Minnesota Twins – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Fri, 20 Jul 2018 19:16:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.6 Twins Acquire Jeremy Hazelbaker From Rays https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/rays-trade-jeremy-hazelbaker-twins.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/rays-trade-jeremy-hazelbaker-twins.html#comments Thu, 19 Jul 2018 20:05:00 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127762 The Twins have acquired outfielder Jeremy Hazelbaker from the Rays organization in exchange for cash, the Twins’ top affiliate in Rochester announced today. Hazelbaker, who is not on the 40-man roster, has been assigned to Triple-A Rochester.

Hazelbaker, 30, opened the season in the D-backs organization but was quickly traded to the Rays in early April. He hasn’t had a very good season to date, hitting just .210/.293/.397 in 239 plate appearances with the Rays’ Triple-A affiliate in Durham. That said, he’s been swinging the bat better since June 1 and has a solid overall track record in parts of seven Triple-A campaigns, where he’s a lifetime .265/.328/.442 hitter in 1341 PAs.

Minnesota has a good bit of outfield depth on the roster already, and it seems unlikely that Hazelbaker would be called upon to return to the big league level at any point in the near future. To his credit, Hazelbaker does have a solid big league track record, however, despite his poor showing in Triple-A this year. In a small sample of 285 MLB plate appearances, he’s a .258/.327/.500 hitter with 14 homers.

Phillies Could Target Escobar https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/mets-trade-rumors-noah-syndergaard-padres-offseason.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/mets-trade-rumors-noah-syndergaard-padres-offseason.html#comments Thu, 19 Jul 2018 18:43:48 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127754
  • Though many Phillies fans are disheartened to see Machado head to the Dodgers, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia writes that the club will remain active on the trade market. Salisbury lists Twins shortstop Eduardo Escobar, another impending free agent in the midst of a strong season, as a potential target for the Phils. Escobar, 29, is hitting .271/.327/.507 with 14 homers and an MLB-leading 35 doubles to this point in the 2018 season. He’s better at third base than at shortstop but has substantial experience at both positions. On the pitching side of things, Salisbury suggests that Jeurys Familia, Felipe Vazquez and J.A. Happ could all emerge as targets for the Phils. Adding Happ could allow the team to move Vince Velasquez or Nick Pivetta to the ’pen, Salisbury adds.
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    Trade Rumblings: Hand, Dodgers, Dozier, Heaney, Skaggs https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/trade-rumblings-hand-dodgers-dozier-heaney-skaggs.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/trade-rumblings-hand-dodgers-dozier-heaney-skaggs.html#comments Thu, 19 Jul 2018 04:00:10 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127725 Though the Phillies lost out to the Dodgers in the Manny Machado sweepstakes, they’re far from done looking for upgrades to their ballclub. Dennis Lin of The Athletic tweets that the club is interested in Padres reliever Brad Hand. As Lin notes, there are certainly many other clubs in competition for the lefty’s services; he’s easily one of the most talented bullpen arms in the game. As one might expect, however, San Diego’s asking price for Hand remains very high, as he can be controlled through the 2021 season at a very reasonable cost. The Yankees, Indians and Cubs are among the other teams who’ve been connected to Hand, who owns a 3.03 ERA and 13.20 K/9 on the season.

    More rumors and rumblings from around the league…

    • The Dodgers aren’t done yet, either, Bob Nightengale of USA Today Sports reports, as they’ll now pursue a reliever to help closer Kenley Jansen at the back end of their bullpen. It’s worth noting that Los Angeles will sit just a few million dollars below the luxury tax threshold following the acquisition of Machado, so any bullpen additions will likely come cheap, or send a player (such as Logan Forsythe) back to a trade partner in order to offset some of financial burden involved. In addition to Hand, Jeurys Familia, Zach Britton, Kirby Yates, Craig Stammen and Raisel Iglesias are just a few names who could be available.
    • Also in the aftermath of the Machado sweepstakes, the Brewers are left looking to acquire an infield upgrade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that they’re expected to explore trading for Twins second baseman Brian Dozier. With Minnesota all but out of the the AL Central race already and Dozier set to become a free agent at season’s end, he makes plenty of sense as a potential trade target for the Brewers, despite a down season so far. The Brewers are also expected to explore pitching upgrades, Rosenthal adds.
    • Also from Rosenthal, the Angels aren’t likely to trade young starters Andrew Heaney and Tyler Skaggs, despite previous reports that the club might consider doing so. The Angels see the two young southpaws as key components during a 2019 season in which they hope to contend. Rather, Rosenthal notes, the club is more interested in trading some of their relievers (he lists Jose Alvarez, Blake Parker, Cam Bedrosian and Justin Anderson), though they’d want a good enough return to justify giving up controllable players.
    Twins Open To Trading Kyle Gibson https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/shermans-latest-pitching-ross-yates-yankees-familia-gibson.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/shermans-latest-pitching-ross-yates-yankees-familia-gibson.html#comments Sun, 15 Jul 2018 23:29:38 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127519
  • With the Twins open to talking about pretty much any veteran on their roster, Sherman adds Kyle Gibson to the list of potential trade chips.  Gibson, the 22nd overall pick in the 2009 draft, seemingly enjoyed a breakout season in 2015 before scuffling the next two years, though he has rebounded for what looks like the best season of his six-year career.  The right-hander has a 3.42 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 46.5% grounder rate, and 2.48 K/BB rate through 115 2/3 IP this season.  Gibson could garner one of the largest returns of any Twins player in a deal, as he is controlled through the 2019 season via his final year of arbitration.

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    Pitching Notes: Bauer, Slegers, McCarthy, Cody https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/pitching-notes-bauer-slegers-mccarthy-cody.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/pitching-notes-bauer-slegers-mccarthy-cody.html#comments Sun, 15 Jul 2018 03:59:29 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127424 In a recent podcast with Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Indians right-hander Trevor Bauer suggested he’d only take one-year deals for the remainder of his career (partially due to the high stakes of a bet with a childhood friend). Although that seems radical and somewhat irresponsible on the surface, Eno Sarris dives into the subject in a piece for The Athletic and discovers that maybe the idea isn’t really all that bad. Although Bauer would be giving up a lot of security, he’d likely earn a significant bump in average annual value. Bauer has never had health issues, so in his case the health risks might not be as severe as other players seeking long-term deals to lock up the most total dollars possible. All in all, Sarris comes to the conclusion that the contract strategy could feasibly benefit Bauer in the long run.

    Here are some other pitcher-related notes from around baseball…

    • The Twins placed righty Aaron Slegers on the disabled list today with shoulder inflammation, and plan to recall rookie Fernando Romero to make a start in his stead. Slegers had a rough go of it in three appearances (two starts) this season, allowing eight earned runs in 12 2/3 innings with just five strikeouts. Romero, on the other hand, has made ten starts this season and turned in a reasonable performance thus far ( 4.38 ERA).
    • Braves right-hander Brandon McCarthy is rehabbing his knee injury, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, but oddly enough he’s doing it at his home in Arizona with his own physical therapist. Obviously that’s far from the norm at this point in the season, particularly given Atlanta’s status as a contending team in the NL East. McCarthy came to Atlanta in a financially-motivated trade with the Dodgers, but has barely managed to exceed five innings per start in his tenure with the Braves thus far, and has posted an ugly 4.92 ERA.
    • Another Rangers prospect has gone down with the dreaded ulnar collateral ligament injury, and will require Tommy John surgery, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports. This time, it’s right-hander Kyle Cody, who had been attempting rest and rehab as an alternative to surgery. Cody was shut down for an extended period after experiencing issues during spring training; he’ll now go under the knife and likely be out until the beginning of 2020. The towering 6’7″ hurler was a sixth-round pick of the Rangers back in 2016.
    Quick Hits: Gray, Hoffman, Mejia, Buxton https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/quick-hits-gray-hoffman-mejia-buxton.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/quick-hits-gray-hoffman-mejia-buxton.html#comments Sun, 15 Jul 2018 00:12:02 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127413 The Rockies recalled Jon Gray tonight to start tonight’s game against the Mariners. Gray’s 5.77 ERA across 17 starts this season seemed like reasonable cause for a demotion, but it always seemed as though he wouldn’t spend too long in the minors. After all, he was striking out 29% of opposing hitters, and by measures of FIP (3.12), xFIP (2.82) and SIERA (3.19), he was having an absolutely fantastic season. As MLBTR’s Connor Byrne mentioned at the time, his .386 BABIP and 63.1% strand rate pointed to a horrific amount of bad luck. In two starts at the Triple-A level, Gray managed to strike out 13 batters in 10 2/3 innings while allowing four runs.

    In a corresponding move, the Rockies optioned fellow young right-hander Jeff Hoffman to Triple-A. Also a former top prospect, Hoffman hasn’t managed to find his footing in the majors yet, and has allowed more than a run per inning on average while pitching out of the Rockies’ bullpen. He’s also walked more batters than he’s struck out, and spent time on the DL with a shoulder injury.

