Minnesota Twins – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-06-24T03:30:45Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Lewis, Santana, Deadline Plans]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125630 2018-06-24T02:34:10Z 2018-06-24T02:34:10Z J.P. Hoornstra of the Orange County Register offers an interesting look at the dynamic between top Twins prospect Royce Lewis and special assistant to baseball operations Torii Hunter. It turns out that Hunter knew Lewis’s father for years, but had no idea his son was a baseball prodigy until after he was picked first overall by the Twins. In fact, neither Hunter nor the younger Lewis knew there was just one degree of separation between them in the form of the elder, William Lewis, who had Hunter’s personal cell phone number for years. Fast forward to now, and Hunter has his own relationship with Royce, the number one overall pick in the 2017 draft. In addition to baseball work, the two spent a week together at Hunter’s home in Dallas, where he reportedly gave Royce some tutoring and life skills advice.

More items concerning the Twins…

  • Ervin Santana’s post-surgery comeback continues to drag on slowly, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press reports. The 35-year-old righty failed to reach 90 MPH even once during his 45-pitch live batting practice session in Florida this week. He’d at least managed that velocity in a two-start rehab stint last month, but had to be shut down after those starts in order to rebuild arm strength. There’s currently not a clear timetable for Santana’s return, which is surely disappointing for a Twins organization that once expected to see him back as early as April 20th.
  • There’s uncertainty in the Twins organization as to whether they ought to be buyers or sellers at the July non-waiver trade deadline, writes Mark Feinsand of MLB.com. While the club certainly fancied themselves contenders amidst a mostly-weak AL Central division headed into the season, significant struggles of Jake Odorizzi, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, along with the absence of Jorge Polanco and the aforementioned Santana are among the reasons that Minnesota currently sits in third place with a 33-39 record – seven games behind the division-leading Indians. “We’re in an interesting spot; we’re trying to figure out who we are and what we should be doing,” Levine said on the subject. “There are so many teams that are clear-cut sellers and a handful that are clear-cut buyers. We’re more inclined to be patient right now and utilize a little more of the runway we have.”
  • The Twins still haven’t signed their top draft pick, outfielder Trevor Larnach. Berardino points out that they’d be likely to sign him under slot considering they went a combined $717K over slot for their picks in rounds 4, 5, 9 and 10. Larnach’s slot comes with a value of $3.12MM.
Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Release Nick Buss]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125563 2018-06-22T18:58:20Z 2018-06-22T18:58:20Z
  • The Twins’ Triple-A affiliate announced that outfielder Nick Buss has been released. The 31-year-old Buss won a Pacific Coast League batting title in 2017 when he hit .348/.395/.541 with 11 homers for the Padres’ top affiliate, but he’s struggled to a .239/.309/.340 slash through 178 PAs in Rochester this season. Buss has appeared in the Majors with both Los Angeles teams, hitting a combined .180/.229/.300 in a tiny sample of 110 plate appearances and is a lifetime .302/.360/.452 hitter in parts of six seasons at the Triple-A level.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 6/19/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125279 2018-06-19T14:51:56Z 2018-06-19T14:51:56Z Here are some of the notable recent minor moves from around the league …

    • The Giants released outfielder-turned-pitcher Jordan Schaferaccording to Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. Schafer had joined the San Francisco organization at the start of the current season in hopes of continuing his attempt to return to the majors on the mound. He had missed the prior campaign owing to Tommy John surgery. Schafer threw 6 1/3 innings at Triple-A prior to his release, allowing four earned runs on ten hits and five walks but also recording nine strikeouts.
    • Eddy also reports that the Nationals have released corner infielder Matt Hague from their Triple-A affiliate. The 32-year-old has seen brief action in three MLB campaigns, most recently in 2015. He had joined the Washington organization after being released by the Mariners in April. Over 112 plate appearances at Syracuse, he exhibited typically strong plate discipline (12 walks vs. 18 strikeouts) but was slashing just .242/.321/.323.
    • The Twins have cut ties with hard-throwing righty Zack Jones from Double-A Chattanooga, per the Eastern League transactions log. The former Rule 5 Draft pick had allowed just seven earned runs on ten hits through 25 1/3 innings thus far in 2018, racking up 39 strikeouts along the way. Unfortunately, the 27-year-old Jones has also handed out 25 walks this season. Over his seven minor-league seasons, he has recorded 12.9 K/9 against 5.5 BB/9, so the command issues represent a longstanding concern.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Release Taylor Featherston]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125283 2018-06-18T18:33:39Z 2018-06-18T18:33:39Z The Twins have released infielder Taylor Featherston, per an announcement from their Triple-A affiliate in Rochester (h/t: Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs, on Twitter).

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

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

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Donaldson, Blue Jays, Ravin, May, Goody]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125096 2018-06-16T14:09:17Z 2018-06-16T14:09:17Z Former AL MVP Josh Donaldson is expected to miss “at least a few more days” before getting a chance to return to the Blue Jays’ lineup. A report from Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com indicates that Donaldson still hasn’t felt comfortable running at full speed, or as manager John Gibbons puts it, “he still couldn’t cut it loose,” during a series of running drills on Thursday. The third baseman has been out since May 28th with a sore calf muscle. Coupled with the shoulder injury he dealt with earlier this season, one has to wonder just how much these injury concerns will impact the 32-year-old Donaldson’s free agent stock headed into the 2018-2019 offseason. It’s not as though he’s produced while on the field, either: his .234/.333/.423 slash line (despite a .303 BABIP) is a far cry from his typical production, while his strikeout rate sits at a career-high 27.7%.

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

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

    • Nate Rowan, beat reporter for the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate, tweets that Trevor May is headed to the DL with shoulder inflammation. The move is retroactive to June 14th. May’s only recently made his way back from Tommy John surgery, a recovery he wrote about for MLBTR; he was optioned to Triple-A immediately following his activation. There’s no word yet on the severity of the shoulder situation or how long May is expected to be out. In his most recent major league action, May pitched to a 5.27 ERA across 44 relief appearances for the Twins.
    • Another AL Central reliever received unfortunate news today as well. Nick Goody of the Indians visited Dr. James Andrews after feeling soreness during his throwing program. The diagnosis remains elbow hyperextension and posterior elbow inflammation, and though that’s far from the worst-case scenario, he’ll be shut down for at least three weeks after receiving a PRP injection. It’s bad news for an Indians club that has seen its bullpen go from the upper echelon in the league in 2017 to a bottom-dweller in 2018.
    • Braves reliever Josh Ravin (currently pitching for Triple-A Gwinnett) experienced a scare yesterday when he was struck in the face by a line drive. Ravin’s stable, however (at least enough so to tweet), and is set to be further evaluated on Sunday in Atlanta when the swelling goes down. The current diagnosis is five facial fractures and a concussion. Ravin has yet to allow a run in Gwinnett across 18 innings, during which time he’s struck out 30 batters and walked nine.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Sano On Being Optioned To Minors]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124964 2018-06-15T13:38:10Z 2018-06-15T13:36:53Z The Twinsdemotion of Miguel Sano to the minors yesterday came as a surprise to many, but the slugger seems to be taking the move in stride, as Brian Murphy of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes“It’s the decision they take and I take too,” said Sano of the demotion. “I’m not mad. They gave me an opportunity. No reason I can get mad. … I’m going to take pride of going down there and working hard so I can come back and be better.” Sano said he didn’t want to blame his struggles on his recent injury history, though it’s worth noting that he required offseason surgery to repair a stress reaction in his shin and has also missed time in 2018 due to a hamstring injury. Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said that improving Sano’s conditioning, specifically in his lower half, is part of the move, though the organization’s greater hope is to try to give Sano a fresh start in an environment where he can focus in on some areas for improvement identified by hitting coach James Rowson and others.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Option Miguel Sano]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124989 2018-06-14T20:58:17Z 2018-06-14T20:06:46Z The Twins have optioned struggling third baseman Miguel Sano, the club announced and Phil Miller of the Star Tribune was among those to report on Twitter. Outfielder Jake Cave will also go down on optional assignment with the team preparing to activate Joe Mauer.

