MLB Trade Rumors » » Minnesota Twins 2017-12-16T06:34:02Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Sign Fernando Rodney]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110164 2017-12-15T19:19:08Z 2017-12-15T19:15:10Z Dec. 15: The Twins have announced the signing. Rodney told reporters in a conference call that he was indeed told that he’d have the opportunity to step into the Twins’ ninth-inning vacancy (Twitter link via MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger).

Dec. 14, 10:35am: Mish now corrects his report (via Twitter): Rodney is only promised $4.5MM and can earn another $1.5MM via incentives, it turns out. There’s also an option for the 2019 season, Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com tweets.

10:28am: The Twins have struck a deal with free agent righty Fernando Rodney, according to Craig Mish of MLB Network Radio (Twitter links). He’ll receive a $4.5MM guarantee on a one-year term upon passing a physical, becoming the latest in a long line of relievers to secure significant annual salaries in an otherwise sluggish free agent market.

Fernando Rodney | Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Rodney is nearing his 41st birthday but still brings a power arsenal to the table and drew interest from multiple organizations. And he has ample experience in the late innings, making it seem likely that he’ll step into the Twins’ open closer role.

While the veteran hurler managed only a 4.23 ERA on the season in 2017, he did save 39 games for the Diamondbacks. The runs tended to come in bursts, too, as Rodney gave up three or more on five separate occasions but did not allow an opponent to cross the plate in fifty of his 61 appearances.

Those clean frames don’t often come without baserunners, of course, as Rodney has a long-established penchant for doling out quite a few free passes. He averaged 4.2 per nine in two of the past three seasons and 5.1 per nine in 2016.

That often makes for an adventure — as it’s familiarly known, The Fernando Rodney Experience — but there are reasons that Rodney is still often effective. He continues to generate strong groundball numbers (52.2% in 2017), doesn’t allow many long balls (0.67 per nine for his career), and still generates a healthy number of swings and misses (12.2% in 2017) with an arsenal predicated on mid-nineties heat and a devastating change.

[Related: Updated Minnesota Twins depth chart]

For the time being, Rodney projects to join impressive sophomore Trevor Hildenberger, Ryan Pressly and Tyler Duffey as right-handed options at the back of the Minnesota bullpen, with Taylor Rogers serving as the primary left-handed setup option. Of course, there’s still plenty of room for the Twins to supplement that relief corps both in free agency and on the trade market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Never Made Formal Offer To Brandon Kintzler]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110258 2017-12-15T04:14:05Z 2017-12-15T04:14:05Z
  • The Twins had interest in a reunion with former closer Brandon Kintzler, though Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (via Twitter) that the team never made a formal offer to Kintzler before he signed with the Nationals.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Unlikely To Trade Brian Dozier]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110248 2017-12-15T02:48:41Z 2017-12-15T02:48:41Z
  • The Mets are still looking for help at second base, though they don’t appear to be close on some of the options on the trade market, Mike Puma of the New York Post writes.  Team officials “indicated there was little momentum” in talks with the Phillies on Cesar Hernandez and the Pirates about Josh Harrison, while the Twins are giving the impression that Brian Dozier is unlikely to be dealt.  The BrewersJonathan Villar is available in the wake of his down year, though Villar isn’t seen “as a serious possibility” by the Mets for now.  Looking at outside-the-box possibilities, signing shortstop Zack Cozart and switching him to second base seems like a “long shot” scenario, a source tells Newsday’s Marc Carig (Twitter link).
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Multiple Teams Interested In Fernando Rodney]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110090 2017-12-14T12:00:51Z 2017-12-14T11:42:11Z 5:42am: The Rangers and Diamondbacks are also in the mix for Rodney, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports tweets.

    5:18am: It’s expected that the Tigers will meet with free agent reliever Fernando Rodney at some point, Jason Beck of MLB.com reports. They’ll have at least some level of competition; Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press adds that the Twins are in the mix for Rodney as well. Interestingly, Berardino notes that Rodney also met with a Nippon Professional Baseball team, though it appears he’s taken that option off the table.

    Detroit has seen many a lead slip through their fingers in recent years due to bullpen implosions. While Rodney falls short of elite, he’d certainly provide an upgrade to the only bullpen in baseball that finished below replacement level this past season. While Shane Greene was somewhat of a bright spot, the Tigers don’t seem to have many stable relievers beyond him on the depth chart. The rebuilding Tigers probably won’t go after marquee free agent relievers like Greg Holland or Wade Davis, but Rodney would be a cost-effective target who could probably be had on a one-year deal. Detroit is plenty familiar with the right-hander, as he spent the first eight years of his MLB career with the organization.

    Likewise, the Twins’ bullpen finished in the bottom third in most of the important pitching categories. Unlike the Tigers, however, the Twins hope to contend next season and could therefore be more aggressive in pursuit of bullpen help. Just yesterday they were said to have made an offer to a free agent reliever, and one would assume they’re inquiring on plenty of others.

    Rodney will enter the 2018 season at 41 years of age. As Berardino notes in his tweet, he’s number three on the list of active saves leaders. Last season with the Diamondbacks, the righty saved 39 games, albeit with a 4.23 ERA. The scariest thing about putting Rodney on the mound is his tendency to issue free passes; the righty has walked a batter nearly every other inning on average over the past five years (4.44 BB/9).

    Since his MLB debut in 2002, Rodney has pitched for eight different major league clubs. Most of that time was spent with the Tigers, who originally signed him out of the Dominican Republic.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Have Offer Out To FA Reliever]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=110033 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z 2017-12-14T05:49:15Z
  • The Twins are also seeking bullpen help, and they have an offer out to a free agent reliever, according to Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN. That’s not J.J. Hoover, whom they’re uninterested in but who’s “squarely in the mix” for the Brewers, per Wolfson. The Twins also weren’t in on Juan Nicasio before he signed with the Mariners on Wednesday, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press writes (Twitter links here).
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Chatter: Phils, Yanks, Greinke, Cole, Archer, Duffy, CC, Jays]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109922 2017-12-14T00:51:51Z 2017-12-14T00:51:51Z With a pair of relief signings being wrapped up, the Phillies seem to feel good about that aspect of their roster. Per MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki, via Twitter, the team will turn its gaze to improving the rotation. Both they and the Yankees checked in with the Diamondbacks regarding right-hander Zack Greinke, Robert Murray of FanRag writes. Greinke ending up with either club is unlikely, however, sources informed Murray. With the Rangers also having shown interest in Greinke, we now know at least three teams have inquired about the expensive 34-year-old this offseason.

    Greinke is the latest hurler to land on the radar of the Yankees, who have also eyed Pirates righty Gerrit Cole. Consequently, the Bucs “are gathering names of young, controllable” Yankees they could acquire in a Cole deal, though there’s “nothing close,” Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports (on Twitter). Notably, Brink adds that the Yankees are also “looking at” Rays righty Chris Archer. The 29-year-old has drawn significant interest this winter, but it’s unclear whether the Rays will move him.

    Plenty more pitching rumors…

    • The Royals are giving serious consideration to dealing southpaw Danny Duffy, who’s “extremely popular” on the trade market, Jon Heyman of FanRag tweets. Duffy suggested on Twitter that he doesn’t want to go anywhere, for what it’s worth. “Bury me a Royal,” he declared.
    • As the Blue Jays look for pitching reinforcements, they are giving real consideration to veteran CC Sabathia, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. Though manager John Gibbons suggested his own priority is to add bats, he also said he’d welcome the addition of the veteran Sabathia — who has a lengthy history with the Jays’ current front office leadership stemming from their time in Cleveland together.
    • Teams have given up on trying to acquire Reds closer Raisel Iglesias, Heyman reports on Twitter. The Reds understandably want an enormous haul back for the 27-year-old star, who’s under affordable control for the foreseeable future.
    • The Twins and Rays have chatted about veteran righty Jake Odorizzi, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter), who adds that Tampa Bay was not interested in Minnesota’s initial offer.
    • Although they’re at the beginning of a full, cost-cutting rebuild, the Marlins aren’t feeling any urgency to deal righty Dan Straily, per Joe Frisaro of MLB.com (Twitter link). Miami’s de facto ace will play his first of three arbitration-eligible seasons in 2018. He’s projected to earn a $4.6MM salary, which even the Marlins can afford.
    • The Mets are not likely to sign another free agent reliever, at least in the near term, according to GM Sandy Alderson and as MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo tweets. Instead, after landing Anthony Swarzak, the organization expects to begin looking to fill its other needs.
    • Brewers GM David Stearns discussed his organization’s situation with reporters including MLB.com’s Adam McCalvy (Twitter links). He said the team was willing to go to two years to get Swarzak, but wasn’t willing to match the dollar amount he ultimately took. The club still has open payroll capacity, which Stearns says he’ll put to good use. “We have spending power this offseason,” he said. “I’m confident we are going to find places to use that effectively.”
    • Before the Astros agreed to a deal with Joe Smith on Wednesday, Brian McTaggart of MLB.com hinted on Twitter that the team could have interest in free agent righty Hector Rondon. Whether that still stands remains to be seen, but the Astros are already chock-full of righty relievers as it is.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Rumblings: Twins, Darvish, Cishek, Cole, Mariners, Liriano, Watson]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109820 2017-12-13T22:14:17Z 2017-12-13T19:21:28Z While the market for starters is still fairly slow to develop, relievers have been flying off the board at the Winter Meetings. Here’s the latest chatter on some hurlers from around the game:

    • The Twins are sending signals that they’re serious about their pursuit of free agent righty Yu Darvish. As LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star-Tribune writes, skipper Paul Molitor says the organization has “targeted [Darvish] as somebody we have tremendous interest in.” That follows prior public indications of interest from GM Thad Levine, who, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press examines, has a longstanding relationship with Darvish. That piece is well worth a full read, if only for Berardino’s enjoyable chat with catcher Chris Gimenez, who worked closely with Darvish with the Rangers and has played most recently with the Twins.
    • Meanwhile, the Twins are also among the teams looking into righty Steve Cishek, according to Berardino (via Twitter). The sidearmer has been left as one of the top remaining free-agent setup men after a spate of signings at the Winter Meetings. He finished the 2017 season on a strong run with the Rays.
    • The Orioles have at least checked in on Pirates ace Gerrit Cole, according to Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Certainly, Baltimore isn’t the only organization that would love to add Cole, whose name has arisen in chatter a few times in recent days. Whether the Bucs are really ready to deal him isn’t entirely clear; neither is it certain just what the club would seek in return. Yesterday, though, Buster Olney of ESPN.com gave perhaps the clearest indication yet that Pittsburgh may be prepared to strike an agreement, tweeting that there’s a belief from some around the game that Pittsburgh would pull the trigger if the right deal came across its desk.
    • Mariners GM Jerry Dipoto says his team is in the “red zone” on a deal, likely for a reliever, in an appearance on MLB Network Radio on Sirius XM (Twitter link). Jim Bowden of MLB Network Radio tweets that Juan Nicasio is a “strongly rumored possibility,” though clearly that’s not a firm connection at this point. And it’s certainly worth noting that the M’s have, in fact, struck agreement on a trade since Dipoto went on the air — though it’s not clear whether the minor acquisition was the one he was referring to. Perhaps Dipoto was giving a nod to that swap, but it’s also possible there’s a more significant move still in store. Regardless, the M’s are clearly focused on pitching, as Dipoto has made clear and TJ Cotterill of the Tacoma News Tribune reports.
    • The Astros are weighing a reunion with lefty Francisco Liriano, according to Jake Kaplan of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter). Long a starter, the 34-year-old was added by the ’Stros at the 2017 trade deadline and moved into a relief role. He did not exactly thrive in that job initially, allowing seven earned runs and posting an ugly 11:10 K/BB ratio in his 14 1/3 frames over twenty appearances. Liriano will presumably also draw some looks from organizations that would propose to give him a shot at rediscovering his form as a starter.
    • Another lefty, Tony Watson, is a possible target for the Athletics, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. The 32-year-old has plenty of late-inning experience and finished strong after a mid-season swap to the Dodgers. In twenty innings with L.A., Watson posted a 2.70 ERA with 8.1 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Considering Backup Catchers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109824 2017-12-13T16:38:40Z 2017-12-13T16:38:40Z
  • Rosenthal also notes within that piece that the Giants, Blue Jays, Rangers and Twins are all looking for backup catchers as well. Any from that bunch could stand out as a reasonable landing spot for Avila, though he’s stated that his preference is to play for a contender even if it comes at the expense of some playing time. Jonathan Lucroy is the biggest name on the catching market but probably doesn’t wish to serve as a backup option; Rene Rivera, Nick Hundley and Chris Stewart are among the other available catchers.

