Minnesota Twins Rumors

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

AL Central Notes: Plouffe, Donaldson, Hahn

Veteran reporter Dick Kaegel is retiring after over 50 years covering Major League Baseball.  Mike Bauman penned a nice tribute to his MLB.com colleague, chronicling Kaegel’s long career with such outlets as MLB.com (as the Royals beat writer since 2004), the Kansas City Star, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the Sporting News, to name a few.  Kaegel’s work is very familiar to long-time MLB Trade Rumors readers, and we at MLBTR wish Kaegel all the best in his retirement.

Here’s some news from around the AL Central…

  • The Twins had yet to discuss a multiyear contract with Trevor Plouffe up to Tuesday’s tender deadline, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets.  Plouffe is arbitration-eligible for the second time this winter and is projected to receive a $4.3MM salary in 2015 by MLBTR’s Matt Swartz.  Since Plouffe is a Super Two player with two more arb years left beyond this one, it makes sense that the Twins will eventually explore obtaining some cost certainty, though it might not be this winter given that Plouffe fractured his forearm in September.
  • The Indians were one of several teams who asked the Athletics about Josh Donaldson, Terry Pluto of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.  The A’s said Donaldson wasn’t available, though that obviously ended up not being the case as the third baseman was dealt to the Blue Jays.  Pluto wonders if the Tribe could’ve topped Toronto’s trade package had Donaldson been more openly shopped, or if A’s GM Billy Beane specifically liked what the Jays had to offer.
  • Primarily, we are addressing things for the long term,White Sox GM Rick Hahn told reporters (including MLB.com’s Scott Merkin) in advance of the Winter Meetings.  That said, the Sox made a very notable short-term move in signing veteran Adam LaRoche to a two-year deal, and “if the right situation arises on a short-term basis…we would make that move,” Hahn said.  “We are certainly open to short-term fits that make us better in 2015. We have to take it on a case-by-case basis in terms of players who aren’t necessarily going to be under control for the same three-, four- or five-year window we’ve been focused on for the last year and a half.”

Minor Moves: Robinson, Nakajima

Here’s today’s minor moves:

  • The Twins have signed 30-year-old outfielder Shane Robinson, tweets LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Robinson has spent his entire career in the Cardinals system, where he’s hit .231/.303/.308 over 452 plate appearances. He’s drawn strong defensive marks in a tiny sample, and he can play all three outfield positions.
  • Former Athletic Hiroyuki Nakajima has signed with Japan’s Orix Buffaloes, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com (via Twitter). The A’s originally signed Nakajima two years ago to a two-year, $6.5MM deal. The 32-year-old shortstop never reached the majors, splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A.

AL Notes: Donaldson, Moss, Markakis, Tigers, Twins, Smoak

Athletics GM Billy Beane firmly rejected the recently-suggested idea that some kind of tension between he and Josh Donaldson played any role in the latter’s recent trade, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. “It is so absurd to respond further is to give it credibility,” said Beane. We’ll take a closer look at Oakland on today’s podcast, which features beat reporter Jane Lee of MLB.com.

Here’s more from the American League:

  • The Athletics are “going to trade Brandon Moss,” an executive told ESPN.com’s Jayson Stark last night (Twitter link). We heard yesterday that the Indians were making a run at the slugger, and Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweets that the pursuit continues today. Of course, as Lee reported last night (via Twitter), there are other teams looking into Moss.
  • Lingering concerns over neck issues may have played a role in the Orioles‘ decision not to top the Braves’ offer to Nick Markakis, Rosenthal reports. Markakis has been quite durable over the last two seasons since being diagnosed with a “small disc herniation,” but of course he has also failed to deliver much pop in that time.
  • Nevertheless, the Orioles did have the second-highest offer on the table to Markakis, per Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs (Twitter link). He hears that Baltimore offered four years and $40MM.
  • The Tigers are receiving strong interest in David Price and Rick Porcello, Rosenthal reports (links to Twitter). What Detroit would ask for in return for these starters remains a mystery, Rosenthal adds. Of course, there are several other big-name, 5+ service time pitchers who could potentially be had, and Rosenthal notes that all are still “in play.” He adds that the primary appeal of such arms is their generally below-market salary and the achievement of a year of exclusive negotiating rights. Implicit, of course, is that teams are interested not only in a reasonable hope of achieving excess value on the contract, but also in doing so without exposure to the massive downside risk of a longer-term deal.
  • The Twins will turn their attention to the pitching staff during the Winter Meetings, reports MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. When asked what the team’s priority is, GM Terry Ryan left little doubt how he feels: “Pitching is, and I don’t think there’s any question. We’ve had our struggles on the mound, so we’ll continue to look at pitching first.”
  • Justin Smoak left money on the table to join the Blue Jays, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports. Agent Dustin Bledsoe told Nicholson-Smith that his client wanted the chance at everyday playing time at first more than the possibility of increasing his guarantee next year.


