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  • Trade Candidate Profile: Caleb Thielbar

    Matthew Lenz

    Caleb Thielbar first became a Twins pitcher nearly a decade ago and is one of the most under-appreciated Twins of recent memory. In short, he’s more than a great story, and in length, let’s take a look at the value he could provide on the trade market.

    Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    The Minnesota-native, drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers, was released in December of 2010 and signed with the Twins on August 19th, 2011, after playing for the St. Paul Saints Much has been made about his return to the big leagues, (after a two-year stint with the Saints) but that’s overshadowed how effective he’s been in a Twins uniform. In the history of the Twins franchise, dating back to the inaugural season in 1961, Thielbar has the tenth best ERA of any pitcher who has thrown at least 150 innings in relief. Moreover, his FIP bumps him up to ninth on the list, yet he doesn’t get nearly the same fanfare of other recent Twins. He’s not the coveted new-age high-velocity pitcher, but he gets the job done and will undoubtedly have value on the trade market.

    As previously suggested, Thielbar’s fastball sits low 90’s, and he throws the pitch about 50-percent of the time while he flashes a sweeping slider and looping curveball for his second and third pitches, respectively.

    Thielbar is not an elite arm by any means, and teams won’t be clamoring over him to be their closer or even set up guy. But he brings value as a low to mid leverage reliever that can bridge the gap between the starter and the back end of the bullpen. Due to his age (34) and limited ceiling, teams won’t be giving up a lot for the lefty reliever, but one interesting thing to note is that Thielbar still has three years of team control after 2021. That’s to say that Thielbar isn’t just a rental but could be a solid piece for teams that look to be contenders for the foreseeable future, like the Padres and Dodgers, for years to come. In fact, I think a trade just completed on Thursday is nearly a perfect comp for what the Twins could look to net in a trade involving Caleb Thielbar.

    The Chicago Cubs sent 33-year-old right-hander Ryan Tepera to the Chicago White Sox for 23-year-old right-handed pitcher Bailey Horn. Horn was a fifth round pick in 2020 with limited success over 38 1/3 minor league innings.

    I think this is a pretty good idea of what the Twins would be looking at for Thielbar. A low-level, albeit top-30, prospect. Tepera doesn’t have the team control that Thielbar has, but I don’t know how much pull that has with a 34-year-old reliever.

    All that said, I know some of you are thinking the Twins could use him for years to come. So what do you say...should he stay or should he go?


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    The strange thing to me is that despite my impression of him as a Lefty One Out Guy (modified to some extent by a recent rule change) his splits are nowhere near the death-to-lefties profile that I thought would fit. His career-long OPS-against (the only timeframe I'm willing to judge this reliever by) is in the .600s for batters of either persuasion.

    I don't know whether a contender looking for a final bullpen piece wants that, or wants a guy who can absolutely shut down left-handed batters, a talent Caleb doesn't quite demonstrate, although he's been pretty good, thus bringing to a close my run-on sentence.

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    Not sure if we are better off with or without him but since we are likely to keep Taylor Rogers I could see moving Theilbar for the right price.  I would want a good piece back though as he he has three year of reasonable control and while he is not dominant he is a proven solid MLB player.

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    I’m happy for Caleb. He has generated a lot of whiffs this season and is probably our third or fourth best RP. If he is traded he would be low on the bullpen ladder of his new team (in other words, a low leverage guy).. nothing wrong with that, and he would be in a pennant race, so that would be fun. 

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    3 years of control of a lefty reliever who can bridge the gap between the starter and the back end of the bullpen......hmmmm.......and cost effective too......hmmmm.......

    How is that even a thought process??  Trade him?  For a low level prospect?  On what planet this side of Jupiter does that make sense?  I know, on Jupiter they trade all stars for draft picks, but on what other planet does a trade like that make sense?  And no, I am not calling him an all star.  But if he can help a bullpen that calls themselves a contender, why can't he help a bullpen that wishes they could call themselves a contender?  And did I mention that he is cost effective?  

    I can't believe we are having this conversation.  But then, I have spent time on Jupiter, so..........:)    

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    Yeah might as well hold on to him. If he performs well next year he’d surely see a spike in value. If he doesn’t, well the proposed package coming back isn’t too pretty right now.

    Though, he might be a good pot sweetener if they move Berrios.

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    Under team control for several years and relatively cheap.  Is a lefty who can get more than lefties out.  Seems to me that he should be part of bullpens for the next several years.  Yes, if someone blows you away with an offer, trade him.  But the chances of that happening are slim, so I count him as one of the eight opening day relievers in 2022.

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