Minnesota Twins Rumors
How do teams take players from promise to big league production? Grantland's Jonah Keri takes a look at some different developmental approaches for players approaching MLB readiness, most of them from AL clubs. The Twins, for example, advance players based upon their readiness to fill a need at the MLB level, while the Rays pay close attention to service time in a bid to maximize the value of each player asset. Here's more from the American League:
- The Indians are still believed to be discussing an extension with second baseman Jason Kipnis, reports Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer. With just two years and 69 days of service, Kipnis will not reach arbitration eligibility until next year (though he received a relatively sizeable $554,900 contract from Cleveland for the coming season). As Hoynes notes, there is an interesting comp in the Cardinals' recent six-year, $52MM extension of Matt Carpenter, an older player with less service (and, on the whole, a less impressive overall track record).
- Grady Sizemore is an increasingly plausible option not just to break camp with the Red Sox, but to beat out Jackie Bradley Jr. for the center field job, writes Tim Britton of the Providence Journal. He has shown enough for the club (and, perhaps, Sizemore) to dare to dream, even if manager John Farrell is still preaching caution. But the skipper also joined those offering praise for Sizemore's performance thus far in camp. "The fact that Grady's having encouraging signs in spring training is not a bad thing for Jackie Bradley or for anybody," Farrell said. "It means we've got another good player. Grady gives us the potential to build another talented and deep roster."
- Though an achilles tear ended Mark Mulder's comeback bid this year with the Angels, the 36-year-old says that does not mean he is giving up entirely, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. "Barring a setback, or me not being able to pitch with my ankle for some reason, I don't see why not," Mulder said. "My arm's still going to be the same next year."
New Cardinals prospect Aledmys Diaz participated in team drills with the club on Monday but will return to Mexico next week to receive a work visa that will allow him to compete in Spring Training games, writes Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. GM John Mozeliak said the club will have Diaz focus on shortstop rather than trying to carve out a utility role. However, asked about the overlap between Diaz's contract and that of fellow offseason signee Jhonny Peralta, Mozeliak simply said, "Jhonny Peralta is our shortstop. We think he's really good."
Here's more from baseball's Central divisions...
- The Post-Dispatch's Rick Hummel writes that the Cardinals were Missouri native Max Scherzer's dream team growing up. Scherzer told Hummel he always envisioned playing for the Cards as a kid, and he had the chance to do so when St. Louis drafted him in the 43rd round out of high school. However, Scherzer honored his commitment to Mizzou and now doesn't think about his old Cardinals aspirations: "The thing is that now I’ve gotten to the big leagues and I’m in this position, it’s really hard to still dream about that when you’ve got this clubhouse and you look around and see Miguel Cabrera. You see the talent here. This clubhouse can win and it’s so much fun. This is my dream now, playing with the Tigers."
- Left-hander Chris Capuano told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the Twins showed some early interest in him, but that interest seemed to dry up after the team re-signed Mike Pelfrey in December (Twitter link).
- Indians manager Terry Francona spoke with reporters, including Zack Meisel of the Northeat Ohio Media Group, and said that he would be lying if he knew what the team's third base plans were this coming season. Reports have pegged Carlos Santana as uncomfortable at the position to date. Francona also said he thinks David Murphy will be an excellent addition to the team, adding that Cleveland was able to get him due to a down year in 2013: "If he would've had his normal year, he probably wouldn't have been as available."
- Phil Coke has struggled this spring, and this could be a big week for him, writes MLB.com's Jason Beck. The Tigers can cut ties with Coke this week and only owe him $316K of the $1.9MM the two sides agreed to in arbitration. However, Beck expects Coke to hang around at least until the end of Spring Training; Detroit would only owe him $475K were they to cut him at that point. Detroit made a similar move with Brennan Boesch last spring, and Casey Crosby's return from injury gives the team another left-handed option out of the bullpen. MLive.com's Chris Iott also expects Coke to hang around beyond Wednesday's deadline.
The Braves are indeed very interested, with financial concerns the main limitation. Meanwhile, the Royals have put in a call on Santana. The Blue Jays and Orioles have standing offers out, Rojas adds.
2:21pm: O'Brien hears from a person connected to the Royals that the Braves may now be making a run at Santana (Twitter link). In addition to Medlen's injury, Brandon Beachy left today's Spring Training start with biceps tightness.
10:17am: The Braves haven't completely ruled out Santana in the event of a serious Medlen injury, writes MLB.com's Mark Bowman, but the financial and draft pick costs are definite factors. Atlanta would very much like to strengthen its crop of top prospects, and sacrificing the No. 26 selection in the draft would go against that thinking.
