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  1. For more on each of these arbitration-eligible players, you can read much more in The Question: To Tender or Not To Tender. Here is the quick summary: John Gant cleared waivers and became a free agent. Rob Refsnyder was DFAd and became a free agent. Willians Astudillo was DFAd, cleared waviers and was released. Jake Cave signed a one year, $800,000 for 2022. In addition to those four arbitration-eligible players, lefty Devin Smeltzer was DFAd, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A. You might have heard, the Twins have agreed to terms with Byron Buxton on a seven-year, $100 million contract extension which also includes some creative, interesting incentives. But there is more work to be done, and today (Tuesday) should be an interesting day. The team still have to make decisions on seven more arbitration-eligible players. Here is some information on each of those players (mostly from Sunday's article), but we will have a spot ready to update whenever we hear any news on any of the players. Also, be sure to vote on whether or not you would a.) Tender a contract, b.) Non-tender the player, or c.) Try to reach an agreement at a lower dollar value. If player won't, then non-tender. LUIS ARRAEZ - UT (24) Service Time: 2 years, 121 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 4 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $2 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1.5 million JHAREL COTTON - RHP (30) Service Time: 3 years, 52 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.2 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: N/A DANNY COULOMBE - LHP (32) Service Time: 3 years, 8 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $800,000 Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1 million TYLER DUFFEY - RHP (31) Service Time: 5 years, 74 days Arbitration Year: 3rd of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.7 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3.5 million MITCH GARVER - C (31) Service Time: 4 years, 45 days Arbitration Year: 2nd of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.1 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3.5 million JUAN MINAYA - RHP (31) Service Time: 2 years, 140 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.1 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1 million TAYLOR ROGERS - LHP (31) Service Time: 5 years, 145 days Arbitration Year: 4th of 4 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $6.7 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $7 million CALEB THIELBAR - LHP (35) Service Time: 3 years, 131 days Arbitration Year: 2nd of 4 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.2 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1.5 million Again, we will update this article throughout the day on Tuesday until we learn what the resolution is for each player. There may be some agreements, maybe even multi-year deals. There will be contracts tendered without an agreement. At that point, numbers will be exchanged by the team and the player. There are likely to be a non-tender or two as well which will make those players free agents immediately, like happened with Eddie Rosario a year ago.
  2. The Twins have already made several transactions that have altered their list of arbitration-eligible players. Early in November, the Twins decided to put right-handed pitcher John Gant on waivers. When he cleared, he elected to become a free agent. Gant came to the Twins at the July trade deadline as part of the J.A. Happ trade. He was set to make approximately $3.7 million in his final season of arbitration. Outfielder Rob Refsnyder played like a Legend for a while after the Twins called him up, even playing a lot of center field. However, after a couple of injuries, including a concussion, he wasn’t able to repeat that performance. The minor league veteran was projected to make about $800,000, but the Twins DFAd him this month too. It became a talker, but the Twins signed outfielder Jake Cave to a one-year, $800,000 deal for 2022. Like all arbitration deals, it isn’t completely guaranteed. Finally, just last week, the Twins DFAd the fan-favorite, Williams Astudillo. Set to make a projected 2022 salary around $1.2 million in his first arbitration season. Since he hasn’t hit since his debut season in 2018 and has little defensive value, it was an easy decision to remove him from the roster and after he cleared waivers, they simply released him. And then the Twins claimed right-handed pitcher Jharel Cotton from the Texas Rangers in early November. Let’s take a look at him and the other arbitration-eligible Twins players that the Twins have a decision to make before Tuesday’s deadline. (in alphabetical order, note: age on April 1, 2022) LUIS ARRAEZ - UT (24) Service Time: 2 years, 121 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 4 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $2 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1.5 million Why Tender? Though Arraez struggled late in 2021 and ended out with a batting average below .300 for the first time in his professional career. He can play in left field and second base, and actually had a solid season playing third base in 2021. On the other side of his case, he had several IL trips again due to his knees and legs. Likelihood to be Tendered: 10 Summary: Just over the weekend, we learned that MLB had set the “Super 2” line at 2.116 (two years, 116 days) service time. Fortunately, the Twins' brass doesn't need to spend much time thinking about whether or not to tender a 2022 contract to Arraez. It's a given. What is his future with the organization? Could he be traded? If not, what position will he play, or will he continue to play all around the diamond? All to be figured out... after that contract is tendered on Tuesday. BYRON BUXTON - CF (28) Service Time: 5 years, 160 days Arbitration Year: 4th of 4 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $7.3 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $8 million Why Tender? Because he’s Byron Buxton. Because his 2022 salary will be minimal relative to the value he will and has provided. Because they can then continue negotiating a potential long-term deal. Because even if they don’t reach a deal, he can easily be traded for a very nice return. Likelihood to be Tendered (1 unlikely to 10 very likely): 10. Easy choice. Summary: This one will require very little thought. What happens beyond tendering hims a 2022 contract has been the topic of debate for the past six months. JHAREL COTTON - RHP (30) Service Time: 3 years, 52 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.2 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: N/A Why Tender? Because he showed some good stuff out of the Rangers bullpen in his return to the big leagues following Tommy John surgery. Because of what he had shown as a starter in Oakland early in his career. Because he’s got a good fastball, but a great changeup. Likelihood to be Tendered: 5 Summary: There are reasons to believe that Cotton could be a solid middle-relief pitcher option, and who knows, maybe the Twins think that he could be healthy enough to get back to starting and be an option for a back of the Twins rotation too. However, the Twins may also ask for Cotton to agree to a 1 year, $900,000 or $1 million deal, and if he accepts, great. If not, non-tendered and he becomes a free agent. DANNY COULOMBE - LHP (32) Service Time: 3 years, 8 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $800,000 Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1 million Why Tender? Coulombe isn’t an exciting pitcher, but he’s long been a solid MLB left-handed reliever, and he pitched well for the Twins in the second half. Had quite a bit of MLB success before injury including being used very often for Oakland for a couple of seasons. He is very similar to Caleb Thielbar, so again, is it necessary to have another lefty in a ‘pen that already should include Thielbar and Taylor Rogers, with Jovani Moran in the near-ready position as well? Likelihood to Tender: 6 Summary: Coulombe has been better than most Twins fans probably think. He’s just solid with limited upside. For $800,000, little reason not to tender him. That said, they may do what they did with Thielbar a year ago and lock him up to a deal below projection. TYLER DUFFEY - RHP (31) Service Time: 5 years, 74 days Arbitration Year: 3rd of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.7 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3.5 million Why Tender? Duffey’s velocity may have been down a little bit in 2021, but he still put up solid numbers. He ranked right up there with the top relievers in baseball over the past three seasons. Hasn’t received many Save opportunities, which certainly keeps his arbitration salary down, but he’s been used in high-leverage situations. Can they reach an agreement on a one-year deal before an arbitration hearing? Could they look to lock up Duffey for two or three seasons? (maybe a two-year, $7 million deal, or even a three-year, $12 million deal). Likelihood to Tender: 9 Summary: Another easy decision because even if things go poorly, he should have some trade value so non-tendering makes no sense. With so many question marks in the Twins bullpen, losing Duffey would make things even more difficult. MITCH GARVER - C (31) Service Time: 4 years, 45 days Arbitration Year: 2nd of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.1 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3.5 million Why Tender? Remember his 2019 season? Well, after a poor April, Garver returned to that high-level, 2019 form for much of the rest of the season. The lone concern is an injury history that really hurt him in 2020, but also a couple of times during the 2021 season. Garver’s name shows up in some trade rumors this offseason, and teams would likely line up if the Twins made it known he was available. Likelihood to Tender: 10 Summary; An easy decision to tender him a contract. Likely a much more intense conversation has likely occurred regarding the future of the Twins catcher position. While the idea of a Garver/Ryan Jeffers even split of playing time makes a ton of sense in theory, would it work in reality? Or, could the fact that they have both of them, along with Ben Rortvedt in Triple-A and clearly the best defensive catcher of the three, maybe one could be dealt in the offseason for some pitching. None of that alters how easy the decision will be to tender Garver. JUAN MINAYA - RHP (31) Service Time: 2 years, 140 days Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.1 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1 million Why Tender? Minaya came up to the Twins in the season’s second half and really performed well. He showed good life on his pitches and was put into some big situations. The interesting thing is that he pitched much better for the Twins than he did in his time with the Saints. He had some good years with the White Sox. He has had some control issues in his career, but he’s also very capable of racking up strikeouts. Likelihood to Tender: 6 Summary: Minaya was certainly a nice surprise for the Twins in the second half of the season, but was that enough to tender a seven-digit deal? Like Cotton and Coulombe, it might be another case where the Twins offer him $900,000 to $1 million for 2022, and if he takes it, great. If not, he can be non-tendered. TAYLOR ROGERS - LHP (31) Service Time: 5 years, 145 days Arbitration Year: 4th of 4 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $6.7 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $7 million Why Tender? I think we would start with the fact that he has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past four or five seasons. Aside from some struggles in the shortened-2020 season, he’s been very good. He also has been very healthy until his late-July finder injury that cost him the final two months of the 2022 season. The lone question regarding Rogers will be how he recovers and returns from the finger injury since he did not have surgery. Likelihood to Tender: 9 Summary: Another easy choice. Reports indicated that teams were still interested in trading for Rogers, even after he got hurt. They certainly can trade him in the offseason or in July should they choose to do so. I personally think there should also be extension thoughts with Rogers. He’s become a leader on the team, and has earned it based on production. Of course, Aaron Loup getting two years and $17 million might tell us that Rogers should get quite a bit more than that. However, I would offer him a three-year, $24 million deal with an option at $9 million for a fourth year. CALEB THIELBAR - LHP (35) Service Time: 3 years, 131 days Arbitration Year: 2nd of 4 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.2 million Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1.5 million Why Tender? By the end of the 2021 season, the Minnesota native was Rocco Baldelli and Wes Johnson’s most relied upon, if not reliable, bullpen arm. He really increased his ability to miss bats. His fastball sat between 91 and 95 mph, and that slow, 68 mph curveball is a good pitch to go with a strong slider. Likelihood to Tender: 8 Summary: Another easy choice. Just offer it to him, work on a good deal and call it good. Because of his age and that he’s got a few more seasons before free agency, there is no reason to do anything but go year-to-year with him. How long will the Twins be able to keep Thielbar away from a college coaching career? Your turn. If you’re in charge, would you tender contracts to all of these players? What kind of deals would you like to see? Discuss.
