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Twins sign Jake Cave to 2022 contract for $800k


I thought the Caveman deserved his own thread!

Many are probably wondering why the Twins would sign Jake Cave today. After all, he was already under team control for 2022 as a first-time arbitration-eligible player, and arbitration contracts don't have to be tendered until December or actually arbitrated/signed until January.

It appears the Twins leveraged the possibility of dropping Cave to protect a Rule-5-eligible minor leaguer today, to get Cave to sign a reduced contract now. Cave was estimated to receive a $1.1 mil award in arbitration, per MLB Trade Rumors. So by signing him for $800k instead, the Twins potentially save about $300k, and we likely just DFA'd Barnes or Astudillo to make room for the minor leaguer instead. And for his part, Cave gets to have a guaranteed deal and not be thrown into free agent limbo, coming off a poor season and ahead of CBA uncertainty.

Cave still has a minor league option year remaining too, so even if he stays on the 40-man roster on opening day, he may be optioned off the 26-man roster to become AAA depth.

So in conclusion, it seems Cave's spot isn't too assured, as the Twins likely threatened to drop him today, but he's probably locked in for the opening-day 40-man roster, at least.

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At this point, I'm not upset, and have been 50/50 that the Twins would keep him. His defense is pretty decent and definitely improved in CF. We have to remember he was a solid hitter his first 2 seasons, OPS of .786 and .805. Personally I write off his 2020, as I have for a lot of guys who had a bad year then, and not just for the Twins. He also hurt his back very early in 2021, and I believe he even tried to play a couple of games before his season was basically over.

With an option remaining, however, and a need to prove himself again, I don't think he's a lock to make the opening roster at all.

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I just... why? Is Jake Cave really better than Nick Gordon as a utility outfielder at this point?

I've defended Cave quite a bit in regard to giving him some leash, but it was obvious he's probably done by the end of last year. It's not only his results, but the metrics and batted ball data behind the results have been trending backwards the last couple years and the sample size of his struggles at the plate are getting big enough to take notice.

Jake Cave was a starter caliber CF in 2018, then a borderline utility infielder in 2019, then unplayable in 2020-2021.

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2 hours ago, Linus said:

Well they traded Gil for him so apparently they are all in on him. This is a seriously bad trade that nobody talks about. No decent pitching prospect should ever be traded for a 4th outfielder that are available in the discount bin. 

You'd have to define "decent" pitching prospect... I don't think Gil was ever seen as anything other than a wildcard. He had only pitched in rookie league as a 19 year old when they traded him right before his age 20 season. The Yankees developed him from a lottery ticket into a legitimate top 10 prospect - good for them, but the real issue is that the Twins have been completely unable to develop their own fringe prospect pitchers into MLB arms.

Getting a MLB ready 4th OF for a longshot prospect who isn't going to be relevant in the majors for another 4 years is a fine move in my book. It just gets worse the more they trot him out there despite losing the ability to hit, alongside the organization's inability to develop pitchers.

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9 minutes ago, Danchat said:

You'd have to define "decent" pitching prospect... I don't think Gil was ever seen as anything other than a wildcard. He had only pitched in rookie league as a 19 year old when they traded him right before his age 20 season. The Yankees developed him from a lottery ticket into a legitimate top 10 prospect - good for them, but the real issue is that the Twins have been completely unable to develop their own fringe prospect pitchers into MLB arms.

Getting a MLB ready 4th OF for a longshot prospect who isn't going to be relevant in the majors for another 4 years is a fine move in my book. It just gets worse the more they trot him out there despite losing the ability to hit, alongside the organization's inability to develop pitchers.

Well he obviously was a prospect of some value. The point more is you can get 4th outfielders anywhere. Why would you give up anything of value for him?  

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10 minutes ago, Linus said:

Well he obviously was a prospect of some value. The point more is you can get 4th outfielders anywhere. Why would you give up anything of value for him?  

He was one of the league's better 4th OFs in 2018 & 2019. Baseball Reference had him at 1.7 WAR in his rookie season - I'd give up a lotto ticket for that again. Would you really prefer to hold onto every single pitching prospect of marginal value when the major league team could be upgraded, even if the move isn't substantial?

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Well, another team could claim him if the Twins need to 40-man remove him. They would pay his salary.

 

He could pass thru waivers and be assigned to AAA baseball, still get paid. Kinda what the Rays did with Aaron Slegers. You keep them oin the team, less likely to be claimed. And the player gets paid mroe than a standard minor league free agency contract or a major/minor split.

