Minnesota Twins Rumors

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

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/31/15

Today’s minor MLB moves..

  • The Rays announced (on Twitter) that catcher Bobby Wilson was claimed off waivers by the Rangers.
  • The Pirates designated Deolis Guerra for assignment to clear roster a spot for Joakim Soria, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets.  Guerra gave up two three-run homers to Brandon Phillips yesterday, which probably didn’t help his job security with the Bucs.
  • The A’s announced that they have acquired lefty Felix Doubront from the Blue Jays for cash.  Doubront was designated for assignment just days ago to make room for the acquisition of Troy Tulowitzki.
  • Caleb Thielbar will be designated for assignment to make room for Kevin Jepsen on the Twins‘ 40-man roster, according to MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (on Twitter).
  • To make room for Jonathan Broxton, the Cardinals have designated Marcus Hatley for assignment, Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com tweets.
  • The Brewers announced that they have claimed Preston Guilmet off waivers from the Dodgers.  The well-traveled Guilmet didn’t spend much time with the Dodgers, who selected him off waivers from the Rays on July 10. Guilmet tossed three innings for the club’s Triple-A affiliate prior being designated for assignment.  He’s been very good at Triple-A this season, tallying a 1.95 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 32 1/3 innings between Buffalo, Durham and Oklahoma City.
  • The Nationals announced (on Twitter) that they have assigned catcher Dan Butler outright to Triple-A.
  • The Indians announced (on Twitter) that they have acquired left-hander Jayson Aquino from the Pirates for cash considerations.
  • The Pirates have outrighted Gorkys Hernandez to Triple-A, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets.
  • The Cubs have designated Ben Rowen for assignment, Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com tweets.

Twins Acquire Kevin Jepsen

1:44pm: The Twins have announced the trade.

1:27pm: The Rays will be getting minor league righties Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia from the Twins, tweets La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

12:59pm: The Twins and Rays are in agreement on a trade that will send right-hander Kevin Jepsen to Minnesota, reports Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).

Bullpen help has been the Twins’ primary need for quite some time, as the team lacks quality setup options for Glen Perkins, with the possible exception of converted starter Trevor May, who has recently been handling the eighth inning in Minnesota. Blaine Boyer, Aaron ThompsonBrian Duensing and Casey Fien have all had struggles at various times this year, with Thompson already having been shipped to Triple-A.

Jepsen, 31, should provide some stability, though he isn’t necessarily an elite upgrade. He has a solid track record dating back to 2012 (3.12 ERA in 187 1/3 innings), but his strikeout rate and control have both taken a step back in 2015. Jepsen’s averaged 4.3 walks per nine against 7.3 strikeouts per nine, both of which are departures from his career marks and his rates in recent seasons. Even without a return to his previous strikeout levels, though, Jepsen will improve the strikeout rate in a Twins bullpen that handily ranks last in the Majors in strikeout.

Jepsen is earning $3.025MM in 2015 and is controllable through the 2016 season, so he’ll likely be ticketed for a raise into the mid-$4MM range or so this winter.


Pitching Notes: Yankees, Nolasco, Twins, Teheran, Leake

The Yankees are still looking at the market for starters, tweets Joel Sherman of the New York Post, but “feel doubtful” of getting anything done on that front. New York feels comfortable with its internal options to fill in for the just-DL’ed Michael Pineda, he adds. That may be true, of course, but we had heard of interest in a rotation addition prior to Pineda’s injury, so it seems unwise to count New York out of the market until the final bell has sounded.