  3. TAYLOR ROGERS 2021: 40 1/3 IP, 3.35 ERA (128 ERA+), 2.13 FIP, 35% K, 5% BB Rogers bounced back from a rough 2020 as the Twins’ steadiest bullpen piece throughout the first half. Over his first 35 appearances, Rogers posted a 2.45 ERA and 2.02 FIP while holding opponents to a .600 OPS. The All-Star lefty then gave up five runs over his next 1 2/3 innings, including a grand slam in the Twins’ last game before the break. Rogers’ season ended shortly after due to a sprained finger. The ERA paints a much worse picture for Rogers in 2021, but he was essentially the same weapon he’s been for much of his career. Even then, his looming ~$7 million price tag and finger injury could give the Twins a tricky decision on arbitration day. GRADE: A- TYLER DUFFEY 2021: 62 1/3 IP, 3.18 ERA (134 ERA+), 3.49 FIP, 24% K, 11% BB Duffey entered 2021 as one of the game’s best set-up men with a remarkable 2.31 ERA and 34% strikeout rate in 2019 and 2020 combined. Alarmingly, Duffey’s velocity was down this spring, raising questions about his arm heading into Opening Day. Those concerns were valid. Duffey posted a 5.87 ERA and 20% strikeout rate over his first 15+ innings of the season. His velocity dwindled, and his luster as a lockdown set-up man was on shaky ground. Fortunately, Duffey bounced back with a 2.30 ERA over his last 47 innings, solidifying himself back in the top-25 among American League relievers. Still, his fastball velocity is down over a tick from 2019, and he walked way too many. GRADE: B- JORGE ALCALA 2021: 59 2/3 IP, 3.92 ERA (109 ERA+), 4.06 FIP, 27% K, 6% BB Alcala was terrific in the shortened 2020 season, posting a 2.63 ERA and 29% strikeout rate in 24 innings. A full season breakout felt viable in 2021 for the hard-throwing right-hander. Like Duffey, Alcala got off to a plodding start, evidenced by a 5.73 ERA and .464 opponent’s slugging percentage in his first 40 games. Alcala struck out just 22% of hitters during that span. Alcala’s stuff is too good for such inflated numbers. With improved command in his final 22 innings, Alcala allowed just two runs (0.82 ERA) while striking out 27 and walking only three of the 77 batters he faced. GRADE: B- CALEB THIELBAR 2021: 64 IP, 3.23 ERA (132 ERA+), 3.47 FIP, 29% K, 7.5% BB One of the best stories of the 60-game campaign, Thielbar posted a 2.25 ERA and 2.34 FIP in his first 20 Major League innings since 2015. Thielbar continued a strong 2020 season immediately in 2021. He struck out nine and walked none over his first 4 1/3 scoreless innings. Thielbar subsequently allowed 15 runs over his next 27 innings, contributing to a shaky Twins bullpen. The Northfield native then put together an outstanding second half. He produced a 1.76 ERA with a 25% strikeout rate after the break. Thielbar emerged as the Twins’ best left-handed reliever after Rogers went on the injured list. His spot on next year’s team feels secure. GRADE: A ALEXANDER COLOMÉ 2021: 65 IP, 4.15 ERA (103 ERA+), 4.23 FIP, 20% K, 8% BB The Twins signed Colomé to be the pitcher he’d been over his entire eight-year career. Colomé owned a 2.95 ERA and saved 138 games before signing with Minnesota last offseason. His debut couldn’t have gone any worse. Starting with a blown save on Opening Day, Colomé allowed 16 runs and five homers over his first 26 2/3 innings with the Twins. His Win Probability Added was a staggering -2.29. Colomé eventually found his stride and pitched much better down the stretch, with a 3.29 ERA and 3.38 FIP over his last 38 games. Colomé served as the Twins’ primary closer and saved 15 of 19 games from late June to the end of the season. GRADE: D+ JUAN MINAYA 2021: 40 IP, 2.48 ERA (173 ERA+), 3.97 FIP, 26% K, 12% BB Opponents hit .189 with a .624 OPS against Minaya, whom the Twins signed to a Minor League deal before the season. He upped the usage of his outstanding changeup, which increased the effectiveness of his mid-90s fastball. Minaya had previous Major League success with the White Sox, but this was his best season. His ground-ball rate rose to a tremendous 55%, and he posted a career-high 1.1 Wins Above Replacement. Minaya’s peripherals - a 3.97 FIP in particular - create some uncertainty for sustaining success in 2022. Either way, the Twins have a ~$1 million decision to make, and there’s certainly space for him in the bullpen. GRADE: A HANSEL ROBLES 2021: 44 IP, 4.91 ERA (87 ERA+), 4.83 FIP, 23% K, 13% BB Robles had a disastrous 2020 season for the Angels after a stellar 2019 where he posted a 2.48 ERA and saved 23 games. The Twins signed him for $2 million, betting that the Covid season was an outlier for the hard-throwing veteran. It looked that way early. Robles was fantastic with a 2.83 ERA through June 12th. Opponents hit .172/.305/.283 off him during that span. Unfortunately, iffy command caught up to him and previously escaped jams no longer were. Robles allowed 15 runs over his next 15 1/3 innings and slashed much of the trade value he previously had. The Twins moved him to the Red Sox at the deadline for RHP Alex Scherff, and Robles pitched reasonably well down the stretch with a 3.60 ERA and 30% strikeout rate. GRADE: D REPORT CARDS Starting Rotation Infield Outfield
  4. Over at the Athletic, Eno Sarris wrote about an intriguing pitch being used more regularly across the league. Some people call it the Dodger Slider, while others refer to it as the Sweeper. A sweeper is a breaking pitch that is thrown faster than 77 mph with more than 6.5 inches of glove side movement and -2 inches of depth from 40 feet. Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson is known for his focus on sliders, and this might be one reason the Twins have been so successful with this pitch. So how do the Twins compare to the rest of the league? Los Angeles is the clear leader when it comes to using the Sweeper, but the Twins rank as the second-best AL team when it comes to this pitch usage. The Yankees are not far behind the Twins, but the AL Central is much further behind. No other AL Central clubs rank in baseball's top-15. To rank this highly, Minnesota has seen multiple pitchers evolve their slider over the last handful of seasons. Jorge Alcala ranks as the Twins' best pitcher when it comes to Stuff+, where he ranks higher than Shohei Ohtani, Julio Urias, and Max Scherzer. Also, his slider ranks better than league average when it comes to horizontal movement. He uses his slider more than any of his other pitches, and he held batters to a .181 batting average and .277 slugging percentage on that pitch. His slider will be critical if Alcala is going to be part of the long-term bullpen solution. Taylor Rogers is another Twins pitcher that threw his slider more this season. He increased his slider usage from 43.3% to 54%. Both of his primary pitches, his sinker, and slider, rank well above the league average when it comes to horizontal movement. His unique arm action allows for a lot of natural horizontal movement, but what about a more obvious name? One name fans might expect to use a Dodger Slider is Kenta Maeda since he spent the majority of his career in the Dodgers organization. Three of his primary pitches get more horizontal movement than average, including his sinker, splitter, and four-seamer. However, his slider ranks below average (-2.5 inches) compared to the rest of the league. Former Twin Jose Berrios is known for the movement he can generate on his pitches, so he impacted the team's overall numbers this season. Three of his pitches (four-seamer, sinker, and curveball) all get more horizontal movement than the league average, with his curveball getting 5.2 more inches than average. Griffin Jax is one name that might surprise fans to appear on the leaderboards. When it comes to Stuff+, they rank ahead of Shane Bieber, Lucas Giolito, and Madison Bumgarner. Jax saw his slider and four-seamer get four more inches of horizontal movement compared to the average. Jax may also have seen some bad luck this year as his xBA and xSLG were both lower than the batting average and slugging percentage he allowed. There were plenty of reasons to criticize Minnesota's pitching staff this season, but there may be a silver lining beneath it all. If the Twins focus on developing the Sweeper, the highly anticipated pitching pipeline might finally arrive at Target Field. Do you think the Twins can continue to use the Sweeper? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Taylor Rogers watched Tyler Rogers Pitch for the First Time Despite a heartbreaking Game 5 loss to the Dodgers, the silver lining was that Taylor finally got to watch Tyler pitch in person for the first time. There’s nothing quite as heartwarming as one brother trolling another. Taylor also had fun playing the Parent Trap on Giants fans by pretending to be Tyler in the stands during Game 1. We knew that we had a talented lefty on our hands, but who knew that Taylor was also a comedian by night. Eddie Rosario was a Postseason Darling There is no question about it: Eddie Rosario has been the star of the NLCS. He’s currently batting .400 in the postseason with a .864 OPS. This is a different Rosario than even the one we saw in the postseason with the Twins. Minnesota’s beloved Eddie has, as they say, “leveled up”. There may be something else to it though. Baseball players, such as Rosario, are just like us. Minnesota may not have a horse in this NLCS race, but this entire state is behind Eddie on his World Series quest. Max Kepler sat on some logs ….and ate some candy Randy Dobnak had some questions Matt Wallner, Zach Featherstone, Michael Helman, Andrew Bechtold, Evan Sisk, Cody Laweryson, and Kody Funderburk, all played for the Scottsdale Scorpions in the Arizona Fall League The 2021 Arizona Fall League opened last week. Although the Scottsdale Scorpions have started slowly, each prospect has been exciting to watch. We’ve got you on all of the coverage and recaps from the first week that you need on the AFL season.
