The Twins’ reported agreement with left-hander Martin Perez won’t preclude them from adding further arms this offseason, writes Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “I think there are still some guys on the board that are interesting, certainly that could fit, so we remain engaged with those,” chief baseball officer Derek Falvey tells Helfand. Falvey wouldn’t rule out adding another pitcher on a big league deal, acknowledging that the team has some payroll flexibility — especially relative to the previous levels at which they’ve spent.
Somewhat surprisingly, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets that the Twins are indeed viewing Perez as a starting pitcher. Perez is coming off a season in which he ranked in the bottom one percent of strikeout rate and opponents’ weighted on-base average among big league pitchers in 2018. Perez is still just 27, was once a well-regarded prospect and is a known commodity for GM Thad Levine (formerly an assistant GM in Texas), but the Twins weren’t short on options for the fifth spot in the rotation. Adalberto Mejia, Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves, Tyler Duffey, Kohl Stewart and Zack Littell were all already on the 40-man roster, but the Twins are seemingly more comfortable with Perez as a back-of-the-rotation option early in 2019 than any of that bunch.
More from the central divisions:
- If there’s a key remaining question for the Tigers this winter, it probably relates to the future of Nicholas Castellanos. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press takes stock of the situation. Critically, as he notes, it’s largely unclear just how much interest there is among rival clubs. Castellanos is still just 26 years of age and out-hit most remaining free agents in 2018, but he’s also still considered a defensive liability and is earning a hefty $9.95MM in his final season of arbitration eligibility. Whether a significant offer will materialize remains to be seen; as Fenech suggests, though, it’s hard to fault the Tigers for holding on to a reasonably steep asking price to this point.
- Some potentially eyebrow-raising chatter arose yesterday regarding the Pirates, but Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets that there’s nothing of substance. There’s no possibility of a deal between the Bucs and Dodgers regarding outfielder Starling Marte, says Heyman, shooting down speculation that had arisen. That, at least, had some facial plausibility since the L.A. organization would no doubt be interested in such a pursuit. Heyman also shoots down a much more fanciful idea that evidently arose involving a certain superstar free agent.
- Elsewhere in the NL Central, the Cardinals and Cubs seem to be primed for a feud in the coming campaign. Both teams are dead set on getting back to the top of the division. And now things are getting personal. As Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch deftly explains, Chicago star Kris Bryant’s casual and mostly harmless jab at the city of St. Louis (“boring”) ignited a “scorched-earth response” from stalwart St. Louis backstop Yadier Molina. It might seem like much ado about nothing; it may turn out to be just that. But Molina promises “it will carry” into the season. And as Frederickson explains, the matter touches at something deeper in the psyches of Molina, the Cards, and even the city they play in.