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  1. Trade Deadline Thread: Who Are Your Favorite Bullpen Targets?

    During the Twins game last night, multiple reporters had an interesting quote from Derek Falvey about the state of salary/payroll during this deadline.

    So the Twins would be willing to take on some money, you say? Well there is one particular reliever who came to mind for a lot of Twins fans including myself, and that is the Kansas City Royals reliever Ian Kennedy. The 34-year-old right-hander is under team control next season but he is owed roughly $16.5 million for that year. The Royals might still maintain some of the salary but the Twins would still be paying quite a bit. That shouldn’t be too big of a problem though, because Kennedy is actually a really good pitcher.

    He is in his first season as a relief pitcher after twelve up and down seasons as a starter. In 41 appearances this year, Kennedy owns a 3.48 ERA, 2.23 FIP(!), 10.89 K/9, and 2.18 BB/9. He is a solid right hander who will be able to share high leverage innings with Taylor Rogers and as a righty to pair with Rogers, the Twins could utilize their matchup approach to the bullpen even more.

    Of course if I’m calling, texting, facetiming or writing letters to Kansas City I am looking for a second player to pair with Kennedy, and that would be Lucas Duda. That is a joke, the real second piece the Twins should target is left handed reliever Jake Diekman.

    A lot of you will be turned off of him after I say this, but I would call him a left handed Trevor May. Diekman has a very good fastball reaching 96 mph that hitters are hitting just .185 against to go with an outstanding 13.28 K/9, but his BB/9 is a frustrating 5.09 so he will either strike you out or walk you. He is just a good pitcher you can put in for the sixth or seventh inning to safely get you to the big guns to finish the game.
    So what do you think? Would this package from the Royals be good enough to fix the Twins bullpen? Who are your favorite bullpen pieces expected to be available?

    Discuss that with me in the comments along with some of these other rumors in the deadline discussion.

    Deadline Discussion
    • Fangraphs put out an article predicting what each team does at the deadline. They have Twins going to the Giants to acquire Madison Bumgarner and Sam Dyson for the costly price of Brusdar Graterol and Trevor Larnach, the Twins #3 and #4 prospects respectively. While both are good pitchers, I don’t see the Twins dealing two of their best prospects for a rental starter and a reliever. What do you think?
    • CBS Sports ranked the 50 best trade candidates for this upcoming deadline. The Twins are listed as fits for Austin Brice (#28), Tony Watson (#23), Sam Dyson (#22), Alex Colome (#21), Chris Martin (#20), Shawn Kelley (#19), Ken Giles (#15), Kirby Yates (#13), Trevor Bauer (#6), Mike Minor (#5) and Madison Bumgarner (#4). Who would you like to see from this list?
    • Here at Twins Daily, Seth posted the first Trade Deadline Thread with some other interesting links from Ken Rosenthal among other posts. Also at Twins Daily, Matt and I gave our perfect trade deadline scenarios on our Leading Off Podcast, so just skip to the 46 minute mark for that.
    I guarantee there is no better place to find everything you need for the Twins and their upcoming trade deadline than right here at Twins Daily. Now come join me in the comments and let’s discuss the Royals package deal, the Mad Bum/Sam Dyson idea and the many other players linked to the Twins!

    • Jul 25 2019 08:11 AM
    • by Cooper Carlson
  2. Potential Twins Bullpen Target: Ken Giles, RHP, Blue Jays

    Some of you might remember during that great postseason run by the 2017 Astros, one piece that wasn’t firing for them was the backend of their bullpen. A big part of this was due to the fall of Ken Giles, who was rocked for 10 runs on 12 hits and five walks in 7 2/3 innings pitched in the 2017 postseason. Those struggles carried over into 2018, and led to the Astros decision to demote him to AAA before ultimately trading him to the Blue Jays in part of the package that sent Roberto Osuna to the Astros. Giles didn’t have a lot more success with the Blue Jays than he did the Astros, and finished 2018 with a 4.65 ERA. However, it wasn’t all bad in 2018, as Giles did have a much better 3.08 FIP, that was aided in part by his extremely low walk rate of just 3.3 percent.

