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  1. Potential Twins Bullpen Target: Brad Hand, LHP, Indians

    Brad Hand, LHP, 29-years-old

    Cleveland Indians (38-34, 2nd in AL Central)
    Under team control through 2020, with a team option in 2021.

    2019: 0.88 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 13.5 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 in 30.2 IP
    2018: 2.28 ERA, 1.157 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 in 27.2 IP

    What’s to Like?
    Everybody loves left-handed pitching coming out of their bullpen. Brad Hand is not just a left-handed specialist, he’s tough on both right and left-hand batters. Lefties are hitting .115 off him while righties are only hitting slightly better at .154. Hand reminds me of Taylor Rogers, he’s a left-handed reliever who can be brought in whenever you need outs.

    Hand is tied the AL lead in saves (20), is the AL leader in FanGraphs’ WAR (1.4) for relievers, is a perfect 20/20 on saves this season, and 2nd in ERA (0.88) for AL relievers.

    According to Statcast, Hand has an average spin rate of 2,529 RPMs on his four-seam fastball, which is about the same as former Twin Ryan Pressly, and good for about 12th best in the league. Pressly left Minnesota, increased his spin rate and has been very good for the Houston Astros since. A higher spin rate means hitters will have a harder time hitting a fastball as it will have more “life” to it.

    Hand also was born in Minneapolis and drafted out of Chaska High School, so it would be a nice homecoming.

    Concerns
    The largest concern with landing Hand would be the sheer cost to obtain him. With Hand being on a Cleveland Indians team that is not in rebuild mode, the Twins would have to give up more than one top prospect. Add to that fact that Hand is still under team control through 2021, and you have one of the most expensive targets the Twins could consider.

    Another concern with Hand would be the number of innings he’s pitched over the last four seasons. Since 2016 Hand has logged 271.1 innings pitched. While he’s not old by any means, there is always concern that a reliever will fall apart with too much use. With Hand being a starter early in his career though, this might not be much of an issue.

    See Also
    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 20 2019 05:57 AM
    • by Kirby O'Connor
  2. 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
  3. Deadline Primer: The National League West

    Over the coming week we’ll take a look which teams are buyers and sellers and who the Twins could look to acquire. We’ll start with the teams in the National League West division.


    STANDINGS

    Los Angeles Dodgers - 66-29
    Colorado Rockies - 56-41 (11 games back)
    Arizona Diamondbacks - 54-40 (11.5 games back)
    San Diego Padres - 40-54
    San Francisco Giants - 37-59

    As things sit right now, the Rockies and Diamondbacks are the two Wild Card teams. The Cubs are currently five games out of the second Wild Card spot. We know they’ll make some moves, so will Colorado and Arizona be willing to add some players?

    THE BUYERS

    If the Twins decide to sell, which would be disappointing as things stand today (but may be different in a week), the Dodgers, Rockies and Diamondbacks could be calling.

    Brian Dozier, Brandon Kintzler and Ervin Santana will be the primary names tossed around (no surprise). The Dodgers wouldn’t trade Cody Bellinger for Brian Dozier in the offseason. I’m guessing he’s not available at this point either.


    THE SELLERS

    As of right now, the Twins should be leaning toward buying, and if that’s the case, the Padres and the Giants are teams that should be looking to sell. I assume that the Twins have already had discussions with the GMs from both teams. So, who could be on the table?


    The Padres

    While the Twins front office has indicated that it isn’t as interested in acquiring rental players (guys who will be free agents at the end of the season), those types of players can be had without getting rid of as big of a prospect, so they can’t be completely ignored.

    The Padres have a few starters who are likely very available. All three are free agents at the end of the season. Clayton Richard (33), who the Twins were said to be at least somewhat interested in before the season, has been terrible. He’s got a 4.75 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP through 19 starts. Jhoulys Chacin (29) has been mediocre. He’s got a 4.33 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP .He’s got 92 strikeouts in 108 innings. Trevor Cahill (29) missed two months earlier in the season, but he’s been pretty good since his return. He’s got a 3.38 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. In 50.2 innings, he walked 19 and struck out 63. I mean, if you want, you could go after Jered Weaver who has an ERA way over 7 and a WHIP near 1.50. He’s also been on the disabled list. He also throws 82 mph.

    Of course, the Big Fish of the Padres is Chaska native, left-handed reliever Brad Hand. He was a deserving All-Star this year and he’s controllable for at least another two years beyond 2017. Recently, the Padres made it known that they want and expect a return for Hand similar to what the Phillies got to Ken Giles. That is to say a package of three or four players, including a top prospect or two.


