Terry Ryan Rumors

Terry Ryan On Phil Hughes, Eduardo Escobar

Phil Hughes was two years away from free agency but both he and the Twins realized that they wanted to hammer out something for the long term.  In December, Hughes agreed to a three-year extension that will pay him $42MM but also allow him to cash in again at the age of 32.

For both sides, the deal appeared to be a win-win.  The Twins locked up Hughes following his best season to date and Hughes will get to hit the open market roughly at the same age as James Shields when he inked a four-year, $75MM deal with the Padres in February.  In a pre-game scrum with the Twins’ beat writers on Monday, I asked GM Terry Ryan if the club ever pushed for a longer deal with the right-hander.

I think that’s kind of where our comfort level was, he was signed for two and we tacked on more…In essence, I think that’s where we felt pretty comfortable in terms of his age and what he accomplished in his life and all that stuff,” Ryan said.  “We were comfortable with it and so was he.  At the end of the deal he’ll be [32] and that’s getting to an age when you start to have a bit of…concern at that point but then again, that’s how old Ervin Santana is and we signed him to a four-year deal.  He’s a young guy, he’s been around for a long time.  That’s what happens when you sign out of high school and move into the majors quickly.”

Meanwhile, this spring, Eduardo Escobar has presented the Twins with one of those good problems to have.  Escobar’s production at the plate has made some wonder if he could force shortstop Danny Santana back to the outfield, unseating Aaron Hicks.  I asked Ryan about that possibility and he seemed to downplay the chances of that happening.

No, we’re still going with that path, there’s still competition but Santana is certainly playing well at short.  Paul [Molitor] said he’d like him to be there if he plays well and to this point he has.  Escobar has had a fine spring and I’ve stated this many times.  It’s going to be tough to get him out of that position because he played well last year and he played well this spring,” Ryan said.  “I don’t think I’m prepared right now to tell you who is going to play center and I’m not prepared to tell you who is going to play short, but Hicks is certainly in the mix and Santana is in the mix.”

Later, Escobar saw some time in the outfield in an effort to get him comfortable with playing multiple positions off the bench, as Ryan explained to MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger and other reporters after the game.


Phil Hughes Talks Contract Extension

Phil Hughes was two years away from free agency, but both he and the Twins realized that they wanted to work something out for the long-term.  Earlier today, the Twins announced a three-year extension that will pay him an additional $42MM, giving the right-hander a pact that will take him through the 2019 season.  The deal gives Hughes job security, a healthy payday in the here and now, and also allows him the opportunity to cash in again at the age of 32.  As our own Steve Adams pointed out this afternoon, Hughes is on track to hit the open market again at roughly the same age as James Shields is this winter.  On a conference call earlier today, I asked Hughes about the importance of getting a deal that could allow him to land another hefty multi-year contract down the line.

That’s the benefit of coming into the league at the age of 20, I put some service time behind me so even after this contract, I’ll be 32, 33, but that’s something for another day,” Hughes said.  “I haven’t even begun to think about my next deal, this is five years away and I have a lot of things I want to accomplish.  After that, we’ll see where we’re at.

Hughes knows that he could have boosted his value even further by continuing on his previous deal, but he would have had “a little bit more of a struggle” in talking agent Nez Balelo into greenlighting an extension one year away from free agency.  The 28-year-old is clearly comfortable in Minnesota and spoke glowingly of the team’s potential in the years to come.  He was effusive in his praise of the roster, from promising youngsters like Danny Santana and Kennys Vargas to veterans like Ervin Santana and Torii Hunter.

I didn’t want it to be where I came in for three years, kind of saw this team get back on the right track and then said, ‘Thanks for everything. Thanks for having faith in me, but see you later.’ I wanted to be part of this for years to come, and I believe in the process and the direction that this team is going,” said the hurler.