9:19am: Over the weekend it was reported that Ervin Santana has completely changed course and is now seeking a one-year deal with an eye toward a lucrative multi-year deal next offseason. With one-year offers of $13MM plus incentives and $14MM without incentives from the Orioles and Blue Jays, respectively, there appear to be a pair of clear favorites for Santana.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides some updates on the Santana sweepstakes this morning, noting that the Blue Jays' players are lobbying for Santana to come to Toroto. Santana has many friends on the club, including countrymen Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Reyes. One source told Rosenthal that several Jays players got together and texted Santana a picture of themselves holding a poster that read, "Come to Toronto."
One potentially game-changing factor to the Santana market could be the severity of the injury to Braves right-hander Kris Medlen, who left Sunday's Spring Training game with a forearm strain. David O'Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution touched on the topic this morning, wondering if the Braves could consider expanding their budget to bring him into the fold. Rosenthal writes that the Braves will get the results of an MRI on Medlen today. The draft pick loss wouldn't be as big for the Braves as some teams around the league, as Atlanta would surrender the No. 26 selection after already having received the No. 32 selection for losing Brian McCann to free agency. That forfeiture, however, would be the most significant of the specific teams mentioned in Rosenthal's piece.
Rosenthal also has some specifics on recent offers made to Santana; the Orioles' last three-year offer was believed to be in the $27MM range, while the three-year offer from the Twins was in the $30-33MM range. That offer was still on the table as of last night. However, as Rosenthal notes, Santana could earn nearly that much over the next two seasons by taking $14MM or so in 2014 and receiving a qualifying offer following the season, as next year's QO could jump to the $15-16MM range.
The Twins still have an offer out to free agent starting pitcher Ervin Santana, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. It's unclear how much the Twins' offer to Santana is worth. Berardino notes that, earlier in the offseason, the Twins offered Matt Garza three years and $42MM with a vesting option for a fourth year, although 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson tweets that the offer to Santana is significantly less. Earlier on Sunday, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reported that the Twins had made a three-year deal to Santana, but that Santana preferred a one-year deal if he could not get a deal in the four-year, $50MM range.
The Twins appear to be continuing to try to upgrade a rotation that struggled in 2013. They've already added Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes on multiyear deals this offseason, while re-signing Mike Pelfrey to a two-year deal. The Twins' top 2014 draft choice, No. 5 overall, is protected, so they would only have to give up the No. 46 overall pick if they signed Santana.
It was reported yesterday Ervin Santana is weighing one year offers from both the Blue Jays ($14MM) and Orioles ($13MM plus incentives) with two other clubs also expressing interest. Here's the latest on the top ranked free agent remaining on MLBTR's 2014 Top 50 Free Agents list:
- Orioles manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko (Twitter), GM Dan Duquette told him nothing is imminent on the Santana front.
- Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com writes the Twins offered Santana a three-year deal, but he prefers a one-year contract unless someone is willing go four years at his asking price.
- With all this recent action on Santana, Heyman tweets it may take a few days for the situation to resolve itself adding both the Blue Jays and Orioles have made strong one-year proposals.
- 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson tweets he's been told Santana isn't coming to Twins with the hangup being length of contract (Santana wants one year and the Twins want three years).
Many have been quick to call Justin Masterson's reported three-year extension proposal to the Indians a bargain, but Dave Cameron of Fangraphs takes a step back and wonders how benevolent Masterson is really being. Cameron admits that he, too, initially considered a three-year, $45MM or four-year, $60MM deal to be a huge value, but he looks at the cognitive bias of "anchoring," in which we subconsciously turn an initial price for one item into an anchor price for others. Cameron argues that rather than comparing Masterson to the statistically similar Homer Bailey, who signed away five free agent years for $95MM, we should look at Masterson's expected value over the next three to four years. Doing so presents the case that Masterson's offer is fair, but hardly a tremendous discount for Cleveland. He adds that the Indians aren't a club that can afford to pay market value for too many wins, so it may not be as much of a no-brainer as many initially believed.
More from the AL Central...
- While he's yet to determine if the Twins have placed a call, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN knows that White Sox outfielder Alejandro De Aza has quite a few fans in Minnesota's front office (Twitter link). De Aza would seem a peculiar fit for the Twins in my opinion, given the fact that he has just two years of team control and Minnesota has a number of young outfielders and outfield prospects.
- Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer writes that while he didn't look like a catcher trying to play third base in practice, that's exactly how Carlos Santana has looked thus far in Cactus League games. Hoynes describes his play as "stiff and uncomfortable," though he notes that Santana has had few chances to this point and could improve by playing consecutive games at the position. For the time being, it appears to be good news for Lonnie Chisenhall, as if Santana doesn't man third, he would DH and serve as a backup at first, catcher and occasionally third.
