Minnesota Twins Rumors
The Cardinals' four-year, $53MM deal with Jhonny Peralta has an interesting twist: it's frontloaded. The shortstop will earn $15.5MM in 2014, $15MM in '15, $12.5MM in '16, and $10MM in '17, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. Here's tonight's look around the majors..
- Peralta's deal raises the uncomfortable issue of PED usage paying off, writes Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports. Diamondbacks relief pitcher and team union representative Brad Ziegler took his dissatisfaction with the deal to Twitter, but he's far from the only player who has an issue with players linked to PEDs getting major paydays.
- Heyman looks at the market for Jarrod Saltalamacchia and wonders if the Blue Jays, Twins, or Rockies could steal him away from the Red Sox. The Rangers look like another possibility to some, but one person connected with the club says a return for Salty isn't too likely at the moment. Texas has looked at free agent catchers, but they've also suggested that Geovany Soto will be their fulltime backstop.
- The Rays' are still waiting on results of Jose Molina's physical and therefore won't have an announcement on his signing until early next week, tweets Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. Molina is expected to ink a two-year, $4.5MM pact to stay with Tampa Bay.
- The opportunity to win attracted Skip Schumaker to the Reds, writes MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. Schumaker said his decision came down to the Reds and one other unspecified playoff-caliber team.
- In today's inbox, MLB.com's Corey Brock touches on the possibility of star third baseman Chase Headley being moved and other matters surrounding the Padres.
A look at the latest on the Twins..
- The Twins have made a two-year offer to Mike Pelfrey, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. However, there's still a gap in salary that needs to be bridged. Pelfrey returned from Tommy John surgery in 2012 to post a 5.19 ERA with 6.0 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a career-low 43.2 percent ground-ball rate in 152 2/3 innings. Pelfrey's FIP (3.99) and xFIP (4.54) both suggest that his ERA could have been lower were it not for a .337 BABIP and 67.2 percent strand rate.
- More from Heyman, who writes that the Twins have inquired on top starters like Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez as well as several others lower on the free agent list, including Phil Hughes and Scott Feldman. The club has been most heavily linked to guys like Bronson Arroyo, Ricky Nolasco, and Matt Garza to date. Minnesota starting pitchers combined for a league worst 5.26 ERA in 2013.
- Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN previews the Winter Meetings agenda for the Twins. Minnesota has Nolasco atop their free agent wish list, but they'll move on if it's not at the right price. They also like Arroyo and a source says he's seeking a three-year deal in the $27-$30MM range.
- The Twins have told agents that they don't plan on sacrificing their second-round pick in June's amateur draft to sign a free agent, despite a public declaration stating otherwise, Wolfson writes. That would mean that Santana and Jimenez aren't in their plans. Santana's reps already have meetings set up with teams in Orlando and the Twins, as of this morning, are not on that list.
- On the trade front, the Twins are fond of Homer Bailey, according to Wolfson. Wayne Krivsky, special assistant to GM, knows Bailey well from his days with the Reds. Krivsky took over as Cincinnati's GM two years after Bailey was drafted and was in that role when Bailey made his big league debut.
- A Twins official "scoffed at" the idea of trading for Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello but was more receptive to the idea of a Jeremy Hellickson acquisition when asked by Wolfson about both each right-hander.
The Twins are one of "about five teams" pursuing free agent catcher Dioner Navarro, a GM monitoring Navarro's market told Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Yesterday, Peter Gammons reported that Navarro is "moving to resolution" with a team, but the Red Sox, who once showed preliminary interest, aren't in the mix at this point.
Navarro will turn 30 in February and batted .300/.365/.492 with 13 home runs in 89 games (266 plate appearances) in 2013 -- the finest season of his big league career. As Berardino notes, Navarro could serve as a mentor for fellow Venezuelan backstop Josmil Pinto in Minnesota, who appears to be the team's catcher of the future. The Marlins have also expressed interest in Navarro.
Top Mets prospect Rafael Montero and Twins youngsters Oswaldo Arcia and Josmil Pinto have joined the Legacy Agency, according to Liz Mullen of Sports Business Journal (subscription required). For Montero and Arcia, this marks a return to TLA after being gone for one year and for nine months, respectively.
Montero, who turned 23 in October, split the 2013 campaign between the Mets' Double-A and Triple-A affiliates, compiling an impressive 2.78 ERA and 4.29 K/BB ratio (150 strikeouts, 35 walks) in 155 1/3 innings of work. Both Baseball America and MLB.com's Jonathan Mayo agree that the right-hander is the No. 3 prospect in the Mets' minor league system, trailing only the highly touted Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud. Mayo also lists Montero as the No. 97 overall prospect in the game.
A consensus Top 100 prospect heading into the 2013 season, Arcia debuted in Minnesota as a 21-year-old this year and became the youngest player to hit a home run while donning a Twins uniform since Joe Mauer in 2004. Arcia was a bit overmatched by Major League pitching but held his own, slashing .251/.304/.430 with 14 home runs in 378 plate appearances. He also saw 155 plate appearances in Triple-A, illustrating that he has little to prove at that level by hitting .313/.426/.594 with 10 homers in 38 games.
