Minnesota Twins – MLB Trade Rumors https://www.mlbtraderumors.com Mon, 23 Apr 2018 00:48:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Twins Reinstate Phil Hughes From DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-notes-manaea-red-sox-bogaerts-rays-twins.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/al-notes-manaea-red-sox-bogaerts-rays-twins.html#comments Sun, 22 Apr 2018 03:35:36 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120533
  • Chirinos will face Twins righty Phil Hughes, whom the team has reinstated from the disabled list. The Twins optioned pitcher Gabriel Moya to Triple-A to make room for Hughes, who had been on the shelf with a strained oblique. The 31-year-old Hughes hasn’t pitched in a big league game since July 14, 2017, thanks to the thoracic outlet syndrome revision surgery he underwent in August. At $13.2MM per year through next season, Hughes is one of the Twins’ highest-paid players, though he has struggled mightily since a sensational 2014 with the team. When he was healthy enough to pitch last season, Hughes logged a 5.87 ERA with a meager 30.7 percent groundball rate over 53 2/3 innings (14 appearances, seven starts).
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    Twins Place Byron Buxton On DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/injury-notes-anibal-buxton-hill-brewers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/injury-notes-anibal-buxton-hill-brewers.html#comments Thu, 19 Apr 2018 01:51:41 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120331
  • The Twins announced that Byron Buxton has been placed on the 10-day DL, retroactive to April 15, with migraine headaches. Outfielder Ryan LaMarre was added to the 25-man roster in place of Buxton, who’ll be eligible to return next Wednesday. It’s been a slow start to the year for Buxton after a strong five-month stretch to close out the 2017 season; the longtime top prospect hit .274/.335/.448 in his final 459 plate appearances last season but is off to a .195/.233/.244 start to the season.
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    Ervin Santana Cleared To Begin Throwing Program https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/injury-notes-price-shoemaker-ervin-trumbo-yankees.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/injury-notes-price-shoemaker-ervin-trumbo-yankees.html#comments Thu, 12 Apr 2018 02:27:35 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119766
  • Right-hander Ervin Santana has been cleared to begin a throwing program, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The Twins’ top starter, Santana has yet to pitch in 2018 after undergoing surgery to repair his right middle finger back in February. At last check, skipper Paul Molitor conceded that Santana was “a bit” behind schedule, though the start of a throwing program is a positive step for the 35-year-old. Berardino notes that Santana could require as much as six weeks to get back up to speed, however, so it seems as through the Twins will be without his contributions until at least mid-May.
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    Offseason In Review: Minnesota Twins https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/offseason-in-review-minnesota-twins-10.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/offseason-in-review-minnesota-twins-10.html#comments Sat, 07 Apr 2018 00:41:28 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119363 This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s 2017-18 Offseason In Review series.  Click hereto read the other completed reviews from around the league.

    The Twins had a quiet winter in the 2016-17 offseason under newly hired chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine, but Minnesota’s new executive duo was much more aggressive following last season’s surprise Wild Card berth.

    Major League Signings

    • Addison Reed, RHP: Two years, $16.75MM
    • Lance Lynn, RHP: One year, $12MM
    • Michael Pineda, RHP: Two years, $10MM
    • Logan Morrison, 1B/DH: One year, $6.5MM (plus 2019 vesting option)
    • Fernando Rodney, RHP: One year, $4.5MM
    • Zach Duke, LHP: One year, $2.15MM
    • Anibal Sanchez, RHP: One year, $2.5MM (Sanchez’s salary was not guaranteed. The Twins released him and paid him $419K in termination pay in Spring Training upon signing Lynn)
    • Total spend: $52.3MM

    Trades and Claims

    Notable Minor League Signings

    Notable Losses

    [Minnesota Twins depth chart | Minnesota Twins payroll]

    Needs Addressed

    The Twins boast a homegrown core of position players, with Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco all being drafted/signed and developed by the organization and all under control for another four-plus seasons. With that group in place, plus veterans Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer and Jason Castro penciled into the lineup, the emphasis for chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and the rest of the front office was understandably on pitching.

    In 2017, Twins starters collectively ranked 19th in the Majors with a 4.73 ERA, 23rd with a 4.85 FIP and 27th with a 4.92 xFIP. Equally damning, the Twins ranked 24th in baseball with 869 2/3 innings from their rotation despite the fact that Ervin Santana was one of just 15 pitchers to top 200 innings (and one of only two in all of baseball to top 210 frames). In fact, if you subtract the contributions of Santana and Jose Berrios from the 2017 Twins, their starters logged a disastrous 5.55 ERA.

    Jake Odorizzi | Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    Minnesota has help on the near horizon in the form of top 100 prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero, but as a club with postseason aspirations, they never seemed likely to rely solely on in-house options. Minnesota made a strong run at Yu Darvish, reportedly offering him a contract worth $100MM+ before he ultimately signed a six-year deal with the Cubs. It was apparent back in November that the Twins were poised to spend at a much more aggressive rate than we’ve historically seen, but it nonetheless felt a bit unusual to see them in the mix for the market’s top free agent right until the close of bidding.

    A finger injury to Ervin Santana, which required surgery and will shelve him for at least the month of April, only exacerbated the club’s need to add arms to the rotation. Minnesota capitalized on the Rays’ need to cut payroll and a stagnant free-agent market to acquire Jake Odorizzi on the cheap and to sign Lance Lynn to a one-year, $12MM deal that seemed unthinkable just four months prior.

    While both Odorizzi and Lynn are likely mid-rotation arms, at best, they’ll play a critical role in stabilizing the starting staff — especially now that Santana’s injury may sideline him longer than initially had been hoped. Odorizzi is controllable through the 2019 season, and while Lynn will presumably depart after his lone season in Minneapolis, he can potentially be replaced by Michael Pineda, whom the Twins guaranteed $10MM with an eye toward their 2019 rotation.

    The bullpen, too, was in dire need of augmentation. Minnesota relievers ranked 20th in the Majors with a 4.40 ERA last season and weren’t any better in terms of FIP (4.50, 23rd) or xFIP (4.49, 22nd). Beyond that, the departure of veteran Matt Belisle, who quietly rebounded from a dismal month of May to post terrific numbers down the stretch, only thinned out the relief unit.

    Addison Reed looked poised to secure at least a three-year pact in free agency, but his market stalled a bit. While relievers were flying off the board and cashing in on significant annual paydays at the Winter Meetings — the relief market was the one facet of free agency that was mostly healthy this winter — Reed remained unsigned. Roughly a month later, he inked a surprising two-year deal with the Twins, though he’s openly acknowledged that geographic limitations impacted his market. Specifically, Reed had his sights set on signing with a team in the Midwest, he told the Boston Globe’s Alex Speier last month.

    The Twins also brought in a pair of veterans on affordable one-year deals, inking Fernando Rodney to serve as the closer and Zach Duke to help counteract opposing lefties. While Rodney had a characteristic up-and-down season with the D-backs last year, his velocity and ability to miss bats held strong. Bringing him in to work the ninth inning frees up the Twins to use their best relievers — Reed and 2017 breakout rookie Trevor Hildenberger — more flexibly in high-leverage setup spots.

    Logan Morrison | Butch Dill-USA TODAY Sports

    Despite a clear need for pitching, though, the Twins had one spot in their lineup that looked questionable. Minnesota designated hitters combined for just a .237/.328/.383 slash last season, and for much of the winter it looked as if OBP-challenged slugger Kennys Vargas and light-hitting on-base machine Robbie Grossman would receive the bulk of the duties there.

    A match with Logan Morrison looked more and more like an on-paper fit as the slugger’s market failed to develop, though, and the Twins were able to scoop him up at a reasonable rate for the 2018 season. If Morrison can come anywhere close to last year’s .353 OBP and 38 homers, the Twins will be happy to see his $8MM option vest.

    Questions Remaining

    For as much as Minnesota accomplished this offseason, there are still plenty of questions surrounding the club. Odorizzi and Lynn are quality additions to the rotation at a reasonable price, but the starting unit as a whole still looks shaky — especially without Santana’s consistency. Jose Berrios tossed his first career shutout to kick off what the Twins hope will be a breakout season, but he’s the team’s best shot at having a true upper-echelon pitcher. If he takes only a small step forward (or worse), then the collection of Berrios, Odorizzi, Lynn, Kyle Gibson and (eventually) Santana looks more like a collection of fourth starters than a legitimately competitive playoff rotation.

    Odorizzi and Lynn have been much more than that in the past, but both pitchers saw their walk and home-run rates spike last season. Fielding-independent pitching metrics pegged both Lynn and Odorizzi’s actual run-prevention skills more than a full run worse than their otherwise appealing ERA totals. The Twins have plenty of options in the upper minors, and perhaps Gonsalves, Romero or a sleeper prospect will burst onto the scene and strengthen the group. But as it stands, the rotation looks improved but hardly overpowering.

    Minnesota also received a tough blow late in Spring Training with the news that starting shortstop Jorge Polanco tested positive for a PED and will miss the first half of the season while serving an 80-game suspension. The former top 100 prospect had a huge second half last season and was being counted on as a significant factor in the team’s lineup. Instead, utility man Eduardo Escobar will get the lion’s share of reps at short to begin the year. Escobar packs more punch than most utility options, but he’s struggled to remain consistent. Light-hitting defensive specialist Ehire Adrianza will receive more at-bats as well in Polanco’s absence.

    Questions persist throughout the young core of position players as well, though that reportedly didn’t stop the team from trying (without success) to broker some extensions. Can Buxton hit like he did over the final four and a half months of the 2017 season and truly establish himself as one of the American League’s star players? Is Rosario capable of repeating his 2017 power surge? Will Kepler figure out how to hit left-handed pitching or is he primarily a platoon option with above-average glovework? There was a cloud hanging over Sano’s head all offseason in the wake of troubling assault allegations brought forth by a former Twins photographer, though MLB deemed that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to issue a suspension. He’ll now need to put that past him and remain healthy for a full season for the first time in his young big league career.