    [SOURCE LINK]
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Sign Michael Pineda]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109803 2017-12-13T17:05:46Z 2017-12-13T14:44:03Z The Twins have announced a two-year deal with righty Michael Pineda. The former Yankees righty is still working back from Tommy John surgery. He receives a $10MM guarantee, split into consecutive $2MM and $8MM salaries.

    "Jul

    Pineda can also add up to $3MM via incentives, per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press, on Twitter. He’ll land half a million upon reaching 150 innings and for every ten frames thereafter, Jon Heyman of Fan Rag tweets, maxing out upon hitting 200 frames.

    Pineda, who turns 29 in January, went under the knife in mid-July of 2017, so he’s certain to miss the bulk of the coming season. But it’s possible he could return late in the year. Clearly, though, the deal is aimed primarily at achieving value in the ensuing campaign.

    Much like Drew Smyly, who went to the Cubs yesterday (also on a $10MM deal), Pineda seems to offer ample upside. Though he carried only a 4.56 ERA over the past three seasons, Pineda has tantalized with his power arsenal and maintained 9.5 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 in that span.

    Despite sparkling grades from fielding-independent pitching measures, home runs have to this point been a problem that Pineda has not solved. His rate of long balls permitted has steadily risen in each of his four years in the Bronx, topping out in 2017 at 1.87 per nine with a 22.5% HR/FB rate.

    There are also health questions that go beyond the TJ recovery process. Pineda has dealt with significant shoulder problems in the past, though he had recovered to the point that he took the ball 59 times over the 2015-16 campaigns.

    Regardless, it’s an intriguing move for a Minnesota organization that has a few unsettled spots in the current and future rotation. If the club can sustain contention as it did in 2017, it’s also imaginable that Pineda could return somewhat sooner and function as a possible impact reliever down the stretch.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Darvish, Gimenez, Belisle, Kintzler, Colon, Shaw]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109691 2017-12-12T23:06:40Z 2017-12-12T23:06:40Z
  • The Twins have been in touch with their own free agents (including Bartolo Colon, Matt Belisle and Chris Gimenez) as well as the agent of former Twins closer Brandon Kintzler, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports (Twitter link).
  • Interestingly, Gimenez has also been answering Yu Darvish’s questions about Minnesota, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.  Gimenez was Darvish’s personal catcher when the two played together for the Rangers.  The Twins are known to be exploring the possibility of making an uncharacteristic big splash by signing Darvish, and the pitcher is apparently also doing his homework on the club.
  • One name apparently not on Minnesota’s target list is veteran reliever Bryan Shaw, as Mike Berardino (Twitter link) reports that the Twins “haven’t shown much interest” in the righty.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Pitching Market Rumblings: Brewers, Rays, Duffy, Nicasio, Arrieta]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109592 2017-12-12T17:59:15Z 2017-12-12T17:28:06Z Starting pitching is in the news this morning, with several notable names being discussed. But there are a whole lot of other moving pieces out there. Let’s run down the latest chatter on the pitching market:

    • The Brewers have chatted with the Rays about their potential rotation trade pieces, according to Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel (via Twitter), who cautions that there’s no indication to this point that “any traction was made.” It’s not immediately clear which Tampa Bay hurlers have piqued the interest of the Milwaukee front office, though surely they’d have the trade pieces necessary to swing a deal for just about anyone. Chris Archer remains the big name to watch, though we don’t yet know whether he’s truly available. The Brewers could conceivably have interest in other pitchers, too, including veteran Jake Odorizzi, but it’s all speculation at this stage.
    • Meanwhile, the Brewers are said to have interest in righty Jesse Chavez, Haudricourt also tweets. We heard yesterday the veteran swingman was likely to find a new home this week.
    • Veteran closer Fernando Rodney has met with the Rangers and Twins, per MLB.com’s TR Sullivan (via Twitter) and Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). It’s not clear at this point how serious the interest is, though Rodney might conceivably be an option for either club, both of which have largely unsettled ninth-inning plans.
    • Another interesting possibility on the rotation market is Royals lefty Danny Duffy. He has drawn interest from the Cubs, per Robert Murray of Fan Rag. Indeed, K.C. has been contacted by rivals on Duffy and a few other notably interesting assets, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan tweets. It’s entirely unclear at this point what kinds of scenarios might be pondered on Duffy, but the Royals will surely want a significant return for a player they only recently extended. His contract runs through 2021 and promises him $60MM. While a DUI arrest and elbow surgery introduce some uncertainty into the situation, from a pure on-field perspective Duffy remains a valuable asset as he nears his 29th birthday.
    • The Mets are among the organizations with interest in free agent righty Juan Nicasio, according to Tyler Kepner of the New York Times (via Twitter). The 31-year-old pitched quite well throughout 2017, both before and after an odd series of August transactions. He ended the year with a 2.61 ERA over 72 1/3 innings, with 9.0 K/9 and 2.5 BB/9.
    • We’ve heard some possibility that the Nationals could have interest in free agent righty Jake Arrieta, and ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick tweets that agent Scott Boras is working to sell that potential fit to the team’s ownership. Then again, Chelsea Janes of the Washington Post characterizes the Nationals’ interest as “tepid” in a tweet. The division-rival Phillies are reportedly also a possibility, along with several other teams, as we covered this morning. Given that the Nats have an opening in their rotation, it isn’t at all surprising to hear that Boras is pushing for it to be filled by Arrieta; after all, his connection to the organization’s ownership is quite well-established by this point. Of course, adding yet another high-priced starter would carry some pretty notable risk for the organization, so it stands to reason that the club will explore other possibilities before deciding whether to join the pursuit of the 31-year-old Arrieta. Crasnick also takes a broader look at Arrieta’s still-developing market, including an extensive examination of Boras’s marketing strategy.
    • While there is action at the top of the pitching market, the Blue Jays seem to be taking a patient approach, as Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca writes. While GM Ross Atkins says there’s a lack of depth in the rotation market, he also has indicated no interest in pushing hard to strike a deal. It seems the organization’s inclination remains to seek value in bolstering the rotation depth.
    • For the Diamondbacks, meanwhile, the team may at least be preparing to consider deals involving some fairly surprising players. Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic runs down the team’s options for trade candidates who might free up some payroll space and enable the team to achieve future value. At the top of the list are center fielder A.J. Pollock and lefty Patrick Corbin. Meanwhile, the D-Backs are certainly still looking to field a competitor in the near term as well. They are one team with some level of interest in reliever Seung-Hwan Oh, according to Murray. Oh was not able to match his compelling MLB debut season in 2017, but still posted 8.2 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 while carrying a 4.10 ERA over 59 1/3 innings.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Chris Archer Drawing Plenty Of Interest]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109530 2017-12-12T05:17:24Z 2017-12-12T05:17:24Z Rays right-hander Chris Archer is drawing widespread interest early in the Winter Meetings, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. The Braves, Brewers, Twins, Cardinals and Cubs are some of the teams eyeing Archer, according to Topkin.

    Given that Archer’s one of the most valuable trade chips in the game, his popularity around the majors isn’t a surprise. He’d surely bring back a significant haul in a deal, thereby helping the Rays improve an already strong farm system, but it’s unclear whether he’ll be among the veterans the payroll-cutting club parts with this offseason. If the long-struggling Rays opt for a rebuild, which they may have to strongly consider in the wake of the division-rival Yankees’ acquisition of Giancarlo Stanton, it could indeed bring about the end of the 29-year-old Archer’s tenure in Tampa Bay.

    Archer has been with the Rays since they acquired him from the Cubs – who, as mentioned, seem to want him back – in a 2011 trade centering on righty Matt Garza. He turned into a front-line starter in 2013, his first full major league season, and has pitched to a 3.63 ERA/3.46 FIP combination with 9.72 K/9 against 2.94 BB/9 in 967 career innings. Archer’s a workhorse, too, having made no fewer than 32 starts four years in a row.

    Archer’s now fresh off his third straight 200-inning season, in which he racked up 201 frames with an ERA (4.07) that doesn’t do justice to his performance. After all, the flamethrowing Archer finished behind only Chris Sale, Robbie Ray and the reigning Cy Young winners – Max Scherzer and Corey Kluber – in K/9 (11.15). He also walked a respectable 2.69 batters per nine and placed seventh among starters in swinging-strike rate (13.4 percent).

    Archer’s track record on the mound is clearly enticing, and the fact that his contract is among the league’s most team-friendly pacts significantly adds to his value. He’s controllable for the next four years for $34MM, including club options for 2020 and ’21. If the Rays do make an earnest bid to move him, then, it’s likely to spark a bidding war.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[FA Rumors: LoMo, Rox, Hunter, Mets, Kintzler, Brewers, O’s, Tigers, Jays]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109497 2017-12-11T23:41:02Z 2017-12-11T23:41:02Z The latest free agent rumors…

    • Contrary to a report from Sunday, the Rockies haven’t had any discussions about signing first baseman Logan Morrison, per Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post (Twitter link).
    • Reliever Tommy Hunter has emerged as a “prime target” for the Mets in their search for bullpen help, according to Marc Carig of Newsday (on Twitter). The 31-year-old right-hander was quietly excellent over 58 2/3 innings with the Rays in 2017, recording a 2.61 ERA and putting up 9.82 K/9 against 2.15 BB/9.
    • Count the Diamondbacks among those interested in reliever Brandon Kintzler, tweets ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, who expects the former Twins closer to land a two-year deal. Kintzler suggested last month that his wife is rooting for him to sign with Arizona. The Twins continue to monitor him, and they’ve also checked in on almost every other available pitcher, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey revealed (Twitter link via Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com).
    • Brewers GM David Stearns said Monday that he’s likely to “cross paths” at the Winter Meetings with the agents for second baseman Neil Walker and reliever Anthony Swarzak, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel tweets. Walker and Swarzak ended last season with the Brewers after coming over in trades and performed quite well during their short stints in Milwaukee.
    • Although the Orioles badly need starters, they’re not inclined to dole out long deals. GM Dan Duquette suggested to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun and other reporters Monday that four- to five-year pacts for pitchers generally don’t work out well (Twitter link). On the other hand, Duquette hasn’t closed the door on re-signing righty Chris Tillman, who figures to be an affordable, short-term pickup after enduring a dreadful 2017 (Twitter link via Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com).
    • As is the case with Baltimore, the Tigers are in the market for a starter who won’t require a long commitment, GM Al Avila informed reporters (via Evan Woodbery of MLive.com, on Twitter). Detroit is open to reeling in another starter on a one-year deal to join the just-signed Mike Fiers.
    • The Blue Jays are engaging with multiple starters and relievers, GM Ross Atkins told Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet and other reporters Monday. They “will most likely add an infielder,” too, and are looking at outfielders, Atkins said (Twitter link).
    • The Rangers are considering signing catcher Rene Rivera, per Jon Heyman of FanRag (Twitter link). The righty-hitting Rivera, who was with the Mets and Cubs last year, batted .252/.305/.431 in 237 plate appearances. Behind the plate, he caught an excellent 38 percent of would-be base stealers (10 percent above the league average) and, as has been the case for most of his career, held his own as a framer.
    • Right-hander Jesse Chavez appears likely to sign this week, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes tweets. The 34-year-old Chavez spent last season with the Angels and posted an ugly 5.35 ERA across 138 innings and 38 appearances (21 starts), though he did log acceptable strikeout and walk rates (7.76 K/9, 2.93 BB/9).
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins To Sign Yunior Severino]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109062 2017-12-09T02:24:21Z 2017-12-09T02:24:21Z The Twins have reached agreement on a deal with former Braves prospect Yunior Severino, as MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez was first to report on Twitter. Severino will receive a $2.5MM bonus, so long as his physical checks out.