    Now in 2019, Ken Giles seems to have regained the form that helped him become the dominant backend of the bullpen reliever that he was during his first four seasons as a big leaguer. Among qualified relievers, only Ryan Pressly, Brad Hand, and Shane Greene have a better ERA this season than Giles’ 1.08. Some of the more in-depth metrics support that this is the real Ken Giles, and that 2018 was more of a fluke/bad luck season. In addition to his 1.08 ERA, Giles sports a 1.17 FIP, which is topped by only Kirby Yates’ 1.14 FIP among qualified relievers. If you look at the Statcast metrics over at Baseball Savant, it backs up the case that Giles is back to his dominant form even more. So far this season, Giles has allowed opposing hitters to hit at a .207 clip, compared to his expected batting average allowed of .188. Giles has also been better from an expected wOBA perspective, as Giles .247 wOBA allowed is actually slightly higher than his .243 xwOBA.

    A big part of Giles' success has come from regaining his ability to strike people out. During his dominant stretch from 2014 to 2017, Giles struck out 33.7 percent of opposing hitters (which ranked 9th among all relievers with at least 100 IP over that time). In 2018, that number fell to just 25 percent. However, in 2019, Giles has gotten his strikeout rate back up to 42.4 percent, which ranks third among qualified relievers this season. A big part of this can be explained by Giles getting back to using his slider more often. Here is a graph showing Giles' slider usage rate over the past few seasons.

    [attachment=12734:Ken Giles Slider Pitch Percent.png]

    (Chart via Baseball Savant)

    As we can see, Giles threw his slider far less often in 2018 than he had been previously, which could help explain his dip in performance. In 2019, Giles’ slider usage is back up to 49 percent, which is the highest rate of his career. It becomes even more clear that this has had an impact when we look at the next chart that shows us just how much better Giles is with his slider than his fastball.

    [attachment=12735:Ken Giles wOBA by Pitch Type.png]

    (Chart via Baseball Savant)

    A big part of what makes Ken Giles slider so effective is how often he gets opposing hitters to swing and miss at the pitch. So far this year, opposing hitters are whiffing at 61 percent of Giles' sliders that they swing at. That is the highest rate of any pitcher who has thrown at least 100 breaking balls this season. It is also apparent that Giles started throwing his sinker again in 2018, but he is still rarely using it (under four percent of the time) so I wouldn’t put much stock in that pitch for now.

    One concern the Twins could have for Giles is regarding his health, as he was placed on the IL last week with elbow inflammation, but he was reinstated onto the active roster on Thursday, so they will have some time to evaluate if he is truly healthy before they are forced to make a decision on him.

    Giles is currently making $6.3M in his second year of arbitration and will be under team control through the 2020 season if the Twins were to trade for him. If you are wondering what it would take to pry Giles away from the Blue Jays, I assume they will be demanding a package in return that is similar to what the Twins received in the Ryan Pressly trade with the Astros a year ago.

    See Also
    Sam Dyson, RHP, Giants
    Brad Hand, LHP, Indians
    Oliver Perez, LHP Cleveland
    Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds
    John Gant, RHP, Cardinals
    Alex Colome, RHP, White Sox
    Seth Lugo, RHP, Mets
    Greg Holland, RHP, Diamondbacks
    Sean Doolittle, LHP, Nationals
    Kirby Yates, RHP, Padres
    10 Relievers Minnesota Could Target

    • Jun 22 2019 07:32 AM
    • by Andrew Thares
  3. 10 Relievers Minnesota Could Target

    LHP Jake Diekman, Kansas City
    2019 Stats: 4.10 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 39 K, 26.1 IP
    Diekman’s 13.3 K/9 rate seems made for the post-season and some of his other peripheral numbers look better than his high ERA and WHIP. He has a $5.75 million club option for 2020, so he wouldn’t have to be a rental player. He also seems to be healthy after dealing with ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease of the colon. Since Diekman is on an AL Central squad, it could be tough to swing a deal. Does Minnesota want to send prospect that they could end up facing multiple times a season?

    RHP Ken Giles, Toronto
    2019 Stats: 1.08 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 42 K, 25.0 IP
    Giles has been closing games for Houston and Philadelphia for the last five seasons and he might be amid the best season of his career. He entered the year with a career mark of 11.9 K/9 and he has exploded to 15.1 K/9 this season. Giles has one more year of arbitration as he signed this year for $6.3 million. Back in 2017, he struggled with the Astros on the way to the World Series title. This still doesn’t mean he can’t help a team win in 2019.

    RHP Mychal Givens, Baltimore
    2019 Stats: 5.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 37 K, 27.0 IP
    Givens might not have the eye-popping numbers of some of the other names on this list but that doesn’t mean he should be ignored. His 12.3 K/9 total is a career high. Over the last three seasons, he has posted a 3.29 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP with 10.3 K/9. This season, he has struggled with the long ball as he has surrendered six home runs in 23 appearances. He is still arbitration eligible and the earliest he can be a free agent is 2022.

