of Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, John Lackey, Josh Beckett and Daisuke Matsuzaka. It also appears that the Red Sox will start Andrew Miller at Triple-A and stretch him out as a starter in the minors.
Though some starting pitching is available, none of it appears to be a logical fit for the Red Sox. The $16MM remaining on Joe Blanton’s contract makes him an unattractive option; it seems doubtful that the Red Sox would meet the Twins' asking price for Kevin Slowey only to stash him in the minors and the Red Sox don’t appear to have much interest in Jeremy Bonderman.
I listed a number of potentially available starters earlier in the week.
However, the Twins don’t have many promising trade possibilities, since two of the teams looking for a starter, the Brewers and Mariners, don’t have relievers to spare. The Cardinals, Dodgers, Blue Jays and White Sox seem inclined to replace injured starters with pitchers already in their respective organizations, according to FOX Sports.
Meanwhile, Pirates and Diamondbacks officials say they aren’t actively looking to trade for starting pitchers. As Morosi and Rosenthal point out, the Twins are able to consider moving a quality starter like Slowey because they have promising minor league starter Kyle Gibson.
Slowey didn't seem like a fit for the Blue Jays earlier in the spring, partly because Toronto already had a number of legitimate rotation options. Now that Brandon Morrow will start the season on the DL, the Jays could use the starting depth, but injuries to their relievers limit the likelihood that they can part with a late-inning arm.
Here's a list of other potentially available starters.
Links from around the majors, as Manny Ramirez takes on one of his former teams and the regular season draws one day closer…
- Doug Davis, who will throw for teams in Arizona on Thursday, is “getting a lot of interest,” agent Steve Canter told Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com. Canter declined to list interested teams, but GM Doug Melvin says we shouldn’t expect a reunion with the Brewers.
- Daric Barton switched agents to Dan Lozano, according to ESPN.com's Keith Law (on Twitter). Brian Wilson, Kurt Suzuki, Brett Wallace and Jason Repko recently did the same. To keep up to date on each agency's client list, check out our new Agency Database.
- UCLA right-hander Gerrit Cole sits atop Law's revised list of top 2011 draft prospects. For more on Cole and other top draft eligible amateurs, check out our Draft Prospect Q&A series.
- Dave Cameron of FanGraphs is surprised that more teams aren’t interested in Kevin Slowey, who has proven himself as a back-of-the-rotation starter.
Rotation battles are being decided left and right. Here's the latest.
- Scott Baker will serve as the Twins' fifth starter and Kevin Slowey will work out of the bullpen, tweets Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Slowey was highlighted by MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith as a potentially available starter, and the Twins appear willing to listen. With Kyle Gibson on the horizon, can the Twins spare the depth?
- Barry Enright made the Diamondbacks' rotation, reports MLB.com's Steve Gilbert. Assuming Joe Saunders makes the cut, that leaves Armando Galarraga and Aaron Heilman duking it out for the right to fill in for Zach Duke. If Heilman sneaks into the rotation, the D'Backs have to decide by March 28th whether they want to pay Galarraga $2.3MM as their long man. If they cut him by then they'd only owe him about $569K.
- Bartolo Colon went six strong innings for the Yankees last night, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports figures this means he'll make the team somehow. Colon and Freddy Garcia have opt-out dates of March 31st and March 29th, respectively. Ivan Nova probably has the fourth starter job, leaving Colon, Garcia, and Sergio Mitre for two spots.
- The Cubs are meeting today and could decide on their fifth starter, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. If Andrew Cashner gets the nod, I can see the Cubs trying to dump Carlos Silva.
The Blue Jays appear to be interested in Kevin Slowey and he makes a certain amount of sense for the Jays, who don't have established starters at the back of their rotation. But acquiring Slowey would mean Jo-Jo Reyes, Jesse Litsch, Marc Rzepczynski, Kyle Drabek, Zach Stewart, Brad Mills and Scott Richmond compete for a single rotation spot. That possibility may not appeal to Blue Jays executives, since the front office appears to like its current options.
GM Alex Anthopoulos recently told Sportsnet.ca's Shi Davidi that Litsch looked "very, very good" while pitching against the Braves in his most recent exhibition start. Litsch, who is coming back form elbow and hip injuries, reminded the GM of another soft-tossing right-hander.
