Minnesota Twins – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-03-21T02:25:16Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Aybar, Santana]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117396 2018-03-19T19:29:14Z 2018-03-19T17:21:50Z
  • Twins infielder Erick Aybar will be able to ask for his release if the team doesn’t add him to its roster by Friday, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports (all Twitter links here). It’s unclear whether Aybar would accept a Triple-A assignment (the club hasn’t discussed it with him, per chief baseball officer Derek Falvey), but his chances of eventually landing a spot with the Twins may have improved Sunday with starting shortstop Jorge Polanco’s 80-game suspension. Polanco got the news of his positive PED test a month ago, Dan Hayes of The Athletic was among those to tweet, but the Twins themselves weren’t aware of it until Sunday, Falvey said.
  • In better news for the Twins, righty Ervin Santana is “progressing as expected” in his recovery from February finger surgery, according to Falvey (via Berardino). He should be back toward the tail end of the 10- to 12-week recovery timeline, Berardino notes.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins’ Jorge Polanco Gets 80-Game Suspension]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117331 2018-03-18T21:50:59Z 2018-03-18T21:02:21Z Major League Baseball has handed Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco an 80-game suspension without pay for testing positive for Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweets. Polanco issued a statement in response to the ban (all of which is available here via Bollinger), saying that he “regretfully accepted” the suspension, but he “did not intentionally consume this steroid.”

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

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

    [RELATED: Twins Depth Chart]

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

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

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Ervin Santana]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117280 2018-03-18T17:28:24Z 2018-03-18T16:07:25Z Twins right-hander Ervin Santana underwent surgery on his right middle finger nearly six weeks ago, on Feb. 6. He’s still unable to grip a baseball in the wake of the procedure, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. Santana won’t be able to start a throwing program for as long as that’s the case, which could put his 10- to 12-week recovery timeline in jeopardy. Asked whether he’s still on track to return on schedule, Santana said: “I don’t know. They didn’t say a specific time, but for me I just want to come back when everything is 100 percent. I don’t want to rush anything.” The Twins are in much better shape than they were when Santana landed on the shelf, having since added Jake Odorizzi via trade with the Rays and Lance Lynn in free agency.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Notes: Morrison, White Sox, Yankees]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117187 2018-03-17T18:30:15Z 2018-03-17T18:30:15Z First baseman Logan Morrison ended up with the Twins, but many expected the Red Sox to pursue him more aggressively than they did. Alex Speier of the Boston Globe has some interesting quotes from LoMo, who smacked 38 homers for the Rays last season but ultimately settled for a meager $6.5MM guarantee with performance escalators and a vesting option. Morrison says he himself didn’t have any conversations with Boston. His agent spoke with the club during the winter meetings, but apparently “that was it,” and clearly that discussion didn’t culminate in any serious offers. “Am I surprised? I guess. I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t know if it was the most shocking thing I saw [in the market].” The Sox ended up re-signing Mitch Moreland to play first base for them on a two-year, $13MM contract.

    Some other American League-related items…

    • James Fegan of The Athletic has an insightful rundown of some young White Sox arms. Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning have all had their ups and downs this spring, and Fegan was able to get quotes from all of them on some recent performances in camp. For instance, Giolito spoke about his latest outing during which he allowed two runs in the first inning. “It’s one of those days where like, if one pitching isn’t working you can go to the other ones and I was able to do that for the most part after the first inning,” he said. Kopech offered some confidence in his performance. Threw a lot of changeups, changeups were good,” Kopech said. “My main two focuses were fastball command and changeup command. Both were really good. Got a lot of swings and misses on the changeup.” Anyone looking for more quotes from these young pitchers should give the article a full read.
    • The Yankees have officially tabbed right-hander Luis Severino to be the club’s Opening Day starter. Bryan Hoch of MLB.com has some notable quotes from manager Aaron Boone on the subject. “”We feel like it’s his time for it,” Boone said. “With what he was able to do last year, we feel like he’s in a really good place now. We just felt like now is the time for him to take on that role and we think he’s ready for it.” While it’s hardly surprising to hear that the third-place finisher in 2017’s Cy Young voting will throw his club’s first game of the season, the announcement also comes with the news that lefty Jordan Montgomery will officially be given the club’s fifth rotation spot and start the Yankees’ home opener.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Acquire Jake Cave, Designate Kennys Vargas]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117132 2018-03-16T19:54:52Z 2018-03-16T19:34:09Z The Twins have acquired outfielder Jake Cave from the Yankees, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). Righty Luis Gil goes to the Yankees in return. In a corresponding move, Minnesota has designated slugger Kennys Vargas for assignment.

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

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

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

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

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

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Bard, Vargas]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117091 2018-03-16T14:16:06Z 2018-03-16T14:16:06Z
  • Right-hander Luke Bard is turning some heads in Angels camp as he vies for a spot in the big league bullpen, writes Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times. The younger brother of former Red Sox setup man Daniel Bard, Luke was selected by the Angels out of the Twins organization in the Rule 5 Draft back in December. The 27-year-old was a supplemental first-rounder back in 2012 but has had his development slowed by shoulder and hip surgeries. Finally healthy in 2017, Bard turned in a 2.76 ERA with 13.6 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 32 percent ground-ball rate in 65 1/3 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Bard’s spring ERA is skewed by one outing where he was rocked for five runs in just a third of an inning, but he’s impressed manager Mike Scioscia in the remainder of his outings and expressed a willingness to work multi-inning stints out of the ’pen. “His stuff is good, he spins the ball well, and hopefully he’s going to be a multi-inning guy,” Scioscia tells DiGiovanna. “With the makeup of our club, multi-inning [relievers] are really important.”
  • The signing of Logan Morrison made switch-hitting Kennys Vargas somewhat of an odd man out with the Twins, writes MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. According to Bollinger, Vargas is expected to be placed on outright waivers at the end of camp, and the Twins are hopeful that he can clear and stick with the organization. The switch-hitting 27-year-old is listed at a towering 6’5″, 275 pounds in this year’s media guide, and while he’s shown some power in the bigs (.185 ISO, 35 homers in 859 PAs), he’s also whiffed at a 29.2 percent clip and posted a meager .311 OBP. Given the manner in which clubs have begun to devalue OBP-challenged sluggers with limited defensive capabilities — Vargas is strictly a first baseman/DH — there’s perhaps a possibility that he could make it through waivers and remain with the club.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Free Agents Chose Twins For Chance At Winning]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=117007 2018-03-15T21:17:51Z 2018-03-15T03:34:30Z
  • As many have observed, the Twins appear to be one of the prime beneficiaries of the collapse of free-agent demand this winter. Both Logan Morrison and Lance Lynn agreed to surprising one-year deals with Minnesota; as MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports, both elected to go there in no small part owing to the hope that their single season would be with a winning organization. While those two veterans surely anticipated quite a bit more earning power, it seems there are good vibes all around in Twins’ camp.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Payroll, Offseason, Deadline, Shortstops]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116955 2018-03-14T00:19:57Z 2018-03-13T23:46:00Z ESPN.com’s Buster Olney breaks down a big offseason for the Twins in an Insider post. While the team still faces a lofty task in unseating the Indians in the AL Central, it certainly seems to have achieved plenty of bang for the buck in adding multiple veteran pieces this winter. The Twins are on track to have over $125MM on the books to open the 2018 season, which will easily set a club record. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the organization’s opportunism this winter, though, is that it was able to add a variety of quality veterans without committing much at all in future resources. Not only that, but the club also feels quite confident in its prospect base, as Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports (subscription link). GM Thad Levine says the organization feels it has the pieces in place to allow the team to pursue yet more external acquisitions in the near future without compromising its long-term outlook.

