Minnesota Twins – MLB Trade Rumors 2021-01-18T15:16:33Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Odorizzi, Kluber]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=338641 2021-01-16T20:57:00Z 2021-01-16T20:57:00Z
  • Speaking of Odorizzi, he is still among the “many” pitchers the Twins are still considering, SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson (Twitter links).  Back in December, Wolfson reported that other teams were more fervently pursuing Odorizzi than Minnesota, though with Odorizzi still unsigned, it seems like the Twins still have some kind of a shot at a reunion.  Beyond the Twins and Blue Jays, the Red Sox and Giants have also been linked to Odorizzi’s market, though the free agent righty lost a notable suitor in the Mets after New York instead opted to acquire Carlos Carrasco.  Minnesota was also known to be interested in Corey Kluber, and Wolfson reports that the Twins indeed made Kluber an offer before he ended up signing with the Yankees.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Notable International Signings: 1/15/21]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=337131 2021-01-15T17:35:00Z 2021-01-15T15:43:43Z The 2020-21 international signing period is officially underway, and though this signing period is open until Dec. 15, 2021, many of the big names have already signed. Teams have long since lined up deals with newly eligible teenage players, so the news today largely represents confirmation of what was anticipated. Still, it’s a day of no small moment, particularly for the young men embarking upon professional careers.

    Let’s round up some of the most notable signings of the day. Most of these agreements have been known for awhile, as both Baseball America’s Ben Badler (signings tracker; scouting links) and MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez (Twitter feed; rankings) have listed each club’s expected landing spot and approximate signing bonus on their rankings for months. You can find each team’s total bonus pool and other information on the process right here. Check the above links for further information and other signings. Despite today’s announcements, many of these deals won’t become official for even a couple of weeks, notes Sanchez. Here are a few key deals:

    • Yoelqui Céspedes, OF, White Sox: The half-brother of outfielder Yoenis Céspedes, the Cuban outfielder joins a strong international tradition in Chicago with the White Sox, who currently field Cuban stars such as reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu, centerfielder Luis Robert, and third baseman Yoan Moncada. MLB.com has Céspedes ranked as the top international prospect in this class thanks to being a “a five-tool player with above-average tools across the board.” Baseball America is slightly less bullish, putting him at No. 12 on their board, noting that the pandemic limited opportunities for scouting. The 23-year-old will be one of the older prospects from this class to sign, and though he has the ability to play center, Robert’s presence in Chicago means he is probably ticketed for right. The White Sox also signed Cuban hurler Norge Vera for $1.5MM. Vera came in at No. 15 on MLB.com’s rankings. Fangraphs has Cespedes as Chicago’s new No. 25 ranked prospect, and Vera at No. 14.
    • Armando Cruz, SS, Nationals: Cruz officially joined the Nationals today for the most money the Nationals have ever paid out to single player during the international signing period, with The Athletic’s Britt Ghiroli (via Twitter) pegging the final number at $3.9MM. BA writes in their scouting report, “He’s a defensive wizard with phenomenal hands and a strong arm, combining the ability to make acrobatic, highlight plays along with the internal clock and game savvy well beyond his years.” The Nationals signed 11 international players in total, notes Ghiroli.
    • Pedro Leon, OF, Astros: Houston will pay $4MM to add MLB.com’s 7th-ranked international prospect to their system, per Sanchez. Baseball America has Leon as the top prospect of his class. Like Céspedes, the Cuban outfield is one of the older members of this class, but he brings plus speed, power, and the ability to stick in centerfield.
    • Manuel Beltre, SS, Blue Jays: The Blue Jays added perhaps the most advanced hitter of the class in Beltre. MLB.com has Beltre as the No. 24 ranked prospect in the class, signing for $2.6MM, though Shi Davidi of Sportnet.ca (via Twitter) pegs the final number to be closer to $2.35MM. The Dominican shortstop could ultimately end up at second base, Sanchez writes, but he has arm enough to stay at short.
    • Pedro Pineda, OF, Athletics: MLB Insider Jon Heyman (via Twitter) has Pineda signing with Oakland for less than $4MM, but the sum isn’t likely to fall far below that threshold. Baseball America has Pineda as the No. 11 ranked prospect in this class, writing, “Pineda is a strong, athletic, physical center fielder with a loud tool set and a power/speed threat. He has excellent speed, a fast bat and the power potential to hit 25-plus home runs.”

