Will Minnesota Be a Fit for Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel?
Image courtesy of Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY SportsMinnesota’s Changing Perspective
Before spring training started, Minnesota wasn’t exactly sure of what this season would bring. The front office was happy with the additions of players like Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, CJ Cron, and Martin Perez. However, it was tough to know if the Twins were going to be able to outlast Cleveland in a division the Indians have dominated for the last three seasons.
Flash-forward to the present and Minnesota has a very clear view of the division and of their current roster. The Twins entered play on Saturday atop of the AL Central by 10.5 games. Cleveland, the division favorite this spring, sits tied with the White Sox for second place and they are actually closer to the bottom of the division than the top of the division.
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have also seen the strengths and weaknesses of the current roster. Minnesota offense is one of the best in the game. There doesn’t seem to be a weak spot from the top to the bottom. On the pitching side, Minnesota’s has outperformed many of the expectations entering the season but Kimbrel or Keuchel would certainly be welcomed in the Twin Cities.
Locally, Judd Zulgad of SKOR North said the Twins could be in on one of the pitchers once draft pick compensation was no longer part of the equation. Kimbrel might be a better fit in Minnesota even though he’s coming off a postseason where he had a 5.91 ERA in nine appearances. He has over 330 career saves and an ERA under 2.00.
It remains to be seen if Kimbrel would be willing to accept a non-closer role on a playoff contending team. Minnesota hasn’t used a traditional closer this year and they may not want to mess with a good thing. There are also questions about how long it will take for either pitcher to be prepared for pitching in a big-league game.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman also listed the Twins as a possible destination for Keuchel. He also included other teams like the Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Rays and Yankees. Last season in Houston, Keuchel made 34 stars and went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA. Scouts have been watching Keuchel throw simulated games in the weeks leading up to the draft.
As recently as Saturday, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Cubs are showing interest in Kimbrel. One of the difficulties for them is their lack of payroll flexibility, because Chicago wants to stay under the luxury tax thresholds. Other teams might be able to outbid the Cubs or Chicago would need to get creative with Kimbrel’s contract.
Jim Bowden of SiriusXM reports that the Braves have legitimate interest in both free agent pitchers. Atlanta currently sits in second place in the AL East and they are tied with San Diego for the second Wild Card spot.
Tampa Bay, Minnesota’s opponent this weekend, is also interested in adding Keuchel or Kimbrel. Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino report the Yankees remain interested in Keuchel. The AL East can be a beast especially with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all vying to be the king of the hill. Kimbrel is well familiar with the AL East, and he might want a revenge tour against Boston. Tampa is usually a little strapped for cash, so this might not be the best fit.
Do you see either pitcher ending up in a Twins uniform this week? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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