While the hires of chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine brought a more analytical approach to the Twins’ roster construction process, Minnesota is also overhauling its strength & conditioning and sports medicine staffs to make greater use of data and analytics, as Dan Hayes of The Athletic explores in a fascinating look at the changes to the department (subscription link). “We’ve added some analytical resources to our performance staff,” director of baseball operations Daniel Adler tells Hayes. “…We’re learning where we can trust the data, where it’s good, where it’s not as good. … Who knows if in 10 years teams may have medical-focused R&D departments that are as large as entire R&D departments are today. I don’t know. But it’s not crazy to imagine that.” The Twins have done extensive research on giving players proactive rest and implemented programs surrounding that effort. Minnesota’s R&D staff is also examining the manner in which elements such as indoor vs. outdoor batting practice, early infield work and other training activities impact a player’s ability to recover.
The newer initiatives help to explain some of the turnover on the Twins’ minor league staff in recent years, as Falvey emphasized to Hayes the importance of making sure the minor league coaches, player development staff and the rest of the front office all share a similar vision and philosophy. Once the team has hired a new skipper to replace Paul Molitor, they’ll also hire a new director of player performance to help oversee all of these areas, per Hayes.
Here’s more out of the division…
- Tigers catcher Grayson Greiner has been diagnosed with a bone chip in his right wrist and will undergo surgery to remove it next week, the team announced. While the injury shouldn’t impact his availability for Spring Training, it likely gives the team added incentive to retain arbitration-eligible catcher James McCann, writes Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press — even on the heels of a sub-par season at the plate. The 28-year-old McCann hit a career-worst .220/.267/.314 in a career-high 457 plate appearances this past season, but GM Al Avila ad others in the organization still believe there’s more potential in his bat, Fenech notes. While McCann’s trade value is at a low point, the Tigers likely still see some value in retaining him to work with a young pitching staff. MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects a $3.5MM salary for McCann next season.
- MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian fields a number of offseason-related questions in his latest Indians mailbag column, most notably exploring Danny Salazar’s role with the team in 2019. Salazar missed the 2018 campaign due to shoulder surgery and would require a $5MM commitment via arbitration this offseason, but with both Cody Allen and Andrew Miller perhaps departing via free agency, he could be an intriguing bullpen candidate next year. The Indians plan to bring Salazar and righty Cody Anderson to camp as starters, per Bastian, though either could be shifted to a relief role. The Cleveland rotation, after all, looks largely set with Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber all in the fold, though certainly an injury could change that mix. Bastian also looks at some other impending free agents, speculating that Michael Brantley could well receive a $17.9MM qualifying offer.
- Right-hander Nate Jones tells Scott Merkin of MLB.com that he hopes to remain with the White Sox despite the team’s rebuilding status and several injury-shortened seasons. The ChiSox have a $4.65MM club option on Jones that comes with a $1.25MM buyout, making the overall $3.4MM decision on his services seem relatively straightforward. Jones, 32, has long been a quality bullpen piece, though injuries have held him to 41 2/3 innings over the past two seasons. Still, given the modest price tag and the upside, he seems plenty worth keeping around, if for no other reason than he has a second club option for the 2020 season and would be an undeniably appealing trade asset next summer if he can avoid the disabled list. The White Sox figure to be in the market for veteran additions to the relief corps this offseason anyhow, Merkin adds.