Minnesota Twins Rumors

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

Cafardo On Rangers, Jackson, Brewers, Yankees

The Red Sox didn’t go by MLB’s minority hiring rules when they interviewed only Dave Dombrowski for the president of baseball ops role but they have been instructed to do so for the GM job, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes.  If the Red Sox take the step of hiring a minority GM candidate, Cafardo suggests that Ken Williams would be a strong choice if he chooses to leave Chicago.  Here’s more from today’s column..

  • The Rangers were very interested in acquiring Austin Jackson “a few days ago,” but nothing came of those talks, Cafardo writes.  Jackson, 28, cleared waivers last week and was said to be generating interest, though it appears that no one wanted to take the remaining ~$1.7MM salary off the Mariners‘ hands.
  • Former Red Sox GM Ben Cherington is in play for the Brewers job, a major league source tells Cafardo.  “Despite his last-place finishes he’s seen as a team builder, especially when it comes to farm systems,” said the source.   The Angels, Mariners, and Phillies are also thought to be possibilities for Cherington.
  • The Yankees have been blocked in every attempt to add to their pitching, both out of the bullpen and in the starting rotation. Baseball sources tell Cafardo that GM Brian Cashman doesn’t seem optimistic about his odds of pulling anything off.  The Mets have been blocked from adding a reliever as well.
  • The Royals want a backup catcher for the playoffs just in case something happens to Salvador Perez.  KC turned down the opportunity to land A.J. Pierzynski from the Braves, Cafardo writes, but they’re still looking for an affordable left-handed hitting backstop. Some KC scouts like the Red Sox’s Ryan Hanigan, but he hits right-handed and has a $3.7MM salary next year with an option for 2017.
  • Unsurprisingly, Cafardo hears that the Rangers are looking for offense, the Twins are looking for relief help, and the Blue Jays want to add to their bullpen.  However, a deal for Toronto doesn’t seem likely at this time.
  • Cafardo writes that the Nationals, Padres, Red Sox, Mariners, Reds, Orioles, Indians, and Tigers are expected to be quite active this winter.

Quick Hits: Kepler, Hanley, Giants Pen

Twins prospect Max Kepler has progressed greatly since signing out of Germany as a teenager, as Parker Hageman of TwinsDaily.com writes in an interesting look at the 22-year-old. “His [development] was limited out of Germany,” said VP of player personnel Mike Radcliff. “Played a lot more soccer games than he did baseball games before he was signed. It takes patience and we have a lot of that in our organization, thankfully.” Kepler, who joined the Minnesota organization for a $800K bonus, is one of an increasingly promising group of European prospects who have come to North American baseball in recent years. He has been outstanding in his first run at the Double-A level, slashing .334/.420/.558 with nine home runs and 16 stolen bases over 431 plate appearances.

If you’re interested in the topic of European baseball, be sure to keep an eye out for today’s MLBTR podcast, which discusses it extensively. In the meantime, here are a few more stray notes from around the league:

  • Whatever the Red Sox do with Hanley Ramirez the rest of the way in 2015, opines John Tomase of WEEI.com, finding him a new home this winter should be at the top of the to-do list of president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski. Ramirez has had a deleterious effect throughout the organization, Tomase argues, suggesting that relying on the veteran at first carries too much risk. Yesterday, we polled MLBTR readers on the matter. The current results: a virtual dead heat between “move him to first” and “deal him away.”
  • Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle takes a look at the Giants‘ upcoming offseason bullpen questions. It could be time for the club to say goodbye to southpaw Jeremy Affeldt, he writes. The 36-year-old has struggled this year, the last of a three-year, $18MM contract he inked to return to San Francisco. Closer Santiago Casilla, meanwhile, can be brought back with a $5.5MM option or cut loose through a $1MM buyout. While it’s an open question whether he should be given the ninth inning, says Schulman, Casilla still seems likely to be retained at that price.

AL Notes: Rays, Kaminsky, Washington, Park

Marc Topkin runs through the Rays roster to identify six players who have made the most of opportunities to provide surprising value this year in Tampa Bay. Logan Forsythe, added via trade before the 2014 campaign, has arguably been the best of them, putting up a .279/.360/.434 slash with 14 home runs and nine steals while playing multiple infield positions. Forsythe has lined himself up for a nice raise on his $1.1MM arb salary from this season. And a player added just before this season, righty Erasmo Ramirez, has somewhat quietly compiled 123 innings of 3.66 ERA pitching on the year. Ramirez won’t even reach arb eligibility until 2017, making him a nice asset for the future.