Twins Sign Torii Hunter

12:04pm: Hunter’s contract contains a full no-trade clause, per Jon Heyman of CBS Sports (on Twitter).

11:45am: Though he reportedly drew interest from a wide number of clubs, Torii Hunter‘s career has officially come full circle, as the Twins today announced the signing of their former star center fielder to a one-year, $10.5MM deal. Hunter is a client of Reynolds Sports Management.

MLB: ALDS-Detroit Tigers at Baltimore Orioles-Workouts

Hunter’s contract falls well shy of the two-year, $22MM pact that I predicted for him recently. But as I noted then, it would not be surprising to see him take a lesser deal for a preferred destination. It appears that is precisely what occurred here, as Hunter took the opportunity to return to the place where he became a star. Indeed, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweeted last night that Hunter had similar one-year offers from other clubs and also had some two-year opportunities but “wanted to come home.” He’ll serve as Minnesota’s right fielder in 2015, per Wolfson, with Oswaldo Arcia presumably shifting to left field.

While Hunter is no longer the all-around force he was in his prime, he remains quite a valuable and consistent producer as he enters his age-39 season. Last year marked the ninth in a row in which Hunter outperformed the league average offensive line by at least 10%, a rather remarkable achievement.

For Minnesota, Hunter’s value goes well beyond on-field production. His veteran presence will no doubt be welcome, especially with respect to young center field prospect Byron Buxton. Drafted 20th overall by Minnesota in 1993, Hunter spent 11 years in the Twins organization, eventually emerging as the team’s star center fielder and one of the game’s better all-around players. He ultimately ran up nine straight gold gloves after taking the reins up the middle for Minnesota, though the final two came with the Angels after he left via free agency.

Of course, Hunter’s performance in the field is precisely the area of concern at this late stage of his career. While he rated as an above average defender (and overall 5+ win player) just two years ago, Hunter has faded badly in the past two seasons in right. A return to average defending — whether or not extra rest is needed to make that possible — could make this signing return solid value to Minnesota in terms of production.

Bob Nightengale of USA Today first reported the agreement on Twitter. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted the terms of the contract.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


2014-15 American League Non-Tenders

Major League clubs have until 11pm CT tonight to tender contracts to players for the 2015 season. We’ll run down the list of American League non-tenders here, and update it as reports come in. Remember that you can track all of the action using MLBTR’s Non-Tender tracker, and we offer a full list of non-tender candidates (in the estimation of MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes). Also important for reference is the set of arbitration salary projections from MLBTR and contributor Matt Swartz. Click here for an explanation of the process, and be sure to check out this piece featuring some interesting observations from Tim regarding non-tender considerations.

  • Slade Heathcott, Jose Campos, and David Huff have all been non-tendered by the Yankees, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports on Twitter.
  • The Twins have tendered contracts to all arb-eligible players, per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger (Twitter link).
  • Third baseman Carlos Rivero is the only non-tender for the Mariners, the club announced. Rivero was not yet arbitration eligible.
  • The Astros have tendered contracts to all arb-eligible players, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports on Twitter.
  • The Royals have non-tendered lefty Francisley Bueno, Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star reports on Twitter. He was not yet eligible for arbitration.
  • As expected, the Tigers have offered arbitration to all eligible players, Anthony Fench of the Detroit Free Press tweets.
  • The Athletics have declined to offer arbitration to Kyle Blanks and Andrew Brown, the team announced. Both had previously been designated for assignment. Oakland will retain control over the remainder of its eligible players, tweets Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • As with several other clubs, the Rays will proceed without any non-tenders, the club announced (per a tweet from Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times).
  • Likewise, the Orioles have tendered contracts to each of their eleven arb-eligible players, the team announced.
  • The Indians have tendered contracts to all five eligible players, per MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (via Twitter). Cleveland had a fairly straightforward group. Indeed, Dierkes did not list any players as reasonable NT candidates.
  • Scott Snodgress and Scott Carroll have been non-tendered by the White Sox, Dan Hayes of CSNChicago.com tweets. Both players were pre-arbitration eligible, meaning that Chicago could have renewed them at the MLB minimum.
  • The Red Sox have non-tendered third baseman Juan Francisco but will otherwise tender contracts to all eligible players, the club announced (h/t to Jason Mastrodonato of MassLive.com, via Twitter). Francisco had already been designated for assignment, making this one of the day’s least surprising moves.

