July 27: The Twins announced that Rogers has been placed on the 10-day IL with a left middle finger sprain. Right-hander Beau Burrows is up from Triple-A St. Paul to take his spot on the active roster.
While players on the injured list can technically still be moved, this would seem to all but ensure that Rogers won’t be traded prior to Friday’s deadline.
July 26, 11:55pm: Rogers will undergo imaging on his hand tomorrow to determine the extent of the issue, manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters (Twitter link via Helfand).
10:47pm: Twins closer Taylor Rogers exited Monday night’s game against the Tigers with a sprained middle finger on his pitching hand, the team announced to reporters (Twitter link via Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). Rogers threw five pitches, missing his spot badly on the fourth offering and checking his left hand. His fifth pitch then sailed a few feet wide of the strike zone, at which point Rogers called to the dugout and quickly departed with the training staff.
This time of season, any injury to a prominent player on a non-contending club is of note. Rogers is hardly considered a lock to be traded — he’s controlled through the 2022 season via arbitration — but the Twins have already begun to turn their eye toward 2022 and beyond, trading Nelson Cruz to the Rays last week. Rogers, Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda are among the team’s other trade candidates, though any sort of IL trip for Rogers would likely preempt a trade.
It’s been another strong season for Rogers, a former 11th-round pick who has gone from minor league starter, to solid middle reliever, to an All-Star reliever in recent years. Rogers debuted with the Twins in 2016 and quickly settled in as a solid arm, but his career took off upon adding a slider to his arsenal in midway through the 2018 campaign. Over the past four seasons, Rogers has pitched to a 2.91 ERA with an excellent 31.2 percent strikeout rate against a tiny 4.9 percent walk rate. This year’s 35.5 percent strikeout rate is a career-high.
Hard-throwing lefties who miss bats and limit walks at premium rates are hard to come by — particularly when they can keep both righties and lefties in check, as Rogers can. The Twins aren’t punting on their 2022 season by any means, but it’s feasible that other clubs could put together a strong enough package that they’d be tempted to part ways with Rogers. He’s playing on a $6MM salary and ought to see a nice raise via arbitration this winter, so a trade could bring in some near-MLB help and save the team some money to spend in free agency over the winter.
It remains to be seen whether Rogers will ultimately require an IL stint, but the mention of a sprain indicates some form of ligament stretching/tearing in Rogers’ finger, which is rather ominous. Every situation is unique, of course, but Cleveland righty Aaron Civale exited a June outing under similar circumstances and has yet to return to the mound.