Here are a few more notes from around the American League:

  • When the Indians managed to pry young lefty Rob Kaminsky from the Cardinals in the Brandon Moss deal, reactions were overwhelmingly positive for Cleveland. Indians GM Chris Antonetti tells Jim Ingraham of Baseball America that he likes Kaminsky’s fastball life, groundball tendencies, command of the zone, and overall pitch mix. Cleveland is not concerned about Kaminsky’s light frame, and intends to give him every chance to reach the big leagues as a starter. The 20-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 2.24 ERA in 104 1/3 innings at the High-A level on the season.
  • The Athletics have named Ron Washington as the team’s third base coach to replace Mike Gallego, as Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. It was somewhat curious to see the move made now, but the team has struggled with baserunning issues of late and Washington will now have a chance to coach in uniform during games. (He had been prohibited from doing so because of rules limiting the number of uniformed staff.) Nothing more should be read into the decision, writes Slusser, as manager Bob Melvin is still expected to be locked up to a new deal after the season.
  • The Twins have scouted Korean slugger Byung-ho Park “a lot” ever since he was a sixteen-year-old, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. But the increasingly interesting first baseman still seems likely to land elsewhere if he’s posted this winter, Wolfson adds.

Twins Acquire Neal Cotts

The Twins have acquired lefty Neal Cotts from the Brewers, Milwaukee announced on Twitter. Milwaukee will receive a player to be named later or cash in the deal.

Minnesota was obviously the team that won the waiver claim for Cotts, as was reported earlier today. The 35-year-old bolsters a pen that was already struggling before an injury to closer Glen Perkins further reduced its depth. And Minnesota’s other two pen lefties — Brian Duensing and Ryan O’Rourke — have not been very effective.

Cotts has looked like a pure lefty specialist this year, holding opposing lefties to a .185/.230/.346 slash while being tagged to the tune of a .847 OPS by right-handed hitters. But he’s actually posted very neutral platoon splits over his career, and was significantly better against righties last season.

Adding Cotts to a club that remains in the Wild Card hunt will tack on $721K to the Minnesota payroll this year, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press calculates (Twitter link). For the Brewers, they’ll save that amount, pick up the PTBNL (or additional cash), and open a roster spot for the just-claimed Cesar Jimenez, who may well have been added with a deal in mind.

Injury Notes: Pressly, Perkins, Pence, Phelps, Greene, Hultzen

There’s been quite a bit of news on the injury front today, with Maikel Franco landing on the disabled list due to a fractured left wrist, and Michael Saunders being shut down for the season by the Blue Jays. That’s only the tip of the iceberg today, though, as a number of players have either been shut down or are heading for MRIs today. Here’s a look around the league…

  • Twins right-hander Ryan Pressly has been shut down for the season after suffering a setback in his recovery from a lat strain, GM Terry Ryan told reporters, including MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link). The 26-year-old Pressly, a former Rule 5 pick by the Twins, was a bright spot in the ‘pen for Minnesota this season when healthy. In 27 2/3 innings, he notched a 2.93 ERA with 7.2 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate to go along with a career-best 94.2 mph average fastball. He’ll accrue enough service time to clear two years of service but will fall shy of Super Two status.
  • That’s not the only potential blow facing the Twins‘ bullpen, as the team announced after tonight’s loss that Glen Perkins will return to the Twin Cities to undergo an MRI on his ailing neck. As Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes, Perkins’ symptoms are similar to the ones he experienced late in 2014 when a nerve injury ended his season prematurely. La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that Perkins will receive a cortisone shot as well. The Twins, who have one of the worst bullpens in all of baseball, can scarcely afford to lose their best reliever for an extended period of time. Perkins has followed up a 1.21 first-half ERA with an 8.10 mark since the All-Star break.
  • Hunter Pence underwent an MRI on his left oblique, per Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area (all Twitter links). Pence will miss a least a few games, and the Giants hope to have his results in the near future. As Pavlovic points out, Pence appeared to suffer an injury in his final swing of last night’s game, as he clutched his side following the plate appearance.
  • The Marlins announced that right-hander David Phelps is out for the season with a stress fracture in the radius of his right forearm. Injuries have caused the Fish to lean on Phelps perhaps more than they’d expected, but in 23 appearances (19 starts) he’s posted a 4.50 ERA with 6.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 across 112 innings — just one shy of his career-high.
  • Shane Greene has hit the minor league disabled list with the Tigers, per John Wagner of the Toledo Blade (Twitter link). Greene is getting checked out by team doctors after reportedly experiencing numbness in his fingers — a potential indicator of nerve damage, among other injuries.
  • There’s continued bad news on the injury front for former Mariners top prospect Danny Hultzen, who will be shut down until Spring Training, tweets Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times. As Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune points out (via Twitter), Hultzen will be out of minor league options next season, meaning the former No. 2 overall pick will need to either make the club or be exposed to waivers. Injuries have completely derailed Hultzen’s career thus far, as the Virginia product has thrown just 43 2/3 innings over the past three seasons combined.

