Minnesota Twins Rumors

Minnesota Twins trade and free agent rumors from MLBTradeRumors.com.

Quick Hits: Hamilton, Howard, Otani

The Rangers will activate outfielder Josh Hamilton on Monday, tweets Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. GM Jon Daniels has announced that Hamilton is “physically and game ready” per Wilson (via Twitter). The Angels are on the hook for most of the remaining salary on his contract. Hamilton is hoping to rebound from a couple sub-par seasons by his standards. Statistically, 2013 was his worst season on a rate basis, and he was still five percent better than the average hitter. His rehab work produced mixed results. He battered Double-A pitching (9-for-17), but scuffled in Triple-A action (7-for-29).

  • Ryan Howard has recovered some trade value after a hot month of hitting, writes Corey Seidman of CSN Philly. The Phillies‘ first baseman has hit 10 home runs with 21 RBI and a .303 average over his last 30 games. Seidman identifies three clubs as potential fits for Howard – the Angels, Rays, and Twins. The Angels have struggled mightily against right-handed pitching. They could easily insert Howard into the designated hitter slot to help solve that issue. The Rays and Twins have performed better overall, but both clubs have received poor production from their designated hitters. I happen to agree with Seidman’s analysis and even tabbed Minnesota as a potential fit for Howard earlier this evening.
  • Shohei Otani could be the next Japanese star to transition to the majors, writes Jim Caple of ESPN. The 20-year-old is still three to four seasons from being posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters. He owns a 2.71 ERA with 274 strikeouts in 259 innings. The righty can reach back for 100 mph heat, but he also displays solid ability at the plate. In between starts, he plays about three to four games a week in the field. In 485 plate appearances, he’s hit .253/.303/.445 with 15 home runs. Major league teams will be more interested in his triple-digit heater, but pitchers like Madison Bumgarner can tell you about the value of an offensive presence in the nine-hole.

Rosenthal’s Latest: Papelbon, Marlins, Padres, Angels, Twins

The Marlins showed interest in Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon right around when they fired Mike Redmond, reports Ken Rosenthal in his latest video for FOX Sports. However, it’s unclear if the club will buy after a slow start to the season. Prior to the season they promised Giancarlo Stanton that they will aim to compete, but there may come a point where it makes more sense to trade some of the higher priced mercenaries. Players like Mike Morse, Dan Haren, and Mike Dunn could find themselves on the trade block. Here’s more from Rosenthal.

  • The Padres are scouting the Brewers for a shortstop. They may lack the prospects to acquire Jean Segura, but San Diego GM A.J. Preller is familiar with Luis Sardinas from his days in the Rangers system. The Brewers are also taking calls on right-hander Mike Fiers, but they’re not interested in trading him.
  • The Angels have plenty of starting pitching depth to acquire offensive firepower. They could call upon Andrew Heaney if they trade a major leaguer pitcher. Alternatively, Heaney or Nick Tropeano could be offered in a swap. The Halos also have Tyler Skaggs and Sean Newcomb as long term options. Skaggs is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Newcomb is working his way through the system (currently in High-A) after being selected 15th overall last June.
  • The Twins aren’t yet buyers, but they’ll receive reinforcements when Ervin Santana and Casey Fien return to action. Santana is eligible to return from his PED suspension on July 4. Fien is currently on the disabled list. The club has received poor production from center field and designated hitter. They could stick with Aaron Hicks in center with Kennys Vargas as the primary designated hitter, but the addition of a “big bopper” would improve the overall outlook. My own speculation: I wonder if a combination of Ben Revere and Ryan Howard would make sense – assuming the Phillies ate enough cash.

Quick Hits: Reds, Meyer, Ryu, Arruebarrena

The game is in need of greater minority representation in its most visible non-playing role, that of manager, says Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Heyman lists twenty excellent candidates who ought to receive strong consideration from those clubs that are in need of new dugout leaders after the season.