    Several other well-regarded prospects also secured bonuses of $2MM or more, with the specifics provided here by Sanchez:

    • Rays, $3MM, shortstop Carlos Colmenarez
    • Cubs, $3MM, shortstop, Cristian Hernandez
    • Pirates, $2.3MM, outfielder Shalin Polanco
    • Tigers, $2.95MM, shortstop Cristian Santana
    • Twins, $2.3MM, shortstop Danny De Andrada
    • Angels, $2MM, shortstop Denzer Guzman
    • Marlins, $3.5MM, shortstop Yiddi Cappe
    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Corey Kluber, Steve Cishek, Anthony Swarzak Throw For Teams]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=335343 2021-01-14T20:08:26Z 2021-01-14T13:20:59Z Jan. 14: ESPN’s Buster Olney tweets that Kluber’s market could come together rather quickly with one throwing session for teams in the books. He’s not expected to require a second showcase to further demonstrate his health.

    Jan. 13: Free-agent right-hander Corey Kluber held a showcase for interested teams today, and Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets that relievers Anthony Swarzak and Steve Cishek both threw for teams as well. (All three are clients of Jet Sports Management, so it’s natural that they’d host the workout together.) As many as 25 teams were present, per The Atheltic’s Britt Ghiroli (Twitter link).

    ESPN’s Jeff Passan notes that Kluber’s velocity topped out at 90 mph, though given where he is in the rehab process from last year’s injuries, it wasn’t expected that he’d be up to peak velocity just yet. Eric Cressey, whose strength and conditioning facility hosted the showcase, told ESPN’s Jesse Rogers yesterday that Kluber was at 87-89 mph in the prior session. Cressey suggested that Kluber is already ahead of many pitchers who’ve not yet ramped up their throwing to this point. Kluber averaged 92 mph on his heater back during his excellent 2018 campaign.

    The full list of teams in attendance isn’t known, although given that this was an open look at a two-time Cy Young winner and a pair of relievers with considerable late-inning MLB experience, it’d be more notable to learn which few teams weren’t in attendance than to know which clubs were. Still, it’s at least worth noting that each of the Mets, YankeesNationals, Red Sox, Rays, Twins, Cubs, Rangers, Marlins, Tigers, Pirates, Blue Jays, Diamondbacks and Indians were all reported to be attending the showcase. Obviously, it’s not an all-encompassing list.

    Broadly speaking, if Kluber is indeed at a point in his rehab that inspires confidence, one would imagine the market for him will be robust. The extent to which clubs are willing to bet on a guaranteed contract on the two-time Cy Young winner will vary, but he should easily command a big league deal with plenty of incentives on top of whatever base the highest bidder will commit.

    Kluber may be something of a lottery ticket at this point, but few gambles come with such pronounced upside. From 2014-18, the right-hander was one of the game’s premier pitchers, working to a combined 2.85 ERA while striking out 28.5 percent of the hitters he faced against just a 5.2 percent walk rate. Only three of the 179 qualified starting pitchers in that time period — Chris Sale, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer — topped Kluber’s 23.3 K-BB%.

    Since that time, however, he’s been limited to 36 2/3 innings by a fractured forearm (sustained when he was hit by a line drive), an oblique strain and a teres major strain. Traded from Cleveland to Texas last winter, Kluber pitched just one inning for the Rangers in 2020.

    While most of the focus is understandably on Kluber, the presence of Swarzak and Cishek is certainly notable as well. Both righties are looking for rebounds of their own. Swarzak signed with the Phillies last winter but was released at the end of summer camp and didn’t sign with another club. A two-year, $14MM deal he signed with the Mets prior to the 2018 season proved regrettable, as shoulder issues torpedoed both of those seasons. However, back in 2017 Swarzak tossed 77 1/3 frames with a 2.33 ERA with 91 punchouts against just 22 walks.

