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Article: Video: Willians Astudillo Just Took Jose Berrios...

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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

Astudillo is in Rochester. Unless one of Garver or Castro (or possibly Adrianza), is injured. Garver is a better hitter than Astudillo (despite those amazing 97 plate appearances last year)...and Adrianza is a better fielder at every position except one. I'd be great if we could go with 12 pitchers and a 4-man bench, because Astudillo would provide much better offensive flexibility late in games...but we won't...at least not once the schedule picks up.

    • caninatl04 likes this

I just can not imagine any scenario where Boston does not resign Kimbrel.  

He hit better than the average catcher two years ago. What do people want him to do?


I suppose it depends on what stats you subscribe to. If you believe in single number stats like war or OPS he appears to be above average. Those stats are slanted to power. If you like ob% and batting average better, I don't think he looks so good. Just my opinion.
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nicksaviking
Feb 05 2019 02:57 PM

 

He hit better than the average catcher two years ago. What do people want him to do?

 

I'm guessing it's less of an indictment on Castro and more of a preference for Garver. 

 

While Castro hit better than average for a catcher two years ago, Garver hit better than average for any baseball player last year.

 

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. 

I don't really see him fading out too quickly either.As long as he can pair an upper 90's fastball with a great curveball he should be fine.I expect him to still be a great pitcher 3 years from now.

 

3/45 probably won't be enough though.I think they will need to at least beat Wade Davis's 3/52M from last year.

    • diehardtwinsfan and Twins33 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Feb 05 2019 03:35 PM

 

I don't really see him fading out too quickly either.As long as he can pair an upper 90's fastball with a great curveball he should be fine.I expect him to still be a great pitcher 3 years from now.

 

3/45 probably won't be enough though.I think they will need to at least beat Wade Davis's 3/52M from last year.

 

Obviously, he's unsigned... I have to think someone will swoop in, and I think at this point, calling his agent and seeing what would get him to sign right now might be prudent. If he's go no market, upping that 3/45 a bit to get him here on time makes a ton of sense. 

 

Obviously, he's unsigned... I have to think someone will swoop in, and I think at this point, calling his agent and seeing what would get him to sign right now might be prudent. If he's go no market, upping that 3/45 a bit to get him here on time makes a ton of sense. 

It helps that two of our currently known competitors are heavy favorites to land Machado or Harper. I doubt either the Padres or Phillies would turn around and sign Kimbrel as well.Teams probably don't want to officially bid on Kimbrel if they are serious about landing either of them two.

 

The big question for me is Boston, they probably wouldn't even need to match us to win his bidding.The Braves and Dodgers seem occupied with Realmuto negotiations.The Yankees already addressed their bullpen (and did an amazing job).Not many others have shown interest or been linked to him in anyway.

 

I doubt Kimbrel would sign anything right now.Doesn't seem like he is a priority to anyone else at the moment and waiting might be his best option.Either way it is encouraging that we currently lead the bidding, and I would think he would give us a chance to match or beat any other offer besides maybe Boston.

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yarnivek1972
Feb 05 2019 05:07 PM

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.


Big difference between starters and relievers. Most relievers only need 10 innings to get ready, especially a vet like Kimbrel. He’ll be fine.

I find it ironic that Levine would make a comment about spending big on Machado or Harper as the kind of move they will make when they are projected to win the division.

 

Then a report comes out that the team is the front runner for the most expensive closer on the market. That is the ultimate front runner move by a team that is PROJECTING a strong playoff run, not a team that is aiming for 85 wins and POSSIBLY contending for a wild card spot.

 

That makes me very suspect of the report about our favorite squad and Kimbrel. It's completely contradictory to the front runner statement. 

    • Mike Sixel likes this
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yarnivek1972
Feb 06 2019 12:19 PM

I find it ironic that Levine would make a comment about spending big on Machado or Harper as the kind of move they will make when they are projected to win the division.

Then a report comes out that the team is the front runner for the most expensive closer on the market. That is the ultimate front runner move by a team that is PROJECTING a strong playoff run, not a team that is aiming for 85 wins and POSSIBLY contending for a wild card spot.

That makes me very suspect of the report about our favorite squad and Kimbrel. It's completely contradictory to the front runner statement.


If it is true, it’s further evidence that this FO doesn’t have an actual plan that they are willing to stick to. This week they are going for it. Next week they are rebuilding. Next week they are biding their time. After that, who knows. It certainly doesn’t seem Falvine knows.
    • Mike Sixel and Carlos Figueroa like this
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Battle ur tail off
Feb 06 2019 02:11 PM

 

I just can not imagine any scenario where Boston does not resign Kimbrel.  

 

It sounds as if they are so far over the luxury tax line, they don't want to push it much farther. I also think that playoff performance soured them some as well as others or he would have been signed already. 

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Battle ur tail off
Feb 06 2019 02:14 PM

 

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.

 

And if that were enough to get him and that offer truly is out there, then he would have signed already. Don't let the reports about Twins offering money get to you. What they are offering is below market value, you can bet on that. They know there is a very slim chance he signs that type of contract, but by leaking that info -The "Hey! We tried!!" is still alive and well as per usual. 

