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BASEBALL IS BACK.On the first day of full squad workouts this year, the Twins open up Hammond Stadium for an open house. Fans can walk al...
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Mailbag: Catcher Innings, Bye-Bye Creams, Free Agent Watch

After the Polar Vortex gripped most of Twins Territory, it seems strange that pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Fort Myers in the days ahead. The Twins still have plenty of questions to answer about their roster before the team heads to Target Field for Opening Day.

Who catches the most innings? Could the Twins sign a big-name closer? Why did the team ditch their cream-colored alternate jerseys? All of those questions and more will be answered in this week’s Twins Daily Mailbag.
Image courtesy of Peter G. Aiken- USA Today Sports

When it comes to the man behind the plate, it seems likely for Jason Castro and Mitch Garver to split time. Castro is coming off a major injury, but he should be able to go full-steam ahead with spring training starting. Mitch Garver caught almost 670 innings last season and hit .268/.335/.414. Those are very respectable numbers for a back-stop. Garver might seem like a young player but he will already be 28 next season. I think the Twins will rotate through both these players and allow them to work with specific pitchers to build a rapport.

Willians Astudillo has become someone of a cult hero over the last year but I can’t see him filling more than a third catcher role with this team. Obviously, an injury to Castro or Garver could change the plan. Astudillo showed some defensive flexibility last year but it hardly seems likely for the team to give him a utility job. My guess is they carry two catchers and Astudillo isn’t one of them.


Another catching option for the Twins is newly signed Wilin Rosario. He hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2015 when he was with the Rockies organization. In his five big league seasons, he has combined to hit .273/.306/.473 including two seasons with 20+ home runs. He spent the 2016-17 seasons playing overseas in the KBO, as he hit .330/.390/.625 while averaging 35 home runs per season. Last year, Rosario played in Japan and hit .242/.285/.374 with eight home runs.

While some of those numbers sound good, the Twins are not giving him an invite to big league camp. This seems strange since almost every catcher in the system gets a chance to help at big league camp at some point. He will provide some organization depth to start the year. Depending on how he hits in the minors, he could be added to the team later in the year.


As many people know, the Twins have gotten rid of their cream alternate home jerseys in favor of a new blue jersey. These new threads incorporate the Kasota gold colors the team has embraced since the 2014 All-Star Game. I was disappointed to see the cream-colored jerseys go because they reminded me of the early Target Field years with Jim Thome cranking home runs to all parts of the field. They had a throwback feel to them, but the team decided to go in a different direction.

From the team’s perspective, rotating alternate jerseys is a good way to keep fans interested in buying new gear. Most likely, everyone that wanted a cream color jersey already bought one. At the beginning of the 2016 season, the club had added in the red home alternate jerseys. Adding in a new color, allows the team to bring in a little extra. However, I believe the team only gets the revenue if the jerseys are purchased at an official team store. Either way, this was an opportunity for the team to rebrand and for fans to pick up another jersey of their favorite player.


Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are still free agents and spring training is days away from starting. Back in January, Buster Olney thought the Twins could be a mystery team for Machado or Harper because of their payroll flexibility. Minnesota has almost no guaranteed money on the books beyond this season so adding a franchise altering player could help push this team to the next level.

At TwinsFest, it sounded like the Twins have very little interest in going after either of the mega-free agents. “My view … for doing it is the best time to acquire players of that magnitude is when your window to win is wide open,” Levine said to the crowd. “Not when you’re got your fingers underneath the window and you’re trying to jam the window open. I want to do it when we’re projected to win the Central and we’re ready to put our foot on someone’s throat.”


Craig Kimbrel is the number one relief pitcher on the market. He’s a seven-time All-Star and he has topped the 30 save mark in eight consecutive seasons. He will be 31-years old next season and he hasn’t shown many signs of slowing down in recent years. He’s only pitched more than 70 innings in one season so it’s not like he has a ton of wear and tear on his arm.