    Cishek, meanwhile, rattled off four straight seasons with a sub-3.00 ERA from 2016-19, leading to a $6MM deal with the White Sox last winter. He didn’t last on Chicago’s South Side, however, as he was roughed up for a 5.40 ERA in just 20 innings. Cishek’s control has been trending in the wrong direction the past couple of seasons, but he missed bats at his typical levels and didn’t see a velocity dip in 2020.

    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins To Attend Corey Kluber's Showcase]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=333552 2021-01-13T02:54:21Z 2021-01-13T02:19:39Z
  • The Twins, whose interest in Kluber was previously reported, will also be at Kluber’s showcase, per La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Kluber has ties to Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, who was part of the Cleveland front office that acquired the former ace.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Timeline Of Twins’ Negotiation With Nelson Cruz]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=330378 2021-01-10T04:36:40Z 2021-01-10T04:30:49Z At the outset of the offseason, Nelson Cruz was said to be seeking a two-year deal, in theory from the Minnesota Twins. Not much has changed on that front, though as time wears on, it seems less and less likely the Twins will meet his demand. Coming off back-to-back silver slugger awards as the Twins’ designated hitter, it would seem a given that Minnesota would do whatever necessary to bring back Cruz, even as he enters his age-40 season. He’s a team leader, a fan favorite, and a standout citizen, evidenced by being the Twins’ Roberto Clemente Award nominee in 2020 and in winning the Marvin Miller Man Of The Year Award for being the player who has earned the “most respect based on his leadership on the field and in the community,” as explained the Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal III back in October.

    Under a different context, the opportunity to add a 163 wRC+ hitter for two years at $14MM per season would be almost too good to believe. Under the current context, however, the Twins have yet to sign Cruz, nor even has there been much in the way of dialogue, per Neal’s newest piece for the Star Tribune. Neal consulted with multiple sources to provide a timeline of Cruz’s negotiation with the Twins so far this winter.

    The Twins made a one-year offer during the opening weeks of free agency, then pulled it off the table after a couple of weeks. A second contract offer was made during the holidays that went nowhere as Cruz’s camp waited for word on the NL. There hasn’t been a lot of back-and-forth negotiating between the sides.

    The assumption is there will be no designated hitter in the National League in 2021, which limits the field of potential Cruz suitors, but if the Twins wait long enough, it’s hard to imagine there won’t be more opportunities for Cruz. Interestingly, Neal names the Padres as one NL team that would be interested in Cruz were there to be a DH in the NL. Adding Cruz to any lineup ought to be a boon for that team, though putting him on a Padres roster with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado could very well make the Friars one of the more highly anticipated rosters MLB has seen in some time. Over the past two seasons, Cruz slashed .308/.394/.626 with a monstrous .318 ISO, 11 percent walk rate, 25.7 percent strikeout rate, 163 wRC+, and 6.2 fWAR over 735 plate appearances.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Twins' Relief Pitching]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=329806 2021-01-09T19:14:05Z 2021-01-09T19:14:05Z
  • Kyle Schwarber drew interest from at least a half-dozen teams before agreeing to a one-year, $10MM contract with the Nationals today, according to ESPN.com’s Jesse Rogers (Twitter link).  The Twins, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Angels were some of the teams linked to Schwarber in earlier reports, and the level of interest is further evidence that there is “always a market for lefty sluggers,” as Rogers notes.
  • Several of the most prominent names from the Twins’ 2020 bullpen have entered free agency, with Trevor May (Mets) and Matt Wisler (Giants) already signed to other rosters.  On top of these departures, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune considers it “unlikely” that Sergio Romo will be re-signed, while Tyler Clippard is a “maybe.”  The Twins declined their $5MM club option on Romo’s services for 2021 and now could poised to move on entirely from the veteran.  Minnesota has already signed Hansel Robles to add some experience to the bullpen, and while the Twins are hoping some of their younger arms also step up, Neal figures the club is continuing to explore the relief market since their current group “could use an additional hard thrower.”
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Twins Sign JT Riddle To Minor League Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=326717 2021-01-07T16:20:04Z 2021-01-07T16:17:28Z The Twins have signed JT Riddle to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, per MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Kim (via Twitter). Riddle spent last season with the Pirates.

