Minnesota Twins – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-06-20T19:19:46Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Place Marwin Gonzalez On IL, Select Sean Poppen]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=163314 2019-06-19T20:13:12Z 2019-06-19T19:57:50Z The Twins have placed utilityman Marwin Gonzalez on the 10-day injured list with a right hamstring strain, the team announced. They also sent reliever Blake Parker to the family medical emergency list. To replace Gonzalez and Parker, the Twins recalled utility player Willians Astudillo and selected righty Sean Poppen’s contract from Triple-A Rochester. The club also transferred lefty Adalberto Mejia to the 60-day IL.

Gonzalez was one of the Twins’ highest-profile acquisitions last winter, when they signed the ex-Astro to a two-year, $21MM guarantee. The 30-year-old didn’t make an ideal first impression with the Twins, as he owned a meager .579 OPS as recently as May 10. But the switch-hitting Gonzalez has come alive since then for the first-place club, evidenced by his .255/.323/.420 line (98 wRC+) with nine home runs across 254 plate appearances. Defensively, the versatile Gonzalez has primarily played third base this season, but he has also logged multiple appearances at first, second and in the corner outfield.

Poppen, 25, is in line to make his Twins debut three years after they chose him in the 19th round of the 2016 draft. Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs wrote back in May 2018 that Poppen possesses “three pitches that flash above average and good control.” Poppen has gotten off to an outstanding start this year in his first Triple-A action, having posted a 1.55 ERA/3.61 FIP with 10.55 K/9 and 3.72 BB/9 over 29 innings.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Sign Ian Krol]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=163190 2019-06-18T20:45:44Z 2019-06-18T20:44:42Z The Twins have signed left-hander Ian Krol to a minor league contract, according to Nate Rowan, Triple-A Rochester’s director of communications. Krol has already joined Rochester’s roster.

The 28-year-old Krol was previously with the Reds, who inked him to a minors deal over the winter. He threw 25 1/3 innings with their Triple-A affiliate in Louisville this season and managed a subpar 5.33 ERA/4.08 FIP with 9.95 K/9, 4.26 BB/9 and a 41.4 percent groundball rate. Krol has typically prevented runs at a much better clip in Triple-A ball, having combined for a 3.35 ERA with 10.1 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9 across 137 innings.

Of course, the hope for the Twins is that Krol will thrive in the minors and work his way to their bullpen. Krol was a viable major leaguer as recently as 2016, when he pitched to a 3.18 ERA/2.91 FIP with 9.88 K/9, 2.29 BB/9 and a 56 percent grounder rate in 51 innings as part of the Braves’ relief corps. But Krol otherwise hasn’t experienced a ton of big league success. Also a former National, Tiger and Angel, Krol has registered a 4.50 ERA/4.43 FIP with 8.43 K/9, 3.46 BB/9 and a 45.2 percent GB mark in 190 innings at the sport’s top level.

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Place Byron Buxton On 10-Day IL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=163164 2019-06-18T18:21:27Z 2019-06-18T18:21:27Z The Twins have placed outfielder Byron Buxton on the 10-day injured list, per a club announcement. He is still recovering from a right wrist contusion that was suffered recently on a hit-by-pitch.

It had been hoped that the injury would not require a trip to the IL, but Buxton evidently needs a bit more time off. The placement is retroactive to June 15th, as he has not appeared since being struck. He’ll be eligible to return as soon as Tuesday the 25th.

While this seems unlikely to be more than a blip, it’s still unfortunate to see even a brief pause in the season for the 25-year-old Buxton. The long-hyped youngster has come into his own thus far in 2019, turning in a cumulative .266/.324/.527 slash with nine home runs and ten steals over 227 plate appearances.

Jake Cave will get another look at the majors in Buxton’s absence. He was demoted after a weak start to the season but has been on a tear at Triple-A (.321/.373/.552).