If you follow the trail of this tweet, the Twins seem to be one of the teams in the running for Kimbrel. Jon Heyman, a well-respected national baseball writer, named the Twins as a possible landing spot for Kimbrel. Paul Crane is based out of Atlanta so he might have connections to Kimbrel and his camp from during his Braves tenure. This might be one of the reasons none of the Minneapolis beat writers are reporting on it at this point.

Does Kimbrel make sense for the Twins? I’m never a big fan of offering multi-year deals to aging relief pitchers. That being said, three-years and $45 million certainly wouldn’t hinder the team during the life of the contract. Also, he could be an intriguing trade piece if the Twins aren’t in contention.

Do you think the Twins should sign Kimbrel? Who catches the most innings for the Twins next year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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53 Comments

I've been pretty critical of the Twins' FO this offseason for their unwillingness to spend money.

 

That said, I'm not particularly thrilled with the idea of Kimbrel for 3 years at $15 mil each. I've simply never liked overpaying for relief pitchers, just as a matter of principle. I'd must prefer they would have found a starting pitcher worthy of (and receptive to) that kind of contract. Maybe those options simply don't exist at this point, I don't know.

 

Naturally, given that I've wanted them to open the purse strings, but not necessarily at the rumored rate for Kimbrel, I think we can pretty much count on this being exactly what the Twins do. Probably tomorrow.

    • Cris E, Cory Engelhardt, mikelink45 and 3 others like this

I've heard Wilin Rosario is a pretty poor catcher (defensively), so I understood that he was a 1B/DH, and only added as organizational depth.

 

3 years $45M is a bit much for a reliever, but the Twins have so much cap room in future seasons, I can't say no to that deal. I suspect he will underperform compared to expectations, but at this point we need to improve the bullpen any way we can, so I'd be on board for that.

    • Twins33, Otwins and SF Twins Fan like this
1] Signing Kimbrell would be outstanding to solidify and deepen the BP for the next 2-3yrs. But it might have been cheaper with financial freedom for another roster addition if they had pounced on someone else earlier. But can we truly complain if they do this?

2] Screw marketing! I grew up on the weird blue uniforms of the Twins. It has its place in nostalgia. The best uniforms they ever had was pinstripes! White, gray, cream, just BE the TWINS! Do the Yankees and Dogers ever change? Stick with class!

3] A healthy Castro can help this team. Especially as a tudor to the impressive Garver and Austudillo, who could also be the 13th man. If Rocco plays things right, and the FO plays things right, do we have to use a 13 man staff?
    • bdodge22 and MN_ExPat like this
As much as I’d love to see a Kimbrel 3/$45 deal happen, I’m highly skeptical that he would sign it. And if he did, I don’t think he’d be happy here.

He just won the World Series with one of the top 3 most popular teams in the MLB.

Even if the Twins offer that’s been reported is the best on the table, I can’t imagine Kimbrel being a happy player on that deal here. His asking price was twice that length in years. I’d be surprised if he takes a deal less than 4/$70-75M. If no one’s offering that, I’d see him taking a 1/$20M just about anywhere hoping to be traded to a contender at the deadline, but then you’re in Lance Lynn/LoMo territory.

The Twins would have to win, win early, and win big for Kimbrel to buy in to this team. I’d love to see it, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
On Garver and Castro, I’m not convinced that either is 100% in 2019. Castro is aging and recovering from a torn meniscus and plays a position where age and injury ends careers earlier than just about any other.

Garver, I think, has a better chance of playing most of the year, but anyone who wants to put money on concussion symptoms going one way or the other is making a bad bet. It’s a completely unpredictable injury.

All that said, if neither can handle the work behind the plate this season, I don’t see the Twins making Astudillo a primary or maybe even their backup catcher. For as much as the fans love Astudillo, the front office doesn’t seem to share that sentiment.