    Perhaps the greatest question facing the Twins, though, is what will become of Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer following the ’18 season. Both are set to hit free agency, and Dozier in particular sounded frustrated by the team’s lack of engagement in extension talks. The former eighth-round pick has broken out as a legitimate star in recent seasons but somewhat bluntly told reporters that the team doesn’t seem especially interested in talking long-term. Whether that’s because of Dozier’s asking price or because Minnesota is wary of his age and prefers to turn the middle infield over to Polanco and top prospect Nick Gordon (and, eventually, 2017 No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis) isn’t clear. But Dozier has very arguably become the face of this franchise, and the lack of extension talks already didn’t sit well with fans. He’ll assuredly receive a qualifying offer if he posts a typical season, which he’ll almost certainly reject. The question then will become if the Twins are willing to match the top open-market bid he receives.

    The decision on Mauer, who quietly had a strong rebound season in 2017, is also difficult. The 35-year-old won’t break the bank in free agency considering the devaluation of corner bats, his age and his strong preference to remain in Minnesota — where he was born, raised and starred in high school before being drafted first overall in 2001. But the Twins have to weigh whether they’re better off retaining Mauer into his late 30s, even if it’s at a limited rate of pay, or instead turning things over to a younger player — be it Morrison or perhaps Sano, following a shift across the diamond.

    Perhaps Mauer would sign on for a part-time role, but teams are increasingly reluctant to dedicate bench spots to players who can only fill one position on the diamond. Mauer has briefly dabbled in the outfield in the past, but he certainly won’t return to catching following the concussion issues that prompted his initial move to first base.


    While their pursuit of the biggest fish in the free-agent pond didn’t prove fruitful, the Twins capitalized on the weak market for free agents as well or better than any team in the league and entered the 2018 campaign with a considerably deeper roster. They’ll play more than 50 games against the trio of the Tigers, Royals and White Sox as they chase the Indians for the AL Central crown. The weakness of the division alone should help the Twins to remain in the Wild Card race, but they’ll need some big steps forward from the likes of Berrios, Buxton, Rosario, Kepler and Sano to be a legitimate division threat.

    That’s certainly possible, and if any of that group falters or falls to injury, the Twins will likely have the capacity to further stretch payroll and bolster the roster midseason. Taking on longer-term deals won’t be a major issue, as their long-term payroll ledger is among the cleanest in baseball (zero dollars guaranteed beyond 2019). Paired with a quality farm system and the aforementioned young core, the Twins look poised to be contenders in the Central for the foreseeable future as several of their rivals rebuild.

    How do you think the offseason went for Minnesota? (Link to poll for Trade Rumors app users.) 

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Twins Pursued Offseason Extensions With Multiple Young Players https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/twins-pursued-offseason-extensions-with-multiple-young-players.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/twins-pursued-offseason-extensions-with-multiple-young-players.html#comments Thu, 05 Apr 2018 18:37:16 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119285 1:37pm: Rosario is one of the players who turned down an offer, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.

    9:30am: The Twins were long rumored to be chatting with center fielder Byron Buxton about a new contract this spring. But it seems he was not the only target for an organization that was evidently hoping to enhance the value of some existing player control rights.

    Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, via Twitter, the club pursued long-term arrangements with four other young players as well. Two of those targets are identified in the report: righty Jose Berrios and outfielder Max Kepler.

    The remaining pair is not known, though perhaps it’s not unreasonable to surmise that one of them was shortstop Jorge Polanco, who had a solid 2017 campaign but ended up being suspended for half of the 2018 season. Outfielder Eddie Rosario seems to be another likely candidate, as the front office has made clear they see him “as part of the core.” Star third bagger Miguel Sano would also be a hypothetical target, no doubt, though perhaps he was not likely to be approached during an offseason in which he was under league investigation for an alleged assault.

    Obviously, none of those discussions led to agreements. Perhaps, though, they could still set the stage for eventual deals.

    Buxton, who is entering his final season before beginning the arbitration process, was the most obvious target from the get-go. He turned in a breakout second half at the plate and was an outstanding defender and baserunner all season long. But those previously reported talks seemingly fizzled, leaving the team to renew the 24-year-old’s contract late this spring.

    It’s hardly surprising to hear of interest in Berrios, either, as he also overcame some initial MLB struggles to turn in an impressive 2017 effort. He’s a year further from the arb process (and free agency) than Buxton, but that also surely left the team intrigued at the potential value it might achieve. Berrios said a month ago that he had not been approached, so it appears that the chatter took place in the interim.

    Then, there’s Kepler, who’s in an in-between position from the other two players in terms of service time. He’s on track to reach Super Two status next winter but, like Berrios, can’t accrue more than six years of MLB time until the end of the 2022 season. The 25-year-old has, to date, been a solid performer, turning in two seasons as a roughly average hitter, solid defender, and good baserunner at a corner outfield spot. Kepler’s profile is not quite as exciting as those of his aforementioned teammates, but at the right price he could also certainly make sense for a long-term deal, particularly if the club believes there’s still some developmental upside remaining to be tapped into.

    In any event, none of those players have inked contracts prior to the start of the current campaign. While something could, in theory, come together at any time, Passan does say that all of the players in question turned down the offers they were presented at the time.

    Ervin Santana Still Not Cleared To Throw https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/ervin-santana-still-not-cleared-to-throw.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/04/ervin-santana-still-not-cleared-to-throw.html#comments Thu, 05 Apr 2018 17:21:23 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=119295 Twins righty Ervin Santana has still not been cleared to resume throwing, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press was among those to report on Twitter. He is rehabbing from early-February finger surgery.

    When the procedure was announced, the club suggested that Santana might be ready to pitch in the majors within ten or twelve weeks. That would have suggested a return at some point in late April or early May.

    At this point, though, it seems that there could be a delay. Santana may need to have his finger examined again by a specialist, Berardino notes, which seems to hint that things aren’t progressing quite as hoped. Given that the veteran righty will still need to fully rebuild his arm strength and re-prepare for the season after missing all of camp, there’ll be a lag even once he is cleared to begin ramping up.

    Just what these developments could mean for Santana and the Twins isn’t yet clear. He could bounce back in relatively short order and provide quite a few innings, perhaps obviating any need to find a permanent replacement. There’s still good reason to anticipate that his $14MM club option for 2019 will prove appealing.

    In the meantime, though, the team will need to get by without. Beyond the top four starters — Jake Odorizzi, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, and Lance Lynn — there’s some uncertainty. Potential swingman Phil Hughes is on the DL, as are TJ rehabbers Michael Pineda and Trevor May. There are, though, quite a few upper-level pitchers on the 40-man, most of whom have seen MLB action in the recent past. Tyler Duffey and Adalberto Mejia are the most experienced and could be the first men up.

    Ervin Santana Behind Schedule https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-santana-rodon-fowlerpowell-as-park.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-santana-rodon-fowlerpowell-as-park.html#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2018 23:40:19 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118675 Twins skipper Paul Molitor revealed to reporters today that the team’s top starter, Ervin Santana, is “a bit” behind schedule (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger). Santana has been limited to throwing soft baseballs into a screen, and a return in May now looks considerably likelier than a return in late April. Santana underwent surgery to repair an injury to the middle finger on his right hand back in February. When he’s ultimately ready to return, he’ll join a new-look rotation that includes newcomers Lance Lynn and Opening Day starter Jake Odorizzi, as well as returning righties Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson.

    Twins Release Levi Michael https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-32918.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-32918.html#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2018 21:26:32 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118486
  • The Twins have released former first-round pick Levi Michael, according to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (via Twitter). Michael, 27, was taken with the 30th overall pick in the 2011 draft out of the University of North Carolina. A middle infielder who has also tried some time in center more recently, Michael has just never really turned the corner. For an organization rich in young infielders, he evidently was not worth keeping around. Michael did briefly reach the Triple-A level last year after a decent bounceback showing in Double-A, where he slashed .264/.362/.380.
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    Extension Talks Between Twins, Dozier Reportedly "Dead" https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/brian-dozier-extension-talks-dead-twins-rumors.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/brian-dozier-extension-talks-dead-twins-rumors.html#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2018 02:28:39 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118589 Extension talks between the Twins and Brian Dozier are “dead,” reports ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who notes that the slugging second baseman has no intention of discussing a long-term deal during the season and will hit the open market next offseason (Twitter link). That much has looked apparent for much of the spring, as Dozier has reportedly been disheartened by Minnesota’s lack of engagement in extension negotiations despite a vocal desire on his behalf to remain in the Twin Cities for the long haul. A lack of an extension, of course, doesn’t mean Dozier’s days in Minnesota are numbered; he’ll assuredly receive a qualifying offer if he has a characteristically strong season in 2018, and the Twins will likely keep up with his market in free agency next winter. It seems probable that Dozier will remain with the Twins for the bulk of the season, as the AL Central features three rebuilding clubs — the Royals, Tigers and White Sox — and looks to be largely a two-horse race between Cleveland and Minnesota even before the season begins in earnest.

    • The Rays were already planning on a four-man rotation with a somewhat regular “bullpen day” before getting news of Nate Eovaldi’s need for surgery to remove loose bodies from his elbow, and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that they’ll now deploy an even more radical strategy. Tampa Bay will lean on Chris Archer, Blake Snell and Jake Faria as its top three starters, and there’s no current plan to replace Eovaldi with another starter. The Rays’ early reaction, per Topkin, is to stick to their plan and see how things go; there are enough off-days early in the year that they can get by with only one required bullpen day for the first several turns through the rotation. It’s tough to imagine that they won’t eventually need to put Matt Andriese back in the rotation or turn to youngsters like Ryan Yarbrough or Yonny Chirinos, however. Tampa Bay’s depth is being tested to extreme levels, as they’ve lost both Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon to Tommy John surgery after already having traded Jake Odorizzi to the Twins.
    Ryan LaMarre Makes Twins https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/notable-roster-decisions-wednesday.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/notable-roster-decisions-wednesday.html#comments Thu, 29 Mar 2018 01:46:13 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118507
  • The Twins will roster outfielder Ryan LaMarre to open the year, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune tweets. LaMarre, an offseason minor league signee of the Twins, spent last year with the Triple-A affiliates of the Angels and Athletics, combining for a meager .628 OPS. He’s a lifetime .268/.335/.388 hitter at the Triple-A level (954 PAs) who has seen very brief MLB action with the Reds, Red Sox and A’s.
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    Twins To Place Phil Hughes On 10-Day DL https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/injury-updates-kinsler-hughes-nationals.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/injury-updates-kinsler-hughes-nationals.html#comments Wed, 28 Mar 2018 01:24:57 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118449
  • The Twins will place right-hander Phil Hughes on the disabled list to begin the season, manager Paul Molitor told reporters (including The Athletic’s Dan Hayes).  Hughes is still recovering from a left oblique strain, and there is a chance he could be ready to return when the Twins need a fifth starter on April 11.  Hughes is looking to rebound after two seasons marred by thoracic outlet syndrome procedures, and if he doesn’t end up in Minnesota’s rotation, he could potentially step into a long relief role.
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    Twins Outright Kennys Vargas https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-outright-kennys-vargas.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-outright-kennys-vargas.html#comments Tue, 27 Mar 2018 17:48:53 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118399 The Twins have announced that first base/DH Kennys Vargas was outrighted to Triple-A after clearing waivers. He did not have the choice of refusing the assignment.

