Minnesota Twins Rumors

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

AL Central Notes: Willingham, Indians, Tigers

While many clubs are averse to making trades within their own division, the Twins and Royals showed little hesitation to do so last night when Minnesota traded Josh Willingham to Kansas City in exchange for right-hander Jason Adam. The Twins, in fact, seemingly have little qualms about dealing to division rivals. Within the past five years, they’ve traded Francisco Liriano to the White Sox, Delmon Young to the Tigers and acquired Carl Pavano from the Indians. They also flipped Jim Thome back to Cleveland and Jamey Carroll to the Royals for players to be named later/cash considerations. Of course, most of these are fairly minor trades, but the Pavano trade and the Liriano trade have had lasting effects on the organization (Minnesota acquired Eduardo Escobar in the Liriano deal).

Here’s more on the most recent intra-division trade and the rest of the AL Central…

  • Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press spoke with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and second baseman Brian Dozier about Willingham’s departure. Gardenhire said the move was tough for the clubhouse to swallow, while Dozier called Willingham his mentor and best friend. As Berardino points out, Willingham currently has the eighth-most games of any active player that has never made a postseason appearance. Berardino was also among the reporters on hand to speak with Willingham himself in the Twins’ clubhouse following the announcement of his trade (All video links).
  • Zack Meisel of the Cleveland Plain Dealer began an excellent series by taking an in-depth examination of the Indians‘ analytics department and the contributions they make to the baseball operations department. Director of analytics Keith Woolner has been with the team since 2007 and has seen the Indians add two other analytics experts to his side based on the value they felt Woolner added. “There’s a lot of conversations out there, most of which never amount to anything,” Woolner said, “but you don’t know which ones are going to come to fruition, so you spend a lot of time evaluating a bunch of possibilities … so that when that one comes along, you have the information in place so that [GM Chris Antonetti] can make the best decision.”
  • Justin Verlander tells Chris Iott of MLive.com that he had the “worst” stuff of his career in Monday night’s disastrous one-inning start. Verlander, who will undergo an MRI on his shoulder, said he’s nervous to learn the results, but his shoulder has been bothering him for a while of late. In a second piece, Iott looks at the sudden dearth of pitching for the Tigers, with Verlander ailing and Anibal Sanchez and Joakim Soria hitting the DL. Iott points out that Detroit, which already has two rookies in its rotation for the time being, will have a pair of double-headers later this month, which could cause them to dip even deeper into a shallow pool of talent. While Iott doesn’t write this, it’d be surprising to me if GM Dave Dombrowski wasn’t actively looking to acquire further bullpen and/or rotation depth.

Royals Acquire Josh Willingham

The Royals have acquired Josh Willingham from the Twins, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter). The Twins will receive right-hander Jason Adam, per Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star (Twitter link).

MLB: Cleveland Indians at Minnesota Twins

Willingham was claimed by Kansas City off revocable waivers, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The veteran outfielder is owed $1.836MM for the last 48 days of the season, Berardino further tweets.

The right-handed hitter, 35, is set to reach free agency following the season and will therefore be a pure rental for the Royals. He has posted a .210/.345/.402 slash with 12 home runs through 278 plate appearances on the season after spending time on the DL early on. His production has not matched up to his high-level numbers over 2006-12 (.847 OPS), but they are a step up over a disappointing 2013 campaign.

Willingham brings some much-needed pop to a Royals lineup that has struggled to score runs at times. He is expected to see many of his plate appearances out of the designated hitter spot, per a tweet from Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star, sharing time with the lefty-swinging Raul Ibanez. Of course, Willingham is also capable of playing the corner outfield, though he has historically been regarded as a well-below-average performer on the field.

The return for Willingham is not insignificant, which is a fair achievement for Minnesota given that the pending free agent was claimed (leaving the Twins without leverage to deal with multiple trade partners). Adam, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2010. He has scuffled somewhat in the upper minors as a starter (5.13 ERA in 242 1/3 Double-A innings), but has had some success at Triple-A this year in a relief role (2.35 ERA over 15 1/3 frames). Baseball America rated him Kansas City’s 9th-best prospect coming  into the year, saying he has a solid heater and average slider but will need to develop a go-to third offering (change or curve) in order to succeed against lefties at the next level. MLB.com also rated him in the ninth slot among KC prospects entering the year, but dropped him to 16th in its mid-season update. Ultimately, Adam represents a controllable depth piece for a Minnesota club that already picked up young starter Tommy Milone earlier this summer.

