Minnesota Twins – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-12-11T06:04:46Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Interested In Nelson Cruz, Wilson Ramos, Joakim Soria, Trevor Cahill]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=139898 2018-12-10T22:48:37Z 2018-12-10T22:48:37Z The Twins are looking into a number of available free agents, perhaps most notably slugger Nelson CruzFancred Sports’ Jon Heyman was the first to report Minnesota’s interest in Cruz, with MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park noting that there is indeed “mutual interest” between the two parties (both links to Twitter).  Beyond Cruz, the Twins are also “kicking the tires” on Wilson Ramos, Trevor Cahill, and Joakim Soria, according to 1500ESPN.com’s Darren Wolfson (Twitter link).

It’s an intriguing mix of players to pursue for a team that underachieved in 2018, though with the AL Central still a thin division (and even the first-place Indians exploring selling talent), there’s certainly room for Minnesota to make a move to return to contention next season.  Signing Cruz or Ramos would be the biggest steps in that direction, as either player would require a significant commitment, though Cruz’s deal would be somewhat limited in length by his age.

In the wake of Joe Mauer’s retirement and Logan Morrison’s declined option, there is room for a DH to take some at-bats in Minnesota’s lineup.  The Twins have already added C.J. Cron to their first base mix, and as Park notes, GM Thad Levine recently pointed to the DH spot as an area that could use an addition, beyond just the Twins’ internal options.

While many teams prefer to rotate players through the designated hitter spot as a way to keep everyone fresh, an exception could certainly be made for a hitter of Cruz’s caliber.  The 38-year-old hit .256/.342/.509 with 37 homers for the Mariners last season, showing little sign of slowing down as he approaches his 40’s.  Despite this production, it might be a stretch for Cruz to land a three-year deal, though a two-year deal on a high average annual salary is very feasible.  MLBTR predicted Cruz for a two-year, $30MM and actually had him landing with the Twins.  Several of the other teams mentioned as potential landing spots (the White Sox, Astros, Rays) have also been linked to Cruz’s market this offseason, as there aren’t a ton of potential contenders with an open DH spot.

Ramos would be the second notable catcher signing in as many years for the Twins, who inked Jason Castro to a three-year, $24.5MM contract last winter.  Unfortunately, the 2018 season ended up as a disastrous one for Castro, who played just 19 games before succumbing to knee surgery.  Since Ramos is no stranger to knee injuries himself, the Twins could also use their DH spot to use Ramos as an everyday player at either designated hitter or catcher, with Castro behind the plate whenever Ramos was elsewhere in the lineup.

Both Cahill and Soria have each drawn their fair share of interest in the offseason, and each would fit well on a Minnesota team that is looking to reinforce both its rotation and bullpen.  Cahill revived his stock with a quality season for the A’s in 2018, while Soria pitched well both as a closer for the White Sox and then in a setup role for the Brewers.  Soria could also factor into the Twins’ ninth-inning mix.  It’s worth noting that Levine is quite familiar with ex-Rangers Soria and Cruz, as both played for Texas when Levine was the team’s assistant general manager.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins May Be Relatively Quiet At Winter Meetings]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=139720 2018-12-09T18:52:35Z 2018-12-09T18:52:35Z
  • Having already addressed two needs this offseason with the additions of first baseman C.J. Cron and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, the Twins’ heavy lifting may already be done in advance of the Winter Meetings, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune observes. The club will look to bolster its bullpen, Neal relays, though it’s satisfied with most of its starting rotation and will only pick up a full-time designated hitter (e.g., Nelson Cruz) if the price is palatable. The Twins are content to use multiple DHs next year, per Neal, and they wouldn’t be able to do that with Cruz in the fold.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Kepler A Popular Trade Target For Other Clubs In Talks With Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=139557 2018-12-07T05:43:51Z 2018-12-07T05:19:04Z
  • Max Kepler’s name is commonly brought up when rival clubs call the Twins about potential trades, per Dan Hayes of The Athletic (subscription required). That’s been the case for more than a year now, Hayes notes, reporting that Kepler was one of the numerous pieces the Rays sought last winter when chatting Chris Archer with Minnesota. But the Twins still believe that Kepler, an excellent outfielder defender who has displayed some power but not authored a genuine breakout season just yet, is capable of taking his game to a new level. As chief baseball officer Derek Falvey explains to Hayes, it’s tough to judge Kepler’s development as one would with a traditional prospect given that he was born in Berlin, Germany and has still accrued fewer at-bats than many players who are several years younger but come from places where baseball is commonly played year-round. A strong right fielder who can play center as well, Kepler won’t turn 26 until February and still has four years of team control remaining.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Twins Sign Jonathan Schoop]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=139499 2018-12-07T00:49:32Z 2018-12-07T00:40:58Z 6:40pm: Minnesota has issued a press release to announce the signing.

