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  1. Without question, the Twins are going to be sellers at this year’s trading deadline and the result is going to be a lot of different trade rumors circling around veteran players in the weeks ahead. Last week, Tom explored an idea that would send Josh Donaldson to the Brewers in an intriguing trade scenario. Cruz will be a free agent at season’s end so his trade partners will be a little easier to identify. First of all, the National League didn’t adopt the designated hitter for 2021, so this knocks out half of baseball’s teams right of the bat. In the American League, there are eight teams within six games of a Wild Card spot, but not all these team’s need a DH. The team at the top of the AL standings is one that has previously been interested in Cruz and the timing might be perfect for them add to the middle of their line-up. Tampa Bay has fought their way into first place in the AL East in what might be considered baseball’s toughest division. Entering play on Monday, Boston was leading the Wild Card race with the Blue Jays and the Yankees both over .500 and in the playoff hunt. So, what’s the connection between Cruz and Tampa? Back in 2018, Cruz was entering free agency as a 38-year-old, which doesn’t sound that intriguing. However, he had averaged over 40 home runs per season with a .897 OPS from 2014-2018. At the time, Tampa was hoping to offer Cruz a deal around $10 million. Minnesota’s offer was for $14 million in the first year with a $12 million club option in year two. The rest is history as he was named team MVP in both of his first two seasons with the club. This past winter Tampa Bay had another opportunity to add Cruz to their line-up, but a strong market never really emerged for Cruz. Multiple teams were interested in his services, but the Twins seemed like his most logical destination from the start, especially with no NL DH. Tampa Bay, the defending AL pennant winners, rarely outbids other teams for free agents, but now might be their best opportunity to add him. So far this season, Tampa Bay has rotated through two main players at DH, Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena. Meadows has played the most games at DH and he has hit .233/.328/.544 with 16 extra-base hits, while Arozarena has a .717 OPS in 13 games at DH. Meadows has some defensive flexibility as he can play in the outfield as well, so adding Cruz only enhances the middle of their line-up. Entering the season, MLB.com ranked Tampa Bay as having baseball’s number one ranked farm system. This doesn’t mean the Twins are going to steal away one of the game’s best prospects, but the Rays have organizational depth and that can help any team looking to make a deal. The market for Cruz isn’t going to be large, but a trade between the Rays and Twins makes too much sense for it not to happen. Do you think Cruz ends up in Tampa before the trade deadline? 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
  2. It’s only the first week of June, but a lot can happen over the next two months. Minnesota should take advantage of their current record and start dealing away players with expiring contracts. Nelson Cruz is near the top of the list and here’s where he should be headed. Without question, the Twins are going to be sellers at this year’s trading deadline and the result is going to be a lot of different trade rumors circling around veteran players in the weeks ahead. Last week, Tom explored an idea that would send Josh Donaldson to the Brewers in an intriguing trade scenario. Cruz will be a free agent at season’s end so his trade partners will be a little easier to identify. First of all, the National League didn’t adopt the designated hitter for 2021, so this knocks out half of baseball’s teams right of the bat. In the American League, there are eight teams within six games of a Wild Card spot, but not all these team’s need a DH. The team at the top of the AL standings is one that has previously been interested in Cruz and the timing might be perfect for them add to the middle of their line-up. Tampa Bay has fought their way into first place in the AL East in what might be considered baseball’s toughest division. Entering play on Monday, Boston was leading the Wild Card race with the Blue Jays and the Yankees both over .500 and in the playoff hunt. So, what’s the connection between Cruz and Tampa? Back in 2018, Cruz was entering free agency as a 38-year-old, which doesn’t sound that intriguing. However, he had averaged over 40 home runs per season with a .897 OPS from 2014-2018. At the time, Tampa was hoping to offer Cruz a deal around $10 million. Minnesota’s offer was for $14 million in the first year with a $12 million club option in year two. The rest is history as he was named team MVP in both of his first two seasons with the club. This past winter Tampa Bay had another opportunity to add Cruz to their line-up, but a strong market never really emerged for Cruz. Multiple teams were interested in his services, but the Twins seemed like his most logical destination from the start, especially with no NL DH. Tampa Bay, the defending AL pennant winners, rarely outbids other teams for free agents, but now might be their best opportunity to add him. So far this season, Tampa Bay has rotated through two main players at DH, Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena. Meadows has played the most games at DH and he has hit .233/.328/.544 with 16 extra-base hits, while Arozarena has a .717 OPS in 13 games at DH. Meadows has some defensive flexibility as he can play in the outfield as well, so adding Cruz only enhances the middle of their line-up. Entering the season, MLB.com ranked Tampa Bay as having baseball’s number one ranked farm system. This doesn’t mean the Twins are going to steal away one of the game’s best prospects, but the Rays have organizational depth and that can help any team looking to make a deal. The market for Cruz isn’t going to be large, but a trade between the Rays and Twins makes too much sense for it not to happen. Do you think Cruz ends up in Tampa before the trade deadline? 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 View full article