Jeff Todd contributed to this post.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: Rays, Twins, Rangers

Cubs outfielder Chris Coghlan believes there’s too much pressure on prospects today, Toni Ginnetti of the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “People didn’t even know who was in Triple-A 10 years ago,” says the 2009 NL Rookie of the Year winner. “People didn’t know your name. Now ‘prospects’ are at an all-time high. … I feel bad for the young kids now because people are putting so much pressure on them.” Ten years ago, there was comparatively little information available about prospects, and all but the highest-profile of them were left to learn their craft in peace. The newfound scrutiny prospects face — partially, obviously, from websites like this one — is surely now a factor in their development, and it’s led to waves of hype for the big-league debuts of top talents like Javier Baez. Here’s more from around baseball.

  • Contrary to an earlier report, there weren’t any directives preventing the Rays from trading David Price to the Yankees, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times writes. “We don’t have a no-fly list,” says Rays president Matt Silverman. “We have 29 potential trading partners, and we have explored trades with each and every one of them.” Topkin adds that the remaining Rays don’t believe Price’s departure from their clubhouse is a factor in how they’ve performed since he left. After winning their last three games, the Rays are now 4-4 since the deal.
  • Teams from overseas have offered the Twins $1MM-$1.5MM to purchase the contract of pitcher Kris Johnson, but the Twins have declined, 1500ESPN.com’s Darren Wolfson tweets. Johnson has made just three big-league starts this season, instead spending most of the season with Triple-A Rochester, where he’s posted a 3.12 ERA with 7.5 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 109 2/3 innings.
  • ESPN’s Keith Law (audio link) spoke this afternoon to Hoffman & Sandler on ESPN 103.3 FM in Dallas about various Rangers topics. Law says that the Rangers aren’t likely to get more than a fringe prospect in return for Alex Rios (which seems reasonable, as Rios has already cleared waivers), although they might do better if they package him with another player, the way the Mets did last August when they sent Marlon Byrd and John Buck to the Pirates for Dilson Herrera and Vic Black. (Rios suffered an ankle injury today, which might render any trade talk moot if it turns out to be serious.) Law also says that although Joey Gallo is a top talent, promoting him to the big leagues right now would be “a horrendous idea,” and that Gallo would strike out about 45% of the time if he were in the big leagues today.


Central Notes: Johnson, Bullpen Issues, Suzuki

The closest pennant races are in MLB’s two Central divisions. Here’s the latest from both the NL and AL Central:

  • The Brewers sense they were the runner-up for the services of right-hander Jim Johnson, who signed a minor league deal with the Tigers on Tuesday, tweets MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy.
  • Despite the lack of offense from their first base platoon of Mark Reynolds and Lyle Overbay, the Brewers were wise not to re-sign first baseman Corey Hart this past winter, opines Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Hart, who missed six weeks with a strained left hamstring earlier this season and is on the disabled list for second time with a bruised right knee, has posted a meager slash of .203/.278/.314 with five home runs in 230 plate appearances.
  • Also within Haudricourt’s article, he details the injury and performance issues which have hobbled the Brewers‘ bullpen. Haudricourt notes the Brewers could still acquire a reliever this month, but there is no guarantee they will have a chance to claim one based on their waiver position.
  • The Cardinals could also be facing an issue with their bullpen, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Derrick GooldIn two of the past three years, Goold notes, the Cardinals have reached the World Series in the same season they had to change closers in the final month with fatigue being a contributing factor both times and it could happen again considering the recent usage of Trevor Rosenthal. Manager Mike Matheny acknowledges he has “ridden him hard,” but pointed to Rosenthal’s save success when asked about overuse. Goold reports Scott Boras, Rosenthal’s agent, has spoken to the club and his client about the workload.
  • Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki did not request a no-trade clause when he negotiated his recent contract extension, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer PressWe didn’t think it was necessary,” Suzuki told Berardino.

Dodgers Acquire Kevin Correia

SUNDAY: Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (via Twitter) that Correia had already cleared revocable waivers, meaning Los Angeles passed on claiming him and the Twins were free to deal him to any team.

SATURDAY: The Dodgers acquired righty Kevin Correia from the Twins for a player to be named later or cash considerations, announced the teams.  The Dodgers officially placed Josh Beckett on the DL earlier today with a left hip injury, which is expected to sideline him for at least two weeks.  Dodgers GM Ned Colletti acquired Roberto Hernandez from the Phillies earlier this week in response to injuries to Beckett and swingman Paul Maholm.

