MLB Trade Rumors » » Minnesota Twins 2017-10-21T12:05:27Z Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Health Of Tyler Jay]]> 2017-10-20T06:24:06Z 2017-10-19T20:52:05Z
  • While there were reports that Twins prospect Tyler Jay, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2015 draft, would require thoracic outlet surgery earlier this summer, the left-hander is healthy and pitching well in the Arizona Fall League, writes’s Rhett Bollinger. Jay did miss nearly three months of the season with neck and shoulder issues, Bollinger continues, but TOS was ruled out by doctors. Rather, Jay was diagnosed with a shoulder impingement and biceps tendinitis. The Twins have moved Jay to the bullpen for the foreseeable future and expect him to open next season in Double-A Chattanooga. ESPN’s Keith Law recently wrote that Jay has been “electric” in  the AFL. The 23-year-old could well emerge as a late-inning option in Minnesota next year.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Inform Glen Perkins His 2018 Option Will Be Declined]]> 2017-10-18T18:57:51Z 2017-10-18T18:57:41Z 1:57pm: Bollinger tweets that there is indeed a chance that Perkins could return to the Twins on a minor league contract, but he’s likely to retire if such a deal cannot be arranged.

    1:26pm: The Twins have informed former closer Glen Perkins that his $6.5MM club option for the 2018 season will be declined, tweets’s Rhett Bollinger. The three-time All-Star will instead receive a $700K buyout and become a free agent.

    It’s not clear what’s next for the St. Paul native, who has spent his entire professional and collegiate career playing in the Twin Cities. This outcome has been seen as a foregone conclusion for some time now, as Perkins has pitched just 7 2/3 innings over the past two seasons after undergoing significant surgery to repair a torn labrum during the 2016 campaign. He did return to the roster and toss 5 2/3 innings out of the ’pen late in the 2017 season.

    Upon his activation from the disabled list, Perkins averaged just 90.3 mph on his fastball — a far cry from the 94.9 mph he averaged during his peak years with the club in 2012-13. It’s seems reasonable to believe that the Twins could look to bring him back on a minor league pact in hopes of better health next year, or he could seek out similar opportunities with other organizations if he wishes.

    However, Perkins told Bollinger and other reporters in an emotional interview that he may also consider retiring if he is unable to return to the Twins next year. That interview came after a fitting tribute from the team, when the Twins brought Perkins on for the final out of their second-to-last game of the season, and he took the field to his former entrance music as the team’s closer: Johnny Cash’s “God’s Gonna Cut You Down.”

    Perkins, 35 in March, struggled as a starter early in his career but emerged as a dominant reliever for Minnesota in 2011. From 2011-15, he pitched to a 2.84 ERA with 9.8 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9. Along the way, he established himself as the Twins’ closer and racked up 120 saves, including a career-high 36 in a 2013 season that was the finest of his professional tenure.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Hire Baseball America's John Manuel]]> 2017-10-18T16:15:17Z 2017-10-18T16:09:44Z The Twins have hired longtime Baseball America editor John Manuel and added him to their pro scouting department, Manuel announced yesterday (on Facebook). The Twins later confirmed the hiring, as’s Rhett Bollinger writes. Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey suggests to Bollinger that the team has no intention of cutting its scouting department despite a notably increased emphasis on analytics. “We’ve talked a lot about staff enhancement and continuing to build out,” said Falvey. “We’ll do that with different voices with advances in video scouting and live scouting. We have a good number of pro scouts, but we’re looking to add to it. It’s not our expectation to have fewer people in the field.”

    Manuel has spent more than two decades at BA and has been the publication’s editor-in-chief for more than half that time. As someone who owns a mountain of BA Prospect Handbooks and has had an active BA subscription for a decade or so now, I can earnestly say that his work will be missed. Congrats to John, and best wishes in his new role with the Twins.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Interested In Bringing Back Matt Belisle, Brandon Kintzler]]> 2017-10-15T03:27:38Z 2017-10-15T03:27:38Z
  • After Twins pitchers recorded the majors’ third-worst swinging-strike rate in 2017, team brass is hoping to build a staff capable of missing more bats, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press details. At the same time, the Twins aren’t ruling out having some pitch-to-contact types on hand. In fact, even though closers Matt Belisle and Brandon Kintzler (now with the Nationals) generated fewer swings and misses than the average reliever this season, the club’s interested in re-signing the former and reuniting with the latter in free agency, according to Berardino.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pohlad "Looking Forward" To Long-Term Talks With Young Core]]> 2017-10-13T19:09:11Z 2017-10-13T18:26:36Z
  • Twins owner Jim Pohlad tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that while there have yet to be any talks of long-term deals for young talents such as Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano or Eddie Rosario, those topics could come up in the near future. “I’d be looking forward to that conversation,” said Pohlad, who generally praised his team’s emerging core. Pohlad also suggested that while Brian Dozier was the focus of trade rumors last offseason and is entering the final season of his contract, it’d be tough to consider trading him this winter. “You would have to believe you’re getting a future core player back,” said Pohlad, going on to stress that it’d need to be a player (or players) that could help the Twins immediately.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pohlad On Spending In Free Agency]]> 2017-10-13T13:59:44Z 2017-10-13T13:59:44Z Left-handed reliever Fernando Abad has changed agencies and is now represented by Octagon, FanRag’s Robert Murray reports (on Twitter). Abad’s shift in representation is particularly notable, as Abad is set to become a free agent once the playoffs come to a close. The 31-year-old lefty (32 in December) enjoyed a solid season out of the Boston bullpen, working to a 3.30 ERA with 7.6 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 with a 45 percent ground-ball rate in 43 2/3 innings. Abad was shelled in 12 2/3 frames with the Red Sox in 2016 after being acquired in a trade with the Twins, but his 2017 numbers bear a strong resemblance to his quality work in 34 innings with Minnesota prior to the trade. In all, lefties have posted a putrid .186/.240/.304 batting line against Abad in 150 plate appearances across the past two seasons. His change in representation has been reflected in MLBTR’s Agency Database, which contains info on more than 2,500 Major League and Minor League players.

    • Despite whiffing on free-agent investments to starting pitchers in recent years (most notably Ricky Nolasco), Twins owner Jim Pohlad tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that he won’t be afraid to add starters via free agency if that’s what his front office recommends to him. “There’s no question we have to work on the pitching,” said Pohlad. “It’s absolutely obvious.” Asked specifically about free agency in the wake of some deals that haven’t panned out, Pohlad stated: “Not everything works. … You can’t be afraid to try.” Those decisions, of course, will be largely up to chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and the rest of the Twins’ front office. Minnesota figures to be a bit more aggressive in adding pieces this offseason than last now that the team has greater expectations of contending on the heels of a Wild Card berth.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Front Office, Sano]]> 2017-10-11T13:59:45Z 2017-10-11T00:06:37Z The Twins announced a few baseball operations changes on Tuesday, including the hiring of 27-year-old Jeremy Zoll as the team’s new director of minor league operations. Brad Steil, who had previously been the team’s farm director since 2013, will now instead head up the Twins’ pro scouting department. Zoll has spent the past few seasons in the Dodgers organization, most recently holding the title of assistant director of player development. Zoll has also worked as an advance scouting coordinator with the Angels. “We’re really fortunate and excited to have him,” said chief baseball officer Derek Falvey of the newly hired Zoll (link via’s Rhett Bollinger). “He came in highly recommended from the people he worked with and around. He’ll bring some new ideas into what we’re doing developmentally.”

    • While it’s been suggested that surgery isn’t expected for Twins slugger Miguel Sano, GM Thad Levine said today that surgery is still an option for the third baseman’s ailing shin (via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). Levine painted surgery as a last resort, however, and said the team will explore other avenues. A decision will be made sooner rather than later though, as the procedure Sano would theoretically require would come with an eight-week recovery, so the Twins understandably don’t want to wait too long before making the call. Whether Sano requires surgery or avoids going under the knife, manager Paul Molitor said today that he doesn’t think Sano needs to play in the Dominican Winter League this year, per Berardino.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Allen, Sano]]> 2017-10-10T20:19:09Z 2017-10-10T15:21:15Z The Twins have decided to part ways with pitching coach Neil Allen, as La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune writes. While Paul Molitor will remain as the manager after inking a new deal, the organization is now on the market for a new hand to guide the pitching staff. Minnesota is sure to enter the offseason in search of ways to boost the productivity of its rotation after a season in which only two starters (Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios) turned in high-quality overall campaigns. While others showed signs at times — Kyle Gibson finished strong, for example — there’s clearly room to improve through both new acquisitions and internal development.

    • In other Twins news, the organization does not presently expect Miguel Sano to require surgery to address his shin injury, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports. Though there have been some prior indications to the contrary, a surgical option would be an “extreme” measure and isn’t on the table at this point, per the report. Berardino adds that young reliever J.T. Chargois is also not under consideration for a surgical approach despite missing virtually all of the season due to elbow problems. You’ll also find some player reactions to the coaching staff decisions at the link.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Sign Paul Molitor To Three-Year Extension]]> 2017-10-09T20:13:11Z 2017-10-09T20:09:12Z The Twins announced Monday that they have signed manager Paul Molitor to a three-year contract extension that will keep him with the team through the 2020 season. Molitor’s new deal is worth approximately $4MM, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports (on Twitter). He and the Twins are still discussing whether there will be changes to his coaching staff, according to Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link).

    Paul Molitor | Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

    While a new deal for Molitor was expected by many, it wasn’t quite a given. Molitor was initially hired as the successor to longtime manager Ron Gardenhire, but that hire was made by former general manager Terry Ryan, who was fired from his post last year. Some speculated that Falvey and general manager Thad Levine may want to bring in their own candidate to take over the dugout, but Molitor will stay in the fold.