  3. Pittsburgh sat with a 56-52 record on July 31, 2018. This was good enough for third in their division and they were trailing multiple teams for a Wild Card spot. Being on the outside looking in, didn’t stop them from making a franchise altering trade. The Pirates wanted right-handed pitcher Chris Archer, so they went and got him. Spoiler alert… Pittsburgh would finish fourth in their own division last season. During his last three seasons in Tampa, Archer posted a 3.77 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP while averaging 245 strikeouts and 205 innings per season. He had one top-5 finish for the AL Cy Young and he represented the Rays in the 2015 and 2017 MLB All-Star Game. He was a workhorse as he led the AL in games started in both of his All-Star campaigns. Archer had seemed to be on the trade block for multiple seasons because Tampa Bay had him signed to a team friendly deal and the two-time All-Star might not have a higher value. Because of their market, the Rays are forced to part with players as their contract costs rise. Tampa has been able to flourish through strong scouting and thinking outside of the box. Tampa certainly knew what they were doing when they dealt Archer for a package that included Austin Meadows, Tyler Glasnow and Shane Baz. Meadows was elected to his first All-Star Game this season after hitting .289/.364/.502 in the first half with 30 extra-base hits including 12 homers. He currently looks like the biggest piece of the trade for Tampa, but both pitchers could still turn out to be very good. Glasnow has an injury history including currently being on the IL with a right forearm strain. In his eight starts (48 1/3 innings) since being dealt, he has a 1.86 ERA with a 0.91 WHIP and 55 strikeouts and 9 walks. Fans might remember Baz’s name because he was one of the top prospects in the 2017 Draft, when the Twins had the first pick. He’s pitching in the Midwest League and has a 3.45 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP in 10 starts. Since being traded, Archer has not been the same pitcher that he was in Tampa. He has a brutal 4.97 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in 143 innings. His strikeout rate has gone up from 9.7 K/9 in Tampa to 10.4 K/9 in Pittsburgh, but his walk rate has also increased (2.9 to 4.0 BB/9). He’s giving up home runs at almost twice the rate and one of the biggest concerns might be the amount of hard contact he is giving up. His 12.3 Barrel % is in the bottom 4% of the NL. So how can the Twins avoid an Archer style fleecing by another club? In all reality, it’s rarely known this quickly after a trade if one team has gained a significant advantage. Meadows was a consensus top-50 prospect for most of his professional career. In comparison, Minnesota’s closest prospect might be Alex Kirilloff. It seems likely that Kirilloff is on a short list of prospects that Minnesota wouldn’t be willing to trade unless they were floored by a deal. The Twins might not have a comparable pitcher in their farm system to Glasnow. Entering the 2017 season, he was ranked in the top-25 prospects in baseball by all three major rankings and he was big league ready at the time of the trade. Someone like Jordan Balazovic might be the closest as he continues to rise in prospect rankings. He, like Glasnow, was a fifth-round pick, but he isn’t close to being big league ready. Few saw this kind of drop-off coming for Archer and that’s what can happen with some of the big deals that will happen before next week. Back in 2016, Cubs fans saw their club deal future All-Star Gleyber Torres to the Yankees for closer Aroldis Chapman. Chapman and the Cubs went on to win the World Series and he returned to New York that winter as a free agent. My guess is Cubs fans will take the World Series flag flying over Wrigley instead of having Torres in the middle of their infield. What are your thoughts as the Twins become buyers? How can they avoid an Archer deal? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. What They Do Well Like Minnesota the Rays can pitch. The 12.1 fWAR is 1st in baseball and is largely bolstered by Charlie Morton. Blake Snell has taken his lumps at times this season, and he’s coming off his worst outing of 2019 (0.1 IP 2 H 6 ER 4 BB 0 K vs NYY). After losing Tyler Glasnow to injury much of the Rays rotation has been in flux. They employ the opener often and getting to Jose Alvarado or Emilio Pagan on the back end has been key. Despite not having the same offensive chops as the Twins, Tampa’s lineup is no slouch either. Their 12.9 fWAR is eighth in baseball and fifth in the American League. Owning just the 19th best ISO in baseball (.171) the approach is more of a team effort to score runs rather than living on the long ball or extra-base hit. What They Do Not Do Well Looking at a team this solid we’re nitpicking a little when attempting to find significant flaws. The lineup construction here is not one built to come from behind, however. Being in the bottom-third of baseball when hitting the long ball