Minnesota Twins Rumors
SUNDAY: Twins GM Terry Ryan would not confirm Welker is the PTBNL saying the Pirates will choose the player from an agreed upon list, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
SATURDAY, 8:49pm: The PTBNL is pitcher Duke Welker, MLB sources tell Tom Singer of MLB.com. Welker, 27, threw 1 1/3 scoreless innings in a brief stint with the Pirates earlier this season, his first with a major league club. In the minors, the 6-foot-7 right hander has a 3.25 ERA in 61 innings for the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate this year.
1:24pm: The Pirates have made a second bold August trade, acquiring first baseman Justin Morneau from the Twins in exchange for outfielder Alex Presley and cash or a player to be named later. After Pittsburgh traded for Marlon Byrd and John Buck, the NL Central-rival Cardinals responded with a deal for John Axford. Today, the Bucs sent another volley and left no question that they intend to raise the Jolly Roger over the division this year.
Morneau, 32, is in the midst of a hot streak after starting the year slowly. His .836 OPS and nine home runs during the month of August have raised his composite triple slash line to .250/.315/.426. Of course, Morneau has never returned to the form he showed between 2006-2010, when he was one of the league's more productive hitters. Nevertheless, he has been swinging a big stick of late and his left-handed power bat could play up at PNC Park.
Presley is a 28-year-old outfielder who saw only limited action with the Pirates this year, putting up a .264/.274/.389 line in 73 plate appearances. While he registered a strong .804 OPS in 231 plate appearances as a 25-year-old in 2011, that has proved so far to be a flash in the pan, as Presley managed only a .237/.279/.405 line when given a chance to play more frequently in 2012. Presley will be under control for league-minimum salary next season. While he does not offer a ton of upside at this point in his career, Presley is probably the kind of player that it makes sense for the Twins to take a chance on.
Of course, the biggest impact from this deal is on the Pirates' intense pennant race with the Cardinals and Reds. By adding the left-handed bat of Morneau, the Bucs now have ample platoon options between first base and the third outfield spot. The team can now use a combination of Garrett Jones and Morneau against righties, and then trot out Byrd and Gaby Sanchez for southpaws.
Morneau, who is set to become a free agent in the coming off-season, had cleared waivers when no team was apparently willing to take on the remainder of his $14MM salary this year. With the Pirates now willing to pay full boat and kicking in a return, however marginal, the Twins were seemingly rewarded for holding onto Morneau at the non-waiver trade deadline and allowing him to re-establish his value. Of course, Minnesota also paid his salary for an additional month, and now will only save a bit over $2.2MM on the end of the deal.
The team apparently chose to move the lifetime Twin rather than re-signing him, but could still bring Morneau back via free agency in the coming off-season. Having already determined that it would only extend Morneau at a much lower price than his current deal, however, Minnesota does not figure to dangle significant money.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports first reported the deal on Twitter. Jon Heyman was first to report (on Twitter) that Minnesota would also receive a player to be named later or cash. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported on Twitter that the Twins were only interested in re-signing Morneau at a lower price.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images/Rick Osentoski.
In an open letter published in the St. Paul Pioneer Press, new Pirates first baseman Justin Morneau reflects on his time in Minnesota and thanks the club's fans. "I am sorry that during my time here we weren't able to achieve our ultimate goal of winning the World Series, but I will forever carry many wonderful memories of my time here," Morneau wrote. Here's more on the trade that sent the slugger to Pittsburgh:
- La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune weighs in on the trade, noting that the deal appears like a sell low moment for Minnesota since the player to be named later likely won't be a top notch talent. Morneau's ten-and-five rights are set to kick in next season and one person close to the deal told Neal that might have played a role in the deal since it would have been tougher to deal him if he played out the season and wound up re-signing.
- Newly acquired outfielder Alex Presley will get plenty of opportunities to lead off and play center field for the Twins this September, manager Ron Gardenhire tells Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com (Twitter link). In a video tweeted by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, GM Terry Ryan calls Presley a "catalyst-type guy."
- In another video clip tweeted by Berardino, Ryan says the trade "might be a good move" for Justin Morneau, noting that the Pirates are likely to make the playoffs.
- Ryan adds that neither the Twins nor Morneau made an attempt at putting together a last-minute extension before the trade, according to Berardino in another tweet.
- Pirates GM Neal Huntington said that he feels the trade "allows [Pittsburgh] an opportunity to play deep into October," according to the Pirates Twitter feed.
Earlier today, the Orioles found their new bat in the Mariners' Mike Morse after a potential deal for the Twins' Josh Willingham fizzled. The Twins reportedly asked for top prospect Eduardo Rodriguez in exchange for the outfielder, which was too rich for Baltimore's blood. Here's more on the Twins and other notes out of the AL Central..