    Severino was one of the prospects that was stripped from the Atlanta organization for its international signing violations. Unlike the others, he’ll now receive more in bonus money than he did initially. (He’ll get to keep his initial $1.9MM payout, too.)

    It seems the Twins will be dipping into next year’s pool money for the signing. The ad hoc rules put in place for this group of players allow for teams to use either their current pool or next year’s pool, but not both. Minnesota shipped out a big chunk of its remaining 2017-18 availability on Wednesday in a pair of deals (here and here), leaving insufficient funds to accommodate Severino.

    Severino, a switch-hitting middle infielder who recently turned 18, slashed .286/.345/.444 in his 206 plate appearances in the Gulf Coast League in 2017. He’s known more for his bat, as that showing suggests, but seems to have quite some promise. Indeed, he’ll end up scoring a larger second signing bonus than did the more heralded Kevin Maitan, who signed recently with the Angels for $2.2MM.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Sign Three Players To Minor League Deals]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=109013 2017-12-08T14:45:55Z 2017-12-08T14:45:55Z
  • The Twins have signed infielders Brock Stassi, Gregorio Petit and Leonardo Reginatto to minor league deals, tweets MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger. Stassi, 28, made his big league debut with the Phillies last season, totaling 90 PAs with a .167/.278/.295 batting line and a pair of homers. The first baseman/corner outfielder has a lifetime .261/.354/.407 slash in 638 Triple-A PAs. Petit, 33 this weekend, has a .643 OPS in 426 PAs across parts of five big league seasons and can play second base, shortstop or third base. He’s a .267/.317/.370 hitter in parts of 10 Triple-A seasons. As for Reginatto, the Brazilian-born infielder will return to the Twins for a third season after hitting .303/.369/.390 in a utility role with the Twins’ Triple-A affiliate in 2017.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Marte, Maki]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108965 2017-12-08T02:51:34Z 2017-12-08T02:51:34Z
  • Although the Twins voided their contract with Dominican shortstop prospect Jelfry Marte last month after he failed a physical, they still “have a shot” to re-sign the 16-year-old, according to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press (on Twitter). Marte’s next deal will unsurprisingly come with a lesser bonus than the $3MM the Twins had given him, relays Berardino, who adds that there are “no hard feelings” between the player and the team. The Twins made two trades on Wednesday that reduced their remaining international bonus pool space for 2017-18, but they still have $1.25MM available, Berardino notes.
  • The Twins have hired Pete Maki as their minor league pitching coordinator, Aaron Fitt of D1Baseball.com reports (on Twitter). Maki had been on Duke University’s staff since July 2015, serving as its pitching coach for two seasons. Duke had a combined four pitchers come off the board in the previous two drafts, the highest being fifth-rounder Bailey Clark (Cubs, No. 164) in 2016.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Acquire Jacob Pearson From Angels In Exchange For International Bonus Money]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108892 2017-12-07T04:32:57Z 2017-12-07T02:35:17Z 8:35pm: The Twins announced the trade and confirmed that they’re sending $1MM in international allocations.

    8:22pm: Rosenthal tweets that the Angels, like the Mariners, are adding $1MM in their deal with the Twins. That pushes their pool up to $2.315MM.

    8:18pm: After trading away $1MM of their international bonus pool to the Mariners, the Twins are set to trade away another portion of their pool to the Angels in exchange for outfield prospect Jacob Pearson, Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (on Twitter). Minnesota has $2.245MM available to send to Anaheim in the deal. Pearson, Rosenthal notes, was the Angels’ third-round pick in the 2017 draft and received a $1MM signing bonus.

    The Angels still trail the Rangers ($3.535MM) and Mariners ($2.5575MM) in overall international bonus money, but they’re nevertheless positioned to put forth one of the best financial offers to Shohei Ohtani. All four of the NL clubs reported to be among the finalists — the Cubs, Padres, Giants and Dodgers — are capped at a $300K offer as penalization for prior overages in international free agency.

    The Twins will pick up a recent third-rounder who was considered to be the fifth-best prospect in the Angels’ farm, per Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, and now slots in 22nd among Twins farmhands per those same rankings.

    Pearson, 19, batted just .226/.304/.284 in 40 games this past summer in his pro debut with Anaheim’s Rookie-level Arizona League affiliate. However, Callis and Mayo laud his bat speed in their free scouting report and tout him as a plus runner who will eventually have 20-homer, 20-steal potential. Arm strength is an issue following a torn labrum in high school, Callis and Mayo note, though it’s certainly possible that he improves in that regard as he distances himself from surgery. Pearson played 60 innings in center during his debut campaign and another 278 in left field.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Acquire David Banuelos From Mariners In Exchange For International Bonus Money]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108890 2017-12-07T02:37:05Z 2017-12-07T02:12:57Z The Mariners announced that they’ve traded catching prospect David Banuelos to the Twins in exchange for international bonus money. Minnesota has also announced the deal, revealing that they’re sending $1MM of their $3.245MM pool to Seattle in the deal.

    For the Mariners, the money added in tonight’s deal will allow them to pad their offer to Shohei Ohtani. Seattle’s international pool now sits at $2.5575MM, which still leaves them shy of the Rangers’ leading pool of $3.535MM but nonetheless allows them to sweeten their offer. Money, of course, isn’t thought to be the deciding factor when it comes to choosing a landing spot for Ohtani, but those of the seven finalists that are allowed to offer him more than $300K unsurprisingly appear to be putting forth their best effort to maximize their spending capacity. The Angels, for instance, are also set to reel in $1MM in bonus money from the Twins in a trade of their own.

    The Twins will pick up a prospect that ranked 10th in a weak Mariners farm system, per MLB.com’s organizational rankings. Banuelos, 21, will give the Twins an intriguing prospect at what had been a relatively thin position in the organization. Seattle selected him in the fifth round of the 2017 draft out of Cal State Long Beach, and he went on to bat .236/.331/.394 with four homers and eight doubles in in short-season Class-A this summer. Banuelos, who threw out 38 percent of would-be base thieves, draws praise from MLB.com’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo for his plus arm behind the plate and strong plate discipline/on-base skills.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mariners Finalizing Trade To Acquire International Bonus Money From Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108886 2017-12-07T02:09:55Z 2017-12-07T02:07:32Z The Mariners and Twins are closing in on a deal that would send international bonus money from Minnesota to Seattle, reports MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (on Twitter). Feinsand’s colleague, Jon Morosi, had recently tweeted that the Twins were likely to trade international funds to one of the seven finalists for Shohei Ohtani tonight.

    The Twins have $3.245MM in their international pool after their $3MM deal with prospect Jelfry Marte fell through due to an issue on his physical. The Twins had hoped to utilize that money to pursue Ohtani themselves, but after being informed they’d miss out on him, reports indicated that they’d be willing to part with some of that pool in trades with potential Ohtani suitors.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Could Deal International Money]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108726 2017-12-05T06:38:41Z 2017-12-05T05:31:41Z
  • Now that the Twins are out of the chase for Shohei Ohtani, the team could consider dealing some of its remaining international pool money, LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reports. Minnesota has a relatively hefty $3.245MM of pool capacity to work with and could offer that up to teams looking to bolster their coffers for an Ohtani signing. Of course, there are also a variety of potential targets left on the international amateur market.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Mariners, Giants, Padres, Rangers, Cubs, Angels Among Teams To Meet With Shohei Ohtani]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108603 2017-12-04T05:40:13Z 2017-12-04T05:40:33Z 11:40pm: The Angels are indeed one of the finalists, as per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (via Twitter).

    10:39pm: The Angels are thought by “multiple sources” to be one of the finalists, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan tweets.  The Tigers are out of the running, according to Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press.

    8:59pm: The Rangers and Cubs will both meet with Ohtani, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports (Twitter link), and they’re also the only two non-West Coast teams who appear to still be alive in the candidate process.  The Rangers, Grant notes, have yet to comment on their status one way or the other.

    7:22pm: The Nationals won’t be receiving a meeting, the Washington Post’s Chelsea Janes reports (Twitter link).

    6:58pm: The Braves are out, ESPN.com’s Jerry Crasnick reports (via Twitter).

    6:50pm: The Padres will receive a meeting with Ohtani, FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reports (Twitter links).  The Dodgers are also thought to still be active in the Ohtani sweepstakes though Heyman doesn’t have confirmation; regardless, the Dodgers aren’t thought to be favorites to land Ohtani.

    6:38pm: The Rays, Cardinals and White Sox are out, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Marc Topkin, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and USA Today’s Bob Nightengale (all Twitter links).

    6:15pm: The Diamondbacks won’t receive a meeting, Ken Rosenthal tweets.

    6:12pm: The Blue Jays, Pirates, and Brewers are all out, as respectively reported by Sportsnet.ca’s Shi Davidi, MLB.com’s Adam Berry, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Haudricourt (all Twitter links).

    5:48pm: The Mets are also out, as per Joel Sherman of the New York Post (Twitter link).

    5:38pm: Ohtani’s list is “heavy” on West Coast teams, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports, though the Cubs may still be involved.  Not every west-based team is included, however, as The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal tweets that the A’s aren’t involved.

    5:28pm: The Red Sox are also out of the running, president of baseball ops Dave Dombrowski told Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe.  The Twins also won’t be getting a meeting with Ohtani, Heyman tweets.

    5:16pm: The Giants and Mariners are among the teams that will receive meetings with Shohei Ohtani and his representatives next week, Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reports (Twitter link).  It isn’t known who the other finalists are in the Ohtani sweepstakes, though the Yankees are one of the teams that didn’t make the cut, as Yankees GM Brian Cashman told reporters (including NJ.com’s Brendan Kuty and MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch).