    Speculatively, Riddle could eventually help insure against the departure of free agent Marwin Gonzalez. Riddle plays all over the diamond, with his market advantage being capable glovework at both shortstop and centerfield. He has appeared at every position besides pitcher and catcher over his four year career, with a majority of his playing time coming up the middle.

    Though he appeared in 23 games for the Pirates last season, the bulk of Riddle’s career was with the Marlins from 2017 to 2019. In total, Riddle owns a career triple slash of .222/.261/.355, just a 63 wRC+. Therein lies the rub for Riddle, as he has yet to come anywhere close to producing league-average offense. For his career, a 5.0 percent walk rate, 21.9 percent strikeout rate, and .133 isolated power mark all fall below league averages.

    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Open Market Notes: Kluber, Twins/Cruz, Nats, Odorizzi]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=326439 2021-01-07T04:56:19Z 2021-01-07T04:56:19Z Add the Pirates to the clubs planning to attend for Corey Kluber’s January 13th workout, writes Rob Biertempfel of the Athletic (via Twitter). The Nationals and Diamondbacks were previously mentioned as two among many planning to view Kluber in Florida. The Pirates don’t seem like the likeliest team to sign Kluber, though he could conceivably provide some veteran stability with the upside of becoming a mid-season trade chip. It’ll be interesting to see how Kluber shows after two mostly lost seasons. Before he ran into health troubles, the 34-year-old reeled off an exceptional five-season run.

    Here are a few other items of open-market chatter …

    • Though there’s no evidence of recent progress, there’s still cause to remain bullish on the odds of a reunion between the Twins and slugger Nelson Cruz. The match, after all, has worked out well for both sides to date. In an appearance on the Locked On Twins podcast, Darren Wolfson of KSTP 5 indicated that mutual interest remains strong. But the club and the 40-year-old DH could also be eyeing alternatives. Wolfson suggests the Padres would have interest in Cruz if it turns out that the DH will remain in the National League. Remaining uncertainty in that regard has iced the market for lumbering sluggers. Depending upon how things shake out, per Wolfson, the Twins may have interest in a slate of options that includes Michael Brantley, Kyle Schwarber, and even Marcell Ozuna.
    • Several of those players would also be of interest to the Nationalsper Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. It seems that Ozuna is likely to require too much space on the balance sheet. But Brantley and Schwarber, along with Joc Pederson, are each seen as possibilities to take up a post in the D.C. corner outfield. The Nats have an opening after allowing Adam Eaton to depart.
    • Free agent righty Jake Odorizzi appears to be in position to land a three-year deal, an executive tells Rosenthal. The expectation from that industry source is that the veteran starter could secure a guarantee in the realm of $36MM to $42MM — just where MLBTR predicted he’d land. There’s still no clarity as to Odorizzi’s slate of suitors, but it stands to reason he’ll have fairly widespread appeal given that Kevin Gausman and Marcus Stroman each accepted qualifying offers, removing two primary targets from the market.
    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Should The Twins Try To Extend Alex Kirilloff?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=324589 2021-01-04T18:10:15Z 2021-01-04T18:07:10Z
  • Should the Twins pursue a long-term extension with outfield prospect Alex Kirilloff? Aaron Gleeman of the Athletic makes the case for that, examining potential contract terms in a piece that figures to be of interest to Twins’ fans. Extensions for players who’ve yet to make their MLB debut are rare but not unheard of. For instance, the White Sox and Mariners pulled off deals last winter with Luis Robert and Evan White, respectively. Kirilloff played in one of Minneosta’s postseason games last year but still has zero MLB service time, having been added to the roster after the regular season concluded. The 23-year-old ranks as the Twins’ best prospect at Baseball America.
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[Phil Hughes Announces Retirement]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=323963 2021-01-04T00:10:08Z 2021-01-03T23:59:22Z Phil Hughes officially announced his retirement from baseball today via Twitter. Hughes last pitched in the Majors in 2018 as a member of the San Diego Padres. While his final 16 appearances came out of the Padres bullpen, the No. 23 overall pick of the 2004 draft spent most of his 12-year career split between the Yankees and Twins.