- A Twins source tells Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (on Twitter) that the club still isn't close on any deal and that includes Justin Morneau. The Twins may have asked for a lot to part with Willingham, but they have been said to be more eager to deal Morneau, who is a pending free agent. It was also reported earlier this week that the PIrates had interest in the 2006 AL MVP along with other clubs.
- Willingham is happy that the two-day window passed without a trade being reached, writes MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger. “I’m comfortable here so I’d like to stay here,” Willingham said. “The bottom line is I didn’t have any control so I didn’t worry myself with it.” The 34-year-old is under contract with the Twins through 2014 and he's set to earn $7MM in his walk year.
- Jake Peavy, who is facing the White Sox tonight for the first time since the Boston deal, says that he doesn't expect his former club to face a lengthy rebuilding process, tweets Scott Merkin of MLB.com.
FRIDAY, 12:33pm: The Twins and Orioles could not come to an agreement on a trade, and Willingham has been pulled back off waivers, according to Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter link). Earlier reports indicated that the Twins asked for top prospect Eduardo Rodriguez, causing Baltimore to back off.
WEDNESDAY, 10:57pm: The Orioles are the team that claimed Willingham, a source tells Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun (on Twitter). The O's are trying to work out a deal with the Twins.
5:01pm: Josh Willingham has been claimed off waivers by at least one other team, according to a big league source cited by Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. The team that was awarded the claim isn't known at this point. The Twins will have until noon on Friday to put together a trade for the slugger or pull him back.
It's been a disappointing season for Willingham, 34, who missed all of July with a knee injury. Since returning to the lineup on Aug. 9, he's hit just .177/.316/.371. As MLBTR's Steve Adams noted on Tuesday, the left fielder has continued to hit for power and post a strong walk rate, but more pop-ups and fewer line drives have dragged down his batting average. However, it was just a year ago that Willingham slashed .260/.366/.524 for the Twins in 615 plate appearances, so he may be a good candidate for a bounce-back campaign in 2014.
Willingham is owed $1.26MM for the remainder of the 2013 season and will be paid $7MM next year.
12:15pm: The Twins asked the Orioles for multiple pitching prospects in exchange for Willingham, according to Kubatko. Prized lefty Eduardo Rodriguez was among Minnesota's targets. The 20-year-old Rodriguez ranks as the No. 86 prospect in baseball at this time, according to MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo.
9:42am: The Orioles have been highly active on the waiver market this week, claiming both Josh Willingham of the Twins and Mike Morse of the Mariners. Morse is far likelier to end up with Baltimore it seems, as Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com tweets that a Willingham trade is "not happening at this point" because of the Twins' lofty asking price. Kubatko says the Orioles and Mariners are still actively trying to work out a deal for Morse, though.
Willingham is under contract for 2014 at just $7MM and belted 35 homers for the Twins last season, so it's not a surprise to see them asking a lot even in a down season for Willingham. Despite his low batting average, he's still posted strong OBP and ISO numbers. Morse is a free agent at season's end and owed just over $1.1MM for the remainder of the 2013 season. There have been reports indicating that he's likely to be moved, as he no longer has a place in the Mariners' organization. He hasn't played in either of the team's two games since being claimed by the Orioles.
A group of power-hitters has received the most attention of late as potential August trade chips. Let's look in at the latest ...
- The Orioles are still in negotiations on both of the slugging outfielders that the team recently claimed on revocable waivers, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets. Baltimore made the winning claims on Michael Morse of the Mariners and Josh Willingham of the Twins. Morse appears the more likely of the two to make his way to Charm City, Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun explains. (Indeed, we learned earlier that Seattle appears motivated to let Morse go.)
- At this point, the Twins are not close to dealing either Willingham or first baseman Justin Morneau, reports Darren Wolfson (Twitter links). While noting that things could change quickly, he says that the current thinking is that the club will not reach agreement with Baltimore on Willingham before tomorrow's 11am deadline.
- Likewise, according to Wolfson, Minnesota is not expected to find a trade partner for Morneau before Saturday night. The left-handed first baseman, who has cleared waivers and can therefore be dealt to any club, has recently been linked to the Pirates, Orioles, and Yankees.
Last night, we learned that a mystery team claimed Josh Willingham off waivers and hours later it was revealed that the Orioles were the club making the claim. Now, the Orioles and Twins have until tomorrow afternoon to hammer out a trade. Here's the latest out of Baltimore..
- In addition to their claim of Josh Willingham last night, the Orioles have also expressed interest in Jason Kubel, according to Peter Gammons of MLB Network (via Twitter). Kubel was designated for assignment by the Diamondbacks on Tuesday. After an offensively strong 2012, Kubel has a disappointing .220/.288/.324 line in 267 plate appearances.
- One industry source told Dan Connolly and Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun that it appears the Twins are more motivated to trade Justin Morneau than Willingham. However, Willingham, a right-handed hitter, looks like the better fit for the Orioles.