    Here are some notable developments from around MLB…

    • The Indians have recalled Francisco Mejia to make a start at DH tonight against the Yankees; it’s his 2018 MLB debut. The young switch-hitter is not only universally believed to be the Tribe’s top prospect, but he’s also considered the best catching prospect in all of baseball. Unfortunately for him, he’s been blocked in the majors by a solid defensive tandem of Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez, both of whom are signed to contracts that stretch a couple of years beyond 2018.
    • Another former top prospect, Twins outfielder Byron Buxton, can’t seem to catch a break this season. He’s apparently suffered a left wrist strain at Triple-A, and will head to the 7-day minor league disabled list (hat tip to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com). After posting a horrific wRC+ of -3 (yes, negative), Buxton has put up a .219/.288/.356 batting line at Triple-A and will now have to wait at least another week before he has a chance to get on track.
    Sherman: Jake Odorizzi Is "Very Available" https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/trade-rumblings-angels-yanks-eovaldi-mets-odorizzi-astros-iglesias.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/trade-rumblings-angels-yanks-eovaldi-mets-odorizzi-astros-iglesias.html#comments Sat, 14 Jul 2018 21:59:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127376
  • More from Sherman, who reports that Twins righty Jake Odorizzi is “very available.” The Twins acquired Odorizzi fom the Rays during the winter, when they had designs on a second straight playoff trip, but Minnesota has since struggled to a 43-49 record. Odorizzi hasn’t really been part of the solution, having logged a 4.54 ERA/4.63 FIP through 101 innings, but he is controllable beyond this season. The 28-year-old’s on a $6.3MM salary now and has a season of arbitration eligibility remaining.
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    DL Placements: Logan Morrison, Rafael Devers, Shelby Miller https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/dl-placements-logan-morrison-rafael-devers-shelby-miller.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/dl-placements-logan-morrison-rafael-devers-shelby-miller.html#comments Thu, 12 Jul 2018 17:22:48 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127218 With the All-Star break at hand, we may well continue to see more disabled list placements than usual as teams attempt to get players extended rest, with a minimal number of actual games missed, to address minor ailments. Here are the day’s notable placements:

    • The Twins added first baseman/DH Logan Morrison to the 10-day DL owing to a left hip impingement. The seriousness of the injury isn’t yet clear, but it surely won’t help Morrison’s trade value — not that there was much likelihood of him being moved by the upcoming non-waiver deadline. He has struggled to a .193/.287/.367 batting line through exactly three hundred plate appearances this year while earning $5.5MM under a deal that includes a $1MM buyout on a 2019 option. Perhaps there’s still a chance that Morrison could be dealt in August if he gets healthy and finds his stroke at the plate. Infielder Ehire Adrianza has been activated from the DL to take the open roster spot.
    • Also hitting the shelf is Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers, who’ll be replaced by Tzu-Wei Lin. The official cause of the placement for Devers is left shoulder inflammation, though it doesn’t seem there’s much reason to anticipate that he’s at risk of a more significant underlying problem. Still just 21 years of age, Devers has compiled 367 plate appearances of .241/.292/.424 hitting this year. He had been heating up over the month of June but is back in a lull through eight games in July, which perhaps helped motivate the club to give him a rest.
    • Unsurprisingly, the Diamondbacks have moved righty Shelby Miller to the DL with inflammation in his pitching elbow. Joining him is reliever T.J. McFarland, who has a strained neck. They’ll be replaced by Matt Koch and Silvino Bracho. There’s still no indication as to the results of Miller’s medical evaluation today.
    Twins Rumors: Dozier, Escobar, Deadline https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/brewers-trade-rumors-twins-brian-dozier-eduardo-escobar.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/brewers-trade-rumors-twins-brian-dozier-eduardo-escobar.html#comments Thu, 12 Jul 2018 01:48:41 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127197
  • The Brewers have been in contact with the Twins about infielders Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB.com. There’s no indication that talks are serious or have extended beyond preliminary stages, though the Milwaukee middle infield has been a weak point in 2018. Brewers second basemen entered play hitting a combined .248/.299/.376, while their shortstops have batted just .202/.255/.300. Milwaukee has been heavily linked to Manny Machado, of course, but either Minnesota slugger would represent a less expensive option — both in terms of prospect capital and salary. Reports have suggested that the Twins are open to selling off pieces, but the Twins have also won six of their past seven and play in a weak division.
  • To that end, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN chatted with Minnesota GM Thad Levine about the team’s deadline strategy (Twitter link, with video). Levine acknowledges that the Twins have received interest on numerous players, which he says is to be expected given the number of expiring contracts on the club. However, he doesn’t definitively state that the Twins will be active sellers on the market. If anything, the Twins may move some short-term pieces while also looking to acquire some big league players controllable beyond the current campaign. Levine concedes that “there’ll be opportunities for [the Twins] to make some deals.” Levine also notes, though, that trading pending free agents only creates new holes to fill. “We have numerous times to try to address some of those holes,” he says. “It’s now at this deadline, and it’s this offseason and it’s next Spring Training. We may try to do some of that across all three platforms so we don’t have to do all of our heavy lifting this offseason.”
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    Twins Place Addison Reed On 10-Day DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-place-addison-reed-on-10-day-dl.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-place-addison-reed-on-10-day-dl.html#comments Wed, 11 Jul 2018 21:20:53 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127129 4:20pm: An MRI revealed an impingement in Reed’s right elbow, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter links). The Twins don’t believe there to be any structural damage in the elbow, but it’s not clear just when they expect Reed will be recovered and return to the bullpen.

    10:09am: The Twins announced that they have placed righty Addison Reed on the 10-day disabled list. He’ll be replaced by Alan Busenitz, who has been recalled from Triple-A.

    Reed is said to be dealing with right triceps tightness. It’s not clear at this point whether this is a worrying injury for the veteran reliever. He certainly has not been himself of late.

    It seemed entering the season that the Twins had done quite nicely to land Reed for only a $16.75MM guarantee over two seasons. And through the month of May, he had more than held up his end of the bargain, despite disappointing overall results for the team.

    Since the calendar flipped to June, though, Reed’s numbers are well off their typical levels. In ten outings that month, he allowed nine earned runs and recorded just four strikeouts against four walks. He made two solid appearances to open July but has surrendered four more runs — including a pair of long balls — in his two most recent outings. Along the way, he has exhibited some worrying velocity trends.

    That poor run may already have taken Reed out of trade consideration, though his track record is good enough that teams surely would have considered him if he had bounced back. Now, even if Reed is able to return to action before the end of July, he’ll be carrying quite a bit more uncertainty.

    Twins Release Cameron Rupp https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-release-cameron-rupp.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-release-cameron-rupp.html#comments Wed, 11 Jul 2018 19:47:05 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127148 The Twins have released backstop Cameron Rupp, per an announcement from the team’s top affiliate. He had been playing at Triple-A Rochester after agreeing to a minor-league deal with the organization.

    Rupp had an opt-out opportunity coming up on the 15th, so that may well have been a factor in the timing of the decision. Evidently, the Twins remain content with their current MLB pairing of Mitch Garver and Bobby Wilson. The club also currently features a utility piece in Willians Astudillo who can get behind the dish, though he has yet to do so in the majors.

    The 29-year-old Rupp has struggled at the plate since arriving at Rochester. Through 76 plate appearances there, he owns only a .141/.263/.281 slash, though he was swinging the stick much better earlier in the year at Triple-A with the Rangers. Over five MLB campaigns, all with the Phillies, Rupp owns a .234/.298/.407 slash.

    Twins Release, Re-Sign Felix Jorge https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-release-re-sign-felix-jorge.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-release-re-sign-felix-jorge.html#comments Tue, 10 Jul 2018 12:57:27 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127052 The Twins have released and re-signed right-hander Felix Jorge, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press was among those to Report (Twitter links). Jorge had recently been designated for assignment.

    Typically, of course, a player in this situation — being removed from the 40-man roster for the first time — would simply be outrighted after clearing waivers. As Berardino explains, though, there’s a slight twist and an obscure rule at play here. Because Jorge was on the disabled list upon his DFA, he had to be activated or released.

    In any event, the result is the same, as the Twins will hang onto the 24-year-old prospect. That’s a positive for the club. Though Jorge was hit hard in a very brief MLB debut last year and has been out for all of 2018 due to injury, he has long been considered a quality starting pitching prospect.

    As MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained at some length upon the Twins’ decision to designate Jorge, there has long been hope that Jorge had a future as a back-of-the-rotation starter at the game’s highest level. Last year, at the Double-A level, he put up 134 2/3 innings of 3.54 ERA ball with 6.6 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9, along with a 50.2% groundball rate.

    Dodgers Looking Into Multiple Potential Infield Targets https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/dodgers-looking-into-multiple-potential-infield-targets.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/dodgers-looking-into-multiple-potential-infield-targets.html#comments Tue, 10 Jul 2018 01:38:18 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127034 The Dodgers are widely rumored to be a major suitor for Orioles star Manny Machado. But they are also looking at multiple other possibilities for improving their lineup, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter).

    Per the report, the Los Angeles organization has not only “stepped up” its efforts to boost its infield mix, but has inquired into at least three specific options beyond Machado. Passan links the Dodgers to the Reds’ Scooter Gennett, the Twins’ Brian Dozier, and the Mets’ Asdrubal Cabrera. And Josh Harrison of the Pirates is also of some interest, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter link). (He also notes that the Dodgers are interested in some of Minnesota’s veteran relievers.)

    The precise interest level in each of those players isn’t clear. Needless to say, the Dodgers are not limiting themselves to a single option — or, really, even a single type of player. While Machado has spent his entire career on the left side of the infield, the other players now reportedly in the mix could fit in at second base.

    Indeed, both Gennett and Dozier have more or less exclusively played at second in the majors. Though the latter did break in as a shortstop, he hasn’t lined up there since 2012. Cabrera has more extensive time at short and third, while Harrison has also played all over. Gennett swings from the left side, Dozier and Harrison the right. Cabrera is a switch-hitter. Both Dozier and Cabrera will be free agents after the season, while Gennett and Harrison can be controlled for one and two additional years, respectively.

    This slate of candidates includes quite a lot of MLB experience, of course. All are relatively low-strikeout, contact-oriented hitters. Gennett and Cabrera have outproduced the others offensively this year, but there are other things for the L.A. brass to consider. Dozier has an excellent track record, a history of second-half productivity, and an explanation (.247 BABIP) for some of his woes. Harrison is surely the least-accomplished hitter of the bunch, but adds more value on the bases and in the field.