  6. It’s not just that the Twins pitching was in chaos for large portions of the 2021 season, that the starting rotation will need to be rebuilt from the ground up, or that the bullpen seemed to have a different trusted arm blow up every week. While all of those things are true, the more significant takeaway for Minnesota is that a guy like Taylor Rogers fits for this club, and his production is only heightened by the impact he has elsewhere. Although Alexander Colome was hardly the reliever expectations suggested when he signed with the Twins, that acquisition gave Rocco Baldelli more reason to utilize his best arm in non-save situations. Rogers had been the Twins closer for the past couple of seasons. Being removed from the rigid use solely in the 9th inning, Minnesota could deploy the talented lefty in critical spots as they presented themselves. He’ll be 31-years-old in 2022 and did see an ERA north of 4.00 for the first time in his career during the truncated 2020 season. However, his 13.2 K/9 in 2021 was a new career-high, and it came with a ridiculous 2.13 FIP. Although the 3.35 ERA was above the stellar marks from 2018 and 2019, it was clear Rogers was being done in by a combination of bad luck and bad fielding. Minnesota can’t afford the uncertainty of their pitcher having a finger injury that saps effectiveness as a whole. Still, the hope would be that an offseason of rest and recovery provides a runway for Taylor to be back on the bump as expected. Should that be the case, the only decision comes down to an arbitration valuation that currently projects just shy of $7 million. Entering the final year of team control, Rogers would be due for a payday that falls short of a $1 million raise over his 2021 season. Considering the injury and time missed, that would seem like a steal and no-brainer for the Twins. Unfortunately, paying relievers is a fickle beast, and you’re going to get burned more often than not. Minnesota handed the aforementioned Colome $6.25 million on a one-year pact this past season and was rewarded with the worst season of his career. Rogers being in that same boat is unlikely, and it’s hard to suggest that an arm with more upside is less deserving of the dollars. When the dust settles on this decision, it will largely represent the Twins plans for the offseason. Again, there has to be faith in Rogers being healthy and ready to contribute. Still, if that’s there, it’s hard to suggest that saving roughly $7 million would represent anything but cost-cutting for a team that has publicly indicated they intend to compete. Minnesota needs to add and supplement talent this offseason, and parting with their best reliever doesn’t seem like a good plan of attack. The opportunity to deal him passed them by when Rogers was put on the shelf, but giving him up for nothing would be a worst-case scenario to this saga. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. In the Offseason Handbook (reaching your inbox in ONE WEEK if you preorder now!), we cover a wide array of options to address various needs via free agency and trade. However, before perusing these options, it's necessary to take a step back and figure out what the objectives are. Here are six questions the team must ask itself. The answers will bring focus to a presently hazy offseason agenda. #1: Are we grooming Royce Lewis to take over at shortstop, or do we need a long-term solution? With Andrelton Simmons' one-year deal expiring, the Twins are back to square one at shortstop. They seem disinclined to move Jorge Polanco back there, and Nick Gordon isn't a legit full-time option, so they'll be shopping this winter. The question is: to what degree? If they still believe in Lewis and his viability at the position, they'll likely aim at the lower end of free agency, seeking a short-term stopgap. In the Handbook, we divide the Free Agent SS class into two tiers, with the second featuring players who'd fit this purpose. But be warned: with the exception of Dodgers utilityman Chris Taylor, the second-tier names are not very appealing targets. If the Twins don't feel Lewis is the ultimate solution at short – either because his defense there isn't up to par or because his long layoff produces too much overall uncertainty – then they could try to get in on the high-end free agent action, with five different All-Star caliber shortstops hitting the market. It's rare that you see ever see this kind of talent up for grabs, which is why the Twins are under some pressure to make a call on Lewis. If he's not the guy, they might not get another chance like this to procure their next fixture on the open market. #2: Are we attempting to build a credible contending rotation, or are we intent on developing the pitching pipeline? There are plenty of intriguing names in the free agent starter class (we profile more than 50 in the Handbook), and the Twins will surely sign at least a couple. But again, the external approach here will be contingent on an internal decision, which directly links back to the overarching question cited at the outset. If the Twins are serious about investing and contending, they could be in play for someone like Justin Verlander or Noah Syndergaard, who offer proven ace potential and relative affordability coming off lost seasons. But they also carry a ton of risk. Only if guided by an adamant intention to contend would the Twins make a splash like that. Should they commit to a transitional year, it's very possible someone like Michael Pineda could be Minnesota's biggest rotation signing – more of a steady innings eater than a high-upside replacement for José Berríos and Kenta Maeda. In this scenario, the strategy would be more oriented toward building from within around Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. The Twins do happen to have a ton of near-ready prospects to sort out, although health is a question mark with nearly all of them. Speaking of health question marks: #3: Do we trust Taylor Rogers to bounce back from his finger injury? In the Arbitration Decisions section of the Handbook, we break down a dozen different cases for arbitration-eligible players this year. No decision is tougher than Rogers, who's coming off an All-Star season that ended with a scary middle finger injury. He's projected to make around $7 million in his final year before free agency – a rather exorbitant price for a reliever, even without the looming uncertainty. If they're going to tender him, the Twins better have every confidence he can return to form next year, because that expense would deplete a sizable chunk of their resources. For a similar salary, you could likely land a more reliable closer from the free agent pool, such as Raisel Iglesias or Mark Melancon. And if Rogers is moving on, you almost need to go get a guy like that, because without him, the back end of this bullpen becomes a glaring weakness. #4: How much confidence do we have in controllable relievers who performed well last year? Lowering our gaze from the closer role, decisions around what's keepable from the 2021 mix will dictate the broader bullpen strategy. If the Twins have faith in a series of second-half performances that helped propel the Twins relief corps to a surprising 2.0 fWAR (11th in MLB) and 5.82 WPA (3rd in MLB) after the break, turnover in this unit could be fairly light. Alex Colomé is a critical crux point in this scenario. He posted a 3.51 ERA and 3.86 FIP after his nightmarish April, including 3.51/3.71 after the All-Star break. Not exactly a no-brainer to bring back on his $5.5 million option for 2022, even if you disregard the first month, but it's really a $4.25 million decision when you account for his buyout. If the Twins decide to move on from Rogers, they could theoretically just activate Colomé's option and plug him into the closer spot, although that's surely not a move that would generate much enthusiasm with fans. Then you've got Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar and Jorge Alcalá. All three seem likely to return (Duffey and Thielbar are arbitration-eligible, Alcalá is still pre-arb so he'll cost around the minimum). But how will they be slotted into the hierarchy? Duffey was rather unreliable for much of the season but turned a corner after the trade deadline, posting a 2.05 ERA, 2.17 FIP and 28-to-6 K/BB ratio in 22 innings between August and September. The same pattern played out to a greater extreme with Alcalá, who entered August with a 5.27 ERA before putting up a 0.96 ERA, 1.78 FIP and 24-to-3 K/BB ratio in 18 ⅔ IP the rest of the way. Finally, there's Juan Minaya and Danny Coulombe. Both were minor-league signings who took opportunities and ran with them this year. Minaya posted a 2.48 ERA and 9.7 K/9 in 40 innings. Coulombe turned in a 3.67 ERA and 4.7 K/BB ratio in 34 ⅓. Each has a history of big-league success, so they're not total flashes in the pan. Each will also arbitration-eligible for the first time; it'll cost about $2 total million to bring both back. Theoretically, if the Twins decide to bring back all of the above players (Rogers, Colomé, Duffey, Thielbar, Minaya, Coulombe) they'd have six of eight bullpen spots filled, greatly reducing the work to be done this offseason. However, it's pretty easy to envision only three or four being retained, which would lead to a heightened reliance on the utter crapshoot known as relief free agency. #5: How will the designated hitter position be utilized going forward? For most of the past three years, the Twins have had a full-time DH in Nelson Cruz. He'll be available this winter (likely at a reduced cost following his post-trade drop-off in Tampa), as will a few other primary DH types like Kyle Schwarber. Internally, someone like Miguel Sanó or Brent Rooker might make sense. Of course, the Twins can also steer away from a regular designated hitter and leverage the position rotationally. This would open up a world of different possibilities, such as using Mitch Garver or Josh Donaldson as part-time DH, thus reducing their likelihood of getting injured while opening up more playing time for young players behind them (i.e., Jose Miranda and Ryan Jeffers). Using Luis Arraez there semi-regularly would be another option, protecting his balky knees and limiting his defensive exposure. #6: What to do with Byron Buxton? This is the biggest question of the coming offseason, no doubt. The Twins have three paths forward with regards to Buxton: trade him, extend him, or retain him with one year of service remaining. The last of those three seems least likely and the first seems most likely, based on the indicators we've received. But it's all on the table. Within the trade scenario, there is another decision that correlates directly with the "retool or rebuild" ultimatum: Are we looking to get back MLB-ready talent (maybe even a replacement center fielder) or seeking to increase the upside with younger, rawer prospects? Cody Christie has a feature story in the Handbook that breaks down the Buxton decision in depth. Suffice to say that it's a pivotal moment for the franchise and its future. Let's hear from y'all. Which way do you lean on these six questions, and which important ones did I miss? Share your thoughts in the comments. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. For much of the early part of 2021, the relief pitching let Rocco Baldelli’s club down. Alex Colome was no longer close to his career numbers, and Tyler Duffey had seen substantial regression. The guys expected to step up failed to do so, and the Twins were left searching for answers on a near-nightly basis. There are a few givens are going into 2022, but a couple of guys have made cases for themselves to stick around despite potentially being on the outs previously. Derek Falvey has his work cut out for him, but the more he can count on internally, the less turnover the roster will ultimately need to experience. Here’s how I see the group: The Veterans - Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey It looked like a near-certainty that Rogers would be dealt at the deadline. That was before injury put him on the shelf and ended his season. He’ll return in 2022, and Minnesota will undoubtedly be hoping that he returns to form as one of the best lefties in the game. Duffey’s 3.45 ERA is fine on its own, but it’s a far cry from the 1.88 mark he put up just a year ago. Strikeouts are down, and walks are way up. If the Twins have a better unit, they need his best during the final year of arbitration. The Surprises - Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya, Luke Farrell, Danny Coulombe Thielbar has been the best of this group. All but retired from baseball and moving onto coaching, he emerged as an option in 2020. This season hasn’t been quite as good, but the 11.2 K/9 is going to play. He’s given up too many dingers, but as a crafty lefty option, there’s plenty to like here. Minaya made his way back to the big leagues this season and has a career-best 2.70 ERA. He’s not dominant by any means, but as a middle-inning guy that’s gotten it done before, he certainly could stick. Both Farrell and Coulombe were depth types for the Twins. Each has seen stretches of effectiveness, and while their ceilings are admittedly limited, one could lay claim to a spot in 2022. The Youth - Jorge Alcala, Ralph Garza, Jovani Moran Minnesota counted on Alcala to take a step forward this season. As a whole, the results have been underwhelming given the 4.20 ERA. However, his last 15 games have resulted in a 1.00 ERA and .501 OPS against. He has a 21/3 K/BB in his last 18 innings pitched. That’s the arm the Twins need out of the gate. Garza was a nice get from the Astros, and he’s been effective with the organization. His strikeout numbers are down some, but he’s looked the part of a middle reliever that can get big leaguers out. Moran isn’t yet established as a future fixture, but he dominated on the farm again this year, and getting a taste going into the offseason should help him prepare to stick in the future. Minnesota used 22 different relievers in 2021, and the pen was often constructed with eight or nine arms. They’ll need better depth and higher ceilings if there’s any interest in being a better unit a year from now. Maybe Alex Colome is asked back as well, but they’ll need to be picky with who is counted upon from a group that severely underwhelmed out of the gate. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Taylor Rogers It seemed like a certainty for a Taylor Rogers trade to occur before the deadline, but his recent finger injury made it tougher to swing a deal. He is still under team control for 2021, and there isn’t a guarantee the Twins will be in the race next season. On the most recent episode of Gleeman and the Geek, Aaron Gleeman mentioned that multiple teams were interested in adding Rogers even with his injury. Relievers, especially late-inning options, are a valuable commodity, and Rogers seems like one of the most likely candidates to be dealt in the off-season. Byron Buxton Like Rogers, Byron Buxton trade rumors were swirling in the days leading up to the deadline. There are some similarities between the two players because they were both on the IL, and have one more year of team control. Minnesota made multiple contract offers to Buxton in the weeks before the deadline, but Buxton’s rejection of those offers means his name will be out there this winter. Nothing stops the Twins from revisiting a contract extension before other teams are offered him in a trade. That being said, a player with Buxton’s ceiling has the potential to draw trade interest even on an expiring contract. Josh Donaldson Donaldson is a little trickier proposition when looking at potential trades because the Twins would need to pay down part of his contract to find a partner. By multiple metrics, Donaldson is having a solid season for the Twins as he has posted a 133 OPS+ for the second consecutive year. Health questions are part of the Donaldson equation, but he is on pace to play over 120 games for only the second time since 2016. It will take the right kind of team to get a Donaldson trade done, but more teams might be interested in him if he finishes the season healthy. Max Kepler While the names above might be obvious, Kepler has the potential to be one of the organization’s most valuable trade assets. He is under team control through 2024, and the maximum he can earn is $25.3 million. As Twins fans know, it’s a very team-friendly deal, which might make other teams interested in adding him. He has value because he produces consistent numbers while also providing some defensive flexibility. Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff’s emergence in the outfield make Kepler more expendable. Trading teams looking for a left-handed bat with multiple years of team control may be willing to part with the right package. Which player do you think is most likely to be dealt? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. What's Their Situation? The Toronto Blue Jays entered the 2020 offseason with a clear goal in mind: return to the American League playoffs in 2021 and make some noise. The first step in attempting to accomplish this task was bringing in veteran offensive talent to complement young studs Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, so they went out and spent big on shortstop Marcus Semien (1-year, $18 million) and outfielder George Springer (6-years, $150 million). The next step was to shore up the starting rotation, so they brought back Robbie Ray on a 1-year, $8 million deal and consummated a trade with the New York Mets for Steven Matz. The final step was to bet that their aforementioned young core would take the next step in their development and become legitimate All-Star talent. To this point, the Jays' plan has gone exceptionally well. While Springer has only appeared in 20 games due to oblique and quadriceps injuries, and Matz has mainly been mediocre (4.72 ERA), Toronto finds themselves in third place in the AL East and within striking distance of an AL Wild Card spot with 75 games remaining on their schedule. For this reason, in addition to the fact that they are hoping to (conveniently) return to the Bold North by July 30, there is perhaps no team more compelled to make a significant trade or two in the coming weeks than Toronto. What Do They Need? The Jays' offense was among the most fearsome in baseball during the first half of the season as they ranked second overall in home runs (130), OPS (.776), and OPS+ (110). Guerrero has officially completed his metamorphosis into one of the game's most feared sluggers, leading the team with 28 bombs and an absurd 1.089 OPS. Semien's production isn't far behind with his 22 homers and 4.3 WAR, and neither is Bichette's 16 dingers and 3.0 WAR. In all, the three form the foundation of a lineup that will leave any opposing pitchers shaking in their cleats should they qualify for the playoffs. While it may not be their greatest need, Toronto would likely benefit greatly from adding a fourth outfielder or a super-utility player that can slot into one of the corner outfield spots on occasion. Teoscar Hernandez, Randal Grichuk, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. all have nice pop and are deserving to be full-time starters, but they sometimes struggle with reaching base consistently. Jonathan Davis, the Jays' primary fourth outfielder as of this writing, and his -0.3 WAR leaves a lot to be desired. Additionally, adding someone who can spell Cavan Biggio and his mediocre production at third base (.699 OPS) would be all the more valuable for Toronto. One could also argue that Toronto could benefit from buying a pure DH-type bat, but doing so would be more of a luxury than addressing a glaring need. If they believe Guerrero can be a passable first baseman and there will be enough at-bats for everybody once Springer returns to the lineup, pursuing DH options becomes much more palatable. Otherwise, Toronto would likely be better off seeking to remedy more pressing needs. Speaking of which: What the Jays truly need is pitching, particularly in the bullpen. General manager Ross Atkins told reporters in mid-June that the team would focus on adding bullpen arms as the season progressed and, so far, he has kept to his word. Toronto has already swapped first baseman Rowdy Tellez and second baseman Joe Panik for Trevor Richards and Adam Cimber to shore up the pen. (The Jays also added outfielder Corey Dickerson, though he has yet to appear in a game due to injury and a return date remains murky at best.) Still, Toronto would benefit from adding another arm, particularly one that could slot in alongside standout closer Jordan Romano in save situations and close scores late in games. Additionally, it may behoove the Jays to add one more starting pitcher. Hyun Jin Ryu and Robbie Ray have performed like legitimate number one and two options to date, but some degree of regression is inevitable. Adding a true ace or a competent number four starter would put them in a position to improve their pitching unit significantly. As a team, Toronto ranks 12th in ERA (3.99), 11th in ERA+ (112), and 16th in FIP (4.28). Which Twins Are the Best Fit? It wouldn't surprise me if reports started popping up that the Jays are among the most aggressive teams trying to pry Taylor Rogers away from the Twins. The fit makes too much sense. Toronto needs a lockdown bullpen arm, and Rogers will likely be the best reliever on the market. Add that he is left-handed while Romano is right-handed, and the fit becomes even more apparent. Similarly, Toronto is one of the more obvious landing spots for José Berríos should the Twins choose to move him. They need a pitcher with ace-level potential who lines up with the timeline of their young core. They also have a great farm system when looking strictly at their top 10 prospects, making them an ideal trade partner for the Twins. Finally, Luis Arraez's emergence as a super-utility man this season makes him a fantastic fit for Toronto. His ability to get on base would have Guerrero and company salivating, while his defensive versatility would allow for off-days for most of the Jays' primary offensive contributors. He may not be great anywhere, but Arraez is serviceable almost everywhere, and that has value. Michael Pineda, Hansel Robles, and Caleb Thielbar are also potential targets for Toronto should they seek to make a big splash elsewhere or not at all. Who Could the Twins Get Back? The Jays boast six prospects inside MLB Pipeline's top 100, headlined by No. 9 RHP Nate Pearson and No. 16 UTIL Austin Martin. Both players, including No. 90 RHP Alek Manoah, who has performed well for Toronto since being called up, are likely off-limits, even in a trade involving Berríos. Perhaps the most exciting prospect they could pry away from Toronto is No. 68 RHP Simeon Woods Richardson. Woods Richardson, who is currently pitching in Double-A at 20-years-old, stands 6-foot-3-inches tall and possesses four pitches - a fastball, slider, curve, and changeup - that are considered plus offerings. He has reasonable control and fits the physical profile that the Twins like in their pitching prospects (i.e. tall and athletic). In a best-case scenario, Woods Richardson develops into a José Berríos-Esque pitcher, making losing him more palatable for the Twins. An intriguing name that may be included in a deal for any of the three players listed above is utility man Otto Lopez. He's young, versatile on defense, has good bat-to-ball skills, and some power potential. Thus far, his power has primarily presented itself as a propensity to hit doubles, but a tweak here or there could turn that double power into home run power. Other prospects the Twins could potentially ask for are SS Jordan Groshans, ARHP Adam Kloffenstein, and CRHP CJ Van Eyk. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Here is the link to the original report, which comes from Dan Hayes and Ken Rosenthal. Per that report, the Twins originally brought a seven-year, $73 million offer with a “unique incentive package” but Buxton’s camp countered with an undisclosed offer. The Twins increased the guarantee up to $80 million but it still did not satisfy Buxton and his agency. Here is a video in which I offer my reaction to the news and discuss a potential domino-effect of these negotiations. It’s important to note that in the headine at The Athletic they specifically called out that this increased the chance of an offseason trade. Buxton is still not back to health, so it’s unlikely any team would target him as a trade piece between now and Friday’s trade deadline. Another item of note from the report is the likelihood of Taylor Rogers being traded was characterized as “likely” as the demand for relievers increases. Buxton is currently on the Injured List with a fractured left hand he suffered on a hit by pitch. In 110 plate appearances this season, he’s hit .369/.409/.767 (1.176 OPS). He’s making $3.075 million via arbitration this year, and with a small sample of stats to increase his case, I can’t imagine his projected salary through arbitration will escalate a great deal, depending on what else he does this season. After that, he’s set to become a free agent entering his age-29 season. I decided to get a poll going over on Twitter to see whether or not people thought this was a fair extension offer. Here it is below, you can see the results in real time after you vote. Let me know down in the comments how you feel. Joe Mauer’s eight-year, $184 million extension is (of course) the largest in team history. The biggest free agent contract the org has ever inked is Josh Donaldson’s four-year, $92 million deal. Some recent extensions signed by the club are Randy Dobnak’s five-year, $9.25 million deal from March and the deals signed in February of 2019 by Max Kepler (five-year, $35 million) and Jorge Polanco (five-year $25.75 million). MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Pineda 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Homeruns: Rooker (3), Donaldson (16) Top 3 WPA: Thielbar .485, Kepler .265, Rooker .198 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With a bevy of scouts in attendance on Monday, Michael Pineda delivered. He proved he can be a solid stretch contributor for a contending team. Pineda’s recent spate of injuries has obscured the inalienable truth, that, behind Nelson Cruz, he has been the best free-agent signing of Falvey era in Minnesota, and one of the Twins better free-agent starting pitching acquisitions ever. Pineda struck out the first four batters he faced, working his fastball up to 92 mph, throwing strikes with consistency, and mastering his slider and changeup to great effect. Pineda’s outing was reminiscent of Pineda at his best for Minnesota; quick, efficient, and pounding the strike zone. Through the fifth inning, Pineda gave up three hits, just two singles after a leadoff double by Akil Baddoo. Taking the rubber for Detroit was one of their top prospects Matt Manning, who worked consistently with his mid 90s fastball and showed flashes of his tremendous hammer of a curveball. Offense was hard to come by in the first half of the game. The Twins took the lead in the second inning. Mitch Garver barely missed a home run to right field, doubling home Josh Donaldson from first. Garver’s return to something like his 2019 form has been one of the least talked about positive stories for the Twins in a miserable 2021. Garver came home to score the Twins’ second run in the bottom of the fourth, after getting on base by punching a double to left field. Miguel Sano ripped a single down the third-base line to score Garver, whose lack of sleep after the birth of his first child clearly isn’t impacting his approach at the plate. Pineda’s lone egregious mistake came in the sixth inning, leaving a 91 mph fastball over the heart of the plate to Miguel Cabrera, who clubbed it into the flower beds in right field. Still, Pineda showed enough to convince watching scouts and teams he can contribute meaningfully down the stretch to contending teams in need of solid innings. He’ll likely be gone by Friday afternoon. Brent Rooker restored the Twins lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, obliterating a hanging Matt Manning curveball 460 feet into the third deck in left field. Rooker has earned 200 MLB at-bats with his consistency in St. Paul, and the early returns are promising. Manning was pulled after he walked Jorge Polanco, being replaced by Jose Cisnero. Josh Donaldson greeted Cisnero with a two-run blast to left-center field increasing the Twins lead to 5-2 Eric Haase pulled a run back for Detroit in the seventh inning, with a solo shot off Tyler Duffey, but The Doof quickly recovered to retire the side. Hansel Robles relieved Duffey in the eighth inning. He retired the side despite a walk to preserve the Twins lead at 5-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth. After an uneventful bottom of the eighth in which the Twins threatened but failed to score, Taylor Rogers entered to close the game for the Twins in the ninth. Rogers outing began harmlessly, before he lost control of what appeared to be a breaking pitch to Jeimer Candelario which spun and looped puzzlingly away from the Detroit hitter, ending up nowhere near the strike zone. Rogers appeared to be in discomfort after the pitch, clutching and examining a finger on his pitching hand. Twins fans will hope Rogers merely cracked a nail or was suffering from a blister, anything more serious is a major cloud over one of the most appealing relief pitching options for Friday’s trade deadline. The Twins broadcast booth later reported that Rogers left the game with a left middle finger sprain. Next steps for Rogers and a timetable are to be determined. Alexander Colomé relieved Rogers and did what he does, surrendering a single to Candelario before Robbie Grossman clubbed a two-ruin home run to right field to tie the game at 5-5. Gregory Soto walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but Willians Astudillo struck out swinging to send the game to extra innings. Caleb Thielbar took the top of the tenth for the Twins. He made short work of the Tigers, retiring the side in order to give the Twins a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the tenth. Kenta Maeda started on second base in the bottom of the tenth (the fourth pinch running appearance of his career). Soto managed a much cleaner tenth until Max Kepler dumped a single into right center field to score Maeda from second base and make the Twins 6-5 winners. Bullpen Usage Chart WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Colomé 22 0 11 0 10 16 59 Coulombe 0 32 0 0 18 0 50 Duffey 38 0 0 0 0 11 49 Thielbar 16 0 0 16 0 13 45 Alcala 0 0 0 10 24 0 34 Rogers 0 0 18 0 0 5 23 Minaya 0 0 20 0 0 0 20 Robles 0 0 0 0 0 13 13 Postgame Interviews Next Up The Twins send Kenta Maeda to the mound on Tuesday to face Tyler Alexander. First pitch is at 7:10 CT.