    While the 2016 season was an unmitigated disaster, the Twins have surprised in two of Molitor’s three seasons at the helm. The 2015 club won 83 games — a 13-game improvement over the preceding season — and was in contention for an AL Wild Card spot until the very last weekend of the regular season. Last year’s 103-loss campaign now looks to be largely an aberration, as Molitor’s Twins posted 85 wins and secured the second AL Wild Card spot this year before falling 8-4 against the Yankees. That surprising performance has positioned Molitor as one of the speculative front-runners for American League Manager of the Year honors.

    Molitor, of course, enjoyed a 21-year playing career and is among the most decorated offensive players in Major League history. The seven-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger winner finished his career with a .306/.369/.448 batting line, and his 3,319 career hits rank 10th all-time in MLB history. Molitor is widely praised by his former teammates and current players for his baseball intelligence, and while he may not be as sabermetrically inclined as some other skippers around the game, his arrival in Minnesota did prompt a much more aggressive implementation of defensive shifting.

    Overall, he’s managed the Twins to a 227-259 record in his three-year tenure, though the future looks considerably brighter in Minnesota following explosive second halves from young talents such as Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario. Those three will join a hopefully healthier Miguel Sano, outfielder Max Kepler and right-hander Jose Berrios in forming a long-term core that the Twins hope can lead to additional postseason appearances in the very near future.

    Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press first reported (via Twitter) that Molitor would return to manage the Twins under a new contract. Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reported Sunday (Twitter link) that the two sides were closing in on a deal. La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune confirmed the agreement Monday. Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Poll: How Will The Twins Address Their Rotation Issues?]]> 2017-10-07T21:30:14Z 2017-10-07T21:27:00Z After quickly shifting from buyers to sellers at the 2017 trade deadline, the Minnesota Twins’ offense went on an absolute tear during the second half, thanks in part to blazing hot streaks from Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco and Brian Dozier. The lineup’s offensive storm resulted in a whopping 412 runs after the All-Star break, surpassing even the Indians for most in the American League. They surged up the standings to claim the AL’s second wild card spot, but fell to the New York Yankees in the one-game playoff after starting pitchers Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios gave up a combined seven runs across five innings.

    The heartbreaking loss alluded to an overarching theme of the Twins’ 2017 season: the woes of subpar performances from starting pitchers. While Santana and Berrios were actually the team’s most respectable performers during the season, the rotation performed miserably on the whole. Sixteen different pitchers started games for Minnesota. Of those sixteen, only one (Santana) qualified for the ERA title. Only five finished with an ERA below 5.00. Minnesota starters as a group finished in the bottom ten in all of baseball in innings pitched (24th), fWAR (22nd), strikeouts (26th), xFIP (27th), least hard contact allowed (21st), and fewest home runs allowed (23rd).

    Without dramatic improvements to the rotation, the Twins have little hope of dethroning the rival Indians as AL Central Champions. However, if they can add pitching reinforcements to an offense that’s intimidating from top to bottom, it’s easy to see a path for them to reach the playoffs again. Adding to their fortunes is a weak division wherein the White Sox and Tigers are in the midst of full teardowns, with the Royals likely to follow suit this offseason.

    The problem has the potential to solve itself. Santana and Berrios will both return to their roles in 2018, with Kyle Gibson likely to slot in behind them after performing very well in the second half this past season. LHP Stephen Gonsalves and RHP Fernando Romero both rank as top 100 overall prospects and could potentially see major league action next season. And Adalberto Mejia is at the very least a reasonable back-end starter. If Berrios is able to take another step forward, and one of Gonsalves or Romero emerges as a top-of-the-rotation type, the Twins would certainly be no worse off on paper than most contenders.

    But even the highest-rated prospects are never sure bets, and Santana, Berrios and Gibson all have at least a few question marks hovering over them. Meanwhile the free agent market for pitchers is full of high-upside starters who carry tremendous risk. Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta represent the top options on the market, while Masahiro Tanaka and Johnny Cueto can both opt out of their current contracts. Most of these pitchers would likely cost more than the Twins can afford to pay, and all carry significant injury risk. Japanese phenom Shohei Otani would be an incredibly exciting target, but the competition for his services will certainly be fierce. It’s difficult to imagine what the Twins could offer him that other teams cannot. So while it’s certainly possible the Twins could land a high-end starter, a foray into the free agent pool would likely end with the Twins having to settle for an even riskier tier of starters that includes Andrew Cashner, Tyler Chatwood, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Jason Vargas and a somewhat resurgent Doug Fister.

    To say that the trade market for starting pitchers this offseason will be competitive would be an understatement. The top starters in baseball are heavily concentrated on teams with plans to contend next season. Michael Fulmer and Gerrit Cole are examples of solid pitchers who could be made available, but due to heavy demand, the Twins would probably have to fork over at least one of top 30 overall prospects Royce Lewins and Nick Gordon. Both Fulmer and Cole come with injury concerns.

    While many teams are in need of rotation help, the Twins’ situation is dire. If the offense can repeat anything close to their late 2017 production, Minnesota will be in the thick of contention all next season. But they absolutely must get significant improvements within the starting five.

    How do you think the Twins will address their rotation issues? Vote in the poll and comment below with your ideas.

    (Poll link for app users)

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Sano, Vargas]]> 2017-10-06T18:59:45Z 2017-10-06T18:59:45Z
  • It wouldn’t be a surprise if Miguel Sano requires surgery this offseason, 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson (Twitter link) opines, given that the Twins third baseman is “in a lot more pain than many of us realized.”  Sano was sidelined on August 19 due to a stress reaction in his left shin, and while he returned for the final three games of the regular season, he didn’t make the roster for Minnesota’s wild card loss to the Yankees.
  • Kennys Vargas is interested in the idea of playing in Japan or Korea, and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wonders if the Twins could be more open to trading the first baseman overseas given their glut of first base/DH options.  The Twins rejected overtures about Vargas from NPB and the KBO two offseasons ago.
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    Jason Martinez <![CDATA[How They Were Acquired: Minnesota Twins Wild Card Roster]]> 2017-10-03T18:29:33Z 2017-10-03T16:50:39Z The Twins became the first team in MLB history to go from a 100-loss season to a playoff berth in 2017, and while that’s skewed somewhat by the fact that the postseason field of 10 teams is relatively new, it’s nonetheless an impressive feat. Newly minted chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and the rest of the Twins’ front office deserve credit for both the offseason additions they made last winter and for the restraint they showed in not blowing up a young roster that wholly underperformed reasonable expectations in 2016.

    Former general managers Terry Ryan and Bill Smith and their lieutenants (including assistant GM Rob Antony, who still holds that title the new-look front office) also deserve credit, as a number of the players in question were acquired under their watch.

    Here’s a look at how the Twins acquired the 25 players that will comprise their roster in tonight’s Wild Card playoff at Yankee Stadium…

    [Related: Minnesota Twins Depth Chart and Payroll Outlook]


    Notably, the Twins announced today that slugger Miguel Sano — a major factor in their postseason berth this season — will not be a part of the Wild Card roster due to ongoing discomfort in a stress reaction he suffered when fouling a ball into his shin in late August. He’d been activated for the final three games of the season, lending some optimism that he could potentially play in the divisional series should the team advance, but he was apparently too limited to carry on the roster for this all-hands-on-deck game.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Sano, Colon, Perkins]]> 2017-10-02T12:55:49Z 2017-10-02T01:08:03Z A players-only meeting in the aftermath of the trade deadline may have been the turning point in the Twins’ season, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes.  A July slump led the club’s front office to deal Brandon Kintzler and Jaime Garcia at the deadline, leaving the clubhouse feeling “angry,” in the words of Byron Buxton.  The meeting, led by Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier, lasted only 10-15 minutes and “I think the biggest thing in the meeting was to direct that anger or whatever feeling in a positive way,” Mauer said.  The message certainly seemed to sink in, as the Twins turned things around in a big way and are now headed to the AL Wild Card game.

    Here’s more from Target Field…

    • Miguel Sano is “still having discomfort” in his ailing left shin, manager Paul Molitor told Berardino and other reporters today.  The slugger felt some soreness while lightly running out a grounder in the fifth inning today and didn’t return to the game.  It is still very much up in the air as to whether or not Sano will be activated for the Wild Card game, as GM Thad Levine said that the club may use every minute until the 9am CT deadline on Tuesday to finalize their roster for the game against the Yankees.  Sano has gone 1-for-8 since returning from the DL, and as Berardino notes, “has yet to hit a ball in the air.”
    • To honor a promise to his late mother, Bartolo Colon intends to pitch in 2018, the right-hander told reporters, including’s Rhett Bollinger and Michael Clair.  “That’s the goal.  That’s what I promised my old lady and that’s what I want to do,” Colon said.  Colon earned the 240th victory of his 20-year career today, and he received a standing ovation from Twins fans when he was removed from the game in the seventh inning just in case this is the end of the road for the 44-year-old.  After several effective years that belied his age, Colon finally showed signs of declining this season, posting a 6.48 ERA over 143 innings with the Twins and Braves.
    • Glen Perkins was emotional after what may have been his final big league game on Saturday, as’s Rhett Bollinger writes that Perkins has said that he’d consider retiring if he can’t return to the Twins next season.  The St. Paul-born Perkins has spent his entire career with his hometown team, and only just returned to the mound in August after missing over 16 months due to shoulder surgery.  The Twins will surely buy Perkins out for $700K rather than exercise their $6.5MM club option on his services for 2018, though there’s a chance he could return on a minor league contract.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Paul Molitor Unsure Of 2018 Status]]> 2017-10-01T19:47:41Z 2017-10-01T19:47:41Z
  • The Twins have surprised this year en route to a playoff berth, but Paul Molitor still doesn’t know if he’ll be the team’s manager in 2018, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. Molitor is unsigned past this season, and his fate will rest with the decision-making duo of chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine. Those two were not at the helm when the Twins hired Molitor prior to the 2015 season. That was ex-GM Terry Ryan, who’s now an employee of a Philadelphia team that happens to be looking for a manager, as Berardino notes.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Who Will Win The World Series?]]> 2017-10-01T18:01:08Z 2017-10-01T18:01:08Z Aside from Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton’s pursuit of 60 home runs, the final day of Major League Baseball’s regular season won’t bring much drama. Colorado on Saturday became the last team in the majors to clinch a playoff spot and will be one of 10 clubs vying for World Series glory over the next month-plus. Here’s a rundown of the participants by league and seeding:

    National League

    1.) Los Angeles Dodgers (record: 103-58; most recent title: 1988): The Dodgers are loaded with stars and depth, which explains how they easily exceeded the 100-win mark despite enduring a 1-15 stretch from Aug. 26 through Sept. 11. They recovered from that nightmarish 16-game showing over the season’s final couple weeks and once again look formidable entering the postseason. While the Dodgers have scored the second-fewest runs of this year’s playoff teams, they’ve still managed to pace all NL clubs in position player fWAR. Plus, with a Clayton Kershaw-fronted rotation and a Kenley Jansen-led bullpen, their staff is atop the NL in pitching fWAR.