    All things considered, it’s not strictly evident just what the Dodgers are most interested in finding beyond adding a player they like to their infield mix. The team has not received much from Logan Forsythe and Chase Utley, but those two have combined to take the lion’s share of time at second. Adding Machado might well mean bumping Chris Taylor to the other side of the bag, or to the outfield. If that fails, a different addition intended to address second base more directly could instead be pursued.

    Of course, it’s somewhat debatable whether this is even an area the Dodgers really ought to be focused, even with Corey Seager gone for the year. Forsythe and Utley haven’t been great, true, but the entire rest of the lineup (excepting backup catcher Austin Barnes) has been excellent. Ensuring there’s a place for Max Muncy’s bat to play is perhaps the more pressing need. Most recently, he has slotted in at second, though perhaps that’s not the club’s ultimate preference. In any event, it seems the L.A. front office is interested not only in maximizing depth, but also in guarding against any downturns in its potent lineup.

    White Sox Claim Ryan LaMarre https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/white-sox-claim-ryan-lamarre-waivers-twins.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/white-sox-claim-ryan-lamarre-waivers-twins.html#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2018 18:51:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=127004 The White Sox announced that they’ve claimed outfielder Ryan LaMarre off waivers from the Twins. LaMarre was designated for assignment by Minnesota last week when Jorge Polanco was reinstated from his suspension. The ChiSox already had two open spots on the 40-man roster, so a corresponding move isn’t required. The White Sox didn’t announce that LaMarre is going to Triple-A (though he does have minor league options remaining), so it seems he’ll join their active roster.

    LaMarre, 30, batted .263/.321/.313 through 109 plate appearances as a Twin before his DFA, logging plenty of time in center field with Byron Buxton struggling to stay healthy in 2018. Though his average and OBP were respectable, LaMarre also struck out in 30.3 percent clip of his big league plate appearances. He’s capable of playing any of the three outfield positions for the Sox and can be optioned back and forth between Charlotte and Chicago as a depth piece for the remainder of the season if the Sox hang onto him.

    Twins Release Chris Carter https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-release-chris-carter.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-release-chris-carter.html#comments Sat, 07 Jul 2018 17:25:38 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126787 The Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester has released first baseman Chris Carter, according to Nate Rowan of the Rochester Red Wings PR department (Twitter link).  The move was made to accommodate outfielder Jon Kemmer, who acquired by the Twins yesterday in a minor league deal with the Astros.

    Carter was picked up in a trade with the Angels in late May, as the Twins were looking to add to their first base depth while Joe Mauer was on the disabled list.  Through 144 PA for Rochester, Carter showed a little of his former pop but not much else at the plate, hitting only .187/.299/.423 with seven homers and 43 strikeouts.

    Those types of all-or-nothing results defined Carter’s eight seasons in the Major Leagues, as the slugger collected 158 homers and 951 whiffs over 2853 career PA with the A’s, Astros, Brewers, and Yankees from 2010-17.  Carter never really generated the type of on-base numbers (career .312 OBP) to become even a three-true outcomes type of player, though he was still a solidly above-average offensive producer for much of his career, posting an 116 OPS+ from 2012-16.

    Carter is still less than two full seasons removed from a National League-leading 41 homers for the Brewers, though his increasing arbitration cost led Milwaukee to surprisingly not tender him a contract.  He signed with the Yankees prior to the 2017 season but struggled over 208 PA, and Carter hasn’t since returned to the majors.  Carter’s track record will likely led to a minor league deal with another organization, though it’s fair to wonder if he’ll ever again get an extended chance at the big league level given his one-dimensional game.

    Red Sox Interested In Fernando Rodney https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/red-sox-interested-in-fernando-rodney.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/red-sox-interested-in-fernando-rodney.html#comments Sat, 07 Jul 2018 15:10:22 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126772 Twins closer Fernando Rodney is one of several relievers the Red Sox are considering as trade targets, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (Twitter link).  Rodney is a known commodity to Boston president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski, Crasnick notes, from their time together when Dombrowski was the Tigers’ general manager.

    With the Twins out of contention and reportedly open to becoming deadline sellers, Rodney stands out as one of the most obvious trade chips on Minnesota’s roster.  The 16-year veteran has posted a 2.97 ERA, 10.1 K/9, and a 3.09 K/BB rate over 30 1/3 IP, earning 18 saves along the way.  ERA predictors like FIP (3.44), xFIP (3.77) and SIERA (3.34) are a bit less impressed by Rodney’s performance, and he is posting his lowest grounder rate (43.4%) in the last ten seasons, though his overall numbers are still quite sound, particularly for a pitcher who celebrated his 41st birthday back in March.

    Rodney isn’t exactly known for clean innings in high-pressure situations over his long career in the game, though with Craig Kimbrel locked into the closer’s role in Boston, the Sox would use Rodney as a setup option.  Though Boston’s bullpen ranks within the top ten in most statistical categories, the team has still been looking to bolster its relief corps before the deadline, with the likes of Raisel Iglesias, Zach Britton, and several late-inning Marlins arms all linked to the Red Sox in trade rumors.  The Sox also had interest in Kelvin Herrera before he was dealt to Washington.

    Rodney would likely require a smaller price tag than any of these names, given his age and the fact that his contract is only guaranteed through this season; he is controllable through 2019 via a $4.25MM club option (with a $250K buyout).  Rodney is only owed roughly $2.05MM for the remainder of the season, which could make him particularly attractive to a Red Sox team that is trying to stay under the maximum luxury tax threshold of $237MM.

    Twins Sign First-Rounder Trevor Larnach https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-agree-to-terms-with-first-rounder-trevor-larnach.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-agree-to-terms-with-first-rounder-trevor-larnach.html#comments Thu, 05 Jul 2018 20:39:48 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124190 July 5: Larnach’s deal with the Twins is now official, per Fancred’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). He’ll receive a $2.55MM bonus that comes in a ways south of his $3.12MM slot value. The significant delay between the agreement and the finalization of the deal was due to the fact that Larnach and Oregon State were still playing toward an eventual College World Series championship until late June. Minnesota formally announced the signing shortly after Heyman’s report.

    June 5: The Twins have already agreed to a signing bonus with first-round draft pick Trevor Larnach, scouting director Sean Johnson said after last night’s selections were turned in. MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger was among those to tweet the news.

    The precise number still isn’t known, and may not be until the sides get around to putting pen to paper — which certainly could still take a while. The 20th overall slot comes with a $3.12MM allocation.

    It’s not uncommon at all for teams and potential draftees to reach at least a fairly advanced understanding on bonus values on draft night. That doesn’t mean that  signings are announced right away, though on occasion deals are processed rather quickly. In this case, the Twins’ acknowledgement of the agreement on a number suggests that there will be little trouble in formally striking a contract.

    Larnach, an outfielder out of Oregon State, certainly seems prepared to take a modern approach to baseball, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press writes. Noted for his lofty exit velocity as a collegian, Larnach says he’s “well aware” of the latest means of measuring the game. He also suggested that he’ll be a grinder as a pro, saying that he has “been working my tail off ever since high school” and is “not done yet.”

    Entering the draft, Larnach drew a range of grades. The Fangraphs duo of Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel put down the highest grade, rating him the 12th-best player available on the basis of his physical prowess and that above-noted exit velo. ESPN.com’s Keith Law (subscription link) placed Larnach 49th, acknowledging the ceiling but questioning whether he had established a strong enough hit tool for a first-round grade.

    The bat, clearly, is the draw. All involved acknowledge that Larnach is limited at best in the field and on the bases. Given his status as an advanced college hitter with some power upside, the FG prospect team says that the Twins’ new outfielder “checks every box for the risk-averse, analytics-driven clubs.”

    Twins Open To Trading Pending Free Agents https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/central-notes-twins-shaw-cervelli-kuhl-chisox.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/central-notes-twins-shaw-cervelli-kuhl-chisox.html#comments Thu, 05 Jul 2018 00:50:22 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126573 The Twins are open to trading their pending free agents, MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi reports, as the team begins to look ahead to the 2019 season.  Minnesota’s loss to the Brewers today drops them to 35-48 on the season, 11.5 games out of first place in the AL Central and 18 games out of a wild card slot.  One NL executive believes the Twins would be willing to hold trade talks for just about every player on the roster, not just the free agents, though Morosi doubts the team’s younger players under long term control would be seriously discussed.

    Looking only at the players signed through 2018, the list includes Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Lance Lynn, Zach Duke, and Joe Mauer, plus Fernando Rodney, Logan Morrison, and Ervin Santana could also be free agents depending on club options.  There are several big names in that group, though only a few (Escobar, Duke, Rodney) are playing well enough to be considered prime trade chips.  Dozier’s disappointing year, in particular, has both hurt the Twins’ hopes of contending and drastically lowered his value at the deadline.  It isn’t known if Mauer would be willing to waive his no-trade clause to go elsewhere, as Mauer’s agent declined to provide any details about how the longtime face of the franchise would respond if a trade offer materialized.

    Twins Reinstate Jorge Polanco, Option Byron Buxton, Designate Ryan LaMarre https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-reinstate-jorge-polanco-ped-suspension-dfa-ryan-lamarre.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/twins-reinstate-jorge-polanco-ped-suspension-dfa-ryan-lamarre.html#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2018 19:56:18 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126388 2:56pm: In addition to the previously reported moves, the Twins announced that they’ve optioned lefty Adalberto Mejia to Triple-A. More interesting, though, is the fact that they’ve reinstated Byron Buxton from his rehab assignment and also optioned him to Rochester. That means that two of the centerpieces of the Twins’ young core — Sano and Buxton — have both been optioned to the minors just one season after seemingly establishing themselves at the big league level.

