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Rundown: Cruz, Cahill, Soria and Ramos

FanCred's Jon Heyman reported Monday that the Twins were in the mix for Nelson Cruz. New Twins beat writer for MLB.com Do-Hyoung Park confirmed and added that there was mutual interest between Cruz and the Twins. Darren Wolfson of KSTP also revealed that the Twins were kicking the tires on Joakim Soria, Trevor Cahill and Wilson Ramos.

So that's four names we've got to dissect, let's get into it.
Image courtesy of © Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Nelson Cruz? But isn't he, like, really old? This was probably what Seattle Mariners fans were asking when their team signed him four years ago. Cruz is 38 now, but he's somehow been able to avoid a decline and was still among the best power hitters in baseball last season.

Cruz hit .256/.342/.509 (.850 OPS) with 37 home runs for Seattle last season, but that was a 74-point drop in his OPS from the prior year. Why? Well, it definitely doesn't have anything to do with how hard he hit the ball.

Cruz led the league in average exit velocity (minimum 300 batted ball events) at 93.9 mph and was fourth in hard hit % at 51.3, per Baseball Savant. His hard hit rate per FanGraphs was 42.3 percent, a career high. His BABIP, however, was just .264, the 22nd-lowest mark among qualified hitters. Cruz has a career .305 BABIP.

Attached Image: CruzExitVelo3.png

The man they call Boomstick has also hit for power in Safeco, no easy task, but his .295/.372/.527 (.900) line on the road was even more impressive last year. He's also a .325/.355/.667 (1.022 OPS) hitter in 124 career plate appearances at Target Field.

Cruz had a 132 DRC+ last season according to Baseball Prospectus. That ranks 24th among all hitters with at least 400 PAs. Eddie Rosario led the Twins with a 113 DRC+ last season.

No matter the track record, his age has to be a concern, but I'm willing to believe that Cruz can be a well above average middle of the lineup hitter for a couple more years. Only eight players hit more home runs than Cruz last season, and he still isn't having to completely sell out for that power. His strikeout rate (20.6) was comfortably below league average (22.3).

MLB Trade Rumors actually predicted the Twins would sign Cruz, putting the expected contract at two years, $30 million. That's probably the cheapest a hitter of this caliber is going to be acquired. The Twins aren't going to spend on Bryce Harper or Manny Machado and they didn't trade for Paul Goldschmidt or Robinson Cano. You get left with a 38-year-old (and that's if you're lucky).

I'd expect a Cruz signing would almost certainly result in the end of Tyler Austin's stay in Minnesota. It would be awfully difficult to fit Cruz, C.J. Cron and Austin (who is out of options) all on the same 25-man roster.

Trevor Cahill had a strong season in his second stay with the A's, pitching to a 3.76 ERA and 1.19 WHIP, but he was much better at home than on the road. In fact, Cahill has been especially comfortable at the Oakland Coliseum over his career. In 383 innings in Oakland, Cahill has a 3.01 ERA. In his other 960 1/3 innings, he has a 4.50 ERA. But one skill that should translate anywhere is his ability to induce ground balls.

Among the pitchers to log 190 innings over the past two seasons (138), Cahill's 54.4 GB% ranked eighth. He also had a career-high 11.7 swinging strike rate, which ranks 33rd among the 140 pitchers who threw at least 100 innings in 2018. Kyle Gibson was at 11.5 and Jose Berrios 11.3.

Attached Image: Screenshot 2018-12-10 at 8.25.33 PM.png

Those ballpark splits worry me, but I still think Cahill could be a boost to the 2019 Twins rotation. MLB Trade Rumors projected him to fetch a two year, $22 million deal.

I mentioned in a rundown last week how I felt Joakim Soria was the one reliever who I felt best fit with the Twins in terms of both need and expected salary. He's had a few slip ups, but in terms of bullpen arms he's been pretty reliable over his career. Both his walk rate and strikeout rate have been trending the right direction each of the past three seasons. Among the pitchers to log 60 innings in 2018 (273), Soria's 4.69 K:BB ratio was tied with Taylor Rogers for 27th place.