    In his own words, Hughes begins his announcement by saying, “While it’s been fairly apparent to most over these last couple years, I’d like to officially announce my retirement from baseball. Through many ups and downs over 12 years, I look back and am incredibly proud of what I was able to accomplish.”

    Hughes took some time finding his way, and he ultimately leaves the game as an underrated hurler. After debuting in pinstripes during the 2007 season, he became linked in many minds to Joba Chamberlain as a pair of promising arms that didn’t pan out quite as intended for the Yankees. That said, Hughes has plenty to be proud of after carving out a successful big league career.

    He was prematurely crowned a future ace for the Yankees, but he nevertheless developed as a significant contributor setting up games for Mariano Rivera during New York’s 2009 title run. Hughes posted a 3.03 ERA/3.22 FIP over 86 innings that season, including nine appearances in the postseason.

    Hughes would settle in as a starter during a four-year run from 2012 to 2015. His best year came in 2014, his first with the Twins in which he logged 209 2/3 frames with a 3.52 ERA/2.65 FIP and an ML-leading 11.63 K/BB rate and a 7th-place Cy Young finish. Injuries and circumstances may have altered Hughes’ ultimate trajectory, but his emergence in Minnesota became a feel-good story for as long as his health allowed.

    In total, the 34-year-ol Hughes retires with 11.2 bWAR, but 17.7 fWAR, indicating his ultimate work level might have been underappreciated at the time. He spent seven seasons with the Yankees and five with the Twins, with one All-Star appearances in 2010. Congrats to Hughes on a long and successful career.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Five Teams Showing Interest In Alex Colome]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=323265 2021-01-02T22:54:12Z 2021-01-02T22:53:52Z There hasn’t been much public buzz about Alex Colome’s market this winter, but the former All-Star has been attracting some attention in free agency.  Darren Wolfson of SKOR North (via Twitter) reports that the Twins “recently inquired” about Colome’s services, while FanSided’s Robert Murray (Twitter links) adds that the Nationals, Red Sox, Astros, and White Sox have also shown interest.

    For the last five seasons, Colome has been a solid and occasionally dominant ninth-inning option, racking up 138 saves for the Rays, Mariners, and White Sox since the start of the 2016 season.  With Chicago in 2020, Colome posted just an 0.81 ERA over 22 1/3 innings, while posting a largely impressive slate of Statcast metrics (in particular finishing in the 95th percentile in barrel percentage).  ERA predictors, however, weren’t nearly as impressed with his work, as Colome’s 2.97 FIP, 4.26 xFIP, and 4.44 SIERA all reflected his ordinary 6.4 K/9, as well as some good fortune in the form of a .200 BABIP and 86.4% strand rate.  He also didn’t allow a single home run last year, which isn’t likely to be duplicated over a full season.

    Colome largely relies on a two-pitch arsenal of a cutter (which he has thrown over 70% of the time in each of the last two seasons) and a four-seam fastball that clocks around the 94.4mph range.  It’s hard to argue with results, of course, though teams could be wary of committing big money to the 32-year-old Colome going forward if they feel his advanced metrics will start catching up to his on-field numbers.

    That said, the lack of Colome updates to this point could also be par for the course during an offseason that hasn’t seen much high-priced movement in the relief market.  Trevor May’s two-year, $15.5MM deal with the Mets represents the only significant contract given to a relief pitcher this winter, and such names as Liam Hendriks, Brad Hand, Blake Treinen, and Trevor Rosenthal continue to wait for their next teams (not to mention many other prominent relievers who could be available in trades).