    • Meanwhile, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told reporters today that owner Jim Pohlad did not veto anything proposed by his front office this offseason despite the payroll climbing to record heights (via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). While Falvey said the team will (obviously) evaluate trade needs more closely as the non-waiver deadline approaches this summer, he implied that he expects to have continued support from ownership. “I can tell you this: I know Jim Pohlad is committed to this team and committed to winning because he just proved it,” said Falvey at the press conference to introduce Lance Lynn.
    • On a similar note (and also via Berardino), Falvey implied that the team’s pursuit of Yu Darvish wasn’t ultimately called off due to any kind of reluctance from Pohlad but rather because the bidding simply went beyond a point where the team felt comfortable from a baseball standpoint. “There were other opportunities we were pursuing that we tapped out ourselves,” Falvey said when asked about Darvish. Though he didn’t mention the righty by name, Falvey indicated that at times, players of interest to the Twins simply received offers that went beyond internal valuations in terms of years and/or dollars.
    • La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune takes a look at the considerable shortstop depth the Twins have throughout their minor league ranks due to the presence of Royce Lewis, Nick Gordon and Wander Javier. All three landed on Baseball America’s Top 100 prospects list, and Falvey spoke to Neal about the importance of that depth even with present-day shortstop Jorge Polanco entering just his second full big league season. As Falvey notes, some of the in-house prospects could move off the position, and it’s also of course possible that Polanco could move across the bag to second base should Brian Dozier leave via free agency. Neal notes that the Twins believe all three can play shortstop in the long run but are heartened by knowing that each has the athleticism to move around if needed. Gordon is likely ticketed for Triple-A to open the season, while Neal notes that in an ideal world, the 18-year-old Lewis (last year’s No. 1 overall pick) would open the year at Class-A Advanced with Javier in the Class-A Midwest League.
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Twins Sign Lance Lynn]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116647 2018-03-12T22:26:12Z 2018-03-12T19:13:03Z The Twins have continued their aggressive, late foray into the free-agent market, announcing on Monday that they’ve signed right-hander Lance Lynn to a one-year contract. He’ll earn $12MM, per the team, confirming previous reports on his salary. The deal reportedly allows Lynn to earn another $2MM worth of incentives — half each upon reaching 170 and 180 innings. Lynn, a client of Excel Sports Management, will get right going with the Twins and start their Grapefruit League Game against the Orioles tomorrow, per the team’s announcement.

    Lance Lynn | USA Today Sports Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Did The Twins Win The Offseason?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116792 2018-03-12T03:37:16Z 2018-03-12T03:00:17Z Perhaps no team gained as much from the offseason’s slow free agent market as the Twins, who were able to sign Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison to one-year deals far below their expected asking prices.  These signings augmented Minnesota’s heavier investment in relief pitching (Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke) and its acquisition of Jake Odorizzi from the Rays for just a lightly-regarded minor league infielder.  “We recognized relatively early in this offseason that there are different rules to this card game and we kept getting dealt different cards,” Twins GM Thad Levine tells Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown.  “We had to figure out how to keep our head above water in this new game….It would be a little disingenuous for me to say that we had any forecast associated with seeing that this was on the horizon and that we plotted these moves. We really were more reacting to how the market was unfolding and trying to make the most of our opportunities.”

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

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Release Anibal Sanchez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116711 2018-03-11T18:37:50Z 2018-03-11T13:16:19Z The Twins will release right-hander Anibal Sanchez, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune reports on Twitter. Sanchez’s 40-man roster spot will go to fellow righty Lance Lynn, whom the Twins added on a one-year, $12MM deal Saturday.

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

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

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

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Offered Lance Lynn Two-Year Deal Earlier]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116672 2018-03-11T02:18:58Z 2018-03-11T01:00:48Z
  • The Twins agreed to a one-year contract with right-hander Lance Lynn on Saturday, but they were willing to make a greater commitment to the ex-Cardinal during the winter. Minnesota offered Lynn a tw0-year pact then, per Nightengale (Twitter link). As with Moustakas, it was a shockingly underwhelming trek to free agency for Lynn, whose new accord guarantees him $12MM – far less than anticipated when free agency opened in November.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Central Notes: Escobar, Morrison, Robert, Merryweather, Mize]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116625 2018-03-10T17:00:21Z 2018-03-10T17:00:21Z Alcides Escobar returns to the Royals with a not-so-lofty goal in sight, Rustin Dodd writes in a piece for The Athletic. Kansas City’s long-time shortstop wants to finish the season with an on-base percentage above .300 for the first time since the 2014 season. He says that he’s working on “taking a lot of pitches each at-bat” and trying to avoid swinging at bad pitches, both of which seem like obvious things to work on. Escobar owns a career OBP of just .294, and his .272 figure last year was the second-lowest among qualified MLB hitters (Rougned Odor’s .252 was the lowest, for those keeping track). That .272 mark for “Esky” was the result of drawing just 15 walks, his lowest full-season total ever.

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

    • Recent Twins signee Logan Morrison reportedly suffered a right glute strain while running the bases on Wednesday, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. He was held out of Friday’s game, and is expected to miss today’s matchup as well. However, the injury isn’t considered serious. Minnesota brought the former Tampa Bay first baseman into the fold with a $6.5MM guarantee that includes a vesting option. He hit .246/.353/.516 last season with the Rays while smacking a career-high 38 home runs.
    • The White Sox are dealing with a more significant injury. Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribute tweets that farmhand Luis Robert has a moderate thumb sprain. Daryl Van Schouwen provides further details on the situation with his own tweet, adding that GM Rick Hahn expects the young outfielder to be immobilized in a cast for six weeks, and to be held out of game action for ten. Robert hit a phenomenal .310/.491/.536 in Rookie ball last season; Baseball Prospectus ranks him as the South Siders’ fifth best prospect, and number 55 overall.
    • Continuing with injury news, Indians prospect Julian Merryweather will officially undergo Tommy John surgery after recently being diagnosed with a UCL sprain in his throwing elbow, according to Jordan Bastian of MLB.com. The right-hander was a fifth-round pick by the Tribe during a 2014 draft in which the club also landed Bradley Zimmer, Triston McKenzie and Bobby Bradley. Merryweather had been solid at all levels of the minors before struggling to a 6.58 ERA across 16 starts at Triple-A Columbus last season, though his 3.89 xFIP suggests he dealt with some unfortunate homer/fly ball luck.
    • Auburn right-hander Casey Mize is “the name to watch” for the Tigers as we approach the 2018 June amateur draft, says Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports. After skidding to a 68-94 record last season, Detroit owns the number one overall pick in the draft, and as Passan notes, the club loves big college arms. Mize threw a no-hitter last night and was throwing 96 MPH up through the ninth inning. Scouts in attendance say he was throwing a “filthy split” as well.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Notes: Uehara, Lincecum, Senzatela, Hoffman, Kohn]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116422 2018-03-07T16:09:04Z 2018-03-07T16:09:04Z Reliever Koji Uehara says that he is open to considering offers from teams in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, as the Japan Times recently reported. That’s something of a reversal from the 42-year-old reliever, who had indicated he did not intend to play again in his homeland. After preparing for the MLB season, but finding interest scant, Uehara now says he has changed his mind and would consider pitching once again in the NPB. It’s at least a bit surprising that Uehara has not generated more pursuers among major-league clubs. He continued to produce declining results in 43 innings last year, finishing with a 3.98 ERA, but still ended with 10.5 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 and generated a strong 15.8% swinging-strike rate.

