Minnesota Twins Rumors

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

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.

Central Links: Alcantara, Bailey, Worley, Masterson, Sox

Originally recalled for a two-day period with Darwin Barney on paternity leave, Cubs second baseman Arismendy Alcantara has been informed that he will be with the team at least through the All-Star break, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times. Alcantara, who ranked 33rd on Baseball America’s midseason list of the game’s Top 50 prospects, says he was surprised by the news. Manager Rick Renteria offered praise for the 22-year-old, who collected his first four Major League hits in today’s contest.

Here’s more from the game’s Central divisions…

  • Reds right-hander Homer Bailey left today’s game after five innings due to a slight strain in his right knee, but he won’t see his name added to the list of significant injuries that have stricken contending teams today. The Reds have announced that he is expected to make his next start.
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he’s glad to see Vance Worley performing well with the Pirates, though he did imply that it’s too early to say that the Twins gave up on Worley too soon: “Give him a little time to see what he does over the course of starts. We’ll talk about that in October. See how it goes. I know he’s done well.”
  • The Indians are hopeful that Justin Masterson‘s two weeks on the disabled list will not only give him a chance to heal, but to help him get his mechanics back in line, reports MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. Pitching coach Mickey Callaway feels that Masterson’s knee has affected the way he’s been able to land during his delivery, which would explain the sharp decrease in velocity Masterson has seen this year.
  • White Sox GM Rick Hahn would need to receive an offer that knocks his cell phone out of his hands in order to trade Chris Sale, Jose Quintana, Avisail Garcia or Jose Abreu, writes Scott Merkin of MLB.com. However, Hahn notes that oftentimes, a trade will come together when a rival club’s initial inquiry is on a player that is unavailable, as it leads to the suggestion of alternative options.

AL East Notes: Red Sox, Pierzynski, O’s, Tanaka, Beltran

The day after designating $8.25MM catcher A.J. Pierzynski for assignment, the Red Sox have done some looking back and looking forward. The embattled veteran was a source of clubhouse discord, reports Rob Bradford of WEEI.com. Meanwhile, Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal writes that Pierzynski’s original one-year signing, and his ultimate DFA, fit with the club’s long-term plans behind the dish. GM Ben Cherington acknowledged that his club was in an “unusual spot,” as Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com reports“We believe we can win games with [Pierzynski replacement] Christian [Vazquez] behind the plate,” he said. “It is also an investment in him. We’re in an usual spot. We’re just gong to have to see what the rest of the month brings us, if we go on a run and our outlook changes.”

Here’s more on Pierzynski, the Red Sox, and the rest of the AL East:

  • Cherington said that, going forward, the focus for the Red Sox will be on adding offense. “I still believe a lot of that is going to come from guys already here,” he said. “But clearly offense has been an issue. We’d like to add to the offense, so we’re going to look for ways to do that whether that’s now or after the season or both. We’ve got to find ways to improve the offense.”
  • Pierzynski says that he will “go anywhere,” reports Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). Though the Twins had made him a two-year offer during the offseason, Wolfson says he’d be surprised if Minnesota looks to bring him back at this point.
  • It is easy to imagine several teams being interested in taking a chance on Pierzynski’s bat returning to its 2013 levels, but the Orioles will not be one of them, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com (Twitter link). Three internal sources told Kubatko that Baltimore has no interest in the controversial backstop in spite of its lack of offense at the position. Not only that, but executive VP Dan Duquette tells Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun that the team is generally happy with the club’s backstop duo of Caleb Joseph and Nick Hundley (in addition to the left-handed-hitting Steve Clevenger, stashed at Triple-A).
  • As noted earlier on the site, one player that the Orioles do have interest in is lefty Jorge De La Rosa of the Rockies, as Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun reports. In another piece, Connolly further discusses the O’s situation at the trade deadline, explaining that the team seems unlikely to add a top-of-the-rotation arm. For his part, Kubatko reasons that Baltimore may have some difficult decisions to make if it tries to plug a new arm into the club, as Kevin Gausman has been expected to take a rotation spot going forward. As both reporters note, a bullpen addition — especially a late-inning option — definitely seems to be a possibility.
  • Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka will fly to Seattle to see team doctor Christopher Ahmad, tweets MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. Fellow orthopedist Dr. Neal ElAttrache — often consulted on elbow issues — is at the same conference as Ahmad and could also see Tanaka, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter links). Notably, ElAttrache was the doctor who performed a physical on Tanaka that was shared with the rest of the league by the pitcher’s representatives.
  • Meanwhile, the Yankees are also waiting to hear whether outfielder Carlos Beltran will need to miss any time due to two small fractures in and around his nose, tweets Hoch. He sustained the injury in a freak batting practice accident yesterday.