  • It’s no secret, of course, that Reds pitchers Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman would draw intense interest on the trade market if they are made available. Writing for FOX Sports, Jeff Sullivan analyzes just how much they could bring back this summer. In spite of his excellence, Cueto might most realistically be expected to bring back a very good prospect rather than a great one, says Sullivan, while Chapman probably has somewhat more value given his nearly-unmatched dominance and extra year of control. As Sullivan notes, the possibility of jointly marketing the two in search of more premium talent in less player seems interesting, though perhaps something of a long shot.
  • The Twins have decided to move top-100 pitching prospect Alex Meyer into the Triple-A bullpen, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. It appears that the team is doing so more with the idea of getting him back on track than preparing him for MLB bullpen work — Meyer has struggled mightily, especially with his control — but it would not be surprising to see him appear as a late-inning arm if he can turn things around and Minnesota can stay in the hunt.
  • Dodgers lefty Hyun-jin Ryu, who is set to miss the rest of the year with shoulder surgery, told reporters that he has been pitching with a labrum tear at least since he signed with the club, as J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles News Group tweets. Ryu says that his MRI back in 2013 revealed the slight tear, which has not worsened — but is apparently now a much greater problem — since that time.
  • Meanwhile, the Dodgers will not attempt to void the contract of infielder Erisbel Arruebarrena, Mark Saxon of ESPNLosAngeles.com tweets. While the club felt justified in suspending Arruebarrena for the entire rest of the year for disciplinary reasons, Saxon says that the still-unreported transgressions were not considered significant enough to warrant yet more drastic action.


Minor Moves: Josh Elander, Brock Peterson

Here are today’s minor moves of note:

  • The Diamondbacks have released outfielder Josh Elander, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports on Twitter. Elander, 24, was the player that went to Arizona in the deal that shipped Trevor Cahill to the Braves, meaning that the club really only ended up achieving some salary relief in that swap. Elander had reached the High-A level last year for the Braves, but started out in A ball for the Arizona organization and posted an interesting .244/.382/.289 line over 55 plate appearances.
  • Brock Peterson has been given his release from the Twins, as the organization’s Triple-A affiliate announced. The 31-year-old first baseman and outfielder made a brief big league appearance with the Cardinals back in 2013, but has mostly worked in the upper minors in recent campaigns. Peterson put up a .186/.289/.351 slash with five home runs in his 114 plate appearances at Rochester, well off the .827 OPS he carries over seven years at the highest level of the minors.

Twins Sign Ryan Wheeler To Minor League Deal

The Twins have signed third baseman Ryan Wheeler to a minor league contract, according to the MLB.com Transactions page. Wheeler, a client of CAA Sports, will report to Triple-A Rochester. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets that the Twins were the first to act when Wheeler’s agents notified teams that he’d been released by the Angels, and he was quick to accept the offer.

The 26-year-old Wheeler, a former fifth-round selection by the Diamondbacks (2009), frequented the club’s list of Top 30 prospects (per Baseball America) prior to being traded to the Rockies in exchange for lefty Matt Reynolds. Wheeler peaked at No. 8 on the D-Backs’ Top 30, and he ranked 10th on BA’s list of Top 30 Rockies prospects as recently as the 2012-13 offseason. That winter, BA noted that Wheeler was a work in progress at third and likely lacked the speed to play in the outfield. Their scouting report seemed to consider him a man without a true position, questioning if he’d have the power to man first base or the glove to handle the hot corner.

Wheeler has hit at every level of the minors, however. He’s a career .306/.363/.462 batter in the minors, and BA noted that he’s able to drive the ball well to the opposite field, though sometimes at the expense of drawing walks. Wheeler has received a big league look in each of the past three seasons, including 64 plate appearances with the Rockies in 2014. His strong track record in the minors has yet to carry over to the Majors, however, as he’s batted .233/.280/.335 in the bigs.

The Twins have Trevor Plouffe playing a strong overall third base in the Majors and the slugging Miguel Sano looming in the minors. Eduardo Escobar represents a nice utility option for the club, but the lefty swinging Wheeler could eventually emerge as a bench option for the Twins with a strong minor league showing.

Joining the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate figures to carry extra meaning for Wheeler, as his younger brother Jason (a former eighth-round pick by the Twins) is currently in the Rochester rotation.


MLBTR Podcast: The Unpredictable AL Central

Jeff and MLBTR colleague Steve Adams look at every team in the AL Central, running down how their respective starts to the season — good and bad — could shape their activity over the summer.