More pitching notes:

  • The Twins and Padres have had some trade discussions, and the concept of offloading the remaining two years of Ricky Nolasco‘s contract has been floated in those discussions, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. As Wolfson notes, Jeremy Nygaard of TwinsDaily.com first suggested the notion. Nolasco does have a three-team no-trade clause but it does not include San Diego, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press notes on Twitter.
  • The Twins are looking at set-up options that include Joaquin Benoit of the Padres and several Rays pitchers, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com tweets. Minnesota has long been said to be pursuing pen arms, and it would be surprising if the team doesn’t make an addition today. We’ve already heard of recent interest in Tampa Bay’s relief arms from the Astros.
  • Julio Teheran may have been available at one point, at a high price, but the Braves now seem more or less unwilling to move him, Heyman tweets. Atlanta just sent young starter Alex Wood to the Dodgers, of course, which could have impacted their willingness to part with another controllable arm (particularly since he’s scuffled this year).
  • The Giants believe they can hold onto the just-acquired Mike Leake beyond this year, Peter Gammons of GammonsDaily.com tweets. San Francisco has had no trouble reaching late-season extensions in recent years, or with re-signing its own free agents off the open market, so it certainly bears watching.


Relief Market Notes: Astros Working Hard, Twins, Lowe

The Astros are “pushing hard” to find an upgrade in the bullpen and have several irons in the fire, according to Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (via Twitter). Given the players under consideration, it looks like Houston is aiming high. We just heard of talks with the Padres that may include Craig Kimbrel, and Bowden says they’ve also discussed Joaquin Benoit. As Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle tweeted earlier, the Rays have spoken with the Astros about pen arms, though he adds nothing seems likely there, and Bowden lists Brad Boxberger and Jake McGee as names that have come up. And Houston has even made inquiries on outstanding Reds closer Aroldis Chapman, he adds.

Here’s more on the relief market, which should be among the most active areas of discussion leading up to tomorrow’s deadline.

  • Though the Twins are in the market for relief help, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter) that they’re not interested in either Junichi Tazawa or Craig Breslow of the Red Sox. Berardino hears that the Twins are turned off by Tazawa’s five-plus years of service (he’ll be a free agent after 2016) and Breslow’s impending free agency.
  • Mariners right-hander Mark Lowe is drawing quite a bit of interest, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (Twitter link). The journeyman reliever is in the midst of a breakout season, having pitched to an incredible 1.00 ERA with 11.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 36.5 percent ground-ball rate in 36 innings this season. Lowe’s average fastball velocity of 95 mph is his best since 2011, and because he took a minor league deal in an attempt to revitalize his career (so far, so good), any team could afford him from a financial standpoint.

AL Central Notes: Twins, Polanco, Tigers, White Sox

The Twins announced the call-up of highly-regarded shortstop prospect Jorge Polanco, who will take the roster spot of Trevor Plouffe as he heads to the paternity list. It’s unclear as yet whether Polanco — currently rated the 89th overall prospect in the game by MLB.com — will stick around for a lengthier stretch. He has already seen two brief cameos, and Minnesota probably hopes he’s the future at the position. But the team is struggling to find consistency at shortstop now, as it continues to remain in contention. GM Terry Ryan said yesterday that he isn’t ruling out the possibility of adding a shortstop in the next three days, as MLB.com’s Betsy Helfand reports“If you’ve got a chance to get better, then you look at it,” Ryan said. “If you’ve got a chance to just do something to make a move, that wouldn’t be very smart, either. We’ve got three of them here.” Polanco now joins that group, which also includes Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar, and Eduardo Nunez. As I noted in breaking down the shortstop trade market, Minnesota figures as a possible participant, and could find some veteran options available at reasonable prices.

Here’s more from the AL Central:

  • As they approach the deadline, the Twins should exercise caution in making deals for their short-term impact, Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN writes. He advocates for a bullpen addition or two, at a relatively low cost, as the best way to balance the team’s solid position in the Wild Card hunt with its long-term interests.
  • Indeed, even with the Royals making big moves to bolster their already high-performing roster, the Twins do not seem inclined to respond to keep up with their division rivals. As MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports on Twitter, Ryan indicated that his moves won’t be dictated by what Kansas City has done: “You still have to do what’s right for your own club,” he said. “You’re not going to be reactionary.”
  • The Twins have steadily enhanced their reliance on analytics, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press writes“It’s probably not at the level the Pirates were at and are at,” says Twins manager of major league administration and baseball research Jack Goin, “but it’s significantly better (than it was). This is just kind of a natural evolution.” You’ll want to give the full piece a read for an interesting look at Minnesota’s changing philosophies.
  • After another rough loss yesterday, the Tigers should be deadline sellers, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press opines. While Detroit is still on the periphery of the Wild Card race, four and a half out, the club has now dipped 13.5 games back of the division-leading Royals. For George Sipple of MLive.com, given the club’s veteran core, there’s a case to be made in either direction — adding pieces or selling off expiring veteran contracts — but no real argument for standing pat.
  • With the White Sox now climbing past the Tigers in the standings, Jon Morosi of FOX Sports tweets that he believes there’s a better chance of Detroit moving David Price than there is of Chicago parting with Jeff Samardzija. Both will hit the open market after the year, of course. It’s worth bearing in mind that the latter has far less trade value, making it somewhat easier for the White Sox to keep him and plan to recoup prospect value by extending a qualifying offer after the season (with expectations that it will be declined).