As GM Terry Ryan put it, the extension called for “some risk on both parties.”  While Hughes passed up a chance to bet on himself and possibly earn more after the 2016 season, the Twins are making a sizable commitment to the right-hander and banking on the kind of pitching that he delivered in 2014.  For his part, Hughes is confident that he will continue to excel while warming up to the idea of a veteran leadership role at such a young age.


Central Rumors: Cubs, Lester, Masterson

If the Cubs land Jon Lester, an industry source tells Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter) they’re next move would be to pursue a big bat – to go along with Miguel Montero – to try and accelerate their revival. The Cubs are reportedly discussing Montero with the D’Backs in a deal that wouldn’t require them giving up much in the way of assets.  More out of the Central divisions..

  • The Indians kicked the tires on Justin Masterson, but were never really “all in” on bringing him back, according to Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer (via Twitter).
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan says he has no interest in the Blue Jays’ president/CEO role, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter).  “[I’m] very humbled to hear [that], but I’m a GM.  I’m a baseball guy,” Ryan said.
  • Even though word has only recently leaked, White Sox executive Kenny Williams was contacted by the Blue Jays about their team president position shortly after the end of the season, writes Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star. Current Jays president Paul Beeston is part of the executive search process, which indicates the club isn’t going behind his back to make a change. Williams also likes the idea of being the first African American MLB CEO.
  • Indians GM Chris Antonetti is comfortable with his current roster, he tells Jordan Bastian of MLB.com (Twitter). The acquisition of Brandon Moss affords the club depth and versatility. We learned earlier tonight that the club would now look to build upon its seven pitcher deep rotation. We could also see them shop Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, or David Murphy, but I doubt they would receive much salary relief in a trade.
  • Ryan went on to say that the Twins have been in serious talks with both agents and clubs about acquiring pitching, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com (on Twitter).
  • Cubs GM Jed Hoyer isn’t making any secret about what he wants to do this winter, tweets Jesse Rogers of ESPNChicago.com.  “Clearly we want to add multiple starting pitchers this winter. We need to,” Hoyer said.


Blue Jays Notes: Anthopoulos, Navarro, Gibbons

Earlier today, Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos addressed reporters in San Diego.  Here’s a look at some of the highlights from that plus more..

  • When asked about how much trade interest there has been in catcher Dioner Navarro, AA said: “I’ve had clubs ask, that’s probably as far as I would go with it,” according to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com (via Twitter).  The GM went on to say (link) that the Blue Jays are a “better team with Dioner Navarro…There’s no doubt about it.”  While AA wouldn’t rule out trading the catcher over the weekend, he says that he won’t be going anywhere unless he gets a fair return (link).
  • Anthopoulos says the Blue Jays still do not currently have any offers out to free agents, Chisholm tweets.
  • There was, however, one free agent the Blue Jays wanted, but he signed elsewhere.  “There was someone that signed that we really liked that we wanted to get,” the GM said, according to Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet (via Twitter).  However, the Jays never got to the point where they would make an offer, AA said, because that player really wanted to play in a certain place, Chisholm tweets.
  • Money may be tight for the Blue Jays, reports Joel Sherman of the New York Post. After adding Russell Martin and Josh Donaldson, payroll projects to about $103MM with another $14MM via arbitration. The team spent $137MM so if money’s tight, it might mean the club’s budget has decreased.
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan also crossed the Blue Jays radar in their search for a new team president. Scott Miller of Bleacher Report tweets that Ryan is “staying put” in Minnesota.
  • Blue Jays skipper John Gibbons told reporters, including BN-S (via Twitter), that he wants to see a couple of relievers added to the team.  He added that he likes the team’s current lineup and he isn’t sure if there’s a real second base upgrade out there.

Brad Johnson contributed to this post.


AL Notes: Ryan, Hunter, Miller, Bonifacio, Front Office

Twins GM Terry Ryan is “doing well” after his bout with throat cancer, writes MLB.com’s Barry Bloom. The 61-year-old still is experiencing various forms of discomfort, but has completed radiation and is back at full force in the Minnesota front office.