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AL Notes: Correa, Hicks, Angels, Tanaka, Red Sox, Kazmir

Promotions are always interesting to keep an eye on this time of year, as teams look to balance future control and cost with developmental prerogatives and the needs of the MLB roster. One of the most-watched players, shortstop Carlos Correa of the Astros, will make his debut today at Triple-A after destroying the Double-A level at just twenty years of age. The next stop could be Houston, where the big league club playing well but dealing with a significant injury to Jed Lowrie. Meanwhile, the Twins have decided the time is ripe to give another shot at former top prospect Aaron Hicks, still just 25, who has struggled in his time in the majors but forced his way back with a .336/.415/.561 run through the highest level of the minors this year.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • The Angels, who have fielded a somewhat surprisingly unproductive lineup thus far, look in need of a bat, as Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register writes. While GM Jerry Dipoto says that he expects at least some of the team’s group of established hitters to return to their usual contributions on offense, Fletcher says that the front office is ready and willing to pursue an acquisition over the summer. Given the team’s struggles against right-handed pitching, Fletcher opines that Brewers first baseman Adam Lind would make for a particularly sensible trade target. He ticks through a few other plausible options as the market begins to take shape.
  • Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka is set to throw his first bullpen today since suffering a forearm strain, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch tweeted yesterday. At this point, it would seem to rate as a pleasant surprise if Tanaka is able to contribute more quality innings this year, though the club seems determined to give him every opportunity to return before pursuing more drastic options.
  • Indeed, as Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes, the Yankees rotation has plenty of issues but still rates as the most complete outfit in the division. GM Brian Cashman continues to say that he believes Tanaka can stave off a Tommy John procedure. And as Sherman rightly notes, Chris Capuano and Ivan Nova both appear on track to deliver useful arms in the relatively near future. If the club stays in position and has a need, of course, it should have no difficulty finding ways to add quality innings via trade over the summer.
  • The Red Sox staff, meanwhile, has been a source of near-constant hand-wringing and speculation for months. There are reasons to believe in improvement from the peripherals, as MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince explains, though as he notes the biggest reason for hope may lie in the club’s evident ability (and demonstrated willingness) to swing deals to add additional arms.
  • Red Sox GM Ben Cherington continues to emphasize the organization’s commitment to delivering better results from its internal pitching options, as Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald reports“We knew we needed good pitching coming into the year to win games, and we still know that,” says Cherington. “I believe we’ll pitch better, and I believe we have a lot of the solutions here already.” Cherington emphasized that he wants to see how things proceed with a new pitching coach (and new backstop duo) now in place. Regardless, as he notes, it would be hard to make a move now. “Not a lot of teams are in that (trade) mode,” said the Red Sox GM, “but there wouldn’t normally be this time of year anyway. We’re not really there yet. There’s not a lot of team-altering moves being discussed this early. Probably need a little bit of time on that.” In Lauber’s estimation, Cherington’s protestations notwithstanding, Boston must and will strike one or more trades and/or promote well-regarded lefty Eduardo Rodriguez for an infusion of talent.
  • One possible trade target for the Red Sox (and, of course, other teams) is Athletics lefty Scott Kazmir, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe opines. Indeed, Kazmir’s strong recent track record and meager remaining commitment, to say nothing of the free-wheeling nature of Oakland GM Billy Beane, frame him as a popular source of trade speculation over the next few months. If the team decides to market him, which seems more and more plausible with each passing day for the 12-22 A’s, it will be fascinating to see what the 31-year-old returns in a trade.

Boof Bonser Retires

Former Twins pitcher Boof Bonser says he has retired in an interview with Twinkie Town. (The news was initially reported in January on the blog Boston Sports For Life.) The 33-year-old Bonser last pitched competitively in 2014, when he made 12 appearances for Bridgeport in the independent Atlantic League. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2010.

The Giants took Bonser with the 21st overall pick in the 2000 draft, then sent him to Minnesota with Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano in their infamous trade for A.J. Pierzynski. Bonser stuck in the big leagues with the Twins for the better part of three years, first as a starter and then as a reliever, before shoulder troubles caused him to miss the 2009 season. The Twins traded Bonser to Boston the following year, and he made brief appearances with the Red Sox and Athletics before spending several seasons in the minors. Bonser finishes his career with a 5.18 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 416 2/3 big-league innings.