Pinto, 25 in March, burst onto the scene in 2013 with a .309/.400/.482 batting line and 15 homers between Double-A and Triple-A this season. With the news that Mauer is shifting to first base full-time, Pinto suddenly appears to be the heir-apparent behind the plate in Minnesota. He made his big league debut as a September call-up and turned plenty of heads in a small sample size of 83 plate appearances by slashing .342/.398/.556 with four homers and five doubles. He ranks fifth among Twins prospects, per Jason Parks of Baseball Prospectus.
The Legacy Agency has numerous high-profile Major League clients (e.g. CC Sabathia, Carl Crawford, Aaron Hill, Edwin Jackson) but also boasts some high-profile prospects. In addition to Montero, Arcia and Pinto, TLA also represents George Springer, Taylor Guerrieri and Jenrry Mejia, as can be seen in MLBTR's Agency Database, whiche contains info on 2,000+ Major League and Minor League players. If you see any omissions or errors within the database, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10:23pm: Minnesota has yet to make an offer to Arroyo, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports via Twitter. He opines that the club will need to go to three years to entice Arroyo.
We heard a few weeks back that the Twins were very much in on Arroyo, and today's news confirms that they are still in active pursuit. The club is reportedly looking to add two veteran arms to its starting mix, and has already seen possible options like Dan Haren, Jason Vargas, Tim Hudson, and Josh Johnson reach deals elsewhere. It makes sense, then, that Arroyo is in play, especially since he is one of just a few viable, quality options that is expected to be had on a relatively short-term contract.
Set to begin the 2014 season at 37 years of age, Arroyo remains baseball's prototypical innings eater, having made at least 32 starts in every campaign for the last decade. Arroyo logged exactly 202 innings in both 2012 and 2013, posting near-identical 3.74 and 3.79 earned run averages.
Jhonny Peralta's new $53MM deal with the Cardinals could lead to changes to MLB's Joint Drug Agreement, FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes. Peralta already served a 50-game suspension for his role in the Biogenesis scandal, but he's now getting a large contract just months later, one that dwarfs other recent contracts for players like Marlon Byrd and Melky Cabrera who also received PED suspensions. "We thought 50 games would be a deterrent. Obviously it’s not. So we are working on it again," Diamondbacks player representative Brad Ziegler tweeted today. Rosenthal writes that players are likely to raise the topic of harsher PED penalties at a players union meeting in December. Any changes would then have to be negotiated with MLB's owners. Here are more notes from around the Majors.
- The market for free agent closers is currently in a holding pattern, with interested teams all eyeing the same group of players (presumably including Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Fernando Rodney, Edward Mujica and Brian Wilson) and waiting for each other to make the first move, FOX Sports' Jon Morosi tweets.
- One dynamic affecting the market for closers might be that teams aren't as willing to pay for saves as they once were, as Paul Swydan of Fangraphs points out. Big-money contracts for closers appear to be decreasing, and Swydan suggests that a number of recent multiyear deals for closer types (Jonathan Papelbon, Rafael Soriano, Brandon League) don't appear to be going well (perhaps particularly when considering underlying indicators like peripherals and velocity).
- The Twins are one of a number of teams "in play" for catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. The Red Sox and Rangers might also be among that group of teams. After moving Joe Mauer to first base, the Twins are on the lookout for a catcher. They may also be interested in A.J. Pierzynski, Berardino writes.
Other than Alex Rodriguez's legal matters, nothing has been handled worse this offseason than Robinson Cano's contract negotiations, opines Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. The switch from Scott Boras to Jay-Z doesn't look like it's panning out and the $310MM figure that was floated out has done him a world of harm. In Cafardo's view, Yankees fans should be excited about the $85MM contract given to Brian McCann because it means that less money is available to spend on Cano. More from today's column..
- Jarrod Saltalamacchia is still very much on the Twins’ radar as they try to replace Joe Mauer after his move to first base. Now positioned as the best available catcher, Salty could get a three-year deal in the $30MM range. The teams who like the 28-year-old feel his throwing, right-handed hitting, and hitting approach have improved.
- Teams like the Twins and Blue Jays are circling Ricky Nolasco, but nobody has been able to seal a deal. However, Cafardo notes that the free agent pitching market has yet to fully develop as teams are trying to get help via trades. The Red Sox, for example, have received several inquiries about their starting pitchers.
- One talent evaluator says that he' would be cautious about signing switch-hitting catcher Dioner Navarro. “He’s great on a one-year or shorter-term deal. Problems are his weight, his work ethic, and flexibility behind the plate, so it gets a little scary on a multi-year deal. He can flat-out hit, so if you have the catch/throw guy, he’s not a bad complement to that,” he said.
- The Angels could still be a strong trade partner with the Red Sox even after the Peter Bourjos-David Freese deal. The Sox have an interest in first baseman Mike Trumbo and could be tempted on power reliever Kevin Jepsen while the Halos are in need of a starting pitcher.