    RHP Shane Greene, Detroit
    2019 Stats: 1.04 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 28 K, 26.0 IP
    Minnesota got a close-up look at Greene this weekend and has an AL leading 19 saves. He’s putting up career numbers, which might seem like a surprise when looking at the last three seasons. Since switching to the bullpen full-time in 2016, he has a 4.47 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP and 9.3 K/9. He will still be arbitration eligible in 2020 as he signed this season for $4 million. He’s a member of another AL Central foe, so Minnesota might look to other options.

    LHP Brad Hand, Cleveland
    2019 Stats: 0.98 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 40 K, 27.2 IP
    Some of the names on this list would be rental players, but Hand doesn’t fit into that category. He is signed through 2020 with a club option for 2021. This will make him very intriguing to contending clubs. Minnesota needs another lefty to go with Taylor Rogers in the bullpen and Hand could fit that mold. Over the last three seasons, he’s posted a 2.62 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with a 12.0 K/9. Since he’s with Cleveland, Minnesota might not want to make an in-division trade and Cleveland’s asking price could be high.

    RHP Greg Holland, Arizona
    2019 Stats: 1.31 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 28 K, 20.2 IP
    Holland is a familiar name to Twins fans as he was Kansas City’s closer for the first half of this decade. Tommy John surgery cost him the 2016 season and this year might be the first time he is back to his pre-surgery form. His 12.2 K/9 rate is his highest total since 2014. He has playoff experience as part of Kansas City’s trip to the 2014 World Series and he pitched in the 2017 NL Wild Card Game with Colorado. He’s a free agent at season’s end, so he could be a cheaper option than some of the other names on this list.

    RHP Sergio Romo, Miami
    2019 Stats: 5.48 ERA, 1.43 ERA, 21 K, 23.0 IP
    Romo has the most playoff experience of anyone on this list. He was part of three World Series titles in San Francisco and has pitched in 27 playoff games. From 2016-2018, he posted a 3.63 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP and 9.8 K/9. Romo signed a cheap one-year, $2.5 million contract with Miami this off-season so there would be very little financial commitment to him. He also wouldn’t cost a lot to acquire. However, his decreased strikeout rate from 10.0 K/9 to 8.2 K/9 is concerning.

    LHP Will Smith, San Francisco
    2019 Stats: 2.19 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 35 K, 24.2 IP
    Smith is in his second season back from Tommy John surgery and his performance seems to have seen few ill-effects. Over the last two seasons, he has posted a 2.43 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP with a 12.3 K/9. Even though he’s left-handed, Smith has been successful against righties and lefties as he has held righties to a .487 OPS and lefties to a .399 OPS. Smith will be a free agent this winter so it will be interesting to see what kind of deal the Giants will be able to get for him.

    LHP Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh
    2019 Stats: 2.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 43 K, 27.1 IP
    Vazquez might come with one of the highest asking prices on this list. He is potentially under team control through 2023. This means, Pittsburgh would need to be overwhelmed in any kind of offer for their left-handed closer. He took over as the Pirates full-time closer in 2017. During that stretch, he has compiled a 2.19 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and a 11.5 K/9. Minnesota has some depth in their system, but it seems unlikely for them to deal an elite prospect.

    LHP Tony Watson, San Francisco
    2019 Stats: 2.55 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 21 K, 24.2 IP
    Watson might be a name that is a little more unfamiliar to Twins fans. He’s pitched his entire career in the NL for the Pirates, Dodgers, and Giants. As a lefty, Watson is more than just a LOOGY. He has averaged over 70 innings pitched from 2013-2018 and he posted a career high 9.8 K/9 last season. His strikeout numbers have dipped a little this season (7.7 K/9) so that might be a cause for concern. Watson has a $2.5 million player option for 2020 or he could test the free agent waters.

    Who do you think the Twins should target? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

    • Jun 10 2019 10:46 AM
    • by Cody Christie
  4. Tracking Reinforcements for the Twins

    Looking at how well the lineup has performed, and the depth that should be available to keep a long and dismal slump at bay, pitching is where Minnesota can look to improve. The starting rotation went into the year with a clear ace, but the performances from Martin Perez and Jake Odorizzi have been a welcomed addition. Michael Pineda doesn’t look like a great bet at this point however, and the 5th turn in the rotation could be expanded upon.