  13. What’s Their Situation? Coming off a 2020 season in the cellar of the AL East, the Red Sox have been one of the most pleasant surprises in baseball so far in 2021. After two playoff-less seasons, the BoSox sit atop the East with a 62-39 record, tied with White Sox for the best record in the American League. It’s no secret that the AL East has always been a powerhouse with money, talent, and results. 2021 is no different. The Rays are only a game and a half back from Boston, and the Yankees have gained some steam as of recent, although a gut-wrenching loss to the Sox on Sunday put a dagger in that. The Red Sox have held their own thus far against their division rivals, going 4-2 against the Rays in the first half and 7-2 against the Bronx Bombers. That says something but the Sox will have to continue their division dominance in the second half as they play a combined 21 games against the Rays and Yankees. Could the Yankees continue their hot streak and run the table on the division? Sure. But if we’re honest, the East will most likely come down to the Sox and the Rays. Given the lack of performance in the AL Central, it’s probable that two teams from the East will make the playoffs if things continue the way they stand as of current. Yet few venues provide home-field advantage like Fenway, and it’s safe to say that this squad will be gunning for a division title. What Do They Need? Similar to the Twins, the Red Sox have the gift of versatility on the field. An infielder by trade, Enrique 'Kiké' Hernández has been a staple of the Boston outfield this year. Former Twins Marwin Gonzales and Danny Santana have also contributed at a number of positions. Yet while versatility is a strength, stability is a gift. One that the Red Sox don’t have at first base. Rookie Bobby Dalbec is nothing short of a fun story but has struggled to contribute at the plate, slashing .217/.259/.402. The Sox rank 28th in the league at the position in batting average (.204) and are dead last for OPS (.204). That ain’t gonna cut it for a team with a .257 batting average, fifth-best in the entire league. On the other side of the ball, Boston’s starting pitching staff is solid, but the team doesn’t really have an ace. That will likely change when Chris Sale rejoins the team from the Injured List, but who knows how long it will take him to get up to speed. Nathan Eovaldi leads the staff with a 9-5 record and 3.57 ERA, yet the team has an average ERA of 4.10, sandwiched at 14th in the league. It’s unlikely that Boston will gun for a true ace given Sale’s return, but it wouldn’t hurt to add another quality arm for depth. And like any other team, you can never have enough relief pitching. Closer Matt Barnes is an all-star caliber pitcher, but reinforcements are valuable, especially in the postseason. Which Twins Are the Best Fit? José Berríos and Michael Pineda are two very different pitchers but could both be potential fits for the Sox depending on what direction Chaim Boom’s front office wants to go. If the Sox are looking for a less expensive four/five starter, they could certainly go for Pineda. Big Mike has fallen short of expectations so far in 2021, primarily as of recent. He’s 1-3 in his last five starts and has a season ERA of 3.98. That isn’t horrific by any means, but Pineda has struggled to go deep in games and hasn’t mirrored his dominant 2019 and 2020 self. Still, it’s evident that Pineda has value, and perhaps he’d thrive in an environment as a lower leverage starter versus being a “Big Three” guy in Minnesota. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s got a strong background in the AL East, pitching for the Yankees from 2014-17. On the other hand, if Boom and the Sox want to make starting pitching their deadline priority, they could gun for Berríos. Jose may not have the street cred of Sale, but he would almost certainly be a top-two starter for the Red Sox. There are two angles that this trade could go: The Sox could trade for Berríos because they aren’t confident that Sale will return to his dominant self, or they could trade for him because they are confident in Sale and adding Berríos would create one of the best 1-2 punches in baseball. Taylor Rogers also fits as a potential trade target for the Red Sox. Bullpen staples Matt Barnes and Adam Ottovino will become free agents in 2022, and it’s unlikely both will stay in Boston. Rogers would not only be an excellent 2021 addition to the Boston pen but a potential long-term weapon if he chooses to sign a multi-year contract. It’s doubtful that the Twins would trade a young stud like Alex Kirilloff to help fill Boston’s first base void. And given his poor 2021 showing and influx of streakiness, Boston will almost certainly stay away from Miguel Sano. Bottom line? If the Red Sox snag anyone from the Twins, it’s going to be pitching. . Who Could The Twins Get Back? The Red Sox have the #24 ranked farm system in the league. Don’t let that fool you. While many of their top prospects are young, the organization has made several solid moves and acquisitions over the past few years that could be big for the franchise’s future. Triston Casas, 1B, 21 years old – The power-hitting big man is Boston’s top prospect and was ranked #44 in MLB.com’s Top 100 Prospect Rankings. Casas could potentially fill a hole at first if Miguel Sano continues to decline. The move would also allow Alex Kirilloff to live predominantly in the outfield, his position by trade. Casas is in AA Portland right now for the Sox and is the crowned jewel of the Boston farm. The Twins’ only chance of securing him would be if they were to give up Berrios. Bryan Mata, RHP, 22 years old – Ranked #4 on Boston’s Top 30 Prospect List, Mata could add to a list of potential rock-solid pitchers in the Twins’ farm. With a two-seamer that ranges from 93-97 MPH and a four-seamer that touches triple digits, Mata is known as a ground ball, contact pitcher more than a strikeout guy. He’s run into injuries, but the upside is up there.
  14. In an interview with SiriusXM on Sunday, Minnesota Twins CBO Derek Falvey told Jon Morosi that trading a package of MLB players is ‘something we have talked about.’ With the news also breaking Sunday that Byron Buxton rejected the Twins’ long-term contract offer, the possibility that Minnesota engages in more extensive re-tooling seems to increase with each passing day. Buxton seems increasingly likely to be dealt this off-season given his currently IL status. Outstanding lefty Taylor Rogers seems likely to be dealt in the landscape of a thin relief market. José Berríos, the club’s lone recent success story in developing starting pitching seems determined to test free agency and would fetch a steep trade price. Finally, there are the rentals, with Andrelton Simmons, Michael Pineda, and Hansel Robles all strong trade possibilities ahead of Friday’s deadline. So what would a Twins ‘packaging’ of MLB players look like? What kind of return might they get? Trade 1: Twins and Blue Jays Jays Receive: RHP José Berríos and LHP Taylor Rogers Twins Receive: SS Jordan Groshans (32), RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (68), MI Miguel Hiraldo This is a certified blockbuster. It’s no secret the Jays are seeking pitching in a tight AL East and an extremely competitive AL Wild Card race. Losing Berríos and Rogers would sting, but the return is exciting. Groshans is the #32 prospect on baseball. Currently at AA, he has the tools to become a plus hitter with plus power. While the home run power hasn’t fully developed, Groshans is slugging .461 at AA in 2021. Standing at 6’3 with strong defensive instincts and an excellent arm, he may eventually be an MLB 3B. Woods Richardson is the #68 prospect in baseball. 6’5 RHP a fastball which sits 91-95 mph, solid command, two decent breaking balls (a curve and a slider), and a changeup which is regarded as the best in the system. Richardson is thought to have a high floor for a prep pitching draftee and should develop into a number two or three starter. Hiraldo is a 20-year-old MI, the number 17 prospect in the 17-18 international free agent class. Hiraldo has excellent bat speed which should develop into solid power. He has a strong throwing arm which allows him to play all infield positions. At worst, he should develop into a strong utility infielder. Trade 2: Twins and Padres Padres Receive: LHP Taylor Rogers and RHP Michael Pineda Twins Receive: RHP Mason Thompson and RHP Steven Wilson Beyond Tyler Duffey (assuming Rogers is traded) who do you feel confident about in the Twins bullpen in 2022? A second-half audition for the likes of Ian Hamilton, Jovani Moran, and Yennier Cano is surely around the corner. All that said, the Twins badly need bullpen reinforcements. In Rogers, the Padres get an outstanding back-end piece for their bullpen, and in Pineda, a starter who can offer them solid innings down the stretch. Mason Thompson was the 85th overall pick in 2016 (Padres #10 prospect). His early pro career was marred by injuries. He was finally healthy for the first time during the Padres instructional camp in 2020. Standing at 6’7, Thompson possesses a 60 grade, upper 90s fastball, and a power slider, both of which are good enough to miss bats. Thompson was added to the Padres 40 man roster in November to not expose him to the Rule 5 Draft. He projects as a late-inning reliever. Steven Wilson checks in as the Padres #16 prospect. Currently, at AAA, Wilson has a 2.03 ERA in limited 2021 action, with 23 Ks in just 13 innings. Wilson is another prototypical reliever with a power fastball/slider mix. Wilson needs to continue to refine his command, but profiles as a seventh-inning reliever at the MLB level. Trade 3: Twins and Mets Mets Receive: RHP José Berríos and SS Andrelton Simmons Twins Receive: 3B Brett Baty (73), OF Pete Crow-Armstrong, and RHP J.T. Ginn The Mets, for once, are in a strong position. With a four-game lead atop the NL East, they need to fortify their roster to make a strong post-season run. The Mets have been heavily linked with Berríos for some time. Their off-season blockbuster acquisition, Francisco Lindor, recently went on the IL with a grade 2 oblique strain. Adding Andrelton Simmons would provide meaningful defensive coverage for Lindor until he returns, and trim some 2020 payroll for the Twins. The Mets have a strong farm system and are a suitable trade partner for the Twins. In Brett Baty, the Twins acquire the #73 overall prospect in baseball. Currently, at AA, Baty is sporting a .382 OBP in over 200 ABs at Binghamton. He is on his way. Baty has gap to gap power, including opposite-field home run power. Though not an outstanding defender, Baty has the defensive capability to stick at 3B at the MLB level. Crow-Armstrong is the Mets #5 prospect and the 19th overall pick in 2020. His progress has been significantly hampered by a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. Crow-Armstrong has plus speed and was rated as the best defender in the 2020 draft class. He has solid gap to gap power and a solid to strong hit tool. He profiles as a prototypical high average, high on-base leadoff hitter. J.T. Ginn is the Mets #6 prospect, currently at A+. Ginn had Tommy John surgery as a Sophmore in college, dropping his draft stock slightly. Ginn has a fastball that sits 91-95 mph which tops out at 97. He also possesses a promising slider and changeup. In 44 innings pitched in 2021, Ginn has a 2.44 ERA and 41Ks, to go with a cool 0.92 WHIP. Ginn profiles as a mid-rotation starting pitcher if he continues to develop after his surgery. Note: I considered Matt Allan for this trade. He recently had Tommy John surgery, making him a more murky trade asset. Would you pull the trigger on any of these trades? Which Twins players do see as most likely to be packaged together in a potential trade? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. What’s Their Situation? The San Francisco Giants have been the biggest surprise in baseball this year. Going into the season, most industry pundits and prediction systems had the Giants hovering around the .500 mark and finishing third place in their division behind Los Angeles and San Diego. With less than two weeks until the trade deadline, the San Francisco Giants hold the best record in baseball and sit atop their division. Their surprise run has been powered by the resurgent years of two 34-year-old veterans Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford as well as unexpected starting pitching success from Kevin Gausman, Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood. While the Giants reached the pinnacle of the baseball world three times in the 2010s, they have not reached the postseason since 2016. Even though they currently own the best record in baseball they only have a small lead over their division rivals, the Los Angeles Dodgers. The road to the postseason in 2021 for the San Francisco Giants looks all but guaranteed, however, the division title is far from a guarantee. In order to win their division and take down the defending champions, the Giants will need some reinforcements and could look to the Twins to provide the pieces they need. What Do They Need? The Giants dynasty teams of the last decade were comprised of perennial All-Stars and household names. Those teams had a roster with Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Sergio Romo, Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Pablo Sandoval, and Hunter Pence. They were also led by future Hall of Fame manager Bruce Bochy. The 2021 version of the San Francisco Giants looks a lot different. Outside of the likes of Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford this team lacks star power and household names. You’ve probably never heard of Darin Ruf, Donovan Solano, Austin Slater, Thairo Estrada or Steven Duggar. Surprisingly though, there aren't many holes to be filled on this team, but that doesn't mean they won't be buyers. Here's what they could add at the deadline to make this team even better. Starting Pitching: This has been an area of pleasant surprise for the Giants. During the winter they made a lot of short-term acquisitions to bolster their starting rotation. Many of those short-term acquisitions have had very strong seasons, which is a big part of the Giants' success. However, very few of them have the track record of staying healthy and being guys that can be relied on to make a deep postseason run. For that reason, starting pitching will be the Giants number one priority at the trade deadline. Relief