The Red Sox' recent experience shows the need for teams to be flexible at the closer position, writes ESPN's Jerry Crasnick. The Sox traded four players last offseason to get Joel Hanrahan (and infielder Brock Holt), but Hanrahan quickly went down with an elbow injury. They then replaced him with Andrew Bailey, and then Koji Uehara, who pitched brilliantly. The Red Sox weren't the only playoff team that changed closers for one reason or another, Crasnick notes -- so did the Cardinals, Pirates, Tigers, Dodgers and Indians. That's worth keeping in mind this offseason, where the market for closers includes Joe Nathan, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Brian Wilson, Fernando Rodney and Edward Mujica. Here are more notes from around the big leagues.
- The Twins are interested in starting pitchers Gavin Floyd and Chris Capuano, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Floyd's agent, Mike Moye, says his client is progressing well in his return from Tommy John surgery, and Berardino suggests Floyd will be ready to go by the time spring training games begin. The Twins' top target is still Bronson Arroyo, Berardino notes.
- One under-the-radar starting pitcher on the free agent market is Chris Narveson, who pitched this winter for Licey, in the Dominican. A number of scouts have their eyes on Narveson, Crasnick tweets. Narveson missed much of the 2012 and 2013 seasons due to injury, but was a reliable member of the Brewers' rotation in 2010 and 2011.
- Ian Kinsler could block trades to all but ten teams, but he didn't put the Tigers on the list because he liked their chances of winning a championship, John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press reports. That's what allowed the Rangers to deal Kinsler to Detroit. "I’m really excited," he says. "Our chance to win the World Series is better than anyone's."
- Reliever Javier Lopez, who recently signed for three years and $13MM, figures he might have been able to get similar money elsewhere, but he chose to stay with the Giants because he's happy in San Francisco, John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle writes. "In my case, I felt I wanted to be in a comfortable setting first and in a place that I feel has a chance to win. That’s why I chose San Francisco," he says. "I knew the offers would be around the same dollars, so it was just a matter of happiness."
Thursday: Hawkins has passed his physical, and the deal is now official, Hawkins himself tweets.
Monday: The Rockies have agreed to terms with right-hander LaTroy Hawkins on a one-year, $2.25MM deal, USA Today's Bob Nightengale reports (Twitter links) The contract also carries a $2.25MM option for 2015 with a $250K buyout and will be official if Hawkins passes a physical on Thursday. Hawkins is represented by Reynolds Sports Management.
Hawkins will serve as the Rockies' closer, Nightengale reports. The club was known to be looking for back-end relief help, and though Rex Brothers pitched well as a replacement close for Rafael Betancourt, Colorado will instead use Brothers as a setup man with an eye towards slowly easing him towards the closer's job (according to Troy Renck of the Denver Post). Since Hawkins is a righty and Brothers is a lefty, it's possible manager Walt Weiss could platoon his two closing options depending on the situation.
This is the well-traveled Hawkins' second stint in Colorado, as the veteran righty threw 55 1/3 relief innings for the Rockies' pennant-winning team in 2007. Hawkins turns 41 in December but is coming off one of his stronger seasons --- he posted a 2.93 ERA, 5.50 K/BB and 7.0 K/9 in 70 2/3 IP with the Mets in 2013. Hawkins has done a good job of keeping the ball on the ground over his career, with a 47.8% grounder rate and an 8.6% HR/FB rate over his 19 Major League seasons, so he projects well at Coors Field.
There was solid demand for Hawkins, as Nightengale reports that the Mets, Braves and Indians were all interested in his services and 1500 ESPN's Darren Wolfson notes that the Twins "had [a] brief talk" of signing the veteran as well.
Baseball America's Matt Eddy provided a breakdown of the minor trade that went down earlier in the week that saw the Twins ship Duke Welker back to the Pirates in exchange for Kris Johnson. Johnson has an above-average two- and four-seam fastball that sits in the low 90s, but his breaking pitches are average at best, says Eddy. One bonus for the Twins is that Johnson has three minor league options remaining, while Welker has just one. Here's more on the Twins and the rest of the AL Central...
- The Twins were interested in free agent/reclamation project Grady Sizemore at one point, but they've moved on from Sizemore, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link).
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that the Royals have had internal discussions about acquiring Brett Anderson from the Athletics. An Anderson acquisition would be a somewhat similar move to GM Dayton Moore's decision to buy low on Ervin Santana in a trade last October. Unlike Santana, however, the Royals could control Anderson for two years, as his contract contains a $12MM option for 2015.
- White Sox southpaw Hector Santiago told the Chicago Tribune's Colleen Kane that the summer trades of Jake Peavy and Matt Thornton taught him that any player can get traded. Santiago said he tries not to worry about hearing his name in rumors. He added that he hopes Chicago's decision to shut him down after 130 innings is an indication that they're protecting his arm so he can throw 200 innings in 2014.
- The Indians will listen to offers on Asdrubal Cabrera this winter, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer in his latest mailbag. Hoynes adds that any trading the team does will likely prioritize getting pitching in return, and the team would like to add a free agent starting pitcher. Hoynes lists Bartolo Colon and Jake Westbrook as speculative possibilities.