Twins Notes: Coaches, Yang, Pitching Targets, Hunter, Duensing

The Twins announced the hiring of longtime Orioles minor league coach Butch Davis as their first base coach yesterday, adding to their recent list of coaching additions. While they’ve drawn a bit of flak for keeping most of their hires in-house, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports (Twitter link) that Minnesota reached out to recently dismissed Cubs skipper Rick Renteria about the bench coach vacancy (since filled by internal candidate Joe Vavra), but Renteria declined to interview. Similarly, Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweets that the Twins wanted Delino DeShields to serve as their first base coach, but he took a position managing the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, as his ultimate goal is to manage in the Majors someday.

Here’s more on the Twins…

  • GM Terry Ryan told reporters yesterday, including La Valle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, that Minnesota did not win the bidding for Korean lefty Hyeon-jong Yang (Twitter link). There was some confusion as to whether the Twins or Rangers won the bidding, with some speculating that they made very similar bids. The point is moot, regardless, as the KIA Tigers did not accept the winning bid for their top pitcher’s services, as it was deemed too low.
  • The Twins have interest in right-hander Edinson Volquez, reports Wolfson. Additionally, they’ve had conversations with agent Greg Genske, who represents both Francisco Liriano and Brett Anderson. Minnesota is expected to meet with Justin Masterson‘s agent next week at the Winter Meetings, and they met with CAA (the agency that represents Jake Peavy and Nori Aoki) at last month’s GM Meetings, Wolfson adds. However, there’s no real traction on either CAA client at this time.
  • Wolfson also tweets that the Twins have made an official offer to Torii Hunter, who is expected to reach a decision soon. The Rangers are said to be pushing hard for Hunter, who reportedly prefers to sign with a contender. That makes a return to Minnesota seem doubtful.
  • The Twins have given no indication that they plan to non-tender southpaw reliever Brian Duensing today, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Duensing, 31, is projected to earn $2.5MM in arbitration and was listed by MLBTR as a non-tender candidate.

Quick Hits: Hunter, Fowler, Bargains

Here’s the latest from around the league.


AL Central Links: Masterson, Ryan, LaRoche

Here’s the latest from around the AL Central…

  • The White Sox and Tigers have expressed interest in Justin Masterson, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports, meaning that all five AL Central clubs have at least checked in on the free agent righty.  Outside of this division, Masterson’s long list of suitors also includes the Braves, Cubs, Red Sox, Giants and Marlins.
  • The Indians touched base with Masterson early in the offseason but “haven’t shown a lot of interest” since, Hoynes writes.
  • In an interview with Mike Ferrin and Jim Duquette on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM (Twitter links here), Twins GM Terry Ryan said his team “could use a right handed bat in the outfield. We’re rather young here especially in the outfield.”  Of course, the Twins have been connected to a right-handed hitting veteran in Torii Hunter, who recently said that he’d had numerous conversations with Ryan.  Minnesota is one of at least 10 teams who have shown interest in Hunter’s services this offseason.  Earlier today on MLBTR, Jeff Todd outlined Hunter’s free agent profile.
  • On the Twins‘ search for pitching, Ryan said that he’s looking for both left- and right-handed starters, noting that his club doesn’t have many proven innings-eaters in the rotation.  Relatively few free agent pitchers have come off the board this winter, though Ryan said “it may be a slow moving market and then one of those big time pitchers goes and all heck breaks loose.”
  • Adam LaRoche wasn’t keen to fully transition to a full-time DH role, yet he told reporters (including CSN Chicago’s Dan Hayes) during his introductory White Sox press conference that he’s happy to cede most of the first base duties to Jose Abreu.  “They’ve got a kid [Abreu] that’s obviously going to be around and be really good for a long time,” LaRoche said.  “It’s not fair to make him a full-time DH this early in his career, especially when he can handle first base and handle the glove over there….I’ll do it however it plays out.  If they need me to play first more than we’re talking about, great, I’ll be there. If I end up DHing more, that’s fine.”  Sox manager Robin Ventura said that he plans to give LaRoche two starts per week at first base, a time-share that will hopefully keep both LaRoche and Abreu fresh for the entire season.

