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Wolfson: Twins Scouting Yoshinobu Yamamoto

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:59 PM
  Doogie Wolfson tweeted that the Twins are going to be scouting 22-year-old RHP Yoshinobu Yamamoto, "one of the premier young pitc...
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Re-Load vs. Re-Tool vs. Re-Build for 2021

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 11:35 AM
The Twins certainly have options this winter now that the core has been here long enough to make some tough calls. Which is the best rout...
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2020 MLB (non-Twins) Postseason Discussion Thread

Other Baseball Today, 11:35 AM
Feel free to chime in here about any of the (non-Twins) 2020 MLB postseason games!
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Not to add more doom and gloom

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:34 AM
This is interesting and sort of concerning. Article snippet comes from the incomparable Jayson Stark of The Athletic (Which is must read...
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Recent Blogs


The Evolution of Trevor May

Trevor May has become a force out of the bullpen for our Twins over the last two years. Even as a former top prospect, his development into the player we've seen is incredible given the injuries and change he's overcome. Let's take a dive into May's rise to elite reliever, and what his future may hold.
Image courtesy of © Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
I've officially been "knighted" as a Twins Daily contributor as Tom Froemming has informed me, and I couldn't be more grateful to be able to plaster my thoughts on the front page of this community for all to read. For my first official post, I wanted to take a look at one of my favorite career arcs and players in general.

THE TRADE
Trevor May was a fourth-round pick by the Phillies in 2008 and was considered their number one prospect by 2011 according to Baseball Prospectus. Philadelphia was in need of a center fielder after the 2012 season however, and their top prospect became expendable. As we know, the Terry Ryan regime was firing off center fielders left and right in their tenure. In December of 2012, they were able to trade Ben Revere for Trevor May and (Twins Legend) Vance Worley. The bottom line was that the Twins believed they had their future center fielder in Aaron Hicks coming up the pipeline and traded their light hitting center fielder for what they valued as a future rotation piece.

THE STARTER
May would start 27 games for the Twins AA affiliate in 2013, pitching to a 4.51 ERA and striking out over a batter per inning before being moved up to Rochester in 2014. After 18 starts and a 2.84 ERA, May got the call to the majors and struggled to the tune of a 7.88 ERA in 9 starts. 2015 was May's most successful season as a starter, as he actually pitched to a 4.37 ERA and a much better 3.25 FIP in 15 starts to begin the season. The team's rotational depth however pushed May into a bullpen role. He would make one more start down the stretch in 2015.

THE RELIEVER
The move to the bullpen looked like the beginning of something great. In 31 1/3 innings, May put up a 2.87 ERA and held opposing hitters to a line of .250/.305/.392. with well over a strikeout per inning. Despite his strong finish to 2015, he stumbled a bit in 2016 where he saw his walk and homerun rates increase, which resulted in a 5.27 ERA. The potential was still obvious when looking at his 32.1 K% however. His season would end abruptly with a stress fracture in his back. It would be in the spring of 2017 where he would be diagnosed with a torn UCL which would cost him his 2017 season.

THE BEAST
May made his first appearance in over a year on July 31, 2018. He would go on to make 24 appearances in 2018 boasting a 3.20 ERA with a 35% K rate. He was simply dominant for the remainder of the season.

The Twins bullpen was their clear weakness to start 2019. Taylor Rogers dominating on the back end however, allowed May to take the time he needed to continue adjusting after Tommy John without having to take a high leverage role. He began the season pitching well, albeit not quite on the same level as his finish to 2018. His strikeouts hovered closer to about one per inning. His walks also crept up to around 4.5/9 innings in the first half of the season. What we saw in the second half from May was nothing short of incredible. He held opponents to a .159/.220/.354 line. He finished the season with a 2.94 ERA. His FIP of 3.73 was a likely result of his 3.64 BB/9, a number that consistently decreased as the season went on. His 11.05 K/9 trailed only Rogers and Duffey in the Twins bullpen, as May flourished in a fireman role pitching in just about every situation from fifth inning stopper to picking up a save here and there. For more context on May's dominance, see his Statcast data below.

May


His lowest measurement in context to the rest of the league is his curveball spin rate falling into the 55th percentile. Other than that, that's a lot of red. It's difficult to find a pitcher who grades out above average in just about every Statcast category. For reference, here are the Statcast measurements from Daniel Hudson who the Washington Nationals leaned heavily on down the stretch and closed out the 2019 World Series.

Hudson


Hudson is two-years older than May, but only surpasses him in fastball spin rate by Statcast measurements. Hudson slightly bested May in ERA, BB/9 and HR/9 and in 2019, with peripherals that do not reflect his final line (2.47 ERA vs 3.97 FIP). Despite the warning signs in his peripherals, Hudson was recently rewarded with a two-year $11 million contract with the Nats.