Central Notes: Twins, Benoit, Kelley, Fiers, Cubs, Samardzija

Rumors from MLB’s central divisions:

  • The Twins are in the market for a power reliever, writes Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Minnesota has long been known for their reliance on command and control pitchers. Their bullpen has a league worst 6.08 K/9. The Tigers are next worst with 7.30 K/9. Twins GM Terry Ryan acknowledged the advantage strikeouts can provide in big situations. If somebody’s got the out pitch to be able to get a strikeout, that’s great. Unfortunately there are pitchers that don’t have that capability as much as others, so it makes those sac flies or putting the ball in play with the infield back … it just gives the other offense that advantage.
  • Minnesota has spoken with the Padres about relievers, tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports. Morosi lists Joaquin Benoit and Shawn Kelley as possible fits. I would add that Brandon Maurer fits the power pitching profile. However, Benoit and Kelley could both hit free agency after this season. Kelley is unsigned beyond this season, and Benoit has a $8MM club option ($500K buyout). Maurer comes with four more seasons of club control. As such, he’s probably more difficult to acquire.
  • The Brewers are drawing plenty of interest in starter Mike Fiers, tweets Tom Haudricourt of MLB.com. However, the club presently plans to keep Fiers. They are more open to trading veterans Kyle Lohse and Matt Garza. Given the performance of both pitchers this season, they’ll have a hard time finding an interested suitor. Garza has a 5.49 ERA in 100 innings while Lohse has scuffled to a 6.29 ERA in 113 innings.
  • Prior to being no-hit by Cole Hamels, Cubs GM Jed Hoyer reiterated a need for pitching and bench depth, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN 1000. Hoyer didn’t elaborate about any specific talks. Rogers opines (via Twitter) that the club could seek to make some smaller moves for veterans to bolster depth and balance a young roster. The offense has struggled recently, but the Cubs are still in the thick of the Wild Card race. They’re just 1.5 games behind the Giants for the second slot.
  • The White Sox are increasingly willing to trade starter Jeff Samardzija, writes Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago. Samardzija has performed below expectations this season with a 3.91 ERA, 6.93 K/9, and 1.67 BB/9. However, he’s posted a strong 2.55 ERA over his last eight starts due to a low HR/FB ratio. While teams may no longer view him as an ace, he has failed to last seven innings in just four of his 20 starts this season. This is my speculation: he could prove to be a valuable innings eater for a club on the bubble like the Orioles or Astros. Hayes also notes that the White Sox have lined up Erik Johnson‘s starts with Samardzija. Johnson is in the midst of a breakout season with a 2.59 ERA, 10.05 K/9, and 2.87 BB/9.
  • The big story tonight is that the Royals nearly acquired Johnny Cueto from the Reds; read all about that here.

