Minnesota Twins Rumors

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

Quick Hits: Braves, Ross, Cabrera, Kang, Aoki

The White Sox, Yankees and Astros have spent heavily on relief help this offseason, and ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick wonders if they’ll end up regretting their expensive contracts for veteran relievers. “In the last couple of years we’ve lost a lot of games late in the eighth and ninth inning,” says White Sox manager Ventura. “After a while you sit there and think, ‘We have to have somebody who can come in and do this.’ Everything has its risks — and this is one of them — but we’re pretty confident we got a guy [David Robertson] who we can put in the bullpen and be a leader.” The reason for all the spending on players like Robertson, Zach Duke, Andrew Miller, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek isn’t so much that teams are trying to emulate the Royals‘ ferocious 2014 bullpen, Crasnick suggests. Rather, it’s more that teams are loaded with cash and pitchers like Robertson and Miller are very good. Here are more notes from around the Majors.

  • The Braves continue to explore potential trades involving Justin Upton and Evan Gattis, MLB.com’s Mark Bowman reports (Twitter links). The Braves have spoken about Upton and Gattis with five teams Wednesday, and continued to consider ways to include B.J. Upton or Chris Johnson in trades involving Justin Upton or Gattis. The Padres had previously looked like a potential destination for Justin Upton, but it would appear that their agreement to acquire Wil Myers today rules them out as a potential trade partner, at least for now.
  • Free agent catcher David Ross is deciding between the Red Sox, Cubs and Padres, WEEI.com’s Rob Bradford writes. Meanwhile, lefty reliever Craig Breslow has spoken to the Red Sox and Cubs. Ross has played for the Red Sox, of course, and has a history with Jon Lester and Theo Epstein of the Cubs (although his signing with the Cubs would likely result in, or come as the result of, a trade of Welington Castillo). The Padres are in the process of trading both Yasmani Grandal and Rene Rivera, but are also in the process of acquiring Ryan Hanigan and Tim Federowicz, so it’s unclear where Ross would fit in.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera has drawn interest from the Giants, Athletics, Mets, Cardinals and Twins, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Heyman writes that Cabrera could play second base or third base as well as shortstop, although there have been rumblings that Cabrera prefers to play shortstop or second base only, and not third. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle would be surprised if the A’s are interested, as they’ve never shown interest in Cabrera in past years despite up-the-middle needs (Twitter links).
  • Those same five teams have asked about Korean middle infielder Jung-ho Kang, although the Athletics and Mets are downplaying their interest, Heyman tweets. A’s GM Billy Beane has stated on the record that reports of his club’s interest in Kang are inaccurate. Kang was posted earlier this week.
  • Heyman lists the Orioles, Reds and Mariners as possibilities for Nori Aoki, with the veteran outfielder potentially receiving two to three years at $7MM-$8MM per year. Aoki had previously been connected to the Orioles and Reds, with the Orioles mostly interested in him as a backup option. Heyman reported last week that Aoki was looking for a three-year deal. Earlier this offseason, we at MLBTR guessed he would receive two years and $16MM.

Twins Sign Ervin Santana

MONDAY: Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel tweets that Santana’s contract contains just one option, which requires Santana to not only reach 200 innings in 2018 but also to reach 400 innings from 2017-18 and to pass a physical at the end of his 2018 season.

THURSDAY: The Twins have officially agreed to a four-year, $55MM deal with free agent starter Ervin Santana. The pact includes a $14MM club option ($1MM buyout) for a fifth year that will automatically vest if he throws 200 innings in 2018. He will earn $13.5MM annually over the guaranteed portion of the deal.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves

Santana, of course, settled for a one-year deal with the Braves last year at the value of the qualifying offer. By acting more quickly this time around, he was able to secure the multi-year pact he was looking for. Minnesota will need to give up a pick to add Santana, but will be able to hold onto its protected first-rounder.

He earned that payday by following up his excellent 2013 campaign with a solid effort last year. Santana threw 196 innings for Atlanta, posting a 3.95 ERA with 8.2 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.7% groundball rate. But there were signs that he was even better than his results, as FIP (3.39), xFIP (3.47), and SIERA (3.63) all liked his work.