    3:36pm: Free agent second baseman Jonathan Schoop is finalizing a one-year deal with the Minnesota Twins. The deal will be worth $7.5MM plus incentives, per the Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (Twitter links). A physical has already been completed, he adds.

    Jonathan Schoop |Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

    Schoop, 27, represents a high-upside play for the Twins on a team full of them. He joins fellow non-tender C.J. Cron in the infield, but the Twins also figure to give bounceback hopefuls Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano a chance to get their careers back on track. Schoop and Sano were both All-Stars in 2017 when Buxton won a Gold Glove and finished 18th in MVP voting (Schoop finished 12th). Production from all three cratered last season.

    The former Orioles and Brewers second baseman was one of the more interesting free agents available given his on-field volatility. He disappointed in Milwaukee, managing a meager .202/.246/.331 with four home runs after he was acquired at the trade deadline — but it wasn’t that long ago that Schoop put up a 5.2 rWAR season in Baltimore. Schoop has three consecutive seasons of more than 20 home runs, including a career-high 32 dingers during that tremendous 2017 campaign with the Orioles.

    Brewers GM David Stearns recently took responsibility for the deadline deal in a recent piece from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The Brewers surrendered quite a bit of talent for what turned out to be only a half season of less-than-ideal contributions from Schoop, who lost playing time in the playoffs to regular third baseman Travis Shaw. The Brewers chose not to tender Schoop a contract rather than pay him the projected arbitration salary of $10.1MM.

    Schoop will take only a small pay cut from the $8.5MM he earned last year, though his final earnings may, of course, change depending on the particulars of the incentives involved.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Twins, Ronald Torreyes Agree To One-Year Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=139502 2018-12-06T23:31:29Z 2018-12-06T21:47:11Z Just moments after news came down of the Twins closing in on a one-year deal with second baseman Jonathan Schoop, Minnesota has announced the signing of another infielder, Ronald Torreyes to a one-year deal, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand tweeted. The team has announced the deal via a press release.

    Fancred’s Jon Heyman adds (via Twitter) that the deal will be with $800k if Torreyes makes the Major League team. Dan Hayes of The Athletic further clarifies that it’s a split Major League contract for Torreyes, who does have a minor league option remaining (Twitter link).

    Torreyes’ journey to Minnesota included a quick layover in Chicago, as the Cubs acquired and non-tendered the infielder within a three-day span in late November. Torreyes, 26, spent the last three seasons with the Yankees, slashing .280/.294/.370 in  limited action with the big league club. For his career, the versatile infielder owns a .281/.310/.375 line across parts of four seasons. The Twins will likely look for more impactful production at the plate from Torreyes if he is to earn a consistent role at the Major League level. If he makes the club, he’ll pair with Ehire Adrianza to give the Twins a versatile couple of infielders off the bench.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration Prior To Non-Tender Deadline]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=138829 2018-12-01T05:55:41Z 2018-12-01T01:00:56Z Tonight marks the deadline for MLB clubs to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players. As such, there’ll be a slew of pre-tender agreements announced today — particularly for arbitration-eligible players who might have otherwise been non-tender candidates. As we saw yesterday (and frequently in previous seasons), players agreeing to terms before the tender deadline will often sign for less than they’re projected, as the alternative in some cases may simply be to be cut loose into a crowded free-agent market.

    We’ll track today’s pre-tender agreements here, with all referenced projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz

    • Giants infielder Joe Panik settled at a $3.8MM price tag, per Heyman (via Twitter). That’ll represent a savings as against the $4.2MM projected salary. Many had wondered whether the new San Francisco front office would move on from Panik, who has one more year of arb eligibility remaining. Meanwhile, Heyman tweets that reliever Sam Dyson has agreed to a $5MM pact. That also comes in $400K below his projection.
    • The Padres settled with righty Bryan Mitchell for $900K, Heyman tweets. Mitchell had been a non-tender candidate at a projected $1.2MM sum.
    • Newly acquired first baseman C.J. Cron has agreed to a $4.8MM contract, the Twins announced. He projected to a $5.2MM salary; this becomes the latest of many indications of the unstable market position of defensively limited slugger types.
    • The Indians have settled with righty Danny Salazar for $4.5MM, Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets. He was projected at $5MM, with some wondering whether the Cleveland organization might non-tender him. The talented hurler missed the entire 2018 season. Meanwhile, righty Nick Goody is slated to earn $675K, Heyman tweets.
    • Southpaw Jonny Venters avoided arb with the Braves, David O’Brien of The Athletic tweets. It’s a $2.25MM deal, sitting well over the $1.5MM projection, though certainly his unusual career path could have led to some additional arguments for a stronger raise.
    • The Cardinals announced an agreement with lefty Chasen Shreve. Terms aren’t yet known. The 28-year-old had projected to take home $1.2MM for the 2019 campaign, but will settle at $900K per Heyman (via Twitter).
    • Pirates righty Michael Feliz has avoided arbitration with the club, Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic was among those to report on Twitter. Feliz projected at a $900K salary and will get $850K, Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports tweets. It’s a split agreement that promises $375K in the minors, per Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (via Twitter).
    • Infielder Tyler Saladino has agreed to a $887,500 salary with the Brewers, Jon Heyman of Fancred tweets. That comes in below the $1MM he projected to earn.
    • The Athletics settled at $2.15MM with Liam Hendriks, per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports (via Twitter), all of which is guaranteed. That’s just where he projected ($2.1MM) on the heels of a fascinating 2018 season. Hendriks was dropped from the MLB roster in the middle of the season but returned late in the year in dominant fashion as the A’s “opener.”
    • Lefty Sammy Solis agreed to terms with the Nationals to avoid arbitration, the club announced. He profiled as a potential non-tender candidate, so it seems likely the organization pushed to get something done before the deadline. Solis, who has an intriguing power arsenal but struggled through a homer-prone 2018, projected at $900K. He’ll earn $850K, per Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post (Twitter link).
    • The Athletics announced that they’ve agreed to a one-year deal with righty Ryan Dull in advance of tonight’s deadline. He’ll get $860K, Fancred’s Jon Heyman tweets, which checks in pretty closely with his $900K projection. Dull, 29, posted a 4.26 ERA with 21 strikeouts and seven walks in 25 1/3 innings of relief in 2018.
    • Heyman also tweets that the Padres and Greg Garcia, whom they claimed off waivers earlier this offseason, settled on a one-year deal worth $910K that aligns with his $900K projection. Garcia hit .221/.309/.304 in 208 plate appearances with St. Louis last season and is a career .248/.356/.339 hitter in 860 plate appearances.

    Earlier Agreements

    • The Brewers and Hernan Perez avoided arbitration by agreeing to a one-year deal worth $2.5MM, as first reported by Heyman. He’ll check in a bit shy of his $2.7MM projection but remain on hand as a versatile utility option in Milwaukee.
    • Left-hander Tony Cingrani and the Dodgers avoided arb with a one-year deal worth $2.65MM. That checks in just south of the lefty’s $2.7MM projection. Cingrani turned in a brilliant 36-to-6 K/BB ratio in 22 1/3 innings but was also tagged for a considerably less palatable 4.76 earned run average.
    • The Red Sox announced that they’ve agreed to terms on a one-year contract for the 2019 season with right-hander Tyler Thornburg. They’ve also tendered contracts to the remainder of their arbitration-eligible players, though the terms of those deals will be negotiated in the coming weeks. Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston tweets that Thornburg will earn $1.75MM i 2019 and can earn another $400K via incentives. I’m told that includes $100K for reaching each of 45, 50, 55 and 60 appearances. Thornburg, 30, was roughed up to the tune of a 5.63 ERA in 24 innings for the Sox this season — his first action for Boston since being acquired prior to the 2017 season. His Boston tenure has been utterly derailed by thoracic outlet syndrome and the ensuing surgery. Thornburg was excellent for the 2016 Brewers, and Boston parted with Travis Shaw in order to acquire him, so the Sox will surely hope that a regular offseason of rest and further removing himself from TOS surgery will get the righty back on track. This will be Thornburg’s final season of club control. He’d been projected to earn $2.3MM.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Non-Tender Robbie Grossman]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=138921 2018-12-01T02:27:52Z 2018-11-30T23:53:39Z The Twins have non-tendered Robbie Grossman, according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic (via Twitter). He had projected to earn a $4.0MM salary.