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

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

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

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

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


    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Outright Gregorio Petit]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124965 2018-06-14T18:14:58Z 2018-06-14T18:14:50Z
  • The Twins announced that infielder Gregorio Petit has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Rochester after being designated for assignment earlier this week. The 33-year-old stuck with the Twins for a few weeks as a seldom-used bench piece but lost his roster spot when Minnesota brought right-hander Matt Belisle back to the organization on a big league contract Tuesday. Petit appeared in a dozen games for Minnesota but made just 30 plate appearances, hitting .308/.400/.308. He’s a career .253/.298/.350 hitter in 483 MLB plate appearances and a .267/.317/.370 hitter in parts of 11 Triple-A seasons.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Amateur Draft Signings: 6/13/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124912 2018-06-13T15:38:16Z 2018-06-13T15:35:12Z We’ll use this post to track Wednesday’s notable agreements from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Baseball AmericaMLB.comFangraphs and ESPN’s Keith Law — with the scouting reports from MLB and Fangraphs both coming free to the general public) …

    • Reds second-round pick Lyon Richardson scored a $2MM payday to forego his commitment to the University of Florida, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). That’s nearly half a million over the slot value ($1,520,300) for a player who has only recently emerged as a high-end pitching prospect. MLB.com’s team was highest among major prospect outlets, ranking Richardson 67th on the basis of his ample upside as an athletic hurler who has shown big velocity despite unpolished mechanics.
    • The Yankees have announced a variety of signings, including deals with second-rounder Josh Breaux and third-rounder Ryder Green. These agreements were first reported by Callis (Twitter links), with the bonus values pinned down by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Breaux’s bonus of $1,497,500 handily tops his $1,086,900 slot value, while Green, too, receives an over-slot $997,500 bonus that exceeds his $576,400 slot value. All of the above lists include Breaux among the top 100 available prospects, with an increasingly promising bat and improving work behind the dish justifying the placement.
    • The Braves got second-round selection Greyson Jenista for a $1.2MM bonus that leaves them $250,500 of extra pool space to work with, Callis reports on Twitter. The Wichita State slugger received a fairly broad array of grades from prospect hounds, but the Fangraphs crew was highest. With big power and the ability to draw walks, but also plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, there’s a lot to like about the bat. One major question is whether Jenista will be able to work into being a reasonable defender in the corner outfield, or whether instead he’s destined for first base in the long run.
    • Second-rounder Alek Thomas will join the Diamondbacks rather than heading to TCU, as Callis also tweets. The deal includes a $1.2MM bonus that tops the $1,035,500 allocation that came with the 63rd overall draft slot. Law was quite bullish on the young outfielder, crediting him with “five-tool potential” and “an advanced feel on both sides of the ball.”
    • The Nationals have also agreed to terms with their second-round selection, UConn lefty Tim Cate, Callis adds on Twitter. It’s an at-slot, $986,200 bonus for the 65th overall choice of the draft. Best known for his big hook, Cate is an undersized hurler who has also had some worrying arm health questions crop up. Still, Baseball America ranked him 54th on its board, noting his “exceptional feel to land his breaking ball in the zone and bury it for swings and misses.”
    • Still another second-rounder, Florida Atlantic infielder Tyler Frank, will take home a $997,500 bonus from the Rays, per MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo (Twitter link). That leaves the Tampa Bay club with some extra funds to work with, as the 56th slot came with a $1,228,000 allocation. Also going under-slot were Royals second-rounder Jonathan Bowlan ($697,500 bonus vs. $1,168,300 slot) and Twins second-rounder Ryan Jeffers ($800K bonus vs. $1,140,600 slot), according to Callis (Twitter links)
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mauer Headed Out On Rehab Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124808 2018-06-12T20:53:25Z 2018-06-12T20:53:25Z There was some (exceedingly mild) AL Central intrigue this morning, as reliever Matt Belisle bounced from the Indians over to the Twins, but otherwise it has been a quiet news day. Let’s take a look in at the latest items out of the AL Central:

    • Twins first baseman Joe Mauer is just launching his own rehab assignment, MLB.com’s Jarrid Denney reports. Concussion-like symptoms have kept the 35-year-old out for the past several weeks. He has dealt with similar problems in the past, of course, which represents a major reason that he no longer plays behind the plate. Though he has not contributed enough on-field value to justify his lofty salary in quite some time, Mauer has been a productive hitter over the past two years. Thus far in 2018, he is slashing .283/.404/.355 with 28 walks against 22 strikeouts but just one home run through 167 plate appearances. Meanwhile, young outfielder Byron Buxton is going through some running and baseball activities, but still evidently remains some ways away from returning from a fractured toe.
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Designate Gregorio Petit]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124814 2018-06-12T15:31:05Z 2018-06-12T15:31:05Z The Twins have designated infielder Gregorio Petit for assignment, per a club announcement. His roster spot was needed for the signing of reliever Matt Belisle, which is now official.

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

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

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins To Sign Matt Belisle]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124809 2018-06-12T15:14:22Z 2018-06-12T14:37:11Z 10:13am: It’s a MLB deal for Belisle, per LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star-Tribune (via Twitter), so the club will have some other roster maneuvering to make way for the addition.

