Minnesota Twins Rumors

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

2015 Competitive Balance Lottery Results

The Competitive Balance Lottery for the 2015 MLB Draft took place this afternoon. Twelve competitive balance picks are awarded, with the first six taking place after the first round’s conclusion and the next six taking place following conclusion of the second round. Here are the results, per MLB.com (Twitter links)…

Competitive Balance Round A

  1. Marlins
  2. Rockies
  3. Cardinals
  4. Brewers
  5. Padres
  6. Indians

Competitive Balance Round B

  1. Reds
  2. Athletics
  3. Mariners
  4. Twins
  5. Orioles
  6. Diamondbacks

As MLB.com’s Jim Callis explained earlier in the week, teams that have one of the 10 smallest markets or one of the 10 smallest revenue pools are eligible to receive a compensatory pick between the first and second rounds (Round A) or between the second and third rounds (Round B).

The A’s, Diamondbacks, Indians, Marlins, Orioles, Padres, Pirates, Rays, Reds, Rockies and Royals were eligible for Comp Round A picks. The teams that didn’t receive an extra pick from that pool were placed into a second pool that also included the Mariners and Twins to determine which would receive a Comp Round B selection. These picks are eligible to be traded any time during the regular season, right up until 5pm ET on the day of next year’s draft.


Twins, Suzuki Far Apart In Extension Talks

JULY 22: There’s mutual interest in an extension, manager Ron Gardenhire told hosts Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio today (Twitter link). Gardenhire’s comments, of course, don’t mean the two sides are any closer to a deal.

JULY 21: The Twins and catcher Kurt Suzuki recently engaged in extension talks, but the two sides aren’t seeing eye to eye in terms of contract parameters, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Berardino characterizes the talks as “exploratory” but notes that establishing fair parameters looks like it will be a challenge.

The news is significant, as Suzuki figures to be a prime trade chip if the Twins aren’t able to secure a new contract with the first-time All-Star. Signed to a one-year, $2.75MM contract (with $500K of incentives), Suzuki seems a highly unlikely candidate to receive a qualifying offer after the season. As such, a trade may be the only way for the Twins to receive long-term value, should Suzuki sign elsewhere as a free agent this winter.

Suzuki, 30, has served as Minnesota’s primary backstop all season and slashed a strong .305/.364/.389. While he’s cracked just a pair of homers, he’s shown the best full-season walk rate of his career (7.5 percent) and is striking out at a career-low rate (8.8 percent). That strikeout rate is currently the sixth-lowest in all of Major League Baseball (among qualified hitters).

Defensively speaking, Suzuki has been a mixed bag. He’s thrown out a solid 24 percent of opposing base-stealers and rates as one of the best in the league at blocking potential passed balls and wild pitches, per Baseball Prospectus. However, he ranks at the bottom of the league in terms of pitch framing, per BP and Matthew Carruth at StatCorner.com.

Both the Cardinals and Orioles have seen their starting catchers go down with serious injuries, while other contenders such as the Dodgers and Blue Jays have also received below-average offense behind the plate.


Central Notes: Indians, Royals, Rios, Twins, Willingham, Cards, Peavy

There was some action on the shortstop front for the Indians today, as starter Asdrubal Cabrera left the game with lower back spasms, per Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (via Twitter). That would appear to be a minor injury, but the news coincided with the club’s decision to promote top prospect (and fellow shortstop) Francisco Lindor to Triple-A, as Hoynes tweets. Cleveland has indicated, however, that the move was unrelated. Of course, Cabrera has often been mentioned as a trade candidate — at season’s end if not at this year’s deadline — due in large part to the continued rise of Lindor, his presumed successor.

Here’s more out of the AL and NL Central:

  • With the Royals focusing on adding a corner bat, one possibility that the club has considered is Alex Rios of the Rangers, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Rios does have a six-team no-trade clause which, according to Cot’s on Contracts, includes Kansas City. His $13.5MM club option for next season is not cheap, but could potentially take the place of Billy Butler‘s own $12.5MM option if the latter is dealt or has his option declined.
  • The Twins appear to be prepared to sell, according to a report from MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger“We’re in a tough spot right now and we’ve been in a tough spot for four years,” said GM Terry Ryan. “So you have to listen. And that’s what we do.” 
  • One prime trade candidate for the Twins is outfielder Josh Willingham, who is slashing .209/.357/.399 with eight home runs in 207 plate appearances as he prepares to hit the open market after the season. Two clubs to watch as possible suitors are the Reds and Pirates, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.
  • The Cardinals received some promising news on righty Michael Wacha, who could begin throwing again in two weeks after seeing improved MRI and CT scan results, reports Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. An early September return still appears the best case scenario, according to GM John Mozeliak. But Wacha’s health will not dictate the club’s trade deadline plans. “They’re independent of each other,” said Mozeliak. “That’s still something we can explore in the next eight to ten days.”
  • One oft-discussed option for the Cardinals is veteran Red Sox starter Jake Peavy, who once seemed close to being moved but could now be held as Boston looks to make a late surge. St. Louis is still keeping Peavy on their “back burner,” a source tells Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe (Twitter link), who notes that Peavy has put together three consecutive solid outings.


AL Central Notes: Shields, Moore, Rios, Castillo

The Royals‘ recent slide has dropped them below the .500 mark and, with so many teams ahead of them in the playoff race, Fangraphs’ Dave Cameron believes K.C. should cut its losses and trade James Shields.  There seems to be little chance Shields will re-sign with Kansas City this winter, so the Royals could get more prospect value by dealing him now than they would by getting a single compensation pick if and when he left in the offseason, Cameron opines.

Here’s the latest from around the AL Central…

  • Dayton Moore doesn’t seem to be in sell mode, nor does he necessarily seem to be close on any trades as per comments made to FOX Sports’ Jon Paul Morosi.  “I’m not going to give up on our team….We need the group of players we have to produce. We believe they will,” the Royals GM said (Twitter links).
  • The Royals had a scout watching the Rangers/Blue Jays series over the weekend, and Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News believes the right-handed hitting outfielder-needy Royals could’ve been there to watch Alex Rios.  Of course, Rios suffered a sprained ankle during the first inning of Saturday’s game and hasn’t played since.  The sprain isn’t believed to be too serious, yet even a minor injury can’t help Rios’ trade value.
  • The Twins will attend Rusney Castillo‘s showcase for scouts on July 26, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter link).  There is “no sense yet of real interest” from Minnesota, according to Wolfson, and the decision will ultimately come down to how high the bidding gets for the Cuban outfielder’s services.
  • Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer doesn’t expect the Indians to be major players at the trade deadline, either as buyers or sellers.  The Indians are still in the hunt for both the AL Central lead and a wild card spot so they won’t be selling any notable players, but “it would be a shock if they added any high-priced talent.”

Latest On Trade Talks Between Mariners, Rays

FRIDAY: Taijuan Walker‘s name is once again at the center of trade talks surrounding Price, reports Heyman. He adds that Tampa has also expressed interest in the likes of corner infield prospect D.J. Peterson and James Paxton, neither of which is particularly surprising; Peterson and Paxton are two of the top young players in Seattle’s system.

The two sides are discussing various iterations of deals for Price, Zobrist or both. Heyman adds that Seattle might be willing to include Brad Miller in a deal as well, given the emergence of Triple-A shortstop Chris Taylor. The M’s, however, have said they won’t deal Mike Zunino.

THURSDAY, 9:51pm: Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Mariners’ talks with the Rays have been more focused on Zobrist than Price, and the two sides have been discussing Zobrist “for weeks.” Nick Franklin‘s name has frequently come up in talks, he adds.

Heyman also reports that the Mariners have spoken to the Twins about Josh Willingham and the White Sox about Dayan Viciedo, and he notes that he, too, has heard Byrd’s name in learning of the Mariners’ trade talks. One big league source tells Heyman, however, that a deal for Byrd is now “less than likely” due to his no-trade clause.

He also adds that the Mariners’ ownership group is very big on bringing in players who want to be in Seattle. Offseason comments by Price’s agent about his client not wanting to sign a long-term deal in Seattle seem to indicate that Price doesn’t fit that description. However, the team’s status as a legitimate postseason contender may have changed Price’s thinking on that front.

2:10pm: Though no deal is imminent, the Mariners have been engaged in ongoing discussions with the Rays regarding lefty David Price and utilityman Ben Zobrist, reports Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter links). Meanwhile, talks have stalled with the Phillies regarding Marlon Byrd.

Needless to say, Price and Zobrist both represent potential impact to contenders. Either player could presumably add value to just about every roster in baseball. That holds particularly true for Seattle, which could not only pair Price with current ace Felix Hernandez but would be able to play Zobrist at shortstop, outfield, or even first base.