    Grossman is a productive offensive player owing to his outstanding plate discipline, which has allowed him to maintain a .371 on-base percentage over three seasons in Minnesota. Unfortunately, he delivers little in the way of power and is more or less limited to appearing in the corner outfield, a place where teams typically prefer more than a smattering of home runs.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Avoiding Arbitration: Thursday]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=138739 2018-11-30T01:27:32Z 2018-11-30T01:27:44Z With the non-tender deadline looming tomorrow, there figure to be several players agreeing to pre-tender deals to avoid arbitration today. Many players who agree to terms prior to the deadline will be fringe non-tender candidates and, as such, are likelier to sign for less than they’d been projected in order to avoid a non-tender. We’ll keep track of today’s players who are avoiding arbitration in this post (with all referenced projections coming courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)…

    • The Royals announced that they’ve agreed to one-year deals with both Cheslor Cuthbert and Jesse Hahn. Jeffrey Flanagan of MLB.com reports (via Twitter) that Cuthbert will earn $850K, while Hahn’s deal contains an $800K base salary. Both were definitive non-tender candidates, as Cuthbert batted just .194/.282/.301 in 117 plate appearances this past season. Hahn, meanwhile, didn’t pitch in 2018 due to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament that ultimately required “primary repair” surgery — a similar, but less invasive alternative to Tommy John surgery that is perhaps familiar to Royals fans after Seth Maness previously underwent the procedure.

    Read more

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Agency Changes: Mercer, Minter, Enlow]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=138644 2018-11-28T19:44:29Z 2018-11-28T19:44:29Z Let’s check in on the latest agency movement from around the game …

    • As he hits the open market, veteran shortstop Jordy Mercer will be represented by the Boras Corporation, per Robert Murray of The Athletic (Twitter link). At 32 years of age, the long-time Pirates stalwart figures to find interest mostly as a reserve. Mercer has failed to turn in more than a 90 wRC+ in any of the past four seasons and grades out as an average (or below-average) defender up the middle, so he seems destined for utility status. Of course, that could still change if a second-division club likes him and has a clear need.
    • High-end young Braves reliever A.J. Minter will henceforth be represented by Excel Sports Manager, also via Murray (via Twitter). Though he only just turned in his first full MLB season, and won’t reach arbitration until 2021, Minter is already building a case for a big eventual run through the arb process. The hard-throwing southpaw picked up 15 saves and a dozen holds while pitching to a 3.23 ERA in 61 1/3 frames.
    • Twins prospect Blayne Enlow is now with the Wasseman Media Group, Dan Hayes of The Athletic tweets. The 19-year-old hasn’t yet moved past the Class A level, so he has a long ways to go until his new reps are negotiating MLB contracts. But the recent third-round pick is generally tabbed as one of the organization’s top ten prospects.
    • As ever, you can keep up with current representation using MLBTR’s Agency Database.
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    Rob Huff <![CDATA[Projecting Payrolls: Minnesota Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=138522 2018-11-27T20:42:54Z 2018-11-27T20:42:54Z As we kick off the eighth installment of this series, here are links to the previous team payroll projections:

    Philadelphia Phillies
    Los Angeles Dodgers
    Los Angeles Angels
    Atlanta Braves
    New York Yankees
    Chicago White Sox
    Boston Red Sox

    If you have questions about financial information made available to the public and the assumptions used in this series, please refer to the Phillies piece linked above.

    Today, we examine a club in one of baseball’s worst divisions that is nonetheless seemingly far from contention: the Minnesota Twins.

    Team Leadership

    Despite rumored relocation and contraction in the 1990s and early 2000s, Twins ownership has been impressively stable. Banker Carl Pohlad purchased the team in 1984, passing it to his children upon his death in 2009. Pohlad’s son, Jim, succeeded his father as Chairman of the ballclub and the public face of the franchise. With the sparkling Target Field opening in 2010, it appears as though the team is married to the Pohlads and the Twin Cities for the foreseeable future.

    The front office is headed by general manager Thad Levine, hired from the Texas Rangers following the 2016 season to resuscitate the Minnesota franchise after over a decade as assistant general manager in Texas. The front office also brought in Derek Falvey as chief baseball officer contemporaneously with Levine. With two years on the job and despite a surprise run to the American League Wild Card Game in 2017, Levine and Falvey have primarily focused on clearing the financial books to rebuild the roster in their image moving forward.

    Historical Payrolls

    Before hitting the numbers, please recall that we use data from Cot’s Baseball Contracts, we’ll use average annual value (“AAV”) on historical deals but actual cash for 2019 and beyond, and deferrals will be reflected where appropriate. And, of course, the value of examining historical payrolls is twofold: they show us either what type of payroll a team’s market can support or how significantly a given ownership group is willing to spend. In the most useful cases, they show us both. We’ll focus on a 15-year span for the Twins, covering 2005-18 for historical data as a means to understanding year 15: 2019. We’ll also use Opening Day payrolls as those better approximate expected spending by ownership.

    The Twins spent a franchise record on payroll in 2018 and it wasn’t particularly close to the previous high water mark in 2011.