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Sign Supplemental First-Rounder Matt Wallner]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=163080 2019-06-17T23:13:05Z 2019-06-17T23:13:05Z The Twins have signed supplemental first-round pick Matt Wallner, Jim Callis of MLB.com tweets, adding the outfielder will receive $1.8MM. That checks in below slot, as Wallner’s selection (No. 39) came with a $1,906,800 value.

The Twins finally got their man in Wallner, a Minnesota native whom they first selected in the 32nd round of the 2016 draft. Wallner, then the state’s Mr. Baseball, chose not to sign. He instead elected to attend Southern Mississippi, where he wound up significantly boosting his stock.

This time, Minnesota grabbed Wallner higher than where most draft pundits ranked him. The 21-year-old didn’t make the top 50 of ESPN’s Keith Law entering the draft, while FanGraphs placed Wallner at No. 44, Baseball America had him 49th and MLB.com put him 60th. Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen of FanGraphs note Wallner has “huge power” and suggest he profiles as a right fielder. Callis, meanwhile, points out Wallner also “intrigues” as a right-handed pitcher who can throw up to 97 mph.

With Wallner under wraps, the Twins have now locked up their first three draft choices. They previously signed 13th overall pick Keoni Cavaco for $4.05MM and 54th selection Matt Canterino for $1.10MM. The club went into this year’s draft with just under $9.91MM to spend on its picks.

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TC Zencka <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 6/15/19]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162809 2019-06-15T16:29:18Z 2019-06-15T16:29:18Z Below we’ll track some of today’s signings from around the league…

  • The Twins have signed Cuban right-hander Yennier Cano with a signing bonus of $750K, per Francys Romero of Las Mayores (via Twitter). MLB.com’s Dan Hayes adds that the Twins do not figure Cano into their immediate plans, despite being slightly older for a development project at 25-years-old. Solid numbers in Cuba make him a worthwhile flyer, but low K-rates may give pause to his viability as a major league contributor. Cano slotted in at #2 on MLB.com’s 2018 list of top international prospects, which mark his top pitch as a 70-grade heater. The right-hander has shown a fastball that hovers in the 94-96 mph range with some sink. He also features an above average slider, split fastball and changeup, a pitch he did not throw often in Cuba. He also throws an average curve.” Cano has been a reliever in Cuba and figures to target a similar role with the Twins.
  • The Rays signed Cuban outfielder Patrick Merino, per Romero (via Twitter). He receives $375K as a signing bonus. Romero played some catcher in Cuba, but he has a thick frame that suggests a future elsewhere. He has more than enough speed to cover ground in the outfield, and his arm should play in right if that’s where he eventually lands. Merino had been tied to a number of clubs, both Chicago clubs among them, though it’s hard to know the level of interest any of those clubs had in signing Merino.
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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Byron Buxton Dodges Serious Wrist Injury]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162786 2019-06-15T05:29:03Z 2019-06-15T05:29:03Z
  • Center fielder Byron Buxton exited the Twins’ game Friday after taking a pitch off the right wrist from Royals starter Brad Keller. Luckily for Buxton and the Twins, though, he avoided a serious injury, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports. “Byron’s doing fine. Wrist contusion,” said manager Rocco Baldelli, who added it’s “pretty positive news.” The 25-year-old Buxton looks to be on track for a career season, having hit .266/.324/.527 (120 wRC+) with nine home runs, 10 steals and 2.2 fWAR in 227 plate appearances.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pineda Pleased With Recent Improvement On Slider]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162666 2019-06-14T13:56:18Z 2019-06-14T13:56:18Z
  • Twins righty Michael Pineda used his recent stint on the injured list to focus on the release point on his slider, he tells Dan Hayes of The Athletic (subscription required). “I’m focusing especially on my release point and finishing my pitches, especially my slider, because this is my pitch for swings and misses,” said Pineda. “I love my slider.” As Hayes observes, Pineda’s rediscovered confidence in the pitch was apparent. He threw just five sliders in his final start prior to landing on the injured list before uncorking 26 sliders in yesterday’s win over the Mariners. Manager Rocco Baldelli and pitching coach Wes Johnson both feel that Pineda looked more impressive yesterday, and Johnson spoke of his satisfaction with the incremental improvements in Pineda’s progression back from 2017 Tommy John surgery and 2018 knee surgery. Notably, the right-hander’s velocity was up a couple miles per hour yesterday as well. A revitalized Pineda would only add another weapon to an already strong Twins club. Pineda has a 5.04 ERA in 69 2/3 innings but yielded just one run in 5 2/3 frames on Thursday.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Sign Second-Rounder Matt Canterino]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162458 2019-06-13T21:34:55Z 2019-06-13T21:08:08Z
  • The Twins reached a deal with second-rounder Matt Canterino, Darren Wolfson of 5 Eyewitness News tweets.  Canterino’s $1.1MM bonus is less than the $1,338,500 slot price associated with the 54th overall draft position.  Canterino was ranked 34th on Baseball America’s list of draft prospects, described as “one of the funkier pitchers in this year’s draft class” due to an unusual delivery that has proven to be consistently repeatable.  A right-hander out of Rice University, Canterino has a plus slider and a fastball that can hit 95mph though is most often thrown in the 90-91mph range.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Sign Keoni Cavaco]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162242 2019-06-12T00:01:33Z 2019-06-12T00:01:33Z The Twins announced Tuesday that they’ve signed first-round pick Keoni Cavaco. The deal will pay Cavaco $4.05MM according to Jim Callis of MLB.com, who first reported the signing (via Twitter). That comes in $192K under slot value for the No. 13 overall pick. Cavaco will head to the Twins’ Rookie-level affiliate in the Gulf Coast League, the team announced in today’s release.