If either Garver or Castro spend a significant amount on the DL, I see Falvine trading for a catcher. If both go down, that might be the only way Astudillo gets a prolonged shot at backup with this team in 2019.
    • Cris E, LA VIkes Fan, mikelink45 and 2 others like this
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terrydactyls1947
Feb 05 2019 05:52 AM

3] A healthy Castro can help this team. Especially as a tudor to the impressive Garver and Austudillo, who could also be the 13th man. If Rocco plays things right, and the FO plays things right, do we have to use a 13 man staff?

The House of Tudor ended in 1603.I don't think Castro has the lineage to bring it back.
    • USNMCPO, NotTorii, Platoon and 1 other like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Feb 05 2019 06:14 AM
Astudillo deserves a roster spot. If he performs well in spring training and still doesn't come north with the club then I am picketing.
    • KGB, mplsman, SF Twins Fan and 1 other like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 05 2019 07:08 AM

Didn't realize we were on in Kimrel.I tend to agree on aging relievers, but he's 31, not 35. That seems like a very reasonable contract for a guy whose worst season in his MLB career came with a 3.4 ERA an a 14+K/9 rate.

 

Obviously, he hasn't signed... but they really need to get him in here and not let it linger into ST. 

    • Twins33, LA VIkes Fan, SF Twins Fan and 1 other like this
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ashburyjohn
Feb 05 2019 07:28 AM

Didn't realize we were on in Kimrel.I tend to agree on aging relievers, but he's 31, not 35. That seems like a very reasonable contract for a guy whose worst season in his MLB career came with a 3.4 ERA an a 14+K/9 rate.
 
Obviously, he hasn't signed... but they really need to get him in here and not let it linger into ST.

That weird 'W' or vulture stance before he goes into the set position is to help some balky body part not flare up, if I remember correctly. I always have viewed him as someone who will decline quickly or maybe catastrophically. Obviously it hasn't happened yet, but I'm in favor of a multi-year contract only if the team is willing to go over-budget on a future year's payroll to replace him if need be. And we all know what the odds of that would be. I pass.

    • mikelink45 likes this

With the lack of long term financial commitments the Twins have, and with the result it would have on the depth of the existing bullpen, I think pursuing Kimbrel would be an excellent move.At 31, he's not old.even at the end of the contract we reportedly offered, 3 years, he's still only 34.For the term of the contract, he could very easily give the Twins a shutdown closer, allowing the rest of the bullpen to settle into rolls they are familiar with and, probably, better suited to performing.This move would go a long ways toward solidifying the pen for the next 3 years.

    • SF Twins Fan likes this

 

I've been pretty critical of the Twins' FO this offseason for their unwillingness to spend money.

 

That said, I'm not particularly thrilled with the idea of Kimbrel for 3 years at $15 mil each. I've simply never liked overpaying for relief pitchers, just as a matter of principle. I'd must prefer they would have found a starting pitcher worthy of (and receptive to) that kind of contract. Maybe those options simply don't exist at this point, I don't know.

 

Naturally, given that I've wanted them to open the purse strings, but not necessarily at the rumored rate for Kimbrel, I think we can pretty much count on this being exactly what the Twins do. Probably tomorrow.

Generally, I tend to have the same opinion; spending big money on multi-year contracts on relief pitchers is playing with fire. That said, Kimbrel seems like a relatively safe bet. I wouldn't mind the Twins overspending on him.

    • Twins33, SD Buhr and SF Twins Fan like this

 

 

On Garver and Castro, I’m not convinced that either is 100% in 2019. Castro is aging and recovering from a torn meniscus and plays a position where age and injury ends careers earlier than just about any other.

Garver, I think, has a better chance of playing most of the year, but anyone who wants to put money on concussion symptoms going one way or the other is making a bad bet. It’s a completely unpredictable injury.

All that said, if neither can handle the work behind the plate this season, I don’t see the Twins making Astudillo a primary or maybe even their backup catcher. For as much as the fans love Astudillo, the front office doesn’t seem to share that sentiment.

If either Garver or Castro spend a significant amount on the DL, I see Falvine trading for a catcher. If both go down, that might be the only way Astudillo gets a prolonged shot at backup with this team in 2019.