Those numbers led MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes to predict that the 31-year-old righty would land a four-year, $56MM deal, and that is very nearly exactly what happened. As Dierkes noted, the Twins pursued Santana last year and clearly liked his arm.

Santana joins a staff that already features several arms from last year’s free agent market, including Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. Minnesota will hope for an improvement from that group, which posted the league’s second-worst cumulative ERA last year. Several young arms are expected to begin moving into the big league mix as well, with the team likely hoping its open market spending will join up with the rise of a much-heralded overall prospect group.

Also of note is the fact that the AL Central continues to be a division to watch. The White Sox have announced their intention to contend and the Indians are a rising team that just added Brandon Moss. And that’s all before considering the big-spending Tigers and World Series runner-up Royals.

Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports first reported that a deal was nearing (Twitter links). LaVelle A. Neall III of the Star Tribune (via Twitter) and Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (Twitter link) reported that it was done. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter), Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com (likewise), Enrique Rojas of ESPNDeportes.com (via Spanish-language tweet), and Passan (via Twitter) all contributed aspects of the deal’s workings. 

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: Stanton, Mets, Tulowitzki, Miller, Mariners

The Marlins do not think they’ll have to pay out the entire $325MM balance of Giancarlo Stanton‘s contract, Pirates president Frank Coonelly told a crowd (including the Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel) at PirateFest Saturday. Speaking very candidly for a team president, Coonelly recalled a recent conversation with Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria and president David Samson: “They said to me, ‘You don’t understand. (Stanton) has an out clause after six years. Those first six years are only going to cost $107 million. After that, he’ll leave and play for somebody else. So, it’s not really $325 million.'” Here are more notes from around the big leagues.

  • The Mets should trade for Troy Tulowitzki, Joel Sherman of the New York Post writes. Yes, Sherman says, Tulowitzki has $106MM on his contract and a long list of injuries, but if he were a perfect player, the Rockies would not trade him at a reasonable price. (In fact, they still might not trade him at a reasonable price.) And the time is right for the Mets, who have plenty of promising pitching but don’t have a shortstop. A trade for Tulowitzki could be just the risk the Mets need, Sherman writes, like their trade for Gary Carter 30 years ago. As for Tulowitzki, Sherman says that it’s “a poorly kept secret in the game is just how badly he wants out of Colorado now.” He doesn’t have a no-trade clause, but the Rockies’ front office would likely consult him about a possible trade, and Sherman thinks he would appreciate the chance to play for the Mets.
  • The Cardinals say they are not actively pursuing Max Scherzer, USA Today’s Bob Nightengale tweets. Scherzer is from the St. Louis area, and he reportedly met with the team earlier in the offseason.
  • A Mariners official says the team doesn’t want to trade Brad Miller, Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune reports. “[U]nderstand this: We’re not looking to trade him,” the official says. “I’m not saying it won’t happen, but it’s a lot less likely than some people seem to think.” Dutton adds, however, that Miller was part of a deal the Mariners proposed to try to get Matt Kemp from the Dodgers. The Dodgers then demanded the Mariners include either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton. The Mariners declined, and the Dodgers agreed to trade Kemp to the Padres instead.
  • The Twins have shown interest in former Reds third baseman Jack Hannahan, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com tweets. Hannahan was born in St. Paul and went to both high school and college in the Twin Cities. He played sparingly in 2014 and posted just a .470 OPS in 50 plate appearances, so as Wolfson notes, the Twins would likely have interest in him only on a minor league deal.


AL Central Notes: Santana, Tigers

The Twins had interest in their own former pitcher Francisco Liriano on the free agent market, but when Liriano agreed to terms with the Pirates, the Twins quickly changed course and ended up with Ervin Santana, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. He’s been very, very durable,” says Twins GM Terry Ryan, referring to Santana. “He’s got enough velocity (92-94 mph). He’s got a slider that is probably his best pitch. … He’s not afraid of the American League, which is another good thing. The (cold) weather is not scaring him off either, which is another good thing.” Berardino reports that Santana received good reviews of the Twins organization from Liriano, Alexi Casilla and Torii Hunter, all friends of his. Here’s more from the AL Central.