    An 18-year-old out of Eastlake High School in Chula Vista, Calif., Cavaco’s draft stock soared this spring. He wasn’t considered to be a first-round talent earlier in the year and was ranked a bit further down the board than the Twins’ selection. Fangraphs tabbed Cavaco as the draft’s No. 22 prospect, while MLB.com ranked him 28th and Baseball America ranked him 31st. Reports in the days leading up to the draft strongly tied Minnesota to Cavaco, though, and it’s highly unlikely that he’d have lasted to the Twins’ next pick.

    Kiley McDaniel and Eric Longenhagen wrote that a growth spurt boosted Cavaco’s draft stock, adding that he has the “best frame” in the class and had grown into a considerable power surge. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com wrote that Cavaco has potential plus power and could develop into a plus defender at third base, but he’s a work in progress both in the field and at the plate. He’s a high-risk, high-reward prospect who’ll add to a well-regarded Twins farm system that is headlined by 2017 No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Free Agent Stock Watch: Jake Odorizzi]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162159 2019-06-11T16:07:49Z 2019-06-11T16:07:49Z The Twins have enjoyed quite a few nice surprises in the course of their strong start to the year. The output of righty Jake Odorizzi is certainly among them. Don’t look now, but he’s actually now topping the ERA leaderboard among qualified starters. So … is Odorizzi headed for a free agent bonanza after the season?

    There’s little doubt that Odorizzi is delivering great value on the $9.5MM he’s earning in his final season of arbitration eligibility. Through 70 1/3 innings, he owns a 1.92 ERA with 10.0 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.

    Odorizzi is tied for the league lead with nine wins, for those that value that statistic. That’s a hefty tally for a pitcher in this day and age, but it doesn’t mean he’s working deep into games. Odorizzi has gone past six innings just twice; on the positive side, he has only failed to last at least five frames on two occasions.

    This continues a low-inning trend for Odorizzi. He took sixty starts in the 2017-18 seasons, but threw only 307 2/3 innings. That recent history is notable in other ways as well. Odorizzi compiled useful but unspectacular numbers in his most recent seasons, working to a 4.33 ERA with 8.5 K/9 against 3.8 BB/9.