    According to Cashman, Ohtani seems to be leaning towards West Coast teams in smaller markets.  This ties to a report from FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman saying that Ohtani’s reps are informing teams that the two-way star would prefer to play in a smaller market.

    The news adds another fascinating layer to the Ohtani sweepstakes, which was already one of the more intriguing free agent pursuits in recent memory.  Given the seeming lack of immediate financial motive that inspired Ohtani’s move to Major League Baseball, it opened the door for every team in baseball (regardless of market or payroll size) to make a push for the 23-year-old.  There had been speculation that Ohtani might look to avoid playing in a larger market, so this apparent confirmation creates a realistic possibility that he will land with a team that wouldn’t normally be considered a favorite to land such a coveted free agent.

    Of course, San Francisco isn’t exactly a small market, though Ohtani wouldn’t necessarily be the center of attention on a club with such established stars as Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner (and maybe even Giancarlo Stanton in the near future).  Playing for an NL team, however, would force Ohtani into a pinch-hitting or even a part-time outfield role for the at-bats he seeks in his attempt to be a two-way player in the big leagues.  The Mariners do have such a DH spot available (in a timeshare with Nelson Cruz), and were considered to be a contender for Ohtani given their long history of Japanese players.

    The Yankees also have had several significant Japanese players on their past and current rosters, and were widely seen as one of the major favorites for Ohtani’s services from a financial (in terms of available international bonus money) and positional (openings at DH and in the rotation) standpoint, not to mention their international fame and their young core of talent ready to make a World Series push.  With Ohtani now out of the picture, the Yankees could move to signing more pitching depth — a reunion with C.C. Sabathia has been widely speculated as a possibility — or a veteran bat to serve as designated hitter, if the club doesn’t just rotate its DH days to find plate appearances for everyone on the current roster.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Had Talks With Aaron Boone About Front Office Position]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108635 2017-12-04T04:03:48Z 2017-12-04T04:03:48Z
  • The Twins and Aaron Boone recently had mutual interest in a front office role before Boone was hired to be the Yankees’ new manager, according to Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (hat tip to 1500ESPN.com’s Darren Wolfson).
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[AL Central Notes: Twins, Tigers, Abreu]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108503 2017-12-02T22:45:06Z 2017-12-02T18:21:22Z Darren Wolfson of KSTP tweeted today that while the Twins remain “engaged and interested” in regards to a few big name free agent pitchers, there’s no indication yet that they are “in heavily” on anyone. While that can change quickly, Wolfson acknowledges that the trade market is also a very real possibility. It would seem that Minnesota is in a position to take their time in exploring all possible options. It makes plenty of sense to wonder whether the Twins might wait to see where Shohei Ohtani signs before making any significant pitching acquisitions. The market for pitching is likely to hold fast until the two-way Japanese sensation picks a landing spot, and on the off-chance that he chooses Minnesota, they might be able to focus their resources on other areas of the roster. A particularly weak bullpen comes to mind as another area the Twins will need to improve upon if they expect to contend again in 2018.

    More notes out of the American League’s central division…

    • While the Tigers probably won’t be serious pursuers of big name free agents this offseason, Katie Strang of The Athletic provides a short list of potential bargain buys for a depleted Detroit rotation. Strang notes that Michael Fulmer is coming off elbow surgery, while veteran Jordan Zimmerman has spent the offseason overhauling his delivery in hopes to return to form after a disastrous 2017 season. Beyond them, Matthew Boyd and Daniel Norris aren’t sure bets to hold down rotation spots. Chris Tillman, Miles Mikolas and Clay Buchholz are some interesting names Strang suggests as options for the Tigers to explore. While none are particularly exciting, they all have some upside as comeback players and could eat innings for Detroit in 2018.
    • Although the Red Sox are players for White Sox slugger Jose AbreuScott Lauber of ESPN notes that the south siders are reportedly asking for “an arm and a leg” in exchange for their first baseman. Boston might not have the prospects necessary to swing a deal; the White Sox were able to land huge hauls for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton last offseason and might be holding out for a similar return for Abreu. The Cuban native has put up a .301/.359/.524 batting line for his four-year major league career. His slugging percentage and 124 home runs both rank 13th in the majors during that span, while his 410 RBI rank 5th. MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk recently detailed the trade market for Abreu.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Sign Ryan LaMarre, Bobby Wilson, Myles Jaye, Willians Astudillo]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108284 2017-12-01T06:32:23Z 2017-12-01T04:30:02Z
  • Joining the Twins on minor-league pacts are outfielder Ryan LaMarre, catcher Bobby Wilson, righty Myles Jaye, and catcher/infielder Willians Astudillo, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger tweets. LaMarre has reached the majors very briefly in each of the past three seasons; he spent most of last year at Triple-A with the Athletics and Angels organizations, slashing just .247/.328/.300 in 194 plate appearances. The 34-year-old Wilson, an eight-year MLB veteran, hit .243/.318/.428 for the Dodgers’ top affiliate lat year and will likely head to Rochester for depth. Jaye, who’ll soon turn 26, struggled in his first chance at the game’s highest level last year but has also compiled three consecutive sub-4.00 ERA seasons in the upper minors. The versatile Astudillo — the only member of this group that hasn’t tasted the bigs — posted great numbers in limited action at Triple-A last year but is a lifetime .750 OPS hitter in the minors.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins, Ryan LaMarre Agree To Minor League Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=108195 2017-11-30T04:42:39Z 2017-11-29T23:23:15Z
  • Outfielder Ryan LaMarre has latched on with the Twins on a minors pact as well. The 29-year-old has seen fleeting big league time with the Reds, Red Sox and A’s over the past three seasons but collected just a pair of hits and a pair of walks in 40 trips to the dish. LaMarre can handle all three outfield spots and owns a lifetime .268/.335/.388 slash in parts of five Triple-A seasons. He’s a right-handed bat, which could pair well with the Twins’ lefty swinging corner outfielders (Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler) should the team need a fourth outfielder at some point in ’18, though he doesn’t come with a standout track record against left-handed pitching.

    [SOURCE LINK]
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Byung-Ho Park Returns To KBO’s Nexen Heroes]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107993 2017-11-28T05:12:35Z 2017-11-28T05:11:28Z TODAY: Park says he does not “have any regrets” despite heading home with some “disappointment” after two years in affiliated ball, according to a report from Lee Hyeong-Seok and Kim Hyo-Kyung of Korea JoongAng Daily (h/t Dan Kurtz of MyKBO.net). The article seemingly suggests that Park will walk away from the remainder of his guaranteed money from the Twins, preferring to give up some earnings in order to make it back to the KBO, though it’s also still possible that the interested parties are hammering out the financial details.

    YESTERDAY, 10:28pm: The details of Park’s return (such as his walking away from the remainder of his MLB contract) haven’t yet been finalized between the Heroes, the KBO and the Twins, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.  “It will be a while before it is all worked out,” a source with knowledge of the situation tells Berardino, though the Twins are expected to ultimately release Park.

    10:02pm: Park will forfeit the remaining $6.5MM on his Twins contract in order to facilitate the move to KBO, as per a Naver Sports report (hat tip to Sung Min Kim of the River Ave Blues blog).

    8:57pm: The Nexen Heroes of the KBO League have signed first baseman Byung-Ho Park to a one-year deal, Jeeho Yoo of Yonhap News reports (Twitter links).  Park will earn $1.4MM (or 1.5 billion South Korean won) in the contract.

    According to Yoo, the Twins accommodated Park’s request to release him from the remaining two years on his original four-year, $12MM contract with the club in order for Park to return to his home country.  Unless some type of arrangement was worked out between the Twins and the Heroes, Minnesota is on the hook for all of the remaining $6.5MM on Park’s MLB contract — $3MM in each of the 2018 and 2019 seasons, plus a $500K buyout of a $6.5MM club option for 2020.

    The transaction officially ends a disappointing tenure for Park in Major League Baseball.  The Twins paid $12.85MM to win negotiating rights with Park in December 2015 and then guaranteed him another $12MM with that four-year deal.  The result was a .191/.275/.409 slash line with 12 homers over 244 plate appearances in 2016, as Park had trouble making contact (80 strikeouts) and also battled a wrist injury that eventually required surgery.  Minnesota outrighted him off their 40-man roster last February and Park never again reached the bigs, hitting .253/.308/.415 over 455 PA at the Triple-A level last season.

    Park was reportedly still in the Twins’ plans for 2018, as he was even preparing to spend much of the offseason training at the team’s facilities.  Still, Park was signed before the Derek Falvey/Thad Levine regime took over in Minnesota, so it could be that the new front office just wanted to part ways with a player that no longer seemed to fit on the 25-man roster.  Joe Mauer is still entrenched at first base, and while the DH slot is currently slated to be filled by the uninspiring duo of Robbie Grossman and Kennys Vargas, the Twins are interested in Shohei Ohtani and are surely open to using the two-way star as a designated hitter when he isn’t on the mound.  Even if Ohtani can’t be signed, Miguel Sano may also be a candidate for more DH time as the slugger recovers from leg surgery.

    Park now returns to the KBO League, where he posted superstar numbers over parts of nine seasons from 2005-15 (including four-plus years with Nexen Heroes).  Park hit .281/.387/.564 with 210 homers over 3271 PA in South Korea, an impressive enough showing to catch the eye of the Twins and other teams in the 2015-16 offseason when Park expressed interest in coming to North America.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Yu Darvish, Shohei Ohtani Among Priorities For Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107925 2017-11-26T17:14:11Z 2017-11-26T17:05:33Z Speaking with Jim Duquette and Jim Bowden of Sirius XM Radio on Sunday, Twins general manager Thad Levine confirmed that the team is in the market for major pitching upgrades. Levine revealed that the Twins are actively talking with the agents for available starters Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb, among others, as well as representatives for various relievers (all Twitter links).  The executive specifically pointed to Darvish as “a priority,” and he used the same word to describe soon-to-be free agent Shohei Ohtani.

    “He’s a unique free agent, but we don’t know a lot about him personally yet,” Levine said of Ohtani. “It’s exciting for us because we have a chance to sign a player like him. He’s a top priority for us.”

    The three-week sweepstakes to sign Ohtani, a Japanese pitching and hitting superstar, appears likely to commence at the start of December. Had the 23-year-old Ohtani waited until the age of 25 to come to the majors, he would have been in line to sign a mega-deal, which may have ruled out a serious Twins pursuit. But the collective bargaining agreement will limit Ohtani to a low-cost minor league contract this offseason, thereby giving all teams some chance to sign him if they’re willing to pay a $20MM posting fee to his Japanese organization, the Nippon Ham Fighters, for his services. While money isn’t going to guide Ohtani’s decision this offseason, it’s notable anyway that the Twins have the third-most bonus pool space available ($3.245MM). That won’t hurt them in their chase, of course, but they’ll have to sell Ohtani on how he’d fit into their organization and city.

    Interestingly, there has been speculation that, because of the good relationship they forged in their homeland, Ohtani and Darvish, 31, could end up with the same team this winter as a sort of package deal. Landing the pair would be an enormous boon for anyone, including Minnesota, which snapped a six-year playoff drought in 2017 despite an underwhelming showing from its rotation. Twins starters ranked 19th in the majors in ERA (4.73) and 22nd in fWAR (7.7) last season, so the need for quality hurlers to complement Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios is obvious.