    It’s been a tough season for Buxton, admittedly. The 24-year-old went on the disabled list early in the season due to a severe bout of migraines — similar to the issue that sent New York’s Brandon Drury to the DL. While playing on a minor league rehab assignment from that issue, Buxton fouled a ball into his foot and sustained a broken big toe. The Twins made the curious decision to bring him back a couple of weeks later despite the fact that the toe was still healing and without sending him back out on a rehab assignment.

    Perhaps unsurprisingly, Buxton was dreadful at the plate under those circumstances; in 51 plate appearances between DL stints, he hit just .122/.140/.163. Buxton has yet to find his swing in Rochester, albeit through just 11 games on a new rehab assignment. But the extent of his struggles, after a prolonged development period in which there were doubts he’d ever realize the potential he showed last season, have to be of fairly significant concern — especially when juxtaposed with the struggles of Sano to this point in the season as well.

    Given the fact that Minnesota has received no on-field value from the combination of Sano, Buxton and still-rehabbing righty Ervin Santana, it’s not exactly surprising that the Twins are nine games back from the Indians in the AL Central division.

    2:32pm: The Twins are set to reinstate Jorge Polanco from his 80-game suspension following a failed PED test, as La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported earlier today that righty Zack Littell would also be returning to the Majors and will work in a relief role for the time being (Twitter link).

    In order to clear a spot on what is currently a full 40-man roster to accommodate Polanco’s activation, the Twins are set to designate outfielder Ryan LaMarre for assignment, Neal further reports (via Twitter). They’ll need to make a second move to recall Littell.

    Polanco, 25 on Thursday, was expected to serve as the Twins’ everyday shortstop after a strong second-half showing in 2017. The former top 100 prospect got off to a poor start to the season last year but slashed .316/.377/.553 with 10 homers, 15 doubles and a pair of triples in his final 234 plate appearances in August and September.

    Polanco was plagued by a dismal .239 BABIP through the first four months of the 2017 season, and his improvement in the final two months correlates nicely with a fairly significant drop in his chase rate on pitches out of the strike zone. However, an 80-game suspension fresh off a breakout finish to the season will undoubtedly lead to plenty of skeptics about his ability to maintain that output. He’ll hope to retake an everyday role in the Twins’ infield and prove that he’s able to repeat that output moving forward.

    With Miguel Sano still in the minors following a terrible run to open the season, there should be ample opportunity for Polanco to earn his way back into the lineup. Minnesota has been relying on Eduardo Escobar at third base with Sano in Fort Myers, and while Ehire Adrianza has been a surprisingly productive hitter of late, he’s a soon-to-be 29-year-old defensive specialist without much of a track record of offense. Polanco should figure into the mix prominently in the early going from his return. And, depending on whether the Twins are able to right the ship over the next four weeks, further at-bats could become all the easier to come by; both Escobar and Brian Dozier are free agents at season’s end.

    As for LaMarre, the 30-year-old has batted .263/.321/.313 through 109 plate appearances with Minnesota, logging plenty of time in center field with Byron Buxton on the shelf. LaMarre has fanned at a 30.3 percent clip in the Majors, however, and he’s currently in Triple-A Rochester despite the fact that Buxton is not yet back from his rehab assignment.

    LaMarre joined the Twins on a minor league pact this winter and served as a useful depth piece given the minor league options he had remaining, so the Twins likely would prefer to see him clear waivers and remain in the organization. Having previously been outrighted, though, LaMarre will have the option of electing free agency even if he does clear waivers.

    Notable International Prospect Signings https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/notable-international-prospect-signings.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/notable-international-prospect-signings.html#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2018 16:12:59 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126347 With the 2018-19 international signing period kicking off today, there will be dozens of six- and seven-figure bonuses handed out to teenage prospects, primarily out of Latin America, filtering in throughout the day today. Many of these have been in the works for quite some time, as is reflected by the fact that most of the top players’ destinations and signing bonuses have been previously reported/projected (and by the fact that the top agreements will all be reported in one swift avalanche today).

    We’ll keep track of the notable National League signings here and the notable American League signings in a separate post. Note that you can read up on each of these players with the dedicated international coverage available from Ben Badler of Baseball America (subscription required), Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com and Kiley McDaniel & Eric Longenhagen of Fangraphs, each of whom has scouting info on the top echelon of international amateurs. Badler is also tracking the all of the signings from all 30 teams.

    Onto some of the more notable signings…

    Read more

    International Notes: Twins, Phillies, Cardinals https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/international-notes-twins-phillies-cardinals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/international-notes-twins-phillies-cardinals.html#comments Mon, 02 Jul 2018 01:10:27 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126335 With the new international signing period set to begin tomorrow, Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com has compiled some of the most pertinent details for fans interested in following the frenzy to come. As always, an international player is eligible to sign with any MLB team if he is 17, or will turn 17 by the end of the first year of his contract.  The Reds, Marlins, Brewers, Twins, Athletics and Rays have the most money to spend during the upcoming year; each can spend $6,025,400 in the market. Eight teams (the Athletics, Astros, Braves, Cardinals, Nationals, Padres, Reds and White Sox) incurred the maximum penalty from overages during the previous signing period, and as such, those clubs will not be able to sign any individual player for greater than $300K. Sanchez also notes a few players who seem to already have agreements in place with MLB teams, though obviously those deals cannot become official until after midnight.

    A few more notes on the international market headed into tomorrow…

    • The Twins look likely to land Venezuelan center fielder Misael Urbina, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports. Urbina should earn a bonus north of $1.5MM, but he’s not the only player who appears to have a deal in place with the club. Berardino adds that Dominican shortstop Felix Rosa and Venezuelan outfielder Alexander Pena seem likely to sign with Minnesota for about $200K apiece, pending the outcomes of their physicals. Baseball America ranks Urbina tenth on its international prospects list for the 2018-2019 signing period, noting his compact swing, high energy and intensity, and his above-average arm. Rosa and Pena both rank outside BA’s top 50.
    • Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports reports that the Phillies have deals in place with at least four international prospects, most notably Dominican hurler Starlyn Castillo. Castillo checks in at number 16 on Baseball America’s international prospects list, giving special credit to his physically mature frame and ability to touch 97 MPH on the radar gun even before his 16th birthday.
    • Without giving anything away in terms of specifics, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch tweets that the Cardinals are expected to land an international prospect for a $300K bonus as early as tomorrow. Goold adds that the Redbirds have been connected to Cuban third baseman Malcolm Nunez, Venezuelan hurler Jesus Rojas, and Venezuelan catcher Diego Velasquez.
    Still No Timetable For Byron Buxton's Return https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/injury-updates-syndergaard-cueto-dejong-font-buxton.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/07/injury-updates-syndergaard-cueto-dejong-font-buxton.html#comments Sun, 01 Jul 2018 13:59:02 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126242
  • Twins center fielder Byron Buxton has been out for a month because of a fractured left big toe, and there’s still no timetable for his return, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com writes. While Buxton’s making progress in his recovery, it’s possible he’ll stay in the minors beyond July 8 (when his rehab assignment ends), Bollinger explains. Even if Buxton’s healthy, the Twins don’t want to recall him until they’re confident he’ll be able to help them at the plate. With a miserable .156/.183/.200 line in 94 PAs, the 24-year-old Buxton has been a drain on Minnesota’s offense this season.
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    Twins Designate Felix Jorge For Assignment https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-designate-felix-jorge-for-assignment.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-designate-felix-jorge-for-assignment.html#comments Fri, 29 Jun 2018 17:54:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126106 The Twins will select the contract of catcher Willians Astudillo from Triple-A Rochester and clear a spot on the 40-man roster by designating right-hander Felix Jorge for assignment, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota is clearing an active roster spot for Astudio by placing utilityman Taylor Motter on the 7-day DL with concussion-like symptoms. Motter recently crashed hard into the wall while trying to chase down a deep fly-ball to the right-center field gap against the White Sox.

    Jorge, 24, made his big league debut with Minnesota in 2017, tossing a combined 7 2/3 innings but allowing nine runs in a pair of spot starts. Inauspicious as that debut may have been, the righty did turn in a strong season in Double-A last year, working to a 3.54 ERA with 6.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.74 HR/9 and a 50.2 percent ground-ball rate in 134 2/3 innings (22 starts).

    This season has been a lost affair for Jorge so far, as he’s been sidelined due to a triceps issue in the minors (as Berardino recently noted). He made a pair of rehab assignments for the Twins’ Rookie-level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League, but he’ll now have to go through the DFA process before it’s determined if he’ll join the rotation in Triple-A Rochester or end up with another club — either via trade or via waiver claim.

    There’s certainly reason to believe that other clubs would have interest in Jorge, if healthy. He’s long rated as one of the Twins’ better prospects, ranking among their top 30 in each offseason dating back to 2012-13, per Baseball America. While Jorge’s upside is limited by a pedestrian fastball, he’s said to have at least an average slider and changeup, and he’s demonstrated strong control throughout his minor league tenure, averaging just 2.2 walks per nine innings pitched in 689 innings. He also has a pair of minor league options remaining, which obviously enhances his appeal.

    That said, Jorge is also behind a number of starters on the Twins’ depth chart in Triple-A, as each of Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves and Adalberto Mejia (who’ll start Saturday in Minnesota in his 2018 debut), and between this year’s triceps issue and the best-case scenario of a back-of-the-rotation arm, the Twins felt comfortable jettisoning him from the 40-man roster.

    As for Astudillo, he’ll be making his MLB debut with the Twins and will arrive on the scene as something of an oddity. The 26-year-old has a comically low strikeout rate in the minors both this season (4.8 percent) and throughout his career (3.2 percent). He also rarely walks, though, doing so at a 2.7 percent clip this year and 3.4 percent for his career. Put another way, the 5’9″, 225-pound Astudillo has walked in just five of his 188 PAs this season but has also struck out on just nine occasions. He’s hitting .290/.321/.489 with seven homers on the season and will give the Twins another option behind the dish, where they’ve struggled tremendously all season long.