    The 2017-18 version of Odorizzi coughed up 1.5 homers per nine. He was and is a heavy flyball pitcher. Opposing hitters currently carry a 28.2% groundball rate and 20.2 degree launch angle, much as they did last year. While they’re putting the ball in the air, though, they haven’t found their home run stroke this year. Odorizzi has permitted just 0.51 HR/9 on a meager 4.9% HR/FB.

    What to make of the changes? You certainly have to question the sustainability. Statcast says that Odorizzi has allowed a meager .234 wOBA, but calculates a .284 xwOBA — still good, but hardly as dominating as the results. We might expect a lower BABIP given his batted-ball profile, but .251 still seems light. If and when the home run suppression dissipates, Odorizzi could be left looking like much the same pitcher he has always been. Both xFIP (4.20) and SIERA (3.92) see him that way already.

    That said, there does appear to be something more here than a nice, fortune-laden run of results. Odorizzi has bumped his swinging-strike rate to 12.8% by riding a rather notable velocity boost — all the way over 93 mph on both his four-seam and two-seam fastballs after sitting under 92 in the prior two seasons. He’s currently at personal-high levels with both heaters, which at a bare minimum suggests he’s in a good place physically and mechanically.

    There’s nothing here to suggest that Odorizzi is suddenly a front-line starter. It’s quite likely he’ll come back to earth over the next several months. But there’s also some evidence that he’s in his best form since he established himself as a quality starter (and underappreciated part of a notable trade) with the Rays.

    Odorizzi will turn 30 right at the start of the 2020 campaign. With a run of extensions gutting the 2019-20 free agent market, he’ll have a chance to position himself as one of the better available starters. When MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes last ranked the upcoming free agents nearly six weeks ago, he listed Madison Bumgarner and Zack Wheeler in the top five and noted a group of other useful but clearly non-elite starters in the honorable mention category: Rick Porcello, Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda, and Cole Hamels. Odorizzi has outperformed them all since. We’ll see how it all looks when the season is over, but he’s an increasingly notable member of the upcoming class of free agents.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds Acquire Tyler Jay From Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=162141 2019-06-11T04:37:57Z 2019-06-11T04:37:57Z The Reds have acquired left-hander Tyler Jay from the Twins, according to Roster Roundup. There’s no word on what the Twins received, but they presumably got a meager return for Jay.

    The Twins used the sixth overall pick in the 2015 draft on Jay, who starred as a reliever at the University of Illinois. At the time Minnesota selected him, there was plenty of optimism Jay would continue to thrive in the majors as either a reliever or starter. But injuries – including to Jay’s shoulder and neck – have helped derail his career since he entered the professional ranks.

    The 25-year-old Jay hasn’t yet ascended past the Double-A level, where he has pitched since 2017 and owns a 4.60 ERA with 7.6 K/9 and 4.1 BB/9 in 103 2/3 innings. While assessing the Twins’ prospects this past April, Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of FanGraphs wrote Jay remains “a multi-pitch lefty with average stuff, and that seems rosterable.” The Twins disagreed, even after all they invested in Jay, leaving the Reds to hope he’ll one day realize some of his vast potential in their uniform.

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    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[Twins Select Ryan Eades, Option Willians Astudillo]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=161830 2019-06-08T20:34:50Z 2019-06-08T20:34:50Z The Twins have selected the contract of righty Ryan Eades and optioned C/INF/OF Willians Astudillo to AAA-Rochester, the team reported.

    Eades, 27, had appeared in 17 games as a swingman for Rochester, notching a 5.88 ERA despite excellent peripheral markers.  The former second-rounder struck out 42 men over those 33 2/3 innings while walking just 12. After his second-round selection in the 2013 draft, Eades has never cracked the top 30 in Baseball America’s assessment of the Twins system, though pre-draft reports lauded his “power curve” and “athletic frame.”  He’s been generally stellar since transitioning to a mostly-relief role following the 2016 season, and he’ll look to make his mark as a likely longman in an unsung Twins pen.