  • The Tigers‘ Winter Meetings trades added to their 2015 payroll but might end up saving them money, writes MLB.com’s Jason Beck. The Tigers added Yoenis Cespedes and Alfredo Simon while trading away Rick Porcello. MLBTR projects Porcello to make $12.2MM next season. Cespedes will make $10.5MM, while MLBTR projects Simon will make $5.1MM. Leaving aside other potential minimum-salary players included in the trades, that means the Tigers’ payroll increased by roughly $3MM. If the Tigers had kept Porcello and signed a free-agent outfielder, though, their payroll probably would have increased by considerably more than that.

Twins Designate Chris Parmelee For Assignment

The Twins have designated lefty 1B/OF Chris Parmelee for assignment to clear space on their 40-man roster for Ervin Santana, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune tweets. Parmelee, who will be 27 in February, hit .256/.307/.384 in 270 plate appearances for the Twins last season, only a bit worse than his career line of .249/.317/.392.

The 2006 first-round draft pick hit well in the minors and was brilliant in a small sample in his first season in the big leagues in 2011, but he hit a wall in 2012, when he struggled in the big leagues and wasn’t much better for Triple-A Rochester. He’s gotten 901 career plate appearances in the big leagues, but his offensive contributions haven’t been especially strong, particularly for a player with limited defensive value.


Minor Moves: Villarreal, Noonan, Rangers

Here are today’s minor transactions, with the newest moves at the top of the post…

  • The Twins have signed right-hander Brayan Villarreal to a split contract, ESPN’s Enrique Rojas reports (via Twitter).  The deal contains an invitation to Minnesota’s Spring Training camp and Villarreal will earn $522K if he stays on the Twins’ Major League roster.  Villarreal last pitched in the majors in 2013 and spent last season with the Red Sox Triple-A affiliate.
  • The Yankees signed infielder Nick Noonan to a minor league deal, the New York Post’s Joel Sherman reports (Twitter link).  Noonan, taken 32nd overall by the Giants in the 2007 draft, has a .262/.316/.368 slash line over 3322 career PA in the minors, all in San Francisco’s farm system.  He appeared in 62 games with the Giants in 2013.
  • The Rangers signed outfielder Antoan Richardson and right-handers Anthony Bass and Ross Wolf to minor league deals with Spring Training invitations, the team announced (hat tip to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram).
  • The Marlins are likely to sign free agent infielder Scott Sizemore, SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo tweets.  Sizemore signed a minor league deal with the Yankees last winter and played in six games for the club before being released and re-signed over the summer.  Due in part to a pair of major knee injuries, Sizemore has only appeared in eight Major League games over the last three seasons.
  • The Brewers have released outfielder Jeremy Hermida so he can pursue an opportunity to play in Japan, the team announced.  Hermida just signed a new minor league contract with Milwaukee in November.  The former 11th overall pick (in the 2002 draft) and top prospect last played in the majors in 2012 as a member of the Padres.

Rule 5 Draft Notes: Rays, Twins, Graham

The Rule 5 Draft takes place at 11am Central on Thursday, with live audio coverage at MLB.com. The Rule 5 involves players who have been with their teams several years (five seasons if they signed at 18 or younger, four years if they signed at 19 or older) and have not yet been protected on their teams’ 40-man rosters. Teams must then add the players they select to their 40-man rosters, and keep them on their active rosters throughout the 2015 season.

MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo lists the draft order (the Diamondbacks have the first pick) and the key prospects, which include speedy Astros outfielder Delino DeShields, Marlins lefty Jarlin Garcia and Braves righty J.R. Graham, but the Rule 5 is often surprising, as teams often choose players (or choose no one) based on their own distinctive evaluations of the marginal prospects who tend to be available. (A couple weeks ago, we noted J.J. Cooper of Baseball America’s extensive preview of this year’s top Rule 5-eligible prospects.) Here are a few notes on tomorrow’s draft.