    Twins Sign Juan Graterol https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-sign-juan-graterol.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-sign-juan-graterol.html#comments Thu, 28 Jun 2018 19:52:52 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=126039 The Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester announced today that catcher Juan Graterol was signed to a minor league contract. He’ll be added to the Red Wings roster and take the spot of veteran Jordan Pacheco, who’s going on the minor league DL with a knee injury.

    Graterol, 29, was recently released by the Angels after being designated for assignment. He’d been up and down with the club on multiple occasions dating back to 2016 and has also spent time with the D-backs, Reds and Blue Jays in recent years. The defensively-sound backstop is a career .222/.225/.283 hitter in 103 MLB plate appearances but carries a more encouraging .290/.318/.349 slash in 449 PAs at the Triple-A level. (For those wondering, there’s no relation to top Twins pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol.)

    Minnesota is understandably on the lookout for some depth behind the plate, having lost starter Jason Castro to a meniscus tear that proved significant enough to require season-ending surgery. Rookie Mitch Garver and journeyman Bobby Wilson have filled in behind the dish since that time, though neither has provided the Twins with much offense. Minnesota also picked up former Phillies backstop Cameron Rupp on a minor league deal, but he’s hitting just .143/.245/.200 through his first 53 plate appearances in Rochester.

    Ervin Santana Set For Rehab Start On Saturday https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/injury-notes-kuhl-ervin-bundy-oday-guzman.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/injury-notes-kuhl-ervin-bundy-oday-guzman.html#comments Wed, 27 Jun 2018 03:11:03 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125927
  • Ervin Santana looks to be back on track toward a return to the Twins, as MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets that the veteran right-hander is slated to head to Class-A Advanced Fort Myers on Saturday to embark on a rehab assignment. Santana has already started one rehab assignment this season as he works back from February finger surgery, but he had to cut that assignment short due to lingering discomfort. Over the weekend, it was reported that Santana was still struggling and wasn’t able to reach 90 mph with his fastball in a throwing session last week, but it seems he’s trending back up. Bollinger notes that a live batting practice session went well for Santana, leading to the decision to send him out on rehab.
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    Twins Notes: Lewis, Santana, Deadline Plans https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-notes-lewis-santana-deadline-plans.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-notes-lewis-santana-deadline-plans.html#comments Sun, 24 Jun 2018 02:34:10 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125630 J.P. Hoornstra of the Orange County Register offers an interesting look at the dynamic between top Twins prospect Royce Lewis and special assistant to baseball operations Torii Hunter. It turns out that Hunter knew Lewis’s father for years, but had no idea his son was a baseball prodigy until after he was picked first overall by the Twins. In fact, neither Hunter nor the younger Lewis knew there was just one degree of separation between them in the form of the elder, William Lewis, who had Hunter’s personal cell phone number for years. Fast forward to now, and Hunter has his own relationship with Royce, the number one overall pick in the 2017 draft. In addition to baseball work, the two spent a week together at Hunter’s home in Dallas, where he reportedly gave Royce some tutoring and life skills advice.

    More items concerning the Twins…

    • Ervin Santana’s post-surgery comeback continues to drag on slowly, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports. The 35-year-old righty failed to reach 90 MPH even once during his 45-pitch live batting practice session in Florida this week. He’d at least managed that velocity in a two-start rehab stint last month, but had to be shut down after those starts in order to rebuild arm strength. There’s currently not a clear timetable for Santana’s return, which is surely disappointing for a Twins organization that once expected to see him back as early as April 20th.
    • There’s uncertainty in the Twins organization as to whether they ought to be buyers or sellers at the July non-waiver trade deadline, writes Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. While the club certainly fancied themselves contenders amidst a mostly-weak AL Central division headed into the season, significant struggles of Jake Odorizzi, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, along with the absence of Jorge Polanco and the aforementioned Santana are among the reasons that Minnesota currently sits in third place with a 33-39 record – seven games behind the division-leading Indians. “We’re in an interesting spot; we’re trying to figure out who we are and what we should be doing,” Levine said on the subject. “There are so many teams that are clear-cut sellers and a handful that are clear-cut buyers. We’re more inclined to be patient right now and utilize a little more of the runway we have.”
    • The Twins still haven’t signed their top draft pick, outfielder Trevor Larnach. Berardino points out that they’d be likely to sign him under slot considering they went a combined $717K over slot for their picks in rounds 4, 5, 9 and 10. Larnach’s slot comes with a value of $3.12MM.
    Twins Release Nick Buss https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-release-nick-buss.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-release-nick-buss.html#comments Fri, 22 Jun 2018 18:58:20 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125563
  • The Twins’ Triple-A affiliate announced that outfielder Nick Buss has been released. The 31-year-old Buss won a Pacific Coast League batting title in 2017 when he hit .348/.395/.541 with 11 homers for the Padres’ top affiliate, but he’s struggled to a .239/.309/.340 slash through 178 PAs in Rochester this season. Buss has appeared in the Majors with both Los Angeles teams, hitting a combined .180/.229/.300 in a tiny sample of 110 plate appearances and is a lifetime .302/.360/.452 hitter in parts of six seasons at the Triple-A level.
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    Minor MLB Transactions: 6/19/18 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/minor-mlb-transactions-61918.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/minor-mlb-transactions-61918.html#respond Tue, 19 Jun 2018 14:51:56 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125279 Here are some of the notable recent minor moves from around the league …

    • The Giants released outfielder-turned-pitcher Jordan Schaferaccording to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. Schafer had joined the San Francisco organization at the start of the current season in hopes of continuing his attempt to return to the majors on the mound. He had missed the prior campaign owing to Tommy John surgery. Schafer threw 6 1/3 innings at Triple-A prior to his release, allowing four earned runs on ten hits and five walks but also recording nine strikeouts.
    • Eddy also reports that the Nationals have released corner infielder Matt Hague from their Triple-A affiliate. The 32-year-old has seen brief action in three MLB campaigns, most recently in 2015. He had joined the Washington organization after being released by the Mariners in April. Over 112 plate appearances at Syracuse, he exhibited typically strong plate discipline (12 walks vs. 18 strikeouts) but was slashing just .242/.321/.323.
    • The Twins have cut ties with hard-throwing righty Zack Jones from Double-A Chattanooga, per the Eastern League transactions log. The former Rule 5 Draft pick had allowed just seven earned runs on ten hits through 25 1/3 innings thus far in 2018, racking up 39 strikeouts along the way. Unfortunately, the 27-year-old Jones has also handed out 25 walks this season. Over his seven minor-league seasons, he has recorded 12.9 K/9 against 5.5 BB/9, so the command issues represent a longstanding concern.
    Twins Release Taylor Featherston https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-release-taylor-featherston.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-release-taylor-featherston.html#comments Mon, 18 Jun 2018 18:33:39 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125283 The Twins have released infielder Taylor Featherston, per an announcement from their Triple-A affiliate in Rochester (h/t: Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs, on Twitter).

    Featherston, 28, appeared in the Majors each season from 2015-17, providing strong defensive value around the infield but struggling with the bat. In 244 plate appearances between the Angels, Phillies and Rays, he’s managed just a .160/.221/.256 slash line. He’s also received plus ratings at second base, shortstop and third base from both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating.

    A former Rule 5 pick (the Cubs selected him out of the Rockies organization in 2014 and promptly traded him to the Angels for cash), Featherston has struggled in Triple-A this season to a considerably greater extent than he ever has in prior seasons. Through 213 PAs with the Red Wings, he’s hitting just .167/.270/.278 with four homers, four doubles, two triples and seven steals (in eight tries).

    Injury Notes: Donaldson, Blue Jays, Ravin, May, Goody https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/injury-notes-donaldson-blue-jays-ravin-may-goody.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/injury-notes-donaldson-blue-jays-ravin-may-goody.html#comments Sat, 16 Jun 2018 14:09:17 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125096 Former AL MVP Josh Donaldson is expected to miss “at least a few more days” before getting a chance to return to the Blue Jays’ lineup. A report from Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com indicates that Donaldson still hasn’t felt comfortable running at full speed, or as manager John Gibbons puts it, “he still couldn’t cut it loose,” during a series of running drills on Thursday. The third baseman has been out since May 28th with a sore calf muscle. Coupled with the shoulder injury he dealt with earlier this season, one has to wonder just how much these injury concerns will impact the 32-year-old Donaldson’s free agent stock headed into the 2018-2019 offseason. It’s not as though he’s produced while on the field, either: his .234/.333/.423 slash line (despite a .303 BABIP) is a far cry from his typical production, while his strikeout rate sits at a career-high 27.7%.

    As for the Blue Jays, they’re at least likely to get Marcus Stroman and Steve Pearce back in the near future, as both are currently embarking on rehab assignments in the minor leagues.

