The Twins have nabbed their second notable arm of the day, acquiring right-hander Tyler Mahle in a trade with the Reds, the teams announced. Cincinnati is receiving infield prospects Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand as well as left-handed pitching prospect Steven Hajjar in the deal. Minnesota has had interest in Mahle dating back to the offseason, when they also picked up another Reds starter, Sonny Gray, in a swap that sent 2021 first-rounder Chase Petty to the Reds.
Minnesota has been focused on upgrading its pitching staff, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Having already landed Orioles closer Jorge Lopez in a trade with Baltimore earlier this morning, it seems their focus has shifted to Mahle, who’d reunite with Gray and give the Twins a starter they can control for the remainder of the current season and for the 2023 campaign.
Mahle, 28 next month, has shaken off a terrible start to the 2022 season and pitched quite well over the past two months. He had a brief stint on the injured list due to a shoulder strain in mid-July, but Mahle only missed minimal time and has made a pair of effective starts since returning. Dating back to May 29, he’s pitched to a 2.83 ERA with a 27.9% strikeout rate and 7% walk rate in 57 1/3 innings.
Since a breakout during the 2020 season, Mahle has pitched to a 3.93 ERA with a 27.4% strikeout rate and 8.9% walk rate in 332 big league innings. He’s averaged 94 mph with his heater along the way and leaned heavily on a splitter and slider that have both graded out as above-average pitches at times — more recently favoring the splitter (particularly as a means of neutralizing lefties).
Beyond Mahle’s solid ERA, it’s easy to be intrigued by how he might fare when finally escaping the homer-happy confines of Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park. He’s worked to an ugly 4.83 ERA and yielded an average of 1.69 home runs per nine innings over the past three seasons while pitching at home but boasts an outstanding 2.93 ERA and just a 0.52 HR/9 mark on the road. He also has above-average spin on his heater and rates in the 76th percentile or better, per Statcast, in each of the following metrics: expected ERA, expected batting average, expected slugging percentage and expected wOBA.
Mahle will give the Twins some desperately needed help in the rotation, which started the season on a surprisingly strong note but has floundered of late. Opening Day rotation members Bailey Ober and Chris Paddack are both on the injured list — Paddack lost for the season due to Tommy John surgery — and 2020 Cy Young runner-up Kenta Maeda is recovering from his own TJ procedure, performed late last season.
The Twins have leaned heavily on Mahle’s former Reds rotationmate Gray, rookie Joe Ryan and veterans Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy so far in 2022. Gray and Ryan have both been strong — a disastrous five-homer start for Ryan in his last appearance notwithstanding — and Bundy has been serviceable, if unspectacular, outside a pair of catastrophic starts of his own at the end of April and in early May. Archer has been limited to four or five outings per start throughout the season and begun to wilt in recent weeks, however, and the Twins’ overall rotation mix simply underwhelmed in July. Twins starters yielded an awful 6.49 ERA in July — third-worst among all big league teams.
Mahle is earning $5.2MM this season, making him plenty affordable even when factoring in his final arbitration raise for next season (or, as Dan Hayes of The Athletic suggests, in a potential long-term extension). Even absent an extension, he can be penciled into the 2023 staff alongside Gray, Ryan and (health-permitting) Maeda. That’s a much more solid foundation than the team carried into the current season.
Unlike this morning’s acquisition of Lopez, the Twins paid fairly extensively from the top end of their system to get this deal done. Steer, the Twins’ third-round pick in 2019, recently moved into the back end of Baseball America’s midseason top-100 rankings on the heels of a big first half.
Splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A, Steer has turned in a combined .269/.361/.528 batting line with 20 home runs, 23 doubles, three triples, a 17% strikeout rate and a strong 10.8% walk rate. He’s split his time between second base, third base and shortstop this season, spending the bulk of his time at the hot corner (although Baseball America cites second as his best position). Given his breakout showing this year, it’s not unreasonable to think Steer could be an option for the Reds within the next year.
The 22-year-old Encarnacion-Strand, meanwhile was Minnesota’s fourth-round selection just last year. As with Steer, he’d having a huge season in the minors, logging a combined .302/.374/.612 batting line with 25 home runs, 25 doubles and four triples between Class-A Advanced and Double-A. Strikeouts have been more of an issue for Encarnacion-Strand than for Steer, as he’s fanned in about a quarter of his place appearances this season against a solid 8.7% walk rate. BA ranked him 14th in the Twins’ system, touting his plus-plus raw power but noting that he’s at best a fringey defender at third base and may need to move across the diamond.
Hajjar, 21, was the Twins’ second-round pick in last year’s draft and has had an impressive first full pro season this year. Minnesota has been limiting his workload, evidenced by 45 1/3 innings across a combined 13 starts, but the results have been strong. The former Michigan standout has logged a 3.18 ERA with a gaudy 39.2% strikeout rate so far, although his 14% walk rate is something he’ll obviously need to hone is he’s to ever realize his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter.
