Twins DFA Kennys Vargas, Acquire OF Cave From Yankees
Image courtesy of Jasen Vinlove, USA Today (Kennys Vargas)The Twins traded 19-year-old pitcher Luis Gil for Cave, who joins Zack Granite and Robbie Grossman in the mix for a backup job in the outfield. Paul Molitor indicated that he might get Cave, who had recently been designated for assignment himself when the Yankees signed Neil Walker earlier this week, into the lineup as soon as Saturday.
A sixth-round draft pick out of high school back in 2011, Cave owns a career .767 OPS in the minors but experienced a breakout of sorts last summer with Class-AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, slashing .324/.367/.554 with 15 home runs in 72 games. He had previously never reached double-digits in the homer column.
"He made some adjustments that we thought led to the power surge that he had, and we think those will continue going forward," said Derek Falvey, who added that the scouting staff gained familiarity with Cave while scouring New York's system during Jaime Garcia trade discussions last July.
Gil had thrown only 65 innings in the Twins system, all in the Dominican Summer League, in which he posted a 3.32 ERA, 10.1 K/9 rate, and 6.4 BB/9 rate. He missed the 2016 season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Falvey described him as a "hard-throwing right-hander."
"He certainly has some upside and I think that's what they identified."
Cave has played all three outfield positions in the minors but more center than anything else. Falvey suggested that he profiles better in the corners, but is usable in center. A left-handed swinger whose 1.000 OPS against righties towered over his .638 mark against southpaws last year, Cave seems a somewhat odd fit on a 40-man roster that already features Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Zack Granite.
Falvey said that such considerations are secondary when trying to add a desirable talent.
"With the way we're structured there're a few non-roster candidates or otherwise who fit on the other side of the coin there," explained Minnesota's chief baseball officer. "To just add another position player with three options remaining who we like has value to us, whether it's for now or in the future."
Reading between the lines, it seems likely Cave will head to Rochester to open the season but he could be a useful depth piece, especially if the power strides stick as Falvey hopes.
Meanwhile, the team will try to work out a trade with Vargas, or else see if he lands somewhere on waivers. The Rays, who beat the Twins 11-1 at Hammond Stadium on Friday, appear to be a logical fit and multiple Tampa media members noted as much in the press box.