Minor MLB Transactions: 7/25/15

Here are the day’s minor moves:

  • The Twins have signed pitcher Michael Bowden to a minor league deal, tweets Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. Bowden had previously triggered an opt out from his deal with the Orioles. Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN hears that Bowden can opt out of his new deal on August 22 (via Twitter). Once a prominent Red Sox prospect, Bowden has a 4.51 ERA, 6.73 K/9, and 3.64 BB/9 in 133 major league innings. With the Orioles Triple-A affiliate, he pitched to a shiny 1.91 ERA in 75 innings. However, his 6.21 K/9 and 2.39 BB/9 weren’t particularly exciting.
  • The Rockies have signed pitcher Rudy Owens to a minor league deal, according to the league transactions page. Owens was a prominent component of the trade that sent Wandy Rodriguez from Houston to Pittsburgh in 2012. The 27-year-old appeared briefly with the Astros last season. He pitched at three levels for the Dodgers earlier this season. He was once viewed as a possible back-of-the-rotation starter, but he now seems to lack the necessary velocity and pitch peripherals to consistently succeed in the majors.

NL East Notes: Alvarez, Cishek, Haren, Mets, Venable, Nats

Marlins right-hander Henderson Alvarez experienced a setback in his rehab from right shoulder inflammation, and his season is now in jeopardy, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Manager Dan Jennings told Spencer and others prior to Thursday’s contest: “He had a recurrence of the shoulder. We’re trying to determine if it’s going to be best for a non-surgical, or surgical procedure regarding the shoulder.” Alvarez’s injury troubles in 2015 have contributed to the team’s disappointing season. If he’s to undergo surgery and miss the remainder of the season, Alvarez will have made just four starts in 2015, with the end result being an ERA over 6.00.

Here’s the latest from the NL East…

  • The Dodgers, Cardinals, Twins and Blue Jays are still in the mix for former Marlins closer Steve Cishek, reports MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro. Cishek’s been throwing well since returning from a brief stint at Triple-A, allowing just one earned run with an 11-to-4 K/BB ratio in 11 2/3 innings. Frisaro also adds the Orioles to the list of teams with interest in right-hander Dan Haren, adding to recent reports that have linked the Blue Jays and Dodgers to Haren.
  • Mets general manager Sandy Alderson made a pair of definitive statements to reporters today, writes MLB.com’s Joe Trezza. First and foremost, Alderson said that none of the four young arms in his rotation — Matt Harvey, Jacob deGrom, Noah Syndergaard or Steven Matz — is available in trades. Alderson also insisted that ownership has provided him with the resources to take on a major contract, though he added that the media and fans alike would both take that news with a heavy grain of salt: “Now, none of you will believe me, OK? So I’m not sure why you asked the question and insisted on the answer.”
  • The Mets have interest in Padres outfielder Will Venable, per Jon Morosi of FOX Sports (Twitter link), who echoes previous reports that Gerardo Parra is under Mets consideration as well. According to Morosi, the Cubs are intrigued by both Parra and Venable as well, however, so the Mets have some competition in regards to those two trade targets.
  • Morosi’s colleague, Ken Rosenthal, tweets that the Mets don’t feel they need to acquire a third baseman while David Wright is on the shelf, because the team is better defensively with Daniel Murphy at third base while Wright is out. Adding an outfielder — preferably one controllable beyond 2015 — is the Mets’ priority.
  • Speaking about the trade deadline in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter links), Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said, “There’s no trade I could make that could be as the guys we’re getting back [from the DL]. We will certainly be looking, but I don’t know how active we’ll be.”

Diamondbacks’ Brad Ziegler Drawing Significant Interest

The Diamondbacks are receiving “lots of calls” on right-hander Brad Ziegler, reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick (via Twitter). However, the D-Backs have told other clubs that they’d need to be overwhelmed to move Ziegler, who has transitioned seamlessly into the team’s closer role following Addison Reed‘s early struggles. As Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets, the Twins are one team with interest in Ziegler.

Ziegler is 35 years old, but the side-armer is enjoying arguably the finest season of his career despite his age. He’s never been a hard-thrower (85.2 mph average fastball in his career) or missed many bats (career 6.0 K/9), but Ziegler is a ground-ball machine that has consistently dominated right-handed hitters and posted strong ERA marks. Righties have hit him at just a .216/.268/.279 clip in his career, and while he at one time struggled versus lefties, he’s held them to a .206/.302/.321 line over the past three seasons.