Hajjar can reach the mid-to-upper 90s with his heater, which he complements with a slider and changeup. Notably, Hajjar did spend more than a month on the shelf due to a shoulder strain, and his results since returning have been diminished. Still, he’s a clearly talented arm whom the Reds can add to the middle tier of a farm system they’re rapidly restocking.
With this trade, the Twins have now moved on from four of their top five picks in the 2021 draft since trading for Gray just prior to the season. That’ll take a toll on the system, which has also been harmed by a series of injuries to last year’s wave of top prospects (e.g. Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic). That said, it’s also a testament to the strength of last year’s class. And, with the Twins receiving strong production from some recent graduates of the farm — including the aforementioned Ryan leverage reliever Jhoan Duran and slugging corner infielder Jose Miranda, among others — there’ll be a bit less pressure to tap into the upper levels of their system in the immediate future.
Time will tell whether the Twins have another move up their sleeve. They could certainly use another reliever and/or another starter, to say nothing of a backup catcher or an outfielder — all rumored to be on Minnesota’s wishlist. There’s about two hours left for them to find a way to pull together another deal (or deals). The Reds, meanwhile, will surely have other players on the move as general manager Nick Krall and his staff continue to restock the farm and simultaneously slash payroll.
C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that the Twins and Reds were in “serious” talks regarding Mahle. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman tweeted that a deal was in place. Ted Schwerzler of TwinsDaily was first with the return (Twitter link).
Great return for the Reds, though it will be a few years for the true results. Very smart deal.
can you please explain how that’s a great return?
I dislike this return for the Reds…how is this great?
It’s not great, it’s not bad, it’s OK. There is obviously one star piece and a couple of others thrown in.
Mahle is not Castillo.
He has been more shaky overall and even though his road splits were way better than at home there is still a little bit of question about what he’ll actually be able to do.
Drury has a past. Take a look at it. This has been his year. You’ll probably never see another one like it.
As for Mahle, he is no Carlos Rodon or even a Luis Castillo. Look at the players the Reds got back for him. Those are true prospects, but you’ll have to wait on them. What else can Cincinnati fans do at this point?
Buzzer beater eh?
…. theres still 2 hrs
what do you mean buzzer beater? Trade deadline ends at 6 PM ET
Time is hard, what can I say? I’m used to the old 4PM format.
Imagine the position I’m in.
I just died last year and since then I’ve been partying it up with Herbie Bush, Ronnie R, Bobby D and C-Dawg Powell, you know, catching up on old times and what have you.
We’ve all been taking turns haunting Dick Cheney and pranking him, while wondering how the hell his heart lasted longer than all of ours.
Imagine that you’re sitting a packet of ketchup under his toilet seat so it’ll explode when he sits down and perhaps startle him into joining you for the next dead guy party. We may or may not have a bet about his death date and I may or may not be trying to win…
Uh, anyway, imagine you’re doing all this fun stuff and MLB changed the deadline time. Heck guys it’s amazing that I didn’t think it was July 31st! That sure would’ve been a boring deadline this year and I right?
Oh crap, gotta go…
Ever since the US government took out of al-Zawahiri we’ve been a little outnumbered down here in the common room. If that Cheney would just hurry up…
I always saw Mahle to Twins and Drury to Atlanta.
4.4 ERA and 1.25 WHIP isn’t exactly a difference maker
Better than Bundy/Smeltzer every 5th day. Good splits away from Great American Ballpark.
I kind of want to use the arrival of Mahle to make Archer into a reliever. He can’t face anyone more than once, but he’s not terrible the first time through.
Don’t hate that idea. Decent chance that happens if Twins pick up one more starter today.
Check his home/away splits to see how he does outside that bandbox.
Lol.. look at his stats since the beginning of June and see what you think. His season totals are misleading.
Twins are targeting a team era around 4 and first round exit from the playoffs, it’s pretty on brand for them.
2.89 ERA over his last 9 starts. Good move Twins.
His bad home numbers big reason for that. I guess Twins are thinking away from that park he will have numbers closer to his road splits. Twins got 2 guys today I was hoping the Jays would get
He’s not vaccinated. Jays weren’t in on him, I’m sure.
Get it done.. Tick tock…. there’s other moves still to be done.
good idea, something w winder?
I’d be fine with this.
I’m sure that’s a load off their mind!
Well… paying fans are still important to Twins ownership, so… yeah.
This one belongs to the Reds
I would say it depends on how serious.
BPrice's 77 F-Bombs
Mahle has great splits Away from GABP. Smart move by the Twins.
Yeah but Target field has a ridiculously short porch in right.
Super high wall out there turns some hrs into doubles.
