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Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony sat down for his yearly interview with Jesse Lund of SB Nation’s Twinkie Town, and the two discussed a number of topics, including the Twins’ offseason moves, the future of Torii Hunter in Minnesota, the 2015 rotation, the farm system in general and the timelines of vaunted prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. The whole interview — split into a Major League portion and a Minor League portion — while lengthy, is well worth the read for Twins fans (and baseball fans in general). Here are some highlights…
- Antony explains to Lund that the Twins are aware of Hunter’s defensive decline but still feel that he can be adequate in right field. The Twins valued Hunter’s bat and also his experience and vocal leadership style — something the front office feels the team has lacked in recent years. Hunter “doesn’t have any interest in playing anywhere else,” Antony adds, noting that while he’s on a one-year deal, Hunter could return for future seasons as long as he remains healthy and productive. I’d imagine that would eventually require a reduced role for Hunter, possibly as soon as next season.
- Left-hander Tommy Milone struggled greatly after being acquired from the A’s on July 31, but the reason for his troubles may very well have been a benign tumor that was discovered in his neck after the season. Antony tells Lund that the tumor “took a long time to discover” but has since been removed.
- Milone will be one of several starters battling for the fifth spot in the rotation, alongside Alex Meyer, Trevor May, Tim Stauffer and Mike Pelfrey. Antony discusses the Twins’ signing of Ervin Santana and how leaving just one spot in the rotation may block some useful players but creates much-needed depth. He also confirms that the Twins had interest in Santana on a multi-year deal late last offseason. “I think we actually kind of picked up our conversations. He had a little bit better idea of where his market was [this offseason],” Antony adds.
- Shortly before the Santana signing, the Twins “took a run at some relievers” that ultimately signed elsewhere, per Antony. Mike Berardino reported in December that the Twins made an offer to Jason Frasor, so he’s likely one of the names in question. As for the others, Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek are possibilities, as they signed with Houston just one day before the Twins added Santana. David Robertson and Andrew Miller also signed in the week leading up to Minnesota’s addition of Santana, though it strikes me as unlikely that the team made a serious run at either.
- Asked about a previous report that the Twins thought they had a pair of trades agreed upon before the other party took a different offer at the last minute, Antony replied: “It wasn’t anything major, where we were on the cusp of doing anything big. We had conversations with a few different clubs, and they showed some interest in our players and we exchanged names and those types of things … it didn’t evolve.”
- It was Phil Hughes‘ camp who first approached the Twins about an extension, Antony says, and the team was immediately receptive to the idea. The Twins recognized how steeply the asking price would increase if Hughes repeated his 2014 season and was only a year from free agency and “took an opportunity.” Antony feels that with Hughes getting financial security and the team getting a potential building block for its rotation, the trade worked out for both parties.
- The Twins’ front office feels the team underachieved in 2014 and was capable of winning 76-77 games rather than the 70 with which they finished. As such, Antony said he’s hopeful of finishing near or above the .500 mark this season and believes the team should be fighting for a playoff spot come 2016.
- While Minnesota used to shy away from pitchers who were likely destined for the bullpen near the top of the draft, Antony says their philosophical outlook has changed. Players with plus velocity and a strong secondary pitch are typically off the board early, he notes, and the Twins loaded up on such arms this year, grabbing the likes of Nick Burdi, Michael Cederoth and Jake Reed.
- Both Sano and Buxton could be with the team in 2015, with Antony specifying a September callup as a possibility for Sano while speaking more generally about a possible Buxton promotion. Additionally, Antony didn’t rule out the possibility of highly regarded right-hander Jose Berrios making the 2015 club at some point.
- Asked about the reasoning behind signing Santana as opposed to waiting until next offseason when there is a stronger crop of free agent starters, Antony cited a desire to get better for the 2015 season and faith that some of the arms in the system could eventually develop into front-end types to pair with Santana and Hughes. Specifically, he mentioned Meyer: “[H]opefully Alex Meyer is a guy that, six/seven years from now, people are saying ‘Glad the Twins signed him long-term’ … and he becomes one of those guys.”
- The Twins are hopeful that Sano, Kennys Vargas and Oswaldo Arcia will settle in as their 3-4-5 hitters of the future and don’t foresee adding any big-time power bats to the mix in the near term.