 

Not sure if he could refuse an assignment. Still.....the Twins didn't need to give him a roster spot.

 

Is it true that he could be cut for a pro-rated salary in spring training?

 

 

Last year we lost Wade and Baddoo because we kept Cave. Or so we want to think. We also managed to sign Refsnyder, Garlick and Broxton, with two making the team and playing better than Cave, and one having a great spring but stunk at AAA. So there is no shortage of outfielders looking for work.

 

The Twins have Kerrigan and Contreras who could probably be decent 4th outfielders in a pinch, and they allowed Whitefield to walk away. They still have Rooker, Celestino and Larnach on the roster, and if they sign a shortstop have to figure out wants to play Arraez and Gordon.

 

Or, maybe Cave is just the retool replacement if the Twins trade away Buxton for a lot of prospects who won't need to be 40-man protected.

 

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2 hours ago, Danchat said:

He was one of the league's better 4th OFs in 2018 & 2019. Baseball Reference had him at 1.7 WAR in his rookie season - I'd give up a lotto ticket for that again. Would you really prefer to hold onto every single pitching prospect of marginal value when the major league team could be upgraded, even if the move isn't substantial?

Well he wasn’t obviously a prospect of marginal value. That’s why you don’t trade them for Jake cave who you can buy at the dime store. 

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7 hours ago, Rosterman said:

Not sure if he could refuse an assignment. Still.....the Twins didn't need to give him a roster spot.

 

Is it true that he could be cut for a pro-rated salary in spring training?

According to Seth, it is not a guaranteed contract and he could still be cut

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8 hours ago, Rosterman said:

Not sure if he could refuse an assignment.

With over 3 years service time, Cave could elect free agency if we tried to outright him off the 40-man roster. However, by doing so now, he would forfeit the remainder of his $800k salary. (Players need 5 years service time to simply refuse the assignment, without having to elect free agency or forfeit the contract.)

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8 hours ago, Rosterman said:

Is it true that he could be cut for a pro-rated salary in spring training?

Yes. For arbitration-eligible players on 1-year contracts (even if the contract was signed outside of arbitration, like Cave's):

  • if they are cut more than 15 days prior to opening day, the team only owes them 30 days termination pay ($129k of Cave's $800k contract) 
  • if they are cut after that point, but before opening day, it's 45 days termination pay ($194k in this case)
  • if they aren't cut by opening day, the full contract is guaranteed

I know it happened to Emilio Bonifacio a few years back, but it's pretty rare to see such a player cut during spring training, despite the potential cost savings for the team. My favorite contract rules resource the Cub Reporter includes this note, which might explain why:

NOTE: The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is very sensitive about salary arbitration, so if a player is awarded a contract by an arbitration panel and then is subsequently released by his club prior to or during Spring Training, the MLBPA will almost always file a grievance on behalf of the player, claiming the player was released for economic reasons only (which is not permitted), and asking that the released player receive 100% of his salary as termination pay. In that situation, a club would have to show (by submitting official Spring Training game stats) that the released player was out-performed in Spring Training games by another player (or players) competing for that roster spot.

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I sure hope Cave isn't back.  For a stiff like him to be on a major league roster shows how low the Twins will go.  I for one am not ready for another rebuild.  It's boring and produces a lot of bad baseball.  Also someone said he excuses all bad performances in the shortened 2020 season.  What about the players and teams who had good seasons?  Are they discarded as wel

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Let's be fair on what Jake Cave is and is not. He had two good partial seasons for the Twins in 2018-19. He was well below average in the 2020 shortened season and dreadful for 165 plate appearances last year. He is a decent corner outfielder defensively, but stretched to play center. He will be 29 for the duration of the 2022 season. Cave has no business being in the lineup versus left handed pitching, but as recently as 2019, he was above average facing right handed pitchers. 

I don't think he's a fit on a Twins team where the other corner outfielders figure to be left handed hitters. I do think he is a small step up from what the Twins can sign as a minor league free agent. The Twins viewed him as a better player, going into 2021, than LaMonte Wade Jr. It is not Cave's fault that Wade broke out in 2021. Cave had roughly 550 plate appearances in '18-'19 and roughly 300 in '20-'21 and did have a disabling injury in 2021. I think he's a fairly good candidate to bounce back in 2022. 

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3 hours ago, stringer bell said:

Let's be fair on what Jake Cave is and is not. He had two good partial seasons for the Twins in 2018-19. He was well below average in the 2020 shortened season and dreadful for 165 plate appearances last year. He is a decent corner outfielder defensively, but stretched to play center. He will be 29 for the duration of the 2022 season. Cave has no business being in the lineup versus left handed pitching, but as recently as 2019, he was above average facing right handed pitchers. 