    Spending under Carl Pohlad was consistently among the lowest in the league. When his children took over and the club moved into Target Field, spending immediately increased in a meaningful way prior to a mini-rebuild in 2013-14. The days of Minnesota spending alongside the likes of Oakland and Tampa Bay appear to be a thing of the past.

    While the Twins have never come particularly close to the luxury tax threshold, the team has made some major endeavors into the international amateur marketplace…and not just in Latin America. The franchise’s marquee amateur signing was that of Miguel Sano, whose $3.15 million bonus in 2009 set a record for a foreign amateur at the time. The franchise’s wide vision also led them to give outfielder Max Kepler an $800,000 bonus out of Germany in the same 2009 class. That said, the Twins weren’t one of the clubs that blew past the league-imposed soft spending limits for international amateurs or North American draftees.

    Not included above: a $12.85 million posting fee to negotiate with Korean first baseman Byung-ho Park prior to the 2016 season. More on Park below.

    Future Liabilities

    This is quite possibly the funniest chart of any team in the series: the Twins have $0 guaranteed on their books beyond 2019.

    This chart would have included $3 million in 2019 and $500,000 in 2020 for Park, but the Korean first baseman elected to forgo his guaranteed salaries in exchange for an outright release that permitted him to return to the Nexen Heroes for the 2018 season.

    With Park out of the picture and buyouts paid to Santana and Morrison, the Twins find themselves only with the contract-year commitments to Reed, Castro, and Pineda as well as the final payment due to San Diego for Hughes.

    Reed came to Minnesota as a closing candidate in his late-20s, but imploded in his debut season with the team, showing velocity decreases of nearly 1.5 miles per hour on both his fastball and his slider, a big drop in strikeout rate, a huge uptick in homer rate, and an upper arm injury. The Twins can take solace in the facts that Reed has long succeeded in Major League bullpens and that his injury was apparently to his biceps instead of his elbow or shoulder.

    Castro has enjoyed a nice career with a slightly below-average bat complementing elite framing, but a meniscus injury wiped out most of his 2018. With Mitch Garver and Willians Astudillo providing more interesting options as the club continues to rebuild, it’s possible that Castro could find it tough to come by plate appearances in 2019.

    Pineda was paid in 2018 to rehabilitate following Tommy John surgery in the hopes that he would prove to be a bargain in 2019. In late August, 13 months removed from his operation, Pineda suffered a torn meniscus, derailing a September Twins debut. He figures to be ready for Spring Training.

    While the guarantees are rather ho-hum, there is plenty of organizational intrigue to be found in the arbitration-eligible ranks. Here are their arbitration projections (salary projections by MLBTR and Matt Swartz):

    Odorizzi and Gibson both enjoyed strong 2018s on the heels of disappointing 2017 campaigns. Should either or both succeed again in early 2019, Minnesota will likely find themselves with a difficult decision to make: extend or trade. While the team should plausibly be able to fill one 2020 rotation spot between Triple-A southpaws Stephen Gonsalves and Lewis Thorpe, they will need significant depth behind Jose Berrios to contend in what could be a wide-open American League Central.

    Cron was a shrewd pickup from the cost-shaving Rays and figures to replace icon Joe Mauer’s production at first base for a small fraction of the financial cost. Rosario offers a similar power-first, minus-defense profile, albeit from left field. Kepler offers a solid mix of power and defense, but his on-base skills have limited his overall effectiveness to date. Improved on-base ability would propel Kepler to be a plus regular.

    Speaking of plus regulars, as recently as this time last year, the Twins surely thought that they had two of them on their hands in the forms of Sano and Buxton. Despite missing 94 games between 2016-17, Sano blasted 53 Major League homers over those two years at 23 and 24. Buxton, just 22 and 23 in 2016-17, had seemingly established himself as a below-average offensive performer with loud tools who was nevertheless an impact player on the strength of elite speed and defense in center field. Then both players imploded in 2018, combining to post -0.4 WAR while Buxton spent more time at Triple-A than in the Majors (due in part, controversially, to service time concerns). Moving forward, the team will need big rebounds from both young stars.

    Rogers sizzled in 2018, pitching well versus right-handed batters and positively stifling lefties to the tune of a 1.39 FIP. He figures to be an important bullpen piece in his age-28 season this year.

    It seems as though it has been many years since May, a former top-100 prospect, shined in the Minnesota rotation. Alas, it was just 2015 that May pitched to a 3.25 FIP over 114 2/3 innings, emerging as a potential key piece for the Twins. Then, the injury bug derailed his career in a significant way, first via a stress fracture in his back and then with Tommy John surgery. Finally returning to Major League action on July 31, 2018, May threw 25 1/3 splendid innings while striking out nearly 13 batters per nine innings. A healthy May will be an asset at the back of the Twins’ bullpen.