I like the idea of the Twins signing Soria, who has 220 career saves, to be the closer. He performed nicely in that role for the White Sox last season before being traded over to Milwaukee. He's 34-years-old, so fastball velocity will be a concern, but he did buck a recent trend of losing velo as the season progressed last year.

Attached Image: SoriaVelo.jpeg

Soria's expected contract is two years, $18 million, per MLB Trade Rumors. The Twins would need to further address the bullpen, in my opinion, but this would be a start.

Finally, Wilson Ramos ... we know all too well this guy has been good when healthy. The former Twins prospect cranked it up a notch last year, hitting .306/.358/.487 (.845) for the Rays and Phillies. Catchers are so difficult to find, so I have a hard time believing Ramos, 31, is going to be available at a discount. MLB Trade Rumors had him signing for three years and $36 million.

It's hard to imagine the Twins making that kind of a commitment to a catcher, given they have Jason Castro and Mitch Garver (and Willians Astudillo), but who knows? Castro is only under contract for one more season and, as Nick pointed out last week, Garver has some injury concerns right now. So I suppose it could happen.

OK, now it's your turn. What do you think about these guys?

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102 Comments

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Post-Concussive Blues
Dec 10 2018 09:46 PM
Yes to all. Well, maybe not Cahill.
    • Mike Frasier Law, nicksaviking, ChrisKnutson and 2 others like this

Dear Twins, 

 

I give Wilson Ramos a hard pass.

 

I think your time will be better served by overpaying for a reliever with horrible sabermetrics that would pass my eye test.

 

Call me if you are interested in any of my other recommendations. 

 

You can find me on my couch.

 

Love Always,

 

Bill Smith

    • birdwatcher, Loosey, Mike Frasier Law and 8 others like this

No.

 

Tired of dumpster diving. 

 

Arms, arms and more arms.

 

Either core gets its act together next season or the team is blown up and the management team starts over. 

 

The core players need to prove they are core players, otherwise these signings are lipstick on a pig.

    • mikelink45, Don Walcott and MN_ExPat like this
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AlwaysinModeration
Dec 10 2018 10:37 PM
Would like to see them sign Cruz. But would it really mean the end for Austin? A four person bench; catcher, MI, OF, 1B/DH type? I kind of feel like Austin has some nice upside.

As for the others, Soria, sure. Others, not as sure. Ramos would be an upgrade, but Garver thrived last year.
    • DocBauer, gagu, SF Twins Fan and 3 others like this
I would rather go with what we have and say no no no no to all of the above no matter how cheap.
    • gman likes this
Yes, yes, yes. And maybe to Cahill.
    • birdwatcher, diehardtwinsfan, Twins33 and 6 others like this
Overshadowed by Jeffress, but Soria was pretty poor for the Brewers in the NLCS...
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ToddlerHarmon
Dec 10 2018 11:01 PM
Interesting that they are all projected to get 2 year deals in the same price range. Also interesting that none of them blocks any prospects even beyond that window. And who said dumpster-diving? All four are actual talents, with multiple years of proven performance including 2018. The only reason for their affordability is they are part of no one's five year plan. I've seen worse uses of payroll and roster spots in these parts
    • birdwatcher, Mike Frasier Law, brvama and 13 others like this
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SF Twins Fan
Dec 10 2018 11:11 PM
Get Cruz signed now!!!
    • Dr. Evil, howieramone2, gagu and 1 other like this

Given the concussion issues for Garver, can see signing Ramos.Also do not know how Castro will come back.  

Cruz would be nice, but may want (and get) the third year, maybe

Soria (would rather have a reliever further up the pile)

Cahill (not at what it would cost)

    • brvama, SF Twins Fan and Battle ur tail off like this
I have been hesitant on Cruz because he is only a DH and I like the potential of Austin. But to be honest, I wouldn't dislike the move for 2019 at least, with Rooker and Khiriloff moving up soon, hopefully. They say there is nothing wrong with a 1yr contract. In reality, if you really think about it, you are signing Cruz for 2019. 2020 becomes his "1yr deal" if things fall in to place.

