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Article: Week in Review: Kansas City, Misery

brian dozier jake odorizzi joe mauer royce lewis eduardo escobar
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 08:43 PM

Whatever goodwill their 9-2 home stand heading into the All-Star break generated, both with a frustrated fan base and fatigued front office, the Twins saw it evaporate over the weekend, like mists rising from the Kauffman Stadium fountains.

A crushing sweep against one of the worst teams in baseball sealed Minnesota's fate for 2018, adding yet another low point to a failure-filled campaign. Now, all that's left is to pick up the pieces and look ahead.

Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/16 through Sun, 7/22

***

Record Last Week: 0-3 (Overall: 44-53)

Run Differential Last Week: -5 (Overall: -28)

Standing: 2nd Place in AL Central (9.5 GB)

HIGHLIGHTS

Kauffman Stadium. That's almost it, really. I traveled down to Kansas City with my fiancée for the weekend and we enjoyed the hell out of that ballpark with its terrific views, monster Jumbotron and all-around high-caliber fan experience. Not so much the baseball.

The Twins played in a legendary yard under beautiful weather over the weekend, but that's where the positive vibes ended.

Okay, I shouldn't go quite that far. Jake Odorizzi turned in an excellent outing on Sunday afternoon, firing six innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts while allowing only two hits and one walk. Since punctuating a rough midseason stretch with his worst outing on June 23rd (6 ER in 1 2/3 innings), Odorizzi has rebounded in a big way, turning in a 2.96 ERA with 33 strikeouts over 27 innings in five starts.

Crucially, the right-hander has finally started keeping the ball in the park. After coughing up 14 home runs in 12 starts between April and May, Odorizzi has surrendered only two long balls in nine turns since the start of June.

By remedying his biggest weakness while maintaining a career-high strikeout rate, the 28-year-old may be building himself some legitimate trade value as the deadline approaches.

Joe Mauer tallied two hits on Friday and three more on Saturday, including his 415th career double, which made him the franchise's all-time leader. Another awesome accomplishment in a widely underrated career.

LOWLIGHTS

In spite of Mauer's efforts, the offense couldn't muster much of anything against the American League's worst pitching staff. Heading into the break, it seemed as though the lineup was finally turning a corner – they'd managed double-digit run totals in seven of their last 16 games after doing so just once in their first 77 – but Twins hitters came out completely flat in KC.

This sweep basically punched Brian Dozier's ticket out of town, but his punchless performance won't do anything to help Minnesota drum up a decent return. Entering the series, Dozier had an OPS over 1.000 for the month of July, and he was riding high after ending the first half with a walk-off grand slam, but the second baseman's momentum came to a screeching halt as he went 1-for-12.

Jake Cave's luster is quickly wearing off. After sitting against left-hander Danny Duffy on Friday, Cave started on Saturday and went 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. On Sunday he went 0-for-2 at the plate and, in center field, misplayed a Drew Butera single into an inside-the-park three-run homer.

Following a strong start to his MLB career, Cave's inexperience and poor plate discipline (31% K vs. 6% BB) are coming home to roost. All the more reason to give him plenty of playing time the rest of the way.

Conversely, I think we'd all be cool with Lance Lynn seeing zero playing time as a Twin for the remainder of eternity. His laborious start on Saturday – 118 pitches needed to get through five innings as six walks pushed his league-leading total to 61 – solidified Lynn's standing as the most inefficient pitcher in Twins history.

There's been a lot of chatter this summer about the declining watchability of Major League Baseball, and Lynn feels like a microcosm of the loudening complaints. Saturday's outing wasn't terrible where the scoresheet is concerned, as he allowed three runs on three hits with six strikeouts over five frames and kept things within reach, but he made the game a complete chore to spectate – for the fielders as much as the fans, I'd suspect.

It'd be great if the Twins did us all the favor of removing that chore from our August and September agendas. But with the way he's pitched, finding a taker for Lynn's ~$5 million in remaining salary won't be easy. Hard to imagine many legit contenders viewing him as an upgrade.

TRENDING STORYLINE

With just over a week left until the trade deadline, the rumor mill is sure to get popping over these next seven days.

Now that the dream of having him lead another improbable late-season surge has died, the Twins really have no reason to keep Dozier around. The quiet series in Kansas City threw a bit of cold water on his ascending stock, but Dozier still has six home runs and 20 RBIs over 25 games in the last calendar month, to go along with an outstanding rep.