    2.) Washington Nationals (record: 97-64; most recent title: never): The Nationals cruised to an NL East crown this year despite losing center fielder Adam Eaton in April and having to go without arguably their best player, right fielder Bryce Harper, from mid-August until late September. Harper suffered a knee injury that looked like a season-ender when it happened, and while the missed time derailed his MVP chances, he’s back to lead a lineup that also includes other standouts in Anthony Rendon, Daniel Murphy, Trea Turner and Ryan Zimmerman. On the pitching side, it seems ace and Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer avoided a serious hamstring injury during his start on Saturday. If that’s the case, Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez could be the premier starting trio in the playoffs. They’ll hand off to a bullpen that has featured offered plenty of shaky performances in 2017, though midseason additions Sean Doolittle, Ryan Madson and Brandon Kintzler have helped stabilize the Nationals’ relief corps.

    3.) Chicago Cubs (record: 92-69; most recent title: 2016): At this time a year ago, Chicago was putting the finishing touches on a 103-win regular season and preparing to enter the playoffs as the odds-on favorite. Ultimately, the Cubs lived up to the billing last fall and broke a 108-year title drought in an unforgettable World Series against the Indians. They haven’t been as sharp this year, owing in part to worse performances from their pitching and defense, but are still laden with talent. There’s no shortage of quality position players on hand, including reigning MVP Kris Bryant and Anthony Rizzo, but the Cubs will need more from their staff – particularly Jake Arrieta, who’s dealing with a hamstring issue right now, and Jon Lester.

    4.) Arizona Diamondbacks (record: 92-69; most recent title: 2001): One of this year’s surprise teams, the Diamondbacks rode an underrated starting staff and a top 10 offense (by runs scored) to a playoff berth. Starters Zack Greinke, Robbie Ray, Zack Godley, Patrick Corbin and Taijuan Walker have all turned in good to great seasons, which is why the D-backs’ starters lead the NL in fWAR. They also have a pair of offensive superstars in first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, though he had a horrid September that likely ruined his MVP chances, and outfielder J.D. Martinez. The latter has been a revelation since coming over from the Tigers in a July trade, having smashed 29 home runs in 61 games and batted .304/.369/.746 in 255 plate appearances. If you’re looking for a potential Achilles’ heel, no playoff entrant has a worse wRC+ (84) against left-handed pitchers than Arizona. That doesn’t seem to bode well for a team that will face the Dodgers, whose southpaws include Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Tony Cingrani and Tony Watson, if it wins the NL wild-card game.

    5.) Colorado Rockies (record: 87-74; most recent title: never): Primarily on account of NL MVP candidates Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon, the Rockies are near the top of the league in runs scored, which is what you’d expect from a team that plays half its games at Coors Field. The Rockies managed to break a seven-year playoff skid this season largely because of an improved pitching staff that sits eighth in the majors in fWAR. Still, despite the presence of Jon Gray, their rotation doesn’t look particularly imposing relative to other playoff teams’ staffs. They do, however, feature a few highly capable relievers in Greg Holland, Chris Rusin, Pat Neshek and Jake McGee.

    (Poll link for app users)


    American League

    1.) Cleveland Indians (record: 101-60; most recent title: 1948): At 48-45, the reigning AL champions were a mere three games above .500 on July 18. Since then, they’ve run roughshod over the rest of the league en route to a 53-15 mark, including a historic 22-game winning streak from Aug. 22 to Sept. 14. The Indians lost a meaningless game to the White Sox on Saturday, but that was just their fourth defeat in the past 35 contests. Needless to say, they’re heading into the playoffs on a roll. As you’d expect, Cleveland’s roster is chock-full of excellence. MVP hopeful Jose Ramirez and all-world shortstop Francisco Lindor are at the helm of a talent-rich offense, one that supports what could be an all-time great pitching staff from top to bottom. Ace/Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber, righty Carlos Carrasco and super reliever Andrew Miller, one of the faces of last year’s postseason, deservedly grab the most headlines, but good luck finding any weak links among the other pitchers the Tribe will use in the playoffs.

    2.) Houston Astros (record: 100-61; most recent title: never): With a league-high 892 runs and a 121 wRC+, it’s a wonder how anyone gets the Astros out. Much of the damage has come from AL MVP front-runner Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa, the latter of whom missed significant time earlier this season, but ancillary pieces such as Marwin Gonzalez, Alex Bregman, Josh Reddick and Yuli Gurriel have all been no worse than very good at the plate. And then there’s the one-two pitching punch of recently acquired ace Justin Verlander and Dallas Keuchel, not to mention a deep starting staff/bullpen behind them. If there’s one big concern here, it’s that Houston may be the worst defensive team in the playoffs.

    3.) Boston Red Sox (record: 93-68; most recent title: 2013): This year’s Red Sox have deviated from past Boston teams that used the likes of David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez to pound opponents into submission. In fact, this is the first playoff-bound Red Sox club since 1995 to qualify for the postseason without scoring at least 800 runs. Nevertheless, they have several especially well-rounded position players (Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi and the banged-up Dustin Pedroia, to name a few) who have done enough in the field to make Boston an elite defensive outfit. That defense supports the AL’s foremost southpaw, Chris Sale, and superstar closer Craig Kimbrel. Boston is entering the playoffs with some concerns in its rotation, though, including the recent struggles of Sale and the yearlong issues 2016 Cy Young winner Rick Porcello has had. Fortunately for the Sox, starter Drew Pomeranz quelled some late-season concerns with an encouraging start against the Astros on Saturday.

    4.) New York Yankees (record: 90-71; most recent title: 2009): Baby Bombers Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez have more than lived up to the hype this season, combining for 85 home runs and 11.7 fWAR in 1,203 PAs. Fifty-one of those long balls have come from Judge, an OPS machine and an AL Rookie of the Year shoo-in whose 8.2 fWAR leads the majors. The rest of the Yankees’ offense isn’t exactly subpar, either, as a laundry list of their other hitters have notched above-average seasons at the plate. And New York’s pitching staff could be built for October, with an incredibly strong bullpen and a rotation that features perhaps the AL’s third-best starter, Luis Severino. One of the major questions regarding the Yankees is which versions of Sonny Gray and Masahiro Tanaka will show up in the postseason – if the team gets by the wild-card game, that is. Gray allowed between four and six earned runs in three of five September starts, while Tanaka was a mixed bag throughout the regular season. He did conclude the slate with a seven-inning, 15-K shutout against the Blue Jays on Friday, though.

    5.) Minnesota Twins (record: 84-77; most recent title: 1991): In terms of teams, there probably hasn’t been a better story during the regular season than the Twins, who were 103-game losers and owners of the majors’ worst record a year ago. Adding to the improbability of their Cinderella run to the playoffs, the Twins were sellers at this year’s trade deadline, when they dealt starter Jaime Garcia to their wild-card opponent, the Yankees, and Kintzler to the Nationals. However, Brian Dozier, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Joe Mauer & Co. were undeterred in the face of those deals and the late-summer absence of slugging third baseman Miguel Sano, who missed over a month with a left shin injury but just returned this week. Given its relatively underwhelming pitching staff, Minnesota is obviously a long shot to claim its first World Series in 26 years. For now, the Twins are focused on the Yankees, who have historically owned Minnesota in the playoffs. But New York’s past triumphs came during series. The wild-card round is a one-off, increasing the odds of an upset. The Twins’ No. 1 starter, Ervin Santana, allowed two or fewer runs in 20 of 33 starts during the regular season. If he’s that stingy against the Yankees on Tuesday – an admittedly tall order – an upset could be in the offing.

    (Poll link for app users)


    And now for the most important question (poll link for app users)…

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Activate Miguel Sano From Disabled List]]> 2017-09-29T19:54:31Z 2017-09-29T19:54:31Z The Twins have activated third baseman Miguel Sano from the 10-day disabled list, as per a team announcement.  The slugger last played on August 19, a day after fouling a ball off his left shin and causing a stress reaction.

    What was initially thought to be some minor soreness led to a pretty lengthy DL stint for Sano, and even some worry that he wouldn’t be able to return this season.  However, Sano reportedly made some progress in recent days at swinging the bat, looking good enough that the Twins feel comfortable in activating him in time for their final regular-season series, and of course their upcoming AL wild card game appearance.  Of course, there isn’t yet any guarantee about how much action Sano will see, whether he returns to the everyday lineup or is used as a pinch-hitting threat.