With the deadline to exchange arbitration figures set for noon CT, there figure to be a large number of agreements to avoid arb today, as there were yesterday. All arbitration agreements can be followed using MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker, and we’ll keep track of today’s smaller agreements in this post, with all projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz…
- Righty Henderson Alvarez agreed to a $4MM deal with the Marlins, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reported earlier today on Twitter. Alvarez had been projected to earn $4.5MM after putting up a huge 187-inning, 2.65 ERA campaign entering his first season of arb eligibility.
- The Athletics have agreed to a $1.4MM deal with righty Ryan Cook that includes, MLB.com’s Jane Lee reports on Twitter. Cook gets a slight increase over the $1.3MM he had been projected to earn. Oakland has also inked outfielder Sam Fuld to a $1.75MM deal, per Mike Perchik of WAPT (via Twitter). He too lands just above his projection, which was for $1.6MM.
- Outfielder Collin Cowgill avoided arbitration with the Angels for $995K, MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez tweets. He was projected to earn $900K.
- Righties David Carpenter and Nathan Eovaldi both have deals with the Yankees, Andy Martino of the New York Daily News reports on Twitter. Carpenter will earn about $1.3MM while Eovaldi will take home $3.3MM
- The Rockies have a deal in place with lefty Rex Brothers, tweets MLB.com’s Thomas Harding. Brothers was projected to earn $1.3MM but will take home $1.4MM, Harding adds via Twitter.
- ESPN Chicago’s Jesse Rogers reports that the Cubs have settled with both Travis Wood and Luis Valbuena (Twitter links). Wood will receive $5.686MM — a bit north of his $5.5MM projection, while Valbuena will earn $4.2MM, per Bruce Miles of the Daily Herald (on Twitter). Valbuena was projected to earn $3.1MM.
- Mike Perchick of WAPT in New Jersey has a wave of arbitration agreements, starting with the Astros and Hank Conger settling on a $1.075MM, which is just $25K behind Swartz’s projection (Twitter link).
- Also via Perchick, the Athletics and Brett Lawrie settled on a $1.925MM contract (Twitter links). Lawrie, who had been projected at $1.8MM, was acquired by Oakland in the Josh Donaldson blockbuster.
- Rockies backstop Michael McKenry will earn $1.0876MM in 2015, via Perchick. McKenry was projected by Swartz to earn $1.5MM.
- Michael Pineda and the Yankees settled on a $2.1MM salary for the upcoming season, Perchick tweets, which is a direct match with Swartz’s projection.
- Domonic Brown and the Phillies settled on a one-year pact worth $2.6MM, via Perchick, which represents a difference of just $100K between Swartz’s projection and the actual figure. Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com tweets that Ben Revere has avoided arbitration as well, and the club now announces that he’ll earn $4.1MM — $100K north of his $4MM projection.
- Red Sox setup man Junichi Tazawa agreed to a $2.25MM payday, according to Perchick. Swartz had pegged him for a $2MM contract.
Full Story | Comments | Categories: Aaron Crow | Alex Cobb | Andrew Cashner | Antonio Bastardo | Arizona Diamondbacks | Ben Revere | Boston Red Sox | Brett Lawrie | Casey Fien | Chicago Cubs | Chris Coghlan | Chris Stewart | Cincinnati Reds | Collin Cowgill | Colorado Rockies | David Carpenter | Desmond Jennings | Dillon Gee | Drew Smyly | Eduardo Nunez | Fernando Salas | Francisco Cervelli | Hank Conger | Henderson Alvarez | Houston Astros | Jake Arrieta | Jake McGee | Jason Castro | Jeremy Hellickson | John Jaso | Josh Reddick | Juan Nicasio | Junichi Tazawa | Justin Ruggiano | Justin Turner | Kansas City Royals | Kevin Jepsen | Logan Forsythe | Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim | Los Angeles Dodgers | Luis Valbuena | Marco Estrada | Miami Marlins | Michael McKenry | Michael Pineda | Michael Saunders | Minnesota Twins | Nathan Eovaldi | New York Mets | New York Yankees | Oakland Athletics | Philadelphia Phillies | Pittsburgh Pirates | Rex Brothers | Ross Detwiler | Ruben Tejada | Ryan Cook | Sam Fuld | San Diego Padres | San Francisco Giants | Sean Rodriguez | Seattle Mariners | Shawn Kelley | Tampa Bay Rays | Texas Rangers | Tim Collins | Tommy Milone | Tony Sipp | Toronto Blue Jays | Transactions | Travis Wood | Trevor Plouffe | Welington Castillo | Yusmeiro Petit | Zack Cozart
Twins GM Terry Ryan was on-hand in New Britain tonight to see top prospect Byron Buxton‘s Double-A debut, but the evening took a scary turn for the five-tool center fielder. Buxton collided with right fielder Mike Kvasnicka and was unconscious on the field for roughly 10 minutes before being driven away in an ambulance and has been diagnosed with a concussion, Ryan said on the MiLBtv broadcast (Twitter links via MiLB.com’s Ash Marshall). It’s been a lost season for the consensus top prospect in baseball, who had already missed much of the season with wrist injuries. Ryan notes that the injury could have been much worse, and reports indicate that Kvasnicka, a Minnesota native whom the Twins acquired from the Astros in minor trade last season, was able to walk off the field (though he, too, was taken to the hospital as a precaution).
