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  1. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine did a good job identifying some underrated free agents last off-season. Nelson Cruz had a monster season and Marwin Gonzalez and Jonathan Schoop also provided value. This off-season there will be plenty of other undervalued free agents, so could any of these names wind up in Minnesota?Richard Justice of MLB.com identified the following eight players as being underrated. With multiple outfielders and corner infield options, only a few of the names would be a fit with the Twins. 1. Howie Kendrick, UTIL, Nationals Kendrick helped the Nationals to their first World Series title, and he was an offensive threat the entire season. According to Baseball Savant, he ranked in the 92nd percentile or higher in exit velocity, xBA, Hard Hit %, xwOBA, and xSLG. He will turn 37 next season and he seems more valuable to a team that could use him as a designated hitter. The Twins have multiple players for that role. Twins Fit: No 2. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals Ozuna never really lived up to expectations after being traded to the Cardinals. His last season in Miami saw him accumulate a .924 OPS and his two years in St. Louis resulted in a .779 OPS. His Exit Velocity and Hard Hit % were both above the 92nd percentile. He will be 29-years old throughout next season so there might be some room for him to continue to grow. That being said, the Twins outfield is pretty full unless the team makes a trade. Twins Fit: No 3. Rich Hill, LHP, Dodgers Hill is coming off an injury-plagued season that limited him to 13 starts. This isn’t exactly promising for a player set to turn 40 in March. Over the last three seasons, Hill has amassed a 3.30 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and a 3.89 FIP while averaging almost 110 innings per season. Minnesota needs as many rotation arms as possible so taking a flyer on a veteran pitcher could help to shore-up the rotation until some of the younger arms are ready to step-in. Twins Fit: Yes 4. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Nationals Zimmerman had to deal with plenty of regular season and playoff woes before finally seeing the Nationals raise the World Series trophy. It feels weird to think of him outside of a Nationals uniform and he hasn’t played in over 85 games since 2017, his last All-Star season. With limited defensive flexibility and an aging body, Zimmerman likely won’t be calling the Twin Cities home. Twins Fit: No 5. Hunter Pence, OF, Rangers Pence was an All-Star last season at the ripe age of 36. He was forced to sign a minor league deal and earn his spot on the Rangers roster. A back issue limited him to 83 games, but he posted a .910 OPS when he was on the field. Plenty of rebuilding clubs could take a flyer on Pence, but Minnesota likely wouldn’t have a need for him unless an injury were to arise. Twins Fit: No 6. Eric Thames, 1B, Brewers Thames came back from Korea three seasons ago and he reestablished himself as a very good power hitter on some strong Milwaukee teams. Like many others on this list, he has little defensive value and that could make his free agent market disappear quickly. His Exit Velocity and Hard Hit % were both in the 80th percentile, but Minnesota has multiple corner infield options at this point. Twins Fit: No 7. Alex Avila, C, Diamondbacks I’m in love with the idea of a catching duo of Alex Avila and Mitch Garver. Avila will turn 33 this winter and he could fall into a similar role as Jason Castro this season. Avila showed some of the best catch framing skills in all of baseball last season and that fits what the Twins were looking for when they signed Castro a few seasons ago. Garver could also start to see some time at first base when Avila would be behind the plate. I want the Twins to make this signing yesterday. Twins Fit: Yes 8. Tyler Clippard, RHP, Indians Clippard had quite the bounce-back season in Cleveland last year as he posted a sub-3.00 ERA for the first time since 2015. Taylor Rogers was relied on heavily in Minnesota’s bullpen and Clippard could help to add a late-inning arm from the right side. Minnesota did little to address their bullpen issues last off-season and I think the club will sign at least one veteran arm in the weeks ahead. Twins Fit: Yes If you were running the Twins, would you sign Avila? What about Clippard or Hill? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  2. Richard Justice of MLB.com identified the following eight players as being underrated. With multiple outfielders and corner infield options, only a few of the names would be a fit with the Twins. 1. Howie Kendrick, UTIL, Nationals Kendrick helped the Nationals to their first World Series title, and he was an offensive threat the entire season. According to Baseball Savant, he ranked in the 92nd percentile or higher in exit velocity, xBA, Hard Hit %, xwOBA, and xSLG. He will turn 37 next season and he seems more valuable to a team that could use him as a designated hitter. The Twins have multiple players for that role. Twins Fit: No 2. Marcell Ozuna, OF, Cardinals Ozuna never really lived up to expectations after being traded to the Cardinals. His last season in Miami saw him accumulate a .924 OPS and his two years in St. Louis resulted in a .779 OPS. His Exit Velocity and Hard Hit % were both above the 92nd percentile. He will be 29-years old throughout next season so there might be some room for him to continue to grow. That being said, the Twins outfield is pretty full unless the team makes a trade. Twins Fit: No 3. Rich Hill, LHP, Dodgers Hill is coming off an injury-plagued season that limited him to 13 starts. This isn’t exactly promising for a player set to turn 40 in March. Over the last three seasons, Hill has amassed a 3.30 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP, and a 3.89 FIP while averaging almost 110 innings per season. Minnesota needs as many rotation arms as possible so taking a flyer on a veteran pitcher could help to shore-up the rotation until some of the younger arms are ready to step-in. Twins Fit: Yes 4. Ryan Zimmerman, 1B, Nationals Zimmerman had to deal with plenty of regular season and playoff woes before finally seeing the Nationals raise the World Series trophy. It feels weird to think of him outside of a Nationals uniform and he hasn’t played in over 85 games