Pitching: The Giants bullpen hasn't been terrible but it hasn't been great either. They’ve pretty much been average to slightly above-average in most statistical categories; however in the postseason you need better than average bullpen arms. Outfield: Other than Mike Yastrzemski, the Giants have struggled to get consistent production from any of their outfield options. Earlier in the season they acquired Mike Tauchman from the New York Yankees but his .569 OPS has provided very little impact offensively. Some of the other guys like Austin Slater, Alex Dickerson or Steven Duggar have had stretches where they played well but their numbers overall leave something to be desired. The only other bright spot in the outfield would be LaMonte Wade Jr but he spends most of his time at first base. Which Twins Are The Best Fit? José Berríos: Much has been made about whether or not the Twins should trade José Berríos, but if Minnesota ultimately does decide to part with their former top pitching prospect turned All-Star, the San Francisco Giants would likely be one of the many teams calling. Acquiring Berríos not only helps the Giants in 2021 but it helps them in 2022 as well. As previously mentioned, many of their current rotation options are on short-term deals that expire at the end of this season. So a move to bring in José Berríos sets them up for success now and for the future. Taylor Rogers: As with Berríos, Taylor Rogers will be one of the most highly sought-after pieces on the trade market but it's unsure whether or not the Twins will be willing to part with him. If Minnesota does in fact pull the trigger on dealing Taylor Rogers, they will have many suitors and the Giants will certainly be one of them. As stated earlier, the Giants bullpen has been average and adding a guy like Taylor Rogers makes them a better-than-average group. Additionally, it would also be pretty cool to see the Rogers brothers on the same team pitching against the Dodgers in the NLCS, or better yet, the World Series. Byron Buxton: There seems to be a trend here because much like the first two mentioned names, Buxton also fits into the category of will the Twins actually want to trade him. Given his injury history and amount of time spent on the injured list this season it may be a little bit harder for Minnesota to find a suitor for Buxton than it will be for Berríos or Rogers. It's no secret that a healthy Byron Buxton is one of the best players in all of baseball and a player of that caliber will help any team, especially a team like San Francisco that struggles to get high-end offensive production from many of their current outfield options. In addition to what he offers offensively, Byron Buxton would also be a huge defensive upgrade for the Giants. Imagine how fun it would be to see Byron Buxton patrol the vast open spaces of the Oracle Park outfield. What Could The Twins Get Back? This is where it gets dicey. If recent history tells us anything it's that the Minnesota Twins should avoid any trade calls from the San Francisco Giants at all costs. Let's take a look at some of the recent trades between the Giants and Twins and how they fared for each team. In 2016 the Giants acquired then All-Star shortstop Eduardo Núñez from Minnesota in exchange for Adalberto Mejia. Núñez would go on to help the Giants make the postseason in 2016 and they would later trade him to Boston in exchange for Shaun Anderson. Mejia, on the other hand, pitched 138 innings in a Twins uniform and posted a lackluster 4.63 ERA and a 96 ERA+. He now pitches in the Chinese Professional Baseball League. Now, raise your hand if you remember Sam Dyson. If you managed to completely scrub that from your memory until now, I'm sorry. In return for Sam Dyson, the Giants acquired Jaylin Davis, who to this point hasn't done much to speak of at the major league level, however, Sam Dyson was one of the worst trade acquisitions a team could possibly ask for and he is no longer pitching in professional baseball. Lastly we have the LaMonte Wade Jr. for Shaun Anderson trade that took place this past winter. LaMonte Wade Jr. has been a revelation for San Francisco and is hitting .252/.347/.520 (.867) and a 133 OPS+. Meanwhile, Shaun Anderson is no longer in the Twins organization and is currently pitching for a third different organization this season. Perhaps Falvey and Levine would be better off blocking Farhan Zaidi’s number but if they were to strike another deal, the Giants do offer some intriguing options. Joey Bart: If Minnesota is committed to Mitch Garver then perhaps Bart wouldn’t be that intriguing but he is the 17th ranked prospect in baseball and the second-highest ranked catching prospect behind the Orioles Adley Rutschman. Bart is a very promising young player who’s currently blocked by further Hall of Famer, Buster Posey. Marco Luciano: This 19-year-old shortstop is the prize possession of the Giants farm system and the 12th overall prospect in baseball. It will be difficult to pry Luciano away from the Giants but a package deal of Berríos and Rogers may do the trick. Heliot Ramos: This Giants outfield prospect is the 63rd ranked prospect in baseball and is on the fast track to the big league roster. After a breakout spring training in which he hit .410/.425/.718 (1.116), Ramos went on to hit for a .756 OPS in double-A before his recent promotion to triple-A. Seth Cory: After developing Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain the Giants have largely failed at developing quality starting pitching but Seth Cory looks promising. The 22-year-old is currently pitching in high A and is the 84th ranked prospect in baseball. Bart, Luciano, Ramos and Cory won’t come easy but if Minnesota is willing to part with any one or some combination of their most prized possessions then San Francisco would likely be willing to part with some of their prized prospects.
  16. Box Score Happ: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (62.5% strikes) Home Runs: none Top 3 WPA: Jeffers .512, Rogers .169, Polanco .104 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Happ struggles early but settles in nicely Eight pitches. Eight pitches were all it took for this game to have its first runs on the board. Happ was off to a horrendous start, which is not news. Coming into tonight’s game, 21.3% of all earned runs given up by the southpaw in the season happened during the first inning of games. That became a little worse when Phil Gosselin doubled and then scored on a Jose Iglesias’ single. Then it became a lot worse a few moments later when old friend Kurt Suzuki hit a two-out, two-run bomb to the left field corner, making it 3-0 Angels. Facing righty Alex Cobb, the offense loaded the bases during the bottom of the first inning but couldn’t capitalize. They went down in order in the second frame, but not before Happ had given up yet another home run in the top of the inning to Jack Mayfield, extending the Angels’ lead to four. With the four early runs allowed, the Twins’ starter took the lead of Robbie Ray for most earned runs allowed by any left-handed pitcher in the American League. Minnesota got one run back in the third inning with Jorge Polanco keeping his hot streak alive and well with a double, and being pushed across by a single from Trevor Larnach. Fortunately, that was also the inning when Happ had started to settle in. After the awful first two innings, he went on to pitch four scoreless frames. Before he departed, the Twins manufactured another run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Max Kepler hit a bullet to lead off the inning (110 MPH exit velocity), then Polanco singled to move him to third. With men on the corners, a fantastic defensive play from Mayfield at third prevented the Twins from maybe scoring a couple of runs. Instead, Josh Donaldson grounded into a double-play, but that was enough to score Kepler from third and cut Los Angeles’ lead to 4-2. Offense keeps pushing for a rally The Twins continued to peck their way into this game. Cobb came back to the mound for the bottom of the sixth, but he left the game with a blister before throwing a single pitch. With Steve Cishek pitching, Miguel Sanó led off the inning with a double, and Nick Gordon singled to right to bring the big man home, putting Minnesota within a run. Minnesota kept hitting the ball hard. After Alexander Colomé delivered a scoreless seventh inning, Donaldson hit a single in the bottom of the inning, the Twins’ 11th hit of the night. However, they couldn’t add on, thanks to Mayfield’s impressive defensive display at the hot corner. While the Twins were able to produce baserunners, most of them were stranded by the Angel defense. Juan Minaya worked out of a jam in the top of the eighth to keep this a one-run game. Then, with a series of great at-bats, the offense came through in the home half. Sanó worked an eight-pitch at-bat to draw a leadoff walk, prompting a pitching change. Joe Maddon brought in star closer Raisel Iglesias to try to keep the Angels ahead. After he got the first out of the inning, Gordon responded with a single, his second of the night. Then Ryan Jeffers came through with his most clutch hit yet! A single to left, just out of the reach of Mayfield, was enough to score Sanó from second. After an errant throw home, Suzuki tried to catch Gordon advancing to third base, but he was way off the mark, allowing the Twins’ rookie to score sliding and give the Twins their first lead of the night, 5-4. Taylor Rogers came in to pitch the ninth inning and, despite giving up a bloop single to David Fletcher, managed to retire the side and secure the Twins win. This was his ninth save of the season, the 50th in his career. He's now even closer to enter the top 10 in career saves in Senators/Twins franchise history, ranking 13th at the moment. Postgame Interviews Nick Gordon Ryan Jeffers Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Colomé 0 26 22 0 11 59 Duffey 16 0 38 0 0 54 Alcala 23 24 0 0 0 47 Coulombe 0 5 0 32 0 37 Rogers 19 0 0 0 18 37 Thielbar 0 17 16 0 0 33 Robles 19 7 0 0 0 26 Minaya 0 0 0 0 20 20
  17. What’s Their Situation? The Astros continue to reap the benefits from the tremendous core they constructed nearly five years ago. Houston has a truly terrific lineup. When fully healthy, they mesh four outstanding right-handed hitters in José Altuve (138 wRC+), Carlos Correa (149), Alex Bregman (120) and Yuli Gurriel (136) with three equally great left-handed bats in Michael Brantley (138), Kyle Tucker (128) and Yordan Álvarez (146). It’s the best and most dynamic attack in all of baseball. There’s no question that the addition of Dusty Baker as manager has benefitted the Astros in a massive way. He’s carefully navigated the difficulties of their (self-imposed) cheating demons, and continues to masterfully and tactfully manage. Baker’s starting rotation has the lowest ERA in the American League (3.35) even with a fairly pedestrian strikeout-to-walk rate (15.8%). The rotation is spearheaded by Lance McCullers Jr., who’s dazzled to a 2.89 in five starts since returning from the injured list. The Astros have a quantity of quality, with a major-league-leading five pitchers who’ve started at least 10 games with an ERA that’s 15% or better than league average. Houston carries a 3.5 game lead over the Oakland Athletics in the American League West. FanGraphs gives the Astros nearly an 87% chance to take the division and a 96.4% of making the playoffs. With the American League East looking weaker than usual and the White Sox eating up on a poor Central division, it certainly looks like the Astros are in the driver’s seat to take the pennant. What Do They Need? Houston is a very deep and strong club, with few glaring weaknesses. There’s one spot that sticks out, however. The Astros’ bullpen has a 4.09 ERA on the season, good for eighth in the American League. Ryan Pressly has been fantastic, pitching to a 1.42 ERA and 1.38 FIP in 36 games. Outside of Pressly, Houston has very little in the way of lockdown relievers. Cristian Javier has pitched well in a longer-relief role, but the Astros could use at least one more right-handed arm to supplement Pressly and the inconsistent Ryne Stanek. The return of Pedro Báez should help in that regard, though. Even more, the Astros would benefit greatly from a left-handed arm to pair with Pressly in the highest-leverage spots. Which Twins Are The Best Fit? Without question, Taylor Rogers would be the most attractive option for Houston in a deal. Rogers was sporting a 2.45 ERA and a 51-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio before allowing a grand slam in Sunday’s eventual win over Detroit. Rogers is also under contract for 2022, his final year of arbitration before free agency. Although the Astros have a deep and enviable starting rotation, they could be a sleeper for José Berríos. You can never have enough pitching and the Astros may lose Zack Greinke in free agency this winter. Could Houston, an organization that excels at maximizing starting pitching, see some hidden upside in Berríos? Very few centerfielders can match the acumen of George Springer, but Myles Straw has done an admirable job in his wake. Straw is hitting .310/.401/.405 since June 1st and has been worth 1.2 bWAR in 86 games. Even when a spot is good, why not make it great? Enter Byron Buxton, who could turn the Astros into World Series favorites if they aren’t already. A healthy Buxton would make Houston truly impeccable. Who Could The Twins Get Back? The Astros have a poor farm system, a result of graduating so many good major leaguers and losing picks due to the cheating scandal. For the Twins, the focus should be high-upside pitching prospects. RHP Hunter Brown, the Astros’ No. 3 prospect via MLB Pipeline, is an intriguing player. Brown has struck out 37% of hitters at Double-A this season with a fastball in the mid-to-upper 90s and a hammer curveball. Brown is currently a starter but has struggled to throw strikes consistently. RHP Forrest Whitley is out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery but has upside to dream on. Whitley has slowly fallen down prospect boards due to injuries and a truly horrific 2019 season. Still, he’s 6-foot-7 with a fastball that reaches 99 and two 60-grade off-speed pitches. OF Colin Barber offers an interesting change of pace from what the Twins may be seeking. He’s a left-handed outfielder who projects as a rightfielder in the big leagues. Barber is only 20 years old and has hit .248/.380/.411 in 44 minor-league games.
