Mailbag: Catcher Innings, Bye-Bye Creams, Free Agent Watch
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.
- Cory Engelhardt, mikelink45, nclahammer and 1 other like this