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

    • While it’s clear the Rangers intend to utilize new pitching addition Tim Lincecum in the bullpen, just how he’ll be deployed isn’t yet clear. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram posted a video of the former ace discussing his new club. It seems that Lincecum is intrigued by the possibility of closing but is largely open to fitting in wherever the team prefers. “They see that,” Lincecum says of working in the 9th. “I feel like I could do that. I’ve done that in the Cape and at the college level. It’s going to be, obviously, different, but I feel like I could tap into that mentality.”
    • The Rockies elected this offseason to make a number of bullpen additions but not to pursue outside acquisitions for the rotation. That decision was no doubt as much about the team’s assessment of its internal options as it was about a need to maximize resources. In a pair of articles, here and here, Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports on two key staff members. Antonio Senzatela is said to be hard at work on his secondary offerings, with a new change-up in the works alongside continuing work on a curve. Meanwhile, fellow young righty Jeff Hoffman dealing with a shoulder issue. There’s no indication its a serious injury, but Hoffman is still going to rest for at least a week or more before he resumes throwing. As things stand, the Rox may be lined up to utilize a five-man unit that does not include either of these hurlers, as the current Roster Resource depth chart projects, but both are important parts of the near-term and future picture in Colorado.
    • When the Twins brought in righty Michael Kohn last fall, the hope was that he could rebound from a rotator cuff problem and get his career back on track. Unfortunately, he’ll now require an absence of four to six months to recuperate from a “nerve issue,” per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). The 31-year-old Kohn has a 3.52 ERA in 115 career innings in the majors, though that has come with a 111:79 K/BB ratio. It’s hard to read much into his results last year, as they were mostly accumulated in the low minors, but Kohn was able to make it through 13 solid innings late in 2017, over which he racked up 18 strikeouts against just four walks while permitting two earned runs on eight hits.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Lance Lynn Reportedly Rejected Two-Year, $20MM Offer From Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116408 2018-03-07T03:31:46Z 2018-03-07T03:00:21Z The Twinsrecently reported two-year offer to Lance Lynn was for a total of $20MM, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Lynn’s camp considered that offer a “non-starter,” however, according to Berardino. Minnesota remains open to adding a starter on an affordable and relatively short-term pact, Berardino continues, noting that outside of the team’s $100MM+ offer to Yu Darvish, all of their offseason free-agent dealings have been at one- or two-year terms. He adds that the Twins aren’t aggressively pursuing Alex Cobb, and given Lynn’s apparent unwillingness to consider a two-year term, it seems unlikely that Minnesota will ultimately be a landing spot for any of the top three remaining starters. There are still a few intriguing names on the market who could sign shorter-term deals, including John Lackey and Trevor Cahill, though the Twins haven’t been strongly tied to any of them.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Have Not Approached Brian Dozier About Extension]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116396 2018-03-07T01:42:45Z 2018-03-07T01:42:45Z Brian Dozier has emerged as one of the faces of the Twins’ franchises in recent years, but he’s now on the precipice of free agency and has not been approached by the team about a contract he tells Jim Souhan of the Minneapolis Star Tribune and Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Dozier is earning $9MM this season in the final season of a four-year, $20MM contract which bought out all of his arbitration seasons. A new contract, though, does not look to be in the cards at this time, according to the infielder himself.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins, Byron Buxton Reportedly Interested In Extension]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116249 2018-03-05T03:02:11Z 2018-03-05T03:01:01Z The Twins and center fielder Byron Buxton have mutual interest in a contract extension, according to Jim Bowden of The Athletic. The two sides have discussed a new pact, Bowden hears (Twitter link), though Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets that there’s “no traction yet on a multiyear deal.” Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN adds that “no deal is close” (via Twitter)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Bowden: Twins "Unlikely" To Add Top Free Agent Starter]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116247 2018-03-05T01:58:55Z 2018-03-05T01:58:55Z
  • The Twins are “unlikely” to sign any of the top remaining free agent starters – Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn – Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio hears (Twitter link). On paper, anyone from that group would bolster Minnesota’s rotation, which will go without injured No. 1 starter Ervin Santana to open the season, but the club hasn’t shown a willingness to meet their asking prices. Even without any of them on the books, the Twins are already on track to begin the year with a franchise-record Opening Day payroll (approximately $121.83MM).
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[No Extension Talks Between Twins, Jose Berrios]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116243 2018-03-05T00:08:39Z 2018-03-05T00:08:39Z
  • The Twins aren’t in any rush to sign young right-hander Jose Berrios to a contract extension, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes. Berrios informed Berardino that the Twins haven’t approached him about a new deal, which makes sense considering they’re in no imminent danger of losing him. The 23-year-old won’t even be eligible for arbitration until after the 2019 campaign, and then he’s slated to go through the arb process three times. While Berrios is already under Minnesota’s control for the long haul, he’d still understandably welcome the security of an extension. “This is the team that drafted me (in 2012) and gave me the opportunity to play in the major leagues,” said Berrios. “If they want to (sign) me for a long time, I’d be excited about that.”  A first-round pick in 2012, Berrios endured a disastrous debut in 2016 (8.02 ERA, 7.65 K/9, 5.4 BB/9 in 58 1/3 innings), but he rebounded last year to log a 3.89 ERA with 8.59 K/9 and 2.97 BB/9 over 145 2/3 frames.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On The Top Remaining Free Agent Starters]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116118 2018-03-02T18:44:10Z 2018-03-02T18:44:10Z The Nationals reportedly remain open to adding to their roster before the season begins, and while they’ve been oft-linked to top remaining free agent Jake Arrieta, Jorge Castillo of the Washington Post reports that the Nats “haven’t engaged with Arrieta’s camp recently.” The Nationals, it seems (much like the rest of baseball), would be likelier to jump into the fray if Arrieta’s price drops.

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

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

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

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

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Market Notes: Upton, Archer, Realmuto, Holland, Lynn]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116083 2018-03-02T17:21:47Z 2018-03-02T06:09:17Z Over at The Athletic, Pedro Moura held a fascinating conversation with Angels slugger Justin Upton. (Subscription link.) There’s plenty of interest in the chat, though Upton’s comments on free agency are of particular interest and relevance. The thrust of his sentiment is that teams seem to be looking to score free-agent value rather than identifying and “courting” players they actively wish to employ. “Teams don’t value players as people anymore,” says Upton. “They value them as a number on a sheet of paper.”

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

    • The likelihood remains that the Rays will enter the season with Chris Archer on the staff, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reports among other notes. That’s due in no small part to the team’s lofty asking price; one rival executive suggests that the Tampa Bay front office “wanted our whole farm system” to move Archer. The club has given that impression publicly, too. Senior VP of baseball ops Chaim Bloom reiterated that the expectation is to hang onto Archer and others in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). He added that the internal expectation is that it will begin to reap the rewards of an effort over recent years to bolster the farm depth while still trying to compete at the MLB level.
    • It has remained interesting to consider whether the Nationals might pry catcher J.T. Realmuto from the Marlins. But there isn’t much recent indication of serious talks, and Heyman indicates that’s due to what seems to be a big gulf in the sides’ valuations. Washington won’t give top prospects Victor Robles and Juan Soto, per the report; while the club might part with young infielder Carter Kieboom or outfielder Michael Taylor, it seems Miami was asking for too much additional talent to be included in a package.
    • The outfield market has certainly delivered some surprises thus far. Heyman says Jarrod Dyson spurned an early two-year, $14MM offer, though a source tells MLBTR that is not accurate. Dyson ultimately signed for $7.5MM with the Diamondbacks. It remains to be seen what’ll happen with players such as Carlos Gonzalez and Jon Jay, each of whom were rated among the fifty best free agents this winter by MLBTR. Heyman says the Indians are still looking at right-handed outfield bats, though it would surely be a surprise for the team to plunk down any meaningful money to make an addition. Perhaps the trade route could still hold some surprises, though that’s pure speculation on my part.
    • Veteran reliever Greg Holland might have overplayed his hand in spurning the Rockies earlier in the winter. Colorado was willing to give him something approaching the three-year, $51MM deal the team ultimately inked with Wade Davis, Bob Nightengale of USA Today suggests in an appearance on the podcast of Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. It’s premature, perhaps, to declare that Holland won’t be able to top that number, though it’s frankly difficult to see where that level of interest might come from — as MLBTR’s Steve Adams has recently explained.
    • Holland’s list of suitors is in question at the moment. One thing that seems clear, per Heyman, is that the Cubs aren’t planning on making a surprise run at the closer. Rather, Chicago seems largely committed to utilizing Brandon Morrow in the ninth inning and is likely to hold back its remaining payroll reserves for potential mid-season additions.
    • So, how low could the remaining pitchers go? Presumably there’s a point at which some bidding would occur. But it’s notable that, per ESPN 1500’s Darren Wolfson (podcast link), the Twins expressed interest in Lance Lynn in the range of just $10MM to $12MM over two seasons. Just how that level of interest came about and was expressed isn’t clear. The team has also made some fairly notable recent commitments and may just not have much more payroll flexibility. And it certainly shouldn’t be taken as evidence of Lynn’s current market value. Still, it’s interesting to learn that’s the current extent of Minnesota’s interest.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Futures Of Grossman, Vargas Clouded By Morrison Signing]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116061 2018-03-01T20:00:45Z 2018-03-01T19:58:20Z
  • Following Minnesota’s signing of Logan Morrison, manager Paul Molitor sat down with first baseman/DH Kennys Vargas, outfielder/DH Robbie Grossman and utility infielder Eduardo Escobar to discuss how the trio’s status could be impacted, writes Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Grossman and Vargas will be the most directly impacted with LoMo set to be the Twins’ primary DH, and both are out of minor league options. Grossman, who agreed to a $2MM salary in arbitration this offseason (albeit a non-guaranteed one, as is standard with arb deals), had a “very professional response” per Molitor. The switch-hitter acknowledged that he needs to demonstrate improved defensive skills in order to play a significant role on the team. While the Twins don’t technically need their fourth outfielder to be center-field capable due to the ability of corner outfielders Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler to man center, the lack of DH at-bats is problematic for Grossman, who made 61 appearances in that slot last season. It’s even tougher to see how Vargas fits into the equation, as he’s strictly limited to first and DH and is now behind both Morrison and Joe Mauer on the depth chart.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Morrison Had Offer From Royals Before Signing With Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116020 2018-03-01T00:17:33Z 2018-03-01T00:17:33Z Newly signed Twins DH Logan Morrison received an offer from his hometown Royals before signing in Minnesota, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. The 30-year-old slugger said earlier in the offseason that he’d love to suit up for his hometown club, though that was before Kansas City began selling off pieces and made clear signals of a rebuilding effort. Per Berardino, Morrison’s desire to play for a contending club took priority. Morrison will join the heart of a young Twins lineup on the upswing in hopes of reaching the postseason for the first time in his career, though the questions that permeate the Twins’ rotation still leave Cleveland as a the division favorite.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Nationals Still Weighing Additions; Angels, Twins Likely Done]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=116017 2018-02-28T22:49:11Z 2018-02-28T19:13:25Z With Spring Training in full swing and several recent signings taking a few more players off of the free-agent board, much of the offseason picture is finally now in focus. Of course, as MLBTR’s 2017-18 MLB Free Agent Tracker shows, there are still some big names available. Several organizations clearly also have unfinished business, while others may already feel they’ve addressed their needs or maxed out their resources.