    The Twins’ run to a wild card after a 103-loss season in 2016 is amazing enough, though it’s even more surprising that Minnesota was able to hold steady through September even without its top hitter.  Sano has a .267/.356/.514 slash line and 28 homers over 475 PA, with a 126 wRC+ that leads all Twins hitters.

    Given both the nature of Sano’s injury and the fact that he isn’t a speedy runner even at the best of times, one would think the Twins will be looking to use Sano as a designated hitter the rest of the way.  Eduardo Escobar has filled in at third base in Sano’s absence and delivered some unexpected power, hitting .257/.299/.584 with eight homers over 107 September plate appearances.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Miguel Sano Making Progress]]> 2017-09-28T14:32:55Z 2017-09-28T14:32:55Z
  • On Wednesday, the Twins became the final American League team to clinch a playoff spot. Here’s more good news for Minnesota: Third baseman Miguel Sano, out since Aug. 19 with a stress reaction to his left shin, is making progress in his recovery. The slugger took 60 swings Wednesday and could do the same Thursday, with chief baseball officer Derek Falvey noting that Sano’s “in a better spot now,” Rhett Bollinger of reports. While Sano probably won’t be active for the Twins’ wild-card game against either the Yankees or Red Sox, he could be a factor if the club advances to the ALDS, per Bollinger. The Twins have gone 21-16 since Sano’s injury, even though his absence has deprived them of a hitter who recorded a terrific .267/.356/.514 line with 28 home runs in 475 trips to the plate.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On ByungHo Park]]> 2017-09-27T14:17:33Z 2017-09-27T14:17:33Z
  • 2017 has been a struggle for ByungHo Park, who spent the entire season in the minors.  While Park has yet to deliver on his four-year, $12MM contract, Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that “we have every expectation he’ll remain at this point” rather than explore a return to South Korean baseball.  In fact, Park will be spending much of the offseason in North America, working out at the Twins’ facilities.  The first baseman posted a .684 OPS over 244 plate appearances for the Twins in 2016, then hit .253/.308/.415 with 14 homers over 455 PA for Triple-A Rochester this season.  Despite these struggles and some injuries, Park has dealt with his situation “incredibly professionally,” Falvey said.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Falvey On Restructuring Of International Scouting Department]]> 2017-09-25T16:28:23Z 2017-09-25T16:27:28Z
  • The Twins cut international scouting director Howard Norsetter loose last week, and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey explains to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press that changes to amateur international free agency in the latest collective bargaining agreement played a significant role in the decision. “Historically you did have markets all over the place where you could run independently,” says Falvey. “The way the bonus structures worked, there was no cap, there were no limitations. Now we have it all under one umbrella. Where we devote our time, our resources and otherwise, we’ve revisited that to some degree.” Norsetter was based in Australia and was responsible for scouting virtually everywhere outside of Latin America, where Fred Guerrero was the Twins’ scouting coordinator. Falvey says the Twins will “re-appropriate” resources toward Latin American scouting, and Berardino notes that Guerrero could take on a larger role in the department.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Miguel Sano]]> 2017-09-23T21:10:17Z 2017-09-23T21:10:01Z TODAY: Sano has yet to resume baseball activity, Bollinger tweets in the latest update, as the third baseman has continued to receive treatment on his shin.

    WEDNESDAY: The Twins are currently 1.5 games up on the Angels for the second Wild Card spot and have a favorable remaining schedule — seven games against the rebuilding Tigers — but they may be without their top slugger over the final 11 games. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Rhett Bollinger of write that Miguel Sano looks to be running out of time to make a regular-season return.

    Sano hasn’t played since fouling a ball into his shin on Aug. 19 — a seemingly innocuous incident that ultimately caused a stress reaction which has prevented him from running without pain. It’s been previously suggested that Sano wouldn’t play third base again this season even if he did return, instead serving as the Twins’ primary DH due to the difficulties that the shin issue could present with his mobility at the hot corner. But, with 11 games remaining, Sano has yet to run the bases, and it’s now a question of whether he will take another at-bat at all.

    “My biggest concern now is even if he gets to the point where we get him on the field in any capacity, how much of a challenge is it going to be for him to have any type of timing at all?” manager Paul Molitor said to Twin Cities media. “…It’s hard to speculate until we get to where someone tells me he’s going to give it a shot and he’s got clearance and he feels good enough to be able to run 75 percent and let’s see where we’re at. I don’t know if that’s going to happen.”

    Eduardo Escobar has ably filled in for Sano over the past month, moving from a utility role to everyday third baseman and a surprisingly powerful middle-of-the-order bat. In Sano’s absence, the switch-hitting Escobar has batted .248 with just a .297 on-base percentage but a gaudy .530 slugging percentage as well (109 wRC+). Escobar has homered eight times and also chipped in three doubles and three triples with Sano on the shelf.

    It remains to be seen whether the Twins would press the issue and try to work Sano back into the lineup for a theoretical Wild Card berth of American League Division Series appearance, should they advance that far. Even with Escobar showing surprising pop at third base, Sano’s absence is a significant blow for a team that is within arm’s reach of its first playoff appearance since the 2010 campaign — the inaugural season of Minneapolis’ Target Field. In 111 games and 475 plate appearances this year, Sano slashed .267/.356/.514 with 28 homers, 15 doubles and a pair of triples — good for a 126 wRC+.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins To Sign Venezuelan Prospect Carlos Aguiar]]> 2017-09-23T15:05:04Z 2017-09-23T15:05:04Z The Twins have agreed to a deal with Venezuelan outfielder Carlos Aguiar, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.  The contract contains a $1MM bonus.

    Aguiar wasn’t eligible to be signed until his 16th birthday, which took place on August 28.  “Several late suitors” besides the Twins were also vying for Aguiar’s services, Berardino writes, though Aguiar had been linked to Minnesota since well before the 2017-18 international signing period opened on July 2.

    Aguiar ranked 30th on Baseball America’s list of the top 50 (non-Cuban) prospects in the 2017-18 international class.  A left-handed hitter, Aguiar is already 6’3″ and 190 pounds at his young age.

    The Twins already made one big splash in this year’s int’l market with their $3MM signing of Dominican shortstop Jelfry Marte, one of the priciest bonuses handed out to any player in this year’s class.  Minnesota entered July 2 with a total bonus pool of $5.25MM and acquired another $500K in international spending money from the Nationals as part of the Brandon Kintzler trade.  $4.3MM of that $5.75MM total has been accounted for between the bonuses for Marte, Aguiar and Dominican outfielder Luis Baez, who signed for $300K.

    Berardino also reports that Mauro Bonifacio, a Dominican outfielder long linked to the Twins, has been drawing attention from other teams and now won’t be signing with Minnesota.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Continue Making Scouting & Development Changes]]> 2017-09-22T23:19:24Z 2017-09-21T18:58:42Z
  • The Twins have been making some scouting and development changes, as do many teams this time of year. International scouting coordinator Howard Norsetter was fired, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports. Norsetter had run the team’s efforts to find amateur talent abroad, excepting Latin America. The club also added a new part-time scout in Japan, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rand On First Year For Falvey, Levine]]> 2017-09-20T19:52:58Z 2017-09-20T19:52:58Z
  • With the Twins in the thick of a Wild Card race, Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a look at the first season of work from new front-office tandem Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Rand notes that the team’s show of faith in in-house young talent like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and Jose Berrios has proven to be shrewd, as as their emphasis on improving catcher defense and adding high-character veterans. The Twins, however, failed to sufficiently address the bullpen despite it being a clear point of need this winter, Rand opines, and the decision to tender lefty Hector Santiago for $8MM looks especially questionable with the benefit of hindsight.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Buxton, Granite On Mientkiewicz's Departure]]> 2017-09-18T14:48:13Z 2017-09-18T14:24:57Z
  • Byron Buxton and Zach Granite were among the Twins players that were disappointed to hear of the team’s firing of minor league skipper Doug Mientkiewicz, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The longtime Twins first baseman has been managing in Minnesota’s minor league ranks for the past five years and enjoyed his fair share of winning (four playoff appearances), but the team won’t bring him back for a sixth season. “He knows how to bring out the best in players,” Buxton tells Berardino. “He was very fiery. When you did things right, he would let you know, and when you did things wrong, he’d let you know as well — and he’d tell you ways to correct. … He was more of a brother to us.” Granite, the Twins’ minor league player of the year in 2016, credits Mientkiewicz for teaching him ho to drive the ball and taking his game “to the next level.”
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Levine: Gibson "Has Established Himself" As Part Of Twins' Pitching Equation]]> 2017-09-15T16:22:28Z 2017-09-15T16:14:29Z Though right-hander Kyle Gibson at one point looked like a clear non-tender candidate for the Twins this offseason, his revitalized performance in the season’s second half makes it look far likelier that he’ll return. The 29-year-old former first-rounder limped to a ghastly 6.29 ERA with 5.9 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 51.1 percent ground-ball rate through the season’s first half and was even optioned to Triple-A Rochester back in May. However, he’s logged a brilliant 2.83 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 1.8 BB/9 and a 50.6 percent grounder rate in 54 innings across his past nine outings.

    Asked by 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson on his latest podcast if Gibson would be tendered a contract this winter (audio link, with Levine joining around the 27-minute mark and discussing Gibson at 37 minutes), Levine replied: “Starting pitching — and quality starting pitching — is at a premium. … Depth is tantamount. We are aspirational of being a playoff-relevant team moving forward. Those types of teams need to have a wealth of starting pitching options, and I think Kyle Gibson has established himself as very much a part of that equation moving forward for the Minnesota Twins.” Gibson is earning $2.9MM in 2017, and while there’s still of course time for things to change, it sounds like he’ll be retained and earn a slight raise on that figure for the 2018 campaign.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Giants Claim Engelb Vielma]]> 2017-09-14T21:29:19Z 2017-09-14T20:13:42Z 3:13 pm: Vielma has been claimed by the Giants, Darren Wolfson of KSTP News reports via twitter.

