Minnesota Twins Rumors

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

AL Central Notes: Perkins, Ramirez, Almonte, Indians

Twins closer Glen Perkins told reporters today that he can “barely walk” due to back spasms, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter links). Perkins will not accompany the team to Houston for its weekend series and will instead remain in Minneapolis for treatment. Per the Pioneer Press’ Jace Frederick and MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter links), Perkins says he is “baffled” by the recurrence of back pain, as he felt fine after recording a save on Tuesday and believed himself to be 90 to 95 percent healed. Instead, he awoke Wednesday to the realization that he could barely get out of bed. It’s not known how long Perkins will be sidelined, but the injury makes the Twins’ acquisitions of Kevin Jepsen and Neal Cotts look that much more important. That duo, along with Trevor May, who has temporarily converted to a reliever (with strong results), will figure to play a key role as the Twins hope to remain in Wild Card contention.

Here’s more from their division…

  • Alexei Ramirez hopes to return to the White Sox in 2016, he tells Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune“This was the team that gave me the opportunity to play in the big leagues and I want to spend the rest of my career here,” said Ramirez via interpreter. Chicago holds a $10MM option with a $1MM buyout on the 33-year-old Ramirez, essentially making it a $9MM decision for the Sox. Ramirez’s .243/.273/.345 batting line would make that seem like an easy call, Ramirez has made things tougher on GM Rick Hahn and his staff by hitting .285/.324/.435 with six homers and seven steals in 53 games dating back to July 1.
  • Zack Meisel of Cleveland.com chronicles Abraham Almonte‘s long journey to the Indians, including his battle with alcohol abuse along the way. Almonte admits that a shoulder injury suffered in 2010 as a minor leaguer with the Yankees led him to drinking nearly every day and candidly recounts the story of how he overcame his problems. Now with the Indians after being traded three times in three seasons, Almonte says he’s having the most fun of his career, and he’s drawing praise from teammates and coaches alike. Almonte, still just 26 years old, is hitting .274/.326/.536 with three homers and three steals in 92 plate appearances as Cleveland’s primary center fielder. His defense, characteristically, has been outstanding according to metrics such as Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved.
  • The Indians will likely promote left-hander Giovanni Soto and infielder Michael Martinez tomorrow, tweets MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. However, neither is on the team’s 40-man roster, meaning they’ll have to make a pair of 40-man moves in order to accommodate the duo. This is my speculation, but moving T.J. House to the 60-day disabled list would clear one spot, but there’s no injury-related move that could free up a second spot (unless the team decides Carlos Carrasco is done for the year), making a DFA seem probable.

AL Central Notes: Johnson, Berrios, Floyd, Indians

White Sox right-hander Erik Johnson‘s resurgent season at Triple-A has placed the former top prospect firmly on the map for a rotation spot in 2016, GM Rick Hahn tells Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune. After a 6.73 ERA in 105 2/3 innings at Triple-A last season, Johnson has turned in a 2.37 mark over 132 2/3 frames with 9.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. As Kane writes, Johnson will be working in relief initially, but he’s likely to make some starts later this month in what could be a preview for the 2016 season.

Here’s more from the AL Central…

  • The Twins will not call up top pitching prospect Jose Berrios this season, GM Terry Ryan told reporters, including MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. The 21-year-old’s innings total is a concern to the Twins, Ryan explained, especially considering the fact that Berrios is of slighter frame than many pitchers. Berrios ranks as one of the game’s best prospects, including No. 23 on MLB.com’s Top 100, No. 7 per Fangraphs’ Kiley McDaniel, No. 21 per ESPN’s Keith Law and No. 19 per Baseball America.
  • The Indians activated right-hander Gavin Floyd from the DL when rosters expanded in September, and manager Terry Francona told reporters, including MLB.com’s Jamie Ross, that Floyd is healthy enough to work out of the bullpen in the season’s final month. Francona said the Indians, however, owe it to Floyd to be careful with his surgically repaired right elbow because “he’s got more career ahead of him.” Floyd signed a one-year, $4MM contract this winter and re-fractured the olecranon bone in his right elbow in Spring Training — an injury that was initially believed to have ended his season. He made his Indians debut today, though, and fired a perfect inning from the ‘pen.
  • Cleveland.com’s Zack Meisel looks at some of departing Indians president Mark Shapiro’s comments from his press conference announcing his move to Toronto. Meisel breaks down Shapiro’s response to his biggest challenge with Cleveland — Shapiro diplomatically hinted at payroll constraints while noting that market size can’t be used as an excuse for lack of results — as well as Shapiro’s comments on the Michael Bourn/Nick Swisher signings.

Central Notes: Arrieta, Berrios, Kirby

Jake Arrieta‘s no-hitter stands out as one of the best performances of the season, and the right-hander’s overall dominant campaign has positioned him as one of the front-runners for the NL Cy Young Award. A season this excellent — Arrieta is 17-6 with a 2.11 ERA, 9.3 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 183 innings — makes for a lucrative arbitration raise, but his raise could be steeper than most assume. As MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets, our arbitration projection model currently has Arrieta jumping to $9.9MM in 2016 — nearly triple his current $3.625MM salary. The Cubs control Arrieta through the 2017 season.

Here’s more on Arrieta and the game’s Central divisions…

  • The trade that sent Arrieta and Pedro Strop to Chicago in exchange for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger has been brought up a great deal since the no-hitter, but Mark Brown of Camden Chat argues that Arrieta was unlikely to ever succeed with the Orioles. Arrieta was 27 at the time he was traded and had shown great raw talent with poor results for the better part of four seasons. Arrieta gave the Orioles little reason to ever believe he’d turn around, having posted a 5.46 ERA in 358 innings through the age of 27.
  • Though he wasn’t among the Twins‘ first wave of September callups, top prospect Jose Berrios is still under consideration to join the team later this month, writes the St. Paul Pioneer Press’ Mike Berardino“I don’t think we have finalized everything we’re going to do here,” said manager Paul Molitor. “Going forward, his name is definitely still being talked about.” GM Terry Ryan admitted that the upcoming November roster crunch is “a piece” of the consideration, as Berrios doesn’t have to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason as he’s not yet Rule 5 eligible. However, Ryan also notes that the Twins already added Byron Buxton to the 40-man despite the fact that he also didn’t need to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft. Berardino runs down a number of Twins prospects that may need to be protected on the 40-man this winter.
  • The Brewers announced today that left-hander Nathan Kirby, the team’s supplemental round pick from the most recent draft, underwent Tommy John surgery (h/t: Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, on Twitter). The Virginia product slipped from a potential Top 5-10 pick to the Comp Balance round after his stock dropped due to a lat strain. Kirby tossed just 12 2/3 innings with Milwaukee’s Class-A affiliate before being sidelined, and he could very well be lost for the entirety of the 2016 season now.


Twins Outright Jason Wheeler

The Twins have outrighted lefty Jason Wheeler off of the team’s 40-man roster, according to a club announcement. He was added to the 40-man roster last spring to keep him protected from the Rule 5 draft.

Though he has continued to put up quality numbers as a starter against Double-A competition, Wheeler has yet to master Triple-A, let alone the majors (where he’s yet to see time). In 78 innings at the highest level of the minors thus far in 2015, he’s surrendered 6.58 earned runs per nine with 4.6 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9.

Wheeler loses his spot as part of a number of moves announced today, including the call-up of players such as Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas. Notably absent, so far, is top pitching prospect Jose Berrios. As Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press notes on Twitter, the immediate need for a 40-man spot relates to the club’s decision to purchase the contract of catcher Eric Fryer.


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.