Under Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the Twins have given a reliever approximately one guaranteed multi-year deal. It was to Addison Reed, who posted a 4.50 ERA in 55 outings. They don’t believe in spending heavily on a bullpen, evidenced by their highest-paid reliever in 2022 (it’s Padres closer Taylor Rogers). It’s explicitly not a value or focus, and due to the up-and-down nature of a bullpen arm, it probably serves them right in most cases.
The Twins also love pitcher reclamation projects or just pitcher projects in general. Maybe that will change with the departure of Wes Johnson, but it’s been a calling card since this front office took over in 2017. The list is long and features some success stories (Matt Wisler) and misses (Shaun Anderson), and it doesn’t feel like it’s going away anytime soon. Jharel Cotton is among this year’s projects, as is Trevor Megill. It’s what they do.
Combining what we know, it’s unlikely the Twins will trade for someone like Jorge López, who is under team control through 2024 and is having a career year. His cost will be high, and it’s not like this front office to meet those demands. It’s much more likely they’ll target someone at a lower cost.
Oakland Athletics reliever Lou Trivino, 30, is having a horrific season, at least on the surface. His ERA is a robust 7.52, and he’s given up 30 hits in 20 1/3 innings. While these numbers don’t scream “bullpen solution,” Trivino is having some of the worst luck of his career. His FIP, or Fielding Independent Pitching, is 2.87. Among relievers with at least 20 innings thrown, Trivino has the largest gap between his FIP and ERA (4.65 runs). He’s one of only five relievers striking out over 14 batters per nine innings. His walk rate is a career-low 9.9%. Trivino’s essentially doing his part, while his defense isn’t.
Trivino throws in the mid-to-upper 90s and has held right-handed hitters to a .618 OPS in his career. He throws his sinker too much and his slider too little, another feature the Twins favor in a reclamation project. He added the slider this year, and the results are outstanding. Opponents are hitting .125 with a 58% whiff rate against the pitch, with even better expected numbers.
Nobody will clammer for a guy with a horrible ERA on a lousy team, but Trivino fits the Twins' bill. Trivino is also under team control through 2024, so there’s real upside beyond 2022. The Athletics’ return probably wouldn’t hold a ton of risk. The risk is if Trivino pitches to his surface numbers and blows multiple games in the second half. The upside? That a better defense and luck help Trivino pitch to his peripherals. He’s the Twins’ type.
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