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

    • The Nationals are still eyeing improvements, according to a report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today (via Twitter). In particular, the Washington front office “remain[s] engaged” with the top remaining free agent, starter Jake Arrieta. But it seems that he’s not the sole player of interest, as the organization is said to be “monitor[ing]” the market for possibilities. It is worth noting that several other remaining free agents could fit the Nats rather comfortably on paper, potentially including other starters such as Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb, top reliever Greg Holland, and catcher Jonathan Lucroy. Of course, there’s no real indication whether any of those players are presently seen as options within the Nationals organization.
    • Quite the opposite impression is being given by the Angels, as Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group tweets. GM Billy Eppler says that the organization is “not looking to pursue anything” else after a busy winter, though he does note that he’s “open-minded to things that come around.” That certainly sounds more like a willingness to entertain bargain-rate signings than any kind of interest in pushing for another significant addition. The Halos could clearly stand to improve their pitching, though it also may be that the front office prefers to allow existing options to rise or fall before addressing any needs at the trade deadline. At present, the Angels seem to have around $25MM in payroll space before bumping against the luxury line, though the organization is surely also loath to add too much to the future balance sheets.
    • It seems the Twins also feel their roster-building work is done, with chief baseball officer Derek Falvey telling reporters including Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter link) that there’s a “high likelihood” the team has already compiled its Opening Day unit. Minnesota did make quite a few acquisitions over the winter, including recent moves for Jake Odorizzi and Logan Morrison that added fairly significant salary commitments for the 2018 season. Some have wondered whether another rotation piece would make sense, but that doesn’t seem to be in the plans at present. Minnesota is slated to open with a club-record $116MM+ payroll, though the organization had already been in nine figures to open each of the past three years.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Sign Logan Morrison]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115716 2018-02-28T18:22:54Z 2018-02-28T17:27:02Z FEBRUARY 28: Morrison’s signing is now official.

    Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets some further detail on the operation of the contract. Morrison can earn $500K apiece in bonus pay this year upon reaching 450, 500, and then 550 plate appearances. The number of times he strides to the plate could also impact the vesting/club option: if he tops 500 plate appearances it will move to $8.5MM; at 550 plate appearances it becomes $9MM; and at 600 plate appearances the option vests at a $9.5MM price tag.

    FEBRUARY 25, 3:45pm: Morrison’s option will automatically vest if he amasses 600 PAs this year, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports (Twitter link). The deal also includes $1MM in reachable incentives each season, and Morrison’s 2019 salary could increase to $9MM, per Phil Miller of the Star Tribune.

    1:33pm: Morrison will earn $5.5MM in 2018, Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweets. The vesting option is worth $8MM and comes with a $1MM buyout.

    12:54pm: The Twins and free agent first baseman Logan Morrison have agreed to a deal, pending a physical, Jon Morosi of MLB.com reports on Twitter. It’s a one-year, $6.5MM guarantee with escalators and a vesting option that could make it a two-year, $16.5MM pact, Morosi adds. Morrison is a client of ISE Baseball.


    Morrison will go down among the most notable victims of this year’s slow-moving free agent market, one he surely entered with hopes of securing a richer pact after a career campaign with the Rays in 2017. Instead, between hitting free agency in November and finally agreeing to join the Twins, Morrison didn’t draw much reported interest on the market. As a result, he’ll fall well shy of the three-year, $36MM guarantee MLBTR predicted he’d receive at the outset of the winter.

    While this has been a disappointing past few months for Morrison, adding him for a relatively affordable cost could be a significant coup for a Twins team that’s coming off its first playoff season since 2010. The Twins’ offense was a key reason for its success in 2017, as the unit finished tied for fifth in the majors in wRC+ (102) and seventh in runs (815). That was without high-end DH production from the duo of Robbie Grossman and Kennys Vargas. Now, Morrison seems likely to see the bulk of the action at DH for Minnesota, which already has Joe Mauer at first base.

    [RELATED: Updated Twins Depth Chart]

    The 30-year-old, left-handed-hitting Morrison was one of the majors’ most formidable offensive players last season, when he slashed .246/.353/.516 (130 wRC+) across 601 plate appearances. Morrison also notched 38 home runs and a .270 ISO, placing him among the league’s best power hitters. It was an unexpected outburst from Morrison, who was essentially a league-average hitter during stints with the Marlins and Mariners from 2010-16. He found another gear thanks to a newfound emphasis on putting the ball in the air, evidenced by a 46.2 percent fly rate (up from a lifetime 37.5), and increased patience. Morrison walked in 13.5 percent of PAs, a good bit higher than his career figure (10.5).

    Morrison was also somewhat of a Statcast darling in 2017, as he upped his launch angle from 12.1 degrees in 2016 to 17.4 (h/t: Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com) and ranked among the majors’ top 32 hitters in both barrels per PA and balls hit at least 95 mph. Consequently, he finished with one of the league’s top expected weighted-on base averages (.365), just beating out his real wOBA (.363).

    The addition of Morrison is the latest big move by the Twins in their efforts to overtake the Indians in the AL Central. Minnesota hasn’t lost any key contributors from the 85-win team it fielded a year ago, though third baseman Miguel Sano (potential suspension) and starter Ervin Santana (finger surgery) could each miss the start of the season. Regardless, along with Morrison, the Twins have picked up pitchers Jake Odorizzi, Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed and Zach Duke since last season ended. Odorizzi knows Morrison from Tampa Bay, and he helped recruit him to Minnesota, per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.

    “I’ve had conversations with (Morrison) about here,” Odorizzi said prior to the agreement. “We’ll see what comes out of it.”

    Odorizzi has also talked with free agent Alex Cobb, another ex-Ray, about joining the Twins. The club continues to seek a front-line starter, according to Berardino, so it seems possible Cobb will join Odorizzi and Morrison in Minnesota. That would further drive up a payroll which, in the estimation of Jason Martinez of MLBTR and Roster Resource, is currently slated to check in at a franchise-record $124.8MM.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[League Investigators Interview Miguel Sano]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115942 2018-02-27T23:54:24Z 2018-02-27T23:51:47Z Major League Baseball conducted its interview with Miguel Sano today as part of its investigation into assault allegations that were brought forth against him back in December, report La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Sano missed the Twins’ afternoon workouts today as he complied with the investigation and won’t be in the lineup for their evening game. As Neal and Miller note, the interview figures to be one of the league’s final steps in its investigation into the allegations against Sano. Once the investigation is complete, the results will be presented to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, who will then determine whether any discipline is required for the Minnesota third baseman.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Twins Rotation]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115820 2018-02-27T05:34:49Z 2018-02-26T23:30:16Z The Twins made a splash by upgrading their DH slot with yesterday’s addition of Logan Morrison, but Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com takes a look at the organization’s continued need for rotation help. While Minnesota has made one mid-level addition by picking up Jake Odorizzi, the team will be without Ervin Santana for as much as a month and still lacks certainty in the starting group as a whole. Castrovince points out that the Twins’ primary (and perhaps only) competition in the AL Central, the Indians, are hardly a flawless team. While Cleveland still seems an obvious favorite, it is certainly worth giving chase for the Twins given the state of the rest of the division.