Quick Hits: Smyly, Utley, Ross

We’ve seen several recent cellar dwellers climb to contention this season, writes Ken Davidoff of the New York Post. The Cubs, Mets, and Astros are playing meaningful August baseball for the first time in years. Davidoff looks ahead at five more struggling franchises that could surprise us all in 2016. Purely for enjoyment, my favorite picks are the Twins and Phillies. Minnesota hopes to surge on the young bats of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and recent breakout Aaron Hicks. They also have sneaky upside in their rotation although the bullpen could use work. Philadelphia is the obvious long shot. Their rebuilding phase is incomplete, but they’ve identified a few key building blocks. A couple surprise breakout performances and a handful of lucky wins could at least allow the club to perform similarly to the Braves.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Drew Smyly will start for the Rays on Sunday, tweets Bill Chastain of MLB.com. The 26-year-old southpaw has spent most of the 2015 season on the disabled list with a torn labrum. Since joining the Rays in the David Price trade last season, Smyly has a 1.96 ERA, 9.1 K/9, and 2.0 BB/9 in 64 and 1/3 innings. Although the Rays remain in the thick of the playoff race, expect them to proceed carefully with Smyly.
  • We learned earlier tonight that the Angels still hope to acquire Phillies second baseman Chase Utley. The Giants remain involved with the bidding, tweets Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. Giants GM Bobby Evans cleverly commented that “the Chase for Utley continues.” As Baggarly notes, every day is one closer to the return of Joe Panik. At that point, Utley may be redundant for San Francisco. It’s already been announced that Utley will rest tomorrow, so trade speculation should remain rampant.
  • Padres starter Tyson Ross is happy to have remained with the club through the trade deadline, writes Jeff Sanders of the San Diego Union-Tribune. Ross, 28, was a heavily rumored trade candidate. He’s in the midst of a solid season including a 3.40 ERA, 9.58 K/9, and 4.14 BB/9. Ross is glad the club made no moves at the deadline. He believes the current roster is “a good group” with “a lot of promise.” He’s controlled through the 2017 season.

Central Notes: Plouffe, Jackson, Indians, Brewers

Trevor Plouffe‘s agent (Nez Balelo at CAA) has been in Minnesota recently, but Plouffe and the Twins haven’t been discussing an extension, 1500ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets. Plouffe can become eligible for free agency following the 2017 season. Wolfson describes him as an extension candidate, and maybe he is, since the Twins are frequently loyal to their players. The Twins do have another potential long-term answer at third base in Miguel Sano, however, and Sano is younger and cheaper, as well as being an outstanding hitter. Trading Plouffe might ultimately make more sense. Here are more notes from the Central divisions.

  • The Twins also had interest in Edwin Jackson before Jackson signed with the Braves, Wolfson tweets. The Braves were prepared to offer a big-league deal, however, and the Twins apparently were not.
  • The Indians‘ contracts for Michael Bourn and Nick Swisher didn’t turn out well, but the team would have been in even worse shape had it extended Justin MastersonTerry Pluto of the Plain Dealer writes. In Spring Training in 2014, the Indians reportedly offered Masterson about $45MM over three years, which at the time looked like a lowball offer, given Masterson’s impending free agency and excellent 2013 season. Since then, though, Masterson has struggled in Cleveland, St. Louis and Boston, ultimately being designated for assignment by the Red Sox last week.
  • The Brewers‘ farm system looks significantly improved after last month’s trades and the June draft, Tom Haudricourt writes for Baseball America (subscription only). In trading Carlos Gomez, Mike Fiers, Gerardo Parra, Aramis Ramirez and Jonathan Broxton, the Brewers got a solid group of prospects that includes Brett Phillips, Domingo Santana and Zach Davies. Many of the players they acquired are in the high minors, too, which now-former Brewers GM Doug Melvin suggested might shorten the amount of time the team needed to rebuild. Davies, who is relatively small and isn’t a hard thrower, doesn’t fit the pitcher type the Brewers usually like, but Melvin says the team’s analytics department lobbied for the Brewers to acquire him in the Parra trade.