Of course, the return for either — and, especially, both — would figure to be substantial. (It is not clear from Morosi’s report whether the two would be joined in any potential deal, or indeed whether the sides have progressed that far.) Tampa is said to be interested in beating the return that the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija, if it deals Price at all. Certainly, a hypothetical pairing of Price and Zobrist (both under control for next season) would require a bigger return on paper than was commanded by Samardzija and Jason Hammel.

Meanwhile, the news on Byrd makes sense in light of last night’s report from ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden, which indicated that Byrd would ask the Mariners to guarantee his $8MM option for 2016 in order to waive his no-trade clause. Seattle is one of just four teams on Byrd’s no-trade list.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Bowden On Price, Hamels, Byrd, Angels, A’s, Reds, More

ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden (Insider subscription required and recommended) offers a bounty of information on the trade market as we draw to within two weeks of the deadline. While you’ll want to give the piece a full read, here are some of the many highlights:

  • The Rays are in no hurry to deal ace David Price, and some possible trade partners increasingly believe that he will not change hands before the deadline. The club still wants to see if a post-season run remains possible; though the club sits 9.5 games back at the break, the division does still look somewhat vulnerable. If Tampa does look to move Price, arguably the best potential trade chip in baseball, it will demand more in return than the Cubs received for Jeff Samardzija — who, you may recall, was the key piece in a package that brought back one of the game’s elite prospects in Addison Russell. Needless to say, Price is a rare commodity, especially given his additional season of control, and his potential absence from the market (combined with the A’s early strike for two other top starters) could have interesting repercussions.
  • One player whose trade attention would potentially rise if Price stays put is Cole Hamels of the Phillies, who of course has plenty of value regardless. Bowden says that GMs around the league get the sense that Philadelphia will be very hesitant to move their star lefty, however. (Fellow top southpaw Cliff Lee, meanwhile, looks more and more a potential August trade piece.)
  • Ultimately, while the Phillies will not conduct a true fire sale, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has indicated through conversations with his peers that the club is prepared to sell. Outfielder Marlon Byrd is the most likely to go, says Bowden, though his contract presents some complications. While the Mariners are interested in him, Bowden says that the recent free agent signee will ask that the club guarantee his $8MM option for 2016, which Seattle is not currently willing to do. The Royals could also make sense as a partner, but also appear on Byrd’s four-team no-trade list and do not want to take on that level of mid-term commitment. It would appear that Byrd’s representatives at ACES advised their client well in selecting the relatively paltry number of teams to which he could refuse a trade.
  • Angels owner Arte Moreno has enabled GM Jerry Dipoto to be aggressive in trade talks, says Bowden. In addition to Huston Street and Ian Kennedy (read more on them here), the Halos have asked the Padres about righty Tyson Ross, though the Super Two hurler is unlikely to be moved. Indeed, now in the midst of his second consecutive season of high-end production, the 27-year-old starter (and his three remaining years of control) would require a significant return.
  • The Athletics remain aggressive on the second base market, with GM Billy Beane also said to be exploring more creative means of improving his club. Oakland is not inclined to deal away shortstop prospect Daniel Robertson after moving their top prospect, says Bowden, with the club’s internal evaluators believing that he could have as much future value as the more-hyped Russell.
  • The Reds are still looking to add a hitter, with Ben Zobrist of the Rays making a perfect match on paper given his positional flexibility and the club’s current injury situation. (Of course, the same could be said of several other clubs.) With Josh Willingham of the Twins set to hit free agency, he has also been looked at by Cincinnati.
  • Bowden provides several other interesting notes. Among them: the Braves have canvassed the market for a southpaw reliever and could be interested in James Russell of the Cubs and Oliver Perez of the Diamondbacks. The Dodgers will likely add a starter. The Cardinals are planning to scout Twins‘ catcher Kurt Suzuki as they assess things behind the plate. And the Giants remain interested in a second base addition in the event that Marco Scutaro cannot stay healthy and productive.

Rusney Castillo To Hold Showcase Next Week

10:40am: Badler has a new piece on Castillo, who has put on about 20 pounds since leaving Cuba and beginning a training regimen in the Dominican Republic. Castillo is expected to sign shortly after his showcase and could even potentially help a big league club late in the season, Badler writes. His newest article provides a pair of Castillo videos — one of a batting practice session and the other a compilation of game footage.