    Let’s take a look at some other injury situations around baseball…

    • Nate Rowan, beat reporter for the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate, tweets that Trevor May is headed to the DL with shoulder inflammation. The move is retroactive to June 14th. May’s only recently made his way back from Tommy John surgery, a recovery he wrote about for MLBTR; he was optioned to Triple-A immediately following his activation. There’s no word yet on the severity of the shoulder situation or how long May is expected to be out. In his most recent major league action, May pitched to a 5.27 ERA across 44 relief appearances for the Twins.
    • Another AL Central reliever received unfortunate news today as well. Nick Goody of the Indians visited Dr. James Andrews after feeling soreness during his throwing program. The diagnosis remains elbow hyperextension and posterior elbow inflammation, and though that’s far from the worst-case scenario, he’ll be shut down for at least three weeks after receiving a PRP injection. It’s bad news for an Indians club that has seen its bullpen go from the upper echelon in the league in 2017 to a bottom-dweller in 2018.
    • Braves reliever Josh Ravin (currently pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett) experienced a scare yesterday when he was struck in the face by a line drive. Ravin’s stable, however (at least enough so to tweet), and is set to be further evaluated on Sunday in Atlanta when the swelling goes down. The current diagnosis is five facial fractures and a concussion. Ravin has yet to allow a run in Gwinnett across 18 innings, during which time he’s struck out 30 batters and walked nine.
    Sano On Being Optioned To Minors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-central-notes-sano-miggy-castellanos-covey.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-central-notes-sano-miggy-castellanos-covey.html#comments Fri, 15 Jun 2018 13:36:53 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124964 The Twinsdemotion of Miguel Sano to the minors yesterday came as a surprise to many, but the slugger seems to be taking the move in stride, as Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes“It’s the decision they take and I take too,” said Sano of the demotion. “I’m not mad. They gave me an opportunity. No reason I can get mad. … I’m going to take pride of going down there and working hard so I can come back and be better.” Sano said he didn’t want to blame his struggles on his recent injury history, though it’s worth noting that he required offseason surgery to repair a stress reaction in his shin and has also missed time in 2018 due to a hamstring injury. Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said that improving Sano’s conditioning, specifically in his lower half, is part of the move, though the organization’s greater hope is to try to give Sano a fresh start in an environment where he can focus in on some areas for improvement identified by hitting coach James Rowson and others.

    Twins Option Miguel Sano https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-option-miguel-sano.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-option-miguel-sano.html#comments Thu, 14 Jun 2018 20:06:46 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124989 The Twins have optioned struggling third baseman Miguel Sano, the club announced and Phil Miller of the Star Tribune was among those to report on Twitter. Outfielder Jake Cave will also go down on optional assignment with the team preparing to activate Joe Mauer.

    Sano, 25, has long been seen as a premium talent and had been a high-quality big-league hitter through his first three seasons in the majors. Despite ongoing questions about his propensity to strike out and generally subpar work in the field and on the bases, Sano entered the year as an important part of the Twins lineup.

    Unfortunately, the results have been brutal thus far in 2018, particularly since Sano returned from a DL stint. In 73 plate appearances since being activated, Sano has racked up thirty strikeouts while recording only a pair of walks and a .191/.247/.353 overall batting line.

    Given the severity of his struggles, Sano isn’t just going to be heading to the team’s top affiliate. Rather, he’ll report to High-A Fort Myers. Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey explains, via Miller (on Twitter), that the organization “wanted to take a step back and blank-canvas this” and saw the team’s Spring Training home as “the most supportive environment” for Sano.

    Sano surely still holds a place in the team’s future plans at the moment. After all, he was coming off of an All-Star appearance in 2017 and at times has looked like one of the game’s more fearsome power hitters. He has not expressed any intransigence in the wake of the move, instead telling reporters (again, via Miller on Twitter) that he’s “happy” to go down and rebuild himself at the plate.

    There are several interesting dimensions to this move, of course, but it doesn’t seem that Sano’s contractual status will be a source of any real intrigue for the time being. He entered the year with 2.095 years of service to his credit, leaving 77 to go before he’d top three full years of service and thus qualify for arbitration. Sano recently cleared that bar, so there won’t be any question as to whether the Twins ought to hold him down and keep him from reaching the arb process.


    Twins Outright Gregorio Petit https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/mets-outright-jose-lobaton.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/mets-outright-jose-lobaton.html#comments Thu, 14 Jun 2018 18:14:50 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124965
  • The Twins announced that infielder Gregorio Petit has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Rochester after being designated for assignment earlier this week. The 33-year-old stuck with the Twins for a few weeks as a seldom-used bench piece but lost his roster spot when Minnesota brought right-hander Matt Belisle back to the organization on a big league contract Tuesday. Petit appeared in a dozen games for Minnesota but made just 30 plate appearances, hitting .308/.400/.308. He’s a career .253/.298/.350 hitter in 483 MLB plate appearances and a .267/.317/.370 hitter in parts of 11 Triple-A seasons.
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    Amateur Draft Signings: 6/13/18 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/amateur-draft-signings-61318.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/amateur-draft-signings-61318.html#comments Wed, 13 Jun 2018 15:35:12 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124912 We’ll use this post to track Wednesday’s notable agreements from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Baseball AmericaMLB.comFangraphs and ESPN’s Keith Law — with the scouting reports from MLB and Fangraphs both coming free to the general public) …

    • Reds second-round pick Lyon Richardson scored a $2MM payday to forego his commitment to the University of Florida, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). That’s nearly half a million over the slot value ($1,520,300) for a player who has only recently emerged as a high-end pitching prospect. MLB.com’s team was highest among major prospect outlets, ranking Richardson 67th on the basis of his ample upside as an athletic hurler who has shown big velocity despite unpolished mechanics.
    • The Yankees have announced a variety of signings, including deals with second-rounder Josh Breaux and third-rounder Ryder Green. These agreements were first reported by Callis (Twitter links), with the bonus values pinned down by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Breaux’s bonus of $1,497,500 handily tops his $1,086,900 slot value, while Green, too, receives an over-slot $997,500 bonus that exceeds his $576,400 slot value. All of the above lists include Breaux among the top 100 available prospects, with an increasingly promising bat and improving work behind the dish justifying the placement.
    • The Braves got second-round selection Greyson Jenista for a $1.2MM bonus that leaves them $250,500 of extra pool space to work with, Callis reports on Twitter. The Wichita State slugger received a fairly broad array of grades from prospect hounds, but the Fangraphs crew was highest. With big power and the ability to draw walks, but also plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, there’s a lot to like about the bat. One major question is whether Jenista will be able to work into being a reasonable defender in the corner outfield, or whether instead he’s destined for first base in the long run.
    • Second-rounder Alek Thomas will join the Diamondbacks rather than heading to TCU, as Callis also tweets. The deal includes a $1.2MM bonus that tops the $1,035,500 allocation that came with the 63rd overall draft slot. Law was quite bullish on the young outfielder, crediting him with “five-tool potential” and “an advanced feel on both sides of the ball.”
    • The Nationals have also agreed to terms with their second-round selection, UConn lefty Tim Cate, Callis adds on Twitter. It’s an at-slot, $986,200 bonus for the 65th overall choice of the draft. Best known for his big hook, Cate is an undersized hurler who has also had some worrying arm health questions crop up. Still, Baseball America ranked him 54th on its board, noting his “exceptional feel to land his breaking ball in the zone and bury it for swings and misses.”
    • Still another second-rounder, Florida Atlantic infielder Tyler Frank, will take home a $997,500 bonus from the Rays, per MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo (Twitter link). That leaves the Tampa Bay club with some extra funds to work with, as the 56th slot came with a $1,228,000 allocation. Also going under-slot were Royals second-rounder Jonathan Bowlan ($697,500 bonus vs. $1,168,300 slot) and Twins second-rounder Ryan Jeffers ($800K bonus vs. $1,140,600 slot), according to Callis (Twitter links)
    Mauer Headed Out On Rehab Assignment https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-central-notes-zimmermann-mauer-royals-giolito.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-central-notes-zimmermann-mauer-royals-giolito.html#comments Tue, 12 Jun 2018 20:53:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124808 There was some (exceedingly mild) AL Central intrigue this morning, as reliever Matt Belisle bounced from the Indians over to the Twins, but otherwise it has been a quiet news day. Let’s take a look in at the latest items out of the AL Central:

    • Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is just launching his own rehab assignment, MLB.com’s Jarrid Denney reports. Concussion-like symptoms have kept the 35-year-old out for the past several weeks. He has dealt with similar problems in the past, of course, which represents a major reason that he no longer plays behind the plate. Though he has not contributed enough on-field value to justify his lofty salary in quite some time, Mauer has been a productive hitter over the past two years. Thus far in 2018, he is slashing .283/.404/.355 with 28 walks against 22 strikeouts but just one home run through 167 plate appearances. Meanwhile, young outfielder Byron Buxton is going through some running and baseball activities, but still evidently remains some ways away from returning from a fractured toe.
    Twins Designate Gregorio Petit https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-designate-gregorio-petit.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-designate-gregorio-petit.html#comments Tue, 12 Jun 2018 15:31:05 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124814 The Twins have designated infielder Gregorio Petit for assignment, per a club announcement. His roster spot was needed for the signing of reliever Matt Belisle, which is now official.

    Petit, 33, has seen scattered MLB action in six seasons. He had appeared in a dozen games this year, logging eight singles and four walks in thirty trips to the plate.

    During his time as a professional, Petit has mostly appeared at shortstop. But he has ample experience at second and third base as well, and has also appeared in the corner outfield.

    Twins To Sign Matt Belisle https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-to-sign-matt-belisle-2.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-to-sign-matt-belisle-2.html#comments Tue, 12 Jun 2018 14:37:11 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124809 10:13am: It’s a MLB deal for Belisle, per LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star-Tribune (via Twitter), so the club will have some other roster maneuvering to make way for the addition.

    9:37am: Veteran righty Matt Belisle will remain in the American League Central after being released by the Indians, with reports indicating he’ll join the Twins. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press tweeted the connection, with Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeting an agreement is indeed in place.

    Details of the new arrangement are not yet known. The Twins’ bullpen has not exactly dominated, but also does not have glaring weaknesses in its middle-relief ranks, so it’s not immediately clear whether and when Belisle will get a shot at returning to the majors.

    Belisle, who’s now 38 years of age, spent the 2017 season with the Minnesota organization, so he’s certainly a familiar face. Indeed, he even recorded nine saves for the team last year. That was part of a remarkable mid-season turn for the veteran, who carried a miserable 8.59 ERA through 22 innings but worked to a 1.41 ERA with 36 strikeouts against eight walks over his final 38 1/3 frames on the year.