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

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

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

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

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Draft Signings: 6/9/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124596 2018-06-10T01:33:50Z 2018-06-10T01:33:50Z Check out some of the latest draft signings outside of the first round…

    • Fourth-rounder Mike Siani has agreed to terms with the Reds, tweets FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal will pay Siani $2MM, which comes in over slot value. Siani, notably, is giving up a scholarship offer from the famed University of Virginia to join Cincinnati’s minor league ranks. He’s a catcher coming out of William Penn Charter High School in Pennsylvania; he’s been described by Baseball America as “a plus-plus runner with natural instincts in center field, [and] raw power and bat speed from the left side of the plate.” Indeed, the publication ranked him as the number 53 draft prospect headed in, but clearly he fell due to signability concerns. The Reds, then, will make great use of their fourth-round selection with the addition of Siani.
    • The Rays have officially signed second-round pick Tyler Frank out of Florida Atlantic, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The 185-pound shortstop was generally ranked around number 70 or so in draft rankings by Fangraphs, Baseball America and MLB.com.
    • Darren Wolfson of KSTP reports that the Twins have signed their second- and fourth-round picks. Catcher Ryan Jeffers, taken in round two, was ranked by Baseball America just inside the top 300 draft prospects; they described him as a below-average runner with an average arm behind the plate, though they did note his power as being impressive. Meanwhile, fourth-rounder DaShawn Kiersey Jr. is largely heralded for his contact skills. He came in 82nd in BA’s pre-draft rankings due to that skill. While some scouts worry that a gruesome hip injury suffered last year will cause him to decline faster, his “solid package of tools” give him great upside in MLB. With the above info in mind, perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that Jeffers signed for below slot value, while Kiersey Jr.’s deal exceeded his slot value (per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press).
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Had Offseason Interest In Miles Mikolas]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124574 2018-06-09T21:55:30Z 2018-06-09T21:55:16Z
  • Along with the previously reported Rangers, the Twins and Padres were among teams with offseason interest in right-hander Miles Mikolas, per Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Mikolas, who pitched in Japan from 2015-17, ended up signing a two-year, $15.5MM deal with the Cardinals. The 29-year-old is no stranger to the Padres, who selected him in the seventh round of the 2009 draft and then had him on their roster for parts of the 2012 and ’13 seasons. Mikolas was unheralded in San Diego, but he has turned into one of the NL’s most effective starters during his stint in St. Louis. Across 79 1/3 innings this season, Mikolas has notched a 2.27 ERA with 6.58 K/9, 1.02 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent groundball rate.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Free Agent Stock Watch: Eduardo Escobar]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124428 2018-06-09T17:01:57Z 2018-06-09T17:01:57Z Eduardo Escobar wasn’t supposed to get this much playing time in 2018. Heading into the season, he was set to be a utility player extraordinaire, backing up Twins shortstop Jorge Polanco, third baseman Miguel Sano and second baseman Brian Dozier — perhaps with an occasional day at DH or a brief foray into an outfield corner. But an 80-game suspension for Polanco following a failed PED test and an early injury for Sano thrust Escobar into the lineup with regularity. And more surprisingly, Escobar’s sensational performance has thrust him into the cleanup spot for the Twins more often than not.

    Eduardo Escobar | Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Santana, Rupp]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124271 2018-06-06T16:31:45Z 2018-06-06T13:18:21Z
  • There’s good news for Twins starter Ervin Santana, as conveyed by Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press on Twitter. After putting a hold on his rehab assignment a week ago, Santana is now just about ready to begin throwing again and may do so as soon as tomorrow. The solid veteran hurler will still need to complete a full ramp-up before he returns to the majors, but it seems promising that his earlier setback has only required a brief respite.
  • New Twins backstop Cameron Rupp has an opt-out opportunity on July 15th, per Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). That will give the team some time to assess its situation at the MLB level, and to get familiar with Rupp, before deciding whether to promote him. At the same time, it allows the backstop a chance to find a new opportunity before the trade deadline, if he doesn’t come up with the Twins.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Agree To Terms With First-Rounder Trevor Larnach]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124190 2018-06-05T15:20:48Z 2018-06-05T15:20:48Z The Twins have already agreed to a signing bonus with first-round draft pick Trevor Larnach, scouting director Sean Johnson said after last night’s selections were turned in. MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger was among those to tweet the news.

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

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

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

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

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

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins To Sign Cameron Rupp]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124130 2018-06-04T23:36:08Z 2018-06-04T23:33:52Z The Twins have reached agreement on a minor-league deal with catcher Cameron Rupp, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN (via Twitter). It seems he is already in Rochester readying to begin play with the organization.

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

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

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

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Padres' GM Discusses Phil Hughes Swap]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124105 2018-06-04T20:23:49Z 2018-06-04T20:23:49Z The Padres’ acquisition of Phil Hughes was clearly more about acquiring the Twins’ competitive balance draft pick than the pitcher himself, and GM A.J. Preller and scouting director Mark Conner spoke to MLB.com’s A.J Cassavell about the swap. Preller told Cassavell that he’s been calling every team that received pick in the competitive balance lottery on a near-weekly basis in an attempt to acquire an additional selection — something that’s long been a priority but was magnified in 2018 after San Diego surrendered a pick to sign Eric Hosmer“The game now is about making your money work for you,” said Preller. “…You have to figure out what’s the best bang for your buck. Having the extra pick gives you more options.”

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

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Free Agent Stock Watch: Brian Dozier]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123951 2018-06-03T20:08:03Z 2018-06-03T14:10:41Z Twins star Brian Dozier entered 2018 off an extraordinary three-year stretch of power hitting for a second baseman. Dozier combined for 104 home runs during that 2,100-plate appearance span, including 42 in 2016 – an American League record at his position. Although Dozier became a household name because of his ability to hit the ball over the fence, he has been a well-rounded player since his first full season (2013), evidenced by the 22.2 rWAR/21.7 fWAR he racked up between then and this year.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Put Buxton Back On DL With Fractured Toe, Halt Santana’s Rehab Program]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123662 2018-05-30T22:09:50Z 2018-05-30T22:07:35Z The Twins delivered some unfortunate injury news to reporters today, revealing that center fielder Byron Buxton is headed back to the disabled list due to his fractured big toe and that Ervin Santana’s rehab assignment has been halted due to ongoing discomfort in his surgically repaired finger (Twitter links via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com and Dan Hayes of The Athletic). Buxton will have his toe re-examined, while Santana will be examined by a specialist.

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

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

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

    [Related: Updated Minnesota Twins depth chart]

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

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

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

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Trade Myles Jaye To Indians]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123598 2018-05-30T02:00:20Z 2018-05-30T02:00:20Z
  • The Indians announced that they’ve acquired right-hander Myles Jaye from the Twins in exchange for cash. He’ll join the rotation for Cleveland’s Triple-A affiliate in Columbus, per the announcement. The 26-year-old Jaye made his MLB debut with the Tigers last season but was rocked for 17 earned runs on 18 hits and 10 walks in 12 2/3 innings at the MLB level. Jaye, a former 17th-round pick (Blue Jays, 2010), has a solid track record of preventing runs at the Triple-A level (3.81 ERA, 141 2/3 innings). He’s off to a decent start in Triple-A this year, having pitched to a 4.25 ERA in 42 1/3 frames — albeit with a middling 19-to-15 K/BB ratio in that time. With Adam Plutko and Shane Bieber emerging as rotation options at the MLB level, the addition of Jaye will give the Cleveland organization some additional depth.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Ervin Santana Begins Rehab Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123564 2018-05-29T17:26:06Z 2018-05-29T13:28:46Z Twins righty Ervin Santana will continue his rehab assignment with a start today at the High-A level, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press tweets, after throwing 45 pitches in his first outing.* Santana has spent the first two months of the season on the mend from finger surgery, but is now ramping up in earnest in advance of a return to the MLB mound. The 35-year-old has turned in two-straight excellent campaigns in Minnesota and will be looked to for a boost again this year. Santana’s ultimate return could create some interesting rotation questions for the Twins. Veteran Lance Lynn has lagged Kyle Gibson and eye-opening youngster Fernando Romero in output thus far, so it’s tough to guess how the club will create an opening when Santana is ready. Of course, there’s still time for the picture to change in the interim.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Claim Taylor Motter]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123515 2018-05-28T18:21:06Z 2018-05-28T18:07:31Z The Twins have claimed infielder Taylor Motter off waivers from the Mariners, per announcements from both teams. Motter will report to the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate.