    The Giants

    The Giants have probably been the biggest disappointment in baseball this season. They have a top-5 payroll and have been unable to get things rolling at all in 2017. So they would likely love to make some trades and push toward 2018. While there will be some position players, like Denard Span or even Brandon Crawford at the right price, the Twins focus should primarily be pitching.

    The Giants have pitchers with names, and big contracts. Johnny Cueto’s name has not really surfaced in rumors, but he would cost a team approximately $22 million a year through the 2021 season (and a team option for 2022) along with a haul of prospects. The 31-year-old is 6-7 with a 4.59 ERA and a career-high (by a long shot) 3.2 walks per nine innings.

    Jeff Samardzija’s name has been discussed in rumors as several teams have inquired about him. He is owed about $19.5 million for the next two seasons. He is 4-11 with a 4.86 ERA this season. While he hasn’t been particularly good for the last three seasons (posting ERA+ of 79, 104 and 85), he does eat a ton of innings. He’s posted over 200 innings four straight years and is on pace to be close to that number again.

    Speaking of long-term contracts that didn’t work out well, Matt Cain was a top pitcher for the Giants for several years. Then he signed a six-year, $127.5 million contract and has been hurt a majority of the time since. He’s healthy this year, and his 5.49 ERA would be his lowest in three years. However, his 1.67 WHIP makes the 32-year-old pretty Colon-like. He can become a free agent at season’s end.

    The intriguing name in the Giants rotation might just be Matt Moore. He was one of the top prospects in baseball (he, Mike Trout and Bryce Harper were consensus Top 3 guys) with the Rays. He went 17-4 in 2013. They signed him to a team-friendly deal soon after he debuted. early in 2014, he needed Tommy John surgery and missed most of that season and over half of 2015 as well. Last year, the Rays traded him to the Giants. This year, he is 3-10 with a 5.81 ERA and a 1.64 WHIP. He’s got options for 2018 at $9 million and 2019 at $10 million. So, while he’s been pretty bad this year, he just turned 28 in June. If pro scouts believe that he is healthy and still has some stuff, Moore could be a relatively inexpensive option for two more years.

    I can’t imagine the prospect-return on any of these guys would be real high due to their contract size and/or performance this year. Evaluators just need to determine what they have left and whether or not they could help the team. Personally, Moore is the only one that is relatively intriguing.

    As for bullpen arms, the one interesting name might be Sam Dyson. He was good last year, but he began this year just terrible for the Texas Rangers. They let him go, and the Giants signed him. In 15 games, he has an ERA of 2.76 in 16.1 innings in San Francisco. He’s recorded five saves, taking over closer duties since Mark Melancon has been on the DL. Could he be available for cheap?

    Other Relievers: George Kontos, Cory Gearrin.


    SUMMARY

    There is a clear team at the top in the Dodgers who have proven they aren’t afraid to spend money. They have a smart front office that hasn’t been willing to just hand away prospects, but they could be buyers.

    Both the Diamondbacks and Rockies have been surprises in 2017. If the season ended now, which would be unfortunate for fans, they would both be wild card teams. They may have some interest in acquiring some additional talent at the deadline, particularly bullpen help.

    Meanwhile, winning teams will be frequently calling the Giants and Padres as those teams have been out of contention for quite some time already. Players are available. There are some big names who will be in the rumors, but the clear choice for best player available from the division is Brad Hand, and the steep asking price illustrates that well.


    What do you think? Could there be a match with the Twins somewhere in the NL West?

    • Jul 20 2017 08:49 AM
    • by Seth Stohs
  4. Two Of Us

    Two relievers are believed to be on the market already, playing on teams that are clearly playing for the future. They are relief pitchers who could make the Twins bullpen stronger during the second half.

    In addition to their tremendous on-field statistics, these two players are #OneOfUs. Brooklyn Park grad Pat Neshek and Chaska High School alum Brad Hand are having great seasons. On Sunday, both were named to the National League All-Star squads, and not just because their teams had to have one representative. Today we consider why these are guys who could help the Twins, and what it might cost to get them.

    DISCLAIMER: I know there is a sentiment among many Twins Daily readers that ‘bringing back the band’ or acquiring guys who are “one of us” is a bad thing. However, I tend to believe that if the player remains good and can help a team win, then it just doesn’t matter. If Pat Neshek and/or Brad Hand can help the Twins win games in 2017, I don’t care if they’re from Minnesota or Texas. Australia or Venezuela. They happen to be from Minnesota.