  18. Coming into 2021 this was supposed to be a good Major League roster. Rocco Baldelli was piloting a club coming off two-straight AL Central division titles, and there was no reason to believe they wouldn’t contend with the rival Chicago White Sox. Fast forward to where we are now, and the reality couldn’t be further from that promise. Minnesota has dealt with a plethora of injuries. Byron Buxton leads the team with 2.7 fWAR yet has played just 27 games. Kenta Maeda took massive steps backwards, Josh Donaldson has been good not great, and injuries have crushed the roster all over. Ineffectiveness first from the bullpen, and then sustained by the rotation, have worked wonders to sink an already bludgeoned ship. So, it’s not about if pieces move; that’s a certainty. Now, we’re going to find out if the front office sees a way forward, or if they’re admitting a massive miscalculation in what they have. As Nick Nelson pointed out yesterday, the Twins most desirable talents are a duo (trio?) of players they shouldn’t want to trade. Jose Berrios and Taylor Rogers (along with the unmentioned Buxton) are worthy of the biggest haul. For a team that should be in a position to retool and reset before 2022 kicks off, moving any of them would suggest a disbelief in that being a workable process. There’s no doubt that signing Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton to long term deals makes sense from a talent perspective. They aren’t players you can just replace, and without considering alternative ramifications, they are assets you should want on your roster until they leave on their own volition. It also stands to reason that dealing them prior to their final year of team control would increase the return. No matter what prospect capital is brought back, the impact won’t immediately be felt and may never come to fruition. Maybe Miguel Sano and Max Kepler aren’t the players Derek Falvey and Thad Levine envisioned them to be when offering contract extensions. That’s an unfortunate reality, more so with the tools Kepler should possess, but one that’s ultimately understandable. You’d be trading either at a low point in their value, but there’s a very clear backup plan in each scenario as well. Making deals that involve either of those two wouldn’t necessarily shift the future course for this club. On the flip side, having to replace the ace of a staff on a bad rotation, the lockdown arm in a bad bullpen, or arguably the most athletically-gifted player in the sport is going to be a catastrophic hurdle in the near future. If that’s what’s deemed necessary, then the ultimate direction envisioned by this front office has been incredibly poorly executed, and we’re starting over from the prospect level. Give it to Falvey and Levine; their infrastructure has seemed sound. There’s been decent development on the farm, and while injuries have hurt that progression plenty in 2021, it doesn’t take away from what appears to be coming. If a complete rebuild of the Major League roster needs to take place at this point though, it looks as if the last two division titles and supplementation of that core may have been more about timely circumstances than well designed execution. The duo doesn’t have a great free agency track record, and while they’ve made a few shrewd deals, largely they’ve failed to evaluate their own near-ready and currently available big league talent. When the calendar flips on July the Twins should have a vastly different looking roster. That’s expected. If even one of three key names move, well then, this front office has much less going for it than was originally thought. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. What’s Their Situation? The Brewers have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the NL Central but still need to close the gap on the top of the NL West if they want to have a chance at home-field advantage. The Brewers currently have the 7th-best odds of winning the World Series, according to Vegas Insider, and their deadline mentality should be “we’re going for it.” They may not match up perfectly, but there is no way the Brewers don’t call the Twins and vice versa. There is too much that the Brewers could use that the Twins have for them to not have conversations for at least a few players. What Do They Need? If the Brewers intend to go for it, they need to do it at their most significant areas of weakness: First base (-2.0 bWAR, last in NL) and third base (-1.2 bWAR, 13th). Milwaukee needs to do something at these positions to give themselves a shot at postseason success. The Brewers may also want to improve their bullpen. Don’t get me wrong, the Brewers bullpen, led by Josh Hader, has been terrific in 2021. It ranks 7th in opposing batting average (.221) and is tied for first in strikeouts per nine (11.0). But aside from Hader, who has posted otherworldly numbers (15.6 K/9, 281 ERA+), plus the rebounding Devin Williams, Brad Boxberger, and Brent Suter, there are places to upgrade. Which Twins Are the Best Fit? Josh Donaldson would fill the Brewers’ greatest on-field need. It’s the other stuff - contract and injuries - that give Brewers fans pause. And that doesn’t even get into all the other recent happenings that could potentially make Donaldson not well-liked in other clubhouses. Jose Berrios, under control in 2022, is an excellent fit for 29 teams not named the Twins and the Brewers are no exception, but he, like Taylor Rogers, would both be luxuries, and it’s hard to say how much the Brewers want to deplete their farm system. Nelson Cruz isn’t an obvious fit for a National League team, but Craig Counsell is well known for doing things out of the ordinary. And even Brewers bloggers are sipping that Kool-Aid. At a minimum, could you imagine having that option on the bench every game? Plus, there are DH days available in September with trips to Cleveland and Detroit, not to mention a late August visit to none other than Target Field. Additionally, Michael Pineda as a #4 starter, Hansel Robles as another mid-innings option, and Miguel Sano getting a change of scenery and opportunities at first and/or third base might all be things the Brewers front office discusses. Who Could The Twins Get Back? Unless the Twins are moving Berrios, I can’t believe any of Garrett Mitchell, Brice Turang, or Hedbert Perez would be available. Ethan Small and Aaron Ashby are probably safe to be included in that group as well. The strength of the Brewers system is behind the plate. Depending on which ranking outlet you prefer, the club boasts six catchers in their Top 22 prospects, or maybe you want to call it three in the top 10. It’s not that the Twins don’t have catching options, but quick, who’s their highest-rated catching prospect? (I’ll give you a hint, when you take Jeffers and Rortvedt out, neither MLB.com nor Baseball America has a catcher listed. TwinsDaily’s midseason rankings go 20-deep… no catchers.) Nick Kahle, C, 23yo - Kahle is probably the most likely match from a value perspective. He would profile as a backup with a chance to be more, considering he’s still got a few years to up his stock and has only played 76 games since being drafted. Kahle did play in both the American Association and Australia during the 2020 season to work on his development. Abner Uribe, RHP, 20yo - You’re not going to find Uribe at the top of any prospect lists… unless you sort by mph. He’s a lottery ticket, no doubt, and he’s already spending most of his time coming out of the bullpen, but he’s a flamethrower who’s broken 100 mph. Zavier Warren, C, 22yo - The Twins would be wise to ask about catcher/utility player Warren, who may have the chops to stick behind the plate, but has the bat and athleticism to play elsewhere. Antoine Kelly, LHP, 21yo - Kelly projects as one of the higher-ceiling pitchers in the system after being drafted in 2019 and showing off his powerful fastball in rookie league. He impressed during his stint at the alternate training site, but momentum was lost when he underwent Thoracic Outlet Surgery this spring. An already high-risk/high-reward prospect has seen the gap between his floor and ceiling widen even further and is a huge question mark. But that’s the fun of the trade deadline.