Central Links: McLeod, Alcantara, Vargas, Gordon, Willingham

The Cubs have given senior vice president of player development and amateur scouting Jason McLeod a two-year extension, reports Scott Miller of MLB Network Radio and FOX Sports San Diego (Twitter link). While president Theo Epstein and GM Jed Hoyer may have more name recognition, McLeod was also a key member of the Red Sox front office alongside Epstein and Hoyer last decade. He followed Hoyer to the Padres when Hoyer served as San Diego’s GM and moved to Chicago alongside Hoyer and Epstein when Chicago restructured its front office.

Here’s more from baseball’s Central divisions…

  • Top Cubs prospect Arismendy Alcantara is getting a two-day promotion while Darwin Barney is on paternity leave, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago. While he stresses that it’s just for two days, Cubs fans will be getting their first look at a Top 100 prospect who GM Jed Hoyer has said could get a lengthier look this season.
  • Royals lefty Jason Vargas will be out three to four weeks after being rushed to the hospital for an appendectomy today, reports Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star. That’s not the only bad news on the injury front in K.C., either, as McCullough adds that Alex Gordon will undergo an MRI on his wrist. “I can’t swing,” Gordon told reporters. Manager Ned Yost thinks Gordon can avoid the DL, McCullough tweets, but he doesn’t expect him to play in a big series against the division-leading Tigers.
  • ESPN’s Jim Bowden looks at what it would take for contending teams to acquire Josh Willingham from the Twins (ESPN Insider required). Bowden feels that the slugger’s modest salary (he’s earning $7MM in 2014) and relatively low prospect cost make him a good fit for the Mariners, Royals and Reds.

Quick Hits: Prospects, Hoyer, Sabathia

Though Byron Buxton has only played in six games this season due to a wrist injury, the Twins outfielder still sits atop Baseball America’s midseason ranking of the top 50 prospects in the sport.  Twenty-two of the 30 Major League teams have at least one player on the list, and the Cubs stand out with three players in the top seven — Kris Bryant at #2, the newly-acquired Addison Russell at #5 and Javier Baez at #7.

Here’s some news as we kick off the final week before the All-Star break…

  • Jed Hoyer discussed several Cubs topics with David Kaplan and David Haugh on their podcast this morning, including how the general manager believes the offseason will be a busy one for his team.  “I expect us to be far more active this winter than last winter,” Hoyer said.  “We have money to spend and I expect teams looking for offense to call us.”  (Hat tip to Kaplan’s Twitter page.)
  • C.C. Sabathia‘s career is at a crossroads with the news that the veteran lefty might require microfracture surgery on his right knee.  Given Sabathia’s declining numbers and 2017 vesting option, ESPN’s Buster Olney (Insider subscription needed) wonders if the Yankees would be better off if Sabathia retired.
  • The week’s minor league transactions are recapped by Matt Eddy of Baseball America.
  • While the A’s are seemingly going all-in with the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel trade, Giants GM Brian Sabean could see upgrades as a lost cause given how his team has struggled recently, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes.  Shea opines that Sabean isn’t keen on trading prospects for 2014 given that he’ll have a number of roster holes to fill next season thanks to possibly departing free agents.

Cafardo On Bryant, Russell, Twins, Peavy, Mets

Cubs executive Jason McLeod sees flashes of Troy Glaus in top prospect Kris Bryant, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. “Definitely 40-home run power,” says McLeod. “There’ll be some strikeouts, but he has a great eye at the plate. He’ll take his share of walks and work the count.” Bryant, last year’s second overall draft pick, continues to dominate after having been promoted to Triple-A Iowa, hitting .364/.432/.773 in 74 plate appearances there. Here’s more from Cafardo.

  • One reason Addison Russell made sense for the Cubs in the Jeff Samardzija deal, Cafardo suggests, is that Russell is unlikely to stick at shortstop, meaning that he won’t be blocked by Starlin Castro and/or Javier Baez.
  • The Twins‘ best trade chips could include Josh Willingham and Kendrys Morales, Cafardo writes. Willingham could make sense for the Red Sox or Royals.
  • Some NL teams could show interest in starter Jake Peavy if the Red Sox are willing to eat some of the remainder of his 2014 salary.
  • Daniel Murphy could make sense for the Giants if the Mets decide to deal him. AL East teams could have interest in Bartolo Colon, and the Mets might be able to get at least some talent in return if they elect to trade him. The Mets are trying to decide if they can make enough noise in the second half to keep players like Murphy and Colon, Cafardo writes.