MLB: San Diego Padres at Minnesota Twins

At the time, Colletti noted he was still trying to add another arm, and it appears that he got his man in Correia (a name that MLBTR’s Steve Adams suggested as a possibility following Colletti’s comments).  “Kevin gives us an additional option as a starter or long reliever.  He also supplies us with more veteran pitching depth for the stretch drive,” said Colletti in tonight’s press release.

Correia, 34 later this month, posted a 4.94 ERA, 4.2 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 0.90 HR/9, and 41.5% groundball rate in 129 1/3 innings for Minnesota.  Those numbers include a disastrous April, but he’s posted a respectable, if unspectacular 4.31 ERA in 102 1/3 innings since.

The Twins signed Correia to a two-year, $10MM deal after the 2012 season, and he used his pitch-to-contact approach to generate a 4.18 ERA in 31 starts last year. The San Diego native spent the first eight seasons of his career pitching for the Giants and Padres.  He picked up an All-Star nod in 2011 as a member of the Pirates.

Minnesota has saved about $1.5MM by shipping Correia to the Dodgers.  Additionally, they’ve opened a spot for new acquisition Tommy Milone, who will start Monday night in Houston.  Twins GM Terry Ryan is looking beyond 2014, with his club mired in last place, and Milone will be one of two new faces in Minnesota’s rotation going forward, alongside rookie Trevor May.  Colletti and Ryan matched up on a minor trade last summer as well, with the Dodgers picking up backup catcher Drew Butera for minor leaguer Miguel Sulbaran (who has since been flipped to the Yankees for Eduardo Nunez).

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Quick Hits: Rockies, Bloomquist, Castillo, Colabello

The Rockies are in the midst of an awful 45-70 season, but a strong offseason could help turn them around, Paul Swydan of FanGraphs writes. Swydan argues that the Rockies should let Michael Cuddyer, Jorge De La Rosa and Brett Anderson depart via free agency, then spend the savings on Russell Martin and on a couple of ground-ball-throwing, mid-grade free agent pitchers, like Justin Masterson and Francisco Liriano. Non-tendering Jhoulys Chacin and dealing for Jon Niese would also help improve the Rockies’ rotation. Here’s more from around the big leagues.

  • Mariners utilityman Willie Bloomquist will miss the remainder of the season with a microfracture in his right knee, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times tweets. Bloomquist is making $2.8MM in the first year of a two-year deal, and he hit .278/.297/.346 in 136 plate appearances this season.
  • Austin Jackson‘s departure in the David Price deal could make the Tigers especially likely to sign Cuban 2B/OF Rusney Castillo, MLB.com’s Jason Beck tweets. The addition of Price brought them another top-flight starting pitcher but created an opportunity to improve in their outfield. Castillo has also been connected to a huge number of other teams, holding private workouts for many of them.
  • Chris Colabello may be near the end of the line with the Twins, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. The Twins recently optioned Colabello to Triple-A Rochester, and after a .229/.282/.380 performance in 220 plate appearances with them this season, he could soon be designated for assignment. Colabello is a great story — he spent seven seasons playing independent baseball before signing with the Twins as a 28-year-old and making it to the big leagues at 29. But as a 1B/OF/DH type who hasn’t hit much, he’s struggled to get established in the big leagues.
  • GM Sandy Alderson says the Mets‘ recent moves, including designating Chris Young for assignment and replacing him by promoting Matt den Dekker, do not suggest that his team is giving up on the 2014 season, Marc Carig of Newsday reports. The Mets will find playing time for den Dekker and more of it for Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Wilmer Flores. “I’ve tried to be honest with myself about that,” says Alderson. “And I have not concluded that this is a step back from competition.” The Mets remain on the outer fringes of the playoff race, seven games back of the last Wild Card spot. Of course, given that Young, for example, was hitting .205/.283/.346 before he was designated, it’s not likely that someone like den Dekker is even a downgrade, and Niewenhuis and Flores are supplanting underperforming players (Eric Young Jr. and Ruben Tejada) as well.

Latest On Rusney Castillo

AUG. 9: The Yankees are ready to begin negotiating with Castillo, who worked out at their minor league complex Friday, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. The Yankees would want to use Castillo as a second baseman, with the outfield as a backup plan, King writes.

AUG. 6: While touring Wrigley Field on vacation, Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith learned that the Cubs held a private workout for Castillo today (Twitter link).

AUG. 3: Castillo’s workout for the Mariners has been postponed and is expected to be rescheduled, tweets Shannon Drayer of 710 ESPN.