    Vargas was re-claimed recently from the Reds. The Cincinnati organization had snagged the power hitter off waivers and attempted to stash him on the farm and off the 40-man roster.

    In the end, the result is as if Vargas had simply cleared waivers the first time around. He’ll head to Triple-A Rochester to open the season. The switch-hitter really does not have anything left to prove in the upper minors, but he’ll need to await a new MLB opportunity.

    Over four seasons in the majors, Vargas carries a .252/.311/.437 slash with 35 long balls in 859 plate appearances. In his 764 trips to the plate at the highest level of the minors, he’s a .248/.370/.444 hitter with thirty bombs and 123 walks against 181 strikeouts — quite a different plate discipline mix than the 29.2% strikeout rate and 7.6% walk rate Vargas has in the majors.

    Twins Release Michael Kohn https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-32518.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-32518.html#comments Sun, 25 Mar 2018 21:51:51 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=118168
  • The Twins have released right-handed reliever Michael Kohn, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. Kohn was in the majors with the Angels and Braves from 2010-15, a 115-inning stretch in which he overcame a 6.18 BB/9 and a 26.4 percent groundball rate to post a 3.52 ERA and 8.69 K/9. Kohn then missed all of 2016 with rotator cuff problems before signing with the Twins last summer. While Kohn returned to log 13 minor league innings in the Twins’ system in 2017, yet another injury – a “nerve issue” – derailed the 31-year-old’s tenure with them this spring.
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    Injury Notes: Sale, Pomeranz, Rodriguez, Gregerson, Lincecum, Hughes https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/injury-notes-sale-pomeranz-rodriguez-gregerson-lincecum-hughes.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/injury-notes-sale-pomeranz-rodriguez-gregerson-lincecum-hughes.html#comments Sat, 24 Mar 2018 21:03:27 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117981 Red Sox starter Chris Sale left today’s start after being struck by a comebacker off the bat of J.D. Davis. Chad Jennings of the Boston Herald was first to tweet that the club called it a hip contusion. Thankfully for fans in Boston, the X-rays on his hip came back negative (according to Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe). For his part, Sale himself has said that he feels fine and that it “looked a lot worse than it actually is.” The lack of serious injury to their prized left-hander brings a sigh of relief to the Red Sox, as they need him now more than ever; Alex Cora announced today that both Eduardo Rodriguez and Drew Pomeranz will begin the season on the DL (h/t Sean McAdams of the Boston Sports Journal). With Steven Wright set to face a 15-game suspension, that leaves Brian Johnson and Hector Velazquez at the back end of the club’s rotation. With David Price no sure bet to stay healthy, any questions surrounding Sale would have been wildly unsettling for a club hoping to compete with a tough Yankees ballclub for the AL East crown.

    Other injury-related news from around the league…

    • Luke Gregerson, who was projected to be the Cardinals’ closer on opening day, will instead begin the season on the DL. Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch outlines the news, which comes as a result of a hamstring strain. The usually-durable Gregerson had also dealt with an oblique injury earlier in the spring, and it’s unclear when he’ll be able to return to major-league action. According to Jon Morosi of MLB.com, the club has said that Dominic Leone or Tyler Lyons will receive closing opportunities. They do not appear close to any sort of deal with free agent closer Greg Holland at this time, Morosi adds.
    • Speaking of right-handers who’ll begin the season on the DL, Tim Lincecum’s blister issues will put him in that company as well. Lincecum joined the Rangers on a one-year deal with a $1MM base salary just weeks ago and didn’t pitch competitively in 2017; by his own words, he was unlikely to be ready for opening day anyway. Still, the blister issue will delay The Freak’s comeback bid, which will be an interesting story to watch as the season progresses considering how much he impressed scouts in a February showcase. Lincecum’s last MLB stint was with the Angels in 2016, when he posted a 9.16 ERA across 38 1/3 innings (nine starts).
    • Twins right-hander Phil Hughes has a mild oblique strain, according to a tweet from Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Berardino adds that a DL stint would give him more time to build up arm strength following surgery, though I’d add that Hughes might simply be utilized in a long relief role anyway. For the time being, the Twins will continue to evaluate Hughes.
    Twins Claim Kennys Vargas https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-claim-kennys-vargas.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-claim-kennys-vargas.html#comments Sat, 24 Mar 2018 18:03:47 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117982 The Twins have claimed Kennys Vargas off waivers from the Reds, says Dan Hayes of The Athletic. The Reds had claimed the first base/DH type off waivers from the Twins just two days ago, but it’s possible that they designated him in order to make room for infielder Cliff Pennington, who was added to the roster just earlier today, and possibly reliever Kevin Quackenbush.

    The intriguing transaction puts Vargas right back with the organization with whom he’d spent his entire career up until Thursday. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted at that time, it was difficult to see how Vargas would make Cincinnati’s roster, since he’s out of options and can only play first base (where Joey Votto will be firmly entrenched on a daily basis). Though he’d have made an interesting pinch-hitting option, it seemed as though the Reds might be able to use the roster spot more efficiently.

    Still, it seems as though many around the league believe there to be some upside for the 27-year-old Vargas, who hit .253/.314/.444 last season. He has some reasonable power upside; Vargas homered 10 times and made hard contact at a 41.7% clip in 177 plate appearances during the 2016 campaign. He also owns a walk rate over 15% in his career at the Triple-A level, though the Twins are still waiting for that to translate to the MLB level at which he owns a .311 career OBP.

    Twins Notes: Righty Bat, Buxton https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/brewers-rotation-napoli-indians-merritt-buxton-twins-extension-mercer-pirates-rumors.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/brewers-rotation-napoli-indians-merritt-buxton-twins-extension-mercer-pirates-rumors.html#comments Sat, 24 Mar 2018 04:39:32 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117831
  • The Twins are likely to look for a right-handed hitter with some pop, Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune writes, as teams make their final Spring Training cuts and veteran players can opt out of minor league contracts. Robbie Grossman, Zack Granite, and Ryan LaMarre are competing for two of Minnesota’s remaining bench spots, though none of that trio has much power. The Minnesota organization was connected previously with Napoli, though after signing Logan Morrison as the primary DH it seems reasonable to anticipate that the club would prefer any new addition be capable of spending time in the outfield.
  • In other news out of Minnesota, the Twins have renewed young center fielder Byron Buxton at a $570K rate, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports on Twitter. The 24-year-old entered the winter as a 2+ service-class player who was under consideration for an extension, but the sides have thus far failed to see eye to eye on both a near-term and long-term arrangement. From the outside, at least, it still seems possible that the Twins could strike a deal with a player who finally showed the output to match the hype in an outstanding second half of the 2017 season. Of course, his less-than-smooth transition to the majors could also create divergent opinions on value.
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    Miguel Sano Will Not Receive Suspension Relating To Assault Allegations https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/miguel-sano-will-not-receive-suspension-relating-to-assault-allegations.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/miguel-sano-will-not-receive-suspension-relating-to-assault-allegations.html#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2018 20:38:52 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117873 Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will not be suspended by the league in relation to a recent allegation of assault, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (links to Twitter). A league statement indicates that “insufficient evidence” was uncovered during an investigation.

    Late last year, as detailed in full in the above link, the claims of assault led to the league to begin an investigation under the MLB-MLBPA Joint Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault and Child Abuse Policy. Per the league, the efforts including a series of interviews — including of both Sano and the alleged victim — as well as a review of certain “available documents.”

    Upon review of the evidence, the commissioner determined that the evidence was lacking to apply any discipline, citing “conflicting and inconsistent witness accounts and the absence of contemporaneous substantiation.” While details are understandably not available, it is perhaps also fair to note that there was some potential question — based upon the allegations as stated — as to whether the sexual assault prong of the policy would be deemed to apply to this situation.

    Here’s the full definition from the policy itself:

    “Sexual assault refers to a range of behaviors, including a completed nonconsensual sex act, an attempted nonconsensual sex act, and/or nonconsensual sexual contact. Lack of consent is inferred when a person uses force, harassment, threat of force, threat of adverse personnel or disciplinary action, or other coercion, or when the victim is asleep, incapacitated, unconscious or legally incapable of consent.”

    Barring any new evidence that might come to the league’s attention, it would appear that Sano will be able to open the 2018 season with the Minnesota organization and play without limitation.

    Erick Aybar Opts Out Of Twins Contract https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/erick-aybar-opts-out-of-twins-contract.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/erick-aybar-opts-out-of-twins-contract.html#comments Fri, 23 Mar 2018 14:30:19 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117811 Shortstop Erick Aybar is no longer in the Twins’ spring camp, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports (Twitter link), thus indicating that the veteran has decided to opt out of his minor league contract with the team.  Today was Aybar’s opt-out date for his deal, and the infielder was told yesterday that he wouldn’t be making Minnesota’s Opening Day roster.

    Rather than accept an assignment to the Twins’ Triple-A team, Aybar will now again test free agent waters to see if he can find a job with another team.  The 34-year-old hasn’t provided much at the plate over the last three seasons (as a member of the Angels, Tigers, Braves, and Padres), and also posted just a .636 OPS for the Twins over 33 Spring Training plate appearances.  His once-solid glovework has also been on the decline, with below-average UZR/150 and Defensive Runs Saved totals since 2015.

    Given his recent track record and the glut of other free agents still on the market, Aybar’s decision to opt out is somewhat surprising, as he could’ve potentially had a path back to the big leagues due to the Twins’ lack of middle infield depth.  Jorge Polanco’s 80-game PED suspension meant that Eduardo Escobar is now in line for regular shortstop duty, leaving Ehire Adrianza as Minnesota’s only utility infield option on the MLB roster.  Third baseman Miguel Sano could also still be facing a suspension on assault charges, which would further leave the Twins thin on infielders, though Taylor Featherston and Gregorio Petit are also still in the organization on minor league contracts.