I don't think he's a fit on a Twins team where the other corner outfielders figure to be left handed hitters. I do think he is a small step up from what the Twins can sign as a minor league free agent. The Twins viewed him as a better player, going into 2021, than LaMonte Wade Jr. It is not Cave's fault that Wade broke out in 2021. Cave had roughly 550 plate appearances in '18-'19 and roughly 300 in '20-'21 and did have a disabling injury in 2021. I think he's a fairly good candidate to bounce back in 2022. 

Larnach, Kepler, Kirilloff and Cave all Lefties. Kirilloff figures to mainly play first, so Cave is insurance for Kepler/Larnach? 3-4 lefty corner outfielders is kinda nuts, especially if they traded Buxton and the only righty is Rooker

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17 hours ago, Danchat said:

I really don't see the point... there are better 4th OFs out there (a right-handed one would be nice) and now he's been guaranteed a 40 man spot through Spring Training. I guess the FO is convinced they can fix him... 

Mark Canha, Nick Castellanos, Mark Contreras would all be preferable to me.

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51 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

This isn’t the worst idea ever but I still ****ing hate it to the depths of my being.

So do I Brock!!! An absolutely miserable move! WHat are Falvey and Levine doing to our beloved Twins franchise. That was the biggest no-brainer release of a player you could ever find. Yuk!

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6 hours ago, Otto von Ballpark said:

Yes. For arbitration-eligible players on 1-year contracts (even if the contract was signed outside of arbitration, like Cave's):

  • if they are cut more than 15 days prior to opening day, the team only owes them 30 days termination pay ($129k of Cave's $800k contract) 
  • if they are cut after that point, but before opening day, it's 45 days termination pay ($194k in this case)
  • if they aren't cut by opening day, the full contract is guaranteed

I know it happened to Emilio Bonifacio a few years back, but it's pretty rare to see such a player cut during spring training, despite the potential cost savings for the team. My favorite contract rules resource the Cub Reporter includes this note, which might explain why:

NOTE: The Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is very sensitive about salary arbitration, so if a player is awarded a contract by an arbitration panel and then is subsequently released by his club prior to or during Spring Training, the MLBPA will almost always file a grievance on behalf of the player, claiming the player was released for economic reasons only (which is not permitted), and asking that the released player receive 100% of his salary as termination pay. In that situation, a club would have to show (by submitting official Spring Training game stats) that the released player was out-performed in Spring Training games by another player (or players) competing for that roster spot.

The simple solution is to do what over 90% indicated in a Twitter poll today and release him. Given choice of signing Astudillo, Cave or neither, 9.4% preferred keeping Cave.

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4 hours ago, yeahyabetcha said:

There is going to be a lot of disappointed TD followers next spring when Cave makes the opening day roster.

I'm growing weary of this. My dream of an outfield of Canha, Buxton, Kirilloff seems to be in danger! That would be a vastly improved OF. Mark Contreras deserves a chance as 4th OF. I’d signed the supremely dominant CF, Billy Hamilton as the 5th outfielder and Buxton insurance policy. No room for Jake Cave.

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1 hour ago, Sconnie said:

Larnach, Kepler, Kirilloff and Cave all Lefties. Kirilloff figures to mainly play first, so Cave is insurance for Kepler/Larnach? 3-4 lefty corner outfielders is kinda nuts, especially if they traded Buxton and the only righty is Rooker

I’ll advance the entirely gettable OF of LF Canha, CF Buxton, RF Kirilloff, Mark Contreras 4th OF, Billy Hamilton, a sensational defensive center fielder as the official Buxton insurance policy, possible pinch runner in extra innings, etc.

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2 hours ago, Greglw3 said:

I’ll advance the entirely gettable OF of LF Canha, CF Buxton, RF Kirilloff, Mark Contreras 4th OF, Billy Hamilton, a sensational defensive center fielder as the official Buxton insurance policy, possible pinch runner in extra innings, etc.

Hamilton was 2 outs above average last year, has been around 4-6 the last few years. He ain’t what he used to be anymore (12-16 in the teens).

Cave has been 0 or 1 OAA the last couple years.

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16 minutes ago, Sconnie said:

Hamilton was 2 outs above average last year, has been around 4-6 the last few years. He ain’t what he used to be anymore (12-16 in the teens).

Cave has been 0 or 1 OAA the last couple years.

Is that all OF or was Cave actually average in CF? I always assumed he was well below average in center. 

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