- Left-hander Blaine Hardy has gone from being released by the Royals last year to a minor league flier for the Tigers to a leading candidate to join Detroit's bullpen this season, writes James Schmel of MLive.com. Hardy posted a 1.67 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 between Double-A and Triple-A last season, serving as both a starter and reliever. He's allowed one hit in five innings this spring, catching the eye of manager Brad Ausmus and establishing himself as one of the top candidates to fill a long reliever role at the big league level.
ESPN's Jayson Stark spoke with Twins first baseman Joe Mauer about the transition from catching everyday to becoming a regular first baseman. Stark also spoke with several instructors around Twins camp, including Hall of Famer Paul Molitor and three-time All-Star Terry Steinbach, about the changes facing Mauer and what can be expected of him going forward. Stark puts Mauer's transition into some surprising historical context, noting that Joe Torre is the only player in Major League history to log 300+ games at another position after catching his 900th game. Mauer has some experience at first, having started 54 games there over the past few seasons, but admits that those games aren't the same: "You know, the last few seasons, when I’d get out there, it was kind of a day off from catching, and it was kind of like, go out there and do your best. But now, it’s your job. So you’d better do it right."
Here are some more Twins links for your Thursday afternoon...
- Agent Damon Lapa, who represents second baseman Brian Dozier and right-hander Kevin Correia, is expected to be in Twins camp this weekend and will have informal extension discussions with assistant GM Rob Antony, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. In a second tweet, Berardino quotes Dozier, who broke out in 2013 with a 3.8 rWAR/2.8 fWAR season, as saying: "The Twins have done it before. Those can benefit both sides. We're still open to the idea."
- While Spring Training has been kind to Chris Parmelee in the past, MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger notes that this time around is quite a bit different for the former first-round pick. Parmelee is out of options and knows that with Mauer penciled in as the everyday first baseman and the corner outfield spots likely full, his role on the club could be diminished. Parmelee was one of the players that Tim Dierkes and I examined in today's post on AL Central players that are out of options.
- While much was made of the Twins' pursuit of Jarrod Saltalamacchia this winter, Antony tells Berardino that A.J. Pierzynski was "no doubt" the team's No. 1 catching target this offseason. Pierzynski himself said back in December that the Twins made him a two-year offer. Antony said he wouldn't rule out pursuing Pierzynski in the future and has no hard feelings that he didn't take Minnesota's recent offer: "I understand; he got a chance to join the world champs. A.J. is a competitor. I don't think it was an easy decision. He told a lot of people that: 'God, I would have loved to come back to Minnesota. This was a tough decision to make.'"
The following 40-man roster players have less than five years service time and are out of minor league options. That means they must clear waivers before being sent to the minors, so the team would be at risk of losing them in attempting to do so. I've included players on multiyear deals. This list was compiled through MLBTR's sources. Next, we'll take a look at the AL Central.
Both Carrasco and Outman will be on the Indians' pitching staff, noted Tony Lastoria of FOX Sports Ohio on Monday. Carrasco is battling a few others for the fifth starter job, but if he doesn't earn it he'll go to the pen.
Hayes seems to be the favorite to back up Salvador Perez at catcher, as 24-year-old Francisco Pena can get more seasoning at Triple-A. Veteran Ramon Hernandez, signed to a minor league deal, is also in the mix for the Royals' backup catcher job.
Dyson is expected to make the team as the center field backup for Lorenzo Cain, wrote Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star last week. That leaves Maxwell and Peguero battling for the fifth outfield spot. Maxwell would seem to have a leg up, having played well upon joining the team in a trade last July. His right-handed bat might be of more use to the Royals, who avoided arbitration with Maxwell in a January agreement about a week before acquiring Peguero.
The Royals seem to have room for five infielders, and Blair Kerkhoff of the Kansas City Star wrote last week that Valencia is likely to make the team. That would leave the team without a reserve middle infielder behind Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar. If the Royals do surprise and find a way to include a reserve middle infielder, it would be a competition of Ciriaco, Christian Colon, and Johnny Giavotella.
Kelly is in good standing as a super-utility man. There appears to be one bullpen job up for grabs, with pitchers such as Luke Putkonen, Justin Miller, Blaine Hardy, and Casey Crosby (if healthy) among those battling with Reed. The Tigers claimed Reed off waivers from the Marlins about a year ago, and will probably need to put him in their bullpen to start the season to retain him.
Plouffe and Swarzak are locks to make the club. Plouffe figures to man third base on an everyday basis now that Miguel Sano is out for the season, and Swarzak was among the league's best swingmen in 2013.
Diamond, Deduno and Worley are in the mix for the fifth spot in the rotation, and each can make their case based on historical context. Diamond was the club's best starter in 2012, Deduno has outperformed him since, and Worley was a key component of the Ben Revere trade just one offseason ago before a disastrous 2013 dropped his stock. The trio also has deal with top prospect Kyle Gibson, who is fully recovered from Tommy John surgery. Any of the three could end up in the bullpen, but at least one seems likely to go.