    • While the Twins are (and have been) as obvious a landing spot in the game as there is for one of the top three remaining free-agent starters (Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb Lance Lynn), La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune hears that the Morrison signing could be the Twins’ final move of the offseason. Minnesota isn’t enamored of Lynn’s statistical profile beyond his ERA, while Neal spoke to a scout who noted that Cobb’s changeup simply isn’t the same as it was prior to Tommy John surgery. The Twins would potentially jump into the Arrieta fray if he were willing to take a short-term deal, though that assuredly holds true of several clubs.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins, Logan Morrison Closing In On Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115697 2018-02-25T18:51:34Z 2018-02-25T18:51:06Z 12:51pm: If Morrison signs with the Twins, it’ll be a one-year deal with a vesting option for 2019, per Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link). The White Sox have also shown interest in Morrison, Wolfson adds.

    12:42pm: The two sides are “in serious talks” and closing in on a deal, Jerry Crasnick of ESPN tweets.

    10:16am: Although first baseman Logan Morrison enjoyed a career year with the Rays in 2017, he hasn’t encountered a robust market in free agency. Legitimate interest in Morrison has been hard to come by since he became available in November, but he may not be out of work for much longer. The Twins are interested in the 30-year-old, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports (Twitter link).

    MLBTR recently made a case for someone to sign Morrison, arguing that Minnesota would make sense as a destination because of the unspectacular production the team received from its designated hitters in 2017. Twins DHs Robbie Grossman and Kennys Vargas combined for league-average numbers, hitting .249/.344/.404 with 20 home runs and a .156 ISO in 720 plate appearances, and the club hasn’t made any notable additions at the position since then.

    Morrison, meanwhile, set career highs in most offensive categories, slashing .246/.353/.516 (130 wRC+) with 38 HRs and a .270 ISO in 601 PAs. While the left-handed hitter entered last season with uninspiring career numbers, the significant gains he made with respect to hitting more fly balls (46.2 percent, up from a career 37.5 percent) and drawing more walks (13.5 percent, compared to a 10.5 percent lifetime mark) add intrigue to the outstanding production he logged in Tampa Bay. Statcast data provides further hope for Morrison, who ranked 26th in barrels per PA and 32nd in balls hit at least 95 mph in 2017. He also concluded the year with a .365 expected weighted on-base average that slightly outdid his real wOBA (.363).

    Despite his quality 2017, Morrison reportedly isn’t sitting on any offers in the early stages of spring training, which could make it difficult for him to secure a deal in line with MLBTR’s pre-offseason projection (three years, $36MM). The Twins may be in position to land him for a cheaper-than-expected cost, then. But in the event Morrison inks a multiyear deal, he could emerge as Minnesota’s starting first baseman in 2019 if the team doesn’t re-sign soon-to-be free agent Joe Mauer.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Ervin Santana, Miguel Sano Helped Persuade Twins To Sign Erick Aybar]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115659 2018-02-25T05:04:18Z 2018-02-25T05:04:18Z
  • The Twins’ minor league signing of Erick Aybar came thanks in part to righty Ervin Santana and third baseman Miguel Sano, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press explains. Aybar was teammates with Santana in Anaheim from 2006-12, while Aybar and Sano are longtime friends who also share an agency (Roc Nation Sports). With all of that in mind, the Twins asked Santana and Sano for their thoughts on Aybar. Both players advised the Twins to bring in the 34-year-old, and the team followed through. There’s no guarantee Aybar will earn a roster spot after enduring multiple rough years in a row, though, which he realizes. “I don’t know yet,” Aybar admitted when asked how much he has left. “I can’t say. We’ll see. It was a weird two years.”
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Central Notes: Santiago, Merritt, Liriano, Aybar]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115645 2018-02-24T22:47:58Z 2018-02-24T22:47:58Z Hector Santiago, who came back to the White Sox this offseason on a minor-league deal, has come up with a strategy to combat the  fastball decline that often comes with aging, James Fegan of The Athletic writes. The southpaw plans to bring back the screwball he threw in his days as a rookie. “I have not gone a day this offseason or in spring training where I have not thrown a screwball,” he said. “I’ve thrown a screwball in both my BPs and my only bullpen. It’s almost taken over my changeup. Lot of people say it’s gone, but nah, I just substituted my changeup for my screwball and I throw a lot more screwballs than changeup.” Notably, his arm motion for the screwball is similar to that of his changeup, which could help with deception in his delivery as he uses both to play off his fastball. Fegan notes that Santiago could be at the “top of the heap” of the White Sox’ MiLB free agent arms, if he can return to health and effectiveness.

    A few other small items out of the AL Central…

    • Much has been made of the fact that young Indians lefty (and 2016 postseason hero) Ryan Merritt is out of options and faces an uphill battle to make the club’s rotation out of spring training. But the 26-year-old isn’t focused on that right now, writes MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian. “I’m really not going to get caught up in what’s going to happen a month from now,” he said. “I can control today. And, when I show up tomorrow, I can control what I do that day.” Merritt has a career 1.74 ERA (albeit in just 20 2/3 major league innings), but is most famous for starting Game 5 of the 2016 ALCS for the Indians, allowing zero runs across his 4 1/3 innings against the Blue Jays. Cleveland would go on to win that game, punching their ticket to the World Series.
    • New Tigers lefty Francisco Liriano will compete for a spot in the club’s rotation during spring training, GM Al Avila says (via Jason Beck of MLB.com). However, if he’s unable to make the club in that capacity, he’s willing to pitch out of the bullpen. It’s possible that the 34-year-old’s best days are behind him, as he’s posted consecutive seasons with an ERA north of 4.60. Even as a reliever with the Astros last season, he posted a 4.40 ERA down the stretch with nearly as many walks as strikeouts. Still, if he can show some flashes of his peak performance with the Pirates from 2013-2015, he’d represent a solid option for a Tigers club that is largely devoid of secure rotation options outside of Michael Fulmer.
    • Erick Aybar recently signed with the Twins, but Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets that the infielder had received interest from the Reds and Rangers as well. He reportedly chose the Twins because he liked their opportunity best. In a later tweet, Berardino reports that Aybar will make his spring training debut on Monday (though Aybar told manager Paul Molitor that he was ready to play in today’s matchup).
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Defense, Chargois, Adolfo]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115637 2018-02-24T18:30:55Z 2018-02-24T18:30:55Z How has the decrease in balls in play over the past few years affected defensive opportunities? Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs seeks to answer this question with an in-depth look at different positions on the diamond. Because of the trend of rising strikeout rates and home run totals among MLB hitters, there are fewer opportunities overall for defenders to make plays in the field. But it turns out the decrease in putout chances hasn’t spread evenly among the positions. While first basemen and third basemen on the whole have seen a similar number of opportunities, outfielders and middle infielders have seen theirs decrease significantly. Perhaps, then, this could lead to more focus on offense at these premium positions. Sawchik notes that the Indians weren’t shy about testing Jason Kipnis in center field at the end of last season, and reminds readers that the Reds are giving third base prospect Nick Senzel a test run at shortstop this spring. He also posits that there could be less of a concern with moving an “offensive-minded but large-framed” shortstop off of the position, citing Corey Seager and Carlos Correa as players of that type. Sawchik’s article provides helpful visuals that make the trends clear.

    Other items from around the major leagues…

    • Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press takes a closer look at the Twins’ decision to place the once-promising J.T. Chargois on outright waivers. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd noted yesterday, Chargois was not long ago considered to be one of the club’s top relief prospects and perhaps a future closer. Twins GM Thad Levine says he isn’t surprised that Chargois was claimed off waivers by the Dodgers. “He’s got plus-plus stuff and he’s got an option remaining,” said Levine. “He’s got a lot of positive attributes. Probably, if anything, (I’m) maybe a little surprised he got that far in the process.” As the World Series runner-up, the Dodgers had the second to last waiver priority, meaning that 28 teams passed on Chargois before L.A. got its shot to claim him.
    • White Sox prospect Micker Adolfo will miss six weeks with an elbow injury, Bruce Levine of CBS Chicago reports. The 21-year-old outfielder complained of soreness in his elbow recently, and the results of an MRI determined that he had both a UCL sprain and a flexor tendon strain in his right arm. “We do not yet have a plan for him moving forward,” said GM Rick Hahn on the injury. “In the coming days, we will. As we sit here now there is a decent chance that rehab will allow him an ample time to heal. If that does not work, surgery is an option at some point. We are not there yet.” Adolfo was rated as the White Sox’ 14th overall prospect by MLB.com headed into the season. He spent the 2017 season at Class-A Kannapolis, where he hit .264/.331/.453 across 473 plate appearances, though his .366 BABIP suggests that some luck was involved, while his 31.5% strikeout rate is further cause for concern.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Sign Erick Aybar]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115605 2018-02-24T15:21:27Z 2018-02-24T15:21:30Z Feb. 24th: The Twins have announced the signing.