    Twins Notes: Aybar, Busenitz, Duffey, Kinley, Hughes, Heisey https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-notes-aybar-busenitz-duffey-kinley-hughes-heisey.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-notes-aybar-busenitz-duffey-kinley-hughes-heisey.html#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2018 23:05:54 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117774 Veteran shortstop Erick Aybar has been informed he will not make the Twins roster, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Aybar seemed to have at least an outside shot of making the club out of camp in light of Jorge Polanco’s 80-game PED suspension, but after managing just a .621 OPS in 35 spring training at-bats, Minnesota couldn’t find room for him. Aybar signed with the Twins late in February on a minor league deal; He can choose to opt out of it on Friday. We’re now three years removed from Aybar’s last season playing above league average; since a 4.2 fWAR campaign in which he hit .278/.321/.379 while playing sterling defense at shortstop for the Angels, Aybar has severely declined. Over the past three seasons, his glovework has been average at best, and he sports a wRC+ of just 73.

    Other Twins-related items…

    • There are other changes afoot in Minnesota, too, as Berardino reports. Righties Alan Busenitz and Tyler Duffey were each shipped out of camp on optional assignment. Both struggled this spring, as Berardino notes, while other developments — particularly, the desire to carry Rule 5 pick Tyler Kinley and oft-injured starter Phil Hughes in the pen — have tightened things on the MLB roster. As per the conditions of the Rule 5 Draft, the Twins must keep Kinley on the major league roster for an entire season or else offer him back to the Marlins. The 27-year-old righty has allowed five earned runs while striking out eleven hitters in ten spring training innings.
    • Chris Heisey has been granted his release by the Twins, tweets Phil Miller of the Star Tribune. The 33-year-old outfielder played in 38 games last season for the Nationals (79 plate appearances), and hit a dismal .162/.216/.270. In the early stages of his career, Heisey played in a reserve outfielder role for the Reds; he’s since played for the Dodgers in addition to the aforementioned Nats. He owns just a .444 OPS this spring, so it would be tough to imagine him latching onto an opening day roster spot with an MLB club.
    Reds Claim Kennys Vargas https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/reds-claim-kennys-vargas.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/reds-claim-kennys-vargas.html#comments Thu, 22 Mar 2018 18:14:24 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117753 The Reds have claimed first baseman/DH Kennys Vargas off waivers from the Twins, per an announcement from the Minnesota organization. He had been designated for assignment recently.

    It’s a bit difficult to see how Vargas will fit into the Cincinnati organization’s plans at first glance. He’s out of options and limited on a National League roster to pinch-hitting or playing first base, where Joey Votto is an everyday presence.

    Unless there’s some unknown issue that would warrant the move, it could be that the Reds are simply utilizing their waiver position to grab a player they like but won’t carry on their active roster. Vargas could be traded to a team further down the priority line — just four teams are higher than the Reds at present — or put back on waivers in hopes that he’ll clear and can be stashed at Triple-A.

    All indications have been that the Twins anticipated another organization claiming Vargas, despite the fact that a trade could not be sorted out. It seems there’s some optimism around the league for the 27-year-old switch-hitter.

    Though Vargas has not yet shown that he can be a consistent on-base threat at the game’s highest level, with a .311 OBP in 859 career plate appearances, though he has drawn tons of walks in the upper minors. Vargas isn’t exactly a prodigious home run hitter but has shown good power output both at Triple-A and in the majors (.185 ISO) and perhaps has some more in the tank if he can tap into his raw strength.

    *The initial version of this post incorrectly suggested that American League teams all passed on a chance to claim Vargas. Outright waiver priority is determined by winning percentage, lowest first, without reference to league except to break a tie in recor.

    Minor MLB Transactions: 3/21/18 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-32118.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/minor-mlb-transactions-32118.html#comments Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:55:37 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117589 We’ll track the day’s minor moves in this post:

    • The Twins have placed first baseman/DH Kennys Vargas on waivers, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press. The Minnesota organization had been trying to find a trade for the burly switch-hitter, but will instead see whether he can clear waivers and be outrighted. Vargas will learn his fate by the middle of the day on Thursday, says Berardino. The 27-year-old owns a .252/.311/.437 slash with 35 home runs in his 859 total MLB plate appearances over the past four seasons.
    • Former MLB righties Manny Delcarmen and Zach Stewart have signed with the Atlantic League’s New Britain Bees, per a club announcement. Neither hurler has touched the majors in quite some time, but both are still plying their trade professional. Delcarmen spent parts of six seasons in the Red Sox bullpen (along with a brief stop with the Rockies) between 2005 and 2010, throwing a combined 292 2/3 innings of 3.97 ERA ball. He spent last year with the Bridgeport Bluefish, compiling a 4.40 ERA in 57 1/3 innings. Stewart, a former third-round draft pick, was knocked around in the 103 frames he threw in the majors in 2011-12. He briefly appeared with the Orioles’ top affiliate last year after a stint in 2016 with Korea’s NC Dinos, where he ran up 150 innings with a 4.56 ERA.
    Twins Notes: Aybar, Santana https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-rays-cobb-archer-twins-tigers-as.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-rays-cobb-archer-twins-tigers-as.html#comments Mon, 19 Mar 2018 17:21:50 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117396
  • Twins infielder Erick Aybar will be able to ask for his release if the team doesn’t add him to its roster by Friday, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports (all Twitter links here). It’s unclear whether Aybar would accept a Triple-A assignment (the club hasn’t discussed it with him, per chief baseball officer Derek Falvey), but his chances of eventually landing a spot with the Twins may have improved Sunday with starting shortstop Jorge Polanco’s 80-game suspension. Polanco got the news of his positive PED test a month ago, Dan Hayes of The Athletic was among those to tweet, but the Twins themselves weren’t aware of it until Sunday, Falvey said.
  • In better news for the Twins, righty Ervin Santana is “progressing as expected” in his recovery from February finger surgery, according to Falvey (via Berardino). He should be back toward the tail end of the 10- to 12-week recovery timeline, Berardino notes.
  • ]]>
    Twins’ Jorge Polanco Gets 80-Game Suspension https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-jorge-polanco-gets-80-game-suspension.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-jorge-polanco-gets-80-game-suspension.html#comments Sun, 18 Mar 2018 21:02:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117331 Major League Baseball has handed Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco an 80-game suspension without pay for testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweets. Polanco issued a statement in response to the ban (all of which is available here via Bollinger), saying that he “regretfully accepted” the suspension, but he “did not intentionally consume this steroid.”

    “The substance that I requested from my athletic trainer in the Dominican Republic and consented to take was a combination of vitamin B12 and an iron supplement, something that is not unusual or illegal for professional athletes to take.  Unfortunately, what I was given was not that supplement and I take full responsibility for what is in my body,” said Polanco, who added that he’d like to fight the punishment, but he’ll avoid doing it in the best interest of the Twins organization.

    The Twins issued their own response, stating: “We were disappointed to learn of the suspension of Jorge Polanco for violating Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. We fully support Major League Baseball’s policy and its efforts to eliminate performance enhancing substances from our game. Per the protocol outlined in the Joint Drug Program, the Minnesota Twins will not comment further on this matter.”

    [RELATED: Twins Depth Chart]

    This is a tough late-spring development for Minnesota, a playoff hopeful that had the 24-year-old Polanco penciled in as its starting shortstop. Polanco filled that role in 2017 for the playoff-bound Twins and accounted for 1.6 fWAR across 544 plate appearances during his first full season in the majors. The switch-hitter batted .256/.313/.410 with 13 home runs and 13 stolen bases on the offensive side, and he posted minus-1 DRS and minus-4.3 UZR as a defender.

    With Polanco set to miss half the season, the Twins are likely to give short to Eduardo Escobar, while Ehire Adrianza will act as his main backup and minor league signing/experienced veteran Erick Aybar could also make the team, per Bollinger. Additionally, the Twins have 22-year-old middle infielder Nick Gordon, who ranks as MLB.com’s 80th-best prospect, but it doesn’t seem they’ll turn to him yet.

    Latest On Ervin Santana https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pitching-notes-e-santana-hellickson-mariners-red-sox-rangers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/pitching-notes-e-santana-hellickson-mariners-red-sox-rangers.html#comments Sun, 18 Mar 2018 16:07:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117280 Twins right-hander Ervin Santana underwent surgery on his right middle finger nearly six weeks ago, on Feb. 6. He’s still unable to grip a baseball in the wake of the procedure, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Santana won’t be able to start a throwing program for as long as that’s the case, which could put his 10- to 12-week recovery timeline in jeopardy. Asked whether he’s still on track to return on schedule, Santana said: “I don’t know. They didn’t say a specific time, but for me I just want to come back when everything is 100 percent. I don’t want to rush anything.” The Twins are in much better shape than they were when Santana landed on the shelf, having since added Jake Odorizzi via trade with the Rays and Lance Lynn in free agency.

    AL Notes: Morrison, White Sox, Yankees https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-morrison-white-sox-yankees.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-morrison-white-sox-yankees.html#comments Sat, 17 Mar 2018 18:30:15 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117187 First baseman Logan Morrison ended up with the Twins, but many expected the Red Sox to pursue him more aggressively than they did. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe has some interesting quotes from LoMo, who smacked 38 homers for the Rays last season but ultimately settled for a meager $6.5MM guarantee with performance escalators and a vesting option. Morrison says he himself didn’t have any conversations with Boston. His agent spoke with the club during the winter meetings, but apparently “that was it,” and clearly that discussion didn’t culminate in any serious offers. “Am I surprised? I guess. I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know if it was the most shocking thing I saw [in the market].” The Sox ended up re-signing Mitch Moreland to play first base for them on a two-year, $13MM contract.