    In the Twins history, we’ve seen both sides of this. Terry Steinbach and Dave Winfield being brought back worked out. Bringing back Jason Kubel and Jason Bartlett didn’t pan out. We’ve seen how Twins fans can turn on players when they don’t become what we thought they might, or they didn’t measure up in some way. We’ve seen one of the top five hitters in the organization’s history and a Minnesotan bashed to a crazy, unfair degree, in part because he’s from Minnesota. Imagine the scrutiny Kent Hrbek might have endured had he played during the age of Twitter.


    PAT NESHEK

    Let’s start with Pat Neshek since he’s got a bit of a double whammy. Not only is he from Minnesota, he was drafted by the Twins in 1999 and 2002, and played in the big leagues for the Twins between 2006 and 2010. He came up and used his funky delivery to dominate hitters immediately. He had Tommy John and missed most of 2008, all of 2009, and most of 2010.

    The Twins let him go in the spring of 2011 and he bounced around a bit. He took off again in 2014 with the Cardinals. In fact, that’s the year that he made his first All-Star appearance, ironically in Target Field. He signed a two-year deal with the Astros, with an option for 2017. After he was traded to the Phillies, they picked up his option for this year at $6.5 million. He will be a free agent at the end of the season.

    Neshek will turn 37 in September. This year, he has worked 32.1 innings for the Phillies. He’s struck out 8.2 per nine, a K-rate of 26.1%. He’s walked just 2.1 per nine. He’s given up just two home runs this season.

    He has a 1.39 ERA and a 0.87 WHIP. If you enjoy FIP and xFIP, his numbers are 2.41 and 3.59. He has a WAR of 1.1 already this season.

    From sidearm, Neshek has thrown 49.7% fastballs with an average velocity of 90.1. He has also thrown 47% sliders at 83.1 mph. He throws a changeup too, but just 3% of the time. 73% of his 491 pitches have been strikes.

    The Phillies are 28-55, so there is little reason for them to hold on to a veteran with an expiring contract in the second half.


    BRAD HAND

    Likewise, the Padres are just 36-48 at the halfway point of the season. They have three Rule 5 players on their roster and a plan to continue adding more young talent.

    Brad Hand was the second-round pick of the Marlins way back in 2008 out of high school. He signed and by June of 2011, he was a 21-year-old in the big leagues. He struggled with the Marlins, particularly as a starter. Last spring, the Marlins DFAd him and he ended up with the Padres. He’s become one of the better, and most used, relievers in baseball.

    Last year, he posted a 2.92 ERA over a league-leading 82 games. This year, he’s already pitched in 40 games and has a 2.42 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP. He has struck out 11.2 per nine innings while walking just 2.4 per nine. He’s given up less than a home run per nine innings.

    His FIP is 2.88, with an xFIP of 2.96. He’s pitched to a WAR of 1.0.

    Hand throws 49% fastballs at an average of 93.3 mph. He also throws his slider about 45% of the time, at 82 mph. His third pitch is more of a slow curve ball, which he throws just six percent of the time.

    Hand turned 27 in spring training. 2017 was his first year of arbitration and he’s making just shy of $1.4 million. In 2018, he will again be arbitration-eligible for the second time.He’ll have his third and final arbitration in 2019 before having the potential to become a free agent after the 2019 World Series.


    WHAT IT MIGHT TAKE

    There are reportedly several teams evaluating and considering acquiring Neshek including the Nationals. The belief is that it won’t take a ton to get Neshek, a “low level prospect.” Because there are other teams interested, the price could get raised a bit. I would guess it would take a top 20 prospect.

    To acquire Hand, it is likely to cost the Twins (or another team) much more. He’s nearly ten years younger and has two-and-a-half years under a team’s control. There is value in that. There is no other reason for the Padres to trade him, other that they can ask for the world for him and sell very high. He would likely require a top 10 prospect and a second or even a third piece.

    Do the Twins have the pieces to make these moves? No question. Do they want to outbid other teams and match the requirements of the teams? That we don’t know.

    Would the Twins have any desire to acquire One of Us, maybe even Two of Us?


    What would you do? How much (and name names) would you be willing to give up for these two guys?

    • Jul 06 2017 04:37 AM
    • by Seth Stohs