    The former Twins infield prospect adds a bit of depth to a Giants team that has been in dire need of a defensively-minded backup infielder lately. Both Kelby Tomlinson and Orlando Calixte have been underwhelming with the glove this season, so if Vielma can develop even a replacement-level offensive skillset, his defensive wizardry could make him a solid utility option for San Francisco.

    2:54 pm: Recently-designated Twins infielder Engelb Vielma has been claimed off waivers by an unknown National League club, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

    Vielma was designated for assignment by the Twins on Tuesday in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for lefty reliever Gabriel Moya. The switch-hitting shortstop has yet play in the majors. In 314 plate appearances at AAA this year, he put up an unimpressive .206/.233/.260 batting line.

    In spite of his poor hitting, it makes sense that an organization would have interest in Vielma. He has been rated as the Twins’ best defensive minor-league infielder for multiple years, and could serve as an excellent defensive replacement or utility option. It’s possible he could still carve out a path to the majors, but he’d need to make major improvements with the bat.

    Vielma, a 23-year old native of Venezuela was first added to the Twins’ 40-man roster this past offseason in order to protect him from the rule five draft after he managed to get on base at a .344 clip between High-A and Double-A in 2016.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[2017 Rule 5 Roundup]]> 2017-09-14T16:14:45Z 2017-09-14T14:15:17Z With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:


    It isn’t official yet, but these

    • Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
    • Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
    • Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
    • Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
    • Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.

    Still In Limbo

    • Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
    • Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
    • Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
    • Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.

    Kept By Other Means

    • Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.

    Already Returned

    • Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
    • Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
    • Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
    • Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
    • Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
    • Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
    • Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
    • Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Sano Nearing Return, Likely As DH]]> 2017-09-14T03:14:00Z 2017-09-14T03:14:00Z
  • Miguel Sano’s return from a stress reaction in his left shin has been slow to progress, though the Twins slugger did some running drills Monday and took batting practice Tuesday, as Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes. If and when Sano is ready to return — which could come in the next week, per Graff — it’s likely that he’ll be back in the lineup as the designated hitter. Manager Paul Molitor told reporters that he’s more concerned about the absence of Sano’s bat from the lineup than he is about his ability to return to the hot corner. The Twins are 11-10 in Sano’s absence, Graff points out, though certainly the Twins must be eager for the return of Sano’s .267/.356/.514 batting line and 28 homers as they look to hang onto the American League’s second Wild Card slot.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Designate Engelb Vielma For Assignment]]> 2017-09-12T22:17:16Z 2017-09-12T20:42:16Z The Twins announced today that they’ve selected the contract of left-handed reliever Gabriel Moya from Double-A Chattanooga and designated minor league shortstop Engelb Vielma for assignment in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

    Vielma, 23, was added to the 40-man roster last offseason to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft despite a lack of offensive track record in the Majors. The Venezuelan native has drawn praise for defensive abilities in the past, though Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen wrote last offseason that he may not have enough bat to even profile as a utility option. Baseball America rated him 25th among Minnesota prospects in the offseason, calling him the system’s best pure shortstop but expressing similar concerns about his offense.

    Minnesota put him on the 40-man last offseason after he hit .265/.344/.310 between Class-A Advanced and Double-A, but he’s taken a step back from even that modest level of output in 2017. This year, Vielma split the season between Double-A and Triple-A, where he batted .229/.273/.280 through 455 plate appearances.

    The 22-year-old Moya has posted video-game numbers in Double-A this year, working to a combined 0.77 ERA with 13.4 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 with a ground-ball rate of about 41 percent through 58 1/3 innings between two organizations. Acquired from Arizona in late July for catcher John Ryan Murphy, Moya would have been added to the 40-man this winter as well, so this move will just give Minnesota an earlier chance to evaluate him for a future role.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Added To The 40-Man Roster: Arano, Moya]]> 2017-09-12T14:26:17Z 2017-09-12T14:23:33Z A couple of 40-man additions to kick things off Tuesday morning…

    • The Phillies will add not only Henderson Alvarez to the 40-man roster — as was reported yesterday — but also right-hander Victor Arano, according to CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury (Twitter link). The hard-throwing 22-year-old, who ranks 27th on’s list of the Phillies’ top 30 prospects, spent the season pitching against older competition with Double-A Reading and posted a 4.19 ERA with 8.8 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and a 38.9 percent ground-ball rate.’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo note in their free report on him that a move to the bullpen in 2017 and a focus on his slider as his primary breaking pitch have both allowed Arano’s stuff to play up in the bullpen. Arano needed to be added to the 40-man this winter anyhow in order to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft, so the Phils will add him a bit earlier and take a few looks at him against MLB pitching down the stretch. He opened the year with an arm injury — reportedly a sprained UCL — but made his way back to toss 38 2/3 innings this season.
    • The Twins look set to add lefty reliever Gabriel Moya to their 40-man roster. Venezuelan journalist Dessiree Castro tweeted that Moya was promoted to the Majors, and Moya’s former pitching coach in the D-backs’ minor league system did the same. Moya rated at the back-end of the Twins’ top 30 at before the trades of Jaime Garcia and Brandon Kintzler added a couple of new names to that list. The 22-year-old has posted video-game numbers in Double-A this year, working to a combined 0.77 ERA with 13.4 K/9 against 2.3 BB/9 with a ground-ball rate of about 41 percent through 58 1/3 innings. Acquired from Arizona in late July for catcher John Ryan Murphy, Moya would have been added to the 40-man this winter as well, so this move will just give Minnesota an earlier chance to evaluate him for a future role.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Free Agents That Have Boosted Their Stock On One-Year Deals]]> 2017-09-12T15:20:11Z 2017-09-11T17:19:10Z With the offseason looming, it’s easy to focus on the top free agents this winter will have to offer. We at MLBTR reinforce that line of thinking with monthly Free Agent Power Rankings that profile the top names slated to hit the open market and ranking them in terms of earning power.

    Settling for a one-year contract isn’t an ideal route for most free agents, but that doesn’t mean that those (relative) bargain pickups can’t bring significant on-field impact to the teams with which they sign. While none of the players on this list received all that much fanfare when signing, they’ve all provided some notable benefit to the teams that made these commitments:

    • Kurt Suzuki, $1.5MM, Braves: Suzuki languished in free agency for several months as players like Jason Castro, Matt Wieters and Welington Castillo all generated more attention from teams and fans. However, it might be Suzuki that has provided the most bang for buck on last winter’s catching market. The 33-year-old has had a surprising career year in Atlanta, hitting .266/.344/.507 with 15 homers to date. Some have been quick to suggest that Atlanta’s new homer-happy stadium has benefited Suzuki, and while that may be true to an extent, he’s hit for more power on the road than at home. He’s put himself in position for a possible two-year deal this winter, but if he has to settle for one yet again, it should come at a higher rate.
    • Adam Lind, $1.5MM, Nationals: An awful 2016 season and an overcrowded market for corner bats created some questions about whether Lind would have to settle for a minor league contract late last winter. He ultimately secured a guaranteed deal, but it came with just a $1MM base and a $500K buyout of a mutual option. For that meager commitment, he’s given the Nats 267 plate appearances with a .297/.352/.490 slash to go along with 11 homers. Like Suzuki, that might not land him a starting role, but it could land him multiple years as a complementary bench piece.
    • Chris Iannetta, $1.5MM, Diamondbacks: Iannetta has not only rediscovered his power stroke in 2017 — he’s made it better than ever. The 34-year-old’s .249 ISO is a career best, and he’s slugged 14 homers. While that’s still four shy of his career-best with the 2008 Rockies, Iannetta’s 14 big flies this year have come in just 272 PAs, whereas he needed 407 to reach 18 back in ’08. He’s also bounced back from a down year in the framing department and been above average in that regard, per Baseball Prospectus.
    • Jhoulys Chacin and Clayton Richard, $1.75MM each, Padres: The Friars signed four starters for $3MM or less last winter — Jered Weaver and Trevor Cahill being the others — and have received a combined 345 innings out of this pair. Chacin’s run-prevention (4.06 ERA) and strikeout rate (7.44 K/9) have been better, while Richard has 13 more innings (179 total), superior control (2.6 BB/9) and superior ground-ball tendencies (59.1 percent). Neither is going to be mistaken for much more than a back-of-the-rotation stabilizer, but both have done enough to garner larger commitments on the upcoming open market.
    • Brian Duensing, $2MM, Cubs: I doubt I was alone in being surprised to see Duensing, 34, land a Major League deal last winter on the heels of a lackluster season in the Orioles organization. Duensing, though, has quietly been outstanding for the Cubs. In 54 2/3 innings, he’s logged a career-high 9.05 K/9 rate with 2.30 BB/9 and a 47 percent ground-ball rate en route to a 2.63 ERA. He’s held lefties in check reasonably well, but the first time in his career he’s also striking out right-handed batters at a lofty rate. In fact, the .211/.276/.317 that righties have posted against him is actually weaker than the .256/.300/.388 slash to which he’s limited left-handed bats.
    • Matt Belisle, $2.05MM, Twins: Belisle’s inclusion is arguable; he’s posted a pedestrian 4.36 ERA with 8.55 K/9, 3.69 BB/9 and a 42.2 percent ground-ball rate. Those numbers are largely skewed by a putrid month of May, however. Since June 3, Belisle has a 2.25 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning and improved control and ground-ball tendencies — all while stepping into higher and higher leverage roles. He’s now serving as the Twins’ closer and has a 1.54 ERA with a 29-to-5 K/BB ratio since July 1. He’ll be 38 next season, so the earning power here isn’t sky-high, but he’s probably earned a raise, barring a late collapse.
    • Logan Morrison, $2.5MM, Rays: Few players have benefited more from one-year, “pillow” contracts in  recent memory than Morrison, who has parlayed his $2.5MM deal into a .248/.355/.529 batting line and a 36-homer season campaign to date. Morrison only just turned 30 years old, so he’ll have age on his side this winter as well. A three- or four-year deal seems plausible for Morrison even with the diminished recent market for corner bats.
    • Alex Avila, $2.5MM, Tigers: Avila hasn’t been as excellent with the Cubs as he was with the Tigers, but he’s still among the league leaders in hard contact and exit velocity — both of which have beautifully complemented his always-terrific walk rate (15.9 percent in 2016). With 14 homers under his belt and a batting line that grades out roughly 25 percent better than the league average, per context-neutral metrics like OPS+ (124) and wRC+ (127), Avila could vie for a multi-year deal and/or a starting job this offseason.
    • Joe Smith, $3MM, Blue Jays: Smith’s K/9 has nearly doubled, from 6.92 in 2016 to 11.86 in 2017, and he’s posted a dramatically improved 1.82 BB/9 this year as well. Smith has also served up just three homers in 49 1/3 innings of work, and his 3.10 ERA, while solid, is actually representative of some poor fortune in the estimation of fielding-independent metrics (1.97 FIP, 2.35 xFIP, 2.34 SIERA). He’ll be 34 next year but should top that $3MM mark and could net the second multi-year free-agent deal of his career.
    • Andrew Cashner, $10MM, Rangers: MLBTR’s Jeff Todd recently took a more in-depth look at Cashner, noting that his strong 3.19 ERA isn’t backed up by his K/BB numbers. Cashner’s complete lack of missed bats — he has the lowest swinging-strike rate and second-lowest K/9 rate of qualified MLB starters — is going to limit his earning power. But, he’s undeniably been better than he was in 2016, his velocity is comparable to last season and he’s limited hard contact quite well. A multi-year deal is certainly a possibility this offseason.
    • Carlos Gomez, $11.5MM, Rangers: Gomez’s production hasn’t reached the star levels it did in 2013-14, but he’s been a better performer at the plate this season. A spike in his OBP (from .298 to .337) is due largely to a massive increase in the number of pitches by which he’s been hit, which is less encouraging than if he’d upped his walk rate considerably. However, Gomez has also shown quite a bit more power in 2017 than he had in recent seasons (.208 ISO in ’17 vs. .153 in ’15-16 combined), and Defensive Runs Saved feels he’s improved in center field as well. Gomez won’t see the massive payday he looked to be on pace for after 2014, but he’s still young enough to notch a multi-year deal this winter.

