Minnesota’s Changing Perspective
Before spring training started, Minnesota wasn’t exactly sure of what this season would bring. The front office was happy with the additions of players like Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, CJ Cron, and Martin Perez. However, it was tough to know if the Twins were going to be able to outlast Cleveland in a division the Indians have dominated for the last three seasons.
Flash-forward to the present and Minnesota has a very clear view of the division and of their current roster. The Twins entered play on Saturday atop of the AL Central by 10.5 games. Cleveland, the division favorite this spring, sits tied with the White Sox for second place and they are actually closer to the bottom of the division than the top of the division.
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have also seen the strengths and weaknesses of the current roster. Minnesota offense is one of the best in the game. There doesn’t seem to be a weak spot from the top to the bottom. On the pitching side, Minnesota’s has outperformed many of the expectations entering the season but Kimbrel or Keuchel would certainly be welcomed in the Twin Cities.
Locally, Judd Zulgad of SKOR North said the Twins could be in on one of the pitchers once draft pick compensation was no longer part of the equation. Kimbrel might be a better fit in Minnesota even though he’s coming off a postseason where he had a 5.91 ERA in nine appearances. He has over 330 career saves and an ERA under 2.00.
It remains to be seen if Kimbrel would be willing to accept a non-closer role on a playoff contending team. Minnesota hasn’t used a traditional closer this year and they may not want to mess with a good thing. There are also questions about how long it will take for either pitcher to be prepared for pitching in a big-league game.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman also listed the Twins as a possible destination for Keuchel. He also included other teams like the Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Rays and Yankees. Last season in Houston, Keuchel made 34 stars and went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA. Scouts have been watching Keuchel throw simulated games in the weeks leading up to the draft.
As recently as Saturday, Ken Rosenthal reported that the Cubs are showing interest in Kimbrel. One of the difficulties for them is their lack of payroll flexibility, because Chicago wants to stay under the luxury tax thresholds. Other teams might be able to outbid the Cubs or Chicago would need to get creative with Kimbrel’s contract.
Jim Bowden of SiriusXM reports that the Braves have legitimate interest in both free agent pitchers. Atlanta currently sits in second place in the AL East and they are tied with San Diego for the second Wild Card spot.
Tampa Bay, Minnesota’s opponent this weekend, is also interested in adding Keuchel or Kimbrel. Ken Rosenthal and Josh Tolentino report the Yankees remain interested in Keuchel. The AL East can be a beast especially with the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all vying to be the king of the hill. Kimbrel is well familiar with the AL East, and he might want a revenge tour against Boston. Tampa is usually a little strapped for cash, so this might not be the best fit.
Do you see either pitcher ending up in a Twins uniform this week? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
- Jun 01 2019 12:26 PM
- by Cody Christie
Early Season Results
Minnesota’s limited amount of games to start the season has certainly altered the bullpen’s results. Only three pitchers have appeared in double-digits games (Trevor May, Trevor Hildenberger, and Taylor Rogers). Blake Parker and Taylor Rogers have split save situations with both players earning three saves or more.
There have been some surprises so far this season. Minus one appearance in Houston, Ryne Harper has been outstanding. There’s reason to believe he could continue this in the weeks ahead. Hildenberger, Rogers, and Parker have also been outstanding. Does that mean the Twins aren’t that desperate to add depth to the bullpen?
The Ninth Inning Question
Craig Kimbrel might not want to pitch outside of the ninth inning. With 333 saves, he currently ranks in the top 14 on the all-time list. He’s a long way away from catching Mariano Rivera’s 652 saves, but there is room for him to move up the list. Even if he signs after the draft this season, he could still pass Rollie Fingers (341 saves) and Randy Myers (347 saves).
Also, Kimbrel might not be willing to pitch outside of the ninth inning. Rocco Baldelli has been open to using relief pitchers in the best situation. Would Kimbrel be willing to enter the game in the seventh inning if the opposing team’s best hitters were scheduled to appear.
Relief pitching has drastically changed during the last handful of seasons. Kimbrel might be more worried about his long-term legacy than the results of team he has little connection tio.
Trickle Down Effect
If Kimbrel came in to be the team’s closer, other strong relief pitchers would be able to be utilized in earlier innings. May, Hildenberger, Rogers, and Parker could be utilized in earlier innings. Pushing all of the relief pitchers back an inning would mean the starters don’t need to go as long.