Here’s more out of the American League:

  • The Tigers will not pursue Torii Hunter after inking Victor Martinez and trading for Anthony Gose, GM Dave Dombrowski told reporters today, including George Sipple of the Detroit Free Press. “I called and said it just didn’t look like it was going to fit the way the club was getting put together,” Dombrowski said. “Thanked him for everything. Absolutely love him. If something changes where we make some changes for one reason or another, that we’re not anticipating, we would still be open. It’s just probably not much of a fit right now.” Hunter indicated in an Instagram post that he still intends to play in 2015.
  • The Blue Jays recently met with free agent lefty Andrew Miller, Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca reports on Twitter. Miller figures to be a highly sought-after relief weapon. Toronto has definite pen needs, as Nicholson-Smith’s colleague, Shi Davidi, told me on this week’s podcast, and as MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk wrote in previewing the club’s offseason.
  • Free agent utility man Emilio Bonifacio is receiving interest from his former teams, including the Blue Jays and Royals, Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com tweets. (Cotillo also lists the Cubs as a team with possible interest.) Bonifacio should have his pick of situations given his versatility and place on the market.
  • The Red Sox have promoted Mike Rikard to become the team’s scouting director, according to a tweet from Clint Longenecker, formerly of Baseball America. He replaces Amiel Sawdaye, who will be promoted to a vice president role, according to Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal (via Twitter). Longenecker himself is moving on to join the Indians, Baseball America’s John Manuel tweets.

Twins Notes: Plouffe, Hughes, Ryan, Gardenhire, Coaches

Third baseman Trevor Plouffe suffered a fractured left forearm today, as LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports on Twitter. That will end the 28-year-old’s season, but not before he posted a solid .258/.326/.423 slash over 520 plate appearances. Presumably, he will return to full strength in time for the spring — after taking his second pass through the arbitration process.

Here’s the latest out of Minnesota:

  • As things stand in today’s game, starter Phil Hughes has gone eight innings on 96 pitches and stands just one out away from reaching 210 innings on the year — which would trigger a third and final $500K incentive payment. But, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets, a rain delay is now threatening to complicate Hughes’s bid to finish his excellent season with a complete game and a healthy bonus payout.
  • GM Terry Ryan told reporters that he hopes to stay at the helm of the Twins next year, as ESPN.com reports. Ryan said he is doing well eight months after his cancer diagnosis, and feels physically capable of doing the job. He will sit down after the season with owner Jim Pohlad, as usual, to discuss his future. All reports have indicated that Ryan is expected to return.
  • Meanwhile, manager Ron Gardenhire said today that he, too, hopes to be back in 2015, as MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. “Why wouldn’t you want to be here? This is as good as it gets,” said Gardenhire. “But I’m all for whatever’s best for the organization, too.” For his part, Ryan has said that a decision on Gardenhire’s future has yet to be reached, but will be forthcoming quickly after the season ends.
  • The Twins have a talented group of young Latin American players, but lack Spanish-speaking coaches to serve as mentors, writes Patrick Reusse of the Star Tribune. As the flow of Latin talent to the club’s MLB roster increases, says Reusse, it is incumbent upon Minnesota’s leadership to create an environment that will get the most out of those players.

Ryan On Free Agents, Tenders, Pelfrey, Pitching

Twins GM Terry Ryan discussed a number of topics with 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson on Wednesday, including the following hot stove-related items…