    As we inch closer to the projected start of Spring Training, it isn’t surprising that we’ll hear more news about interest in Colome and other relievers as teams start to get aggressive about filling holes in the bullpen.  All five of the teams linked to Colome have needs at the back of their respective pen, even if a provisional closer is already in place to handle the bulk of save opportunities.  For the White Sox in particular, there has been speculation that the team could elevate Aaron Bummer or Evan Marshall to closer if Colome went elsewhere, though it would make sense that Chicago would welcome back a familiar closer (at the right price, of course) if the Sox want some ninth-inning experience for what they hope will be a deeper run into the postseason.

    Anthony Franco <![CDATA[Two Years Ago, The Twins Signed An Elite Hitter]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=323156 2021-01-02T22:30:22Z 2021-01-02T19:24:16Z Today marks the two-year anniversary of the Twins announcing a free agent deal with Nelson Cruz. The then-38-year-old received a one-year, $14.3MM guarantee with a $12MM club option covering the 2020 season.

    At the time, Cruz was coming off an incredible four-year run with the Mariners. He had hit .284/.362/.546 during his time in Seattle. By measure of weighted runs created plus, the slugger was the sport’s eighth-most productive hitter between 2015-18 (minimum 600 plate appearances). Nevertheless, Cruz’s age and lack of defensive value as a full-time designated hitter limited him to a single year guarantee.

    After a surprising Wild Card berth in 2017, the Twins slumped to a 78-84 season in 2018. Surely, the front office hoped that signing Cruz would install an elite bat into the middle of the order and help Minnesota’s lineup emerge as one of the best in the league. That’s precisely how things played out.

    If anything, the already-great Cruz took his offensive game to another level in 2019. He hit a career-best .311/.392/.639 with 41 home runs in just 521 plate appearances. As a team, Minnesota slugged a record 307 homers that year en route to an AL Central title. That made exercising the 2020 option a no-brainer. Cruz again mashed at an elite level and helped the Twins to their second consecutive division championship this past season.

    Now 40 years old, Cruz is again a free agent, facing the same questions he faced last time he was on the open market (and the time before that). He offers nothing defensively and is among the oldest players in the sport. Yet Cruz has shown no signs of decline at the plate; on the contrary, he’s coming off arguably the two best offensive seasons of his career.

    Another deal between the Twins and Cruz makes plenty of sense. Minnesota again looks like one of the best teams in the American League, although the pursuit of another division title looks more difficult than ever thanks to the White Sox’s emergence as a legitimate contender. The past two division crowns haven’t led to any postseason success, which the Twins no doubt hope to change in 2021.  The parties have remained in contact this winter. No deal has come together to this point amidst uncertainty about whether the DH will expand to the National League, which would obviously open up Cruz’s market.

    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Sign Hansel Robles]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=318917 2020-12-29T21:21:02Z 2020-12-29T20:16:44Z The Twins have signed right-hander Hansel Robles, The Athletic’s Dan Hayes reports (Twitter link).  The deal has been officially announced by the team.  Robles will earn $2MM on the one-year contract, as per MLB Network’s Jon Heyman (Twitter links). He could make up to $500K more in incentives, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets.

    Robles was non-tendered by the Angels on December 2, as the team chose to cut Robles loose rather than pay him a projected arbitration salary in the $4MM range.  The decision wasn’t entirely surprising in the wake of a pretty disastrous 2020 season for the 30-year-old, as Robles posted a 10.26 ERA over 16 2/3 innings for the Halos, in large part due to a 2.2 HR/9.

    Though Robles has been somewhat susceptible to the long ball throughout his career, he still posted some solid numbers for the Mets from 2015-18, and it seemed like Robles had turned a corner after the Angels claimed him off waivers in June 2018.  Robles had a 2.97 ERA in 36 1/3 frames for Anaheim during the remainder of the 2018 campaign, and then seemed to fully break out during a 2019 season that saw him emerge as the Angels’ closer.