  20. The Twins, destined for irrelevance this season, have a variety of players they'd be more than happy to ship out. Impending free agents like Andrelton Simmons, Michael Pineda, Hansel Robles and J.A. Happ? Why not? Makes no difference really. Those players will be free for anyone to sign come November, and there's no reason to be clamoring for an extension with any of them. Even players under control beyond this year, like Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sanó, could be dealt with a viable argument their salary allotment is better diverted elsewhere. The problem, of course, is that none of these players are likely to generate significant demand at the deadline. Due either to performance, contracts, injuries, or some combination, they're all burdened by drawbacks that significantly dash their trade value. In any of these cases, the Twins are going to be accepting an underwhelming return. Many trade scenarios would qualify as no more than a salary dump. When it comes to selling high, the front office has three opportunities, and in only two of those cases will they be able to dictate a market and drive up the asking price. Fresh off his All-Star appearance, Nelson Cruz is an elite hitter, and basically the biggest offensive upgrade a team could ask for at the deadline. He's a bona fide difference-maker for a contender, and all but certain to get moved. But as a 41-year-old pure DH with two months left on his deal, Cruz's market is inherently limited. When you narrow down the field of teams that actually have a fit, are willing to pay his remaining salary, and are in contention for a championship, you wind up with a handful at most. Cruz will almost surely be traded, but he's not going to bring back a game-changing prospect. That's the nature of the beast. If the Twins want to sell high and compel another team to overpay at the deadline, they're going to need to trade away either their best starter, José Berríos, or their best reliever, Taylor Rogers. Now this is not an endorsement of that course of action. I feel the same reservations as many people reading this do. In part, the attachment is sentimental. Berríos and Rogers are both extremely likable, as well as extremely familiar. They are among the longest-tenured Twins players – both drafted in 2012 before making major-league debuts in 2016. They've remained constants in the rotation and bullpen while the team has changed drastically around them. Both are models of durability and consistency. But sentimentality aside, the more important factor here is that both Berríos and Rogers are critical if not essential to any hopes of the Twins rebounding and returning to contention in 2022. It's already difficult enough to envision the club fielding a contention-caliber rotation OR bullpen next year, given the sorry current state of both units. But when you remove the top performer (by a wide margin) in each, the task feels insurmountable. Berríos and Rogers should theoretically be centerpieces of a retool-and-reset strategy. They are both under team control at a reasonable rate next year, and each is on top of his game. Berríos ranks seventh among AL starters in fWAR, while Rogers ranks fifth among relievers – a first-time All-Star with career highs in K-rate, swinging-strike rate, and FIP. Of course, these are exactly the reasons they will generate outsized demand. Whereas Cruz has a narrow field of suitors, Berríos and Rogers are attractive to any team that's even THINKING about buying. Which brings us back to the point at hand. I don't like the idea of trading either of these long-time fixtures, especially when you'd be subtracting from a clear area of weakness. But no one can deny that if the Twins want to make a real splash and acquire substantial prospect capital to aid whatever scale of rebuild they are about to undertake ... they really have no other choice. This front office prides itself on being opportunistic, and has never been weighed down by sentimentality. We'll see where they land. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. Taylor Rogers wasn’t part of the original AL All-Star roster, but Yusei Kikuchi was placed on the inactive list due to COVID protocols and now Rogers gets to live out what must feel like a dream. He attended Rockies games growing up and now he has a chance to pitch on the Coors Field mound for the first time in his professional career. Rogers was already in Denver, so it took him just under 90 minutes to get from his Denver home to last night’s Home Run Derby. Minnesota has won back-to-back AL Central titles and during that stretch, Rogers has been one of baseball’s best relievers. Since the start of 2018, he ranks fifth among relievers in FanGraph’s WAR. This puts him behind names like Josh Hader, Liam Hendriks, Edwin Diaz, and Ryan Pressly. His value to the Twins goes much deeper than WAR. According to Win Probability Added, Rogers has been the AL’s best relief pitcher since 2018. While some clubs might relegate Rogers to a traditional closer role, Minnesota has used him in a variety of late-inning situations that come with some of the highest leverage. In fact, there have been multiple stretches where he has felt like the only reliable option out of the Twins’ bullpen. Rogers and his quiet demeanor don’t necessarily fit the prototypical personality of a late-inning reliever, but he is a team leader on and off the field. After Kyle Gibson left following the 2019 season, Rogers took over as Minnesota’s player representative to the MLB Players Association. His first year in the role saw him having to represent the team through a pandemic, which couldn’t have been an easy task. Besides his off-field responsibilities in 2020, Rogers saw his performance suffer for the first time during the pandemic shortened season. He posted his highest career ERA, WHIP and H/9, but he did all of this in only 20 innings pitched. The peripheral numbers pointed to him being unlucky as he had a 2.84 FIP and he was getting BABIP’ed to death (.400 BABIP). He has bounced back nicely in 2021 and being selected to his first All-Star Game is just part of the reward. His Statcast numbers are also some of baseball’s best. His chase rate ranks in the 100th percentile and he ranks in the 90th percentile or higher in xwOBA, xERA, K%, and BB%. There are few relievers that can match one of those statistical areas let alone be ranked that highly in five different Statcast categories. Minnesota has been lucky to have quite the run of All-Star relievers over parts of the last two decades. Joe Nathan was selected to four All-Star teams with the Twins after being traded from the Giants. Glen Perkins made three All-Star appearances from 2013-2015 as he got to close out the 2014 All-Star Game in front of the Target Field crowd. Now Rogers, a Colorado native, has the opportunity to make his own memories at Coors Field. Congratulations to Taylor Rogers! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. White Sox, Relief Pitcher Trades within the division can be tough, but every contending team needs bullpen help down the stretch. With the Twins wanting to contend next year, it doesn’t seem likely for the club to send Taylor Rogers or Tyler Duffey to a division rival. This makes Robles more of a logical choice with his late inning work this season. He will need to show he can be back to the player he was earlier this season before a deal can get done. Potential Fit: Hansel Robles Cleveland, Starting Pitcher Derek Falvey came to the Twins from Cleveland’s front office, so he is likely well familiar with many of the players still in their system. Cleveland’s pitching staff has dealt with plenty of injuries, so more starting pitching depth might be at the top of their list. Pineda is on an expiring deal, and he won’t cost that much to acquire. His performance will need to improve now that he is back from injury. Potential Fit: Michael Pineda Red Sox, Left-Handed Bat MLB.com identified first base as a need for Boston, but their bigger need might be adding a left-handed bat. Only two everyday players, Rafael Devers and Alex Verdugo, are lefties. There’s no question that Kepler has struggled this season, but lately there have been some signs of life with his bat. Kepler is on a very team friendly deal, and he has some defensive flexibility. The emergence of Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach makes Kepler expendable, but the team can also wait until the off-season to trade him. Potential Fit: Max Kepler Rays, Designated Hitter At the beginning of last month, I wrote about the Twins trading Cruz to the Rays. Tampa has previously been interested in him and he adds a big bat to the middle of their line-up. He’s having one of the best seasons ever for a player over 40 and there is likely a small market of contending teams vying for his services. Tampa has one of baseball’s best farm systems so that makes things even more intriguing. Potential Fit: Nelson Cruz Blue Jays, Relief Pitcher Realistically, Toronto might be interested in multiple players on the Twins roster. Besides relievers, the Blue Jays are likely interested in adding starting pitching (Jose Berrios) or designated hitter (Cruz) This is a team that wants to win now, and the AL East is baseball’s toughest division. It’s not out of the question to think the Twins might ship multiple players to Toronto before the deadline. Potential Fit: Taylor Rogers Astros, Relief Pitcher Minnesota’s current front office has previously completed a trade with the Astros that involved a reliever with team control. Ryan Pressly has gone on to a tremendous career in Houston, but he is currently one of the team’s only late-inning options. Adding Rogers to the mix is the kind of one-two punch teams need for deep October runs. Potential Fit: Rogers Athletics, Designated Hitter Minnesota might be able to create a small bidding war, if they can pit Toronto, Oakland, and Tampa against each other for Cruz’s services. Oakland is very familiar with Cruz from his time in Seattle and their line-up can use the powerful upgrade that he can provide. One of the biggest questions is if teams like Tampa and Oakland can take on the remaining salary on his contract or will the Twins have to send cash to pay down his expiring contract. Potential Fit: Cruz Which of these deals is most likely to happen? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Mets, Third Base Before his recent injury, reports serviced of the Twins and Mets having some initial discussions about a deal involving Josh Donaldson. There are obviously plenty of things to consider with the amount of money remaining on his contract. How much money do the Twins need to cover? What kind of prospect can they get in return? Donaldson has continued to produce offensively, and he can be an October weapon for a club that is willing to deal with some of his antics. Potential Fit: Josh Donaldson Nationals, Starting Pitcher The Nationals have been riding Max Scherzer at the top of the rotation, but there are plenty of other question marks in the rest of their staff. Realistically, Washington needs to add multiple starters including someone with more upside than Pineda. That being said, the NL East is up for grabs, and they have an opportunity to head back to October with rotational upgrades. Potential Fit: Michael Pineda Brewers, Offensive Upgrade Milwaukee finds themselves at the top of the NL Central thanks in large part to a tremendous pitching staff. If they want to find October success, they are going to need to add more to their offense. Nelson Cruz would look great in the middle of their line-up, but no NL DH means that’s out of the question. Donaldson can add a power bat to their line-up if the Twins are willing to eat most of the contract to send him to their border state rival. Potential Fit: Donaldson Reds, Relief Pitcher Cincinnati’s bullpen is terrible as they rank near the bottom of the NL in many metrics. They likely need to add multiple relievers to find any sort of run to the postseason, but are they going to want to surrender the capital needed to make this happen? Minnesota has multiple relievers that are available including plenty of arms with late-inning experience. Potential Fit: Taylor Rogers Giants, Starting Pitcher San Francisco wasn’t supposed to be at the top of the NL West, but baseball is a funny game. Their line-up doesn’t have many glaring needs, so adding to their starting pitching depth seems like the best way to stay at the top of the division. Jose Berrios might be one of the best starters available at the deadline and he can keep them at the top of their division. Potential Fit: Jose Berrios Dodgers, Starting Pitcher Minnesota’s front office has worked with Los Angeles before as part of the Kenta Maeda deal, so that might make another big trade easier for both sides. The Dodgers want to prove that last year’s shortened season title wasn’t a fluke and adding Berrios means the other contenders in their division won’t have the opportunity to acquire him. Potential Fit: Berrios Padres, Relief Pitcher San Diego spent big this winter and they are clearly in win now mode. They can likely use a starting pitcher and some other offensive help, but the Twins have intriguing bullpen arms. Duffey, like Rogers comes with an extra year of team control and that only increases each player’s value. Minnesota might not want to deal Duffey, but the Padres have prospects that might be tough to turn down. Potential Fit: Tyler Duffey There are also plenty of deals the Twins can make with AL squads including multiple teams interested in Cruz. Which of these deals is most likely to happen? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  24. The Twins bullpen has been about as big of a mess as possible in 2021 but there is one reliever having a career year that needs to be recognized. After a good but inconsistent 2019 and 2020, Taylor Rogers has become the reliever we've all been waiting for. Aside from Hansel Robles on a good day, Rogers is the only true trustworthy reliever in the Twins bullpen and he is one of the most trustworthy relievers in the American League. Rogers deserved to make his first All Star Game but now has to hold out hope to be a replacement. Who could he have made it over? There are a total of five relievers representing the American League in the All Star Game this season. Three are deserving, two not so much Liam Hendriks: 35.0 IP, 2.57 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 1.1 fWAR (WAR calculated on Fangraphs) Matt Barnes: 36.0 IP, 2.75 ERA, 1.96 FIP, 1.7 fWAR Ryan Pressly: 35.0 IP, 1.54 ERA, 1.38 FIP, 1.7 fWAR Gregory Soto: 33.0 IP, 2.18 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 0.6 fWAR Aroldis Chapman: 28.2 IP, 3.77 ERA, 3.54 FIP, 0.5 fWAR For context on reliever WAR, Chapman is tied with Caleb Thielbar. He's also one of the most hated players in baseball. I swear I can think of a much more deserving left handed (no, not Thielbar) pitcher that pitches in Minnesota. Oh, Taylor Rogers! Taylor Rogers: 33.0 IP, 2.73 ERA (26th in AL), 2.22 FIP (6th), 1.2 fWAR (5th) Rogers is no longer some no name up and coming young reliever. He turned 30 six months ago and, like any elite reliever, could flame out in any given season. It sucks that he won't be getting the recognition he deserves this season and instead Aroldis Chapman, who can't help but blow leads every game, is getting the nod. It is what it is and ultimately it's hard for a terrible team to get a ton of recognition. Nonetheless, Taylor Rogers deserves to be pitching in Colorado with Nelson Cruz hitting in the next half inning. Perhaps all is not lost yet, as we often see replacements due to injury or players opting out. Hopefully Rogers is able to secure a spot soon. What do you think? Should Rogers be in the All Star Game? Leave a comment below and discuss!
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