    Considering Darvish could pull in the richest contract of the offseason, many would expect him to land outside of small-market Minnesota’s price range. However, the club is well positioned to make a bold strike in free agency this winter, as MLBTR’s Steve Adams explained earlier this month. The team itself seems to agree, judging by the established free agents it’s currently pursuing, and it’s worth noting that Levine is already familiar with Darvish from their time together in Texas.

    When the Rangers landed Darvish out of Japan in 2012, Levine was their assistant GM. That experience might help during Ohtani’s recruitment, as could the fact that the Twins aren’t exactly set at designated hitter. By most accounts, Ohtani has enough offensive talent to collect regular at-bats in the majors, so he could emerge as the DH for a Minnesota team that only received average production there from Robbie Grossman and Kennys Vargas last season.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Possible Twins Pitching Targets]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107726 2017-11-23T14:01:41Z 2017-11-22T16:37:32Z
  • While the Twins are said to be taking a look at a variety of controllable starters, there’s “no indication” at this point that they have engaged with the Rays on Chris Archer or the Marlins on Dan Straily, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). It stands to reason, though, that both would at least draw internal consideration. The former is quite a lofty target for any team, as he’d draw huge interest if he’s made available in trade talks. The latter is a useful hurler in his own right after turning in solid results for two consecutive years. Straily’s affordable control would surely hold some appeal to Minnesota, though for the same reason the Marlins will likely set forth a relatively steep asking price for a starter who is noted more for his steadiness and contract than anything approaching dominant peripherals.
  • The Twins will need to chase down some relief arms, too. Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reports on his podcast (audio link) that the club has engaged the Padres on Brad Hand and the Rays on Alex Colome. Minnesota was previously reported to have chatted with the Reds about Raisel Iglesias, and these new names fit the same general profile as established late-inning arms with affordable remaining control. All will come with appropriately lofty price tags. Berardino also tweets that Cubs lefty Justin Wilson might represent a target for the Twins. Having struggled last year upon landing in Chicago, Wilson could conceivably become available, though that’s far from certain. Minnesota eyed the power southpaw in the past, says Berardino, though that occurred before the current front office leadership came into office.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Have Explored Trades For Gerrit Cole, Jake Odorizzi]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107707 2017-11-22T02:43:43Z 2017-11-22T02:43:43Z The Twins are known to be on the hunt for rotation upgrades and have already been linked to top free agents Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, but they’re also poking around the trade market. Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Minnesota has spoken to the Pirates about Gerrit Cole and also engaged the Rays in discussions on Jake Odorizzi (Twitter links). Both righties come with two remaining years of team control.

    It’s not at all clear that the Pirates intend to aggressively shop Cole this offseason, though as a low-payroll club Pittsburgh always has to willing to at least entertain offers for its top talents. Cole certainly falls into that category, though he had somewhat of a down season in 2017. The former No. 1 overall pick logged 203 innings with the Bucs, marking his second career 200-inning campaign, but he also posted a career-worst 4.26 ERA. That was largely attributable to to a massive spike in his homer-to-flyball ratio (15.9 percent), which led to a career-worst 1.37 HR/9 mark.

    However, Cole’s 2017 season also came with cause for optimism. The 27-year-old saw both his strikeout and walk rates bounce back from 2016, as he averaged 8.7 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9 while maintaining a solid ground-ball rate (45.8 percent) and averaging 96 mph on his fastball. Cole’s average exit velocity of 85.4 mph ranked in the top quarter of the league (100th out of 438 pitchers, min. 100 batted-ball events). MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz pegs Cole for a $7.5MM salary next season.

    As for Odorizzi, he’ll turn 28 in March and recently wrapped a season in which he tossed 143 1/3 innings with a 4.14 ERA, 8.0 K/9, 3.8 BB/9 and a more troubling 1.88 HR/9. Odorizzi has seen his walk and home-run rates increase each year since 2015. He’s averaged 30 starts per year in the past four seasons but has also averaged just 167 innings per year in that time. He’s projected to earn 6.5MM next year. As MLBTR’s Mark Polishuk noted in previewing the Rays’ offseason, Tampa Bay has a pretty notable payroll crunch, which could lead to plenty of Odorizzi chatter this season given his projected salary and relatively limited club control.

    Of course, the Twins have one of the largest figures that any team can offer Japanese star Shohei Ohtani ($3.245MM), and Berardino tweets that the team is indeed preparing its pitch for the potential ace. He also notes that Minnesota is focusing more on the rotation than the bullpen. Top-tier names like Wade Davis and Greg Holland aren’t likely to be on the Twins’ radar, he notes, though second-tier options will be in play as the offseason wears on.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Players Added To The 40-Man Roster]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107523 2017-11-21T01:48:28Z 2017-11-21T00:47:42Z As detailed earlier this morning at MLBTR, the deadline for Major League clubs to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from next month’s Rule 5 Draft is tonight. Because of that, there will be literally dozens of moves between now and 8pm ET as teams make final determinations on who to protect and who to risk losing in next month’s Rule 5 draft. This process will lead to smaller-scale trades, waiver claims and DFAs, but for some clubs the only necessary moves will simply be to select the contracts of the prospects they wish to place on the 40-man roster. We’ll track those such moves in this post…

    Click to check in on other teams that have selected players to their 40-man rosters …

    Read more

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Inside The Twins' Extension Candidates]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107502 2017-11-20T14:47:31Z 2017-11-20T05:58:28Z
  • Extensions could be a major element of the Twins’ offseason, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press writes that the club could look to gain cost certainty over one or more of their young players with a multi-year agreement.  Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were often part of extension talks in their past jobs with the Indians and Rangers; Berardino gets some interesting quotes from Ian Kinsler about his dealings with Levine in working out his two extensions with Texas.  for a lower-payroll team like Minnesota, though it’s worth noting that the Twins have no money at all on the books after the 2019 season.  Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Eddie Rosario are all a season away from arbitration eligibility, while Jose Berrios and other possible cornerstone players still have multiple pre-arb years remaining.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Void Contract Of International Signee Jelfry Marte]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107200 2017-11-15T15:34:47Z 2017-11-15T15:14:35Z The Twins have voided their contract with young Dominican shortstop Jelfry Marte, according to a report from Ben Badler of Baseball America. The 16-year-old had agreed to a $3MM bonus.

    Marte evidently did not pass his physical, with Badler citing a vision problem as the basis for the Twins’ action. The youngster is now a free agent and has begun once again showcasing for potential suitors.

    Entering the most recent July 2 signing period, Marte was viewed as a “true shortstop,” as Badler phrased it. While Marte’s glovework and speed on the bases tantalized, there were some questions about his future at the plate. Those interested in reading more can check out Badler’s full and excellent coverage (subscription link).

    Today’s news is fairly notable not only because it throws Marte back into the pool of open-market talent. It also leaves the Twins with a big chunk of international spending to work with even as other organizations are mostly tapped out.

    With the refund, Minnesota is just one of three teams with over $3MM in capacity.* That leaves the club in a better position than most rivals as just about every team in baseball lines up to pursue Japanese star Shohei Ohtani. The Twins could utilize those funds to chase Ohtani, trade them to another organization that wishes to do so, or instead deploy them for some of the remaining international talent. (Badler cites a few intriguing possibilities, including Cuban outfielder Julio Pablo Martinez, who is attempting to make it to the majors.)

    *This post initially stated that the savings from Marte’s voided contract would add to the team’s previously reported $3MM+ in available spending capacity. As BA’s J.J. Cooper notes in a tweet, the contract rescission is actually what creates the bulk of that availability.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Torey Lovullo, Paul Molitor Win Manager Of The Year Awards]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107160 2017-11-15T00:05:43Z 2017-11-14T23:51:44Z Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks and Paul Molitor of the Twins have been named Manager of the Year in their respective leagues, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced on Tuesday. As a reminder, voting was conducted prior to the postseason, so the results of the playoffs had no bearing on the award’s recipients.

    Torey Lovullo | Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

    Lovullo, 52, wins NL Manager of the Year honors in his first season as a big league manager. Lovullo inherited a club that went 69-93 in 2016 but was able to help the D-backs flip that record to 93 wins and 69 losses. Lovullo’s D-backs claimed the top Wild Card spot in the National League and remained competitive throughout the season, even as center fielder A.J. Pollock missed nearly two months on the disabled list and Shelby Miller missed nearly the entire season due to Tommy John surgery.

    Lovullo received 18 first-place votes and 111 voting points in the BBWAA’s weighted voting system, topping runner-up Dave Roberts of the Dodgers (five first-place votes, 55 points) and third-place finisher Bud Black of the Rockies (three first-place votes, 43 points) in the voting. Brewers skipper Craig Counsell finished fourth and took three first-place votes, while recently dismissed Nationals manager Dusty Baker finished fifth and received one first-place vote. A full breakdown of the voting can be seen here.

    Paul Molitor | Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

    Molitor’s Twins became the first club in Major League history to go from a 100-loss season to a playoff berth when they secured the second American League Wild Card spot. The Twins surprisingly led the American League Central for much of the first half before sliding into the middle of pack and looking to have largely fallen out of contention at the non-waiver trade deadline. Minnesota dealt closer Brandon Kintzler to the Nationals and left-hander Jaime Garcia to the Yankees after dropping six of seven games (while the red-hot Indians and Royals soared to the top of the division), but Molitor’s club proved to be resilient.

    From Aug. 1 through season’s end, the Twins went 35-24 as a number of their young talents surged in the second half. Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco and Eddie Rosario surged over the final couple of months, helping the Twins to fend off an Angels club that remained in contention for a Wild Card spot into the last week of the season.

    Molitor landed 18 first-place votes and finished with 112 points in the BBWAA’s voting system, as can be seen in the full breakdown of the voting. Indians skipper Terry Francona finished a close second with 11 first-place votes and 90 total points in the balloting. Astros skipper A.J. Hinch picked up the 30th and final first-place vote, finishing third in the balloting with 56 points. Former Yankees manager Joe Girardi was a frequent recipient of second- and third-place votes, rounding out the ballot with 12 points and a fourth-place finish.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins' Front Office Faces New Challenges]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107107 2017-11-14T21:01:15Z 2017-11-14T17:25:37Z
  • The Twins front office duo of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine faces quite a different situation in their second offseason with the franchise, as Phil Miller of the Star Tribune writes. Indeed, the team’s reported interest in some of the best free agent pitching serves to highlight the opportunities and expectations facing the organization this winter.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Looking At Top-Tier Free Agent Pitchers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=107120 2017-11-14T16:19:41Z 2017-11-14T16:19:41Z The Twins are taking an aggressive stance to open free agency, according to a report from Jon Heyman of Fan Rag. It seems the Minnesota organization is slated to engage at the top echelon of the pitching market.

    We’ve heard chatter previously about the Twins investing in an arm, but this news seemingly takes the interest to another level. Per Heyman, the front office is at least “looking at” top free-agent hurlers Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta, with a “slightly higher evaluation” of the former. Not only that, but the club is said to be “investigating” the best relievers available, including Wade Davis and Greg Holland.

    Just how much cash the Twins will pour into the open market remains an open question. As MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently explained, though, the organization not only seems ready to contend in a vulnerable AL Central, but has plenty of open future payroll space. That makes it plausible, albeit hardly certain, to imagine the Twins playing in a segment of free agency that is normally off limits.