AL Central Notes: Rodon, Chen, Bourn, Rios

Top White Sox prospect Carlos Rodon will make his first career big league start on Saturday. Rodon has pitched from the pen in the early going, but will get a chance to take the hill to open the game due to the five-game suspension of Jeff Samardzija. It remains to be seen what the team’s plans are the rest of the way with their highly-touted rookie, who was taken in last year’s draft out of N.C. State, but there seems to be at least a chance that he could pitch himself into a starting role given the struggles the team has had at the back end of the rotation.

  • Speaking of interesting Saturday starters, the Indians will purchase the contract of journeyman lefty Bruce Chen to face the Twins this weekend, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian tweets. Chen inked a minor league deal with Cleveland and chose to stay with the organization rather than opting out when he did not make the Opening Day roster. The team will need to clear space on both its 40-man and 25-man rosters.
  • Of broader concern for the Indians, GM Chris Antonetti and manager Terry Francona are facing their biggest challenge of their combined tenure, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer explains. Expectations were high heading into the year, of course, and the club has roundly struggled thus far. The sense of urgency is evident, says Hoynes, as demonstrated by the team’s decision not to play center fielder Michael Bourn against lefties. As Hoynes rightly points out, the Bourn contract looked like a nice value when it was signed, but has hardly worked out for the Indians. Bourn has not only struggled offensively this year, but is not even providing the anticipated positive contribution in the field and on the bases. (Both UZR and DRS rate him as a negative in center over last year and this season’s early going.)
  • Royals skipper Ned Yost says that he hopes outfielder Alex Rios will be back from his hand injury in about two weeks, per ESPN News Services. But the veteran just started swinging a bat again and does not have a precise timeline, per a tweet from Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. His replacements — Paulo Orlando and Jarrod Dyson — have actually been pretty good, at least if you buy into a short sample of defensive metrics. Both fWAR and rWAR value the pair at nearly one combined win above replacement.

Minor Moves: Parker, Cabrera, Walters, Hernandez, Stock

Some minor transactions from around the league and the independent circuit…

  • The Cubs have released right-hander Blake Parker, according to the MLB.com transactions page. Parker, designated for assignment yesterday, had not appeared in the big leagues this year. In his 3 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level, Parker permitted one earned run to score while striking out one and walking three batters. He does own a 3.68 career ERA in the majors, with a healthy 10.4 K/9 against just 2.9 BB/9.
  • Righty Daniel Cabrera has been released by the Reds, the club’s Triple-A affiliate tweets. The 33-year-old has not appeared in the big leagues since 2009, and spent each of the last two seasons playing in Japan. He made just one appearance at Louisville this season, going three innings and allowing one earned run but issuing four free passes and striking out only one opposing batter.
  • The Dodgers have signed right-hander P.J. Walters, who had been pitching with the independent Atlantic League’s Lancaster Barnstormers, reports Mike Ashmore of the Trentonian (Twitter link). The 30-year-old Walters should join L.A.’s Minor League ranks following the move. Though Walters has posted just a 6.28 ERA in parts of five Major League seasons with the Cardinals, Twins and Blue Jays, he does have a lifetime 4.70 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in Triple-A.
  • Former Twins left-hander Pedro Hernandez has signed a contract with the independent St. Paul Saints, the team announced. Hernandez was acquired along with Eduardo Escobar in the 2012 trade that sent Francisco Liriano to the White Sox. The now-26-year-old Hernandez struggled to a 7.33 ERA with 33 strikeouts against 26 walks in 66 1/3 Major League innings with the Sox, Twins and Rockies from 2012-14. He posted solid, if unspectacular numbers throughout much of his Minor League career until reaching the Triple-A level.
  • Right-hander Robert Stock‘s contract has been purchased by the Pirates, according to a tweet from the Normal CornBelters of the independent Frontier League. The 25-year-old hit the indy circuit after posting a 4.12 ERA with 43 strikeouts against 46 walks in 63 1/3 innings between the Cardinals’ Class-A and Class-A Advanced affiliates in 2014.