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Twins Searching the Cupboard for Arms

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 15 May 2019 · 2,922 views

minnesota twins trevor hildenberger mike morin
Coming into the 2019 Major League Baseball season, relief pitching was a very serious question mark. For the most part, the guys Minnesota’s front office has told us to trust in have looked the part. Ryne Harper has been a great story, and Matt Magill has flashed solid stuff. The back end of Taylor Rogers, Blake Parker, and Trevor May work. Unfortunately, that’s where things end.

There’s been a revolving door at the bottom of Minnesota’s bullpen, and the options to call upon are dwindling. Fernando Romero has been up multiple times, without seeing any significant success. He’s been knocked around at Triple-A, and despite great stuff, the transition to relief hasn’t gone smoothly. We’ve seen Tyler Duffey a few times, and despite dominating Triple-A, the beautiful bender has yet to see solid run in the big leagues.

Rocco Baldelli has been given lefty Andrew Vasquez, and former starter Adalberto Mejia looks to have flamed out. Addison Reed was on a path back through a surprise rehab stint, but he’s been hit around the park for Rochester. The only other 40-man option is lefty Gabriel Moya, who has also been bad since returning to Triple-A and hasn’t ever shown a significant level of success at the big-league level.

Non-40-man options are also a difficult ask at this point. Jake Reed was going well for Rochester but has hit the skids. D.J. Baxendale and Ryan Eades have gaudy ERA numbers and are allowing far too much contact. Beyond that, you’d need to dip another level down and be relatively convinced that the big jump would be warranted.
The good news is that the Twins are 27-15 while looking in command of the AL Central. The bad news is that Trevor Hildenberger nearly surrendered a four-run lead, and Mike Morin was called upon to face both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani in massive spots today. If that development alone doesn’t call for some action, I don’t know what does.

Craig Kimbrel still is unsigned and can be acquired for nothing more than cash. Yes, at this point you’d need to part with a draft pick to sign him. Waiting until after the draft could be smart, but the number of teams willing to bring him in without pick compensation being thwarted likely rises in number as well. On the trade front, there’s more than a handful of bad teams that can part will relievers. Typically deals are consummated in late June at the earlier. Though the asset capital may be higher when looking to acquire talent earlier in the year, it’s worth weighing what the immediate and extra impact would be should they get into Wes Johnson’s hands sooner.

At the end of the day it boils down to the simple principle that the Minnesota Twins have opportunity in front of them. Given their trajectory and roster construction, this isn’t a team that should be playing for 2020. You don’t need to mortgage the farm for a one-year run but capitalizing in years where you can make noise is a must. Right now, the greatest deficiency this group has is its bullpen. Although the collective has held strong, it’s been on the back of a small inner group that is going to be burned through come summer.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

  • brvama, DocBauer, nclahammer and 1 other like this

Personally, I'd take Kimbrel tomorrow, and I haven't previously been 100% on board with that to date. I think a 1yr deal is not only the way to go, but what he probably wants at this point as well. I'd really like a 2nd yr option, and we could afford it, but would, again, say he wouldn't go for it.

I'm a little confused as to what would have to be given up draft pick wise. I've heard a 3rd rounder, or the signing team's 3rd pick, which ever round it was in. (Meaning a possible 2nd round pick if there is a compensation pick involved). I really hate to give up an early pick like that, especially since this FO seems to have a good eye in drafting and acquiring talent.

But the simple, honest truth is, only a handful of guys from any draft class make it, much less make it for a long and steady career. The developmental highway of EVERY MLB team is littered with top prospects/draft choices that failed to meet expectations, or make it at all. On a team with this much talent, playing this well, there is real opportunity for someone like Kimbrel to make a significant difference. That has to be weighed vs an unknown draft selection that may or may not ever pan out.

Regarding others you mentioned, to dismiss the arms/potential of Romero or Mejia at this point would be misguided. I think we all know it's not as easy of an adjustment to make as just saying: "go to the pen and throw hard and dominate." The FO was probably hoping for that. It could still happen. But whether it be mental or physical preparation and adjustment, it hasn't happened as of yet.

I have honestly been surprised by the, so far, sustained success of Harper. Magill has the velocity and breaking ball to be very effective if he can control the BB and HR he allowed last season. Either, or both, could be fine, or very good, as 7th-8th men in the pen. But as of now, there is no 2nd LH to rely on at all. And while I like Parker, and feel May is going to settle in nicely, there is a very real need for a top fireman to join Rogers.

It's great to think about what a couple of these guys could do come the second half of the season, and what they could bring then, and for the future. But that is a dangerous "what if" game for a team looking this good.

If not Kimbrel, for various reasons, so be it. But the FO needs to be aggressive with at least one big move. Kimbrel costs money and a questionable draft choice. A LH option costs a couple prospects in a deep system. The FO has been very clear about adding to the team if the window for contention arrived.

The window is wide open at this point!
    • brvama, h2oface, adorduan and 1 other like this
May 15 2019 07:40 PM
Wouldn’t be against us dipping into AA for Cody Stashak, the man’s been absolutely dominant so far, why not see what he can do? If not, Kohl Stewart seems like the safest bet.

Then again, we are playing the M’s next, so perhaps Addison Reed gets one last shot.
Ted Schwerzler
May 15 2019 08:18 PM


Wouldn’t be against us dipping into AA for Cody Stashak, the man’s been absolutely dominant so far, why not see what he can do? If not, Kohl Stewart seems like the safest bet.

Then again, we are playing the M’s next, so perhaps Addison Reed gets one last shot.

Given who threw (and also how they threw) tonight for Rochester, it almost certainly won't be Reed. Messing up Stewart's days doesn't seem like a good bet since they need a reliever, and the options are running thin. Doogie suggested to watch Austin Adams which would be well...meh

May 15 2019 08:50 PM

But, but, but you said that Hildenberger had become a proven commodity .

Ted Schwerzler
May 15 2019 09:48 PM

But, but, but you said that Hildenberger had become a proven commodity .

Touché. That early stretch certainly clouded the judgement there eh?

Well, that cupboard was well-stocked with arms in the offseason, but we left it closed with the latch on tight.  


If we open it up now, there's nothing but the cockroaches left, scurrying about.


I wonder if we'll join the mad post-draft rush for Kimbrel or Kuechel...?