More links on what has been a scary night for the Twins organization…
- Recently acquired left-hander Tommy Milone tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he isn’t worried about the fact that the Twins may have stashed him in the minor leagues for a week in order to delay his free agency by a season. Milone will finish the year just shy of three full years of service time but said, “…as long as I’m here, I’m happy. You never know what’s going to happen four years from now.” As Berardino points out, Milone will still qualify for arbitration this offseason as a Super Two player, which lessens the sting a bit. Berardino notes that both Travis Wood and Ivan Nova had comparable ERAs and innings totals to Milone heading into arbitration, and the duo received first-time salaries of $3.9MM and $3.3MM, respectively.
- Berardino also summarizes the Twins’ trades to this point, noting that the club saved approximately $7.93MM by trading Kendrys Morales, Kevin Correia and Josh Willingham. He also has a third piece noting that Kurt Suzuki is on pace to earn all $500K of his playing time bonuses after already receiving a $25K bonus for making the All-Star team. That would boost his salary from $2.75MM to $3.275MM.
- Speaking of Willingham, Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer runs down some reasons that the Indians neglected to claim the former Twin on waivers — a decision that resulted in the division-rival Royals landing him. The Indians, who had interest in Willingham as a free agent back in 2011-12 and recently lost David Murphy and Nick Swisher to the DL, didn’t want to pay the remaining $2MM on Willingham’s contract. They also were hesitant about his injury history and didn’t want to block playing time from younger players.
All signs point to the Twins promoting Trevor May to make Saturday’s start against the A’s, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. The 24-year-old was acquired from the Phillies in 2012’s Ben Revere trade, and he’s seen his command steadily improve since joining the Twins organization. May’s ERA has dropped accordingly, and he’s currently sporting a 2.93 mark through 95 1/3 innings at Triple-A this season. With Vance Worley now in Pittsburgh, May is the lone piece remaining from that deal. Having averaged 10.5 K/9 in his minor league career, May could prove to be a valuable addition for a Twins team that’ has long been starved for power arms.
Here’s more on the Twins and the AL Central…
- Recently extended catcher Kurt Suzuki influenced the Twins‘ decision to acquire Tommy Milone from the A’s, reports John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle (Twitter link). Suzuki, who has caught Milone numerous times as a former member of the A’s, made pitch to manager Ron Gardenhire, pitching coach Rick Anderson and bench coach Terry Steinbach — all of which were presumably relayed to the front office.
- Following today’s trade of Vinnie Pestano to the Angels, Indians GM Chris Antonetti offered the following statement to MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian (Twitter link): “Vinnie was a very valuable member of the organization who made some great contributions to our bullpen throughout his time with us. As we’ve had [Major League] bullpen opportunities over the course of the last month, we’ve promoted other pitchers from [Triple-A] Columbus, so we thought it made sense to give Vinnie a fresh start with the Angels. In return, we acquired a young pitcher who we think has a chance to help our Major League team in the next few years.” For his part, Pestano is excited about the fresh start, particularly due to the fact that he is a SoCal native. In a classy series of thank you tweets to the Indians organization, Pestano, who was born in Newport Beach, noted that he couldn’t imagine a better destination for a trade.
- MLB.com’s Scott Merkin writes that Avisail Garcia‘s aggressive approach to his rehab from a shoulder injury has impressed the White Sox. Garcia’s injury was thought to be season-ending back in April, but an August return now looks possible. Merkin notes that the move could create an interesting roster decision, though GM Rick Hahn has noted that he will pursue August trades, so a roster spot could be created that way.