    It’s not difficult to see why these particular pitchers would be of interest. Minnesota is clearly in need of at least one more quality starter and has an obvious opening at the back of the bullpen. As ever, though, getting the players with the greatest pedigree could mean taking uncomfortable amounts of financial risk.

    In this case, the expectation remains that Darvish and Arrieta will receive robust interest. MLBTR’s top 50 list features both among the top four players available, with $100MM or more in likely earnings. Meanwhile, Davis and Holland both warranted inclusion at the back of the top ten, with MLBTR predicting four-year deals for each (at $60MM and $50MM, respectively).

    There’s always some possibility that markets won’t develop as anticipated, of course. And patience can pay off in free agency. It’ll be interesting to see, then, whether the Twins go chasing these top hurlers out of the gates or instead take a somewhat more opportunistic approach. The club does have interest in second-tier starters and relievers, Heyman notes. It seems possible that such hurlers could be targeted for value early or that the Twins could hold back and see if a particularly enticing opportunity arises over the course of the winter.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Twins Interested In Raisel Iglesias]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106980 2017-11-12T23:43:58Z 2017-11-12T23:43:58Z The Twins have checked in with the Reds about a trade for closer Raisel Iglesias, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports (Twitter link).  Iglesias is one of several relievers Minnesota is “performing due diligence on” as the club looks to upgrade its bullpen for next season.

    Iglesias stands out as a logical target for any team in the market for saves, given that a closer is a luxury on a rebuilding team like Cincinnati.  Working as a full-time reliever for the first time, Iglesias just completed the best of his three MLB seasons, posting a 2.49 ERA, 10.89 K/9 and 3.41 K/BB over 76 innings.  Iglesias closed out 28-of-30 save opportunities while generating a career-high swinging strike rate (13.9%) on the strength of an excellent slider and a 96.4 mph fastball.

    Iglesias, who turns 28 in January, brings value both as a strong closer now and as a long-term asset who isn’t eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season.  As per the terms of his original seven-year, $27MM deal with the Reds, Iglesias had the right to opt out of his guaranteed salary (with the Reds still retaining team control) in any offseason once he became eligible for arbitration, in order to chase a potentially larger payday through the arb process.  MLBTR’s Matt Swartz projects Iglesias to earn $2.8MM through arbitration salary next season, so it is likely Iglesias will remain in his current deal for at least one winter, as his contract guarantees him $4.5MM in 2018.

    Iglesias is also slated to earn $5MM in both 2019 and 2020 if he doesn’t opt into arbitration, and then he’ll have one final arb-eligible year as a Super Two player in the 2020-21 offseason.  So while Iglesias’ price tag could potentially grow if he continues to rack up the saves, he’ll still be a cost-effective acquisition for a mid-market team like the Twins, particularly since Minnesota has very little salary on the books past the 2018 season.

    Brandon Kintzler and Matt Belisle handled most of the ninth-inning duties for the Twins last season, though Kintzler was traded at the deadline and Belisle is a free agent, leaving Minnesota in search of a new closer this winter.  The Twins didn’t get strong relief pitching in general in 2017, so it isn’t surprising that they’re looking at Iglesias and other notable bullpen arms on the trade and free agent fronts.  We’ve already heard that the Twins have checked in with Kintzler about possibly bringing the free agent righty back to Target Field.

    The Reds were only interested in hearing big trade offers for Iglesias last summer, and that asking price almost certainly hasn’t changed.  The Twins’ farm system is middle-of-the-pack in terms of prospects to offer (Minnesota was ranked 19th in Baseball America’s post-deadline organizational ranking) since they were a team that seemed to be headed into a rebuild themselves before their surprising AL wild card finish in 2017 changed their outlook.  If comes down to a prospect bidding war for Iglesias’ services, Minnesota might not have the young talent to meet the Reds’ needs.

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Hire Wesley Wright As Pro Scout]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106948 2017-11-12T04:10:35Z 2017-11-12T04:09:53Z
  • Former major league reliever Wesley Wright has ended his playing career to take a job as a pro scout with the Twins, according to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe. Wright, 32, combined for 307 innings with five teams – primarily the Astros – from 2008-15 and posted a 4.16 ERA, with 8.65 K/9 against 3.96 BB/9 and a 47.3 percent groundball rate. The left-hander held same-sided hitters to a weak .234/.313/.334 line along the way. Wright spent part of 2017 with the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate and got his release in July after struggling to a 4.88 ERA over 31 1/3 frames.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Have Reached Out To Brandon Kintzler]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106867 2017-11-10T22:29:49Z 2017-11-10T22:29:15Z
  • The Twins have already reached out to right-hander Brandon Kintzler about a possible reunion this winter, tweets Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Minnesota is one of a “handful” of teams to show early interest in the 33-year-old Kintzler, per Berardino, who also notes that the Nationals have interest in retaining the sinkerball specialist. Kintzler has turned in an ERA just over 3.00 in the past two seasons despite averaging scarcely better than five strikeouts per nine innings, thanks largely to his excellent control, lofty ground-ball rates and a dearth of hard contact allowed.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Offseason Outlook: Minnesota Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106787 2017-11-10T16:55:58Z 2017-11-10T02:55:13Z MLBTR is publishing Offseason Outlooks for all 30 teams. Click here for the other entries in this series.

    For the second time in three years, the Twins made a surprising push for the AL Wild Card. Unlike their 2015 campaign, though, Minnesota made it to the postseason this time around. The 2017 Twins look like a much more believable contender than the ’15 group, so chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine figure to approach this offseason much differently than the 2016-17 offseason.

    Guaranteed Contracts

    Arbitration-Eligible Players (service time in parentheses; projections via MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz)

    Free Agents

    [Minnesota Twins depth chart | Minnesota Twins payroll outlook]

    A lot went right for the 2017 Twins, who surprised baseball with an 85-win season and an American League Wild Card berth. That several top-rated young talents took steps forward this season means that much of the lineup is already set.

    Byron Buxton rebounded from an awful start to hit .274/.333/.452 over his final 459 plate appearances. Coupled with elite defense and baserunning, Buxton’s turnaround led to a 5-WAR season by measure of Baseball-Reference and 3.5 WAR by Fangraphs. Miguel Sano homered 28 times in 114 games, though he fouled a ball into his shin in August, resulting in a fracture that all but ended his season. He’s expected to be healthy by Spring Training after November surgery. Meanwhile, 26-year-old Eddie Rosario had a breakout year at the plate with 27 homers, improved K/BB numbers and a strong .290/.328/.507 overall line. Jorge Polanco was one of baseball’s worst hitters in July but erupted with a .316/.377/.553 slash over the final two months (234 PAs).

    The Twins also received contributions from veteran hitters that are expected to return. Brian Dozier was again one of the top second basemen in the game, hitting 34 homers and swiping 16 bags with a 124 wRC+. Joe Mauer turned back the clock with a .305/.384/.417 line — good for a 116 wRC+. Robbie Grossman walked at a near 15 percent clip and posted a .361 OBP.

    With Sano, Polanco, Dozier and Mauer set to return, the Twins could consider their infield largely set. Eduardo Escobar is on hand as an offensive-minded backup, while Ehire Adrianza can provide excellent defense at any infield spot. However, there’s also room yet to make an addition. With Grossman penciled in as the primary DH, the Twins could conceivably look to shift Sano to that spot on a more regular basis. That’d open up the possibility of signing an infielder for the left side of the diamond (e.g. Zack Cozart, Todd Frazier). Alternatively, the Twins could grab a first baseman like Carlos Santana or a corner bat like Carlos Gonzalez to mix in at DH. Santana would give the Twins two of the game’s better first-base defenders (Mauer rated quite well there in ’17) to rotate between first base and DH.

    The other spot the Twins could conceivably add would be in right field. Max Kepler is still just 24 years old (25 in February) and has shown plenty of promise in the Majors, but he’s yet to put it all together. An above-average defender who has shown the ability to hit for power, Kepler has also struggled against left-handed pitching, and he’s yet to hit righties well enough to truly compensate for that deficiency. Young Zack Granite profiles as a quality fourth outfielder, but he’s also a left-handed bat, so perhaps the Twins could pursue a right-handed bat in the Austin Jackson mold to at least provide Kepler with a platoon partner.

    Minnesota could also look to add a backup catcher to the fray. Castro provided slightly below-league-average offense (above-average relative to other catchers) and a massive defensive upgrade in Minnesota, so they’re likely content with him as the starter. Minnesota could simply opt to re-sign clubhouse favorite Gimenez or turn to prospect Mitch Garver to fill that role. Names like Chris Iannetta and Rene Rivera are among the right-handed-hitting alternatives that could pair well with the southpaw-swinging Castro. (Castro handled lefties just fine with a .737 OPS in 2017, but he’s historically struggled against same-handed opponents.)

    While the position-player side of the equation looks promising and gives the Twins the flexibility to be opportunistic, things aren’t as rosy on the pitching staff. Outside of Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, the Twins don’t have much in the way of rotation stability heading into 2017. Santana finished second in the Majors in innings pitched and turned in a 3.28 ERA, though secondary metrics were far less optimistic about his performance. At worst, he should be a durable innings-eater capable of posting an ERA in the low 4.00s, but he’s outperformed his peripherals for nearly two full years now and could again turn in a mid-3.00s mark. Berrios solidified himself as a Major Leaguer in ’17, and the Twins will now count on him to take a step forward in 2018. He won’t turn 24 until late May, and he comes with some yet-untapped potential despite a quality 3.89 ERA in 145 2/3 MLB innings this year.

    Kyle Gibson figures to return after once again teasing the Twins with a Jekyll and Hyde act. Gibson was one of baseball’s worst starters in the first half of the season, but the former first-rounder was Minnesota’s best pitcher in the second half. In 70 2/3 frames after the break, he turned in a 3.57 ERA with 8.3 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent grounder rate. We’ve seen this roller coaster ride out of Gibson before, but the strong finish likely spared him from a non-tender.

    Adalberto Mejia, who showed promise but needs to dramatically improve his efficiency to work deeper into games, is a candidate to grab the fourth spot in the rotation. Minnesota has a pair of top 100 pitching prospects on the cusp of MLB readiness in lefty Stephen Gonsalves and righty Fernando Romero, but both will open the season in Triple-A. Other candidates for the back of the rotation that are currently on the 40-man roster include Aaron Slegers, Felix Jorge and Dietrich Enns. Veteran Phil Hughes is a wild card after undergoing a thoracic outlet syndrome revision surgery this past summer, but he could also work out of the ’pen if he’s healthy enough to contribute.

    In short: there’s room to add to the rotation, and that’s perhaps where the greatest level of intrigue sits when looking at the Twins’ offseason. As recently explored at length here at MLBTR, the Twins have an extremely favorable long-term payroll outlook. They’re at about $85MM after arb projections for the 2018 season — some $30MM shy of their franchise-record payroll — but they’re set to see Joe Mauer’s $23MM salary come off the books after 2018. Minnesota has just $24MM guaranteed on the 2019 books and, somewhat incredibly, doesn’t have a single guaranteed dollar committed to the 2020 roster.