Meh on Cahill. Shouldn't we be spending more time on the prospects at hand?

Soria is a better version of Rodney. I'd be fine with this. I'd rather someone younger on a 3yr, such as Familia, for example, and work a on a slightly cheaper 2yr for $7-8M, for an aged Soria. Would that work? Not sure. But the FA market has changed, and there is an abundance of potential arms out there.

I like Garver and his potential, as long as he is healthy and there are no concussion concerns. I like Castro as an experienced leader and LH platoon option. Also a fan of Astudillo behind the plate and as a utility option. But come on, if you could add a healthy 31yo Ramos, you'd have to consider it wouldn't you? I would...if the price was right.

To the mat, maybe on Cruz, no to Cahill, yes to Soria, maybe on Ramos, eating Castro's contract for 1 year.

I honestly think Cruz will end up singing for less. Either way, it means trading Austin, or trying to sneak him through waivers for AAA, aren't we better signing McCutchen or Brantley for close to the same money? DH, OF, 1B, we couldn't find room for one of them and the guys on hand?
    • MN_ExPat likes this
What makes anyone think Ramos is healthy? If the league thought he was, he'd get big dollars, I'd think.

I can't see any way Cron, Austin, and Cruz are all on the roster. So Austin would be one and done.
    • Mike Frasier Law and LA VIkes Fan like this

 

I would rather go with what we have and say no no no no to all of the above no matter how cheap.

 

Are you a Pohlad heir?

    • SgtSchmidt11, Sconnie and Minny505 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Dec 11 2018 06:27 AM

 

Yes, yes, yes. And maybe to Cahill.

 

Pretty much this... Cahill doesn't excite me. The rest are an emphatic yes. 

    • birdwatcher, LA VIkes Fan and howieramone2 like this

Cruz' production was down in 2018.I see that as the beginning of his decline and expect it will continue in 2019 and 2020.Expect it is likely that Austin will outperform Cruz in 2020 with 2019 a wash.

    • Original Whizzinator likes this
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RatherBeGolfing
Dec 11 2018 08:05 AM

 


I can't see any way Cron, Austin, and Cruz are all on the roster. So Austin would be one and done.

 

Bingo. In a vacuum, Cruz brings a impact bat to our lineup but not without the expense of someone else. If Austin has to be dumped for it, it happens, I get it. But I do think people need to understand that there's no way in 2018 baseball you can fit all of those one dimensional pieces onto a roster

    • Minfidel, mikelink45 and MN_ExPat like this

LEN III is throwing cold water on all 4.

 

http://www.startribu...ents/502415931/

    • SomeGuy likes this
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Tom Froemming
Dec 11 2018 08:14 AM

 

Would like to see them sign Cruz. But would it really mean the end for Austin? A four person bench; catcher, MI, OF, 1B/DH type? I kind of feel like Austin has some nice upside.

I wouldn't expect any team to carry a four-man bench in 2019 for long. Might work in the early goings with all the extra off days, but there will come a time when you need that extra pitcher.

 

With Twins having a first-time manager, first-time MLB pitching coach and first-time bullpen coach I'd think it'd be a wise idea to give them that extra arm for wiggle room.

    • brvama and MN_ExPat like this
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Tom Froemming
Dec 11 2018 08:39 AM

Some food for thought:

 

2018 ERA

3.62 Gibson

3.76 Cahill

3.84 Berrios

4.49 Odorizzi

 

2018 FIP

3.54 Cahill

3.90 Berrios

4.13 Gibson

4.20 Odorizzi

 

2018 WHIP

1.14 Berrios

1.19 Cahill

1.30 Gibson

1.34 Odorizzi

 

2018 K:BB

3.31 Berrios

2.44 Cahill

2.31 Odorizzi

2.27 Gibson

 

The other top FA SPs available are Keuchel (who has a qualifying offer), Happ, Kikuchi (though he sounds more interested in playing on the west coast), Morton (though he sounds more interested in either staying in Houston or playing on the east coast), Gio, Anibal and Matt Harvey. I think Cahill represents a solid option in that group in terms of performance and availability. 