    Motter, whom the Mariners designated on Sunday, will now join his third major league organization. Motter debuted with the Rays in 2016 and has since racked up 390 plate appearances at the game’s highest level. While Motter hasn’t hit much (.198/.269/.326), he has done his best to offset a lack of offense with defensive versatility. The 28-year-old is primarily a shortstop, but he has also totaled at least 10 games’ experience at every corner position and second base.

    Motter has spent most of this season at Triple-A, and given that he has an option remaining, he’s able to serve as minors depth without issue. But it’s possible he’ll eventually get an opportunity at short in Minnesota, where starter Ehire Adrianza has been woeful at the plate.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Padres Acquire Phil Hughes]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123385 2018-05-27T21:52:21Z 2018-05-27T21:51:21Z 4:51pm: $7.25MM is the precise sum, Jon Heyman of FanRag hears.

    1:54pm: The Padres will pick up approximately $7.5MM of Hughes’ contract, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweets.

    1:05pm: The Padres have acquired right-hander Phil Hughes, cash and the 74th pick in June’s draft from the Twins for young catcher Janigson Villalobos, per announcements from both teams.

    The Twins designated Hughes for assignment earlier this week, even though they still owed him the rest of his $13.2MM salary this year and another $13.2MM in 2019. Now, Minnesota will eat the remainder of Hughes’ salary this year, but San Diego will pay nearly half the tab next season, AJ Cassavell of MLB.com suggests.

    In a best-case scenario for the rebuilding Padres, the 31-year-old Hughes would reemerge as a viable starter or reliever with the club. However, there doesn’t seem to be much hope on either front, given that Hughes has recently undergone two different surgeries to address thoracic outlet syndrome – which is often a death knell for pitchers. Those procedures ended each of Hughes’ previous two seasons prematurely, and have played a role in the bloated 5.99 ERA he has logged across 124 2/3 innings (33 appearances, 22 starts) since 2016.

    While Hughes is certainly the eye-catching name in this trade, acquiring the pick in Competitive Balance Round B is the greater boon for San Diego. The Padres now have four of the draft’s top 85 choices, including Nos. 7 and 38, with which to add to an already deep farm system. The Friars’ newest selection carries a slot value of $812,200, and adding it will help make up for the pick they lost when they signed free-agent first baseman Eric Hosmer in the offseason.

    Villalobos, a Venezuela native, immigrated to the United States when he signed a deal with the Padres in March 2016. He went on to post a .253/.408/.322 line in 233 plate appearances at the Rookie level from 2016-17, though the 21-year-old hasn’t played anywhere this season. He’ll suit up for the Rookie level Gulf Coast Twins when their season begins.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Release Brock Stassi]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123267 2018-05-26T03:15:26Z 2018-05-26T03:15:26Z The Twins have released first baseman/outfielder Brock Stassi, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). His roster spot at Triple-A Rochester will got to just-acquired slugger Chris Carter.

    Stassi, 28, crafted a nice story when he earned a roster spot out of camp with the Phillies last year. But he failed to succeed in his first crack at the big leagues, slashing just .167/.278/.295 in his ninety plate appearances. On the positive side, Stassi drew a dozen walks to go with his 22 strikeouts.

    The left-handed hitter had wielded quite a productive bat in the upper minors prior to his first taste of the majors. But he fell off badly upon returning to Triple-A last year and has carried that poor performance into 2018. Since signing on with the Minnesota organization, Stassi carries only a .211/.316/.316 slash in 133 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Activate Miguel Sano]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123175 2018-05-25T02:06:14Z 2018-05-25T02:06:14Z The Twins announced Thursday that they’ve reinstated Miguel Sano from the disabled list after a 24-game absence due to a hamstring strain. Outfielder Jake Cave, whom the team acquired in a spring swap with the Yankees, has been optioned back to Triple-A Rochester to clear a spot on the active roster for the slugging third baseman. Sano played a five-game rehab assignment in Rochester and homered twice, showing the club enough to bring him back to the big league roster. Eduardo Escobar has filled in ably at the hot corner (.261/.313/.478 in Sano’s absence), though by plugging Sano back into the lineup, Escobar can shift back over to shortstop and push light-hitting defensive specialist Ehire Adrianza (.220/.287/.297 this year) back into a utility role. Minnesota is three games below .500 but sits just two games out of first place in what has been a feeble AL Central division so far in 2018.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Acquire Chris Carter]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123033 2018-05-23T00:47:35Z 2018-05-23T00:47:21Z 7:47PM: The Angels received cash considerations for Carter, Mike Berardino tweets.

    6:26PM: The Twins have acquired first baseman Chris Carter from the Angels, as reported by Steve Klauke, radio broadcaster for the Angels’ Triple-A affiliate in Salt Lake City.  Chris Carter will report to the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester, as per Nate Rowan from the Rochester PR department (Twitter link).

    Carter will provide Minnesota with some additional first base/DH depth in the upper minors while Joe Mauer is on the Major League DL with a neck strain and concussion symptoms.  The Twins have Logan Morrison at first with Robbie Grossman getting the bulk of DH at-bats, though Kennys Vargas is struggling (.614 OPS though 153 PA) for Rochester.

    It was just back in 2016 that Carter led the National League in homers after hitting 41 dingers for the Brewers as part of a .222/.321/.499 season for Milwaukee.  That home run total inflated Carter’s potential arbitration price, however, and with the then-rebuilding Brewers wary of committing a hefty salary (MLBTR projected him to earn $8.1MM) for a player with such a one-dimensional game, Carter found himself non-tendered.  He signed on with the Yankees but then badly struggled, hitting just .201/.284/.370 in 208 PA in pinstripes last season before being released.

    Carter caught on with the A’s on a minor league deal last summer, and while he didn’t return to the Show, his subsequent success at Triple-A with the A’s and Angels has given some indication that he can still be a productive bat.  He has 22 homers over his last 322 PA at the Triple-A level, and was hitting .255/.333/.600 over 168 PA with Salt Lake City this season.