    Notable exceptions: Neither Welington Castillo nor Greg Holland is included on this list, though both have provided good value to their new teams (Castillo in particular). While their contracts are often referred to as one-year deals with a player option, that type of contract is no more a one-year deal than Jason Heyward’s eight-year, $184MM deal with a third-year opt-out is a three-year deal. Both players were guaranteed the possibility to be under contract for two years, and those agreements are considered two-year deals for the purposes of this list.

    Jerry Blevins has also given the Mets terrific value on his one-year, $6.5MM deal, but the club option attached to that deal is a veritable lock to be exercised, so he’s unlikely to hit the free-agent market again following the season.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Hector Santiago Likely Done For Year]]> 2017-09-09T23:40:50Z 2017-09-09T23:40:50Z
  • Twins manager Paul Molitor told reporters Friday that left-hander Hector Santiago is likely done for the season (via Rhett Bollinger of Santiago, who hasn’t taken a major league mound since July 2 because of a shoulder strain, threw just 84 mph to 87 mph in a Triple-A rehab start Sunday (down from his usual low-90s velocity) and is undergoing further testing in Minnesota, according to Bollinger. With his contract set to expire at season’s end, the 29-year-old Santiago may be done as a Twin. Formerly a capable starter with the White Sox and Angels, Santiago has posted unsightly numbers – including a 5.61 ERA and a 28.4 percent groundball rate – over 131 2/3 innings since the Twins acquired him from Los Angeles last summer.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Likely Done With September Call-Ups]]> 2017-09-08T02:10:33Z 2017-09-08T02:10:33Z
  • Jake Depue of 1500 ESPN spoke to Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey this week about top pitching prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero and the progress that the pair made in 2017. While there’d been some speculation that Gonsalves could join the team in September, Falvey hinted at some inconsistencies following a promotion to Triple-A Rochester. “We’ve seen some really good outings from him,” said Falvey. “…We’ve also seen probably the natural fatigue that a pitcher goes through late in the year, and he’s had some of those outings too.” Falvey ultimately acknowledged that the team felt Triple-A was “the best environment” for Gonsalves, with whom the team will be careful from a developmental standpoint. Indeed, Twins manager Paul Molitor told reporters prior to Thursday night’s game that the team was likely done making September call-ups (Twitter link via Rhett Bollinger of
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Select Tonkin's Contract, Place Chargois On 60-Day DL]]> 2017-09-06T04:33:45Z 2017-09-05T23:00:55Z
  • The Twins announced that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Michael Tonkin and created space by recalling righty J.T. Chargois from Triple-A and placing him on the Major League 60-day disabled list. The 27-year-old Tonkin was once one of the more promising bullpen prospects in the Twins’ system, but he’s underwhelmed in numerous auditions over the past few years. Minnesota outrighted him earlier this year, but he’s back after pitching to a brilliant 1.73 ERA with 13.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and a 45.5 percent ground-ball rate in 41 2/3 innings with Triple-A Rochester. Chargois posted video game numbers between Double-A and Triple-A last year and was viewed as a potential option in 2017, but he’s missed most of the year with a right elbow impingement.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Falvey On Twins' Trade Deadline Moves]]> 2017-08-30T18:46:45Z 2017-08-30T17:53:02Z
  • Twins GM Derek Falvey spoke with Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic about his team’s interesting summer (subscription required and recommended). The rookie front-office man says that the club’s mid-July pivot, in which it acquired and then traded away Jaime Garcia and also shipped out Brandon Kintzler, led to some clubhouse disappointment. But, he says, “the front office had a plan for the long term.” Of course, Minnesota’s players have made a pivot of their own ever since, surging into Wild Card position.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Wright, Cueto, Kershaw, Wood, Ethier, Sano, Ramirez, Bailey]]> 2017-08-30T13:50:24Z 2017-08-30T13:50:24Z Though he is now dealing with yet another setback and has not appeared in the majors since May of last year, Mets third baseman David Wright is not considering retiring, a source tells Mike Puma of the New York Post. A lingering shoulder injury is the most immediate problem limiting Wright, though he has also dealt with significant neck and back issues that he’ll continue to battle in the future. With three years and $47MM left on his contract, Wright will evidently keep trying to make it back to the majors, though at present it is unclear what course he’ll take in trying to overcome his maladies.

    Here’s more on some other injury situations from around the game:

    • Giants righty Johnny Cueto said he feels ready to return to the majors, as Alex Pavlovic of CSN Bay Area writes. He has taken two rehab starts in his bid to return from a flexor strain that has kept him out of action since mid-July. That injury seemingly makes it quite likely that Cueto will elect not to opt out of the remaining four years and $84MM of his contract this fall. Cueto seemingly acknowledged that, saying that his “whole mentality has been for me to stay here,” though he also noted that’ll be a decision that’s made in consultation with his agent at season’s end.
    • The Dodgers are set to welcome back a pair of key southpaws later this week, as Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports (Twitter links). Clayton Kershaw is scheduled to pitch Friday, with Alex Wood taking the ball on Sunday. Kershaw has been out since late July, making for the second-straight year in which he has missed significant time due to back issues. Wood’s DL stint has been of a shorter duration, with the belief being that his SC joint inflammation is something that can be managed rather than a symptom of a more significant problem. Needless to say, both are critical to the team’s ever-rising postseason expectations. The Dodgers are also awaiting a return from yet another starter, righty Brandon McCarthy, who has been out with a finger blister. As Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register tweets, the right-hander’s scheduled rehab start this week has been bumped, so his status is unclear at the moment.
    • Also nearing his return to the Dodgers is veteran outfielder Andre Ethier, as Plunkett further reports on Twitter. The club will make a move after rosters expand at the start of September. The 35-year-old faces an uncertain playing-time situation, to be sure. Los Angeles just added a left-handed-hitting veteran outfielder in Curtis Granderson and now features Adrian Gonzalez as a southpaw-swinging bench bat. Ethier has missed the entire season to date with a herniated disc in his back. He’ll almost certainly hit the open market after this year, receiving a $2.5MM buyout if (likely, when) the team declines a $17.5MM club option. Despite his many recent medical problems, there ought to be some market if Ethier can show he’s healthy in September; after all, as recently as 2015 he was a productive hitter (.294/.366/.486 over 445 plate appearances).
    • While the Twins are currently pacing the pack for the second American League Wild Card spot, the team has gone without key slugger Miguel Sano. While he does seem to be improving from what has been called a “stress reaction” to his left shin, writes’s Rhett Bollinger, Sano still hasn’t begun running or fielding. Manager Paul Molitor says things are “moving rather slowly” for the third baseman. Sano, 24, has turned in 475 plate appearances of .267/.356/.514 hitting with 28 home runs on the year, meaning the team is going without a middle-of-the-order bat that isn’t really replaceable. Given the nature of his injury, though, there’s likely not much that can be done but hope that he responds to treatment.
    • The Angels are awaiting news from a re-examination of right-hander J.C. Ramirez after he underwent a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow, Pedro Moura  of the Los Angeles Times tweets. Ramirez, 29, had settled into a starting role for the club, providing 147 1/3 innings of 4.15 ERA ball to a rotation that badly needed it. That sets him up fairly well as a possible Super Two candidate; it remains to be seen whether Ramirez will qualify for arbitration after entering the year with 1.139 years of service. Given that he only just underwent that injection, though, it seems optimistic to expect that he’ll make it back to the mound in 2017.
    • Meanwhile, fellow Angels righty Andrew Bailey is giving up any attempts to return in the present season, Moura further reports on Twitter. He will, however, attempt to get his shoulder back to health in order to return in 2018. Bailey had shown well for the Halos in a late-season stint last year and re-signed with the club for $1MM over the winter, but has managed only four major-league frames on the year. He’s set to return to the open market at the end of the season.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Joe Nathan To Formally Announce Retirement]]> 2017-08-29T18:53:52Z 2017-08-29T18:47:17Z Six-time All-Star Joe Nathan will formally announce his retirement in a press conference at Target Field on Friday, the Twins announced. The Twins will not only host Nathan’s press conference, they’ll honor arguably the best reliever in franchise history in a pregame ceremony prior to Friday’s game against the Royals.