    Feb. 23rd: The Twins have agreed to a minor-league deal with infielder Erick Aybar, according to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. The contract includes a MLB invite. Aybar’s potential salary is $1.25MM and there are some plate appearance-based incentives, too, per Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (Twitter link). The deal also includes an opt-out opportunity on March 27th.

    Aybar signed on with the Padres last year in hopes of rebounding from a pair of tough seasons, but ended up struggling in San Diego. Over 370 plate appearances, Aybar slashed just .234/.300/.348 over 370 plate appearances and continued to post sub-par metrics at shortstop. The 34-year-old switch-hitter also missed time with a foot fracture.

    Minnesota won’t be handing its regular shortstop job over to Aybar, of course, but it could allow him to compete for a bench spot. Ehire Adrianza currently seems like the favorite to function as a utility infielder, but Aybar will now join Gregorio Petit and Taylor Featherston as potential non-roster options in camp.

    It has now been some time since Aybar was a quality regular, but he certainly was that and more earlier in his career with the Angels. In addition to being a quality defender, Aybar was a league-average hitter from 2009 through 2014.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Dodgers Claim J.T. Chargois From Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115571 2018-02-23T19:47:59Z 2018-02-23T19:35:28Z The Dodgers announced that they’ve claimed right-handed reliever J.T. Chargois off waivers from the Twins. Left-hander Julio Urias has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported yesterday that Chargois had hit the waiver wire. Urias underwent shoulder surgery late last June and could miss the entire 2018 season.

    The 27-year-old Chargois was Minnesota’s second-round pick out of Rice back in 2012 but has seen his development slowed by multiple injuries throughout his career, including Tommy John surgery and a stress reaction in his elbow this past season. When healthy, Chargois features a mid-90s fastball that can scrape triple digits. He’s dominated throughout his minor league tenure when healthy, working to a career 1.91 ERA with 10.5 K/9 against 3.5 BB/9, but his injuries have limited him to just 113 1/3 innings in the minors and another 23 in the Majors, where he owns a 4.70 ERA and a 17-to-12 K/BB ratio.

    For the Twins, they now have an open 40-man roster spot to work with. There’s been no corresponding roster move announced to go along with Chargois’ placement on waivers, though the Twins have been linked to various pitchers, both in free agency and trade, even after acquiring Jake Odorizzi from the Rays. They’ll now have an open spot to accommodate the acquisition of another arm or a right-handed bat — another asset they’re rumored to covet — though there’s no indication that any such move is looming in the immediate future.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Place J.T. Chargois On Outright Waivers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115532 2018-02-23T16:55:38Z 2018-02-23T16:50:28Z Feb. 23: Chargois was actually placed on waivers on Wednesday, Berardino tweets, meaning the outcome should be known this afternoon.

    Feb. 22: The Twins have placed righty J.T. Chargois on outright waivers, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (Twitter link). It seems the hope is that the injured Chargois will clear waivers while leaving the organization a 40-man spot to work with.

    Chargois, a second-round pick in the 2012 draft, steadily moved up the Minnesota system as he worked to harness a big heater. In 2016, he impressed in his first attempt at Triple-A, posting a 1.29 ERA with 10.5 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 over 35 innings. And while he struggled overall in a first attempt at the majors, Chargois did finish his debut effort with a strong final month.

    The arrow pointed up heading into 2017, but Chargois stalled out. He took the mound only twice in competitive situations while dealing with an elbow problem that was ultimately diagnosed as a stress reaction. While he did not require surgery, there’s obviously some uncertainty as to how his career will progress from this point.

    Given that Chargois held onto his 40-man spot throughout the winter, it seems the Twins have maintained at least some cause for optimism. On the other hand, the club is obviously now willing to take a chance at losing a pitcher who not long ago seemed a future closer possibility. Whether his early showing in camp impacted the decision is not clear, but it’s somewhat notable that Minnesota did not place Chargois on the 60-day DL, suggesting that he’s healthy enough that such a placement would not be warranted.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Heyman’s Latest: LoMo, Braves, Moustakas, White Sox, CarGo, Lynn, Arrieta]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115551 2018-02-23T05:34:16Z 2018-02-23T05:34:16Z There’s enough talent left on the free-agent market — including seven of the top twenty players on MLBTR’s list of the top 50 free agents — that the overall assessment of spending could yet be swayed by contracts that have yet to be reached. (As always, you can review the action to this point in our 2017-18 MLB Free Agent Tracker.) As we wait for the final data points to be registered, it’s worth considering this recent piece from The Ringer’s Ben Lindbergh regarding the debate over player spending in comparison to revenue (as well as this earlier AP examination of spending and revenue from the spring of 2016). Calculating the players’ slice of the pie — and the size of the pie itself — is certainly a nuanced undertaking, and one for which complete public data is lacking.

    The markedly sluggish timing of this year’s market, of course, is something that has already been established quite clearly. With an unprecedented number of top players still awaiting new deals as Spring Training opens, let’s take a look at a few of the most notable bits of information from Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (from his latest notes column, unless otherwise noted):

    • At least as of a few days back, says Heyman, first baseman Logan Morrison was not sitting on any open offers. While LoMo’s representatives surely have an idea of what might be available, it’s rather notable that no organizations seem to be making a concerted effort to draw him. MLBTR’s Connor Byrne recently argued in favor of Morrison as a worthy free-agent target, but it certainly isn’t doing him any favors that the market still holds a few other quality slugger types. Still, Morrison’s excellent recent work at the plate would unquestionably hold out the promise of real improvement for a variety of organizations.
    • There’s still no evidence that the Braves are particularly likely to agree to terms with third baseman Mike Moustakas, but Heyman says there has been some amount of engagement — even if “there’s no common ground” to this point. The Atlanta organization, which Heyman says even considered Lorenzo Cain at one point, may have reduced 2018 flexibility after a salary swapping deal with the Dodgers moved some obligations forward. But it seems the team is still at least hunting around for interesting possibilities. As for Moustakas, Heyman notes he has “plenty of one-year opportunities,” but it’s not clear at this point whether a significant multi-year deal will be forthcoming. That’s surely disappointing after he turned in a strong 2017 season, though it is not atypical for some quality players to run into problematic market circumstances.
    • The White Sox have been linked, albeit loosely, to Moustakas, and it still seems as if the Chicago organization could have some tricks up its sleeves. While the focus, no doubt, remains on the future, the club is going to have some solid veterans and high-end young talents on the roster for the coming season. With just over $70MM on the books for 2018, perhaps the organization could yet pursue some one-year or multi-year deals that would hold out the promise of delivering excess value. Outfielder Carlos Gonzalez is a “possibility” for the South Siders, per Heyman. It stands to reason that the Sox might hold added appeal to players such as Gonzalez if they are willing to offer more playing time than might be available elsewhere.
    • With several starters locking in solid rates of pay of late, and the bullpen market heating up earlier in the offseason, pitchers seem generally to have had an easier go of things on this winter’s wacky market. Heyman writes that veteran righty Lance Lynn has not been forced to significantly drop his asking price. Indications are that the Twins, per the report, “seem to prefer” Lynn to other still-available starters. Heyman further reports that Jake Arrieta’s agent, Scott Boras, still seems to believe that Arrieta compares more reasonably with pitchers who have landed mega-deals than he does with the recently inked Yu Darvish, who received a $126MM guarantee. Of course, we’re still waiting to see how those and a few other top open-market pitchers will end up doing when all is said and done.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Sign Casey Crosby]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115508 2018-02-23T03:53:01Z 2018-02-23T03:50:41Z
  • Southpaw Casey Crosby has signed on with the Twins on a minor-league deal, as Seth Stohs of TwinsDaily.com pointed out today on Twitter. Rick Armstrong of the Aurora Beacon-News had the story a few weeks back, charting Crosby’s quiet exit from the sport and his decision to attempt a comeback. The lefty briefly appeared with the Tigers in 2012 but has not returned to the majors since. Indeed, Crosby last recorded time in affiliated ball with Detroit in 2014, with elbow pain contributing to his departure. The 29-year-old, a former fifth-round draft pick, returned to indy ball late last year and is hoping that an improved diet and revamped mechanics will lead to a remarkable rebound.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mauer Wants To Play Beyond 2018, Spend Career With Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115466 2018-02-22T03:25:09Z 2018-02-22T03:25:09Z On the heels of a bounceback 2017 season in which he posted a strong .305/.384/.417 slash line and finished as a finalist in AL Gold Glove voting, Joe Mauer tells MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger that he believes he can continue playing beyond the 2018 season — the final year on his eight-year, $184MM contract. Mauer adds that he cannot envision himself donning a uniform other than that of his hometown Twins, with whom he’s spent his entire professional career since being the No. 1 overall pick back in the 2001 draft.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Remaining Moves, Sano]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115325 2018-02-21T05:47:38Z 2018-02-20T21:55:22Z
  • The Twins are still considering additions, it seems, with Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweeting that the organization has “flexibility” remaining despite bringing in a variety of veteran hurlers. Because the team did not end up landing Yu Darvish, there’s still some payroll space left to work with. Certainly, the market still includes some notable pitchers that would no doubt like to see the Minnesota organization make a run at their services. Whether or not the team is willing to extend itself for one of the remaining free-agent starters, though, remains largely unclear at the moment. Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn are the top names left, though each rejected a qualifying offer and is there for attached to draft forfeitures.
  • One area of uncertainty entering camp for the Twins is young star Miguel Sano, who is coming off of surgery and was accused recently of assaulting a photographer. MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger has the latest, via Twitter. On the health front, the 24-year-old is said to be “doing baseball activities,” though he will surely be handled with care as things ramp up. In regards to the investigation of the troubling claims leveled against Sano, the league has yet to speak with him. It remains unclear just how that investigation is proceeding and when it will be concluded.
  • ]]>
    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Central Notes: Abreu, Kipnis, Moustakas, Cuthbert, Sano]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115196 2018-02-19T05:45:08Z 2018-02-19T05:45:08Z White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu shed over ten pounds already this offseason, James Fegan of The Athletic writes. The weight loss comes thanks in part to a diet with a lot more fish and white meat. But aside from eating healthier, the Cuban native has another, more surprising goal: to steal more bases. Abreu said he’ll be asking for the green light from manager Rick Renteria more often. “Just because I think I can do it,” he added. “I really believe I can do it and I like the challenge. I like to challenge myself and I think that’s a good challenge for me and I’m ready for it.” Renteria laughed a bit at the idea, but he did say that if Abreu ends up being able to take a base, “that would be awesome.” However, the skipper suggested that he’s more concerned about making sure his first baseman can swing the bat and catch a ball first. A full read of the piece provides some insight not only into the plans of Abreu and Renteria headed into 2018, but into their personalities as well.