    The Twins, obviously, aren’t known for pursuing top-tier free agents. But with clubs like the Yankees, Giants, Red Sox and Rangers (among others) all unlikely to commit substantial dollars to starting pitching for various reasons this winter, the Twins could surprise. FanRag’s Jon Heyman has already linked the Twins to the very top levels of the free-agent market, including Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta plus noted second-tier arms Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. It’d still be a shock to see Minnesota commit $25MM+ annually to Darvish or Arrieta, but the club could realistically afford to do so — especially on a more backloaded deal. And, with the White Sox, Tigers and possibly Royals rebuilding within their division — there’s increased motivation to be aggressive and try to win right now.

    Nippon Professional Baseball star Shohei Ohtani is seemingly mentioned in all of our Offseason Outlooks, as he’d unequivocally make sense for any team. It’s at least worth noting a recent AP report that indicated the Twins have the third-most money remaining in their international pool to entice Ohtani (behind the Yankees and Rangers). One has to consider Minnesota a long-shot to sway Ohtani to sign, but it’s an avenue they’ll at the very least explore — and with more resources than most of their competitors. Their lack of a firm DH could also allow them to at least offer occasional at-bats to Ohtani there.

    As murky as things are in the Twins’ rotation, the bullpen may be even more unsettled. Sidearm righty Trevor Hildenberger was quietly excellent in his rookie season and has firmly entrenched himself in the team’s late-inning mix. Lefty Taylor Rogers turned in a solid sophomore season and will be back. Hard throwing Alan Busenitz posted a 1.99 ERA in 31 2/3 innings, but he didn’t show much of an ability to miss bats despite averaging nearly 96 mph on his heater. He’ll still likely receive another look. Fellow righty Ryan Pressly threw just as hard, missed more bats and racked up grounders while showing passable control — but a proclivity for serving up homers torpedoed his ERA. His combination of whiffs, grounders and solid control should earn him another chance. Tyler Duffey shined early in a multi-inning role but faded as the season wore on.

    The Twins will also have hard-throwing righty (and MLBTR contributor) Trevor May coming back from Tommy John surgery. He could factor into either the rotation or the bullpen mix, though it’s not yet certain which role the club envisions. Other ’pen candidates include righty John Curtiss and lefty Gabriel Moya, each of whom posted video-game numbers in the minors and earned a September call-up. J.T. Chargois, who missed most of the season with an elbow issue but has dominated upper-minors hitters, is another option, as are Jake Reed and Nick Burdi (once he returns from Tommy John surgery).

    It’s a long list of names that comes with minimal certainty. If the Twins expect to enter the season as contenders, they’ll need to stabilize the late innings. As is the case with regards to the rotation, the Twins have the payroll capacity to spend. Perhaps the notion of committing a four-year deal at more than $10MM annually won’t sit well with the front office, but even if they don’t pursue Wade Davis or Greg Holland (both reasonable on-paper targets), the market is flush with high-quality arms.

    Brandon Morrow, Mike Minor, Addison Reed, Juan Nicasio, Bryan Shaw (who Falvey knows well from his Indians days), Jake McGee and old friend Pat Neshek are all among the relievers coming off strong seasons that should command multi-year commitments. Minor, McGee and Tony Watson may be of particular interest, as the Twins currently lack a second lefty to pair with Rogers. (Buddy Boshers was the most common option in 2017, though he often looked overmatched.) Frankly, it’d be a surprise if the Twins didn’t add at least one reliever on a multi-year deal, and it seems quite likely that they’ll be in play for some higher-end arms that could serve as a closer.

    As Spring Training draws nearer, the Twins will also have internal questions to address. Namely, Dozier is controlled for just one more season — his age-31 campaign — leaving the front office with the task of deciding whether to lock up a player that has emerged as a clubhouse leader, a fan favorite and one of the better second basemen in all of baseball.

    Brian Dozier | Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

    Dozier’s age will likely prevent the Twins from wanting to offer an especially lengthy commitment, but Minnesota should at least explore the possibility of retaining him. Daniel Murphy inked a three-year, $37.5MM deal beginning with his age-31 season, though Dozier’s 2016-17 production vastly outpaces Murphy’s two-year platform for that contract. Justin Turner inked a four-year, $64MM deal beginning with his age-32 season. I’d lean toward Turner as the better comp, but both could be talking points in extension discussions.

    Top shortstop prospect Nick Gordon is near MLB-ready and could push Polanco to second base in the event that Dozier departs, but Dozier’s presence both on and off the field would be tough to replace.

    The Twins will also have to look hard at whether they’d like to approach Buxton, Sano, Rosario, Polanco or Berrios about long-term deals, though there’s obviously quite a bit less urgency on that front; Sano, Buxton and Rosario won’t even be eligible for arbitration until next winter. Polanco and Berrios are even further out.

    It’s an odd feeling to write sentences such as: “The Twins should have money to spend this offseason, and it’d be curious if they didn’t do so in a much more aggressive manner than in recent years.” But, that genuinely seems to be the case for the Twins, whose young core, pristine payroll outlook in 2020 and beyond and presence in a division rife with rebuilding clubs gives them an opportunity to reestablish their presence as an annual contender.

    We’ve yet to see Falvey and Levine navigate an offseason in which the team acts as an expected contender, so it’s tough to gauge whether the club will utilize free agency or the trade market more in adding to the 2018 roster. Regardless of their preferred avenue, the 2017-18 offseason should be the most active in recent history for the Twins in terms of player acquisition.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins, Brewers Enter Offseason In Position To Spend]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106656 2017-11-09T15:35:25Z 2017-11-09T15:06:55Z Each year, our top ranking of the top 50 free agents and their projected contracts/destinations prompts many to raise an eyebrow. In the now five years that I’ve spent contributing to that behemoth of a post, though, I’m not sure I can recall a more unpopular pick with readers than the notion that Jake Arrieta could sign with the Brewers for what would be the largest free-agent signing in Milwaukee’s franchise history. The notion that the Brewers would win a bidding war isn’t one to which most are accustomed. Milwaukee signed Matt Garza to a four-year, $50MM contract prior to the 2014 season and has, at times, played in the second tier of free agency. But the Brewers are among baseball’s smallest markets, and placing Arrieta there admittedly felt odd even for us.

    The question we kept asking, however, is: Why should it? The Brewers are one of two teams we kept coming back to that are in a position to act in a manner in which we’ve never really seen them act before. The other is just a five-hour drive to the west, in Minneapolis. I’m not suggesting that it’s a slam dunk that we’ll see the Brewers and Twins shatter their longstanding small-market perception; however, there’s an argument to be made for both teams to give serious consideration to spending far more aggressively this winter than they have in years past.

    The 2017 season was a similar tale for both the Brewers and the Twins. Each club was largely written off heading into the 2017 season as they sought to continue rebuilding with an eye more toward 2018 and beyond than toward 2017. Last winter, the Twins’ biggest expenditure was a $24.5MM contract for veteran catcher Jason Castro. The Brewers spent $16MM on KBO reclamation project Eric Thames. The moves were not met with excessive fanfare.

    But both the Brewers and Twins saw the majority of their young, potential core pieces take a step forward. Travis Shaw and Domingo Santana broke out with three-win seasons in Milwaukee, while Thames made good on his investment. Jimmy Nelson, Chase Anderson and Zach Davies led a surprisingly strong rotation, and Corey Knebel announced his presence as one of the best relievers on the planet.

    Over in Minnesota, Byron Buxton rebounded from a terrible start and batted .274/.333/.452 over his final 459 PAs with elite defense. Miguel Sano hit 28 homers in 114 games before a stress reaction from a foul ball to the shin cut his season short. Eddie Rosario belted 26 homers, Jorge Polanco posted a 128 wRC+ in the second half, and Jose Berrios established himself as a useful big league starter. Joe Mauer even quietly rebounding to hit .305/.384/.417 (116 wRC+).

    Suddenly, both teams look like potential contenders not just in 2018 but for the foreseeable future. The Twins share a division with the rebuilding White Sox and Tigers. The Royals are set to lose Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain and Mike Moustakas to free agency after already having bid adieu to Wade Davis and Greg Holland in recent years. In 2018, at least, the AL Central outlook is promising for the Twins and the Indians.

    Milwaukee will have to deal with the Cubs, Cardinals and Pirates in 2018, but the Bucs had a tough season and will soon have to seriously entertain trade offers for both Andrew McCutchen (a free agent next winter) and Gerrit Cole (a free agent the following offseason). The Cardinals are expected to radically alter their roster after a pair of disappointing seasons. The Cubs have work to do on the pitching front. Any of those teams could contend next year.

    One advantage that both the Brewers and Twins have over their division rivals, though, is a largely blank payroll slate moving forward. Even after arbitration projections, the Twins have just $85.5MM on the books for the 2018 season. After the coming year, that commitment drops to $24MM. Minnesota doesn’t have a single dollar committed to the books in 2020.

    It’s an even more favorable situation in Milwaukee (at least as far as 2018 is concerned). The Brewers have just $55MM committed payroll (including arbitration projections) and $31.5MM of guaranteed cash on the 2019 books. The recent extension of Chase Anderson gives them club options over the right-hander for the 2019-20 seasons, and Milwaukee also holds a 2020 option on Thames. Ryan Braun is the only guaranteed contract on the 2020 ledger, and his front-loaded deal will call for just a $16MM salary that season. That wide-open payroll was a large reason that the Brewers were connected to Justin Verlander on the summer trade market; the injury to Jimmy Nelson perhaps only adds impetus to the pursuit of a significant hurler.

    Further working in the favor of both traditionally low-payroll clubs is the fact that many of the big-market teams that typically dominate free agency are either taking a step back on spending in 2017-18 or figure to focus their spending on areas other than the Twins and Brewers, who both need pitching help. It’s possible to imagine scenarios where the best pitchers don’t generate feverish bidding frenzies — perhaps allowing surprise suitors to participate in the market in a more measured way than the Diamondbacks did with their sudden and massive outlay for Zack Greinke.

    The Yankees, for instance, have bluntly stated that they plan to get under the luxury tax barrier in advance of the 2018-19 mega crop of free agents (featuring Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson, Charlie Blackmon, Clayton Kershaw, Craig Kimbrel and many others). The Red Sox’ primary focus seems like it’ll be on adding a significant bat to the lineup rather than adding arms. The Giants have often played at the top of the free-agent market, but they’re already on the cusp of the luxury tax threshold before making a single move. The Angels have money to spend but have already committed to Justin Upton and still need to add a pair of infielders. The Tigers won’t spend much this winter as they kick off an aggressive rebuild. The Rangers are attempting to scale back their payroll by $10MM or so. The Nationals surpassed the luxury tax line in 2017 and already have a pair of $25MM+ annual salaries in Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.

    There will still be large-market teams looking to spend, of course. The Cubs need to add at least two arms in the rotation and could conceivably target as many as three bullpen additions. The Dodgers have reportedly been aiming to gradually pare back the payroll but of course still figure to spend some money this offseason, even if this current front-office regime hasn’t made a habit of top-level free-agent expenditures. Even the Phillies, once one of the team’s highest-payroll clubs prior to this rebuild, could begin throwing some dollars around this winter now that several of their own young players (e.g. Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola, Aaron Altherr, Odubel Herrera, Nick Williams) are showing promise at the big league level with others on the cusp.