    As per the terms of Carter’s original minor league deal with the Angels, he will earn $1.75MM if he reaches the Twins’ 25-man roster at any point this season, with another $600K available in incentives.  His chances of a promotion could hinge on Mauer’s health — Paul Molitor told reporters (including Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press) that Mauer was making some progress, though the club will be as cautious as possible given Mauer’s history with concussions.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Designate Phil Hughes]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122954 2018-05-22T15:40:31Z 2018-05-22T15:40:43Z TODAY: Outfielder Ryan LaMarre is coming back up for the Twins, Dan Hayes of The Athletic tweets.

    YESTERDAY: The Twins have designated righty Phil Hughes, per a club announcement (as Phil Miller of the Star Tribune was among those to tweet). Manager Paul Molitor says the organization has not asked whether Hughes would waive his right to reject a minor-league assignment, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports on Twitter.

    It seems, then, as if this is the beginning of the end of Hughes’s tenure in Minnesota. The club will have seven days to find a taker via trade. Otherwise, Hughes will go on the waiver wire. He’s sure to clear, given his contract, though he would not need to accept an assignment to Triple-A in order to keep the money he’s guaranteed.

    The Twins still owe Hughes the balance of a $13.2MM salary this year and another $13.2MM for the 2019 season. That’s what’s left of the five-year extension he signed in December of 2014, which overwrote the rest of the three-year deal that Hughes signed with Minnesota as a free agent in the prior winter.

    Students of hot stove history will recall that sequence rather well. Hughes had seemed likely to sign a make-good deal after a disappointing end to his tenure with the Yankees in 2013. But he went with a $24MM guarantee over a trio of campaigns with Minnesota, then made good on the contract in year one by spinning 209 2/3 innings of 3.52 ERA ball, with an unbelievable 186:16 K/BB ratio.

    Unfortunately, the second pact — which boosted Hughes’s overall compensation while expanding the team’s control — just never worked out. He turned in 155 1/3 innings of 4.40 ERA pitching in 2015, but since has managed only a 5.99 ERA in 124 2/3 frames.

    Health has been a major factor in recent seasons. Hughes requried two significant procedures to address thoracic outlet procedure, ending both his 2016 and 2017 seasons. He also dealt with knee and biceps injuries.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Injury Notes: Kendrick, Bumgarner, Mauer, Moore, Souza, Cuthbert]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122710 2018-05-19T23:02:45Z 2018-05-19T21:50:42Z Things got even worse for the Nationals today; Howie Kendrick appeared to sustain a serious injury while chasing down a Max Muncy fly ball. Kendrick was carted off the field, and was seen pointing to his ankle area. Jamal Collier of MLB.com reports that he’s off to get an MRI. The Nationals are already dealing with injuries to a number of other key players, including Ryan Zimmerman, Adam Eaton, Matt Wieters and Brian Goodwin, and can ill afford to lose another player from their outfield for an extended period of time. They’ll likely be anxious as they await further news on Kendrick.

    More injury news from around MLB today…

    • Giants lefty Madison Bumgarner considers his fractured left hand to be “95% or more” healed, according to a tweet from MLB.com’s Chris Haft. He’s on track to throw live batting practice on Tuesday and begin a rehab assignment on Saturday. Meanwhile, Haft says, Johnny Cueto will head to the club’s rehab facility in Arizona. The Giants will hope for the best-case scenarios as far as the timetables of these two players; their depleted rotation is a chief factor in the club’s sub-.500 record on the season.
    • Joe Mauer is headed to the Twins’ DL with concussion symptoms once again, according to LaVelle E. Neal of the Star Tribute. He reportedly did well in regards to concussion tests last night, but is apparently experiencing some sensitivity to light along with some balance issues. Mauer, who has dealt with concussion issues in years past, is walking at a 16.8% clip so far this season en route to a .404 OBP. According to chief baseball officer Derek Falvey (via MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger), the club is “not saying at this time that Joe has a concussion.”
    • The Rangers have placed lefty Matt Moore on the 10-day disabled list with what the club is calling right knee soreness. The move will make room for fellow righty Ariel Jurado, who will make the jump from Double-A to debut in the majors tonight. Jurado has a 2.57 ERA in 35 minor league innings this year, but with a 5.31 FIP that strongly disagrees with those results. He posted a 4.59 ERA at Double-A last season, with 5.45 K/9.
    • Diamondbacks outfielder Steven Souza will avoid the DL for the time being, says Zach Buchanan of The Athletic. A key offseason acquisition by the Dbacks, Souza has already spent the bulk of the season on the DL after suffering a pectoral strain upon diving for a ball in the outfield. Fortunately, it seems as though some minor pec soreness will not require a second DL stint for the time being.
    • The Royals have placed Cheslor Cuthbert on the 10-day DL with a lower back strain, recalling fellow infielder Ramon Torres from Triple-A Omaha in a corresponding move. Cuthbert is a career .252/.308/.383 hitter, and is performing especially poorly this season, as evidenced by his -0.5 fWAR for 2018. However, Torres seems unlikely to provide any significant upgrade; he’s hitting just .229/.280/.307 at the Triple-A level so far this season.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Twins’ Plans At Catcher]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122624 2018-05-18T14:14:17Z 2018-05-18T14:14:17Z Twins assistant GM Rob Antony joined 1500 ESPN’s Darren Wolfson on his latest podcast episode, discussing a wide range of topics from Jason Castro’s season-ending injury, to some pending free agents, some health updates on injured players and prospects to watch at the team’s Class-A club (audio link, with Antony joining for about 20 minutes beginning at 24:30). Most notably, Antony and Wolfson discuss not only the specifics of Castro’s injury, but the organization’s potential need to pursue outside help at catcher.

    Regarding the injury to Castro, Antony explains that initial imaging on the catcher’s knee revealed some tearing in the meniscus, but both Twins doctors and independent doctors who were consulted agreed that Castro would be able to return this season with a minor cleanup. (His initial prognosis upon being scheduled for surgery was around six weeks.) Upon performing the surgery, however, the tearing was found to be extensive enough that without a full repair of the meniscus, Castro’s career as a catcher would’ve been in jeopardy.

    It doesn’t sound as if one singular incident this season led to the issue for Castro, who has had meniscus and ACL injuries in the past. In fact, Antony notes that Castro had no issues running straight or even catching, but the knee bothered him greatly when rotating through his swing at the plate and rounding the bases. Certainly, Castro’s .143/.257/.238 slash — down from .242/.333/.388 a year prior — exemplifies the difficulties he had on offense.

    Initial reports have suggested that Minnesota won’t rush out to make a significant addition behind the plate. La Velle E. Neal of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported the other night that while the team is discussing its options, no decisions have been made (Twitter links). Neal suggested that if anything, the club could add a veteran depth piece to stash in Triple-A in order to give them further options beyond rookie Mitch Garver, now the team’s No. 1 catcher, and veteran backup Bobby Wilson.

    Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press expressed similar views in profiling how Garver, long rated as one of the organization’s more promising prospects, is in line to receive a legitimate opportunity to show he can handle the primary job. Garver hit .291/.387/.541 with 17 homers in Triple-A last season and is off to a .254/.309/.413 start in 68 plate appearances with the Twins in 2018. Antony did nothing to suggest that Garver won’t be given a real chance, but he did indicate that the team is actively exploring the market for help.