I'm not convinced that either is 100% yet either, but then again we still haven't started spring training. And as much as I like Astudillo, I'm not sure he is the best Plan B as a starting catcher either. I'd rather see him as a backup or in a multi-position utility role, or even as DH on occasion.

With Castro aging/on the comeback trail and Garver on the back end of a concussion scare, maybe it would be in the best interest of both to have Astudillo catch once a week and twice on weeks with no off days.Maybe at least try it early in the season and then see where the top two catchers are at after getting into the rigors of a baseball season.

 

Astudillo obviously brings some other flexibility, so his role could change over the course of the season.He also has options.

 

Of course, this would likely regrettably come at the expense of Tyler Austin, who I'd like to see given more of a chance.

1) 3/45 is a steal for Kimbrel. If the FO is into value signings, that’s about as good as it gets.
2) Unis are unis
3) I like the trio Twins have behind the dish. Imho it’s been a long time since this kind of depth and upside at catcher.
    • Danchat, SF Twins Fan, caninatl04 and 1 other like this

1) 3/45 is a steal for Kimbrel. If the FO is into value signings, that’s about as good as it gets.
2) Unis are unis
3) I like the trio Twins have behind the dish. Imho it’s been a long time since this kind of depth and upside at catcher.


1. I tend to agree with this. Even power relievers should be able to get to their mid 30's as effective 1 inning pitcher. I doubt I he will sign for anything close to that, however.

2. I tend to agree with this, tho I like the old style unis best.

3. I have never been that impressed with Castro in a Twins uniform. His defense seems somewhat overrated and offense has been mostly bad. I like Garver, but the Twins have always seemed underwhelmed by his pitcher handling and his overall defense. Astudillo is fun, I would love it if he was at least a half time catcher. I am not to sure the Twins want that tho.
    • Cris E and Halsey Hall like this
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nicksaviking
Feb 05 2019 10:12 AM

Despite what seems like a league-wide consensus that Kimbrel is the best available reliever, I still preferred Familia, Robertson and Soria due to expected length of contracts.

 

Still, if it's only three years, I find it next to impossible that his contract could ever be a hindrance even if he implodes.

    • Twins33, big dog and SF Twins Fan like this
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IndianaTwin
Feb 05 2019 10:12 AM

On Kimbrel, how about 2/36 with a mutual option for 2/30.

  • Pitches great for two years, he opts out and we're not on the hook. 
  • Pitches poorly for two years (or in the second year) and we opt out.
  • Somewhere in between and it turns into 4/66, not too far from what he's asking now.
    • IaFan1 likes this

While I still maintain that "closer" is an overrated role that teams usually overpay for...I would actually really be happy if we could bring in Kimbrel at 3/$45M. there's no question we have the payroll space for it and it wouldn't limit our ability to make other moves/sign extensions. And Kimbrel has been elite. not just top ten in the AL, not just top ten in MLB, but Hall of Fame-track kinds of elite. If he was 35+, I'd be more nervous. If it was a 5 year deal, I'd be really nervous. But for his age, experience, and skill...I'd jump on that one. I'm thrilled we're making that kind of offer, and I find it interesting reports have it as the best one out there.

 

Our bullpen would start to look like a strength if you added Kimbrel to it. Kimbrel, May, Rogers, Parker as your top 4? Addison Reed & one more LHP? Only needing one more guy in the 'pen, allowing you to have a 4 man bench?

 

I like this more and more, just hope Kimbrel start to like it too...

 

That weird 'W' or vulture stance before he goes into the set position is to help some balky body part not flare up, if I remember correctly.

It's the Canadian Goose strategy of looking bigger and more intimidating.

 

It was originally to relieve stress caused by bicep tendinitis but he says it no longer has a purpose other than being his thing.He says he was having success doing it so he didn't see the need to change even though the tendinitis is no longer an issue.

 

He's only had one DL trip in his career and it was a knee issue in 2016.I don't think health is a serious concern for him.