    Astudillo, also 27, rose to prominence with one of baseball’s most bizarre offensive profiles. The squatty backstop swings at nearly everything – his 63% swing rate was far and away tops in the majors this season – and makes contact nearly every time (his 4.1% strikeout rate was easily MLB’s lowest). The approach hasn’t worked for him so far this year, though, as the Venezuelan slashed just .250/.273/.357 (62 wRC+) in 120 plate appearances for the club. He’ll look to regain the magic-wand touch he brought to the majors last season in what hopes to be a brief stint with the Red Wings.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[The Offseason’s Best Minor League Signings (So Far)]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=161496 2019-06-07T19:19:45Z 2019-06-07T17:15:40Z The final two top-tier free agents are finally off the board — it only took until June! — but most clubs have long since begun to reap the benefits of their offseason additions from the open market. That includes those who partook in the annual grab bag of minor league contracts.

    Each year, there are dozens upon dozens of recognizable names who settle for non-guaranteed pacts — perhaps more in this past winter’s frigid free-agent climate — and while most fail to yield dividends, there’s always a handful of gems unearthed. The Rangers, Reds and Pirates did particularly well in terms of signing players on minor league contracts this offseason, but there have certainly been other deals of note. It’ll merit revisiting this bunch after the season is over to see who maintained their pace and who stepped up in the final two thirds of the 2019 campaign, but to this point in the year, here’s a look at the most productive minor league signees of the winter.

    Rangers: Hunter Pence, Logan Forsythe, Danny Santana

    Hunter Pence | Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Much was made of Hunter Pence’s efforts to revamp his swing while playing winter ball in the offseason. Frankly, it’s not uncommon to hear of veteran players perhaps in the twilight of their career making alterations in an effort to stick around a bit longer. What is uncommon is for the results to be this eye-opening.

    Pence hasn’t simply bounced back from a pair of awful seasons to close out his Giants tenure — he’s given the Rangers one of the best offensive performances of his 13-year Major League career. The 36-year-old has posted a resplendent .288/.341/.583 batting line with a dozen home runs, 10 doubles and a triple through 179 plate appearances. His 47.6 percent hard contact rate lands in the 91st percentile of big league hitters, per Statcast, and his average exit velocity of 92.6 mph is in the 96th percentile. Defensive metrics are down on Pence, which isn’t a huge surprise for a 36-year-old corner outfielder, but he’s hitting at a star level without benefiting from a gaudy BABIP (.299). If he can maintain this pace, he’ll have no trouble landing not just a 40-man roster spot this winter — but a solid salary to go along with it.

    Pence alone would make for a terrific minor league add, but the Rangers are also getting the best form of Logan Forsythe we’ve ever seen (.299/.404/.472 through 172 PAs) and a strong showing from Danny Santana (.291/.333/.465 in 139 PAs). Those performances are a bit more dubious, as the pair improbably sports matching .388 averages on balls in play. But, Forsythe is walking at a 14 percent clip that he’s never previously approached outside of a 2017 season in Los Angeles where he logged ample time hitting eighth in front of the pitcher (with a 21 percent walk rate in such plate appearances). Santana can’t boast that same plate discipline — to the contrary, his longstanding inability to draw a walk is as pronounced as ever — but he’s making hard contact more than ever before while also stealing bases with great efficiency (7-for-8). Both Forsythe and Santana can move all over the diamond as well.

    Reds: Derek Dietrich, Jose Iglesias

    Derek Dietrich | David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

    Cincinnati has gotten even more production out of its minor league deals than Texas, although the two player the Reds landed on non-guaranteed contracts both came as a surprise. Even after Dietrich was effectively non-tendered by the Marlins, he was expected to get a big league deal. Iglesias enjoyed a solid season at the plate and has long been regarded as a stellar defender at shortstop. The Tigers jumped on a one-year deal with Jordy Mercer worth $5MM in early December, seemingly believing Iglesias would command more.