The Twins will find a willing trade partner on Dozier, I have little doubt. Milwaukee looks like a solid bet. But will Thad Levine be able to reel in any assets of value, or simply achieve salary relief? If it comes down to it, I'm guessing he'd settle merely for the latter.

Ownership green-lighted a record payroll this year only to watch the team go down in flames, so recouping whatever they can will be a deadline priority for the front office – albeit an unexciting one.

Lynn is owed more than Dozier, and as mentioned above, the Twins would undoubtedly love to unload his remaining commitment. They'd most assuredly get nothing else of consequence in a deal, but that's okay. Same goes for Logan Morrison; he's owed only $2 million or so after August 1st, but has a $1 million buyout on his 2019 option.

Both Lynn and Morrison have obviously been quite bad this year, but they are veterans with track records, and in each case there are underlying signs to suggest the ugly numbers aren't an entirely accurate reflection of their play.

Maybe other generals managers are open to taking such leaps of faith, given the meager return that'll be required. If the Twins can trade Dozier, Lynn and Morrison without having to cover any salary, they'd shave around $10 million, which would theoretically go toward the 2019 cap. Recent evidence suggests $10 mil can stretch pretty far on the free agent market, so it's not for nothing.

If they want to get back any young talent worthy of excitement, the Twins will probably have to move players with a bit more allure. The most interesting name in that camp, from my view, is Eduardo Escobar. Although his power has dissipated a bit here in July, he still ranks seventh among big-leaguers in extra-base hits. His versatility, and ability to play shortstop especially, will make him a commodity even though he's due for free agency in November.

Some might disagree, but I see Escobar as Minnesota's only valid candidate for a qualifying offer. If he accepts, he'll make around $18 million next year, which is clearly an overpay but probably one the Twins can live with, given their scarce commitments elsewhere and the convenience of keeping Esco on a one-year deal while we see how things shake out with the rest of the young infielders.

I also don't think it's entirely a given that Escobar accepts a QO. No, he won't make $18 million annually on a long-term contract anywhere, but is it unrealistic to think someone bids, say, three years and $45 million? Coming off a probable career year at age 29, Escobar may well be eyeing security and stability. Should he sign elsewhere, the Twins would receive a high draft pick, helping negate what they lost this season by signing Lynn.

Two pitchers, Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson, will be the other names to keep an eye on. Each is throwing well and controllable for 2019 at a reasonable cost, so they are only moving if another club is really prepared to pony up.

DOWN ON THE FARM

The legend of Royce Lewis just continues to grow. The 19-year-old is making himself right at home against advanced competition in the Florida State League, where he is sporting a .313 average and .840 OPS through eight games. This week saw him notch a pair of multi-hit games and his first home run with the Miracle. Most expected the power would come along gradually for Lewis, who isn't all that physically developed yet, but he already has 10 home runs and a .483 slugging percentage in 83 games between the two levels of A-ball.

His teammate Alex Kirilloff returned from a successful showing in the Futures Game last Sunday, and got right back to work by posting a leisurely 12-for-22 (.545) with three doubles, a triple and a homer. My goodness can this man hit.

Brusdar Graterol, who rounds out the trio of top prospects on display in Fort Myers, picked up his first FSL win on Friday, and while it wasn't a spectacular outing (4 ER in 6 IP), it was definitely a step forward as he struck out seven and limited Lakeland to five hits.

Upon returning from a short leave of absence, Miguel Sano received a bump to Rochester, pushing him closer to a big-league return. Looking noticeably slimmer in a Red Wings uniform, Sano has opened up his time in Triple-A by going 0-for-8 in two games.

LOOKING AHEAD

The Twins are 1-12 in their last 13 road games, and the going gets no easier. First they travel to Toronto, where they've historically had a very tough time, for three against the Jays. Then it's off to Boston for a four-gamer against the best team in baseball.

Minnesota is reeling, and traveling to a couple of road destinations that have proven vexing over the years. Adalberto Mejia, who was lit up in his last Triple-A start, is scheduled to face two high-powered offenses in very hitter-friendly yards.

Don't bother uncovering your eyes, Twins fans, because things are likely to get even uglier this week.