While it remains unclear exactly how long Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates will be out of action with a rib fracture, any significant lost time will obviously have an impact on the tight NL Central race. As Mike Petriello of Fangraphs writes, Pittsburgh will be absent McCutchen at a time when wins are at a premium. It will be interesting to see whether the team considers a move to add another outfielder to the mix.
- Cubs call-up Javier Baez flipped the narrative on his debut by homering after an 0-for-5 start. Of course, you could call that performance right in line with expectations; as Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America wrote yesterday, big power and lots of strikeouts are likely as Baez adjusts to the big leagues. Meanwhile, the promotion carries broader implications for Chicago, as ESPN.com’s Keith Law explains (Insider link). By moving Baez onto the 40-man roster before they need to, and likely foregoing the chance to tack on additional years of control, the Cubs are starting the clock on their efforts to transition from rebuilding to contending. Given the state of the team’s MLB rotation and generally less-developed pitching prospects, that could make the team a player on the free agent market this year, says Law.
- It appears that the Twins have kept recently-acquired starter Tommy Milone in Triple-A to keep him from reaching a third year of service, explains Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN. With 2.018 on his service clock entering the year, and having been on optional assignment since July 5, Milone is now set up to fall short of the three years needed to qualify for arbitration via the standard route. Though a quick call-up would likely put Milone in line for an extra arb trip as a Super Two, he will nevertheless be subject to team control for four more years.
- Twins shortstop Danny Santana has a .318/.355/.488 slash through 215 plate appearances, far and away the best line he has maintained as a professional (in spite of the fact that he just made the leap to the big leagues for the first time). Regardless of what happens in the rest of the 23-year-old’s career, it seems fair to say that the meager signing bonus that landed him back in 2007 was well worth it. A club official says Santana signed for just $45K, while Santana’s representatives indicate it was only $37K, tweets Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN.
Here’s some background news and notes on the Athletics’ big trade deadline moves from Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle…
- It surprised many to see Yoenis Cespedes traded yesterday, but Slusser reports that the A’s were planning on dealing the outfielder this offseason anyway since the club didn’t think they would be able to extend him. Cespedes has a contract option that allows him to become a free agent following the 2015 season. In another piece, Slusser notes that “there never were very extensive talks” between Cespedes and the A’s about an extension.
- Sam Fuld was the only Major League player being offered by any of the teams interested in Tommy Milone, which is why the A’s swung the deal with the Twins to provide immediate outfield help given Coco Crisp and Craig Gentry‘s injury problems.
- Slusser notes that Oakland plans to keep Fuld for 2015, and he isn’t just a temporary solution while Gentry is on the DL with a broken hand.
- The Athletics are still looking to add a second baseman before the August 31st trade deadline.
Milone (pictured) lost his rotation spot with the Athletics earlier this month when the team acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel, and any hope of him regaining that spot likely faded with Oakland’s morning acquisition of Jon Lester. The 27-year-old Milone had asked to be traded somewhere that he had a chance to start, and Minnesota certainly fits that bill. Specifically, the spacious Target Field seems a good fit for Milone’s fly-ball arsenal.
Milone had pitched to a solid 3.55 ERA with 5.7 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 and a 38.4 percent fly-ball rate in 96 1/3 innings this season. He owns a 3.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and 36.8 percent ground-ball rate in 468 2/3 innings for the Nationals and Athletics. He is eligible for arbitration for the first time this offseason and can be controlled through the 2017 campaign. For the time being, Milone will report to Triple-A Rochester, per the Twins. However, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets that it may be a procedural move more than anything. Milone just pitched Tuesday and is expected to be with the Twins soon, Wolfson hears.
Milone will add to a growing crop of Major League ready arms for the Twins, who have Alex Meyer and Trevor May knocking on the door at Rochester. Though several current members of the Major League staff have underperformed, including Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco and Mike Pelfrey (the latter two are currently on the DL), Minnesota could have a wildly different rotation in 2015.
Interestingly, the Twins claimed Fuld off waivers from Oakland earlier this year when he was designated for assignment. Presumably, he can form some form of platoon with the newly acquired Jonny Gomes in order to fill in for the now-departed Yoenis Cespedes.
The 32-year-old Fuld has been excellent for the Twins in 2014, slashing .274/.370/.354 with a homer, a dozen steals (in 15 attempts) and standout defense in both left and center field. In addition to platooning with Gomes, he can serve as a center field option for the A’s with Craig Gentry on the disabled list and Coco Crisp currently ailing. Fuld is a career .240/.323/.337 hitter and can be controlled via arbitration through the 2016 campaign.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
After a glance at the Mets earlier this evening, here’s a look at other items out of the NL East..