    That neither player found his asking price met by the time mid-February rolled around has been nothing short of a godsend for the Reds, who scooped up both on minor league pacts. Cincinnati couldn’t have known that a spring injury to Scooter Gennett would create even more at-bats for this pair early in the season, but Dietrich and Iglesias have each been sensational in capitalizing on the opportunity for unexpected levels of playing time.

    Dietrich has already pounded a career-high 17 home runs despite accruing only 157 plate appearances. Detractors will point to his new hitter-friendly home park, but Dietrich has a .377 on-base percentage, .541 slugging percentage and six home runs on the road this year. Besides, it’s not as if every member of the Reds has belted 17 home runs simply by virtue of playing games at Great American Ball Park. Dietrich has a career-best 9.4 percent walk rate and career-low 20.4 percent strikeout rate as well.

    Iglesias, meanwhile, has batted .294/.335/.421 with four homers and a characteristically low strikeout rate (13.5 percent) in 2019 plate appearances. He’s already tallied seven Defensive Runs Saved with a +3.3 Ultimate Zone Rating in 477 innings at shortstop, making Detroit’s decision to move on from look all the more egregious, considering they went out and signed a different veteran to man the position anyhow. He’s not running like he did in 2018, but Iglesias has been a flat-out steal.

    Pirates: Melky Cabrera, Francisco Liriano

    Cabrera has been forced into minor league deals in each of the past two offseasons and will turn 35 later this summer, but the Melk Man just keeps on hitting. Injuries to Corey Dickerson, Gregory Polanco and Lonnie Chisenhall created an opening for Cabrera, and he’s responded with a .335/.376/.467 line through 179 plate appearances. It’s true that he’s benefited from a .366 average on balls in play, but Cabrera’s 11.7 percent strikeout rate is excellent and represents a continuation of the elite bat-to-ball skills he’s demonstrated throughout his career. The defense isn’t pretty — it never really has been — but Cabrera’s bat has been a huge plus for the Bucs.

    The Astros tried Liriano in the bullpen down the stretch in 2017 and weren’t able to get the results they’d hoped. Liriano returned to a starting role with the Tigers in 2018 and found middling results, but he’s been reborn in the Pittsburgh bullpen in his second go-around at PNC Park. In 29 1/3 innings, Liriano has a 1.21 ERA with 32 punchouts, 12 walks and a 47.3 percent grounder rate. He won’t maintain a 96 percent strand rate or a .233 BABIP, but Liriano’s 14.7 percent swinging-strike rate is the best of his career. Even if he takes what seems like an inevitable step back, FIP pegs him at 3.08 while SIERA checks in at 3.82. While the game’s highest-paid free-agent relievers have largely flopped, Liriano looks every bit the part of a viable bullpen option.

    Others of Note

    There have been successful minor league signings outside of Arlington, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, of course. Eric Sogard, he of the former #FaceOfMLB and #NerdPower hashtag fame, has been a superlative pickup for the Blue Jays, hitting at a .290/.365/.481 pace with a career-high five homers in just 151 plate appearances. With several injuries and poor performances around the Toronto infield, his presence has been a boon to an otherwise disappointing lineup.

    Sogard’s former teammate and fellow Oakland cult hero, Stephen Vogt, thought his career could be over at this time a year ago. Instead, he’s back in the Majors and enjoying a solid showing at the plate with the Giants. In 66 plate appearances, Vogt has hit .250/.318/.417, and Buster Posey’s recent placement on the injured list will only create more opportunity for playing time. The Giants cycled through an all-you-can-sign buffet of veteran catchers earlier this spring, and Vogt is the last man standing.

    As far as other catchers go, Matt Wieters landed the role of baseball’s most seldom-used backup: the Cardinals’ second option to iron man Yadier Molina. Wieters has just 50 plate appearances on the year through June 6, but he’s going to see an uptick in playing time with Molina on the injured list for a bit. In his 50 trips to the dish, Wieters has connected with three long balls and slashed a very solid .277/.300/.511. His 15 strikeouts against just one walk could very well be a portent for struggles to come, but some more frequent playing time could also help the veteran find his rhythm.