MONDAY, 7/23: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – LHP Adalberto Mejia v. RHP Marco Estrada
TUESDAY, 7/24: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – RHP Jose Berrios vs LHP Ryan Borucki
WEDNESDAY, 7/25: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – RHP Kyle Gibson v. RHP Sam Gaviglio
THURSDAY, 7/26: TWINS @ RED SOX – RHP Lance Lynn v. LHP Brian Johnson
FRIDAY, 7/27: TWINS @ RED SOX – RHP Jake Odorizzi v. LHP Chris Sale
SATURDAY, 7/28: TWINS @ RED SOX – LHP Adalberto Mejia v. RHP Rick Porcello
SUNDAY, 7/29: TWINS @ RED SOX – RHP Jose Berrios v. LHP Drew Pomeranz

Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps


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#2 Danchat

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 09:56 PM

Good recap, Nick. It's been announced that Ervin will be starting the Wednesday game in Toronto, and it's likely Mejia will be heading back to AAA after his start tomorrow instead of sticking around for another start in Boston.

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#3 Seth Stohs

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 10:27 PM

 

Good recap, Nick. It's been announced that Ervin will be starting the Wednesday game in Toronto, and it's likely Mejia will be heading back to AAA after his start tomorrow instead of sticking around for another start in Boston.

 

Yup, I would assume that the others will just get pushed back until through Saturday's spot. 

 

So much going on in the Twins minor league system besides just the top three prospects (who have been very good). Zander Wiel is on fire. Gonsalves ERA over the last six starts is crazy, despite the walks. Bailey Ober has been dominant in Cedar Rapids. Hopefully people are reading the Minor League Reports every day and night and asking a lot of questions because a lot get answered in the comments each day too. 

 

As for Lance Lynn, I can't watchanymore. I'll find something streaming or do something besides watch him pitch. 

 

 

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#4 mattk

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 10:29 PM

My optimistic projection for this team is 64 wins for the season

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#5 joemama

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Posted 22 July 2018 - 11:05 PM

Sell baby sell. The injuries to Santana, Castro, Buxton, and Sano (late last season, and the slow recovery) obviously didn't help, and hindsight is 20-20, but IMO Falvine brought in too many new faces and created too much clubhouse cultural upheaval. Odorizzi spoke well of LoMo, who'd been working out with Lynn, and all of a sudden you have this little three-man clique, upsetting the good vibe that had developed last year. I really think that impacted both Dozier and Kepler. It shouldn't, but I think it did. I liked the Odorizzi acquisition but the LoMo signing never made sense, and like Seth, I can't stand watching Lynn...works slowly and often poorly. I felt the same way about Jaime Garcia last year, and was happy when we quickly moved him. I hope LoMo and Lynn are both gone next year...hopefully sooner. Addition by subtraction.

 

A large part of the under-performance has to fall on Moli as well. It's his job to get the most of his players and create a good clubhouse vibe. He's clearly failed in that respect.


#6 ChrisKnutson

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 12:37 AM

Hopefully Erv pitches his way out of Minnesota (and onto a contender).

#7 mikelink45

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 05:59 AM

Thanks for an excellently depressing report!Yikes, I was gone a week guiding a trip to Isle Royale and thought I was coming back refreshed from a break from baseball and suddenly I am back in this Twins whirlpool.The worst part is that I do not see a good way out of this.I see no quick fixes.I continue to see Belisle in the Bullpen and Magill hidden behind some bushes in the back of the stadium.Everyone takes a vomit bag to Lynn's performances, Dozier has one good week and jumps back in the tank.We want to be traders, but it looks like we will be attempting to give players away instead of getting new ones.When was the last time anyone saw Falvey or Levine in public?I am ready to trade them for two prospects. 

 

And, as an aside - I posted this in another comment - I did see two Tigers games against the Red Sox.They lost one 1 - 0 and shut them out for a win in the second game.I got to see two nice young players - Hicks and Goodrum - too bad we couldn't find a nice pair like that somewhere in the minors! And the team played with a really positive attitude under Gardy.Looked nice. 

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#8 notoriousgod71

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 06:36 AM

I was at this series and it was one of the most disgusting displays of baseball I've seen in person.Just complete apathy against a team that will lose 110 games.

 

This team takes the worst at bats I've ever seen. Sadly, Bobby Wilson following pitches off in several at bats before weak ground balls to short was the offensive highlight.


#9 rdehring

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 06:49 AM

Couldn't agree more with everything said, Nick.And any get-a-way with the woman you are going to spend the rest of your life with has to be a good weekend.