    More notes about American League’s midwestern teams…

    • Indians manager Terry Francona held his individual meetings with position players on Sunday morning, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. One of those meetings was with Jason Kipnis, who’s faced a lot of uncertainty this offseason as to what position he’ll play in 2018 and which team he’ll be playing it for. Kipnis apparently told Francona he’d do whatever he was told to do, but Francona felt it was better for the two to make the decision together. Because of who he is and what he’s accomplished, and what he can accomplish, I think it’s better if we do it together.” Francona said. “Asking somebody to do something they don’t think they can do isn’t going to help us.” It was reported earlier this offseason that the Tribe planned to move Kipnis back to second base, and Francona confirmed those intentions on Sunday by telling reporters that “he’s a second baseman… the idea is for him to play second.”
    • In line with reports from earlier today, it seems as though the Royals are prepared to move on from Mike MoustakasJeffrey Flannagan of MLB.com shares some eye opening notes from an impromptu news conference with GM Dayton Moore this afternoon, including a quote about third baseman Cheslor Cuthbert. “We like [Cuthbert] a great deal,” Moore said. “We feel it’s his time to become a consistently producing player. We also have Hunter Dozier, who can play third and corner outfield, and first base — he has some versatility.” Moore also expressed a desire to build the club’s farm system back to what it was in 2010-2011, also noting that “That period of time [of high payrolls], that phase of who we are, is over.” All of these points cast extreme doubt on any chance of Moose coming back to Kansas City.
    • Twins slugger Miguel Sano appears healthy, as Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com reports that he’s working out in the Dominican Republic and “doing all baseball activities.” He’ll reportedly be eased into games, however, and there’s one more unresolved item that could affect Sano’s ability to take the field: he has yet to be interviewed by MLB about his alleged sexual assault of a photographer. Sano has vehemently denied the accusations, and there’s been little in the way of public updates on the situation. Still, there could yet be ramifications depending on the findings from a potential interview or investigation.
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Joe Mauer Discusses Future]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115104 2018-02-22T03:29:20Z 2018-02-18T15:51:40Z
  • The Rays would’ve been the biggest story in baseball last night if not for the Hosmer news, having designated outfielder Corey Dickerson for assignment in an eye-opening move, acquired first baseman C.J. Cron from the Angels and traded righty Jake Odorizzi to the Twins. It wasn’t at all surprising that the Rays dealt Odorizzi, who had been in trade rumors for months, but it was unexpected that they only received a borderline top 30 Twins prospect (Single-A shortstop Jermaine Palacios) in return. General manager Erik Neander addressed that, telling Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times and other reporters that the Rays “probably have him valued quite a bit higher than some of the public publications.” Ultimately, with the Rays set to begin full-squad workouts on Monday, parting with Odorizzi and Dickerson was something they had to do, according to Neander. “You just don’t want a cloud of uncertainty hanging over our group,” he said. “It was time to move forward.” Even if the Rays end up cutting Dickerson and getting nothing back, they’ll justify it as essentially trading two years of control over him for three of Cron and saving money in the process, per Topkin. After parting with Odorizzi and Dickerson, the club could use its added “financial flexibility” to “reinvest” in free agency, Neander said Sunday (Twitter link via Topkin).
  • Set to wrap up his eight-year, $184MM contract this season, Twins icon Joe Mauer tells Phil Miller of the Star Tribune he and the team haven’t engaged in any extension talks. But Mauer plans to continue his career in 2019 “if I can still contribute,” and the first baseman is hopeful he’ll still be in a Twins uniform then. “This is where I want to be. This is where my family is, where my daughters are growing up,” said the St. Paul native. “I have no intention of going anywhere else. Hopefully it doesn’t come to that.” The former superstar catcher enjoyed a strong year at the plate in 2017 with a .305/.384/.417 line in 597 PAs.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Acquire Jake Odorizzi]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=115084 2018-02-18T04:08:12Z 2018-02-18T02:51:25Z The Twins have acquired right-hander Jake Odorizzi from the Rays, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (Twitter link).  Shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios is going back to the Rays in return, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports.  Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reported earlier tonight that the two clubs had agreed to some sort of a trade.  In a corresponding move, Michael Pineda has been placed on the 60-day DL to create space for Odorizzi on the Twins’ roster.

    "<strongOdorizzi has been widely mentioned in trade rumors this winter, with such teams as the Orioles, Brewers, Yankees, Angels, Phillies, and Nationals also noted as having some interest in his services.  It’s probably fair to assume that just about every team in baseball with a need for starting pitching checked in on Odorizzi given his solid track record and his two remaining years of control.  Odorizzi recently defeated the Rays in an arbitration hearing and will earn $6.3MM in 2018, making him a particularly affordable asset for a smaller-market team like Minnesota.  The Rays and Twins had been talking pitching deals for much of the winter, with Minnesota focusing on both Odorizzi and Chris Archer, who carried a significantly higher asking price due to his team-friendly contract and four years of control.

    [Updated Twins and Rays depth charts on Roster Resource]

    Minnesota has been connected to virtually every available pitcher in the sport on both the trade and free agent fronts this winter, and in Odorizzi, the Twins have landed an arm that could be on the mound for them come Opening Day.  Rotation help was a key need for a Twins team that had a lot of youth and question marks beyond Ervin Santana, and even his frontline status took a hit with the news that Santana will miss some time at the start of the season due to finger surgery.  Odorizzi and Jose Berrios will now sit atop the Twins’ rotation until Santana returns, with Adalberto Mejia and Kyle Gibson lined up for jobs, Tyler Duffey and Anibal Sanchez battling for a fifth starter’s role and Phil Hughes also expected to return at some point during the season after recovering from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery.

    There’s still a lot of uncertainty within that pitching mix, and it isn’t out the question that the Twins make another pitching acquisition (a signing or another notable trade) to further supplement the rotation.  Conversely, the club could just make another depth signing or two, such as another veteran like Sanchez on a minor league contract.

