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  • 10 Relievers Minnesota Could Target


    Cody Christie

    Minnesota missed out on the Craig Kimbrel sweepstakes, but the Twins will certainly have opportunities to add other impact relievers before July’s trade deadline. The Twins have been able to do more than survive with their current bullpen situation. However, bullpen arms and bullpen usage are critical when it comes to winning games in October.

    Here are 10 relievers who Minnesota could target before the trade deadline.

    Image courtesy of © Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

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    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.

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    I'm intrigued in Smith, Watson, and Giles. I don't care as much about the extra years of control, as I'm thinking win-out, worry about 2020 and on later. I could see getting Giles in for a sizable haul of prospects and Watson for cheaper.

     

    What's trickier is the starter market... the options there aren't as clear-cut to me.

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    I'm intrigued in Smith, Watson, and Giles. I don't care as much about the extra years of control, as I'm thinking win-out, worry about 2020 and on later. I could see getting Giles in for a sizable haul of prospects and Watson for cheaper.

     

    What's trickier is the starter market... the options there aren't as clear-cut to me.

    I'm of the same mind. Of course, Will Smith and Giles are my favorites on this list. I also like Hand, but it is difficult to see how to land him in a Twins uniform.

     

    The players from Arizona are probably still off limits for the time being as they are only a game adrift in the wild card standings (I believe).

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    I’d like Smith, especially if they could extend him!

    Vasquez next, then Giles.

    I could care less if they overpay for any of these 3.

     

    We’ve seen this scenario play out before. Twins need player or two to get to the next level, and management

    in the past always got guys on the cheap. Hope Falvey and Levine are different.

     

    If the Twins do make the playoffs, then lose games because of our bullpen, fans will always remember the opportunity lost if we look at cheap options.

     

    Make decent offers-90% of our best players will not make the Twins. If you want someone good,don’t insult the other team by low balling them. Those teams quickly lose respect for the Twins when that happens!

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    I think they need to improve the depth of the bullpen besides the back end. I could see a Hunter Strickland pick up if he looks good when he returns.  Seattle is in sell mode and he would not cost much

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    I’d vote no on: Sergio Romo, Brad Hand, Shane Greene, or Tony Watson.

     

    I’d be fine with anyone else listed here, maybe in this order, not that it matters too much/ Vasquez, Giles, Holland, Diekman, Smith, Givens. I’d also add a couple of Reds guys to the list: Raisel Iglesias or Amir Garrett.

     

    No to Sean Doolittle—the Nats are only 6 back and coming on strong.

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    I’d vote no on: Sergio Romo, Brad Hand, Shane Greene, or Tony Watson.

    I’d be fine with anyone else listed here, maybe in this order, not that it matters too much/ Vasquez, Giles, Holland, Diekman, Smith, Givens. I’d also add a couple of Reds guys to the list: Raisel Iglesias or Amir Garrett.

    No to Sean Doolittle—the Nats are only 6 back and coming on strong.

    I think we all better hope that the Nats fall off and hard. I really want Scherzer

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    I would look for one of two types.

     

    They need to add someone at the top of the bullpen. There are several on the list up there that would qualify.

     

    I would avoid Diekman, Romo and Watson. Older guys used in set up roles, I think I would avoid Givens and Holland also. I would certainly want to dig deep on their command.

     

    The other type is the Pressly type. Someone with control that appears to be emerging. Amir Garrett or Robert Stephenson from the Reds might be candidates. They are top 10 in pitch/100 for sliders. Carlos Estevez and Brandon Brennan in that list also. There are a few similar pitchers in the curve ball list. How good is Barlow’s curve ball? It has top 10 pitch value but he doesn’t use it as much as his slider. Scouting is key here.

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    A couple of names not mentioned yet:

     

    Arizona has been pretty streaky this year, and based on their off-season, are rebuilding. Robbie Ray (27 years old, 1 year of arbitration remaining) and Archie Bradley (26 years old, 2 years of arbitration remaining) would help fill the need at both SP and RP. Both are somewhat flawed, but offer high ceiling.

     

    Oakland has Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino (has struggled as of late) as a couple of guys who might be available for less than what some of the others in the original article might go for.