 

Expect we won't see the front office doing anything until after Wednesday when they see how Santana looks on the big stage.Also expect that Dozier will be moved to Boston when there over the weekend.

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#10 spycake

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 08:32 AM

 

I also don't think it's entirely a given that Escobar accepts a QO. No, he won't make $18 million annually on a long-term contract anywhere, but is it unrealistic to think someone bids, say, three years and $45 million? Coming off a probable career year at age 29, Escobar may well be eyeing security and stability. Should he sign elsewhere, the Twins would receive a high draft pick, helping negate what they lost this season by signing Lynn.

3/45 for Escobar does seem unrealistic, especially with a QO attached. Even with his career year this year, he's only on pace for 3.7 WAR. He was at roughly 1.5 WAR in 2017, and at or below replacement in 2016.

 

The last time Escobar played significant innings at SS was 2016, and he had negative DRS/UZR. He's never played significant innings at 2B. So he's likely getting signed as either a utility player, in which case he's getting nothing close to $45 mil, or as a third baseman.

 

How did third basemen fare last winter?

 

- Moustakas (the only one with a QO attached) got 1/6.5, averaged 3.2 WAR per 600 PA the previous 3 seasons

- Frazier got 2/17, averaged 3.4 WAR the previous 6 seasons

- Cozart got 3/38 to convert to 3B, coming off 5 WAR the previous year and average 4 WAR per 600 PA the previous 3 seasons (and I bet the Angels regretted this contract before the offseason was over too)

- Nunez was a utility guy who predominantly played 3B the last 2 seasons, and he only got 2/8.

 

You can make a case that Escobar is better / more flexible than any of those 4, and still fall well short of 3/45, especially with a QO attached.

 

Plus, that was a relatively light supply in the market. The market for 3B this winter could include Machado, Moustakas again, Donaldson, Beltre, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, and Freese or Kang (both have club options). If you expand Escobar's market to the other infield spots, he'd still be competing with a couple of those guys plus Dozier, Murphy, Kinsler, LeMahieu, Descalso, Hechavarria, and Iglesias.

 

Given all that, I'd say it is very unlikely that Escobar turns down a 1/18 deal. Even if he thinks he might get 2/25 or 3/30, I think he would try to use the 1/18 as leverage to get an extra year or two from the Twins, rather than try to get that on the open market with a QO attached. (And the upside for the Twins, in the unlikely event that Escobar did reject the QO, is not that high -- higher than #95 we forfeited for Lynn, but only like 75-80, the same range of pick we traded with Hughes.)

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#11 yarnivek1972

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 08:40 AM

3/45 for Escobar does seem unrealistic, especially with a QO attached. Even with his career year this year, he's only on pace for 3.7 WAR. He was at roughly 1.5 WAR in 2017, and at or below replacement in 2016.

The last time Escobar played significant innings at SS was 2016, and he had negative DRS/UZR. He's never played significant innings at 2B. So he's likely getting signed as either a utility player, in which case he's getting nothing close to $45 mil, or as a third baseman.

How did third basemen fare last winter?

- Moustakas (the only one with a QO attached) got 1/6.5, averaged 3.2 WAR per 600 PA the previous 3 seasons
- Frazier got 2/17, averaged 3.4 WAR the previous 6 seasons
- Cozart got 3/38 to convert to 3B, coming off 5 WAR the previous year and average 4 WAR per 600 PA the previous 3 seasons (and I bet the Angels regretted this contract before the offseason was over too)
- Nunez was a utility guy who predominantly played 3B the last 2 seasons, and he only got 2/8.

You can make a case that Escobar is better / more flexible than any of those 4, and still fall well short of 3/45, especially with a QO attached.

Plus, that was a relatively light supply in the market. The market for 3B this winter could include Machado, Moustakas again, Donaldson, Beltre, Asdrubal Cabrera, Jed Lowrie, and Freese or Kang (both have club options). If you expand Escobar's market to the other infield spots, he'd still be competing with a couple of those guys plus Dozier, Murphy, Kinsler, LeMahieu, Descalso, Hechavarria, and Iglesias.