    • Carlos Figueroa likes this
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ChrisKnutson
Feb 06 2019 07:51 PM
If we’re willing to pay 3/45 for Kimbrel, I wonder how high we’d be willing go for Keuchel, maybe 5/75??
    • Carlos Figueroa likes this

If we’re willing to pay 3/45 for Kimbrel, I wonder how high we’d be willing go for Keuchel, maybe 5/75??


The whole idea is to go higher AAV so you don’t have to pay/roster these guys when they’re 35+.
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ChrisKnutson
Feb 08 2019 11:03 AM

The whole idea is to go higher AAV so you don’t have to pay/roster these guys when they’re 35+.


Still, if we’re willing to go that high for Kimbrel (in terms of AAV), why no consideration for Keuchel?? All it would be is 2 extra years, and it’s not like it’d be as big of a gamble as people are making it out to be since he doesn’t rely on velocity for effectiveness. Sure, we might have to “overpay” in terms of the years given, but given our need for a SP beyond 2019, besides, Berrios, it’d be well worth it.

Still, if we’re willing to go that high for Kimbrel (in terms of AAV), why no consideration for Keuchel?? All it would be is 2 extra years, and it’s not like it’d be as big of a gamble as people are making it out to be since he doesn’t rely on velocity for effectiveness. Sure, we might have to “overpay” in terms of the years given, but given our need for a SP beyond 2019, besides, Berrios, it’d be well worth it.


I’m all for the “overpay” for any proven MLB talent. Would just prefer it comes in the form of AAV not extra years. Would be ecstatic to have Keuchel for three years, at ANY price.
How does adding a "last piece" that would require an 8 year deal make any sense? Now is certainly the time to add a super star. If your window is opening, then why waste half of it waiting to peak? Fling those shudders open and worry about keeping it open down the line. This team's about to get expensive anyway. For years we looked to 2019. No Mauer. No Hughes. No Santana. No Nolasco. Sano, Buck, Rosie, Kep, JO, Polanco, Romero... Come on! Make a move at the deadline? You mean over pay for 2 months of a player? Get guys for a full year and play it out from day 1. Who wants to miss the playoffs by 2 games after taking away prospects when investing in February may have made up those games without losing the future?

If you won't get Harper get Kimbrel.

This is how we [perpetually rebuild].
    • USAFChief likes this

This is how we [perpetually rebuild].


That’s gotta sting to anyone from the FO who reads this, and hopefully they do.
    • Jham likes this
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ChrisKnutson
Feb 09 2019 11:26 AM
Still need a closer... I wonder if Jose Leclerc is available??
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AlwaysinModeration
Feb 10 2019 05:32 AM
If the Twins have actually offered 3/45 for Kimbrel, that is great news. It would be the highest price paid for a reliever on the market this offseason. Maybe it would take a few more million to get him to sign, but hopefully the Twins’ patience on the market and payroll flexibility will pay off.

Aside from shoring up the back of the bullpen, he would be a fine trade piece. The Yankees traded Aroldis and Andrew Miller and got Gleyber Torres, Clint Frazier, and Justus Sheffield (who has turned into James Paxton).
The catching dept. is yet again an interesting black hole. Castro theoretically should be the primary catcher, but his knee is a bending time bomb. Garver is a catcher coming off a concussion, something that for some reason seems vaguely familiar. Trying to get a handle on where I have seen this scenario before? Astudillo? I don't know how his bat will hold up over a season, so far it seems to be just fine. As for his defense? After having watched Garver catch a baseball last year, or should I say attempt to, the Twins catching defensive bar is set very low. Basically if you can't out catch Mitch Garver, they should remove the 'C' from behind your name on the position list.
-On Kimbrel, if the Twins do find a way to land him that makes our bullpen much deeper and probably really good if Reed can bounce back which I expect he will. Loosing one run games late is maddening for me as a fan. I hope and expect better bullpen management from the current coaching staff. While it wasn’t said I think this is a factor in Molitor no longer being here.
-I’d love for the Twins to go with a 4 man bench and include Astudillo. As a late inning pinch hitter who can play around the field and you can be sure will put the bat on the ball every time he could be really valuable. Again…those one run games, it’s fun to be one the winning end. Also he could play some at C/1B/3B/DH to give guys days off. For those worried about him not being able to repeat his hitting with more extended at bats, his skill is contact and I believe that plays well for him going forward.

“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.”

 

Seems like you make the move when the market has something good available if you plan to contend later. Next year may not have the same talent available, or the year after, or the year after.......

 

An upgrade is an upgrade!

    • USAFChief likes this
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ashburyjohn
Feb 10 2019 07:44 PM

“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.”

 

Seems like you make the move when the market has something good available if you plan to contend later. Next year may not have the same talent available, or the year after, or the year after.......

 

An upgrade is an upgrade!

Yeah, if he's going to use that metaphor, my response is that maybe it's time to stop messing around with fingers and just pay for the heavy duty crowbar that's for sale, to pop that sucker wide open.

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, Twins33 and 3 others like this
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AlwaysinModeration
Feb 10 2019 08:37 PM

Yeah, if he's going to use that metaphor, my response is that maybe it's time to stop messing around with fingers and just pay for the heavy duty crowbar that's for sale, to pop that sucker wide open.


I like your crowbar metaphor “manny” times more than the fingers metaphor.
    • ashburyjohn likes this

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