JULY 29: Castillo, who worked out for the Phillies today, has set up a private workout with the Mariners on Sunday as well, reports MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (on Twitter). His one-on-one workout with the Red Sox is still set for Friday.

JULY 28, 8:29pm: Ben Badler of Baseball America writes that the Yankees indeed have a private workout scheduled with Castillo.

7:33pm: General Manager Jeff Luhnow says the Astros may schedule a one-on-one workout with Castillo, writes Brian McTaggart of MLB.com.

7:24pm: A source tells Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com (on Twitter) that only the Phillies (on Tuesday) and the Red Sox (Friday) have private workouts set up with Castillo.  However, private workouts are in the works for the Yankees and other clubs.

Unsurprisingly, the Twins are not among the teams looking to line up a workout with Castillo, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.  Minnesota likes Castillo, but the expected asking price is too rich for their blood.

3:11pm: Reports indicated that 28 of Major League Baseball’s 30 teams were represented at Rusney Castillo‘s showcase over the weekend, and Ben Badler of Baseball America has the latest on the 27-year-old Cuban free agent. Castillo will have private workouts with the Red Sox, Yankees and Phillies this coming week, and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that the Orioles are also arranging a private workout.

Badler lists the White Sox, Mariners, Giants, Blue Jays, Cubs and Braves as other potential suitors. Because multiple teams have interest in getting a deal worked out quickly, however, there aren’t likely to be any further private workouts before a deal gets done, Badler writes. Additionally, Badler has posted some video footage from Castillo’s weekend showcase.

Multiple sources indicated to Badler that the Red Sox had the largest contingent on-hand Saturday for Castillo’s showcase. He notes that Jackie Bradley has more upside at the plate, and Mookie Betts might factor in as a corner outfield option in the long-term due to the presence of Dustin Pedroia, but Boston could be intrigued by Castillo as a corner option as well. He did play right field in Cuba, Badler adds.

The Yankees, meanwhile, could weigh the possibility of trying Castillo at second base, though they could have a corner spot open alongside Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner as well. Castillo played second base (and some third base) back in 2009-10, but scouts at the showcase weren’t overly impressed with his glovework as an infielder.

Center field is Castillo’s best position, Badler writes, so it stands to reason that the Phillies could view him as an upgrade over the light-hitting Ben Revere. Playing Castillo in center field allows him to maximize his best tool — 70-grade speed.

While the White Sox are very well-versed in the Cuban market — as evidenced by the presence of Jose Abreu, Alexei Ramirez and Dayan Viciedo on their roster — the presence of countrymen on their roster won’t influence Castillo, Badler hears. His decision will come down to financial terms.

Badler adds that the Giants also had a very strong presence at Castillo’s showcase, and he makes sense for them as their system has thinned following a trade for Jake Peavy and their continued interest in Ben Zobrist. The Cubs also had “a team” of evaluators on-hand to witness Castillo, who would bolster an already enviable crop of hitting prospects.


AL Central Links: May, Milone, Pestano, Garcia

All signs point to the Twins promoting Trevor May to make Saturday’s start against the A’s, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The 24-year-old was acquired from the Phillies in 2012′s Ben Revere trade, and he’s seen his command steadily improve since joining the Twins organization. May’s ERA has dropped accordingly, and he’s currently sporting a 2.93 mark through 95 1/3 innings at Triple-A this season. With Vance Worley now in Pittsburgh, May is the lone piece remaining from that deal. Having averaged 10.5 K/9 in his minor league career, May could prove to be a valuable addition for a Twins team that’ has long been starved for power arms.

Here’s more on the Twins and the AL Central…

  • Recently extended catcher Kurt Suzuki influenced the Twins‘ decision to acquire Tommy Milone from the A’s, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Suzuki, who has caught Milone numerous times as a former member of the A’s, made pitch to manager Ron Gardenhire, pitching coach Rick Anderson and bench coach Terry Steinbach — all of which were presumably relayed to the front office.
  • Following today’s trade of Vinnie Pestano to the Angels, Indians GM Chris Antonetti offered the following statement to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link): “Vinnie was a very valuable member of the organization who made some great contributions to our bullpen throughout his time with us. As we’ve had [Major League] bullpen opportunities over the course of the last month, we’ve promoted other pitchers from [Triple-A] Columbus, so we thought it made sense to give Vinnie a fresh start with the Angels. In return, we acquired a young pitcher who we think has a chance to help our Major League team in the next few years.” For his part, Pestano is excited about the fresh start, particularly due to the fact that he is a SoCal native. In a classy series of thank you tweets to the Indians organization, Pestano, who was born in Newport Beach, noted that he couldn’t imagine a better destination for a trade.
  • MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes that Avisail Garcia‘s aggressive approach to his rehab from a shoulder injury has impressed the White Sox. Garcia’s injury was thought to be season-ending back in April, but an August return now looks possible. Merkin notes that the move could create an interesting roster decision, though GM Rick Hahn has noted that he will pursue August trades, so a roster spot could be created that way.