    “I would say it’s probably safe to say we’re going to have to acquire somebody, whether it’s for insurance or to be on the big league squad as a [number] one or two [option],” Antony said. “…I don’t think we’re going to sell the farm to acquire a catcher that’s not going to be an impact guy and is kind of a ’tide you over until Castro is ready next year,’ but we will look to see if we can improve our situation and our depth, definitely.”

    Per Antony, the club is more confident in Garver’s bat than that of Wilson, but the Twins also believe Wilson to be a more polished defender than Garver. So while Garver seems in line to shoulder most of the load, it’s possible that Wilson sees slightly more playing time than a true backup, though surely their on-field performances will ultimately dictate the timeshare.

    In the meantime, the Twins have received calls from other clubs with catchers to offer, per Antony, but conversations with those teams “have not progressed to the point where we’re deep in talks with anybody right now.”

    Certainly, there are teams around the league with catching options to offer. Marlins star J.T. Realmuto was among the most oft-discussed trade candidates of the past offseason and figures to be a staple on the rumor circuit again this summer, though he’ll have an enormous price tag attached to him with two and a half years of club control remaining. Seldom-used Red Sox catcher/outfielder/first baseman Blake Swihart will also be on the rumor circuit until what feels like an inevitable trade is completed following this week’s trade request from his agent. The Rays, meanwhile, probably wouldn’t mind shedding the salary of hot-hitting Wilson Ramos while simultaneously adding a piece or two of intrigue to their minor league ranks.

    As far as depth options who are unsigned at present, Miguel Montero (released by the Nationals last month), Carlos Ruiz (reportedly playing in his native Panama) and Geovany Soto are among the most notable available names.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Jason Castro To Miss Remainder Of Season]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122518 2018-05-16T16:11:40Z 2018-05-16T15:40:20Z Twins catcher Jason Castro received unwelcome news upon completion of his previously scheduled knee surgery. He ended up requiring a full repair of his meniscus, which is expected to keep him out for the remainder of the season, as MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger was among those to report on Twitter.

    The Minnesota organization was already preparing to weather an absence from Castro, but the belief was that he’d only miss about four to six weeks. Instead, the Twins may be on the hunt for a full-time replacement. For the time being, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press tweets, the team expects to continue to rely upon Mitch Garver and Bobby Wilson.

    Castro, 30, is playing on $8MM salaries both this year and next. He was not producing much at the plate to open the season, with a .143/.257/.238 slash over 74 plate appearances, but the organization surely intended to exercise patience with a player who had produced at a solid rate in the first season of his three-year free-agent pact.

    It remains to be seen just how aggressively the Twins will ultimately pursue an upgrade behind the dish. There are several plausible rental players that could be made available, but at this stage it’s unlikely that they’ll be moved. Odds are, the Minnesota brass will use the next two months to evaluate the internal and external possibilities, and to assess the team’s overall situation, before deciding upon a trade deadline strategy.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Injury Notes: Santana, Sano]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122374 2018-05-15T04:39:09Z 2018-05-15T04:09:34Z
  • The Twins provided updates on a pair of key rehabbing players, as conveyed by Phil Miller of the Star Tribune (Twitter links). Righty Ervin Santana has finally thrown his first live batting practice session and may be nearing a start in extended spring. He has been coming along slowly from finger surgery and will still need to fully ramp up and complete a rehab assignment before he’s ready for the majors. Meanwhile, third baseman Miguel Sano is still not close to being activated from a hamstring strain. Indications are he’ll at least be out for another week.
  • ]]>
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Jason Castro Out Four To Six Weeks Following Knee Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122353 2018-05-14T21:14:48Z 2018-05-14T21:05:39Z Twins catcher Jason Castro, already on the disabled list due to a tear in his right meniscus, will undergo surgery and miss another four to six weeks of action, manager Paul Molitor tells reporters (Twitter links via Brandon Warne of ZoneCoverage.com). He’ll undergo surgery tomorrow to have part of his meniscus removed.

    The 30-year-old Castro hasn’t looked right at the plate this season, hitting just .143/.257/.238 leading up to last week’s placement on the disabled list. While he was hardly an offensive force for Minnesota last season, he still slashed .242/.333/.388 with 10 homers — production that was slightly above-average relative to other catchers throughout the league and a bit below the overall league average for big league hitters (by measure of wRC+). He’s earning $8MM in 2018 — the second season of a three-year, $24.5MM deal that’ll pay him $8MM once again in 2019.

    With Castro on the shelf for the foreseeable future, rookie Mitch Garver should continue on as the Twins’ primary receiver behind the dish. Minnesota selected the contract of veteran Bobby Wilson last week at the time of Castro’s initial injury, but he’s likely to remain in a backup role. Garver, 27, ranked among the Twins’ top 20 prospects in 2017 before debuting late in the year. He’s hitting .250/.311/.411 with a pair of homers through 61 plate appearances so far in 2018.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Santana, Castro]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122158 2018-05-12T23:31:45Z 2018-05-12T23:31:14Z
  • Twins right-hander Ervin Santana seems to be progressing toward his 2018 debut. Santana, out since undergoing finger surgery in February, is slated to make his first rehab start May 26, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. It’ll be a four-inning, 60-pitch appearance for Santana. Before that, he’ll throw live batting practice Monday and then make an extended spring training start May 21. Meanwhile, catcher Jason Castro will head to Colorado for a second opinion on his injured right knee, Berardino adds. Castro went on the disabled list last weekend with a torn meniscus.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Prospect Wander Javier Out For Season]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122090 2018-05-12T02:30:33Z 2018-05-12T02:30:33Z Twins shortstop prospect Wander Javier will undergo shoulder surgery and miss the rest of the 2018 season, according to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. The 19-year-old had received a top-100 nod from Baseball America entering the year.

    Javier is scheduled for a procedure to repair a tear to his left labrum, per the report. With six-to-nine month anticipated rehab timeline, it seems reasonable to anticipate that he could be ready to participate in Spring Training next year.

    Obviously, it’s disappointing news for the Minnesota organization, though the news does not figure to impact the team’s near-term plans. Javier, a big-bonus international signee back in 2015, has yet to play above the Rookie ball level.

    The major impact, then, is on Javier’s development timeline. He impressed in 180 Appalachian League plate appearances last year, slashing .299/.383/.471 with four home runs and four steals. While there are some things to iron out — 49 strikeouts last year, for example — the future is bright for the young Dominican. He had yet to play this year while trying to work through the shoulder issue without going under the knife.

    Ultimately, the Twins will still remain plenty confident in the middle-infield depth in their system. Top prospect Royce Lewis and the more advanced Nick Gordon are plenty exciting in their own right, and Javier has plenty of time still to tap into his lofty upside.

    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Release Mason Melotakis]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122066 2018-05-11T20:00:59Z 2018-05-11T20:00:59Z The Twins have released 2012 second-round pick Mason Melotakis. The Triple-A Rochester Red Wings, the affiliate with which Melotakis had been pitching, made the announcement (h/t LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune, on Twitter).