    Some other American League-related items…

    • James Fegan of The Athletic has an insightful rundown of some young White Sox arms. Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning have all had their ups and downs this spring, and Fegan was able to get quotes from all of them on some recent performances in camp. For instance, Giolito spoke about his latest outing during which he allowed two runs in the first inning. “It’s one of those days where like, if one pitching isn’t working you can go to the other ones and I was able to do that for the most part after the first inning,” he said. Kopech offered some confidence in his performance. Threw a lot of changeups, changeups were good,” Kopech said. “My main two focuses were fastball command and changeup command. Both were really good. Got a lot of swings and misses on the changeup.” Anyone looking for more quotes from these young pitchers should give the article a full read.
    • The Yankees have officially tabbed right-hander Luis Severino to be the club’s Opening Day starter. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com has some notable quotes from manager Aaron Boone on the subject. “”We feel like it’s his time for it,” Boone said. “With what he was able to do last year, we feel like he’s in a really good place now. We just felt like now is the time for him to take on that role and we think he’s ready for it.” While it’s hardly surprising to hear that the third-place finisher in 2017’s Cy Young voting will throw his club’s first game of the season, the announcement also comes with the news that lefty Jordan Montgomery will officially be given the club’s fifth rotation spot and start the Yankees’ home opener.
    Twins Acquire Jake Cave, Designate Kennys Vargas https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-acquire-jake-cave-designate-kennys-vargas.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-acquire-jake-cave-designate-kennys-vargas.html#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2018 19:34:09 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117132 The Twins have acquired outfielder Jake Cave from the Yankees, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). Righty Luis Gil goes to the Yankees in return. In a corresponding move, Minnesota has designated slugger Kennys Vargas for assignment.

    The 25-year-old Cave just didn’t have a place in the Yankees’ plans with the organization already sporting a variety of quality outfielders at the MLB level. Meanwhile, Minnesota was likely not going to carry the out-of-options Vargas after signing Logan Morrison.

    It’s not immediately clear how the 25-year-old Cave will fit on the Twins roster, given that the club already has left-handed-hitting outfielders in Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, and Robbie Grossman (who is a switch-hitter). But the organization may just have decided it was worth taking a chance on Cave’s upside while letting him develop at Triple-A to start the year.

    Last season, Cave turned in a robust .305/.351/.542 slash with 20 homers in 437 plate appearances in the upper minors. He’s considered a quality all-around player who can play any of the three outfield positions. Of course, Cave has yet to have a chance to show whether he can carry his promise into the majors.

    The switch-hitting Vargas is a defensively-limited slugger who has shown some pop, but also some swing and miss, in reserve duty over the past four MLB campaigns. He carries a .252/.311/.437 overall slash with 35 home runs in 859 trips to the plate.

    As for Gil, he’ll represent something of a far-off lottery ticket for the Yanks. The righty has not yet advanced past the Dominican Summer League, but did put up a solid stat line there last year. In 41 2/3 innings, he worked to a 2.59 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9.

    Twins Notes: Bard, Vargas https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-alford-bard-vargas-fiers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-alford-bard-vargas-fiers.html#comments Fri, 16 Mar 2018 14:16:06 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117091
  • Right-hander Luke Bard is turning some heads in Angels camp as he vies for a spot in the big league bullpen, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. The younger brother of former Red Sox setup man Daniel Bard, Luke was selected by the Angels out of the Twins organization in the Rule 5 Draft back in December. The 27-year-old was a supplemental first-rounder back in 2012 but has had his development slowed by shoulder and hip surgeries. Finally healthy in 2017, Bard turned in a 2.76 ERA with 13.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 32 percent ground-ball rate in 65 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Bard’s spring ERA is skewed by one outing where he was rocked for five runs in just a third of an inning, but he’s impressed manager Mike Scioscia in the remainder of his outings and expressed a willingness to work multi-inning stints out of the ’pen. “His stuff is good, he spins the ball well, and hopefully he’s going to be a multi-inning guy,” Scioscia tells DiGiovanna. “With the makeup of our club, multi-inning [relievers] are really important.”
  • The signing of Logan Morrison made switch-hitting Kennys Vargas somewhat of an odd man out with the Twins, writes MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. According to Bollinger, Vargas is expected to be placed on outright waivers at the end of camp, and the Twins are hopeful that he can clear and stick with the organization. The switch-hitting 27-year-old is listed at a towering 6’5″, 275 pounds in this year’s media guide, and while he’s shown some power in the bigs (.185 ISO, 35 homers in 859 PAs), he’s also whiffed at a 29.2 percent clip and posted a meager .311 OBP. Given the manner in which clubs have begun to devalue OBP-challenged sluggers with limited defensive capabilities — Vargas is strictly a first baseman/DH — there’s perhaps a possibility that he could make it through waivers and remain with the club.
  • ]]>
    Free Agents Chose Twins For Chance At Winning https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-jimenez-mejia-dozier-reyes-lynn-reyes.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-jimenez-mejia-dozier-reyes-lynn-reyes.html#comments Thu, 15 Mar 2018 03:34:30 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117007
  • As many have observed, the Twins appear to be one of the prime beneficiaries of the collapse of free-agent demand this winter. Both Logan Morrison and Lance Lynn agreed to surprising one-year deals with Minnesota; as MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports, both elected to go there in no small part owing to the hope that their single season would be with a winning organization. While those two veterans surely anticipated quite a bit more earning power, it seems there are good vibes all around in Twins’ camp.
  • ]]>
    Twins Notes: Payroll, Offseason, Deadline, Shortstops https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-notes-payroll-offseason-deadline-shortstops.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-notes-payroll-offseason-deadline-shortstops.html#comments Tue, 13 Mar 2018 23:46:00 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116955 ESPN.com’s Buster Olney breaks down a big offseason for the Twins in an Insider post. While the team still faces a lofty task in unseating the Indians in the AL Central, it certainly seems to have achieved plenty of bang for the buck in adding multiple veteran pieces this winter. The Twins are on track to have over $125MM on the books to open the 2018 season, which will easily set a club record. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the organization’s opportunism this winter, though, is that it was able to add a variety of quality veterans without committing much at all in future resources. Not only that, but the club also feels quite confident in its prospect base, as Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports (subscription link). GM Thad Levine says the organization feels it has the pieces in place to allow the team to pursue yet more external acquisitions in the near future without compromising its long-term outlook.

    • Meanwhile, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told reporters today that owner Jim Pohlad did not veto anything proposed by his front office this offseason despite the payroll climbing to record heights (via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). While Falvey said the team will (obviously) evaluate trade needs more closely as the non-waiver deadline approaches this summer, he implied that he expects to have continued support from ownership. “I can tell you this: I know Jim Pohlad is committed to this team and committed to winning because he just proved it,” said Falvey at the press conference to introduce Lance Lynn.
    • On a similar note (and also via Berardino), Falvey implied that the team’s pursuit of Yu Darvish wasn’t ultimately called off due to any kind of reluctance from Pohlad but rather because the bidding simply went beyond a point where the team felt comfortable from a baseball standpoint. “There were other opportunities we were pursuing that we tapped out ourselves,” Falvey said when asked about Darvish. Though he didn’t mention the righty by name, Falvey indicated that at times, players of interest to the Twins simply received offers that went beyond internal valuations in terms of years and/or dollars.
    • La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a look at the considerable shortstop depth the Twins have throughout their minor league ranks due to the presence of Royce Lewis, Nick Gordon and Wander Javier. All three landed on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list, and Falvey spoke to Neal about the importance of that depth even with present-day shortstop Jorge Polanco entering just his second full big league season. As Falvey notes, some of the in-house prospects could move off the position, and it’s also of course possible that Polanco could move across the bag to second base should Brian Dozier leave via free agency. Neal notes that the Twins believe all three can play shortstop in the long run but are heartened by knowing that each has the athleticism to move around if needed. Gordon is likely ticketed for Triple-A to open the season, while Neal notes that in an ideal world, the 18-year-old Lewis (last year’s No. 1 overall pick) would open the year at Class-A Advanced with Javier in the Class-A Midwest League.
    Twins Sign Lance Lynn https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-to-sign-lance-lynn.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-to-sign-lance-lynn.html#comments Mon, 12 Mar 2018 19:13:03 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116647 The Twins have continued their aggressive, late foray into the free-agent market, announcing on Monday that they’ve signed right-hander Lance Lynn to a one-year contract. He’ll earn $12MM, per the team, confirming previous reports on his salary. The deal reportedly allows Lynn to earn another $2MM worth of incentives — half each upon reaching 170 and 180 innings. Lynn, a client of Excel Sports Management, will get right going with the Twins and start their Grapefruit League Game against the Orioles tomorrow, per the team’s announcement.

    Lance Lynn | USA Today Sports Images

    The pact makes Lynn the latest victim of a slow-moving offseason in which a number of high-profile players have been forced to settle for one-year deals that look diminutive in comparison to those they were expected to receive. At the outset of the offseason, we ranked Lynn ninth on our list of the top 50 free agents, predicting that he’d receive $56MM over four years. More recently, our player profile for the righty suggested he could even achieve a $60MM deal. Obviously, the (relatively) meager $12MM guarantee from the Twins falls significantly short of those expectations. He’ll instead join Mike Moustakas, Logan Morrison, Jonathan Lucroy and Carlos Gonzalez as players who were widely expected to merit hefty multi-year pacts but will ultimately be guaranteed less money than reliever Juan Nicasio.

    As for the Twins, the deal comes as the latest move of an incredibly busy (and cost-efficient) offseason during which the club has managed to patch its rotation quite nicely. After missing out on Yu Darvish, to whom the club reportedly offered a nine-figure contract that would’ve shattered the club record, the Twins traded a low-profile prospect for Jake Odorizzi and have now gotten an incredible bargain on Lynn. Minnesota also managed to bring Morrison to Minnesota on just a $6.5MM deal with incentives and a vesting option. Though Lynn and Morrison were widely expected to command in the vicinity of $100MM in combined guarantees, the Twins will promise them a total of just $18.5MM. The club has also shored up their bullpen this winter by signing Addison Reed, Zach Duke and Fernando Rodney.

    Lynn will join Odorizzi as a newcomer in the rotation, which will also eventually feature three holdovers in the form of Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson. Santana, however, will be out for as much as the first month of the season after undergoing surgery in February to repair an injury in his right middle finger. The increased number of off-days early in the season could cause the Twins to largely get by without a fifth starter in that time, though lefty Adalberto Mejia and veteran Phil Hughes (returning from his second thoracic outlet surgery) are among the on-hand options should a fifth starter be needed. The addition of Lynn likely pushes Tyler Duffey back to the bullpen and further lessens the organization’s need to rush top prospects Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves to the Majors.