    • ashburyjohn, SF Twins Fan and caninatl04 like this
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sweetmusicviola16
Feb 05 2019 10:41 AM

3/45 for Kimbrell? That's not a deal, that's a steal. Do it. Give him an extra mil or two in 2019 and let him opt out after the season. We have the money for 2019, not to mention about 70mil coming off the books after this season.

 

If this team won't spend the money on a Kimbrell now then it never will.

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ashburyjohn
Feb 05 2019 10:45 AM

...he says it no longer has a purpose other than being his thing.He says he was having success doing it so he didn't see the need to change even though the tendinitis is no longer an issue.

Yogi Berra said that all pitchers are liars or crybabies, so since Kimbrel's clearly not a crybaby I'm going to choose to disregard his assurances. :)

1. I tend to agree with this. Even power relievers should be able to get to their mid 30's as effective 1 inning pitcher. I doubt I he will sign for anything close to that, however.

2. I tend to agree with this, tho I like the old style unis best.

3. I have never been that impressed with Castro in a Twins uniform. His defense seems somewhat overrated and offense has been mostly bad. I like Garver, but the Twins have always seemed underwhelmed by his pitcher handling and his overall defense. Astudillo is fun, I would love it if he was at least a half time catcher. I am not to sure the Twins want that tho.


I agree it will take more than 3/45 to sign Kimbrel. I’d be willing to go 3/60. Astudillo could take a starters # of at bats between catcher, 3b, and 2b, or should, IMO. This team is really lacking in contact.

1. I tend to agree with this. Even power relievers should be able to get to their mid 30's as effective 1 inning pitcher. I doubt I he will sign for anything close to that, however.

2. I tend to agree with this, tho I like the old style unis best.

3. I have never been that impressed with Castro in a Twins uniform. His defense seems somewhat overrated and offense has been mostly bad. I like Garver, but the Twins have always seemed underwhelmed by his pitcher handling and his overall defense. Astudillo is fun, I would love it if he was at least a half time catcher. I am not to sure the Twins want that tho.


He hit better than the average catcher two years ago. What do people want him to do?
    • Twins33, JLease and SF Twins Fan like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 05 2019 12:24 PM

 

It's the Canadian Goose strategy of looking bigger and more intimidating.

 

It was originally to relieve stress caused by bicep tendinitis but he says it no longer has a purpose other than being his thing.He says he was having success doing it so he didn't see the need to change even though the tendinitis is no longer an issue.

 

He's only had one DL trip in his career and it was a knee issue in 2016.I don't think health is a serious concern for him.

Coincidentally, 2016 was his worst season, posting that 3.4 ERA. His walk rate was pretty bad that year (over 5), but he still got the Ks. The guys' WHIP though has been impressive. Even with high walk rates, he keeps that WHIP number under 1 more years than not. No one makes decent contact when they swing at his stuff. 

    • Twins33 likes this
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LA VIkes Fan
Feb 05 2019 12:26 PM

 

With Castro aging/on the comeback trail and Garver on the back end of a concussion scare, maybe it would be in the best interest of both to have Astudillo catch once a week and twice on weeks with no off days.Maybe at least try it early in the season and then see where the top two catchers are at after getting into the rigors of a baseball season.

 

Astudillo obviously brings some other flexibility, so his role could change over the course of the season.He also has options.

 

Of course, this would likely regrettably come at the expense of Tyler Austin, who I'd like to see given more of a chance.

I agree ,but I don't think this is at the expense of Austin. I don't think he makes the team regardless of Astudillo. They are most likely going to go with an 8 man bullpen, which means 13 pitchers, 8 starting position players, 1 full time DH in Cruz, and a 3 man bench. That bench every day will be the backup catcher, Adrianza as the backup IF who can play SS, and one of the 4 OFs that will make the team - Rosario, Buxton, Kepler and Cave in some order depending on who wins the RF job.  

 

Signing Cruz cost Austin his job. He or Astudillo only makes the team if the Twins decide to start with a 7 man BP. Seems very unlikely.  

    • caninatl04 likes this

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