Given all that, I'd say it is very unlikely that Escobar turns down a 1/18 deal. Even if he thinks he might get 2/25 or 3/30, I think he would try to use the 1/18 as leverage to get an extra year or two from the Twins, rather than try to get that on the open market with a QO attached. (And the upside for the Twins, in the unlikely event that Escobar did reject the QO, is not that high -- higher than #95 we forfeited for Lynn, but only like 75-80, the same range of pick we traded with Hughes.)


According to fangraphs, if he gets 3-4 WAR he should get $ 24 - $ 32 mil per year...

Because their methodology is sooooo accurate it’s beyond scrutiny.

Or not.

#12 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 08:50 AM

Well written, poetic opening ...watching the fans' goodwill "evaporating like the mists rising from the Kauffman Stadium fountains". That is some beautiful writing. Red Smith would have been proud.

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#13 spycake

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 09:07 AM

 

According to fangraphs, if he gets 3-4 WAR he should get $ 24 - $ 32 mil per year...

Because their methodology is sooooo accurate it’s beyond scrutiny.

Or not.

Well, that's not what their methodology means. It's a rough estimate of what dollars per win can cost on the open market, usually around the top of the market.

 

For Escobar, if he'd even qualify for such analysis, you'd want to look at his projections for next year (likely well less than 3-4 WAR) and beyond. And like I showed above, there might be a lot of infield options, and not every team is interested in paying that dollar per win figure either, at least not for every position or acquisition.

 

I enjoy Fangraphs a ton, but I pretty much ignore that "Dollars" column. And in their defense, it's pretty well buried -- it's not in the Dashboard on the player or leader pages, so they're not really promoting any kind of universal application of it. They generally only bring it up in articles when trying to peg the value of the top free agents or trade targets, not for every player that hits FA.

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#14 birddog

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 10:06 AM

Great writeup, Nick. I love Target Field but Kaufman is indeed a treasure. Those stadiums deserve much better teams playing in them. Twins just can't seem to handle prosperity this year. Any smidgeon of hope is quickly wiped out and replaced with despair. How can Twins expect to sell tickets with Morrison, Motter, Lynn, Belisle, and Wilson making up 20% of the roster?

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#15 USAFChief

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 10:39 AM

Misery_%281990_film_poster%29.png

Cutting my carbs...with a pizza slicer.


#16 Vanimal46

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 10:52 AM

Apathy has set in for me. This is the most uninteresting Twins team in the last 5 years IMO.

Especially so once Dozier and/or Escobar is traded.
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#17 gocgo

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 11:09 AM

I know we are selling...but is anyone gonna buy what we have for sale?I mean, there are better options out there than Dozier at 2nd base...Merrifield, Lowrie, Gennett...I'm not so sure that Dozier ranks in the top 3 available 2nd basemen.

Mind your own biscuits and life will be gravy.


#18 jkcarew

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 11:10 AM

 

Given all that, I'd say it is very unlikely that Escobar turns down a 1/18 deal. Even if he thinks he might get 2/25 or 3/30, I think he would try to use the 1/18 as leverage to get an extra year or two from the Twins, rather than try to get that on the open market with a QO attached.

I agree.If you QO him, you better be prepared for him to accept.Then what do you do with him the next year?To me, you either need to sign him to a 2-3 year deal/extension....or if preliminary discussions with his agent indicate that that will be problematic, you need to sell high now.

 

But I wouldn't be shocked if they QO him.I guess it could be argued that (at least for 2019) his flexibility would have more value for the Twins than for almost any other team in the market...as it's hard to imagine that any other team will have as many questions at multiple infield spots in 2019 as will the Twins.


#19 Mike Sixel

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 11:45 AM

 

Apathy has set in for me. This is the most uninteresting Twins team in the last 5 years IMO.

Especially so once Dozier and/or Escobar is traded.

 

No rookies to speak of, no second year players hardly....and terrible veterans and players that just never play. I agree. They are giving us neither a present day product, nor a look at a future product.

It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#20 JLease

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Posted 23 July 2018 - 11:49 AM

what an awful series. better not hear any complaints from twins players about the selling guys off; if you didn't want that to happen, maybe you shouldn't have put a stamp on it and mailed in the series.

 

Time to sell it off. I'd be willing to entertain offers on Dozier, escobar, Lynn, Morrison, Odorizzi, and even Gibson. Heck, if Mauer is ok with going out to a contender and someone want to bringing him on board to draw walks and play late-inning defense...I'd be ok with that too.

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Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: brian dozier, jake odorizzi, joe mauer, royce lewis, eduardo escobar