Prospect Notes: Org Rankings, Cuba, Nunez

The Red Sox top the latest organizational prospect list of MLB.com’s Jim Callis. Boston has seven of the game’s top 100 pre-MLB players, per MLB.com, led by infielders Yoan Moncada and Rafael Devers. Next up on the list: the Dodgers, Rockies, Cubs, and Twins. Here are some more stray notes from around the league:

  • MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez looks at the international market on a historic day for U.S.-Cuban relations. There are a number of talented Cuban players waiting to strike deals, Sanchez explains. Indeed, he estimates that nearly 75 young players have left the island nation with intentions of signing with big league clubs in the last year and a half. As Sanchez notes, it remains unclear whether a new pathway for that talent to travel to the majors could be opened.
  • Another Cuban player could potentially be on the way, Baseball America’s Ben Badler tweets, though it seems he won’t be attempting to defect to do so. 22-year-old lefty Darien Nunez has asked Cuban authorities to release him from his league obligations, reports from the island suggest. Badler says that the southpaw — who led Cuban ball in both strikeouts and walks last year — is raw and unpolished, but possesses an “intriguing arm.”

Twins Activate Byron Buxton From DL, Option Him To Triple-A

The Twins announced today that center fielder Byron Buxton has been activated from the disabled list, but he’ll be optioned to Triple-A as opposed to rejoining the active roster.

Buxton, 21, is regarded as one of the game’s top two prospects and made his Major League debut earlier this season. He didn’t hit much in 11 games before landing on the disabled list due to a thumb injury incurred when sliding into second base on a steal attempt. Buxton batted .189/.231/.270 in 39 plate appearances.

The Twins promoted Buxton earlier this year in an effort to receive more production out of the center field position, but since he landed on the disabled list, Aaron Hicks has come off the disabled list and excelled in the Majors. A former first-round pick and top prospect himself, Hicks has batted .316/.380/.526 in 32 games with Buxton on the shelf.

Buxton was called up from Double-A and had never played at Triple-A prior to his promotion, so a three-game rehab stint there was actually his first action at that level. Buxton went 5-for-12 while rehabbing, and he’ll now have the chance to get some further development time at the minors’ top level. One can imagine that he’ll have the opportunity to come back up in September when rosters expand (if not sooner), depending on his health. That could provide the Twins with a glimpse of a rangy outfield alignment featuring both Hicks and Buxton, which could become a permanent fixture in future seasons.

AL Central Links: Indians, Avila, Berrios

The Indians have a lot of offseason work ahead of them, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes, particularly when it comes to upgrading the team’s lineup.  The Tribe could use help at several spots around the diamond, and Hoynes intriguingly wonders how much the club could be counting on from Carlos Santana in 2016.  Santana entered today hitting .222/.355/.381 with 12 homers and a league-leading 74 walks over 439 plate appearances — still above-average offensive numbers (109 wRC+), though the power dropoff has to be a concern for Cleveland.  The Tribe wasn’t interested in dealing him before the deadline and since Santana is owed only $8.25MM in 2016 (plus a $12MM club option for 2017 with a $1.2MM buyout), I’d think he’s enough of a cost-effective asset that it makes more sense for the offense-starved Indians to keep him.  Here’s some more from around the AL Central…

  • Also from Hoynes’ piece, he doubts the Indians will make any big moves in free agency given how little return they got from Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn, the Tribe’s last two major steps into the open market.
  • Alex Avila‘s pending free agency creates even more of an awkward position for both he and the Tigers now that his father Al is the team’s general manager, Fangraphs’ David Laurila writes.  “No one doubts the professionalism of either Avila,” Laurila notes, though the catcher’s concussion history, lack of hitting and James McCann‘s emergence hurts his case to return to Detroit.  Though retirement isn’t necessarily in the cards for the younger Avila anytime soon, Laurila notes that Alex has been tabbed by many as a potential future manager or front office member once he calls it a career.
  • In other Detroit front office news, Laurila also noted Sam Menzin’s promotion to the Tigers‘ director of baseball operations and calls Menzin “a future GM.”
  • Jose Berrios is performing well in Triple-A and, with the Twins‘ rotation struggling, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press suggests that Minnesota could turn to its top pitching prospect.  Twins assistant GM Rob Antony didn’t give any hints about a promotion, though he did praise Berrios and noted that the organization had no plans to shut the righty down as he approaches his career high in innings.  The Twins picked Berrios 32nd overall in the 2012 draft, and he ranked highly in preseason prospect lists from MLB.com (32nd) and Baseball America (36th), as well as a bump up to 19th on BA’s midseason top 50 prospects list.