    Finally, Grossman and Adrianza appear to be non-tender candidates.

    What Does Team Leadership Have to Say?

    In projecting the 2019 payroll as the 2018 season wrapped up, Pohlad acknowledged that the club possessed significant payroll flexibility but countered that “I don’t know if you can ever go out in the offseason and sign a face-of-the-franchise player,” following up with an acknowledgment that “everyone knows my aversion to long commitments. Most often, they do not turn out to be successful, in terms of getting your return on them.” Levine seemed to admit that the Twins don’t expect big-time free agents to target Minnesota as a possible landing spot, commenting that while the team planned to pursue important free agents, “whether or not they’d actually want to come here would be yet to be determined.” Falvey seemingly drove the point home, arguing that “we know that free agency can be a risky place to spend a lot of time.”

    While the front office is seemingly willing to take on salary to improve, it doesn’t look like paying top-of-the-market prices for premium talent is going to be a big part of team building in the Twin Cities this winter.

    Are the Twins a Player for Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?

    Given the comments from Pohlad, Levine, and Falvey, and considering the Twins’ market, it’s difficult to envision a scenario in which Minnesota is a finalist for either player.  Still, if management was being coy or considers one of them an exception, the Twins do currently have the payroll space to accommodate a huge salary.  A monster contract has the potential to hamstring the franchise in the future, however, making them an extreme long shot for Harper or Machado.

    What Will the 2019 Payroll Be?

    Unlike the Red Sox in the previous piece, the luxury tax will not be a factor for the Twins.

    After seeing his club finish at 78-84 in 2018 and examining the roster in place, it’s tough to imagine Pohlad sinking a significant payroll increase into this team. However, such an increase isn’t required to make a couple of big additions given the dearth of committed payroll at this juncture in the offseason.

    Assuming that Grossman and Adrianza are non-tendered — far from a sure thing — the Twins would enter the offseason with just $76.9 million committed to the roster, approximately 41.5 percent of which will expire at the end of the season in the form of payments for Reed, Castro, Pineda, Hughes, Santana, and Morrison ($31.95 million).

    Put bluntly, while ownership and management sometimes wax poetic to the media regarding the state of their franchise, the Twins genuinely have a ton of payroll flexibility both now and into the future.

    While I doubt that Levine will get north of $130 million with which to work, I could see Pohlad authorizing a payroll that is nearly on par with the one he authorized in 2018.

    Projected 2019 Payroll: $125 million

    Projected 2019 Payroll Space: $48.1 million

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Claim C.J. Cron]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=138406 2018-11-26T20:21:01Z 2018-11-26T19:09:13Z The Twins announced that they’ve claimed first baseman C.J. Cron off waivers from the Rays. Cron was designated for assignment by Tampa Bay last week despite a 30-homer campaign in 2018, and he’s now among the top candidates to see action for the Twins at first base and designated hitter in 2019. Minnesota’s 40-man roster is now at 39 players.

    It’s not yet clear whether Cron will represent the Twins’ lone addition at first base/designated hitter this season following the retirement of Joe Mauer, but the fact that he was claimed at all makes it seem likely that they’ll tender him a contract this offseason. (The non-tender deadline looms on Friday.) Cron has ample experience at first base and has received slightly above-average marks there from both Defensive Runs Saved and Ultimate Zone Rating across the past three seasons combined.

    Of course, Cron’s real calling card is right-handed power. The 28-year-old (29 in January) hit .253/.323/.493 with 30 homers, 28 doubles and a triple in 560 plate appearances for Tampa Bay this past season. The Rays, though, as they did with Corey Dickerson an offseason prior, elected to designate a fairly productive hitter for assignment in part due to salary concerns and in part because they undoubtedly believe the market will ultimately yield comparable production at a lesser price. Corner bats with limited defensive value haven’t been rewarded in free agency in recent years, and the Rays could either find a more affordable alternative or could simply go with in-house options like Jake Bauers, Ji-Man Choi or Nathaniel Lowe.

    Cron is projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $5.2MM in 2019, making him a reasonably affordable add for Minnesota. Cron is controlled not only through 2019 but also through the 2020 season, so he could potentially be a multi-year piece for Minnesota if the organization is pleased with his 2019 output. Cron should have a fairly easy transition from Tampa Bay to Minnesota, weather not withstanding, as he’s plenty familiar with rookie manager Rocco Baldelli, who was on the Rays’ coaching staff last season as the team’s Major League field coordinator.