doesn’t provide many quick avenues to get back in a game. They also hover around the midpoint in regards to doubles, so it’s no surprise that their total runs scored check in at just 18th in the sport. Individuals of Note While Blake Snell gets the headlines as the reigning AL Cy Young, there’re two guys vastly more important for the Twins to key in on over the next few games. Wednesday starter Charlie Morton has been arguably the best free agent acquisition in baseball and leads the league in ERA. Houston turned him into a strikeout monster and his 1.025 WHIP suggests opportunities won’t come often against him. Morton has allowed more than two ER in just three of his 16 starts, and he’s held opposing lineups scoreless five times this season. On the offensive side of things, it’s former top prospect Austin Meadows. Acquired in the exchange for Chris Archer, Meadows has a .930 OPS. He has cooled just a bit since returning from the injured list in early May, but the .850 OPS still makes him a dangerous hitter. His 146 OPS+ is one point higher than that of Minnesota’s Jorge Polanco. Recent History As noted above, Minnesota and Tampa Bay squared off the last two days of May and first two of June. After a 14-3 drubbing in game one, Minnesota came back to take three in a row from Tampa. Minnesota is dealing with some missing pieces right now, but the hope would be that a return of one or two could have the Twins adding favorably to their 24-13 home record. Ending Thoughts Tampa is again a good squad and facing their two best hurlers isn’t going to provide any breaks for the Twins. Kyle Gibson is coming off an ugly outing against the Red Sox and will need to set the tone against Snell. Odorizzi faces his former organization and looked a bit lackluster his most recent time out. Minnesota’s lineup has slowed of late but getting right following the off day and against a good team at home, would be a great thing to see.
  5. Fresh off their first losing week of the 2019 major league baseball season the Minnesota Twins welcome the Tampa Bay Rays to Target Field for the first time in 2019. These two clubs hooked up at the end of May for a four-game series and the Twins took three of four. However, thanks to an 11-run drubbing in game one, Rocco Baldelli’s squad was on the short end of the run differential stick. Tampa comes to Minnesota having dropped six of their last ten playing against the Athletics, Yankees, and Angels. They’ve been near the top of a strong AL East division for much of the year, and the +85 run differential has their Pythagorean W/L at 48-30.What They Do Well Like Minnesota the Rays can pitch. The 12.1 fWAR is 1st in baseball and is largely bolstered by Charlie Morton. Blake Snell has taken his lumps at times this season, and he’s coming off his worst outing of 2019 (0.1 IP 2 H 6 ER 4 BB 0 K vs NYY). After losing Tyler Glasnow to injury much of the Rays rotation has been in flux. They employ the opener often and getting to Jose Alvarado or Emilio Pagan on the back end has been key. Despite not having the same offensive chops as the Twins, Tampa’s lineup is no slouch either. Their 12.9 fWAR is eighth in baseball and fifth in the American League. Owning just the 19th best ISO in baseball (.171) the approach is more of a team effort to score runs rather than living on the long ball or extra-base hit. What They Do Not Do Well Looking at a team this solid we’re nitpicking a little when attempting to find significant flaws. The lineup construction here is not one built to come from behind, however. Being in the bottom-third of baseball when hitting the long ball doesn’t provide many quick avenues to get back in a game. They also hover around the midpoint in regards to doubles, so it’s no surprise that their total runs scored check in at just 18th in the sport. Individuals of Note While Blake Snell gets the headlines as the reigning AL Cy Young, there’re two guys vastly more important for the Twins to key in on over the next few games. Wednesday starter Charlie Morton has been arguably the best free agent acquisition in baseball and leads the league in ERA. Houston turned him into a strikeout monster and his 1.025 WHIP suggests opportunities won’t come often against him. Morton has allowed more than two ER in just three of his 16 starts, and he’s held opposing lineups scoreless five times this season. On the offensive side of things, it’s former top prospect Austin Meadows. Acquired in the exchange for Chris Archer, Meadows has a .930 OPS. He has cooled just a bit since returning from the injured list in early May, but the .850 OPS still makes him a dangerous hitter. His 146 OPS+ is one point higher than that of Minnesota’s Jorge Polanco. Recent History As noted above, Minnesota and Tampa Bay squared off the last two days of May and first two of June. After a 14-3 drubbing in game one, Minnesota came back to take three in a row from Tampa. Minnesota is dealing with some missing pieces right now, but the hope would be that a return of one or two could have the Twins adding favorably to their 24-13 home record. Ending Thoughts Tampa is again a good squad and facing their two best hurlers isn’t going to provide any breaks for the Twins. Kyle Gibson is coming off an ugly outing against the Red Sox and will need to set the tone against Snell. Odorizzi faces his former organization and looked a bit lackluster his most recent time out. Minnesota’s lineup has slowed of late but getting right following the off day and against a good team at home, would be a great thing to see. Click here to view the article
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