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    A couple of names not mentioned yet:

     

    Arizona has been pretty streaky this year, and based on their off-season, are rebuilding. Robbie Ray (27 years old, 1 year of arbitration remaining) and Archie Bradley (26 years old, 2 years of arbitration remaining) would help fill the need at both SP and RP. Both are somewhat flawed, but offer high ceiling.

     

    Oakland has Blake Treinen and Lou Trivino (has struggled as of late) as a couple of guys who might be available for less than what some of the others in the original article might go for.

    I live in Arizona, and sort of pay attention to the DBacks.

     

    I'd be very surprised if they sell off. They're above .500 and in the NL WC hunt, and there's been little to no talk in the papers of them selling. 

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    I live in Arizona, and sort of pay attention to the DBacks.

     

    I'd be very surprised if they sell off. They're above .500 and in the NL WC hunt, and there's been little to no talk in the papers of them selling. 

     

    I agree that they aren't in a full-on sell mode, but depending on how the next few weeks play out, they will figure out if they are contenders or not, and that changes things for their front office. If they play well leading up to the All-Star break, I doubt they would be sellers, but if they struggle, maybe they look to make a deal?

     

    Much like our discussion on the Mets last week, it is a lower probability of a deal happening between these two teams than the other possibilities discussed on this site, but it is something different to consider.

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    Jake Cave won't get Will Smith.

     

    Jake Cave is 26 and in AAA, with modest numbers and a modest minor league career. He's not a prospect in any way, shape or form. He's minor league depth. 

     

    And he won't net a usable piece.

    He had a 114 OPS+ with regular playing time last year. Since being back in AAA with regular plate appearances, he's got a .366 wOBA. He also doesn't hit arbitration till 2022. He's not a prospect to build a core around, but if you're entering a rebuild like the Giants you could do way worse than having him in the OF rotation. 

    I can't imagine the market for Smith being all that robust considering the service time. I figure the Cubs will be interested, but they're pretty strapped right now on their farm. They'd likely also be offering damaged goods like Ian Happ, I presume. 

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    He had a 114 OPS+ with regular playing time last year. Since being back in AAA with regular plate appearances, he's got a .366 wOBA. He also doesn't hit arbitration till 2022. He's not a prospect to build a core around, but if you're entering a rebuild like the Giants you could do way worse than having him in the OF rotation. 

    I can't imagine the market for Smith being all that robust considering the service time. I figure the Cubs will be interested, but they're pretty strapped right now on their farm. They'd likely also be offering damaged goods like Ian Happ, I presume. 

    I see that as the opposite.

     

    If you're a contending team, Jake Cave in AAA makes sense as depth to cover injuries. He makes sense in the Twins OF if, for example, Kepler gets injured.

     

    If you're the SF Giants, and indeed entering a rebuild, why would you waste time investing ABs in Jake Cave, who is never going to be a difference maker on a contending team, and who doesn't really make the current team much better. 

     

    I would think the Giants (and similar teams) will look to acquire players with upside, even if they're several years away. Not 4th OFers.

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    << Make decent offers-90% of our best players will not make the Twins. If you want someone good,don’t insult the other team by low balling them. Those teams quickly lose respect for the Twins when that happens! >>

     

    I kind of take the opposite approach. Everybody starts with a low ball position otherwise you don't have any bargaining room. It's why they are called trade negotiations. It's where you end up at agreement time that matters, not the beginning. Respect is earned through shrewd negotiating.

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    Cave on his own wouldn’t get anyone better than the guys they already have in abundance.

     

    Hand would be great, but he would probably cost Kirilloff or Graterol + others. Cleveland gave up Francisco Mejia, who was approximately the number ten overall prospect at the time of the deal. Hand is signed through at least next year. 2021 is a team option. He has one less year of control than when San Diego traded him, but he’s having the best season of his career. I’m not sure I’d send a top prospect to a still-in-it division rival.

     

    Vazquez would be great, but more expensive than Hand in terms of prospects. Giles would also be good and possibly a little cheaper, given his previous red flags.

     

    I don’t know who they’re gonna trade for. I guess my personal preference would be Giles and/or Smith. I don’t think they’ll get more than one high profile arm, in any case, and maybe not even that. Even so, I think they’ll find some guys who can pitch tough innings.

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