Presley has the inside track to make the club either as the Opening Day center fielder -- should Aaron Hicks struggle in Spring Training -- or as a fourth outfielder.
Escobar's versatility is appealing to the Twins, and his case for the Opening Day roster has been strengthened now that starter Pedro Florimon had his appendix removed two weeks ago. Florimon is fielding grounders pain-free as of yesterday, per MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger, but his Opening Day status is up in the air. Former Twin Jason Bartlett is in camp as a non-roster invitee and could serve as competition.
Parmelee is a former first-rounder that hasn't hit since a 2011 September call-up. The now-26-year-old demolished Triple-A pitching in 2012 but has batted just .228/.302/.364 over his past 543 PAs in the Majors. He didn't fare much better at Triple-A in 2013. With Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham at the outfield corners, Joe Mauer at first base and Jason Kubel likely to make the club as a DH/corner outfielder, Parmelee's best hope is to lock down a bench role. His experience at first base could give him an edge for that spot.
The Sox seem to only have one spot open for a third baseman at this time, though that could change if they trade an outfielder like Dayan Viciedo or Alejandro De Aza. As it stands, Gillaspie is competing for third base with Jeff Keppinger and rookie Matt Davidson. It would be sensible to start Davidson at Triple-A, and it's possible lingering effects of Keppinger's September shoulder surgery could cause him to start the year on the DL.
Boggs and Belisario seem locks for the bullpen after signing as free agents, though Belisario has yet to arrive in camp due to visa issues. A few of the team's relievers are dealing with nagging injuries, but if everyone is healthy and Belisario is in camp as Opening Day approaches, there would seem to be one spot for either Veal (a lefty) or Cleto. Veal is the favorite over Cleto, who joined the team in a waiver claim just last week.
Steve Adams contributed to this post.
Justin Masterson is only looking for a three- or four-year extension from the Indians, a short-term arrangement that speaks to comfort in Cleveland both on and off the field, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian writes. While Masterson said that contract talks are "a challenging situation, especially for me. [I'm] not doing this because we need to get the most money ever. We also think about others who may come behind us. There are a lot of different factors you try to work in. Are we being true to our value or are we skewing it?" Also, by staying with the Tribe, Masterson noted that he could further enhance the Indians' growing reputation as an attractive destination for people to play.
Here's some more from around the AL Central...
- A short-term deal may also have a strategic element to it, as MLB.com's Anthony Castrovince notes that a three-year deal would cover Masterson past the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. It's widely expected that the qualifying offer system will be modified (or even scrapped) in a new CBA, so Masterson could take the security of a short-term deal now and avoid having his market diminished as a free agent next winter if he has qualifying offer draft compensation attached to his services.
- Also from Castrovince, Masterson's love of playing for Terry Francona "is the only reason these extension conversations have had any traction."
- Twins assistant GM Rob Antony discussed his club's pursuit of Johan Santana with Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota only viewed Santana as a starting pitcher and would've been comfortable giving him a May 31 opt-out, Antony said, but the Twins simply weren't willing to sign Santana at the price he received from the Orioles. Santana will earn $3MM in base salary if he makes the Baltimore roster, plus potentially millions more in incentives.
- While Antony admitted that injuries could change the Twins' feelings about further additions, "right now I think what we’ve got in camp is what we’re working on.”
- Three months without the injured Andy Dirks as part of their left field platoon won't do much harm to the Tigers' playoff chances, Fangraphs' Jeff Sullivan writes. While Detroit is likely to replace Dirks with internal players, Sullivan notes that a more intriguing move would be to acquire an everyday outfielder who could then take over for Torii Hunter in 2015 and beyond.
- Jim Thome admits that he would "have to take that call" if another team contacted him about returning to the field, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. Thome was hired as a special assistant to White Sox GM Rick Hahn last summer, though he never officially retired. While he would "always listen" about another playing opportunity, Thome enjoys his current position and has spoken of wanting to become a manager in the future.
MONDAY: Twins officials denied having interest in Saunders to the Boston Globe's Nick Cafardo (Twitter link).
SATURDAY: The Twins have added Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to a rotation that struggled in 2013, but they might not be done making moves, 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson writes. The team is interested in free-agent starter Joe Saunders if they can get him cheaply enough.
Saunders struggled in Seattle last season, posting a 5.26 ERA with 5.3 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 183 innings. As Wolfson points out, however, other indicators, such as his ground-ball rate, suggested Saunders was at least somewhat better than that ERA. He has also generally been very durable throughout his career, a quality that could be useful to the Twins, who had nine pitchers make at least eight starts last season. After a rough 2013 in which he made $6.5MM, Saunders will likely make less next year. Wolfson reports that the Twins made Saunders a one-year, $8MM offer last January, but he declined in favor of signing with the Mariners.