Thus far in 2015, Ziegler’s posted a pristine 1.08 ERA with 5.2 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a ground-ball rate north of 69 percent in 41 2/3 innings. With Reed losing a handle on the ninth inning early in the year, Ziegler has picked up 15 saves in 16 tries as well. Though he’s typically been deployed as a traditional one-inning closer, manager Chip Hale has shown a willingness to use him for multiple innings recently. Ziegler has been asked to get six outs and five outs in his past two outings — his first multi-inning efforts since May 8, when he was still pitching as a setup man.

Ziegler’s strong results aren’t the only reason that teams are showing interest, as he’s also on an affordable contract. He signed a two-year, $10.5MM extension with the D-Backs that covers the 2014-15 seasons and includes a reasonable club option for the 2016 campaign as well. Ziegler is earning $5MM in 2015, of which about $2.05MM remains. He’s also guaranteed a $1MM buyout of a $5.5MM option for the 2016 season, though given his excellent results through the first three-plus months, that option would seem like a lock to be exercised, whether it’s by the D-Backs or another team following a trade.


Deadline Rumors: Cespedes, Cishek, Price, Gallardo, Jays, Royals, Reds, Alvarez, Padres

In another twist regarding the free agent deal he signed out of Cuba, Tigers outfielder Yoenis Cespedes would be effectively precluded from signing with the team as a free agent after this year unless he is traded away in the interim, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports. It was already a matter of common knowledge that the club could not make him a qualifying offer after the year, since his deal requires that he be released five days after its conclusion. But Rosenthal now cites a CBA provision providing that a released player also cannot be re-signed by his club until May 15 of the ensuing year. While Detroit could hold Cespedes and attempt to work out an extension at any point up to five days after the World Series, it would otherwise be unable to bring him back unless he sat out a good portion of the 2016 campaign — a highly unlikely scenario. Of course, moving him now would prevent the team from working out a deal until the power-hitting outfielder becomes a free agent. As Rosenthal notes, Cespedes has told friends that he hopes to remain with the Tigers, and Detroit has given every indication that it intends to compete next year even if it moves some pieces this summer.

There are a ton of important deadline developments to cover in the wake of the Scott Kazmir trade, so let’s get to them:

  • There is increasing action on Marlins reliever Steve Cishek, as MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro and Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald report (Twitter links) that there are multiple clubs involved — some with more apparent interest than the previously-reported Cardinals. The Twins are among the teams continuing to monitor the righty, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.
  • The Dodgers currently have David Price of the Tigers as their number one target, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets. But the expectation is that Detroit will hold their decision until next week.
  • Indeed, the Giants recently spoke with the Tigers regarding outfielder Rajai Davis, Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports on Twitter, but were left with the impression that Detroit is still unsure of its course of action.
  • Another player on the Dodgers radar is Rangers righty Yovani Gallardo, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets. Though nothing is close, the two clubs have had discussions.
  • The Blue Jays sought to land Kazmir before he went to Houston, Buster Olney of ESPN.com reports on Twitter. With the market beginning to move, the team appears to be ramping up is efforts to add a starter, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets.
  • Both the Blue Jays and the Royals are “all-in” on Reds starter Johnny Cueto, ESPN.com’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter links). Kansas City is also considering Mike Leake from Cincinnati as well as Jeff Samardzija, Dan Haren, and Mat Latos. But the club is not interested in Cole Hamels, James Shields, or Yovani Gallardo, per the report.
  • Reds GM Walt Jocketty says he has a green light to sell pieces, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. They’ll make moves “if it makes sense, but we’re not going to give away players,” says Jocketty. “We’ve been talking with a lot of different people, but we haven’t been receiving offers that have us wanting to commit.”
  • One rival general manager tells Passan that the Pirates are working hard to move first baseman Pedro Alvarez (Twitter link). We’ve heard previously that Pittsburgh has interest in an upgrade, and presumably it would make an addition if it can find a taker for Alvarez.
  • Meanwhile, the Padres are officially open for business, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (via Twitter). In addition to Justin Upton, the team could move relievers Craig Kimbrel and Joaquin Benoit, outfielder Will Venable, and any number of starters. Rosenthal says that Tyson Ross is perhaps the least likely rotation piece to change hands.