Notebook: Starting Pitching Market Continues to Move
Image courtesy of Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY SportsBaseball, eh?
As reported by CBS Sports, Rob Manfred stands by his statement that MLB Spring Training will begin on time. In previous years, pitchers and catchers have reported as early as February 13. Spring Training games are slated to begin on February 26.
The bottom line? Baseball is just around the corner...yet the nation is enduring its worst days of the COVID pandemic.
Starting Spring Training as scheduled would be beautiful, but unlikely. While Manfred believes that the league will punch out a 162 game schedule, it’s unlikely that fans would be allowed in ballparks initially if Rob’s dream comes true.
A wise man once said, “hope for the best, assume the worst.” As an optimist, I don’t like this quote, but it seems pretty fitting here.
Kuhl as Ice
While Joe Musgrove is on his way to San Diego, the Twins might find value in Pirates’ RHP Chad Kuhl. According to sources, the Pirates are fielding offers on the 28-year-old pitcher who has spent the last eight years in the Pittsburgh organization.
Kuhl isn’t an ace by any means, but the guy has a nasty arsenal that could benefit the Twins rotation. While his fastball isn’t anything to write home about, Kuhl relies heavily on his sinker and slider, both of which are effective. MLB hitters batted a meager .194 against Kuhl’s slider in 2020.
And while the slider and sinker are Kuhl’s bread and butter, the curveball may be his most effective pitch. The Bear, Delaware native only threw the pitch roughly 17% of the time in 2020, yet when he did, hitters posted a .074 average against it.
Pretty damn good.
The method to the madness? Kuhl’s fastball and sinker flirt around 93 MPH on average. His sliders hums in around 87 MPH. The curveball? 81 miles per hour; a stark contrast from his other pitches.
In addition to his diverse arsenal, Kuhl could be a cheap add for the Twins rotation. While the Pirates agreed to a $2.13 million 2021 contract with Kuhl, it’s likely that the Twins could trade for the pitcher without giving up top prospects given the Pirates’ lackluster farm system.
Kenta Maeda and Chad Kuhl are far from the same pitcher, yet there are similarities. Both men rely heavily upon offspeed pitches and Kuhl is viewed as untapped talent similarly to how Maeda was viewed prior to this year. It may seem like a reach, but Kuhl could fill a crucial puzzle piece in the Twins’ quest to boast one of the strongest rotations in the league.
Musgrove Heads West
As mentioned, Pirates standout Joe Musgrove was traded Monday afternoon to the Padres in exchange for a strong group of prospects. Headlining that group is outfielder Hudson Head, one of the top prospects in the Padres organization.
The Mets are also involved in the trade, as they will send catching prospect Endy Rodriguez to the Pirates. In addition, the Padres are sending LHP Joey Lucchesi to Queens.
While there are multiple facets to this trade, Musgrove is the name that sticks out for Twins fans. A name speculated amongst Twins offseason rumors, Musgrove has proven to be the strongest source of untapped talent in the Pirates organization.
Lester Heads East
Even though the Twins weren’t interested in him, Jon Lester draws an audience whenever his name hits the press.
Following a lengthy tenure with the Cubs, the 37-year-old will be headed to the nation’s capital on a one year four million dollar deal with the Nationals. Lester will join an already stellar rotation alongside the ranks of Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
According to David Kaplan of ESPN Chicago, the Cubs tossed a last minute offer to Lester. However, the amount and value weren’t close to what the Nationals offered the man who propelled the Cubs to their first World Series in over a century.
Let’s hope pickoff moves aren’t required in DC.
Roundup of the Rest
Baseball America released its prospect lists. Below is the Twins top 10 (rank in the top 100 in parentheses).
1. Alex Kirilloff (18)
2. Royce Lewis (29)
3. Trevor Larnach (39)
4. Ryan Jeffers (60)
5. Jhoan Duran
6. Jordan Balazovic
7. Aaron Sabato
8. Matt Canterino
9. Blayne Enlow
10. Gilberto Celestino
Jon Morosi provided a Nelson Cruz update.
Jon Heyman provided a couple of updates on the Yankees, first noting that a potential Luis Castillo trade fell through because the Reds asked for Gleyber Torres plus extras. He then relayed that there “appears to be a good chance” Masahiro Tanaka pitches elsewhere in 2021.
Tyler Chatwood signed a one-year deal with Toronto worth $3 million and includes incentives that could bring the contract to $5.5 million. [Twitter link]
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