    Soon to turn 27 years of age, Melotakis first reached the upper minors back in 2014. He missed all of 2015 with Tommy John surgery but was added to the 40-man roster thereafter and returned to post strong results. The southpaw followed up on a strong effort at Double-A in 2016 with 11 innings in the Arizona Fall League, over which he allowed just two earned runs while compiling 11 strikeouts against a single walk.

    Melotakis was seemingly off to a solid start to the 2017 season, posting a 2.28 ERA while generating plenty of grounders to go with 10.4 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, when he was designated and eventually outrighted. He ended that year with a 3.22 ERA and has carried a 3.07 ERA with 14 strikeouts against five walks in 14 2/3 Triple-A innings in 2018.

    Evidently, despite the useful numbers, Melotakis has not convinced the current Twins front office that he’s capable of holding down a MLB bullpen spot. Otherwise, he’d surely have been kept, as he wasn’t occupying a 40-man spot and the team hasn’t exactly received top-line results thus far from southpaw relievers Zach Duke and Taylor Rogers. Melotakis was long credited with a big fastball from the left side, but perhaps his arsenal has not been as impressive of late to the Minnesota brass. Other organizations will now have their own shot at adding him.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Trade Anthony McIver To Mariners]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121966 2018-05-10T02:04:37Z 2018-05-10T02:04:37Z
  • The Twins traded Double-A lefty Anthony McIver to the Mariners in exchange for cash, as reflected on the transactions log at MLB.com and at each club’s web site. McIver has been solid in 13 1/3 innings of Double-A ball this year, though he’s barely pitched above Class-A Advanced in his pro career to date despite being 26 years of age. The Twins picked him in the 15th round of the 2015 draft, and he’s opened the 2018 season with a 2.70 ERA, a 15-to-5 K/BB ratio, no homers allowed and a 40 percent ground-ball rate.
  • ]]>
    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Outrighted: Centeno, Ngoepe, Enns]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121839 2018-05-08T14:05:21Z 2018-05-08T14:05:21Z Let’s run through a few recently-designated players who have cleared waivers and been outrighted:

    • Rangers backstop Juan Centeno could have elected free agency but chose instead to take an assignment to Triple-A Round Rock, the club announced. The 28-year-old, a relatively rare left-handed-hitting catcher, has seen action in each of the past six MLB campaigns. He also has not shown much at the plate, with a cumulative .227/.278/.331 batting line.
    • Also clearing waivers was Blue Jays infielder Gift Ngoepe. This is the first time he has been outrighted; without significant MLB service time on his record, he had no choice but to head to Buffalo. Not unlike Centeno, Ngoepe is a useful fielder who perhaps will never fully come around with the bat. He had a particularly rough run in limited action this year in Toronto, striking out a dozen times in just 19 plate appearances.
    • Finally, the Twins will hang onto reliever Dietrich Enns after he, too, cleared waivers under the same essential circumstances as Ngoepe. Soon to turn 27, Enns is off to a poor start this year at Triple-A, where he has given out 11 free passes to go with 11 strikeouts in twenty innings. If he can get back on track, though, perhaps he’ll eventually present a depth option for the Minnesota organization. In his six prior professional seasons, Enns has never finished with an earned run average of over 2.94. In 136 Triple-A innings, he carries a sparkling 2.25 ERA with a more pedestrian combination of 7.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Trade Max Cordy To Angels]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121785 2018-05-07T16:48:02Z 2018-05-07T16:48:02Z
  • The Angels acquired minor league right-hander Max Cordy from the Twins in exchange for cash, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports. Minnesota selected the now-24-year-old Cordy in the final round of the 2015 draft. He’s yet to advance beyond A-ball, though he does come with a track record of missing bats and inducing huge ground-ball rates (north of 60 percent) in the low minors. Cordy has averaged 5.5 walks per nine innings pitched since being drafted and is off to a rough start in Class-A Advanced this season, owning a 7.15 ERA in 11 2/3 innings.
  • ]]>
    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Details On Bobby Wilson's Twins Contract]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121736 2018-05-07T00:38:05Z 2018-05-07T00:36:04Z
  • Bobby Wilson’s minor league deal with the Twins will pay him $950K now that the veteran catcher has reached the 25-man roster, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes.  Wilson’s past relationships with GM Thad Levine and farm director Jeremy Zoll (when Wilson played for the Rangers and Dodgers, respectively) helped him pick Minnesota ahead of other teams that approached Wilson about a minors deal last winter.  Wilson was in the starting lineup for the Twins’ 5-3 win over the White Sox today, which marked his first MLB game since 2016.  With regular starter Jason Castro on the disabled list, Wilson is in line to get a fair amount of playing time backing up Mitch Garver behind the plate.
  • ]]>
    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Place Jason Castro On DL, Select Bobby Wilson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121641 2018-05-05T20:33:29Z 2018-05-05T20:07:05Z The Twins have placed catcher Jason Castro on the 10-day disabled list with a right knee meniscus tear and selected the contract of fellow backstop Bobby Wilson from Triple-A, per a team announcement. To make room for Wilson on its 40-man roster, Minnesota moved right-hander Ervin Santana to the 60-day DL.

    Castro’s injury could perhaps keep him on the shelf for several weeks. For now, though, the plan is for him to avoid surgery in favor of a cortisone shot, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. Regardless, Castro’s DL placement continues what has been a disappointing second season in Minnesota for the lefty-hitter, who has slashed a meager .143/.257/.238 (39 wRC+) in 74 plate appearances. However, as has often been the case during his career, the 30-year-old has stood out behind the plate as a pitch framer.

    With Castro, Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano on the DL and Jorge Polanco amid an 80-game suspension, the Twins will have to go without three regulars as they continue trying to dig out of an early season hole. Further, the 11-17 club is down to the uninspiring duo of Wilson and Mitch Garver as its 25-man catcher options. Wilson, 35, inked a minors deal with the Twins last offseason after spending the 2017 season at the Triple-A level with the Dodgers. He previously appeared in the majors with five teams (the Angels, D-backs, Rangers, Rays and Tigers), combining to bat .214/.268/.319 (60 wRC+) in 849 PAs.

    The absence of Santana this season has been one obvious reason for the Twins’ struggles. The longtime quality starter turned in 211 1/3 innings of 3.28 ERA pitching for the playoff-bound Twins last year, but he underwent a procedure on his right middle finger Feb. 6 and hasn’t recovered as quickly as expected. Santana, 35, was originally supposed to come back within 10 to 12 weeks, which would’ve put him on track for a mid-April to early May debut. Instead, the earliest Santana will be able to take the hill for the Twins is May 28, Berardino notes.

