The Twins have checked in with the Reds about a trade for closer Raisel Iglesias, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports (Twitter link). Iglesias is one of several relievers Minnesota is “performing due diligence on” as the club looks to upgrade its bullpen for next season.
Iglesias stands out as a logical target for any team in the market for saves, given that a closer is a luxury on a rebuilding team like Cincinnati. Working as a full-time reliever for the first time, Iglesias just completed the best of his three MLB seasons, posting a 2.49 ERA, 10.89 K/9 and 3.41 K/BB over 76 innings. Iglesias closed out 28-of-30 save opportunities while generating a career-high swinging strike rate (13.9%) on the strength of an excellent slider and a 96.4 mph fastball.
Iglesias, who turns 28 in January, brings value both as a strong closer now and as a long-term asset who isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season. As per the terms of his original seven-year, $27MM deal with the Reds, Iglesias had the right to opt out of his guaranteed salary (with the Reds still retaining team control) in any offseason once he became eligible for arbitration, in order to chase a potentially larger payday through the arb process. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects Iglesias to earn $2.8MM through arbitration salary next season, so it is likely Iglesias will remain in his current deal for at least one winter, as his contract guarantees him $4.5MM in 2018.
Iglesias is also slated to earn $5MM in both 2019 and 2020 if he doesn’t opt into arbitration, and then he’ll have one final arb-eligible year as a Super Two player in the 2020-21 offseason. So while Iglesias’ price tag could potentially grow if he continues to rack up the saves, he’ll still be a cost-effective acquisition for a mid-market team like the Twins, particularly since Minnesota has very little salary on the books past the 2018 season.
Brandon Kintzler and Matt Belisle handled most of the ninth-inning duties for the Twins last season, though Kintzler was traded at the deadline and Belisle is a free agent, leaving Minnesota in search of a new closer this winter. The Twins didn’t get strong relief pitching in general in 2017, so it isn’t surprising that they’re looking at Iglesias and other notable bullpen arms on the trade and free agent fronts. We’ve already heard that the Twins have checked in with Kintzler about possibly bringing the free agent righty back to Target Field.
The Reds were only interested in hearing big trade offers for Iglesias last summer, and that asking price almost certainly hasn’t changed. The Twins’ farm system is middle-of-the-pack in terms of prospects to offer (Minnesota was ranked 19th in Baseball America’s post-deadline organizational ranking) since they were a team that seemed to be headed into a rebuild themselves before their surprising AL wild card finish in 2017 changed their outlook. If comes down to a prospect bidding war for Iglesias’ services, Minnesota might not have the young talent to meet the Reds’ needs.