AL Notes: Moss, Mariners, Lester, Headley, Rays, Twins

Brandon Moss could not help but become aware that the Athletics have made some notable additions that have a bearing on his status with the club, writes Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Moss, who avoided the need for micro-fracture surgery on his hip and expects to be ready to go on something close to a normal schedule this spring, says he realizes that the additions of Billy Butler and Ike Davis could set up some other changes. “You never know; the front office likes to mix up,” said Moss. “I’m trying not to let anything surprise me, because I don’t want to be blindsided. Obviously, I love playing in Oakland, but when this happened, I knew it could mean someone else gets moved.”

Here’s more from the American League:

  • In addition to the four players noted yesterday, the Mariners are interested in Evan Gattis of the Braves, reports Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Seattle is determined to come away with one of Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, Nelson Cruz, Yoenis Cespedes, and Gattis, per the report. The M’s made a competitive offer for Victor Martinez before he re-signed with the Tigers, Heyman adds.
  • Talks between the Red Sox and Jon Lester are not on any kind of timetable, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI.com (Twitter links). Lester is still making the rounds and considering his alternatives, per Bradford.
  • The Yankees are willing to go to three years in a deal for third baseman Chase Headley, Heyman reports. But Headley, unsurprisingly, is out looking for longer, better offers. New York is unlikely to go further than three, Joel Sherman reported yesterday, and it seems that Headley is drawing sufficient interest to get a fourth year guaranteed.
  • The Rays have announced that bench coach Dave Martinez will pursue other opportunities with another organization. Martinez was not listed as a finalist to replace Joe Maddon in the big league dugout, making a separation seem all but inevitable.
  • After a wide search, the Twins have agreed bring on Neil Allen as the team’s pitching coach, along with Eddie Guardado as bullpen coach and Joe Vavra as the bench coach to new skipper Paul Molitor. Allen had been the Rays’ pitching coach at Triple-A Durham.

Minor Moves: Pena, Boyer, Gutierrez, Swarzak, Belisario, Kohn

Some minor moves from around the league…

  • Also outrighted today was Ramiro Pena of the Braves, per the MLB.com transactions page. The utility man was designated recently, presumably in large part due to his rising arbitration salary.
  • Righty Blaine Boyer (Padres), Anthony Swarzak (Twins), and Juan Gutierrez (Giants) have elected free agency rather than accepting outright assignments, also via the MLB transactions page.
  • The White Sox have outrighted righty Ronald Belisario, per the MLB.com transactions page. Belisario was designated recently to make room for the claim of reliever Onelki Garcia.
  • Likewise, the Rays have outrighted righty Michael Kohn. It has been an odd start to the offseason for Kohn, who was signed to a MLB deal before being designated within weeks by Tampa.
  • Baseball America’s Matt Eddy reported a number of new transactions in his weekly Minor League Transactions roundup on Monday. Of particular note is a crop of Phillies signings: catcher Koyie Hill, right-hander Paul Clemens, and infielders Chase d’Arnaud and Cord Phelps. Clemens gives them some pitching depth, as he’s totaled 98 innings with the Astros over the past two seasons, albeit with a 5.51 ERA.
  • Also from Eddy, the Reds have inked outfielder Brennan Boesch to a minor league contract. The 29-year-old Boesch hit .269/.330/.436 in 248 games with the Tigers from 2010-11, but since that time, he’s batted just .237/.277/.376 in 635 plate appearances with the Tigers, Yankees and Angels.
  • The Tigers have announced that outfielder Ezequiel Carrera has elected free agency rather than accepting an assignment to Triple-A after being outrighted (Twitter link). The 27-year-old hit .261/.301/.348 in 73 plate appearances with Detroit this season and is a lifetime .253/.305/.340 hitter in the Majors. Carrera hasn’t hit much in 478 big league PAs, but he brings some speed and solid baserunning to the table and is capable of handling all three outfield spots.