    [RELATED: Updated Minnesota Twins Depth Chart/Updated Minnesota Twins Payroll]

    The 30-year-old rejected a qualifying offer from the Cardinals at the outset of the offseason, so the Twins will be forced to forfeit a 2018 draft pick after signing him. But because the Twins were revenue-sharing recipients in 2017 and didn’t exceed the luxury tax threshold, that pick will be just their fourth-highest of the draft (number 95 overall). They’d normally be required to surrender their third-highest pick, but for Minnesota that’s a protected selection in Competitive Round B. For Lynn’s part, he’ll no longer be eligible to receive a qualifying offer next year thanks to a provision in the new CBA.

    Lynn’s spent his entire career thus far with the Cardinals, who selected him with a supplemental first round pick in 2008. He reached the majors for the first time in 2011, and pitched his first full season in the majors the following year. From that point, he chucked 752 2/3 innings for the Redbirds (to the tune of a 3.39 ERA) across four seasons before tearing his UCL and undergoing Tommy John surgery in November of 2015. After returning to the mound to kick off the 2017 campaign, the righty made 33 starts and posted a 3.43 ERA.

    Although it seems on the surface that he picked up right where he left off, pre- and post-Tommy John surgery Lynn don’t look like the exact same pitcher. While he boasted a career K/9 of 8.67 prior to going under the knife, his 2017 mark was a meager 7.39. Likewise, his 4.75 xFIP last season was almost exactly a full run higher than the 3.74 figure he owned prior to 2016. His control wasn’t quite as good either, as evidenced by a 3.77 BB/9 mark in 2017. His pre-Tommy John mark was just 3.35. These statistical red flags, along with a 0.6 MPH drop on his average fastball, may have been part of the reason teams were wary of giving him a long-term pact. Still, he’s at least got durability going for him; outside of 2016 he’s thrown at least 175 innings in each of his full major league seasons.

    The Lynn deal seems to spell bad news for fellow right-hander Alex Cobb who remains on the free agent market. It’s tough to imagine that Cobb, who’s also one season removed from Tommy John surgery and owns similar career run-prevention numbers, will be able to substantially eclipse Lynn’s guarantee. With just under three weeks until Opening Day, it’ll be interesting to see what type of contract the top remaining free-agent starter can secure, especially in relation to his most statistically comparable open-market competitor.

    FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported the two sides were close to a deal (via Twitter). MLB.com’s Jon Morosi reported the agreement and the terms (Twitter links). Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press tweeted details of the incentives. 

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Did The Twins Win The Offseason? https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-twins-liriano-tigers-white-sox.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-twins-liriano-tigers-white-sox.html#comments Mon, 12 Mar 2018 03:00:17 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116792 Perhaps no team gained as much from the offseason’s slow free agent market as the Twins, who were able to sign Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison to one-year deals far below their expected asking prices.  These signings augmented Minnesota’s heavier investment in relief pitching (Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke) and its acquisition of Jake Odorizzi from the Rays for just a lightly-regarded minor league infielder.  “We recognized relatively early in this offseason that there are different rules to this card game and we kept getting dealt different cards,” Twins GM Thad Levine tells Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown.  “We had to figure out how to keep our head above water in this new game….It would be a little disingenuous for me to say that we had any forecast associated with seeing that this was on the horizon and that we plotted these moves. We really were more reacting to how the market was unfolding and trying to make the most of our opportunities.”

    While the team itself is obviously pleased at the roster upgrades, Phil Hughes noted that it also “a little bit conflicting” for Twins players as they recognize how some of their fellow union members have been left shortchanged on the open market.  “You recognize there’s a problem with the way free agency is being handled now,” Hughes said.  “But, we’re benefiting from a couple of these guys who shouldn’t have fallen into our laps….You certainly would rather be the team getting these guys for sweetheart deals than the team not getting them.”

    Twins Release Anibal Sanchez https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-to-release-anibal-sanchez.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-to-release-anibal-sanchez.html#comments Sun, 11 Mar 2018 13:16:19 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116711 The Twins will release right-hander Anibal Sanchez, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune reports on Twitter. Sanchez’s 40-man roster spot will go to fellow righty Lance Lynn, whom the Twins added on a one-year, $12MM deal Saturday.

    The Twins brought Sanchez aboard less than a month ago, signing him to a split contract that could have been worth $2.5MM had he made their roster. Minnesota then went on to acquire both Jake Odorizzi and Lynn, making Sanchez superfluous in the team’s opinion. The Twins will now have to pay Sanchez $417K in termination pay, which would have risen to $625K had they waited until Monday to cut him, Miller tweets.

    While Sanchez has been a terrific starter for the majority of his career, which began in 2006 with the Marlins, the 34-year-old is clearly on the downside. Sanchez is coming off three straight subpar seasons with one of the Twins’ division rivals, the Tigers, and was hoping to reemerge as a viable starter in Minnesota.

    Most recently, Sanchez tossed 105 1/3 big league innings in 2017, which he divided between the Tigers’ rotation and bullpen (28 appearances, 17 starts), and logged an ugly 6.41 ERA despite quality strikeout and walk rates (8.89 K/9, 2.48 BB/9). The Tigers then bought Sanchez out for $5MM in lieu of picking up his $16MM option for 2018.

    Twins Offered Lance Lynn Two-Year Deal Earlier https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-moose-duffy-royals-twins-lynn-brewers-reds.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/central-notes-moose-duffy-royals-twins-lynn-brewers-reds.html#comments Sun, 11 Mar 2018 01:00:48 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116672
  • The Twins agreed to a one-year contract with right-hander Lance Lynn on Saturday, but they were willing to make a greater commitment to the ex-Cardinal during the winter. Minnesota offered Lynn a tw0-year pact then, per Nightengale (Twitter link). As with Moustakas, it was a shockingly underwhelming trek to free agency for Lynn, whose new accord guarantees him $12MM – far less than anticipated when free agency opened in November.
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    AL Central Notes: Escobar, Morrison, Robert, Merryweather, Mize https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-escobar-morrison-robert-merryweather-mize.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-escobar-morrison-robert-merryweather-mize.html#comments Sat, 10 Mar 2018 17:00:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116625 Alcides Escobar returns to the Royals with a not-so-lofty goal in sight, Rustin Dodd writes in a piece for The Athletic. Kansas City’s long-time shortstop wants to finish the season with an on-base percentage above .300 for the first time since the 2014 season. He says that he’s working on “taking a lot of pitches each at-bat” and trying to avoid swinging at bad pitches, both of which seem like obvious things to work on. Escobar owns a career OBP of just .294, and his .272 figure last year was the second-lowest among qualified MLB hitters (Rougned Odor’s .252 was the lowest, for those keeping track). That .272 mark for “Esky” was the result of drawing just 15 walks, his lowest full-season total ever.

    A roundup of some other news items out of the AL Central…

    • Recent Twins signee Logan Morrison reportedly suffered a right glute strain while running the bases on Wednesday, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. He was held out of Friday’s game, and is expected to miss today’s matchup as well. However, the injury isn’t considered serious. Minnesota brought the former Tampa Bay first baseman into the fold with a $6.5MM guarantee that includes a vesting option. He hit .246/.353/.516 last season with the Rays while smacking a career-high 38 home runs.
    • The White Sox are dealing with a more significant injury. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribute tweets that farmhand Luis Robert has a moderate thumb sprain. Daryl Van Schouwen provides further details on the situation with his own tweet, adding that GM Rick Hahn expects the young outfielder to be immobilized in a cast for six weeks, and to be held out of game action for ten. Robert hit a phenomenal .310/.491/.536 in Rookie ball last season; Baseball Prospectus ranks him as the South Siders’ fifth best prospect, and number 55 overall.
    • Continuing with injury news, Indians prospect Julian Merryweather will officially undergo Tommy John surgery after recently being diagnosed with a UCL sprain in his throwing elbow, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. The right-hander was a fifth-round pick by the Tribe during a 2014 draft in which the club also landed Bradley Zimmer, Triston McKenzie and Bobby Bradley. Merryweather had been solid at all levels of the minors before struggling to a 6.58 ERA across 16 starts at Triple-A Columbus last season, though his 3.89 xFIP suggests he dealt with some unfortunate homer/fly ball luck.
    • Auburn right-hander Casey Mize is “the name to watch” for the Tigers as we approach the 2018 June amateur draft, says Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. After skidding to a 68-94 record last season, Detroit owns the number one overall pick in the draft, and as Passan notes, the club loves big college arms. Mize threw a no-hitter last night and was throwing 96 MPH up through the ninth inning. Scouts in attendance say he was throwing a “filthy split” as well.
    Pitching Notes: Uehara, Lincecum, Senzatela, Hoffman, Kohn https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/koji-uehara-japan-lincecum-rangers-closer-rumors-rockies-rotation.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/koji-uehara-japan-lincecum-rangers-closer-rumors-rockies-rotation.html#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2018 16:09:04 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116422 Reliever Koji Uehara says that he is open to considering offers from teams in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, as the Japan Times recently reported. That’s something of a reversal from the 42-year-old reliever, who had indicated he did not intend to play again in his homeland. After preparing for the MLB season, but finding interest scant, Uehara now says he has changed his mind and would consider pitching once again in the NPB. It’s at least a bit surprising that Uehara has not generated more pursuers among major-league clubs. He continued to produce declining results in 43 innings last year, finishing with a 3.98 ERA, but still ended with 10.5 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 and generated a strong 15.8% swinging-strike rate.