  • The Twins have a protected first round draft pick but Ryan said he'd be comfortable in surrendering the club's second round selection to sign a free agent who had declined a qualifying offer, provided that he felt the free agent was a good fit.
  • Likewise, if the Twins identify a player on the trade market that would upgrade their club and could be had at the right price, Ryan would be open to dealing prospects to make a big splash like the Royals did last offseason to acquire James Shields.  "If you find some of that pitching, it makes you look a lot better in a hurry. So, you'd have to give it some consideration. But it'd have to make a lot of sense. No doubt," Ryan said.
  • Ryan has "flexibility with payroll" and isn't afraid to spend on a player his front office thinks is the right guy.  "We have people who put their neck out and are committed to whoever the player is or the pitcher is, you move forward. If it costs you some money, we go to where we're comfortable," Ryan said.
  • Trevor Plouffe will be tendered a contract, Ryan confirmed.  He declined to comment on Anthony Swarzak or Brian Duensing (both of whom are also eligible for arbitration), but Wolfson reports that "league sources are convinced" that both pitchers will be tendered contracts.
  • There is "probably not" any chance of the Twins re-signing Mike Pelfrey before he hits the free agent market, as Ryan suggested Pelfrey and agent Scott Boras will want to test the market.  Pelfrey returned from Tommy John surgery in 2012 to throw 152 2/3 innings for the Twins last season and he posted a 5.19 ERA that peripherals stats indicated should've been lower.  Pelfrey has said he would be interested in returning to Minnesota and MLBTR's Steve Adams suggests Pelfrey could be had on another one-year contract.

Terry Ryan On Gardenhire, Diaz, Buxton, Correia

In a wide-ranging interview with 1500ESPN.com's Darren Wolfson, Twins GM Terry Ryan talked about a team that is currently "going in the wrong direction." Here are some of the most notable points covered:

  • At the halfway point, Ryan acknowledged that his team is "struggling." Ryan declined to place the blame at the feet of manager Ron Gardenhire, saying that "I just now need to get him players he can succeed with." Ryan said that he "take[s] the responsibility" for the team's record. "I put this roster together. I've told Gardy to do the best he can. I understand that I don't have a perfect roster here."
  • When asked whether the team's deal with Dominican outfielder Lewin Diaz was Minnesota's big international deal, Ryan said no. The team "still ha[s] dollars left" and is "still pursuing other guys." 
  • Ryan indicated that he is impressed with top prospect Byron Buxton for more reasons than his incredible tools and statistics. "He's done a good job and he's made up right," said Ryan, referring to Buxton. "He's a good teammate. He's approachable. There's a lot of humbleness in him. He was raised right by his parents."
  • Discussing trades, Ryan says that the general manager is "not going to win no matter what you do," though he insists that he is not bothered by criticism. Several moves that the Twins have faced questions over include not trading Josh Willingham before last year's trade deadline ("If I had traded him, I would've been hammered. Not trading him, I'll get hammered.") and shipping out center fielders Denard Span and Ben Revere this past offseason ("We made a bold move. We need pitching. People were comfortable with Benny and Denard."). 
  • One Ryan decision that has received criticism was the two-year, $10MM deal given starter Kevin Correia. With Correia pitching well enough to be a trade target, Ryan says he "never thought it was the wrong decision" because "our people were adamant that he'd be okay. … We got him for what we thought was right. He has fit in here. He's given us what we thought he could do."
  • Looking at this year's trade deadline, Ryan acknowledged that the team's current 10-game road "will be a good indicator whether we're a team that will be competitive." Minnesota kicked things off with a dispiriting 4-0 loss to Mark Buehrle and the Blue Jays last night, and is expected to be a seller.

AL Central Notes: Indians, Twins

White Sox outfielder Casper Wells was perhaps the most successful pitcher yesterday for Chicago. The interesting backstory can be read here. The Sox gave up two ballgames in incredible fashion to the division rival Indians. Let's take a quick look at the Tribe, along with their American League Central foes from Minnesota:

  • Looking ahead for the Indians, Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal wonders whether this could be the last season that Carlos Santana toils behind the dish. With a Yan Gomes/Lou Marson tandem potentially capable of holding down the catching role, and Santana's offensive gifts outpacing his defensive development, Ocker says that Santana makes more sense as a first baseman/designated hitter going forward.
  • Of more immediate concern, Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer writes that Cleveland's seeming rotation depth has suddenly dissolved. In his view, GM Chris Antonetti should be aggressive in looking to bolster the starting staff in advance of the trade deadline. Of course, the Indians would join a growing list of clubs looking to add starters from a relatively sparse pool of potentially available candidates.
  • The Twins haven't ruled out a September call-up for top prospect Miguel Sano this season, according to Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com. "I guess we'll let him dictate that," GM Terry Ryan said. "And certainly it'll be a little bit of a situation of what's going on with the major league team as well." Sano's trademark power has been evident this season, despite a .236 batting average in 17 Double-A games, and Ryan is also impressed with the third baseman's work on the defensive side of the ball. "His defense is better than his offense down there [at Double-A] to this point, which is good. I think anybody that's seen him realizes he's going to hit, and certainly in time I think he'll catch up with Double-A pitching."
  • Meanwhile, Ryan is keeping quiet on the team's plans in the pre-trade deadline period. As MLB.com's Kelly Erickson reports, the veteran GM says he has not even determined that the team will sell since Minnesota sits just seven games out of first. "People get a little jumpy at this time of year," says Ryan.

Aaron Steen contributed to this post.


Central Notes: Gallardo, Twins, White Sox

The Royals made this a special Father's Day for 21 dads as the team invited the players' fathers to travel with them on their current road trip to Tampa and Cleveland. Dick Kaegel of MLB.com reports the idea was the brainstorm of the Royals' senior director of travel Jeff Davenport, who borrowed the idea from NHL teams, and was approved quickly by GM Dayton Moore and manager Ned Yost. The idea came as a shock to some of the dads including the father of infielder Elliot Johnson, Robert. "Elliot told me about it and I had to call him back three times to make sure I got this story right — I said, 'You've got to be kidding me. All I have to do is get to Kansas City and they're going to put me on a plane and fly me along with you and not charge me anything? And I'm going to get in a hotel and eat with you guys and hang out with you?" The trip hasn't been without incident. Robert Johnson admitted he had an argument with Hall of Famer and new Royals batting coach George Brett over – what else – Elliot's hitting. In other news and notes from MLB's Central divisions: 

  • After struggling for most of the season, Yovani Gallardo has now tossed 14 consecutive scoreless innings. With the Brewers in last place and Gallardo controlled affordably through 2015 ($11.25MM in 2014 and a 2015 club option worth $13MM), the right-hander's name has popped up as a trade candidate (including by MLBTR's Tim Dierkes two weeks ago) and he has heard the talk. "We'll see what happens," Gallardo told reporters including MLB.com's Adam McCalvy. "It's definitely a little bit different. It's the first time I've been in a situation like this — not to say that anything is going to happen." McCalvy reports Gallardo can block trades to ten teams, but Gallardo acknowledges even he doesn't know the identity of all of them. 
  • While the Brewers don't anticipate Corey Hart returning from offseason knee surgery until after the All-Star break, at the earliest, GM Doug Melvin will not rush first base prospect Hunter Morris to the Majors, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Melvin told Haudricourt service time considerations aren't part of the decision-making process, "He needs to play more at Triple-A. We just want to make sure he's ready before making a move like that." The Brewers entered the weekend last in the NL at first base with a .493 OPS and 14th with four home runs and a .275 slugging percentage.
  • Twins GM Terry Ryan told Jim Bowden of ESPN and MLB Network Radio Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, and Kevin Correia will be the most asked about players as the Trade Deadline approaches (Twitter link).
  • Twins closer Glen Perkins will also be sought after by teams looking to bolster their bullpen, including the division rival Tigers. Ryan, however, told Bowden he has not had any conversations with Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski and would rather have Perkins pitch for him than against him (Twitter link).
  • Yesterday, the White Sox announced the signing of seventh-round draft choice Trey Michalczewski. Today, Jim Callis of Baseball America tweeted the prep third baseman will receive a $500K bonus, which is $323.4K above the recommended slot (per Baseball America).