    Nathan, 42, broke into the Majors as a 24-year-old with the Giants in 1999, but he didn’t establish himself as a quality big league reliever until his age-28 season in San Francisco. Few would’ve predicted that he’d go on to solidify himself as one of the best relievers on the planet in the years to come, but the Twins were the beneficiary of Nathan’s late-blooming right arm. Minnesota acquired Nathan, Francisco Liriano and right-hander Boof Bonser from the Giants in exchange for the final year of A.J. Pierzynski’s contract in a swap that would help to serve as a foundational move for a sustained run of division contenders in the final years of the Metrodome in Minneapolis.

    Nathan spent eight years in a Twins uniform (though his 2010 season was lost to Tommy John surgery), during which time he posted a sensational 2.16 ERA with averages of 10.9 strikeouts and 2.6 walks per nine innings pitched. From 2004-09, in particular, Nathan dominated to the tune of a 1.87 ERA with an average of 41 saves per season. Overall, Nathan saved 260 games for the Twins from 2004-11, helping Minnesota to the postseason in 2004, 2006 and 2009 (in addition to a Game 163 playoff against the White Sox in 2008).

    Following his time in Minnesota, he enjoyed two excellent seasons with the Rangers before signing one last significant contract: a two-year deal with the Tigers. Nathan struggled in his first season in Detroit, then missed nearly the entire second season of that pact due to another Tommy John surgery.

    Undeterred by another UCL tear at the age of 40, Nathan rehabbed his elbow and worked his way back to the big leagues at the tail end of the 2016 season, tossing a combined 6 1/3 scoreless innings for the Cubs and the Giants. He inked a minor league deal with the Nationals this winter but wasn’t able to crack the team’s big league roster in Spring Training. After two months pitching for Washington’s Triple-A affiliate, Nathan requested his release.

    Nathan’s career will officially come to a close with a 64-34 record and 377 saves. He’ll retire with a lifetime 2.87 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, roughly 27 wins above replacement under his belt (per rWAR and RA9-WAR) and more than $86MM in career earnings. Twins fans will remember Nathan for his quirks on the mound, his leadership on the pitching staff and one of the most prolonged stretches of dominance of any pitcher in Twins history. Congratulations to Joe on an outstanding career.

    Trevor May <![CDATA[Fandom: The Reason I Do It, Every Day]]> 2017-08-29T15:37:27Z 2017-08-29T15:37:27Z This is the third installment from Twins right-hander Trevor May in MLBTR’s Player’s Perspective series. We at MLBTR are fortunate to have him share his thoughts and experiences as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery. You can check out his first two posts and also submit questions for an upcoming Mailbag hosted by Trevor:

    It’s been a hot minute since my last post (writing is hard!), so let’s dive right into entry #3, which covers a topic that unites you (reader) and me (writer), while also providing the very foundation for a cool website like MLB Trade Rumors: Fandom.

    Do you remember in my first post when I mentioned that every single situation in life has a silver lining? I not only believe this — I actually spend considerable time in my day-to-day life making sure I seek out, identify and appreciate these silver linings. This rehab process has provided me with a whole bunch of silver linings, the most impactful of which might just be the rediscovery of my own personal fandom for the game of baseball.

    There is a perception across the baseball community that a thick, bold line divides players and fans…and that is mostly (and unfortunately) true. That said, while all fans will not have the opportunity to take the Target Field mound in front of 40,000 screaming people, I think it’s important for you guys to know that every single player carries his own unique memories of when he first felt love for this wonderful game. And we all — players, fans, kids, adults alike — still have moments that bring us back to our sacred baseball roots. I had one recently.

    Screen goes all wavy, flashback style. “Several weeks ago…” comes into view… then fades.

    It really hit me unexpectedly. I was streaming “MLB the Show” on Twitch, a game that, as you can imagine, brings a majority of baseball fans into the channel. I use this time as opportunity to focus discussion around baseball, to make myself available to questions and answer them en masse. It was the day of the Home Run Derby, my teammate Miguel Sano was participating, and I decided that I could extend the stream a little and watch the competition with the viewers.

    Man, was it a blast.

    In the last few years, I’ve not watched the All-Star festivities much at all. Those four days were for mental and physical rest, a complete removal from baseball. This year, having been benched by Tommy John surgery, I wanted to watch. I wanted to feel excitement, root for my guy, my teammate, as a FAN.

    It’s a crazy thing, the difference between rooting as a fan and and rooting as member of the team. It takes you back to the times as a wide-eyed 10-year-old watching Griffey go deep over and over again toward his eventual 1999 Home Run Derby triumph. I even got to interact, in real-time, with a bunch of baseball fans rooting for their own heroes. I had a perspective that I hadn’t had in quite a while.

    I have so much gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had, for everything I’ve learned and overcome in my journey from a small town in southwest Washington to the Big Leagues. It’s easy to lose that perspective, especially when baseball has been your job for 10 years. But, as I keep saying, there are always silver linings (I’m probably at the point that this sentence should be tattooed on me somewhere). Surgery has allowed me to see the game through fans’ eyes with clarity once again. I just want to go into the back yard like I used to on those warm summer nights of my youth, and practice my windup. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, perfect game on the line. I cannot wait to get back on that field.

    Don’t forget to follow me on TwitterInstagramYouTube and Twitch for updates on all of that and, of course, for great conversation!

    Trevor will be opening up the mailbag for his next post at MLB Trade Rumors.  If you’ve got a question for him, email it to!

    Jason Martinez <![CDATA[Knocking Down The Door: Anderson, Gonsalves, Lopez, Maples, Walker]]> 2017-08-28T20:56:16Z 2017-08-28T19:03:11Z “Knocking Down the Door” is a regular feature that identifies minor leaguers who are making a case for a big league promotion.

    Brian Anderson, 3B, Miami Marlins (Triple-A New Orleans) | Marlins Depth Chart

    Brian Anderson | Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsSince a mid-July promotion to Triple-A New Orleans, the 24-year-old Anderson has been hitting like someone who knows he’s auditioning for a Major League job. In 29 Pacific Coast League games, the right-handed hitting third baseman is slashing .350/.420/.631 with eight home runs and 12 multi-hit games.

    Dee Gordon and Martin Prado will presumably be on the trade block this offseason, and the Marlins wouldn’t pull the trigger on dealing either player without knowing if they have a potential in-house replacement (Prado could move to second base if Gordon is traded). If there is a Marlins prospect who is a candidate to step into a starting role in 2018, it would be Anderson, a former third-round draft pick. Calling him up in the near future and giving him 100+ plate appearances would give the Marlins a much better idea of how capable he is of becoming their starting third baseman next season.

    Stephen Gonsalves, SP, Minnesota Twins (Triple-A Rochester) | Twins Depth Chart

    A shoulder injury that pushed Gonsalves’ season debut to mid-May could be a blessing in disguise for him and the Twins. While most starting pitching prospects are usually close to their innings limit in August and not expected to contribute much at the Major League level in September and beyond, Gonsalves is at 109 2/3 innings after his latest start. Considering that he threw 140 innings during a breakout 2016 in which he appeared very much on the fast track to the Major Leagues, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s pitching for the playoff-contending Twins late this season.

    The 23-year-old lefty was recently promoted to Triple-A following a dominant 28-start stint in Double-A (161 2/3 IP, 2.28 ERA, 6.1 H/9, 3.3 BB/9, 10.3 K/9) over the past two seasons. After posting back-to-back quality starts, Gonsalves struggled in his third Triple-A outing before bouncing back with another stellar effort over the weekend (6 IP, ER, 7 H, BB, 6 K). The Twins are currently in possession of a Wild Card berth with Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee serving as their fourth and fifth starters, respectively. If they’re going to hold on, they might need to turn to their farm system one more time. Gonsalves could be the difference maker.

    Jose Lopez, SP, Cincinnati Reds (Double-A Pensacola) | Reds Depth Chart

    The 23-year-old Lopez is only three months removed from pitching in the High-A Florida State League, but there are already several reasons to believe that he’s not far away from the Majors. After allowing 15 earned runs in his first 27 innings with Double-A Pensacola, the right-hander has been one of the best pitchers in the Minor Leagues. In his last 10 starts, he has a 1.24 ERA with 4.8 H/9, 1.6 BB/9 and 8.0 K/9. He’s completed at least six innings and hasn’t allowed more than two earned runs or five hits over that span.