    In the bullpen Minnesota left themselves open to plenty of criticism. Banking on unknown commodities such as Matt Magill and Ryne Harper, while hanging onto a miscast starter in Adalberto Mejia, there was plenty to worry about. The back end of the pen has been solid, and really the group has stayed afloat. Bringing in a high-level arm that can push everyone down a notch would only strengthen the unit.

    On the starting front, here’s who some of those names may be:

    Marcus Stroman- Blue Jays 28 years old FA 2021

    I’ve been crushing on Stroman’s numbers for years now. He’s routinely put up better peripherals than the ERA suggests, and he’s a guy that’s previously performed at a very high level. Under team control for another season he won’t come cheap, but it’d be in the Blue Jays best interests to move him sooner rather than later. On the season he owns a 2.96 ERA with a 3.09 FIP. His ERA+ sits at 145, or exactly where it was when he finished 8th in Cy Young voting during 2017.

    Madison Bumgarner- Giants 29 years old FA 2020

    It’s crazy to think Bumgarner is just 29 (almost 30) given how long he’s been around. He’s approaching 2,000 big league innings but pitched at least 200 innings every year from 2011-2016. The velocity has remained consistent over the past four seasons, and his track record speaks for itself. The Giants ace is amid his best season since 2016 and would slot in nicely behind Jose Berrios. Given his impending free agency, this could be a situation in which the Twins operate on a try before you buy model. Miguel Sano to the National League is questionable, but a straight up swap may be enticing for Minnesota.

    Mike Minor- Rangers 31 years old FA 2021

    The least of the options on this list, Minor has plenty of intrigue in his own right. He’s coming off a mediocre 2018, but his 2019 has seen a nice resurgence. Minor has jumped his whiff rate roughly 2% from 2018, and it’s come on the heels of a career high in changeup usage. Being under team control for another year, he’ll cost a bit more than his numbers may warrant, but as a stabilizing force to round out the rotation he has some appeal.

    Relief help has some interesting names as well:

    Craig Kimbrel- 31 years old Unsigned

    At this point Kimbrel won’t be signed until after the June amateur draft. Without being tied to pick compensation, he may find suitors offering both long-term and one-year pacts. Kimbrel is arguably the best closer in the game, and while he’ll need some ramp up time, he’s coming off a 2.74 ERA and 13.9 K/9 season. Sure, he had some blowups in the postseason, and if you’d like to nitpick, there’re warts here. At the end of the day though, this is an elite talent that costs a team nothing but cash to acquire.

    Ken Giles- Blue Jays 28 years old FA 2021

    Here’s another guy from Toronto and still under team control for another season. Giles comes with personality questions, as the Houston Astros shipped him out growing tired of his inconsistencies on and off the mound. He’s already on his third big league team, and despite being ultra-talented, he’s proven to be expandable. If that can be vetted out, the Blue Jays are offering a reliever with a 1.65 ERA 1.79 FIP, and 13.8 K/9. Walks have never been much of a problem, strikeouts are aplenty, and velocity is through the roof. He can operate as a closer or setup man, and that would give the Twins some flexibility.

    Sean Doolittle- Nationals 32 years old FA 2020 ($6.5MM team option)

    An unexpected name on this list given where the Nationals assumed they’d be this season. The reality is that Davey Martinez hasn’t done well taking over for Dusty Baker, and the team is a mess. For the opposition, a guy like Doolittle becoming available would be a massive boost. He’s been one of the best relievers in baseball for nearly a decade, and his numbers in 2019 are equally eye-popping. A lefty with strong strikeout stuff, he’s not a platoon pitcher, and Baldelli could use another Taylor Rogers type in relief.

    When it comes to execution on any deals they’ll do, the Twins have some very different options to consider. Miguel Sano could establish himself as an expandable, and valuable piece. They have prospect capital behind the untouchables of Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Brusdar Graterol. There’s also no reason to believe this club is cash poor, and simply doling out money is a possibility as well.

    If it’s up to me, I’d prefer to see Minnesota land a starter they believe can help them in 2019 and beyond. Someone that slides in at the middle of the rotation or higher, and will be around for another run, is a guy I’d give up some pieces for. In relief, choosing the cash route on Kimbrel makes the most sense. I’m not sure you want to part with assets in both areas, but it depends on the names you’d have to give up.

    We’re at least a month out from some of these deals potentially coming to fruition, but you can bet plans are in place to make sure the decision is a clear one when the time comes.

    • May 09 2019 07:35 PM
    • by Ted Schwerzler