THE FUTURE
Trevor May enters 2020 penciled in to play another significant role in our bullpen plans with a salary of about $2.2 million. This is his last season before he hits free agency for the first time in his career after his age 30 season. While he didn't close out the 2019 World Series (Maybe 2020?), we've seen that teams are not shy about handing out sizeable contracts to Statcast darlings, especially when they already have had some form of sustained success. Former Twin Ryan Pressly serves a similar fireman role with an occasional save and signed a contract that pays him almost $9 million annually for the next two years, as well as a $10 million vesting option in the third year. That number shows that teams aren't only paying up for saves these days. May wouldn't command quite so much on the open market, but there would likely be interest. A team could certainly pay him handsomely to be a fireman or even a closer depending on the situation.

While his recent performance bodes well for the Twins going into 2020, it likely means a decent payday for him in the near future. Relief pitcher is one of the most volatile positions from year to year. At age 30 for a team at the beginning of their window, should May be receiving an extension for similar money to Daniel Hudson listed above? The Twins front office may very well be confident in the young arms on their way up or those that have already arrived. They may be more inclined to focus on that Buxton or Berrios extension. I for one would love to keep Minnesota's favorite Twitch streamer in a Twins jersey for a few more years. What do you think?

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24 Comments

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Cooper Carlson
Jan 18 2020 09:13 PM

This was really well done. Also, welcome to Twins Daily Cody!

    • USNMCPO, SwainZag, DocBauer and 4 others like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Jan 18 2020 09:21 PM

This is a really great, thorough breakdown of May's career, though I had to LOL a bit at this:

 

"The team's rotational depth however pushed May into a bullpen role."

 

Yeah... maybe that wasn't such a great call?

 

Anyway, love the article, can't wait to see more.

    • SwainZag, DocBauer, JoshDungan1 and 1 other like this

 

"The team's rotational depth however pushed May into a bullpen role."

 

Yeah... maybe that wasn't such a great call?

Yeah you've got to wonder where his career is at right now if he had stuck in the rotation instead of... Mike Pelfrey or Tommy Milone. God bless Terry Ryan.

    • Brock Beauchamp and JoshDungan1 like this
Great OP and congrats for being "knighted" though tinged with jealousy, lol.

Like Brock, I had to laugh about pitching depth pushing May to the pen. Love Gardy. Always will. But pushing May to the pen over Pelfrey, when he was showing real potential, will always be a demerit in regard to Gardy's tenure as manager. But it may have turned out for the best, especially considering results since, and May's acceptance of his role, and the fact it was basically his idea to begin with.

Unless I am mistaken, he had a nice FB and great curve but so so change when he came up. His "problem" in early '19...though he didn't exactly stink...was going back and forth with his curve vs a slider. Where he began to really excel was trusting his FB more and settling on a power curve/slider/slurve mix similar to Duffey. Please correct me if I'm wrong here.

As long as he can continue to trust his breaking pitch, I have all the confidence in the world in May. No matter how hard you try to balance things, you can't extend everyone. But I would absolutely like to do so with May if possible.

We all want to forget the series with N.Y. last year. But one thing I've read over and over again is how good the Twins BP was the second half of 2019 but how the Yankees had the proven "names" in the pen. How do you become a "name" until you gain experience? The Twins had a handful of talented rookies vs veterans in that series. Imagine keeping our current pen together...Rogers, May, Duffey, etc... for another 3yrs and what they might become/accomplish.
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LylesCrocodiles
Jan 19 2020 12:41 AM
For so many years the Twins have lacked pitchers with plus breaking stuff. May can spin it. So can Duffey and Rogers. Yes May and Duffey have had a tendency to hang a few but they get plenty of swings and misses. All 3 are cheap controllable assets that should anchor the pen for a few years. Hopefully we develop an arm or two that add to that depth.
    • dbminn likes this
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ToddlerHarmon
Jan 19 2020 04:44 AM
Echoing others, it is frustrating to see that May never failed as a starter. But hopefully the rebirth of the fireman role will let the Twins wring out maximum value.
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howieramone2
Jan 19 2020 05:24 AM
The warm body that bumped May to the pen, was Santana returning from PED. Savvy move at the time, to maintain our momentum while we were still in the hunt.

In 2011 May was not even in the top 100 prospect lists. To be the top player in a system like that is not saying much. The year he was traded to the Twins is when he dropped off those lists. It is not like he was a top prospect. There were a couple of people who really liked him https://www.minorlea...ll-star-starter

 

In terms of soon to be free agents. May has had a great year and a half. What he gets in free agency will be determined by what happens this year.

    • yeahyabetcha likes this

It's dangerous to try to mind-read, but in his case I tend to notice a difference in demeanor when Lurch suddenly shows up mid-appearance and blows away a couple of batters, versus regular Trevor who fiddles around and puts men on base. Probably I'm imagining things. Almost surely.

