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Article: Twelve's A Crowd: Twins Are Rolling In Relief

addison reed fernando rodney trevor hildenberger zach duke ryan pressly
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 15 January 2018 - 08:20 PM

Minnesota's signing of righty reliever Addison Reed to a two-year, $16.25 million contract, which became official on Monday, was stunning for multiple reasons.

Yes, it was the first multi-year contract ever given to a free agent reliever by the Twins. But more strikingly, it adds another guaranteed contract to a bullpen that was already somewhat crowded. In fact, Reed may have removed the last vacancy in the unit, and that would leave some surprising names on the outside looking in.As things stand, I think we can safely say that the following pitchers are locks for the Twins bullpen, barring injury: Reed, Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers and Ryan Pressly. You might quibble on Pressly but they just signed him for $1.6 million and he's out of options. Despite his disappointing 2017, I don't think they're going to give up on that stuff without at least taking one more long look.

So if we're square on those assumptions, then there's one spot remaining in a seven-man bullpen. I might be going out on a limb here, but I suspect that spot is also essentially spoken for and filled. Er, Philled.

One thing that is conspicuously amiss in the group of six above is a long reliever who can bridge the gap over several innings after short starts. The highest pitch total in a 2017 outing for anyone in the group was Hildenberger's 40, in his second career appearance, and I suspect the Twins would prefer not to let him approach that number going forward.

We haven't heard much on Phil Hughes lately but the most recent reports suggested his recovery was going smoothly and he was amped up to return in 2018.

He'll be six months removed from his thoracic outlet revision surgery when he reports to camp. His $13.2 million salary and – more importantly – his (albeit now distant) history of pitching well in the majors make him a sure bet to land on the pitching staff, so long as he's healthy and throwing reasonably well.

As I wrote back in early December, bringing Hughes back as a reliever is almost the only option that makes sense. This only feels more true now, given how the rest of the pen is shaping up.

So, if that seven-man relief corps is penciled in, it leaves all of these guys out of luck:

Tyler Duffey, Alan Busenitz, JT Chargois, Gabriel Moya, Tyler Kinley.

Duffey has spent almost the entire past two seasons in the majors, and posted a 3.72 FIP for the Twins in relief last year. Busenitz posted a 1.99 ERA and 0.98 WHIP in 28 appearances as a rookie. Chargois lost his entire season to injury but is one of the organization's top relief prospects, and he's MLB-ready. Moya has been silly good in the minors, and had the highest K-rate of any Minnesota reliever during his brief 2017 debut. Kinley was the Rule 5 pick that the Twins basically sacrificed Nick Burdi and Luke Bard to acquire, though you could argue one or both might have been lost over the course of the offseason anyway.

I didn't mention John Curtiss, because I don't think he'll be a viable contender for the Twins bullpen out of camp, but he's on the 40-man roster and has gotten a taste of the majors. Buddy Boshers was designated for assignment to make room for Reed, but if he makes it through waivers he'll still be around. He's spent plenty of time in the majors and has, in my mind, the right profile to get back there.

The collection of guys slated to miss out on Opening Day roster spots could basically form an MLB-caliber bullpen in Rochester. I might be exaggerating a little, but not a ton, especially if Chargois is healthy and on his game.

We still haven't yet accounted for Dietrich Enns (lefty starter acquired in Jaime Garcia deal, almost assuredly destined for a relief role), Tyler Jay (potentially back on the fast track after a healthy showing in the AFL), or the inevitability that at least a couple from the Gonsalves/Romero/Littell/Jorge pack will drop out as starters.

It's a degree of MLB-ready (or very close) depth the franchise hasn't enjoyed in quite some time. And it happens to coincide with bullpens becoming an increased area of focus all around the game.

Minnesota certainly isn't rich with proven top-tier relievers – a shortcoming they did address nicely with the Reed signing – but on aggregate, their talent at the position might rival any organization in the league. With just a few more guys turning the corner, the Twins could have themselves a self-styled power pen.

Granted, that's a sizable "if" but at least the team is giving itself a whole lot of reasonable "maybes."

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#2 ToddlerHarmon


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 08:52 PM

They have to be planning for 8 relievers, or a trade, or something.
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#3 Riverbrian


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 09:29 PM

I love it.

A staff full of decent arms with decent replacement options stashed in Rochester. It’s what every team wants.

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#4 Oxtung


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 09:33 PM


They have to be planning for 8 relievers, or a trade, or something.


Why? The Astros, Dodgers, Indians, Red Sox and Yankees all had 8-10 players throw >20 IP in relief with another 3-7 with >10IP. There is considerable churn in todays bullpens, whether by injury or design. Last season he Twins had 10 players with >20IP in relief with another 14 making an appearance. All the players listed above will get a shot and be needed at some point in the season.


In addition Duke and most likely Rodney will be gone next year and need replacing. By trading players this year you weaken next years possibilities too.

Edited by Oxtung, 15 January 2018 - 10:27 PM.

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#5 specialiststeve


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 09:40 PM

Boshers iswaiver wire fodder.....


Presley has bullpen stuff.... not game stuff. Kind of like batting practice power... nice to watch but when it is game time he misses in the middle of the plate.... not good.

I would move him in an instance for a decent prospect or in combination for decent prospect.


Much rather have Alan Busenitz in the 7th inning roll with Reed in the 8th and old man river finishing it up.

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#6 jorgenswest


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 09:56 PM

They have several with options. The crowd is only a problem if they don’t have pitchers with option flexibility. They won’t have 8. They will have depth.

Kinley can’t be optioned. He is going to have to win a higher leverage spot so that the low leveraged can be optioned as needed.
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#7 tobi0040


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 10:17 PM

With the addition of Rodney and Reed, the pitchforks were not really justified for letting guys like Bard go.
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#8 hugelycat


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 10:40 PM

There will be some monkeying around with who has an option, but depth is always a good thing. Every year there are injuries. Plus, relievers are so volatile that you never know when you'll get a surprise boom or bust.

