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?