 

He could sit down with Jake Odorizzi and discuss how to pick one game face for the entire season.

    • wabene likes this

I'd extend May for 2/$11M. RP can have up/down years. Having Rogers, May and Duffey all under control improves the odds of having a couple of solid RP every year. It's not big money.

 

 

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Jan 19 2020 06:26 PM

Nicely written article. Thank you Cody.

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Brock Beauchamp
Jan 19 2020 06:29 PM

I'd extend May for 2/$11M. RP can have up/down years. Having Rogers, May and Duffey all under control improves the odds of having a couple of solid RP every year. It's not big money.

I think May will want something more in the range of $8-9m a year.
    • dbminn likes this
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howieramone2
Jan 19 2020 06:50 PM
No way I go that high for May. He was good last season and the previous year for 30 innings. I go 2 years on a team friendly deal.
    • bighat likes this

 

I think May will want something more in the range of $8-9m a year.

All of us want 8-9 million.

Want and get are 2 different things.2019 was not too friendly for the relief pitcher contracts. The high priced relievers the year before that were not signed by the Yankees all did poorly.The big money Colorado paid out the previous year did not pan out. 8-9 for a non proven closer will be a tough one to get

You are right. It will take more. I was rolling with the author's estimate, which I would surely take. I think it he might agree to a little less than your estimate if they got it done now. Maybe 2/$15. 

 

I think May will want something more in the range of $8-9m a year.

 

See above, Brock. Somehow, I forgot to hit the quote button.

 

No way I go that high for May. He was good last season and the previous year for 30 innings. I go 2 years on a team friendly deal.

Honestly I agree. I also don't see him as an "elite reliever" by any stretch. Last year was far and away his best MLB season....where he posted an ERA of almost 3.00. His career ERA is 4.49 and he's 30 years old.

 

Is this what we call "elite" now? There are about 40-50 guys in the league that pitched as effectively as May did last year. He's good, he's serviceable, but it's not like he's ever come within sniffing distance of an All-Star berth. It's good that the Twins have May the team. But let's get real and stop pretending this guy is anywhere near the levels of guys like Josh Hader.

 

 

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Brock Beauchamp
Jan 20 2020 08:29 AM

You are right. It will take more. I was rolling with the author's estimate, which I would surely take. I think it he might agree to a little less than your estimate if they got it done now. Maybe 2/$15.

I think that’s reasonable. Maybe 2/$14m gets it done, but I don’t think it will.

Daniel Hudson just signed for 2/$11m and I’d *much* rather have the upside and age of May. No, May isn’t stellar but stellar relievers don’t sign 2/$15m deals. Good relievers sign that kind of deal and May is a good reliever.
    • dbminn likes this

 

I think that’s reasonable. Maybe 2/$14m gets it done, but I don’t think it will.

Daniel Hudson just signed for 2/$11m and I’d *much* rather have the upside and age of May. No, May isn’t stellar but stellar relievers don’t sign 2/$15m deals. Good relievers sign that kind of deal and May is a good reliever.

 

Again, you are right. May is the better RP. But May isn't a free agent yet. He has one more year of risk before entering the market. I'd make the offer now. $15M is life changing money. The worst that happens is he refuses and enters free agency next offseason. 

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Brock Beauchamp
Jan 20 2020 08:42 AM

Again, you are right. May is the better RP. But May isn't a free agent yet. He has one more year of risk before entering the market. I'd make the offer now. $15M is life changing money. The worst that happens is he refuses and enters free agency next offseason.

Oh, I didn’t realize we were talking about an extension today. I was acting as if May was a FA today and what he’d probably get.

If the Twins pursue an extension before the season starts, definitely lop a couple of million off that AAV.
    • dbminn likes this

 

Oh, I didn’t realize we were talking about an extension today. I was acting as if May was a FA today and what he’d probably get.

If the Twins pursue an extension before the season starts, definitely lop a couple of million off that AAV.

 

Sorry about that. Yes, I'd extend May right now. I think he's worth the gamble. 

Yes I like Trevor. I got is Bowman Chrome red refractor. Hope the trend continues

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drivlikejehu
Jan 20 2020 04:21 PM

I'm not sure that I see the upside in extending him. Seems better to wait until after the season and just pay him market value if it makes sense to do so. In general, 30-year old relievers are not particularly reliable assets, and May has an injury history. 

 

I think May will want something more in the range of $8-9m a year.

That's approaching Ryan Pressly money which is certainly possible. Pressly had a few less concerns however with his walks and had two seasons of being legitimately one of the best relievers in baseball. I think for May to draw that kind of money, he has to have another dominant season and convince a team that he's their 2021 source of saves.