    Robles had a 2.48 ERA, 4.69 K/BB rate, and 9.3 K/9 over 72 2/3 innings for Los Angeles in 2019, and he racked up 23 saves.  As MLBTR’s Steve Adams observed back in April, Robles thrived after greatly increasingly the use of his changeup, and altering his approach when challenging right-handed batters with his fastball.  According to Statcast, Robles’ change was still an effective pitch in 2020, but batters absolutely teed off on his four-seamer to the tune of a .447 xwOBA.

    Minnesota certainly hopes its coaching staff can get Robles back on track next season, as the Twins bullpen has some holes to fill.  The Twins have already lost a couple of notable names in Trevor May and Matt Wisler, and Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard are still free agents.  It has been a pretty quiet offseason overall for the reigning AL Central champions, perhaps due to the ongoing uncertainty around whether or not Nelson Cruz could re-sign with the Twins, a situation that may not be resolved until it is known if the DH will be used in the National League next season.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Fernando Romero Signs With NPB’s Yokohama BayStars]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=306675 2020-12-26T00:24:10Z 2020-12-26T00:23:45Z DECEMBER 25: The BayStars have announced their agreement with Romero (h/t to the Japan Times). It’s a one-year deal with a club option for 2022. Romero will reportedly make $724,000 next season.

    DECEMBER 18, 7:03pm: Romero will sign with the Yokohama BayStars of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, Dan Hayes of The Athletic tweets. The Twins will receive roughly $300K in return.

    DECEMBER 18, 4:15pm: The Twins activated right-hander Fernando Romero from the restricted list and then released him, Chris Miller of the Star Tribune reports. Romero, who is from the Dominican Republic, was unable to secure a visa to the United States last season.

    This is certainly not the way the Twins expected their relationship with Romero to end, as he was among their top prospects for multiple seasons. Baseball America ranked Romero as the Twins’ sixth-best farmhand in 2018 and wrote that he could turn into a second or third starter “if he can round out his third pitch.”

    The 25-year-old Romero did collect 11 starts with the Twins from 2018-19, during which he averaged about 96 mph on his fastball, but the results weren’t great. He combined for 69 2/3 innings during those seasons and recorded a 5.17 ERA/4.49 FIP with 8.14 K/9, 3.88 BB/9 and a 47.4 percent groundball rate. Romero has been better in Triple-A ball, where he owns a 3.88 ERA and has registered 8.0 K/9 against 3.7 BB/9 in 148 1/3 innings. It’s likely some other team will take a chance on him now that he’s available to sign.

    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Free Agent Notes: LeMahieu, Realmuto, Arihara, Hand]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=310686 2020-12-23T02:40:09Z 2020-12-23T01:16:33Z The Mets “recently contacted” infielder DJ LeMahieu, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network. The fight for LeMahieu appeared to be between his previous team, the Yankees, as well as the Blue Jays, but it would be difficult to count the deep-pocketed Mets out of the mix. Signing LeMahieu would enable the Mets to send Jeff McNeil from second to third base, though it’s unclear what that would mean for J.D. Davis, who started the majority of Mets games at the hot corner in 2020.

    • New Phillies president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski and Jeff Berry, the agent for free-agent catcher J.T. Realmuto, had a discussion Monday, Meghan Montemurro of The Athletic relays. Negotiations did not occur during that talk, but Dombrowski made sure to mention that the Phillies want Realmuto back, per Montemurro. They have made Realmuto an offer, Heyman relays.
    • The Rangers are among the teams “believed” to have interest in right-hander Kohei Arihara, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com tweets. The 28-year-old Arihara, whom the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball posted earlier this offseason, logged a 3.74 ERA with 6.7 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 over 836 innings. MLB teams have until Dec. 26 to sign Arihara.
    • Minnesota native Brad Hand, one of the top relievers on the open market, told Darren Wolfson of SKOR North that he’d “love to play”  for the Twins in 2021. However, the southpaw isn’t sure if the Twins are interested in signing him. Hand reached free agency when the division-rival Indians declined his $10MM club option after last season, which came as a surprise considering the 30-year-old was one of baseball’s top relievers in 2020.