 

They obviously also have the option of trying to trade for a pitcher, but you gotta give something to get something. If the Twins are intent on treating 2019 as an evaluation year, I can't imagine they're motivated to trade away any prospects. We'll see.

    • birdwatcher, Twins33, brvama and 6 others like this
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Aerodeliria
Dec 11 2018 09:05 AM
I know that some folks won't dig the argument, but it would be nice to have a veteran presence like Cruz around to kind of keep things in perspective so to speak. I mean he is a guy with a real resume and not just a one year he did blah blah blah blah.

I recall with great fondness when the 87 Twins grabbed Don Baylor from the scrap yard. His presence was a big plus--not to mention his huge home run in game five of the World Series.
    • birdwatcher, howieramone2, gagu and 2 others like this

I'd be interested in all of them, especially Cruz who gets on base in addition to hitting the ball a mile. I certainly wouldn't pass up Cruz in order to hold a roster spot for Tyler Austin, who I think ain't gonna be anything other than a guy.

 

I don't see Ramos happening, but considering the concerns over whether Garver can continue to catch with the concussion issues and Castro coming off a significant knee injury it's worth exploring.

 

(I hate hate hate the fact that teams are running with 13 pitchers. Especially considering at least one of those guys isn't going to get used more than once a week and occasionally will go 2 weeks without an appearance and possibly 3 without a meaningful one. I'd rather see a rule limiting the number of pitchers on a roster to 12 than banning the shift.)

 

 

    • SF Twins Fan and Minny505 like this

If Sano cannot play 3B - injuries, etc. his options are 1B or DH.Right now there is Austin, Cron, Cave (if not starting), Garver (if not starting or wiped out by concussion), and Sano if not at 3B.I am not against Cruz, but what are the plans for all these contingencies?

    • Sconnie likes this

 

Interesting that they are all projected to get 2 year deals in the same price range. Also interesting that none of them blocks any prospects even beyond that window. And who said dumpster-diving? All four are actual talents, with multiple years of proven performance including 2018. The only reason for their affordability is they are part of no one's five year plan. I've seen worse uses of payroll and roster spots in these parts

I said dumpster diving because of the age of all the people mentioned. I know I could be way off base but this just seems like more of the same that has gone on in the past. Last year, I think, was a lost year for the new FO, in that too many things went wrong for them to really find out what kind of players they have. I just can't see the Twins competing this year and I don't see how these signings help the Twins going forward. 

    • ToddlerHarmon likes this
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LA VIkes Fan
Dec 11 2018 10:10 AM

These are all interesting names in the short terrm but the problem with signing all of these guys is the same reason they are available at reasonable prices - they areshort term guys who won't be around 3 or 4 years from now. These are more the kind of players you sign when you have the makings of a contending team and need help in a specific area like a veteran bat, a SP, a C, that kind of thing.

 

Are the Twins in that spot? I don't really think so. Last year was a lost year in many ways, most importantly in assessing the exisiting talent level. Sano and Buxton did nothing more than mark time, Kepler was mediocre to poor at the plate (although that may be predictive), and Polanco missed half the season. This team needs to evaluate what it has to put around Rosario. That means guys like Polanco, Cave (last year's bright spot outside of the pitching staff), Buxton, Sano, Schoop, Cron, and even Kepler have to play a lot.  

 

I wouldn'y sign Cruz unless the Twins have already decided Austin isn't more than just a guy. If they have, then you sign Cruz as a bridge to Rooker or Kiriloff. Soria or Familia make sense as this year's closer with Romero moving to the BP as the 8th inning guy/closer in wating. Cahill gets hurt too much and blocks the Mejia, Thorpe, Gonsalves, etc. group unless we also trade Pineda or Odorizzi (Gibson should be re-signed if possible). Ramos is too big of an injury risk.  

 

This is a year to evaluate more than a year to contend. That's a bit depressing but I think it's the reality. 

    • Blake and Major League Ready like this
After sleeping on it, I'd sign Cruz. This is, of course, why you shouldn't be in a hurry to add a tiny upgrade in Cron really in the off season, but they did. Austin can join the very long list of guys this FO has acquired that was here for less than a year.

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