Target Field park factor (98) favors pitching just slightly, but GABP park factor (111) heavily favors batting.
BrettPhillips for Prezident
All Minnesota Sports
Like him much more than Montas, I’m all for it. Steer or Wallner leaving town with a top 15?
All Minnesota Sports
Fuuck I really dislike this package. Hajaar AND Encarnacion-Strand? Ouch.
Must have been a great trade if both fan bases don’t like the returns. I’m not happy about the prospects. I think you’ll change your mind about Mahle once you see him.
Why do you dislike this package as a Twins fan? This is a steal for 1 1/2 years of Mahle. Strand is going to be a 1B/DH in the majors. Reds should have gotten back at least one prospect with more certainty.
Reds got em a nice package !
Think steer can play in outfield ?
Out of the (what feels like) 20 INF prospects we suddenly have, somebody has to
This one belongs to the Reds
MLB Network says it’s done. They don’t say the return.
All to lose to the Bluejays in the wildcard.
What’s the price? He’s the one I wanted the Jays to Target
Any of those prospects any good?
Yeah, all three are pretty good (one AAA, one AA, one A player). Still… that’s how trades for controllable starting pitching goes..
Yup ! What u want to see in hitters is success at AA or better. Both are doing that with 20+ homers on season
With pitchers you want a strong strike out ratio and control. Hajjer has 73 ks in 41 innings with a 1.2 whip.
Nice return for the reds
Twins trying to lock up that moribund division. White Sox looking to respond with some tepid trade to improve the fringes of their roster. Either squad will be early playoff round fodder for the serious organizations.
This is actually similar to what I mentioned if the Marlins were to have moved Lopez to them, just minus Wallner and Miranda
Yep. I wanted Lopez, but he definitely would have cost Twins a lot more.
Are these good prospects? Trying to draw compatibles to Jays prospects
Yes they are fantastic prospects! Twins paid a huge price for Mahle.
No they did not. They are good prospects but not a single one of them is in their top 5 prospects, at best the near big league ready 2B/3B is a borderline top 100 prospect at the moment. 1 1/2 years of Mahle should have returned more.
They’re intriguing prospects but let’s not go crazy. You have to dream on them a little.
No fleecing happening this deadline. Stong market for sellers though. Reds got 3 prospects on the rise with solid upside. Twins got a starting pitcher that isn’t a 2 month rental cheaper than other teams paid. Lesser starter than Castillo but way cheaper. Extra year vs Quintana but didn’t pay a ton more.
Not even a top 100 prospect and none of them even top 5 in the Twins organization.
Steer nudged into top 100 I believe..
Hated to lose Hajjar though. Twins are short on lefty pitchers.
Interesting. Looks like the 2 guys can really hit so far in minors……and a cliche pitcher with poor command project.
Wow ! Nice get by reds. Twins system sucks but they sucked out some gems !
Huge overpay! Cincy is just loaded with the high end prospects now. Really good trade deadline for them!
Kelenic for drury and call it a season
Wow they did better than kelenic
Kelenic is trash glad they didn’t do that.
If you keep typing, “huge overpay” will it become true?
It’s time for the White Sox to sell. Twins were better before this move and the Sox don’t have the ability to counter moves given the state of their minor league system. The talent on the big league roster just isn’t good enough.
A’s should have traded Montas for this haul. It’s better than what the Yankees gave them.
Never trade with the Yankees. You never get a good deal.
100%. A’s got a bunch of overrated Yankees prospects besides Waldichuk who I do like.
As a Reds fan, I’d rather have Waldichuk.
That’s a fair trade. E-Strand has some talent. Steer is having a big year but is replaceable. It fits a need.
Disappointing return for the Reds. I hope I’m wrong, but I’m not impressed with the deal, should have hung onto Mahle. I liked the Castillo deal, and the Naquin deal, so I’m not a Debbie downer. I just feel another season of Mahle, and a comp pick would be a better value to the team.
This one belongs to the Reds
Only one guy can play SS at a time.
I’m headed to Cincinnati now. Hoping for a rotation spot.
Heck yeah!! This is exactly the type of deal we(Twins)needed
Cincinnati is going to have so much talent in a few years, they’re not going to know what to do with it all!
Trade it of course!
Pretty solid trade all around. The Reds got some good prospects that I feel we’re undervalued in prospect lists, and Twins got a pitcher who’s better than his stat line this year suggests.
Twins got a pitcher who would be in Cy Young contention had he been pitching his home games in…say the NL West instead of the Reds sandbox they call a stadium.
This one belongs to the Reds
My only complaint on the Reds trades isn’t talent but rather how it was dispersed.
You can only have four infielders in the field at once. They got no pitching in return despite trading two stellar ones. No catching depth or pitching depth, especially in the bullpen that they sorely need.
Seems like they looked more at where prospects were ranked than had any sense about how to build the future team.