“The one thing I’ve always said is when Jesse’s been healthy, he’s been very productive," Anthopoulos told Davidi. "He’s not Shaun Marcum, they’re not the same style, but he certainly has a chance for the results to be similar in terms of win totals and innings pitched."
Like Marcum and Litsch, Slowey (pictured) averages less than 90 mph on his fastball and has never appeared in an All-Star game or collected a Cy Young vote. Despite his modest fastball, he was deceptively effective last year, when he posted a 4.45 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 28 starts (155 2/3 innings) for the Twins. In fact, Slowey tied Phil Hughes, Trevor Cahill and James Shields with 2.2 WAR last year, ranking 36th among AL starters.
Every starting pitcher in baseball who logged at least 100 innings last year posted a higher ground ball rate than Slowey, so he doesn't appear to be a natural fit for the homer-friendly Rogers Centre. However, Marcum and Brandon Morrow both succeeded in 2010, even though both pitchers induced more fly balls than ground balls. That should provide some hope that Slowey and his 28.3% ground ball rate could survive in Toronto.
Slowey's relatively cheap ($2.7MM salary) and he's under team control through 2013, but acquiring him could prevent top-rated prospect Kyle Drabek from continuing to develop in the major leagues. Drabek, who tops Baseball America's list of Blue Jays prospects, pitched well in a three start cameo last fall and the 23-year-old may be ready for the majors. The same goes for #5 prospect Zach Stewart and Reyes, a favorite of Anthopoulos' who is a trade candidate now that he's out of options.
There's more to the Blue Jays' rotation battle than WAR or any other stat. The team presumably wants to determine which arms can thrive in the AL East as it prepares for what Anthopoulos says will be an extended period of contention. The Blue Jays could get creative – we shouldn't put that past them given the trades they've made in the last year – and acquire Slowey without blocking their top young arms. He's a potential upgrade for the Blue Jays, but he's not a fit for their ballpark and it appears that acquiring him would limit the Blue Jays' ability to expose their prospects to big league hitters in 2011.
Photo courtesy Icon SMI.
The Blue Jays like Kevin Slowey, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (on Twitter). Christensen hears that the Blue Jays have relievers to spare and had three scouts watching Slowey pitch in a 'B' game against the Pirates this morning. The right-hander logged three innings without allowing a hit or a run, striking out three.
ESPN.com's Buster Olney reported on Sunday that the Twins are "very much willing" to discuss trading Slowey. The Blue Jays are not desperate for pitching help; Jo-Jo Reyes, Jesse Litsch, Marc Rzepczynski and Kyle Drabek are battling for two rotation spots and Zach Stewart, Brad Mills and Scott Richmond are also in the mix for jobs.
Toronto does have lots of relief depth, particularly from the right side. Frank Francisco, Octavio Dotel, Jon Rauch and Jason Frasor all have closing experience and Shawn Camp and Casey Janssen are coming off of strong seasons. Throw in two more right-handers, Carlos Villanueva and Josh Roenicke, and it's easy to see why teams might ask the Blue Jays about potentially available arms.
Slowey posted a 4.45 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9 in 155 2/3 innings last year. The 26-year-old has never posted a walk rate above 1.7 per nine or a strikeout rate above 6.7 per nine in four big league seasons. He'll earn $2.7MM this year and is under team control through 2013.
With few options remaining on the free agent market, teams in need of starting pitching help may have to put Minnesota GM Bill Smith on speed dial. ESPN.com's Buster Olney (Insider-only link) hears that the Twins are "very much willing" to discuss trading Kevin Slowey these days.
This isn't the first time we've heard reports about Slowey's potential availability. Joel Sherman of the New York Post wrote during the Winter Meetings that the Twins would consider moving the right-hander, particularly if Carl Pavano re-signed with the club – which, of course, he eventually did. More recently, Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune said that the Twins were more likely to deal Slowey than Francisco Liriano.
Sporting a career high of 160.1 IP in the bigs, Slowey isn't the sort of innings-eating workhorse a free agent like Kevin Millwood would be. However, the righty is just 26 years old, remains under team control through 2013, and has displayed impeccable control (1.5 BB/9) throughout his career. If the Twins are open to fielding offers, I'd expect the Yankees and Cardinals to be among the handful of clubs to kick the tires.