    Speaking of players who’ve succeeded in minimal playing time, right-hander Mike Morin has given the Twins 10 1/3 innings of terrific relief since having his contract selected in early May. He’s punched out seven hitters, hasn’t allowed a walk, is sitting on a career-high 56.7 percent ground-ball rate and has limited opponents to just one run (a solo home run). He’ll need to miss more bats, as he’s not going to maintain a .172 BABIP and will eventually walk a batter, but Morin’s newfound knack for keeping the ball on the ground is encouraging. (For those wondering where Ryne Harper is, he was technically signed in the 2017-18 offseason and is in his second year with the organization.)

    In a similarly small sample of work — four games, 20 1/3 innings — left-hander Tommy Milone has given the Mariners some competitive starts to help out in their beleaguered rotation. Milone is sitting on a 3.10 ERA and 3.84 FIP, and while he’s never been one to miss bats in the past, he’s punched out 20 hitters against only five walks. His velocity hasn’t changed, but Milone is throwing more sliders at the expense of his four-seamer and changeup.

    Over in Atlanta, the Braves have enjoyed their own bullpen find, as Josh Tomlin has pitched a team-high 32 innings of relief. Tomlin’s 3.94 ERA doesn’t exactly stand out, and fielding-independent metrics all suggest a mid-4.00s mark is more realistic, but he’s been a relief workhorse for a team whose rotation and bullpen have struggled mightily for much of the year. The 32 innings Tomlin has already soaked up have been vital for the Braves.

    Elsewhere in the NL East, former Pirates and Blue Jays prospect Harold Ramirez is doing his best to continue earning playing time with the Marlins. He’s hit .329/.368/.427 through 87 plate appearances, and while that line has been buoyed by a .394 average on balls in play, Ramirez is making solid contact and isn’t striking out much. He batted .320/.365/.471 in 120 games with Toronto’s Double-A affiliate last season and .355/.408/.591 in 31 Triple-A games with the Marlins in 2019, so he’s earned a look at the game’s top level.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Reportedly “Pushed Hard” For Craig Kimbrel]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=161619 2019-06-07T06:07:40Z 2019-06-07T06:06:31Z The Twins “pushed hard” this week for closer Craig Kimbrel before he agreed to a three-year, $43MM contract with the Cubs on Wednesday, according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic (subscription link). Minnesota’s offer was “competitive,” but the team was only willing to give Kimbrel two years, Hayes reports.

    The Twins had been after Kimbrel dating back to the offseason, per Hayes. At that point, as the Twins sought to upgrade last year’s underwhelming bullpen, they came away with a few inexpensive relief acquisitions in Blake Parker, Ryne Harper and Mike Morin. While the unheralded Harper and Morin have been shockingly effective across a combined 35 innings, Parker has begun to fade after an encouraging start. The ex-Angel boasted a 1.04 ERA entering play May 28, but it’s all the way up to 3.74 through 21 2/3 frames after he allowed at least two earned runs in three of his past four appearances. Parker also yielded four home runs in that four-inning stretch, during which his already below-average velocity fell. With a 5.84 FIP, 7.06 K/9 against 3.32 BB/9, and a 21.7 percent home run-to-fly ball rate, Parker doesn’t look like a strong candidate to break out of his slump in a significant way.

    Not only has Parker been unreliable of late, but most of the Twins’ other top relievers are sporting less favorable fielding-independent pitching numbers than their ERAs indicate. With those factors in mind and Kimbrel off the market, the bullpen figures to remain one of the Twins’ highest priorities leading up to the July 31 trade deadline. Speculatively, Shane Greene (Tigers), Ken Giles (Blue Jays), Alex Colome (White Sox), Mychal Givens (Orioles), Will Smith and Tony Watson (Giants) are some of the league’s relief trade candidates who could land on the Twins’ radar over the next several weeks.