9:54am: Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo will host a showcase for interested clubs next Saturday (July 26) in the Miami area, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN first reported (on Twitter) on Monday.

Castillo was declared a free agent by Major League Baseball last month and quickly latched on with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports. The 27-year-old Castillo has also been unblocked by the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) and is therefore eligible to sign with any club.

Ben Badler of Baseball America wrote last month that Castillo isn’t the same type of impact talent we’ve seen come out of Cuba recently, but scouts believe he has Major League ability. The center fielder/right fielder stands at 5’9″ and is listed at 185 pounds, and his best tool is plus-plus speed according to Badler. He’s a right-handed hitter with a line-drive stroke that will produce more doubles and triples than homers, Badler adds, though he notes that some evaluators think of him as a fourth outfielder rather than a starting-caliber player.

We first heard about Castillo back in January, prior to the processing of the paperwork that eventually made him a free agent. The Orioles and Dodgers have been linked as teams that will scout Castillo, while Wolfson reports that the Twins are not among the teams that have interest.


Reds To Sign Scott Diamond

The Reds have signed lefty Scott Diamond to a minor league deal, reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). Diamond, 27, was recently released by the Twins.

Diamond struggled through 80 innings at Triple-A this year for Minnesota, posting a 6.52 ERA. He had spent significant time in the Twins rotation over each of the last two seasons. After a 173-inning, 3.54 ERA run in 2012, in which he posted just 4.7 K/9 but a sparkling 1.6 BB/9, Diamond came back to earth last year. Through 131 big league innings in 2013, he allowed 5.43 runs per nine with 3.6 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9.


Morales Interested In Long-Term Deal With Twins

Kendrys Morales‘ first venture into free agency lasted much longer than the switch-hitter would have liked, and after signing a one-year deal with the Twins in June, it sounds as if he’s very open to signing a contract that would prevent him from hitting the free agency again this winter. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN spoke with Morales’ agent, Scott Boras, who “gushed” about how much his client loves playing for the Twins (Twitter link). A long-term deal is “certainly in play,” Wolfson adds.

Of course, it remains to be seen whether the Twins themselves are open to such a proposition. Certainly the early returns on their investment in Morales haven’t been encouraging. The longtime AL West slugger started off hot with Minnesota, but he’s seen his batting line fall to .229/.254/.328. Given his lack of defensive value, both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference peg him at -0.8 WAR.

Morales has begun to swing a bit better, as he is on a seven-game hitting streak during which he’s cracked five doubles, but he still isn’t showing any patience at the plate. His current 3.6 percent walk rate is the lowest of his career.

A few productive weeks could turn Morales into a nice trade chip at the deadline, and the Twins have to at least be considering the idea of selling off some veteran pieces, barring a sudden turnaround after the break. Currently, they’re 10.5 games out of the division lead and 6.5 games back of a Wild Card spot. Even if the Twins do move Morales, they could always look to re-sign him as a free agent this winter — a scenario on which the Boston Globe’s Nick Cafardo recently speculated.


Quick Hits: Diamond, Beckham, Dodgers, Phillies

The Twins have released pitcher Scott Diamond from Triple-A Rochester, reports Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. The former Rule 5 pick last pitched well in 2012 when he made 27 starts with a 3.54 ERA and 3.94 FIP. Minor leaguers hit well against Diamond this season, which led to a 6.53 ERA through 17 appearances and 15 starts. The command and control specialist is liable to latch onto a new club soon.

  • White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham is used to trade rumors, according to Scott Merkin of MLB.com. “Trade rumors don’t affect how I prepare and how I go about the game,” said Beckham. With a number of middle infield prospects waiting in the wings, the White Sox may be inclined to finally pull the trigger on a trade.
  • The Dodgers are unlikely to acquire David Price or Cole Hamelsreports Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times. GM Ned Colletti confirmed the team is interested in both starters and relievers, but said “I don’t see us doing anything that’s going to tear apart the farm system.” Both Price and Hamels are expected to cost at least one top prospect along with other useful pieces.
  • Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com discusses the Phillies case as July deadline sellers. The team could shop two of the top starting pitchers in baseball, a closer, an entire outfield, and more in their bid to improve down the line. GM Ruben Amaro is “still assessing” the options, but it looks increasingly likely that some sort of sell off will occur. The club isn’t shying from dealing its big guns, though they will want multiple, controllable pieces in return. Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins – both of whom have no-trade rights – are the least likely to be dealt.