- The Orioles have made several claims this month on players, but have not ended up with a player, writes Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun. That means the O's either couldn’t agree on a trade or they were outbid by a team with a lesser record.
- Rich Dubroff of CSNBaltimore.com wonders if it's a good idea for the O's to deal for Willingham since it would likely chip away at their farm system.
Former White Sox exec Dave Wilder received a two-year federal prison sentence today for his role in taking kickbacks from international signings, as first reported by Larry Yellen of FOX 32 (via Twitter). From December 2004 through February 2008, investigators said that Wilder orchestrated a kickback scheme in which he and other White Sox scouts artificially inflated the value of international players, signing them to bonuses beyond their value and taking a cut for themselves, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America. In total, there were kickbacks involved with 23 signings, according to the federal investigation. The White Sox released a statement calling the scandal a "painful betrayal". The good news for the White Sox is that Wilder was ordered to pay the club roughly $441K in restitution, tweets Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Here's more out of the AL Central..
- An unknown team claimed Twins outfielder Josh Willingham off waivers, but Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer reports that it wasn't the Indians. The Indians negotiated with Willingham when he was a free agent before the 2012 season. Willingham wound up signing a three-year deal with the Twins after the Tribe would only go to two.
- Hoynes adds that while Willingham won't be coming to the Indians, the recently DFA'd Jason Kubel could be of interest to them. The Tribe liked Kubel when he played for Minnesota and there were reports that they claimed him on waivers in August of 2011, right around the time they acquired Jim Thome from the Twins.
- Twins GM Terry Ryan confirmed that Minnesota will receive cash from the Royals in the Jamey Carroll trade, tweets Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. The Twins had the choice of cash considerations or a PTBNL in the swap.
Here are today's minor moves from around the league...
- Right-hander Pat Neshek has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Sacramento from the Athletics, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle (on Twitter). Neshek, who was designated for assignment on Monday, has a 3.58 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 37 2/3 innings this season. He does come with significant platoon splits, however.
- The Twins unconditionally released Triple-A right-hander Tim Wood, according to Twins director of communications Dustin Morse (on Twitter). Wood, 30, was dominant enough with the Pirates' Triple-A affiliate in 2012 that Minnesota inked him to a one-year, $675K Major League deal despite the fact that he didn't throw a pitch in the Majors last year. He pitched to a 2.19 ERA with 8.0 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 70 1/3 innings for Triple-A Indianapolis last year, but injuries limited him to nine appearances between High-A Fort Myers and Triple-A Rochester prior to his release this season. He allowed nine runs in 9 1/3 innings between those two levels.
- The Twins also released right-hander Luis Perdomo from Rochester, according to the International League transactions page. The 29-year-old posted a 5.95 ERA with 8.2 K/9 and 6.0 BB/9 in 65 innings at the Triple-A level this season.
- Edinson Volquez, Edgmer Escalona Aaron Harang, Russ Canzler and Jason Kubel are each currently in DFA limbo, and you can track their statuses using MLBTR's new DFA Tracker.
The Athletics should consider claiming outfielder Jason Kubel, InsideBayArea.com's John Hickey argues. The Diamondbacks designated Kubel for assignment Tuesday afternoon. After losing Josh Reddick to a wrist injury, the A's are short an outfielder. Their current plan is to slide Brandon Moss to the outfield and have Daric Barton play first base, but Hickey thinks it might be better to keep Moss at first and play Kubel in an outfield spot instead. He notes that exchanging Barton for Kubel would be a defensive downgrade, however, and it's questionable how much more offense Kubel might provide. He hit .220/.288/.324 for the Diamondbacks this year, and would have to make a significant rebound in the direction of his 2012 form to be an upgrade. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- Josh Willingham of the Twins says August waivers are "no big deal," Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (via Twitter). The Twins placed Willingham on recovable trade waivers earlier today, raising the possibility (even if it isn't an incredibly likely one) that Willingham could be dealt. Willingham tells Miller he's in no hurry to leave Minnesota. The outfielder is hitting .214/.348/.393 this season.
- It's still not impossible that the Twins could trade Justin Morneau. But Morneau is a free agent after the season, so even if the Twins dealt him, they could bring him back for 2014. That decision could be based on how often they want Joe Mauer to play first base, 1500ESPN's Phil Mackey argues (on Twitter). Mackey argues that, in any case, the Twins shouldn't consider more than a one-year deal for Morneau, who appears to be past his prime and doesn't stack up particularly well against other first basemen.
- Scott Boras, who represents the Nationals' Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg, half-jokingly says he prefers "12-year deals" for his players, MASNsports.com's Dan Kolko reports. "I'm more into 12-year deals for young players," says Boras. "The M.O. is that you want to keep within the franchise, you want him there for a long time and you want to be there for the fans and be a marquee for them. ... You're going to have to do something different if you're going to be a team of distinction." Boras was in Washington for the Nationals' game against the Marlins, and he seemed to be talking about Harper, although he did not name him directly.