    While the claim doesn’t technically mean that the Twins are committing a 2019 roster spot to Cron — he could still be non-tendered — it does seem likely that he’s now firmly in the team’s plans. That furthers the likelihood that outfielder/designated hitter Robbie Grossman, who projects to earn $4MM next season, will be non-tendered before Friday’s deadline. Minnesota could yet make some additions to the first base/DH mix next season and could potentially still add a third baseman as well, depending on the organization’s plans for Miguel Sano. A move across the diamond to first has been rumored for Sano, or the organization could simply choose to rotate the slugger between both corner infield slots and designated hitter next season.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Sonny Gray’s Market]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=138279 2018-11-25T00:32:41Z 2018-11-25T00:32:41Z After a nightmarish year in the Bronx, his first full season with the Yankees, right-hander Sonny Gray is among the majors’ most obvious trade candidates this winter. General manager Brian Cashman has made it known the Yankees are aiming to move Gray, who has drawn plenty of interest this offseason. Along with the previously reported Athletics and Padres, teams that are eyeing Gray include the Braves, Rangers and Twins, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

    Any team that picks up Gray would be taking on a rental, as 2019 will be the 29-year-old’s final arbitration-eligible campaign. MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz projects Gray to earn $9.1MM, which may look steep for a pitcher who failed to maintain a spot in the Yankees’ rotation for all of last season and only managed a 4.90 ERA across 130 1/3 innings (30 appearances, 23 starts). However, ERA estimators such as FIP (4.17), xFIP (4.10) and SIERA (4.28) suggest Gray deserved better in the run prevention department in 2018, and while he did issue a high number of walks (3.94 per nine), he also posted quality strikeout (8.49 K/9) and groundball (50 percent) rates. Moreover, Gray’s struggles were mostly limited to the Bronx, as he logged a horrendous 6.98 ERA/5.98 FIP at home and a terrific 3.17 ERA/2.65 FIP on the road. Historically, Gray has been closer to the pitcher he was away from Yankee Stadium last season, as his 3.66 ERA and 3.74 FIP over 900 combined 2/3 innings with the A’s and Yankees demonstrate.

    Of the newly listed teams pursuing Gray, the Rangers stand out as the club likely to have the most difficult time making the playoffs next season. Not only are the Rangers a rebuilding team stuck in a division with the Astros, A’s, Mariners and Angels, but they’re ridiculously thin on starting pitchers and may soon deal their No. 1 option, Mike Minor. It would be a surprise to see Texas come out on top in the race for Gray, then, while the other teams seem like more plausible landing spots.

    The reigning NL East champion Braves have shown past interest in Gray – albeit with different front office leadership than they have now – and need to replace free agent Anibal Sanchez, who was unexpectedly one of their best starters in 2018. And though the Braves seem to have the payroll room to aim higher than Gray, general manager Alex Anthopoulos has suggested they’re hesitant to dish out expensive long-term deals at this juncture. Therefore, it makes sense that the Braves are interested in Gray, who’d be a relatively low-risk addition.

    Minnesota, unlike Atlanta, disappointed last season, taking several steps backward after earning a playoff spot in 2017. The Twins are in a division that may be there for the taking, though, so the right moves this offseason could make the team serious AL Central contenders next year. In Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda (who missed all of last season), the Twins already have four established starters under control for next season. However, they’re lacking another proven hurler along the lines of Gray, who’d seemingly slot in ahead of the likes of Fernando Romero, Adalberto Mejia, and Stephen Gonsalves – a trio which has combined for 203 innings and 40 starts in the majors.

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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Quick Hits: Padres, Rule 5, Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=138235 2018-11-24T17:23:01Z 2018-11-24T16:51:30Z The San Diego Padres were busy this week in shaping their 40-man roster ahead of December’s Rule 5 draft. The release of former prospect Cory Spangenberg and Christian Villanueva’s transpacific journey to the Yomiuiri Giants prefaced further roster reshaping via a pair of minor-league swaps. Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen reviews the prospects in those deals and others involved in swaps from this past week: Walker Lockett, Ignacio Feliz, Colten Brewer, Esteban Quiroz, Rowan Wick, Jason Vosler, Jordan Foley, Jefry Valdez and Tanner Anderson. While these moves appear minor, many of these players will have the opportunity to make an impact for pennant contenders next fall if they can impress their new gatekeepers in Cleveland, Colorado, New York, Boston and Chicago, respectively. Further Rule 5 news and more from around the league…