    As shown by their interest in Kimbrel and starter Dallas Keuchel, who signed with the Braves on Thursday, Twins executives Derek Falvey and Thad Levine seem prepared to act aggressively this summer. Considering Minnesota’s an American League-best 41-20 and 10 1/2 games up in the AL Central, it’s no surprise management wants to boost the club’s World Series chances.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Braves Reportedly Emerge As Favorites For Dallas Keuchel]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=161515 2019-06-10T05:06:10Z 2019-06-07T00:05:42Z 7:05pm: The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that the Braves and Keuchel are in “serious talks.” There’s “some thought” that the Braves are willing to offer multiple years to Keuchel, tweets MLB Network’s Jon Heyman. Earlier this morning, the New York Post’s George A. King III reported that Keuchel did indeed have teams willing to push their offer to the multi-year deal range, whereas the Yankees were still set on limiting any offer to one year.

    2:18pm: The Braves have emerged as the “frontrunners” to sign free-agent lefty Dallas Keuchel, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (via Twitter). The Yankees have been prominently connected to the southpaw since the draft-pick compensation tied to him expired on Monday, but Atlanta has long been mentioned as a potential landing spot as well. Feinsand notes that the Yankees are still in the mix, but Atlanta has recently stepped up its efforts.

    Earlier today, SNY’s Andy Martino reported that the Yankees were also facing some degree of competition from the Cardinals. He, too, listed the Braves as a potential factor in the Keuchel market, along with the Twins, though Minnesota’s interest has yet to be characterized as particularly serious.

    For the Braves, Keuchel would help to stabilize a rotation that is enjoying strong performances from high-upside young pitchers who are likely to eventually face some type of workload restrictions (e.g. Mike Soroka, Max Fried). Beyond that excellent pairing, the starting pitching hasn’t panned out as hoped in Atlanta so far this season. Mike Foltynewicz missed the first month of the season and hasn’t performed well since returning (today’s quality outing notwithstanding). Lefty Sean Newcomb was demoted to Triple-A early in the season due to significant control issues, and he’s come back as a reliever. Righty Kevin Gausman has an ERA north of 6.00 through a dozen starts. Of the Braves’ starters, Julio Teheran has been the most effective holdover, but there’s certainly room to add another veteran to the mix to help smooth things over.

    Unlike fellow free agent Craig Kimbrel, Keuchel has been reported to be more amenable to the concept of a one-year contract. The New York Post’s Joel Sherman wrote earlier this week that agent Scott Boras has discussed some multi-year scenarios that would contain an opt-out after the current season, but a straight one-year pact would be less complicated and more palatable for a signing team. Braves leadership has previously spoken about payroll flexibility, though the exact level of financial resources Liberty Media is willing to provide to general manager Alex Anthopoulos is, of course, anyone’s guess.

    Any one-year deal signed by Keuchel would come with a prorated salary; inking him for the same rate as the $17.9MM qualifying offer he rejected back in November, then, would cost a team just north of $11MM from today through season’s end. Atlanta has a payroll of about $121MM at present, and their previous franchise-record Opening Day payroll total was $122MM. Signing Keuchel would push the Braves into uncharted territory, financially speaking — particularly when considering the fact that they’ll likely still make some additions on the trade market in an effort to bolster the bullpen.

    That said, the National League East is among the game’s more tightly contested divisions. The Braves are currently 1.5 games behind the division-leading Phillies, 3.5 games ahead of the Mets and five games ahead of the suddenly surging Nationals. Given the competitive nature of the division, it’s understandable that they’re perhaps willing to push beyond previous comfort zones as they vie for a second consecutive playoff berth. Atlanta is currently in possession of the second National League Wild Card spot, but the difference between a guaranteed ticket to the NLDS and a winner-take-all, one-game coinflip is significant for any club.

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