    More pitching reinforcements could be an option for Minnesota because it can’t be ignored that Odorizzi’s performance took a big step backwards in 2017.  He was limited to 143 1/3 IP due to two separate DL stints for hamstring and back problems, and he posted a 4.14 ERA, 2.08 K/BB rate, and 7.97 K/9.  While these numbers seem solid, ERA predictors (5.43 FIP, 5.10 xFIP, 4.90 SIERA) had a much more pessimistic view of Odorizzi’s performance, as a .227 BABIP likely helped keep his actual ERA in check.  While he delivered a career-best 11.2% swinging-strike rate, Odorizzi also delivered the worst hard-hit ball (36.8%), home run rate (15.5%) and BB/9 (3.83) numbers of his four full MLB seasons.  Baseball Reference actually judged Odorizzi as below-replacement level (-0.1 bWAR) last season, while Fangraphs rated him barely higher with 0.1 fWAR.

    Since Odorizzi has been the subject of trade speculation for well over a year now, Tampa Bay could well face criticism that they waited too long to move the righty, especially given the fact that Palacios is a fairly lightly-regarded prospect within Minnesota’s farm system.  ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the infielder 24th on his list of Twins prospects, with MLB.com rating Palacios 27th amongst Minnesota farmhands.  The 21-year-old Venezuela native was signed in 2013 and he has a .290/.345/.426 slash line over 1303 pro plate appearances, 263 of those PA coming at high-A ball last season.  MLB.com’s scouting report described him as “an offensive-minded middle infielder whose bat is a little bit ahead of his glove….He has some potential at the plate to hit for average and good extra-base pop.”  Palacios’s defense got solid reviews, though the assumption was that he would eventually have to change positions due to the number of other good shortstops ahead of him in the Twins’ system; the same could be true for him in Tampa given Willy Adames’ rep as the Rays’ shortstop of the future.

    Between the Odorizzi deal and designating Corey Dickerson for assignment earlier tonight, the Rays have now moved roughly $11.2MM off their books, and that number could jump to $12.25MM if another team claims Dickerson or makes a trade for his services.  With their projected payroll still in franchise-high territory even after those moves and the Evan Longoria trade, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the likes of Denard Span, Alex Colome, Brad Miller, Adeiny Hechavarria, and the newly-acquired C.J. Cron all shopped before Opening Day.

    Even without Odorizzi, however, the Rays still boast a pretty strong pitching staff — Archer, Blake Snell, Jake Faria, Matt Andriese, and Nathan Eovaldi are the projected starting five, with top prospect Brent Honeywell waiting for a call-up at Triple-A.  Some more work is likely necessary for the lineup and bullpen, however, and it will be challenging to both save dollars and add enough talent to remain competitive in a tough AL East.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Still Interested In Chris Tillman]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=114977 2018-02-17T05:18:05Z 2018-02-17T04:42:24Z Free-agent righty Chris Tillman is weighing offers and preparing to make a decision in short order, according to Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun. The Orioles are joined by the Twins and two other organizations in the picture for Tillman’s services, per the report, which also suggests that Tillman is willing to take an incentive-laden contract as he looks to return to form after a miserable 2017 season. With the Minnesota organization also said to be involved on some other hurlers, its ongoing involvement is especially interesting to note — though it’s also fair to wonder whether the team’s reported agreement with another bounceback candidate (Anibal Sanchez) will dampen its interest. We’ve seen real movement on the starting pitching market of late; with Tillman also seemingly nearing a deal, it’ll be interesting to see whether the same holds for some other free agents.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins To Sign Anibal Sanchez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=114948 2018-02-17T02:24:30Z 2018-02-17T02:20:02Z 8:19pm: Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press has some further details on how the contract works. Essentially, it’s structured like a non-guaranteed arbitration deal. Sanchez would receive about $410K if cut loose on or before the 16th day of camp or around $615K if he makes it past the first date but is then released before March 29th.

    4:31pm: The Twins have reportedly reached agreement on a split MLB contract with veteran righty Anibal Sanchez. He can earn $2.5MM if he makes the roster out of camp but is guaranteed only $500K in the deal, which also includes up to $2.5MM in incentives.

    Soon to turn 34, Sanchez is coming off of a dreadful three-year run with the Tigers. He produced in the first two seasons after signing with Detroit, but has limped to a 5.67 ERA in the 415 2/3 innings since the start of 2015.

    Given the struggles, it came as no surprise when the Tigers paid Sanchez a $5MM buyout rather than picking up his 2018 option at a $16MM price tag. At that time, it seemed questionable at best whether the veteran would even merit a major league contract. After all, despite Sanchez’s excellent track record — he carried  a 3.53 ERA through his first 1,177 MLB innings — it has been some time since he has been consistently effective.

    In particular, the long ball has become a persistent problem. Compared with his better, prior campaigns, Sanchez has both allowed more flyballs and given up more dingers on the balls that have gone skyward off of opponents’ bats. The issues reached an apex in 2017, wen he coughed up 2.22 HR/9 on a 19.3% HR/FB rate. Sanchez also permitted hard contact at a career-high 37.4% rate.

    On the positive side, Sanchez has continued to post solid strikeout and walk numbers. He maintained a typical 9.8% swinging-strike rate in 2017 and finished with 8.9 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9. Those levels hardly stand out in this age of whiffs, but do suggest he could be effective if he can regain control over the batted-ball outcomes.

    Sanchez was tagged for a .354 BABIP. While the volume of hard contact suggests that may have been deserved to an extent, Statcast numbers suggest there was some poor fortune. The veteran permitted a .386 wOBA but carried a .332 xwOBA, making for a rather massive spread.

    Given the nature of the contract, Sanchez is hardly guaranteed a rotation spot. And though the addition changes the depth picture, it doesn’t seem that it’ll prevent the organization from pursuing a more significant starter, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN notes on Twitter.

    Jon Heyman of Fan Rag reported the agreement (Twitter links). Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN first noted the connection on Twitter and added additional details on Twitter. MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reported that the deal was not guaranteed (via Twitter).

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Win Arbitration Hearing Against Kyle Gibson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=114818 2018-02-15T22:22:55Z 2018-02-15T19:09:40Z The Twins came out ahead in their arbitration hearing with right-hander Kyle Gibson, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). Gibson will earn the $4.2MM salary that was submitted by the team, as opposed to the $4.55MM figure that was submitted by his representatives at Rowley Sports Management (as shown in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker). Overall, Gibson receives a $1.3MM raise on last season’s $2.9MM salary.

    The 29-year-old Gibson 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 last May. However, he rebounded emphatically from that dreadful stretch, logging a 3.57 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent grounder rate in his final dozen starts (a total of 70 2/3 innings). That strong performance quite likely saved Gibson from a non-tender that looked like a distinct possibility earlier in the season.

    Now, on the heels of that strong finish, the former first-rounder will head into Spring Training assured a rotation spot alongside young Jose Berrios. The rest of the Twins’ rotation is rather muddied at present, particularly in the wake of finger surgery for Ervin Santana, which could cost him the first month of the season. Young lefty Adalberto Mejia figures to slot in behind Berrios and Gibson, and the Twins have a host of internal options, including top prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero as well as fellow Triple-A righties Felix Jorge and Aaron Slegers.

    Veteran Phil Hughes is still with the club and will look to bounce back from multiple seasons that have been ruined by thoracic outlet syndrome, and hard-throwing Trevor May could be an option by early summer as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.

    That said, the Twins have made no secret about their desire to add pitching upgrades this offseason. After a lengthy but failed run of top free agent Yu Darvish, Minnesota now must weigh how aggressively it wants to pursue remaining free agents such as Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia. The trade market also presents several options, and the Twins have been heavily connected to the Rays in recent weeks.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Will Reportedly Attend Lincecum Showcase]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=114668 2018-02-14T05:02:07Z 2018-02-14T04:55:29Z
  • More than 10 teams are set to attend Tim Lincecum’s showcase on Thursday, it seems. Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com and Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com respectively report that the Tigers, Twins and Orioles will have scouts in attendance (all Twitter links). Heyman adds another handful of clubs, listing the Rangers, Phillies, Dodgers, YankeesRed Sox, Brewers, Padres and Braves as attendees (links to Twitter for the last three), in addition to the previously reported Giants. If anything, it’s perhaps more notable which clubs have elected not to attend the showcase, as there’s no real downside to at least taking a look and the showcase is shaping up to be reasonably well-attended. To that end, the New York Post’s Kevin Kernan wrote over the weekend that the Mets aren’t planning to have a scout in attendance.
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