MAY 18: The Twins demoted Rosario to Triple-A Rochester following today’s game, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Additionally, Neal reports that Grossman will be in uniform for the Twins tomorrow night, meaning his contract will be selected and added to the 40-man roster. Minnesota’s 40-man roster currently stands at 39, so a corresponding move to accommodate Grossman is not necessary.
MAY 17: The Twins and outfielder Robbie Grossman are in agreement on a minor league pact, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune (Twitter link). Grossman, a Lagardere client, will be assigned to Triple-A Rochester. He had opted out of a minor league pact with Cleveland earlier this week and, per Neal (Twitter link), has a June 15 opt-out in his new deal with Minnesota.
The 26-year-old Grossman will add some outfield depth to a Twins organization that has seen its fair share of struggles across all three outfield positions. Opening Day center fielder Byron Buxton was optioned to Triple-A after again looking overmatched by big league pitching, and fellow top prospect Max Kepler struggled in limited Major League action as well. Eddie Rosario, the club’s sophomore left fielder, is batting a dismal .213/.232/.343 in 114 plate appearances. Even 2015 Rookie of the Year contender Miguel Sano is hitting a solid but unremarkable .235/.331/.412 with just six homers on the season.
The Twins made a somewhat similar depth pickup earlier this year when they signed veteran David Murphy and assigned him to Rochester, but Murphy ultimately requested his released and elected to retire. That’s highly unlikely to be the outcome with the much younger Grossman, though there is of course no guarantee that he’ll see the big league roster with Minnesota before his mid-June opt-out date.
Grossman was once looked at as a potential long-term piece for the Astros, who acquired him in the 2012 trade that sent left-hander Wandy Rodriguez to the Pirates. Baseball Prospectus once ranked Grossman as a Top 100 prospect, and he showed some promise as a 23-year-old rookie in 2013 when he batted .268/.332/.370 in 288 plate appearances. However, the switch hitter’s production slipped to .222/.323/.323 across the next two seasons, and the Astros ultimately released him this past winter.
From a defensive standpoint, Grossman has experience at all three outfield positions, though he received poor marks in both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved in a small sample of 250 center field innings between 2013-14. His corner work has generated much more positive reviews, with the majority of his big league experience having come in left field. And, it’s worth noting that Grossman has been quite productive at the Triple-A level this season, batting .256/.370/.453 with six homers and three steals in 134 plate appearances for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate.
This is of course the Twinsiest of Twins moves. Terry Ryan’s wet dream is to have a roster full of AAAA type players who signed minor league deals. Even the owner of the Twins called this season “total system failure.” The Twins need an overhaul, but it has a lot more to do with who is in the front office, than on the field.