    Here are a few more pitching notes from around the game:

    • While it’s clear the Rangers intend to utilize new pitching addition Tim Lincecum in the bullpen, just how he’ll be deployed isn’t yet clear. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram posted a video of the former ace discussing his new club. It seems that Lincecum is intrigued by the possibility of closing but is largely open to fitting in wherever the team prefers. “They see that,” Lincecum says of working in the 9th. “I feel like I could do that. I’ve done that in the Cape and at the college level. It’s going to be, obviously, different, but I feel like I could tap into that mentality.”
    • The Rockies elected this offseason to make a number of bullpen additions but not to pursue outside acquisitions for the rotation. That decision was no doubt as much about the team’s assessment of its internal options as it was about a need to maximize resources. In a pair of articles, here and here, Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports on two key staff members. Antonio Senzatela is said to be hard at work on his secondary offerings, with a new change-up in the works alongside continuing work on a curve. Meanwhile, fellow young righty Jeff Hoffman dealing with a shoulder issue. There’s no indication its a serious injury, but Hoffman is still going to rest for at least a week or more before he resumes throwing. As things stand, the Rox may be lined up to utilize a five-man unit that does not include either of these hurlers, as the current Roster Resource depth chart projects, but both are important parts of the near-term and future picture in Colorado.
    • When the Twins brought in righty Michael Kohn last fall, the hope was that he could rebound from a rotator cuff problem and get his career back on track. Unfortunately, he’ll now require an absence of four to six months to recuperate from a “nerve issue,” per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). The 31-year-old Kohn has a 3.52 ERA in 115 career innings in the majors, though that has come with a 111:79 K/BB ratio. It’s hard to read much into his results last year, as they were mostly accumulated in the low minors, but Kohn was able to make it through 13 solid innings late in 2017, over which he racked up 18 strikeouts against just four walks while permitting two earned runs on eight hits.
    Lance Lynn Reportedly Rejected Two-Year, $20MM Offer From Twins https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-lynn-twins-hahn-jay-indians.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-lynn-twins-hahn-jay-indians.html#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2018 03:00:21 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116408 The Twinsrecently reported two-year offer to Lance Lynn was for a total of $20MM, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Lynn’s camp considered that offer a “non-starter,” however, according to Berardino. Minnesota remains open to adding a starter on an affordable and relatively short-term pact, Berardino continues, noting that outside of the team’s $100MM+ offer to Yu Darvish, all of their offseason free-agent dealings have been at one- or two-year terms. He adds that the Twins aren’t aggressively pursuing Alex Cobb, and given Lynn’s apparent unwillingness to consider a two-year term, it seems unlikely that Minnesota will ultimately be a landing spot for any of the top three remaining starters. There are still a few intriguing names on the market who could sign shorter-term deals, including John Lackey and Trevor Cahill, though the Twins haven’t been strongly tied to any of them.

    Twins Have Not Approached Brian Dozier About Extension https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-brian-dozier-rumors-extension-free-agent.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-brian-dozier-rumors-extension-free-agent.html#comments Wed, 07 Mar 2018 01:42:45 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116396 Brian Dozier has emerged as one of the faces of the Twins’ franchises in recent years, but he’s now on the precipice of free agency and has not been approached by the team about a contract he tells Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Dozier is earning $9MM this season in the final season of a four-year, $20MM contract which bought out all of his arbitration seasons. A new contract, though, does not look to be in the cards at this time, according to the infielder himself.

    “I don’t want to touch too much on this, it’s the thing that gets asked all the time, but at the same time, I will be a free agent this fall,” Dozier said to Souhan. “That’s the bottom line. You can only say you want to be here so much, and nothing gets done.”

    Dozier has, as he implied, stated on multiple occasions that he hopes to remain in the Twin Cities for the long haul. The lack of a spring extension certainly doesn’t preclude that from happening, though in-season negotiations are rarer, and his quality track record would figure to generate interest from multiple clubs next winter. While many Twins fans may hope for some late-developing negotiations, Dozier’s comments don’t lend much reason for optimism.

    “I’ve said I wanted to stay here since forever, but I’ve really vocalized it the last couple years,” said Dozier (via Bollinger). “But I just don’t think it’s in their future, from what I’ve been told. … It’s pretty much black and white from what I’ve been hearing, which is upsetting, but you turn the page and play to win.”

    A former eighth-round pick out of Southern Mississippi, Dozier debuted as a largely unheralded prospect and solidified himself as a quality regular before breaking out in recent years as one of the game’s most powerful second basemen. Over the past two seasons, the 30-year-old has slashed .269/.349/.522 with 76 homers, and he’s hit a total of 104 long balls over the past three seasons. He’s been a durable source of production in Minnesota as well, averaging 153 games and 686 plate appearances per year since his first full season back in 2013.

    If the Twins are prepared to stick with internal options, they’ll have no shortage of intriguing up-the-middle players to turn to in the coming years. Jorge Polanco put together a huge two-month finish to the 2017 season and will open the ’18 campaign as Minnesota’s primary shortstop, though scouting reports have suggested that second base is his best position. Former top 10 pick Nick Gordon is on the cusp of MLB readiness and could occupy one of the two middle-infield slots in the near future. Royce Lewis, the top pick in the 2017 draft and Wander Javier, who received a $4MM bonus on the international market from the Twins, are further down the line but are viewed as potential key infield pieces in the long term.

    Of course, going that route would likely weaken the Twins’ chances in 2019 when the team further hopes its young core has come into its own in an AL Central that’ll still have at least two rebuilding clubs (Royals, Tigers). That’ll all be factored into the ultimate decision of chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine, to be sure. One element that seems clear is that a lack of commitment to Dozier wouldn’t stem from payroll limitations; the Twins have just four players under contract for the 2019 season and somewhat remarkably don’t have a single dollar on the books in 2020 and beyond.

    Dozier will turn 31 in May, meaning any new contract — be it an extension or a free-agent deal — would begin with his age-32 season. Dozier, Daniel Murphy and DJ LeMahieu will headline next year’s crop of free-agent second basemen, where they’ll be joined by a quality utility option also capable of playing second base in the form of Marwin Gonzalez.

    Twins, Byron Buxton Reportedly Interested In Extension https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-byron-buxton-reportedly-interested-in-extension.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-byron-buxton-reportedly-interested-in-extension.html#comments Mon, 05 Mar 2018 03:01:01 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116249 The Twins and center fielder Byron Buxton have mutual interest in a contract extension, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic. The two sides have discussed a new pact, Bowden hears (Twitter link), though Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets that there’s “no traction yet on a multiyear deal.” Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN adds that “no deal is close” (via Twitter)

    The Twins aren’t in any imminent danger of losing the 24-year-old Buxton, who’s controllable for the next four seasons. He’s slated to play his final pre-arbitration year in 2018, during which he’ll attempt to build on a breakout season. An integral component of a Twins team that unexpectedly won 85 games and earned a wild-card berth in 2017, Buxton accounted for 3.5 fWAR on the strength of world-class defense, tremendous baserunning and a passable bat.

    As a defender, Buxton finished first in Statcast’s Outs Above Average metric (25), third in Defensive Runs Saved (24) and seventh in Ultimate Zone Rating (9.9). Offensively, Buxton posted a below-average 90 wRC+ (.253/.314/.413 in 511 PAs), but he was hugely effective at the plate in the second half of the season and also cut his strikeout rate significantly compared to 2016 (35.6 percent to 29.4). When Buxton did get on base last year, he made life miserable for the opposition. Not only was Buxton caught just once on 30 steal attempts, but he led the majors in FanGraphs’ BsR metric.

    If 2017 is an indication of what’s to come from Buxton, he’ll continue to be a cornerstone for the Twins, which is what they had in mind when they selected him second overall in the 2012 draft. Buxton continued to draw major fanfare after the draft, but he was overmatched during a 138-PA debut with Minnesota in 2015 and then struggled offensively during the first half of 2016.

    Although Buxton has hardly been consistent offensively, his speed and defense combine to give him a high floor. As such, even if he never puts it together at the plate over a full season, he figures to continue serving as a valuable player. It’s no surprise the Twins seemingly want him around for a while, then, and if they do continue seeking a long-term pact, recently extended center fielders Ender Inciarte (Braves) and Odubel Herrera (Phillies) stand out as somewhat comparable.

    Both Inciarte (2.157 years) and Herrera (2.000) had similar service time to Buxton’s 2.064 when they received extensions last winter. And like Buxton, Herrera was entering his final pre-arb season and had four more years of control left. Inciarte also had four years remaining, but he was already about to go through arbitration for the first time. His deal bought out three potential free agent years, whereas Herrera’s bought out two.

    Unfortunately for Buxton, both Inciarte and Herrera had shown more offensively at the time of their extensions. Inciarte, who was 26 when he signed, landed a five-year, $30.525MM guarantee after hitting .292/.337/.385 (95 wRC+) with 13 home runs, 56 steals and 9.5 fWAR over the first 1,586 PAs of his career. Herrera, who was approaching his 26th birthday, reeled in roughly the same guarantee as Inciarte (five years, $30.5MM) after slashing .291/.353/.419 (110 wRC+) with 23 homers, 41 steals and 7.7 fWAR in 1,193 PAs.

    To this point, Buxton has taken 980 trips to the plate and batted a less-than-stellar .237/.295/.406 (84 wRC+) with 28 HRs, 41 steals and 4.6 fWAR. But if you discount a disastrous promotion in 2015 in which Buxton logged an unsightly batting line (.209/.250/.326, 53 wRC+) and accounted for minus-0.6 fWAR, you have a player who has been worth 3.9 fWAR per 600 PAs. That happens to be in lockstep with the pre-extension figures Inciarte (3.6) and Herrera (3.9) recorded.

    Bowden: Twins "Unlikely" To Add Top Free Agent Starter https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-orioles-machado-twins-rays.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-notes-orioles-machado-twins-rays.html#comments Mon, 05 Mar 2018 01:58:55 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116247
  • The Twins are “unlikely” to sign any of the top remaining free agent starters – Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn – Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio hears (Twitter link). On paper, anyone from that group would bolster Minnesota’s rotation, which will go without injured No. 1 starter Ervin Santana to open the season, but the club hasn’t shown a willingness to meet their asking prices. Even without any of them on the books, the Twins are already on track to begin the year with a franchise-record Opening Day payroll (approximately $121.83MM).
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    No Extension Talks Between Twins, Jose Berrios https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-white-sox-moustakas-cargo-twins-tigers.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/al-central-notes-white-sox-moustakas-cargo-twins-tigers.html#comments Mon, 05 Mar 2018 00:08:39 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116243
  • The Twins aren’t in any rush to sign young right-hander Jose Berrios to a contract extension, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. Berrios informed Berardino that the Twins haven’t approached him about a new deal, which makes sense considering they’re in no imminent danger of losing him. The 23-year-old won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2019 campaign, and then he’s slated to go through the arb process three times. While Berrios is already under Minnesota’s control for the long haul, he’d still understandably welcome the security of an extension. “This is the team that drafted me (in 2012) and gave me the opportunity to play in the major leagues,” said Berrios. “If they want to (sign) me for a long time, I’d be excited about that.”  A first-round pick in 2012, Berrios endured a disastrous debut in 2016 (8.02 ERA, 7.65 K/9, 5.4 BB/9 in 58 1/3 innings), but he rebounded last year to log a 3.89 ERA with 8.59 K/9 and 2.97 BB/9 over 145 2/3 frames.
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    Latest On The Top Remaining Free Agent Starters https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/jake-arrieta-rumors-nationals-phillies.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/jake-arrieta-rumors-nationals-phillies.html#comments Fri, 02 Mar 2018 18:44:10 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116118 The Nationals reportedly remain open to adding to their roster before the season begins, and while they’ve been oft-linked to top remaining free agent Jake Arrieta, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports that the Nats “haven’t engaged with Arrieta’s camp recently.” The Nationals, it seems (much like the rest of baseball), would be likelier to jump into the fray if Arrieta’s price drops.