    • MLB.com picks intriguing candidates that could be selected from each team in December’s Rule 5 draft. Though it requires patience and a roster spot, the Rule 5 draft has been a viable resource in team building, especially for worst to first hopefuls who are closer to the former than the latter. Notably, the Cubs and Astros, two recent exemplars of roster renovation, each took advantage of the process by snatching players (Hector Rondon and Marwin Gonzalez, respectively) who made significant contributions to their title campaigns.
    • By the middle of last season, Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey was already preparing for the possibility that Joe Mauer might retire, per the Athletic’s Dan Hayes (subscription link).  The Twins continue to explore every option at first base, including moving struggling slugger Miguel Sano from third to first. One path they are unlikely to traverse is trading for a one-year rental like Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt. The focus of the 2019 season in Minnesota will be as much about monitoring the rebound efforts of Sano and center fielder Byron Buxton as making a push for the playoffs, and with such uncertainty around their two high-ceiling stars, Falvey and company aren’t ready for an all-in move like trading for Arizona’s All-Star first baseman. Still, seeking a multi-year option at first base does not equate to youth, necessarily, as they are open to players like Carlos Santana or recently-DFAed C.J. Cron, each of whom would have two years of team control if acquired.
    • Elsewhere around the infield, the Twins are open to engaging Jorge Polanco’s positional flexibility as well. Polanco and Sano are currently penciled in at shortstop and third base, but that could change depending on their offseason acquisitions. For now, they are in the market for an offensive-minded second baseman, in which case Polanco would stay at short. There are more than a few viable short-term options on the free agent market to keep second base warm for prospect Nick Gordon, who was recently added to the 40-man roster. You can check out MLBTR’s full Offseason Outlook for the Twins here.
    • In the dugout, Bill Evers rounds out Rocco Baldelli’s staff as the major league catching coach. Evers, 64, is a 30-year coaching veteran with experience as a bench coach, manager, and minor-league field coordinator. He managed Baldelli when he was a player in Triple-A back in 2002, a relationship redolent of Alex Cora’s hiring of Ron Roenicke as his bench coach. Roenicke, too, managed his future helmsman when Cora was a prospect coming up in the Dodgers system.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Checked In On Paul Goldschmidt; Deal Unlikely]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=138055 2018-11-22T02:27:59Z 2018-11-22T02:27:59Z
  • The Twins checked in on Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, tweets Jon Morosi of MLB.com, though the report describes the talks as “preliminary.” While Minnesota has an obvious opening at first base following the retirement of Joe Mauer, though, Dan Hayes of The Athletic downplays the possibility of a Goldschmidt pursuit for Minnesota (Twitter link); Hayes notes that the Twins did make some form of inquiry but adds that this “doesn’t appear to be a path the Twins will go down.” The fit is obvious, but Arizona’s asking price on the perennial MVP candidate will be quite high, and he’s a free agent after the 2019 season.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Marlins Acquire Nick Anderson, Designate Derek Dietrich]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=137958 2018-11-21T02:22:38Z 2018-11-21T02:02:34Z The Marlins announced tonight that they have acquired righty Nick Anderson from the Twins in exchange for infielder Brian Schales. To create roster space, the Marlins designated Derek Dietrich for assignment.

    Bumping Dietrich from the roster will mean avoiding a significant salary for the rebuilding Marlins. MLBTR had projected a $4.8MM salary in his second-to-last season of arbitration eligibility. It’s still possible a trade will be worked out or that he’ll be claimed over the week to come.

    The 29-year-old Dietrich has never comfortably found a defensive fit, though he has appeared at second, third, and the corner outfield and thereby offers at least hypothetical versatility. He’s valued mostly for his steady left-handed bat, which has produced solidly above-average numbers for each of the past four seasons. Most recently, he slashed .265/.330/.421 with 16 home runs in 551 plate appearances.

    While he largely maintained his prior level of performance with the bat in 2018, it wasn’t Dietrich’s finest effort. His strikeout rate spiked to a career-high 25.4% while his walk rate dropped to 5.3%. That said, Dietrich was also exposed to left-handed pitching a bit more than he had been, with the resulting 34:1 K/BB mix in 106 plate appearances hardly helping the stat sheet.

    Teams considering Dietrich will likely consider him as an option to plug in the lineup in various places against right-handed pitching. He could make particular sense for an American League club that intends to chop up some of its playing time at DH or even first base.

    Anderson, 28, was due for Rule 5 protection and will get it from the Miami organization. He was slow to reach and progress through the professional ranks but has impressed upon reaching the upper minors. Last year, working at Triple-A, he turned in sixty frames of 3.30 ERA ball with 13.2 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9.

    As for the 22-year-old Schales, he was a fourth-round pick in 2014 who topped out at the Double-A level last year. He turned in his best offensive season as a professional, slashing .258/.354/.403 with ten home runs in 490 plate appearances.

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