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#9 Danchat


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 10:50 PM

Good stuff, I agree that the six are basically guaranteed spots on the team. I think Busenitz has a strong lead for the 7th spot and the possible 8th spot will be up for grabs. Duffey or Hughes will probably come away with it, but I suspect Moya/Curtiss/others will vie for roles once the season gets rolling. The bullpen has come a far way on paper than it was Opening Day 2017. 

Edited by Danchat, 15 January 2018 - 10:50 PM.

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#10 kab21


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 10:50 PM

The Twins are still short a starter or two so I wouldn't commit to Hughes (or Duffey) in the bullpen yet.


The article doesn't include TJ returnees May and Pineda as other bullpen options later in the season. It might not be a great bullpen but there is good depth and I am no longer terrified if the 3rd best bullpen option enters the game in a jam. Even the 5th best is pretty good.


I will make a bold call and say that Pressly has the best year outside of the 3 acquired veterans. 

Kinley will need an injury or two to make the team imo. Too many other options. Going with 8 bullpen pitchers almost definitely means that Vargas gets cut in spring training unless someone is injured. I don't like that prospect just to keep a rule V player.

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#11 birdwatcher


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 10:52 PM

Something tells me that Hughes needs to make a FULL recovery, including getting his velo back to 91. He needs to be viewed as a better rotation option than Mejia, Gibson, or Gonsalves.


I think May is more likely to come back and claim a spot in the pen.


Otherwise, I think Falvey releases him. Why plug up a spot in the pen with a guy who can't give you more than what Duffey gives you? I just don't think they'll stick him in the pen, and I don't think they'll lose sleep over the sunk cost. . If he's not good enough for the rotation, he's not good enough for the pen, not when you have so many options that could blossom for you.


That might be a pretty impressive pen down in AAA, especially if they get Burdi or Bard or both back. Jake Reed is still a prospect too..

Edited by birdwatcher, 15 January 2018 - 10:56 PM.

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#12 Rosterman


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Posted 15 January 2018 - 11:18 PM

May would have to come back as a pen guy.


Duffey and Enns could both be long-relief, if needed.


Yes, the Twins need a long-relief right-hander.


In the Wings are Reed and Jay (and don't count out Melotakis).


Just need to sort out the rotation.


And the true Bench.

aAnd, we could get Burdi or Bard abck, and I would take them.

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#13 Penthang


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Posted 16 January 2018 - 03:13 AM

It seems to me that Falvey has taken what was a really suspect pen at the beginning of last year and made it a potential strength. Obviously the starting 7 will not all stay healthy, but with guys at AAA that deserve to be in the majors if anyone struggles they won’t need to churn through waiver wire suspects. A healthy Chargois, Moya, Busenitz waiting with Jay and Curtis a step away gives the Twins a chance at an elite level pen soon. We have been waiting for some good pitching, I for one am excited by the possibilities.

Now the question of bullpen management comes into play. Molitor has in my mind improved on this since he started managing, in part through having better options to use than he did when he first took the helm.

Now we wait for one Starter…I hope
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#14 spycake


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Posted 16 January 2018 - 06:42 AM

With the addition of Rodney and Reed, the pitchforks were not really justified for letting guys like Bard go.

But by the same token, was the selection of Kinley justified? It doesn't look there is possibly a 25-man spot to keep him now, and Bard could have taken the 40-man spot and been optioned, or Burdi could have taken it and been DL'ed (opening up a 40-man spot for someone else in late March).

As long as we don't throw around terms like "pitchforks" I think that series of moves is still very much worthy of discussion.
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#15 gman


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Posted 16 January 2018 - 06:49 AM

With a stable bullpen and long on potential support at Rochester the days of cringing when the bullpen call is made hopefully will be over. The starting pitching may improve by just not having so many innings blowup once a reliever is called in. Some starters may be on shorter leashes, which won't be so bad either. Although for a pitcher like Mejia, he will have to pitch longer to be on a short leash.

Also hopefully, the better pen will allow our hitters a chance to come back when the starters fail early and some of those 10-8 losses will turn into 8-6 wins.



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#16 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 16 January 2018 - 07:33 AM

Logjams are meant to be broken.


If Rodney is decent, there will be opportunities to trade him at the deadline.Same with other vets and hurlers out of options.


In MLB, a good reliever is worth a prospect or two to another team fighting their way up the ladder.


No problems ever in collecting bullpen pieces.

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#17 Blackjack


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Posted 16 January 2018 - 08:01 AM

I like the depth!!!


Falvine has proven last year that they won't hesitate to shuttle people back and forth from Rochester, either as an injury replacement or when they need another pitcher.With the back end of the starting rotation very suspect, I think you'll be seeing quite a few games with relievers being being used starting in the 4-5-6th innings. It doesn't take many days of that to wear down the bullpen, now they'll have capable replacements in Rochester to call up. I like it!!

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#18 rdehring


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Posted 16 January 2018 - 08:02 AM

Is great having depth in the bullpen.The bigger question, however, is whether Rochester's bullpen will be better than the Twins?

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#19 Blackjack


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Posted 16 January 2018 - 08:04 AM

Two related notes: 1) It used to drive me crazy when someone would be injured but they'd decide to keep him on the bench for a few days hoping for a fast recovery -- then Gardy would be complaining about a short bench!!!Go get somebody from Rochester!!!2) I'm not as optimistic as some people here on TD that the Twins will sign another starter so the bullpen depth is going to be sorely needed.

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#20 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 16 January 2018 - 08:22 AM

Bullpen is better.

Still looking for three more reliable starters.
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