Minor Moves: Poulson, Norwood, Christiani, Carnevale

Though the 2014 draft is long in the rear view mirror, there have still been a couple notable signings of undrafted players of late. Lost in last week’s trade deadline shuffle was the Twins‘ signing of right-hander Brandon Poulson for a $250K bonus. Minnesota scout Elliott Strankman told MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger about Poulson’s discovery, noting that the former art school student and independent league right-hander needed to throw just 18 pitches in order to convince Strankman to sign him. The 24-year-old Poulson reached a blistering 100 mph with Strankman in attendance, and of the 37 outs he recorded this summer prior to signing (12 1/3 innings pitched), an incredible 31 came via strikeout.

More on another undrafted free agent receiving a significant bonus and some minor moves from around the league…

  • The Marlins have signed Vanderbilt outfielder and College World Series hero John Norwood for a $275K bonus, reports Jim Callis of MLB.com (Twitter link). Norwood slashed .298/.368/.404 with three homers for the Commodores this season, and he blasted a game-winning homer off of first-rounder off Reds first-rounder Nick Howard. A good showing in this summer’s Cape Cod League helped Norwood go from undrafted talent to a six-figure signing, Callis notes in a second tweet. Norwood, who didn’t place on Baseball America’s Top 500 prospect list heading into the draft, hit .324 (23-for-71) with three homers and three doubles for the Cotuit Kettleers this summer.
  • The Reds have outrighted right-hander Nick Christiani to Triple-A Louisville, according to the club’s transactions page. The 27-year-old allowed eight runs in 13 innings with the Reds this season and has struggled in Triple-A as well, posting a 7.71 ERA with 10 strikeouts against an unsightly 15 walks in 18 2/3 innings for Louisville.
  • The Blue Jays have acquired minor league righty Hunter Carnevale from the Mets in exchange for cash considerations, reports Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com. The 25-year-old was New York’s 33rd-round pick in 2010 and has struggled to a 5.59 ERA between Class A and Class-A Advanced in 2014. He has a career 4.17 ERA with 150 strikeouts in 138 minor league innings, but he’s never progressed past Class-A Advanced.

Central Links: McCutchen, Baez, Milone, Santana

While it remains unclear exactly how long Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates will be out of action with a rib fracture, any significant lost time will obviously have an impact on the tight NL Central race. As Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes, Pittsburgh will be absent McCutchen at a time when wins are at a premium. It will be interesting to see whether the team considers a move to add another outfielder to the mix.

  • Cubs call-up Javier Baez flipped the narrative on his debut by homering after an 0-for-5 start. Of course, you could call that performance right in line with expectations; as Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America wrote yesterday, big power and lots of strikeouts are likely as Baez adjusts to the big leagues. Meanwhile, the promotion carries broader implications for Chicago, as ESPN.com’s Keith Law explains (Insider link). By moving Baez onto the 40-man roster before they need to, and likely foregoing the chance to tack on additional years of control, the Cubs are starting the clock on their efforts to transition from rebuilding to contending. Given the state of the team’s MLB rotation and generally less-developed pitching prospects, that could make the team a player on the free agent market this year, says Law.
  • It appears that the Twins have kept recently-acquired starter Tommy Milone in Triple-A to keep him from reaching a third year of service, explains Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. With 2.018 on his service clock entering the year, and having been on optional assignment since July 5, Milone is now set up to fall short of the three years needed to qualify for arbitration via the standard route. Though a quick call-up would likely put Milone in line for an extra arb trip as a Super Two, he will nevertheless be subject to team control for four more years.
  • Twins shortstop Danny Santana has a .318/.355/.488 slash through 215 plate appearances, far and away the best line he has maintained as a professional (in spite of the fact that he just made the leap to the big leagues for the first time). Regardless of what happens in the rest of the 23-year-old’s career, it seems fair to say that the meager signing bonus that landed him back in 2007 was well worth it. A club official says Santana signed for just $45K, while Santana’s representatives indicate it was only $37K, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.