    During Lopez’s first crack at the upper minors, he’s shown an ability to make adjustments, miss bats, throw strikes and pitch deep into games—he has a 68.5% strike rate and hasn’t thrown more than 96 pitches in any of his 10 consecutive quality starts. Tyler Mahle, who made this list on May 1st and June 27thbecame the 15th Reds’ pitcher to make a start in 2017 when he made his MLB debut yesterday. Lopez deserves to be the 16th.

    Dillon Maples, RP, Chicago Cubs (Triple-A Iowa) | Cubs Depth Chart 

    The Cubs appeared to solidify what was already a deep and talented bullpen by acquiring lefty Justin Wilson at the trade deadline. Wilson has been mostly ineffective, however, while the team’s other key relievers have been unreliable, to put it kindly, over the past few weeks. It’s not quite a major area of concern at this point, considering the track record of the group, but it’s probably alarming enough to at least take a look at adding a reinforcement from the Minors, even one that began the season in High-A.

    Maples’ rise didn’t begin immediately after the team converted him to a reliever a few years back. His numbers out of the ’pen were unimpressive in 46 appearances in the low minors from 2015-16, but something has apparently clicked in 2017. In 51 appearances across three levels, including his last 16 with Triple-A Iowa, the 25-year-old has a 2.74 ERA, 6.2 H/9 and 14.3 K/9. The walks are a concern (5.3 BB/9), but he’s only walked more than one batter in three of his combined 30 appearances in the upper minors. It’s also worth noting that Carl Edwards Jr. had a 6.0 BB/9 in 24 Triple-A appearances last season but went on to finish the year as one of the best relievers on the World Series champs.

    Christian Walker, 1B/LF, Arizona Diamondbacks (Triple-A Reno) | Diamondbacks Depth Chart

    Walker’s already difficult path to the Majors could not have taken a worse turn during the past offseason. With limited at-bats available in Baltimore behind Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo, the right-handed hitting first baseman was designated for assignment in February. The likelihood of a better opportunity lied ahead. But it never came. By the time the regular season started, he had been claimed on waivers by three different teams—Braves, Reds and Diamondbacks—that employed superstar first basemen who rarely miss a game. In late March, he was designated for assignment a fourth time, only to clear waivers and remain with the Diamondbacks.

    To his credit, the 26-year-old did not let the limited opportunity and removal from the 40-man roster affect him at the plate. After putting up what would be slightly below-average numbers for a first baseman in Triple-A during parts of the previous three seasons, Walker has taken his game to another level in 2017. In 565 plate appearances, he’s been the Diamondbacks’ Triple-A version of Paul Goldschmidt, slashing .312/.384/.609 with 32 homers and 34 doubles. While the Pacific Coast League is more hitter-friendly than the International League, where Walker played previously, his improved walk and strikeout rates (145 BB, 406 K from ’14-16; 58 BB, 97 K in ’17) are indications that a better approach at the plate has helped lead to his success.

    A September call-up is in the cards as the D-backs have gotten very little from their pinch-hitters in ’17 (.636 OPS), but they’d also do Walker a huge favor by either trading him in the offseason to a team where he has a chance to play or removing him from the 40-man roster—assuming he’s added in September—so he can opt for free agency.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Padres Claim Tim Melville]]> 2017-08-26T19:42:06Z 2017-08-26T19:04:35Z The Padres have claimed right-hander Tim Melville off waivers from the Twins, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (Twitter link).  Righty Miguel Diaz was moved to the 60-day DL in a corresponding move.

    Melville signed a minor league deal with Minnesota in June and he made one single appearance on the big league roster, a spot start last Monday that saw him surrender five runs over 3 1/3 innings.  The Twins designated Melville for assignment the next day.

    Given Melville’s good numbers at both the Triple-A level and for the independent Long Island Ducks this season, he is worth a flier for a Padres team that is looking to find some hidden gems in their rebuilding process.  Melville has improved his strikeout rate this season and cut down on the walks that plagued him earlier in his nine-year minor league career.  As Berardino tweets, the Padres have had some good recent success on waiver wire pickups, adding both Brad Hand and Kirby Yates on claims.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Sano's DL Stint May Last Longer Than 10 Days]]> 2017-08-26T17:12:18Z 2017-08-26T17:02:47Z
  • Miguel Sano has yet to begin fielding or hitting drills and he is still unable to run on his injured left shin, Twins manager Paul Molitor told the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller and other reporters.  Sano is eligible to come off the 10-day DL on Wednesday but it seems like he’ll miss more than the minimum amount of time.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Jason Castro Forced From Game With Concussion Symptoms]]> 2017-08-24T14:07:08Z 2017-08-24T14:00:06Z
  • Jason Castro was forced to exit last night’s game with concussion symptoms after taking a pair of foul balls off his mask, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Twins skipper Paul Molitor described the first as more of a “glancing blow” but said the second was a “direct shot.” Castro began experiencing dizziness as the game went on and demonstrated “some of the symptoms that concern you,” said Molitor, without delving too far into specifics. The Twins already have three catchers on the roster, having recently called up prospect Mitch Garver for his first big league look. Garver, who can also play first base and left field, as yet to start a game behind the dish, but he’d share catching duties with veteran Chris Gimenez should Castro fail to pass concussion protocol and land on the 7-day DL.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Designate Tim Melville, Will Select Contract Of John Curtiss]]> 2017-08-23T04:06:18Z 2017-08-23T03:48:49Z 10:48pm: Minnesota will select the contract of right-hander John Curtiss tomorrow as a corresponding roster move, reports Bollinger (on Twitter).

    The 24-year-old Curtiss currently ranks as Minnesota’s No. 19 prospect, per Jonathan Mayo and Jim Callis of Curtiss has laid waste to minor league opponents this season, posting a sparkling 1.28 ERA with 12.4 K/9 with a 48 percent ground-ball rate in 49 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Control is a bit of an issue, though, as he’s averaged 4.0 walks per nine innings and snapped off six wild pitches on the year.

    Callis and Mayo praise his 94-98 mph fastball, his “considerably” improved slider and his “intense and serious personality” on the mound in suggesting that Curtiss could eventually close games at the big league level.

    10:25pm: The Twins have designated right-hander Tim Melville for assignment, manager Paul Molitor told reporters after the game Tuesday night (Twitter link via’s Rhett Bollinger). He’d been an option to start on Saturday, but that outing will go to fellow righty Dillon Gee, who shined in Game 2 of yesterday’s doubleheader. A corresponding roster move for Melville will be announced tomorrow.

    Melville, who signed a minors pact with the Twins earlier this summer after a solid season with the independent Long Island Ducks, earned a spot start with Minnesota on the heels of a terrific 2.70 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 33.7 percent ground-ball rate in 66 2/3 innings with the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester. That spot start didn’t go well, however, as Melville was tagged for five runs on four hits and three walks with three strikeouts in 3 1/3 frames against the White Sox in Game 1 of yesterday’s doubleheader.

    Unfortunately for Melville, the Twins need roster flexibility at the moment, so he’ll lose his 40-man roster spot and a potential September call-up. If he clears waivers, he’ll likely head back to Triple-A, though, and could reemerge to provide some depth for a fairly thin Twins pitching staff next month after rosters expand.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 8/21/17]]> 2017-08-21T13:37:26Z 2017-08-21T13:37:26Z Here are Monday’s minor moves from around the league…

    • The Twins are set to select the contract of right-hander Tim Melville to start one half of today’s doubleheader, as La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune wrote this weekend. The 27-year-old journeyman signed a minor league pact with the Twins in June after a decent start to the season with the independent Long Island Ducks. In 11 games (10 starts) with the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate, Melville posted a 2.70 ERA with 8.6 K/9, 3.1 BB/9 and a 33.7 percent ground-ball rate. There was some talk that top prospect Stephen Gonsalves could have his start pushed back to make his MLB debut Monday, but Melville will be the choice instead. For what it’s worth, the White Sox have MLB’s sixth-best wRC+ against lefties but rank 24th against righties. That and the fact that Gonsalves was only recently promoted to Triple-A (he made his third start for Rochester yesterday) may both have been factors in the decision.
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins To Place Miguel Sano On 10-Day Disabled List]]> 2017-08-20T22:53:54Z 2017-08-20T22:53:54Z Miguel Sano won’t join the Twins on their upcoming road trip and he is headed to the 10-day DL due to a stress reaction in his left shin, the slugger told reporters (including Chad Graff of the St. Paul Pioneer Press).  No move has yet been announced by the team, though Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports that Kennys Vargas was removed from the Triple-A lineup today and will replace Sano on Minnesota’s 25-man roster.

    Sano fouled a ball off his shin on Friday, and then left Saturday’s game early due to continued soreness (the Twins used Sano as the DH on Saturday to limit his time on his feet).  The seriousness of Sano’s injury or a timetable for his return isn’t yet known.

    Going without Sano’s bat for even the minimum 10 days is a blow to a Twins team that is thick in the midst of the AL wild card hunt, plus still with an outside shot at catching the Indians for first place in the AL Central.  Sano is hitting .267/.356/.514 with 27 homers through 475 plate appearances, seemingly making the breakout from blue chip prospect to established big league hitter.  While he’s had some good fortune in the form of a .379 BABIP and there is still a lot of swing-and-miss in Sano’s approach (a league-high 170 strikeouts), he makes little mistake when he does make contact — his 45.3% hard-hit ball rate ranks fifth among all qualified hitters in baseball this season.

    Vargas will be called up to handle DH duties or perhaps spell Joe Mauer at first base, while Sano’s customary spot at third base will likely be filled by Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza.  Needless to say, that’s a big dropoff in production for a Twins team that is already just middle-of-the-pack in most offensive categories, so clearly Minnesota needs Sano back soon if the team is to continue its surprising push towards a playoff spot.