- The Marlins are eyeing controllable pitchers and they’re thought to be considering A’s lefty Tommy Milone, D’Backs’ lefty Wade Miley, and Padres right-hander Ian Kennedy, writes Clark Spencer of the Miami Herald. Of course, if their three-game set against the Nationals doesn’t go well, they could wind up going the other way and selling.
- Phillies outfielder Marlon Byrd is no longer an option for the Royals and talks have stalled with the Mariners, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Byrd will only waive his no-trade clause if his 2016 option is exercised.
- The Phillies are talking with multiple clubs about Byrd and reliever Antonio Bastardo and there’s a lot of action on both, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports.
Oakland’s acquisition of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel displaced left-hander Tommy Milone from the club’s rotation, and now the 27-year-old has asked the club for a trade, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. Oakland has received multiple inquiries on Milone, but the team doesn’t feel inclined to move him, as he could be needed for future depth in the event of injuries or ineffectiveness. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle tweets that she now also hears that Milone has asked for a trade, but that won’t necessarily prompt the A’s to deal him.
It’s understandable that Milone would be frustrated with his demotion. As Rosenthal notes, July 5 marked the third time that Milone was sent to Triple-A Sacramento in the past calendar year, and it come on the heels of a stretch in which he went 6-0 with a 2.62 ERA in 11 starts.
Milone is not yet arbitration eligible — he will be this offseason — and is under control through the 2017 season. A soft-tossing southpaw (he’s averaged 87.3 mph on his fastball in his career), Milone has a 3.84 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 2.0 BB/9 and a 36.8 percent ground-ball rate in 468 2/3 Major League innings. The A’s originally acquired him from the Nationals as part of the Gio Gonzalez trade. He’s a client of Praver/Shapiro, as shown in MLBTR’s Agency Database.
Milone would appeal to a wide range of teams, as contending clubs in need of help at the back of their rotation could be interested, but rebuilding teams in need of controllable arms could look to acquire him as well.
The Cubs have the prospect depth necessary to acquire David Price from the Rays, FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal writes, and acquiring Price (and then extending him past 2015) is just the kind of big move Rosenthal feels the Cubs need to get them into contention sooner rather than later. Price is intrigued by the idea of playing in Chicago, friends of the southpaw say, and Cubs minor league pitching coordinator Derek Johnson was Price’s pitching coach at Vanderbilt.
Here’s some hot stove buzz from Rosenthal’s latest piece…
- The Athletics are getting calls about left-hander Tommy Milone, who lost his rotation job when Oakland acquired Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from the Cubs. The 27-year-old Milone is controlled through 2017 and has a 3.84 ERA, 3.23 K/BB rate and 6.5 K/9 over 468 2/3 career innings, though his significant home/road splits could make some teams wary about his effectiveness outside of Oakland. The A’s aren’t too keen to move Milone since they value having rotation depth.
- The Phillies are willing to eat some money on their major veteran contracts in order “to effectively buy prospects” in trades, though with teams so hesitant to move their young talent, Philadelphia might be better served by just pursuing salary relief.
- Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon “is generating little interest,” sources tell Rosenthal.
- Many of the would-be best trade chips on the White Sox aren’t producing, which could make it tough for the Pale Hose to make deadline deals. Gordon Beckham and Alejandro De Aza, for instance, look more like non-tender candidates than valuable acquisitions in the view of one rival executive. John Danks might be the most attractive trade candidate on the Chicago roster, while the Sox might wait until the winter to explore dealing Alexei Ramirez when the trade market is more open.
- The Blue Jays‘ search for offense could be mitigated by the impending returns of Edwin Encarnacion, Adam Lind and Brett Lawrie from the DL within the next week or two. Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos said yesterday that he was still looking to add a bat before the trade deadline.
- Eugenio Suarez has played well enough at shortstop that Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski doesn’t think his team will look for an upgrade at the position before the deadline. Rosenthal notes that Suarez’s presence could create a bit of a logjam next season when Jose Iglesias returns from injury.
- The Tigers do have a need for more lineup balance, as the team is short on left-handed hitters.
- With so little prospect depth, Rosenthal thinks the Yankees‘ best trade strategy would be to offer salary relief for large contracts. In hindsight, Rosenthal writes, the Yankees might’ve been better off trading Robinson Cano for prospects last summer, even though being a deadline seller is unheard of for the always-contending Yankees.
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