    Despite that strong finish, Belisle settled for a minor-league deal and had to battle for a job with the Cleveland organization in camp. He cracked the roster, but managed only four strikeouts while allowing six earned runs in 10 1/3 innings to begin the season. After being released and re-signed, Belisle has been more effective at Triple-A, but evidently did not show enough to interest the Indians in keeping him.

    Draft Signings: 6/9/18 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/draft-signings-6918.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/draft-signings-6918.html#comments Sun, 10 Jun 2018 01:33:50 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124596 Check out some of the latest draft signings outside of the first round…

    • Fourth-rounder Mike Siani has agreed to terms with the Reds, tweets FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal will pay Siani $2MM, which comes in over slot value. Siani, notably, is giving up a scholarship offer from the famed University of Virginia to join Cincinnati’s minor league ranks. He’s an outfielder coming out of William Penn Charter High School in Pennsylvania; he’s been described by Baseball America as “a plus-plus runner with natural instincts in center field, [and] raw power and bat speed from the left side of the plate.” Indeed, the publication ranked him as the number 53 draft prospect headed in, but clearly he fell due to signability concerns. The Reds, then, will make great use of their fourth-round selection with the addition of Siani.
    • The Rays have officially signed second-round pick Tyler Frank out of Florida Atlantic, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The 185-pound shortstop was generally ranked around number 70 or so in draft rankings by Fangraphs, Baseball America and MLB.com.
    • Darren Wolfson of KSTP reports that the Twins have signed their second- and fourth-round picks. Catcher Ryan Jeffers, taken in round two, was ranked by Baseball America just inside the top 300 draft prospects; they described him as a below-average runner with an average arm behind the plate, though they did note his power as being impressive. Meanwhile, fourth-rounder DaShawn Kiersey Jr. is largely heralded for his contact skills. He came in 82nd in BA’s pre-draft rankings due to that skill. While some scouts worry that a gruesome hip injury suffered last year will cause him to decline faster, his “solid package of tools” give him great upside in MLB. With the above info in mind, perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that Jeffers signed for below slot value, while Kiersey Jr.’s deal exceeded his slot value (per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press).
    Twins Had Offseason Interest In Miles Mikolas https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/quick-hits-tanaka-machado-phillies-mikolas-twins-padres.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/quick-hits-tanaka-machado-phillies-mikolas-twins-padres.html#comments Sat, 09 Jun 2018 21:55:16 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124574
  • Along with the previously reported Rangers, the Twins and Padres were among teams with offseason interest in right-hander Miles Mikolas, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Mikolas, who pitched in Japan from 2015-17, ended up signing a two-year, $15.5MM deal with the Cardinals. The 29-year-old is no stranger to the Padres, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft and then had him on their roster for parts of the 2012 and ’13 seasons. Mikolas was unheralded in San Diego, but he has turned into one of the NL’s most effective starters during his stint in St. Louis. Across 79 1/3 innings this season, Mikolas has notched a 2.27 ERA with 6.58 K/9, 1.02 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent groundball rate.
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    Free Agent Stock Watch: Eduardo Escobar https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/free-agent-stock-watch-eduardo-escobar.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/free-agent-stock-watch-eduardo-escobar.html#comments Sat, 09 Jun 2018 17:01:57 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124428 Eduardo Escobar wasn’t supposed to get this much playing time in 2018. Heading into the season, he was set to be a utility player extraordinaire, backing up Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco, third baseman Miguel Sano and second baseman Brian Dozier — perhaps with an occasional day at DH or a brief foray into an outfield corner. But an 80-game suspension for Polanco following a failed PED test and an early injury for Sano thrust Escobar into the lineup with regularity. And more surprisingly, Escobar’s sensational performance has thrust him into the cleanup spot for the Twins more often than not.

    Eduardo Escobar | Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

    There are undoubtedly readers out there who literally don’t know who Escobar is. He’s long been a quality utility piece for the Twins, but he’s taken his offensive game to new heights over the past two seasons. Now, four months away from free agency, he looks potentially poised for a payday that would’ve sounded unthinkable for him entering the 2017 season.

    Escobar, 29, is off to a ridiculous .286/.340/.562 start to the 2018 season (143 OPS+, 139 wRC+). The switch-hitter already belted a dozen home runs and racked up an incredible 24 doubles through his first 238 trips to the plate. It’s an excellent followup to last year’s career-high 21 homers, and he’s already just nine long balls and 11 doubles shy of his career-bests with about 60 percent of the season still to play.

    While it’s not always obvious to see the areas from which a player’s offensive breakout stems, Escobar has made some very noticeable changes to his approach at the plate. He looks to be one of the many success stories from 2017’s “fly-ball revolution,” having increased his launch angle from 15 degrees in 2016 to 17.5 degrees in 2017 to 20.8 degrees in 2018. Back in 2016, Escobar was putting the ball on the ground nearly 40 percent of the time he made contact. But his fly-ball rate jumped from 37.4 percent in 2016 to 45.3 percent last season. This year, it’s sitting at a career-high 47.9 percent. His average exit velocity of 87.6 mph isn’t elite, but it’s steadily risen by about 1 mph in each of the past two seasons.

    That seems like a deliberate focus on putting the ball in the air and hitting for more power, and it’s somewhat predictably come with some other, more negative changes. Escobar has traded some contact for his newfound power, striking out at a career-worst 22.7 percent so far in 2018. He’s chasing a whopping 40.4 percent out-of-zone pitches, and his swinging-strike rate is a career-worst 12.7 percent as well. That said, his strikeout rate is far from egregious, and he’s also sporting career-bests in hard-contact rate, line-drive rate and barreled-ball rate. His .327 average on balls in play is a bit north of his career .299 mark, but that can be somewhat explained by his increase in barreled balls and quality contact. In short, he looks like a legitimately improved hitter.

    Defensively, Escobar is more of a mixed bag. He has extensive experience at both positions on the left side of the infield in addition to 348 innings at second base and 275 innings in the outfield (eight in center and 267 in left field). That’s desirable versatility, but he’s not exactly a standout defender anywhere. Third base has been his best position in the Majors, and by measure of both Ultimate Zone Rating and Defensive Runs Saved, he’s a serviceable defender at the hot corner. DRS pegs him at -5 runs 1735 innings, while UZR/150 has him at -0.4. His ratings at shortstop, particularly in 2018, are far less appealing (-8 DRS in 168 innings, -2.1 UZR), but he’d graded out passably (even favorably, per UZR) at the position in prior seasons.

    At the very least, a team would likely feel comfortable installing Escobar at shortstop once or twice per week, knowing he could be re-positioned elsewhere in a late defensive switch by a superior defender. And it stands to reason that most clubs would feel comfortable with his glove at third base.

    The question for Escobar in free agency, of course, will be one of how exactly he’ll be valued by other clubs. Escobar isn’t going to sustain a .276 isolated power mark (that is, slugging percentage minus batting average). By his own admission, many of his doubles are of the “hustle” variety (such as this one), and his 15.2 percent homer-to-flyball ratio is well above his career norm. Still, at least much of the gains he’s made in the power department seem legitimate. He’s also sporting a modest increase in walk rate (career-high 7.6 percent) to go along with his improved contact and defensive versatility. Some teams figure to value him in as a high-end utility player, while others yet may feel he’s capable of shouldering an everyday workload.

    Looking for recent comparables, there aren’t many examples of bat-first utility players that stack up nicely with Escobar’s case. Ben Zobrist’s four-year, $56MM contract was signed when Zobrist had a considerably lengthier track record and seems too ambitious a comparison for Escobar. On the other hand, former teammate Eduardo Nunez’s modest deal to return to the Red Sox this year feels like it can be similarly dismissed, given Nunez’s late knee injury and lack of power. Luis Valbuena’s two-year, $15MM contract feels too low, given Escobar’s ability to play some shortstop, his switch-hitting capability and his superior offensive output. Jed Lowrie’s three-year, $23MM deal with the A’s may even be light. That contract began when Lowrie was 32 years of age and came on the heels of a season in which he played in just 69 games. Escobar will turn 30 next January.

    Perhaps, then, Escobar will forge his own path, to an extent. He’s experiencing an offensive breakout similar to the one that Zack Cozart exhibited in his two years leading up to a three-year, $38MM deal from the Angels, though Cozart was considered a premium defensive shortstop who could provide significant defensive value at third base as well. Then again, he hadn’t been as healthy as Escobar and was two years older. That could serve as something of a ceiling for Escobar, and perhaps a four-year deal at a lower annual rate (something in the vein of Omar Infante’s admittedly dated four-year, $30.25MM deal with Kansas City) shouldn’t be entirely ruled out, given Escobar’s relative youth.

    All of this, of course, is predicated on Escobar sustaining a pace that at least approximates his current output. That’s far from a given, especially considering the fact that Polanco’s eventual return will cut into his playing time to some degree. But heading into the 2018 season, the general thought was that if there was one switch-hitting utility player poised for a significant payday, it’d be Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez. With Gonzalez struggling and Escobar thriving, that reality looks to have shifted. There are under-the-radar free agents who emerge from relative anonymity every season, and Escobar is making his case to become the latest such example with a strong start to the year.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Twins Notes: Santana, Rupp https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-central-notes-santana-rupp-rodon-miller.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/al-central-notes-santana-rupp-rodon-miller.html#comments Wed, 06 Jun 2018 13:18:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124271
  • There’s good news for Twins starter Ervin Santana, as conveyed by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press on Twitter. After putting a hold on his rehab assignment a week ago, Santana is now just about ready to begin throwing again and may do so as soon as tomorrow. The solid veteran hurler will still need to complete a full ramp-up before he returns to the majors, but it seems promising that his earlier setback has only required a brief respite.
  • New Twins backstop Cameron Rupp has an opt-out opportunity on July 15th, per Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). That will give the team some time to assess its situation at the MLB level, and to get familiar with Rupp, before deciding whether to promote him. At the same time, it allows the backstop a chance to find a new opportunity before the trade deadline, if he doesn’t come up with the Twins.
  • ]]>
    Twins To Sign Cameron Rupp https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-to-sign-cameron-rupp.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/twins-to-sign-cameron-rupp.html#comments Mon, 04 Jun 2018 23:33:52 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124130 The Twins have reached agreement on a minor-league deal with catcher Cameron Rupp, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). It seems he is already in Rochester readying to begin play with the organization.