    That said, the Twins and Brewers nonetheless find themselves in the unique position of having pristine long-term payroll outlooks with a burgeoning young core carving out its foothold in the Majors. With several big-market teams likely to eschew massive contracts, they’ll have the opportunity to perhaps be unusually competitive when it comes to names for whom they’d traditionally be outbid. None of this is to say that Minnesota or Milwaukee should be considered the odds-on favorites to sign a Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta, but it stands to reason that both could consider those types of moves far more closely than we’re traditionally accustomed to seeing. In fact, as I was finishing writing this piece, FanRag’s Jon Heyman reported that the Twins are indeed expected to consider a run at top-tier names like Darvish, Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn. And Brewers owner Mark Attanasio told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel in late September that the team’s financial flexibility may allow it to “punch a little bit above [its] weight.”

    Trades will, as ever, factor into the decision-making process for both clubs this winter. Each still has a number of intriguing prospects despite the significant amount of graduations in recent years, and there’s something to be said for pursuing a controllable arm from the Rays, Pirates or Cardinals — organizations that possess multiple intriguing young pitchers that could conceivably be dangled on the trade market this offseason. However, those markets figure to be ultra-competitive, and part of the way in which the Twins and Brewers got to their current standpoint was by stockpiling young prospects and filling out their roster with that talent. Maintaining a quality pipeline of high-upside talent will remain a priority in both markets.

    All of which leads back to the idea that the Twins, who haven’t topped $110MM in payroll since 2011, and Brewers, who have never opened the season with even a $105MM payroll, could be more aggressive than any would expect based on history. Some will roll their eyes at the notion, and it may prove in the end that neither lands a top-ranked free agent, but both Milwaukee and Minnesota are in excellent position to alter their image this offseason if they find an opportunity to their liking.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Latest On Shohei Otani]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106728 2017-11-08T20:25:06Z 2017-11-08T19:31:12Z 2:23pm: There’s a “tentative understanding” in place simply to extend the prior posting regime for another year, Sherman reports. The MLBPA has yet to weigh in on the subject, though, and there’s still not a final deal in place.

    1:31pm: In the wake of Shohei Otani’s decision to hire a MLBPA-certified player representative, it seems that there’ll be a renewed push to figure out a way to resolve the impasse that has threatened to derail his planned move to the majors. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that there’s a sense that the move will help facilitate an agreement that all involved will approve.

    Indeed, Otani’s reps at CAA are scheduled to “meet soon” with the player’s association to attempt to get on the same page in an effort to sort things out, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi tweets. That’s just the first step here, of course, as Otani and the MLBPA will still need to engage with Major League Baseball and Nippon Professional Baseball — the two entities that are primarily negotiating a new system governing inter-league player transfers.

    The difficulties here are tied to two factors: first, MLB’s rules capping international bonuses on certain younger international free agents; and second, the expiration of the prior posting system. There was a time when Otani’s current team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, might have auctioned Otani’s negotiating rights for something approaching or even exceeding nine figures while Otani might have commanded a guarantee of as much or more. Under the just-expired transfer system, the Fighters would at least have stood to receive the maximum allowable $20MM fee. But that’s no longer how things work.

    The transfer rules currently under contemplation would do away with the (up-to) $20MM flat-fee approach in favor of one that would allow the NPB team to earn a percentage of the bonus the posted player negotiates. If Otani was free to seek his market value, that wouldn’t likely pose a problem. But his earnings are now severely limited; while he is evidently at peace with that, his would-be former team is obviously not enamored of the possibility of losing its best player for what would be relative peanuts.

    Under MLB’s current international rules, MLB clubs can’t go past their international spending pools (as supplemented via trade) to sign Otani. Those are even more limited than might be realized, though, due to teams’ preexisting commitments with young international players. (This was already known, of course, though the details remained fuzzy.)

    According to a report from the Associated Press, only six teams even have enough uncommitted pool space to offer Otani seven figures. The Rangers ($3.535MM), Yankees ($3.25MM), and Twins ($3.245MM) easily lead the way, with the Pirates ($2.2MM+), Marlins ($1.74MM), and Mariners ($1.57MM+) also have some money to spend — or, perhaps, to trade to a would-be Otani suitor. For someone who is expected to be an immediate and significant contributor at the major-league level, that’s a pittance no matter the precise amount. Of course, he’ll also have a chance to make significant income off the field and through a future extension or trip through arbitration.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins To Sell Michael Tonkin’s Contract To Japan’s Nippon Ham Fighters]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106709 2017-11-08T01:59:12Z 2017-11-08T01:59:12Z The Twins have sold the contractual rights of right-handed reliever Michael Tonkin to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (Twitter links).

    The move will benefit both sides, as it clears a 40-man roster spot for the Twins and gives Tonkin the opportunity to land a significantly larger payday than he’d have received in the United States; he’ll sign a two-year, $2.1MM contract with the Fighters, per Berardino. The Wasserman client will also have the opportunity to earn an additional $500K worth of “reachable” incentives, and he’ll have the chance to serve as the Fighters’ closer as well.

    Tonkin, 28 later this month, was one of the top-rated relief prospects in the Twins’ system for several years but has yet to capitalize on that promise in the Major League level. He’s received multiple opportunities with the Twins, appearing for the big league club in each of the past five seasons but never seizing a permanent session in the club’s bullpen. In 146 1/3 innings with the Twins, Tonkin has pitched to a 4.43 ERA with 9.2 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.54 HR/9 and a 39.9 percent ground-ball rate. He has, however, consistently dominated the Triple-A level, pitching to a 2.41 ERA with 10.6 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 through 160 1/3 innings.

    The move will subtract yet another player from the Twins’ 40-man roster and, according to Berardino, net the Twins more than $500K in addition to the 40-man spot. In the past week, the Twins have lost left-hander Randy Rosario to the Cubs, outfielder Daniel Palka to the White Sox and left-hander Nik Turley to the Pirates (all via waivers). Once Tonkin’s move to the Fighters is complete, Minnesota’s 40-man roster will stand at 33 players. Major League teams have until Nov. 20 to set their 40-man roster in advance of next month’s Rule 5 Draft, so the Twins could yet shed another player or two in advance of that deadline to clear room for additional prospects to be protected.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Outrighted: Twins, Phillies, Rays, Cardinals, Padres, Dodgers, Pirates]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106614 2017-11-07T07:21:15Z 2017-11-07T03:40:14Z A variety of teams cleared 40-man space today. Some of the moves are reflected elsewhere on the site, but we’ll round up the others right here:

    • The Twins have outrighted catcher Chris Gimenez and left Ryan O’Rourke, as MLB.com’ Rhett Bollinger tweets. Gimenez could have been retained for a projected $1MM arbitration salary, but Minnesota elected not to commit that much cash (and a roster spot) despite Gimenez’s 225 plate appearances of roughly league-average hitting in 2017. He tells Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer that he’ll likely elect to return to the open market, but would be open to a return (links to Twitter). As for O’Rourke, he was said to be exploring ways of hastening his return from Tommy John surgery, but Minnesota isn’t willing to gamble on the lefty’s recovery at this time.
    • Infielder Pedro Florimon and righty Jesen Therrien are now free agents after being outrighted off of the Phillies 40-man, per a club announcement. The 30-year-old Florimon has made his way onto a major league roster in each of the past seven seasons, compiling a .209/.269/.308 slash in 791 plate appearances but providing enough with the glove to keep earning return trips. The 24-year-old Therrien was knocked around in 15 relief appearances for the Phils this year, but did turn in 57 1/3 frames of 1.41 ERA ball (with 10.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9) during his time in the upper minors.
    • The Rays outrighted catcher Curt Casali, outfielder Cesar Puello, and righty Shawn Tolleson, as Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times tweets. Casali played a bigger role on the 2016 MLB outfit and posted only a .698 OPS at Triple-A. The 26-year-old Puello has bounced around of late and struggled in a brief go at the bigs, but did manage a productive .327/.377/.526 slash in 379 plate appearances at the highest level of the minors (none of which came with a Tampa Bay affiliate). Tolleson required Tommy John surgery in May, so he’ll likely be looking for an organization to rehab with.
    • Departing the Cardinals’ 40-man were infielder Alex Mejia and catcher Alberto Rosario, according to MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch (via Twitter). Mejia struggled mightily in the bigs as a 26-year-old rookie, but slashed .291/.341/.413 in his 475 plate appearances in the upper minors. As for Rosario, who is thirty years of age, there just hasn’t been much opportunity for time behind the MLB plate.
    • Backstop Hector Sanchez and righty Tim Melville took free agency from the Padres after clearing outright waivers, per AJ Cassavell of MLB.com (Twitter link). Sanchez, a 28-year-old switch-hitter who has seen action in each of the past seven MLB seasons, will surely be targeted as a depth acquisition by other organizations. Melville, who’s also 28, worked to a 2.95 ERA with 8.5 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 in 76 1/3 Triple-A innings — his best results in the minors — but was bombed in brief MLB time.
    • The Dodgers outrighted first baseman/outfielder O’Koyea Dickson, as J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group tweets. Dickson, 27, briefly touched the majors in 2017 but spent the bulk of his time at Triple-A for the third-straight season. After putting up big numbers there in 2016, Dickson managed a career-best 24 home runs over 458 plate appearances in his most recent campaign, but slipped to a .328 on-base percentage.
    • Finally, the Pirates outrighted lefty Dan Runzler, MLB.com’s Adam Berry reports on Twitter. He’ll head back to free agency after refusing an assignment. Runzler, 32, made it back to the majors after a four-year absence, but only saw four innings in eight appearances. He pitched to a 3.05 ERA in 41 1/3 Triple-A innings, managing only 7.8 K/9 against 4.8 BB/9 but also generating typically strong groundball numbers.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Pirates Claim Nik Turley From Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106578 2017-11-06T20:53:22Z 2017-11-06T20:53:22Z The Pirates announced on Monday that they’ve claimed left-hander Nik Turley off waivers from the Twins.

    The 28-year-old Turley made his big league debut with the Twins this past season on the heels of excellent work in Triple-A, though he didn’t fare well in Minneapolis. Turley was rocked for 22 runs on 30 hits and eight walks with 13 strikeouts in 17 2/3 frames as a big leaguer, resulting in an 11.21 ERA. However, he tore through Double-A and Triple-A, pitching to a 2.02 ERA with 12.1 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 92 innings (most of which was spent at the Triple-A level).

    Turley becomes the third player the Twins have lost to waivers in the past week. Fellow left-hander Randy Rosario was claimed by the Cubs on Friday, while outfield prospect Daniel Palka was claimed by the White Sox a couple of days later.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Name Derek Shelton Bench Coach]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=106526 2017-11-06T19:07:25Z 2017-11-06T19:07:25Z The Twins announced that they’ve hired veteran coach Derek Shelton as the new bench coach to manager Paul Molitor. Minnesota’s bench coach position became vacant when Joe Vavra joined Ron Gardenhire’s coaching staff in Detroit.

    Shelton, 47, has a long track record as a big league coach and a minor league manager. The former catcher coached and managed in the Yankees’ minor league ranks in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Since that time, he’s spent a half decade as the Indians’ hitting coach (2005-09) and seven seasons as the Rays’ hitting coach (2010-16) before joining the Blue Jays as a quality control coach in 2017. Shelton’s time with the Indians briefly overlapped with that of current Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, though Falvey had not yet climbed the organizational ranks with the Indians by the time Shelton left.

    The 2018 season will be Shelton’s 14th season as a coach at the Major League level and his first as a bench coach. He’ll join first-year pitching coach Garvin Alston on a slightly revamped Twins coaching staff that will once again be guided by Molitor, who inked a three-year extension with the club last month.

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