This could make the bullpen even stronger and it could allow the Twins even more separation in the American League Central Division. Will Kimbrel solve everything that is wrong with this team? No… But he could add depth to a strong core. This could be the difference in a first-round exit and a competitive team in the AL Championship Series.
Could Kimbrel make that much of a difference? I believe he can…
- Apr 23 2019 07:16 PM
- by Cody Christie
- Apr 21 2019 09:30 PM
- by John Bonnes
It’s important to keep in mind that every situation is different, but I still think there’s some value in looking back at how the Lynn contract came to be and compare that to where things are with this year’s market. I’m not saying any of this means the Twins are going to sign Kimbrel or Keuchel, but as long as they’re out there on the market it’s a possibility.
One more disclaimer, sharing these reports that ultimately turned out to be untrue isn’t intended to be a jab at the reporters mentioned. They were simply relaying the information that was brought to them at that time from credible sources. Their reports were accurate to the situation in that snapshot in time. It’s clear things changed very quickly at some point, actually right around this time, last year.
Here’s a look back at how things developed through the rumor mill.
Feb. 28, 2018
Mike Berardino Tweets that the Twins, who are just a few weeks removed from a strong pursuit of Yu Darvish, are likely done adding.
March 2, 2018
Jim Bowden of The Athletic reports Lynn’s asking price is north of $50 million, a mark no team is currently willing to entertain.
March 4, 208
Bowden’s sources tell him the Twins are unlikely to sign Lynn or any of the other top starters available.
March 6, 2018
Berardino writes that a person with direct knowledge said a $20 million commitment was a non-starter for Lynn.
March 12, 2018
Lance Lynn signs a one-year, $12 million deal with the Twins.
I’m sure there were additional reports I missed, but you get the drift. As we learned with Lynn last year, things can change incredibly quickly.
That lesson can obviously apply to other teams, as well. Bowden Tweeted Friday evening that the Nationals and Braves were “not in” on Kimbrel according to multiple sources. That would certainly make it appear the Twins have a better chance at swooping in at the midnight hour to sign him, but (again) things can change very quickly. If Kimbrel’s expectations are lowered, I’d imagine there’s a point at which the Nats and Braves would be very much in on him.
Dan Hayes, also of The Athletic, passed this along shortly after Bowden's Tweet:
Wouldn’t say no 100 percent? So you’re telling me there’s a chance!
But seriously, Dan would know. To his credit, he’s already done a lot of the leg work in trying to find a scenario in which Kimbrel could land in Minnesota. Back in late January, he wrote a thorough 1,300-word piece over at The Athletic on the topic. He’s been painting the possibility of Kimbrel signing with the Twins as a long shot, but he did end that article attached above with this sentence: “As unlikely as it seems, if all those market conditions fell their way, the Twins could just wind up with Kimbrel.”
This past Monday, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune wrote that “it would take a major change of events for the Twins to sign either pitcher [Kimbrel or Keuchel] and bring him into a training camp that started three weeks ago.” And added this: “I got the sense that, unless Keuchel or Kimbrel were willing to sign a one-year contract, there's no deal here.”
A one-year contract you say? Hmm …
While it does not appear likely that either Kimbrel or Keuchel will be in a Twins uniform this season it also doesn’t really seem like either of those guys is likely to be in any particular team’s uniform this season. There doesn’t appear to be a front-runner or obvious destination for either of them at this point.
We’ve seen this movie. Our guys came out on top with contract in hand when the dust settled. Things didn’t work out exactly as intended, which was unfortunate, but they have this move in their playbook. Is it possible there was something they learned from last year that they can apply and ensure a smoother transition into the regular season for a late signing?
All I’m saying is anything’s possible.
Here are a couple more links if you’re interested in some further reading. MLB Trade Rumors featured both of these pitchers Friday.
Let’s Find A Landing Spot For Craig Kimbrel
Historical Market Price Points For Dallas Keuchel
- Mar 09 2019 01:25 PM
- by Tom Froemming
You can listen directly here or download directly from iTunes here.
Nelson Cruz Signing and Possible Extensions: 1:58
Martin Perez Signing: 10:07
Craig Kimbrel? Other Free Agents & Payroll: 23:07
25-Man Roster Predictions: 45:50
Question from the Audience (Perez, Media and the fans, Free Agents) : 1:11:10
Let us know what you think and thanks for listening!
- Jan 30 2019 11:04 AM
- by Jeremy Nygaard