  • One potential pick could be Rays catcher Oscar Hernandez, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. Topkin notes that Hernandez is very toolsy. Still, it’s hard to see him sticking on a big-league roster at this point, even in a backup role — he hit .249/.301/.401 in the Class A Midwest League last year, hardly numbers that suggest he can handle big-league pitching. Topkin writes that Hernandez isn’t polished defensively at this point, either.
  • Many teams tomorrow are unlikely to select a player at all, Baseball America’s Ben Badler tweets.
  • If the Twins do select a player with the fifth pick and hold onto him, it could be Graham, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. Graham, 24, posted a poor 5.55 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.3 BB/9 in 71 1/3 innings for Double-A Mississippi last season, but he was returning from a shoulder injury, and he has an outstanding fastball. A team could select him and move him to their bullpen.

AL Central Notes: Indians, Detwiler, Royals, Twins

The Indians are pursuing free agent starter Brett Anderson, ESPN’s Jim Bowden tweets. If he’s healthy, the talented but oft-injured Anderson would provide a wild card and a left arm for a talented Indians rotation that currently includes Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar, Trevor Bauer and T.J. House. Anderson has recently been connected to the Twins, Rockies, Royals and Astros. Here’s more from the AL Central.

  • The Royals discussed a potential Ross Detwiler trade with the Nationals, but talks didn’t advance, James Wagner of the Washington Post tweets. The Royals saw the lefty reliever and Missouri native as “more of a backup option,” Wagner notes. Detwiler, 28, posted a 4.00 ERA with 5.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 63 innings with the Nats last season.
  • There has been plenty of interest in Twins middle infielders Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, but the Twins do not want to trade either one, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman tweets. Dozier and Escobar were among Minnesota’s most productive position players last season, so it’s understandable that the Twins would be reluctant to part with them, although they also got very good seasons from fellow middle infielder Danny Santana and from third baseman Trevor Plouffe.

Twins “Pushing” To Sign Ervin Santana

THURSDAY: Minnesota is prepared to offer Santana a contract in the neighborhood of four years and $50MM, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  The Royals and Giants are among the other teams involved in the Santana chase.

WEDNESDAY: The Twins are “pushing to get [a] deal” with free agent right-hander Ervin Santana, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports (Twitter link).  Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) hears that the Twins have made an offer to Santana, though he cautions that the offer alone doesn’t indicate that a deal is close.

For what it’s worth, Twins GM Terry Ryan won’t even confirm that the Twins have interest in the free agent hurler, as Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweets.  He says that any news of a deal (or, presumably, a near-deal) is news to him.

Santana, 31, pitched to a 3.95 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 42.7 percent ground-ball rate in 196 innings of work in 2014.  While his ERA rose, metrics such as FIP (3.39) and xFIP (3.47) felt Santana had his best season since 2008.

Earlier today, we learned that the Giants are talking with Santana now that they have lost out on their top target, Jon Lester.  The veteran is said to love “pitching in the cold,” so Minnesota might prove to be a solid fit for him.


Mets Confident They Will Trade Dillon Gee

6:04pm: Rex Brothers‘ name isn’t currently part of the trade talks between the Mets and Rockies, Newsday’s Marc Carig tweets.

4:02pm: At present, there is no traction between the Royals and Mets regarding Gee, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News tweets.

3:31pm: Another set of reports links the Rockies to Gee, with Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (via Twitter) and Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reporting that there is present interest from Colorado. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reported last night that the Rockies had expressed interest in Gee.

2:38pm: The Mets do not expect to land a shortstop in a deal involving Gee, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Instead, the team is looking to add a left-handed reliever, right-handed bench bat, prospects, or some combination of the above.

2:05pm: GM Sandy Alderson says the Mets are not confident they will make a deal involving a starter in San Diego, tweets Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. But the club does expect to strike a deal of some kind soon.

1:20pm: The Mets are confident they will find a deal to move starter Dillon Gee this week, Jack Curry of the YES Network reports on Twitter. There has been a lot of chatter on Gee with multiple teams, he notes, reflecting other recent reports.

We have already heard several teams mentioned in relation to Gee, among them the Twins. But Joel Sherman of the New York Post (via Twitter) says a deal between those teams looks unlikely, with New York not terribly interested in shortstop Eduardo Escobar. The Royals, Padres, Rockies, Rangers, and Giants have also been noted as having interest.