    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Central Notes: Farquhar, Romero, Goody, Soler]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121611 2018-05-05T15:06:45Z 2018-05-05T15:00:16Z Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports shares details of the long road ahead for White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar after the right-hander suffered a recent brain aneurysm. The incident occurred in the Sox dugout just under two weeks ago following an outing against Houston, and caused Farquhar to be hospitalized in what was a scary few hours. As Passan notes, 40% of people who suffer a brain aneurysm don’t survive them, while half of those who survive end up with resulting disabilities. He adds that success in the early stages afterwards is measured in small improvements. Farquhar’s agent says he’s been progressing and has a positive outlook. It’s fair to think it’ll be a significant amount of time before Farquhar is able to pick up a baseball again, but the early signs are encouraging for the right-hander’s health. Passan’s lengthy piece also details some historical precedents for aneurysms in baseball players, as well as the adversity Farquhar has already overcome in his seven-year MLB career. We at MLBTR are relieved to hear that Farquhar is stable, and wish him the best of fortunes in the road to recovery.

    Other items from around the AL Central…

    • Speaking of close calls, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press has a story from Twins rookie Fernando Romero’s past, when the right-hander almost drowned in a hotel pool. It took a while for Romero to gradually overcome his fear of swimming, but he now uses it as a conditioning method to strengthen his shoulder for pitching purposes. Berardino also tells the tale of how Romero nearly went unsigned for an entire international period, failing to receive an offer from any of the 50 scouts in attendance at a showcase. The main knock on him was lack of a “major league body”, and a perceived likelihood that he’d get hurt. Ultimately Romero found his way to the Perfect Game Tournament, where several more scouts were in attendance, and while the Astros made a strong run at him, he ultimately went to the Twins for a signing bonus of $260K.
    • According to Terry Francona (via a tweet from Jordan Bastian of MLB.com), it’s best-case scenario outcome for Indians reliever Nick Goody, who left the first game of Thursday’s doubleheader with an elbow injury. Tests have revealed no structural damage; it’s thought that Goody’s pain was the result of hyperextending his elbow. He’ll reportedly be shut down for a week and then re-evaluated. It’s a sigh of relief when considering the worst-case scenarios in an elbow-fearing pitching climate; it’s well-known that ligament injuries can result in 12-18 month absences. Goody’s a vital part of a Tribe bullpen that’s recently shuffled through a few low-upside relievers; they’ve designated both Matt Belisle and Jeff Beliveau for assignment in the past week and before that lost Andrew Miller to the DL with a hamstring injury.
    • Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com tells readers about the plate discipline improvements made by Royals outfielder Jorge Soler. In stark contrast to last season, he’s already drawn 18 walks and has seen 4.46 pitches per plate appearance. His .309/.429/.526 slash line on the season is exactly what Kansas City envisioned when they acquired him from the Cubs prior to last season in exchange for closer Wade Davis. Manager Ned Yost credits the improvements to the fact that Soler is “not chasing much of anything”, though it’s certainly worth noting that his chase rate this year is in line with his typically low figures the past few seasons and therefore not indicative of any major changes. I’d add, though, that Soler is certainly seeing more pitches per plate appearance than he did during his injury-riddled 2017 campaign; he’s seen 4.26 PPPA so far, up from 3.99 last season.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Latest On Byron Buxton, Trevor May]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121458 2018-05-03T04:38:52Z 2018-05-03T04:38:52Z The Blue Jays announced tonight that third baseman Josh Donaldson will rejoin the club Thursday and is likely to be activated from the disabled list. A shoulder issue has kept the former AL MVP out of action since April 10, though he’s played in multiple minor league rehab games and appears to be back on track after experiencing some troubles throwing across the diamond earlier this season. The Jays have stayed afloat just fine in the absence of their best player, as they’re currently sporting a 17-13 record and right in the middle of the AL Wild Card mix a month into the season. Donaldson will have plenty riding on a healthy and productive return, as he’s set to hit free agency for the first time following the 2018 campaign.

    Some other health-related notes from around the league…

    • Already being hit hard by the injury bug, the Angels took another punch on Wednesday, announcing that righty Nick Tropeano is headed to the 10-day DL with a shoulder issue. The good news for the Halos is that the injury appears minor, as Tropeano told reporters he’ll “100 percent” be ready to return after the 10-day minimum (Twitter link via Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register). As Tropeano explains, he’s not even planning to stop throwing and already played catch earlier today. The Angels, it seems, are merely acting with precaution after the righty felt some something slightly off in his shoulder.
    • Pirates righty Joe Musgrove threw 36 pitches in a rehab outing, writes Oliver Macklin of MLB.com, 29 of which went for strikes. Manager Clint Hurdle added that Musgrove threw his cutter, slider and changeup in the outing and demonstrated “firm” velocity on his fastball. Perhaps more notable is the fact that Hurdle confirmed that Musgrove will indeed be rejoining the Pirates’ rotation when he returns from the disabled list. That could be bad news for rookie Nick Kingham, who turned in one of the best debuts in recent MLB history when he flirted with a perfect game through more than six innings this past Sunday. Kingham is slated to start Friday for the Buccos, though Hurdle said in announcing that earlier this week that there was nothing guaranteed beyond that point. Speculatively speaking, right-hander Chad Kuhl has also struggled in 2018 (5.01 ERA, seven homers in 32 1/3 innings), so perhaps he could be bumped if Kingham impresses in his second big league start.
    • Byron Buxton has yet to progress to running since being diagnosed with a hairline fracture in his toe, writes MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. Buxton sustained the injury when he fouled a ball into his foot during a rehab game in Fort Myers as he was working his way back from a bout with ongoing migraine headaches. He’ll rejoin the club on Friday but won’t necessarily be activated from the DL, Bollinger notes, as the team is debating whether he needs another rehab stint now that he’s been off for several weeks due to the foot injury. Bollinger adds that righty Trevor May, recovering from 2017 Tommy John surgery, tossed three innings and 46 pitches in an extended Spring Training game as he pushes his way toward readiness for a rehab assignment with the team’s Triple-A club.
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Reportedly Agree To Minor League Deal With Paco Rodriguez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121359 2018-05-02T00:59:17Z 2018-05-02T00:59:17Z The Twins have agreed to a minor league contract with left-handed reliever Paco Rodriguez, reports Robert Murray of FanRag Sports (via Twitter). Rodriguez is represented by MVP Sports.

    Now 27 years of age, Rodriguez was a second-round pick by the Dodgers back in 2012 and made his MLB debut just three months after being drafted out of Florida. Rodriguez played a pivotal role in the Dodgers’ bullpen over the next couple of seasons but spent most of the 2014-15 seasons in the minor leagues and ultimately underwent Tommy John late in the year in 2015. In all, he has a career 2.53 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 3.2 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 with a 47.2 percent ground-ball rate in 85 1/3 innings at the Major League level.

    Rodriguez struggled with the Orioles’ rookie-level affiliate in nine appearances in 2017 as he worked his way back from that injury, and he opened the 2018 season with the independent Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League. Rodriguez made just one appearance before convincing Twins scouts that he was worth scooping up, however. It’s not clear what level he’ll report to, though if he can prove his health after a few injury-ruined seasons, he could provide the Minnesota organization with an intriguing left-handed bullpen option later in the season.