    Rupp, 29, will boost the Minnesota catching depth with Jason Castro expected to miss the rest of the year. Presently, the organization is utilizing Mitch Garver and Bobby Wilson behind the dish at the major-league level.

    Though he has yet to see time in the big leagues this year, Rupp was a fixture behind the dish over the past three seasons for the Phillies. In 1,049 plate appearances over that span, he slashed .236/.301/.417 and swatted 39 home runs.

    Still, Philadelphia cut Rupp loose late in Spring Training after agreeing initially agreeing to avoid arbitration. The receiver caught on with the Rangers organization shortly thereafter. He is off to a nice start with the bat this year, posting a .264/.328/.509 batting line over 125 Triple-A plate appearances before opting out of his contract recently.

    Padres' GM Discusses Phil Hughes Swap https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/padres-trade-draft-pick-phil-hughes-twins.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/padres-trade-draft-pick-phil-hughes-twins.html#comments Mon, 04 Jun 2018 20:23:49 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124105 The Padres’ acquisition of Phil Hughes was clearly more about acquiring the Twins’ competitive balance draft pick than the pitcher himself, and GM A.J. Preller and scouting director Mark Conner spoke to MLB.com’s A.J Cassavell about the swap. Preller told Cassavell that he’s been calling every team that received pick in the competitive balance lottery on a near-weekly basis in an attempt to acquire an additional selection — something that’s long been a priority but was magnified in 2018 after San Diego surrendered a pick to sign Eric Hosmer“The game now is about making your money work for you,” said Preller. “…You have to figure out what’s the best bang for your buck. Having the extra pick gives you more options.”

    The move was met by excitement from Conner and his scouts, who’ll now not only have an extra pick (No. 74 overall) but an additional $812,200 in their draft pool. The Padres, of course, spent considerably more than that to obtain the pick, relieving the Twins of just over $7.6MM of Hughes’ salary. While it seems a shrewd (albeit expensive) pickup of a resource with limited availability, not every organization agrees; one exec from another club told FanRag’s Jon Heyman last week that the Padres were “insane” for taking on that much of the remaining contract to obtain the pick.

    Free Agent Stock Watch: Brian Dozier https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/free-agent-stock-watch-brian-dozier.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/06/free-agent-stock-watch-brian-dozier.html#comments Sun, 03 Jun 2018 14:10:41 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123951 Twins star Brian Dozier entered 2018 off an extraordinary three-year stretch of power hitting for a second baseman. Dozier combined for 104 home runs during that 2,100-plate appearance span, including 42 in 2016 – an American League record at his position. Although Dozier became a household name because of his ability to hit the ball over the fence, he has been a well-rounded player since his first full season (2013), evidenced by the 22.2 rWAR/21.7 fWAR he racked up between then and this year.

    Dozier’s recent excellence has come under the team-friendly extension he signed as a less established player heading into the 2015 season. That contract – a four-year, $20MM pact – has been one of the biggest bargains in baseball lately, but unfortunately for the Twins, it’s on the cusp of expiring. Dozier is now two-plus months into the last year of his deal, and indications are that he’ll test the open market after the season. The 31-year-old made it clear over the winter that he was interested in an extension – “I’ve said I wanted to stay here since forever, but I’ve really vocalized it the last couple years,” he declared – but the Twins didn’t reciprocate and talks on a new deal died.

    Because he hasn’t been able to secure another long-term accord from the Twins, Dozier is now trying to prove to them and other teams that he’ll be worth a significant investment in the coming months. But unfortunately for Dozier, his platform year hasn’t begun in ideal fashion. With a .241/.313/.420 batting line in 249 PAs, Dozier’s offensive production has been 3 percent below average, per FanGraphs’ wRC+ metric. He was an above-average hitter in each of the previous four seasons, including when he recorded his two highest wRC+ figures – 131 and 125 – in 2016 and ’17.

    Encouragingly, Dozier’s walking at a 9.2 percent clip (in line with a career 9.4 mean) and striking out less than he did in previous years. He has fanned 18.1 percent of the time, which is both better than the ever-increasing league rate (22.4 percent) and his career mark (19.4). Dozier’s also chasing less than ever, having registered a 22.6 percent out-of-zone swing rate that easily outdoes his lifetime figure (27.8).

    Dozier’s offensive game clearly isn’t devoid of positive signs, then, though there has been cause for alarm when he has put the bat on the ball. He has only hit eight homers thus far, to go with an ISO (.179) that has declined substantially from the .238 mark he combined for from 2015-17. Further, Dozier’s line drive percentage is at a personal-worst 14.4 – compared to 19.9 during his career – and after averaging a 94.4 mph exit velocity on liners last season, Dozier’s at 91.4 this year. Thanks in part to that, not to mention an increase in grounders, Dozier’s percentage of balls hit at least 95 mph has fallen from 34.5 percent in 2017 to 28.1 this season. Dozier currently ranks toward the bottom of the majors in those Statcast metrics (via Baseball Savant), making it no surprise that he has only registered a .303 xwOBA and a .267 batting average on balls in play to this point. While Dozier’s BABIP is close to his career total (.276), it’s a far cry from the personal high (.300) he put up in that department last year.

    When Dozier’s contact has eluded defenders this year, he hasn’t been nearly the threat on the base paths that he was in previous seasons. Dozier collected anywhere from 12 to 21 steals in each year from 2013-17, and he entered the campaign with a career success rate near 76 percent. But Dozier has only converted on two of four attempts in 2018, perhaps in part because he’s not as fleet of foot as he had been. Dozier’s average sprint speed is 26.8 feet per second, per Statcast, placing him just below the league mean (27) and down from the slightly above-average marks he managed in each of the three prior seasons.

    Dozier’s production at the plate and on the bases does warrant some concern, but his defensive numbers look normal so far. Dozier had essentially been a scratch defender from 2012-17, according to both Defensive Runs Saved (three) and Ultimate Zone Rating (minus-0.3), and that has also been the case in 2018 (two DRS, minus-1.5 UZR). And Dozier’s impressive durability has once again been on display, as he hasn’t missed any of the Twins’ 54 games after amassing between 147 and 157 appearances in each of the previous five seasons.

    Dozier’s outstanding track record of availability will undoubtedly appeal to teams as he seeks another payday in the coming months, though he won’t max out his earning potential at his current offensive pace. There’s time for Dozier to turn it around at the plate, of course, and it’s especially important for him to do so given the competition he could face on the market. As things stand, there will be no shortage of veteran second basemen available in free agency, including DJ LeMahieu, Daniel Murphy and Asdrubal Cabrera. Thanks to that fact – not to mention Dozier’s age, the unkind way free agency has been trending for 30-somethings and the potential of a qualifying offer hanging over his head – his first trip to the market may come at an inopportune time.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Twins Put Buxton Back On DL With Fractured Toe, Halt Santana’s Rehab Program https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/twins-put-buxton-back-on-dl-with-fractured-toe-halt-santanas-rehab-program.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/05/twins-put-buxton-back-on-dl-with-fractured-toe-halt-santanas-rehab-program.html#comments Wed, 30 May 2018 22:07:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123662 The Twins delivered some unfortunate injury news to reporters today, revealing that center fielder Byron Buxton is headed back to the disabled list due to his fractured big toe and that Ervin Santana’s rehab assignment has been halted due to ongoing discomfort in his surgically repaired finger (Twitter links via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com and Dan Hayes of The Athletic). Buxton will have his toe re-examined, while Santana will be examined by a specialist.

    It’s been a dismal season for Buxton, who landed on the DL in mid-April for what the club hoped would be a minimal stay due to ongoing migraine issues. Instead, Buxton fouled a ball into his foot on his rehab assignment and sustained a fractured toe which has plagued him since.

    Though a six-week timetable for the foot to heal completely was provided, the Twins made the surprising decision to activate Buxton from that DL trip without sending him on a minor league rehab assignment. 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson tweets that today’s decision to place Buxton back on the DL stems from the fact that he’s simply been in too much pain to use his lower half at the plate.

    Overall, Buxton has turned in a brutal .159/.187/.205 slash this season, and he’s gone just 6-for-47 since coming off the disabled list and trying to play through the fractured toe. That, obviously, is a far cry from what looked to be a breakout year for Buxton in 2017, when he batted .253/.314/.413 with 16 homers and 29 steals while winning Gold Glove and Platinum Glove honors for his work in the outfield.

    [Related: Updated Minnesota Twins depth chart]

    With Buxton on the shelf, the Twins will have a number of options to handle center field duties. Ryan LaMarre is currently on the big league roster and can see some time at the position, though both of the Twins’ primary corner outfielders, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler, are also capable of playing center field.

    The news on Santana is equally if not more disheartening for a Twins club that had hoped to get its primary rotation anchor back in the near future. The 35-year-old Santana underwent surgery on his middle finger in February and had been hopeful of returning at some point in May or in early June, but it seems he’ll now need a new wave of testing and could see his season debut delayed quite a bit further.

    Since signing with the Twins on a four-year, $55MM deal, Santana has turned in 500 2/3 innings of 3.47 ERA ball. He was especially effective in 2016-17, logging a 3.32 ERA with 7.2 K/9 against 2.6 BB/9 (though fielding-independent metrics indicated that he had a fair bit of good fortune on his side over that span). With Santana now sidelined indefinitely, the Twins will continue to lean on Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Lance Lynn and impressive rookie Fernando Romero in the rotation for the time being.