    Castillo does note that at least three other clubs have made recent inquiries with Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras. One of those is likely the Phillies, who are reported to have an ongoing dialogue with Boras regarding Arrieta. However, most reports out of Philadelphia suggest that the Phils are loath to go beyond three years for the former NL Cy Yong winner, who will pitch this season at age 32 and has displayed some signs of decline in recent years — most notably a loss of velocity and worsened K/BB rates.

    Alternatives for the Nats, Phillies and other clubs searching for rotation upgrades are still on the market in the form of Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, who both remain unsigned. Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes, however, that the Phils are even less likely to sign Cobb or Lynn to a long-term deal than they are Arrieta (and again reports that the Phils don’t want to go past three years for Arrieta). Even a contract in the vicinity of Tyler Chatwood’s three-year, $38MM pact with the Cubs could be too rich for the Phillies’ tastes when it comes to Lynn and Cobb, Zolecki writes.

    It seems that virtually every club in need of rotation help is awaiting the asking price on the top three starters to drop. The Athletic’s Jim Bowden tweets that both Cobb and Lynn are still seeking guarantees worth more than $50MM. (It’s worth pointing out that the manner in which that report frames draft compensation is inaccurate; the draft/international penalty for signing any of Arrieta, Cobb or Lynn is not tied to that $50MM figure, but a deal of $50MM or more would improve the compensation for the teams losing those players.)

    The Orioles, Brewers, Phillies and Twins all hold varying levels of interest in Cobb and/or Lynn, Bowden notes, but not at the current asking price. The Twins’ level of interest in Lynn doesn’t appear to be especially high at this point, though. While Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN walks back a recent report a bit by tweeting that Minnesota’s offer to Lynn was for more than the $12MM he initially reported, he adds that it was nonetheless well shy of anything his camp considered and that there are no current talks between the two sides.

    Market Notes: Upton, Archer, Realmuto, Holland, Lynn https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/market-notes-upton-archer-realmuto-holland-lynn.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/market-notes-upton-archer-realmuto-holland-lynn.html#comments Fri, 02 Mar 2018 06:09:17 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116083 Over at The Athletic, Pedro Moura held a fascinating conversation with Angels slugger Justin Upton. (Subscription link.) There’s plenty of interest in the chat, though Upton’s comments on free agency are of particular interest and relevance. The thrust of his sentiment is that teams seem to be looking to score free-agent value rather than identifying and “courting” players they actively wish to employ. “Teams don’t value players as people anymore,” says Upton. “They value them as a number on a sheet of paper.”

    Of course, Upton forewent a chance at returning to the open market by agreeing to a deal with an organization he was comfortable with. Here’s the latest on the unusually high number of quality free agents still not in camp and other market notes:

    • The likelihood remains that the Rays will enter the season with Chris Archer on the staff, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports among other notes. That’s due in no small part to the team’s lofty asking price; one rival executive suggests that the Tampa Bay front office “wanted our whole farm system” to move Archer. The club has given that impression publicly, too. Senior VP of baseball ops Chaim Bloom reiterated that the expectation is to hang onto Archer and others in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). He added that the internal expectation is that it will begin to reap the rewards of an effort over recent years to bolster the farm depth while still trying to compete at the MLB level.
    • It has remained interesting to consider whether the Nationals might pry catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins. But there isn’t much recent indication of serious talks, and Heyman indicates that’s due to what seems to be a big gulf in the sides’ valuations. Washington won’t give top prospects Victor Robles and Juan Soto, per the report; while the club might part with young infielder Carter Kieboom or outfielder Michael Taylor, it seems Miami was asking for too much additional talent to be included in a package.
    • The outfield market has certainly delivered some surprises thus far. Heyman says Jarrod Dyson spurned an early two-year, $14MM offer, though a source tells MLBTR that is not accurate. Dyson ultimately signed for $7.5MM with the Diamondbacks. It remains to be seen what’ll happen with players such as Carlos Gonzalez and Jon Jay, each of whom were rated among the fifty best free agents this winter by MLBTR. Heyman says the Indians are still looking at right-handed outfield bats, though it would surely be a surprise for the team to plunk down any meaningful money to make an addition. Perhaps the trade route could still hold some surprises, though that’s pure speculation on my part.
    • Veteran reliever Greg Holland might have overplayed his hand in spurning the Rockies earlier in the winter. Colorado was willing to give him something approaching the three-year, $51MM deal the team ultimately inked with Wade Davis, Bob Nightengale of USA Today suggests in an appearance on the podcast of Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. It’s premature, perhaps, to declare that Holland won’t be able to top that number, though it’s frankly difficult to see where that level of interest might come from — as MLBTR’s Steve Adams has recently explained.
    • Holland’s list of suitors is in question at the moment. One thing that seems clear, per Heyman, is that the Cubs aren’t planning on making a surprise run at the closer. Rather, Chicago seems largely committed to utilizing Brandon Morrow in the ninth inning and is likely to hold back its remaining payroll reserves for potential mid-season additions.
    • So, how low could the remaining pitchers go? Presumably there’s a point at which some bidding would occur. But it’s notable that, per ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson (podcast link), the Twins expressed interest in Lance Lynn in the range of just $10MM to $12MM over two seasons. Just how that level of interest came about and was expressed isn’t clear. The team has also made some fairly notable recent commitments and may just not have much more payroll flexibility. And it certainly shouldn’t be taken as evidence of Lynn’s current market value. Still, it’s interesting to learn that’s the current extent of Minnesota’s interest.
    Futures Of Grossman, Vargas Clouded By Morrison Signing https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-rumors-robbie-grossman-kennys-vargas-trade-options.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/03/twins-rumors-robbie-grossman-kennys-vargas-trade-options.html#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2018 19:58:20 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116061
  • Following Minnesota’s signing of Logan Morrison, manager Paul Molitor sat down with first baseman/DH Kennys Vargas, outfielder/DH Robbie Grossman and utility infielder Eduardo Escobar to discuss how the trio’s status could be impacted, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Grossman and Vargas will be the most directly impacted with LoMo set to be the Twins’ primary DH, and both are out of minor league options. Grossman, who agreed to a $2MM salary in arbitration this offseason (albeit a non-guaranteed one, as is standard with arb deals), had a “very professional response” per Molitor. The switch-hitter acknowledged that he needs to demonstrate improved defensive skills in order to play a significant role on the team. While the Twins don’t technically need their fourth outfielder to be center-field capable due to the ability of corner outfielders Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler to man center, the lack of DH at-bats is problematic for Grossman, who made 61 appearances in that slot last season. It’s even tougher to see how Vargas fits into the equation, as he’s strictly limited to first and DH and is now behind both Morrison and Joe Mauer on the depth chart.
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    Morrison Had Offer From Royals Before Signing With Twins https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/al-central-notes-morrison-royals-gonzalez-white-sox.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/al-central-notes-morrison-royals-gonzalez-white-sox.html#comments Thu, 01 Mar 2018 00:17:33 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116020 Newly signed Twins DH Logan Morrison received an offer from his hometown Royals before signing in Minnesota, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 30-year-old slugger said earlier in the offseason that he’d love to suit up for his hometown club, though that was before Kansas City began selling off pieces and made clear signals of a rebuilding effort. Per Berardino, Morrison’s desire to play for a contending club took priority. Morrison will join the heart of a young Twins lineup on the upswing in hopes of reaching the postseason for the first time in his career, though the questions that permeate the Twins’ rotation still leave Cleveland as a the division favorite.

    Nationals Still Weighing Additions; Angels, Twins Likely Done https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/nationals-free-agency-rumors-arrieta-angels-twins-finished-spending.html https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2018/02/nationals-free-agency-rumors-arrieta-angels-twins-finished-spending.html#comments Wed, 28 Feb 2018 19:13:25 +0000 https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116017 With Spring Training in full swing and several recent signings taking a few more players off of the free-agent board, much of the offseason picture is finally now in focus. Of course, as MLBTR’s 2017-18 MLB Free Agent Tracker shows, there are still some big names available. Several organizations clearly also have unfinished business, while others may already feel they’ve addressed their needs or maxed out their resources.

    Here are some notes on teams’ plans on the day before the calendar flips to March:

    • The Nationals are still eyeing improvements, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). In particular, the Washington front office “remain[s] engaged” with the top remaining free agent, starter Jake Arrieta. But it seems that he’s not the sole player of interest, as the organization is said to be “monitor[ing]” the market for possibilities. It is worth noting that several other remaining free agents could fit the Nats rather comfortably on paper, potentially including other starters such as Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb, top reliever Greg Holland, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Of course, there’s no real indication whether any of those players are presently seen as options within the Nationals organization.
    • Quite the opposite impression is being given by the Angels, as Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group tweets. GM Billy Eppler says that the organization is “not looking to pursue anything” else after a busy winter, though he does note that he’s “open-minded to things that come around.” That certainly sounds more like a willingness to entertain bargain-rate signings than any kind of interest in pushing for another significant addition. The Halos could clearly stand to improve their pitching, though it also may be that the front office prefers to allow existing options to rise or fall before addressing any needs at the trade deadline. At present, the Angels seem to have around $25MM in payroll space before bumping against the luxury line, though the organization is surely also loath to add too much to the future balance sheets.
    • It seems the Twins also feel their roster-building work is done, with chief baseball officer Derek Falvey telling reporters including Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter link) that there’s a “high likelihood” the team has already compiled its Opening Day unit. Minnesota did make quite a few acquisitions over the winter, including recent moves for Jake Odorizzi and Logan Morrison that added fairly significant salary commitments for the 2018 season. Some have wondered whether another rotation piece would make sense, but that doesn’t seem to be in the plans at present. Minnesota is slated to open with a club-record $116MM+ payroll, though the organization had already been in nine figures to open each of the past three years.