since 2017, his last All-Star season. With limited defensive flexibility and an aging body, Zimmerman likely won’t be calling the Twin Cities home. Twins Fit: No 5. Hunter Pence, OF, Rangers Pence was an All-Star last season at the ripe age of 36. He was forced to sign a minor league deal and earn his spot on the Rangers roster. A back issue limited him to 83 games, but he posted a .910 OPS when he was on the field. Plenty of rebuilding clubs could take a flyer on Pence, but Minnesota likely wouldn’t have a need for him unless an injury were to arise. Twins Fit: No 6. Eric Thames, 1B, Brewers Thames came back from Korea three seasons ago and he reestablished himself as a very good power hitter on some strong Milwaukee teams. Like many others on this list, he has little defensive value and that could make his free agent market disappear quickly. His Exit Velocity and Hard Hit % were both in the 80th percentile, but Minnesota has multiple corner infield options at this point. Twins Fit: No 7. Alex Avila, C, Diamondbacks I’m in love with the idea of a catching duo of Alex Avila and Mitch Garver. Avila will turn 33 this winter and he could fall into a similar role as Jason Castro this season. Avila showed some of the best catch framing skills in all of baseball last season and that fits what the Twins were looking for when they signed Castro a few seasons ago. Garver could also start to see some time at first base when Avila would be behind the plate. I want the Twins to make this signing yesterday. Twins Fit: Yes 8. Tyler Clippard, RHP, Indians Clippard had quite the bounce-back season in Cleveland last year as he posted a sub-3.00 ERA for the first time since 2015. Taylor Rogers was relied on heavily in Minnesota’s bullpen and Clippard could help to add a late-inning arm from the right side. Minnesota did little to address their bullpen issues last off-season and I think the club will sign at least one veteran arm in the weeks ahead. Twins Fit: Yes If you were running the Twins, would you sign Avila? What about Clippard or Hill? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. A lot has changed in a week. The Twins made a trade. And the Twins have fallen in the races for the American League Central and for the wild card. The team is now at 49-49, a .500 record for the first time in months. They are 3 ½ games back of Cleveland now, and two games behind second-place Kansas City. They are also two games back of Kansas City for the second Wild Card spot. The Rays are in between, one game ahead of the Twins. The team is not out of it, but man, by the end of this week, they could go from buyer to seller.After reviewing which players may be available in trades from the NL Westand NL Central, today, we want to review the NL Eastern Division. STANDINGS Washington Nationals 59-38 Atlanta Braves 47-50 12.0 GB New York Mets 45-51 13.5 GB Miami Marlins 45-52 14.0 GB Philadelphia Phillies 34-62 24.5 GB So, I think it’s safe to say that the Nationals will win the division. In the wild card, the Chicago Cubs are five games behind the second wild card team. Then the Pirates are 7.5 games back. Atlanta is tied with St. Louis, 8.5 games back of a wild card berth. The Mets are 10 games back, and the Marlins are 10.5 games back. THE BUYERS Clearly the Nationals are, or at least were, buyers. Last week, they acquired some bullpen help, trading for RHP Ryan Madson and LHP Sean Doolittle from the A’s. Do they have other needs? Will they remain busy? The Nationals may need some outfielders as they have several on the disabled list right now. Also, Stephen Strasburg left his start this weekend, so they may be in need of more starting pitching, even if Strasburg is OK. THE SELLERS The division is interesting. Clearly there is going to be just one team that will make the playoffs from the NL East. The other teams all appear to be looking to sell at least to some level, but there are a couple of teams that seem to think they’re not too far off and may buy at the same time. The Braves It took about four days to go from “Close” to “Complete,” but the Twins and Atlanta worked out a deal that sent the Twins lefty Jaime Garcia and catcher Anthony Recker in exchange for Twins RHP prospect Huascar Ynoa. Garcia is a rental player, so Atlanta was happy to deal him for a young, high-ceiling pitching prospect like Ynoa who is years off. It’s a strategy they’ve used in recent years. But once in a while, we read a rumor that says that Atlanta is also a serious candidate for acquiring Sonny Gray. While it may not make sense for a sub-.500 team, the Braves do have a whole bunch of young pitching prospects that Oakland should be looking for. There could be a match, though many teams will be going after Gray. It’s strange to hear that they may have interest in Gray while at the same time there continue to be rumors that they could listen on Julio Teheran. They could get a huge return for Teheran, similar to what they would have to give up for Gray. Maybe there is a three-team possibility there somewhere. 42-year-old R.A. Dickey could be a possibility to be traded. The return wouldn’t be large, but they could get something from a team wanting an innings-eater at the back of their rotation. Closer Joe Johnson has had another strong season. He’s owed a miniscule $4.5 million in 2018. Old friend Kurt Suzuki is having a nice season for Atlanta as well. He could be a backup catcher for some team. Brandon Phillips is on the last year of his long-term deal. He’s got the no-trade clause but he was willing to give that up to go to Atlanta to start the season. The Mets The Mets have quite a few position players who could be dealt at the deadline. The biggest name is probably Jay Bruce who has 25 home runs. Also, Curtis Granderson, who has lost playing time this year, could interest some teams as a bench bat, part-time DH and clubhouse leader. Finally, Lucas Duda is having a strong season again after a couple of tough ones. He makes too much sense to go to the Yankees. All three are free agents at the end of the year. Asdrubal Cabrera is likely to be traded. He has an option for 2018 and has now played all of the infield positions. On the mound, reliever Addison Reed should draw some interest from a variety of teams. He also is a free agent at season’s end. So is left-hander Jerry Blevins. The Marlins There sure are a lot of denials being tossed around between the Yankees and the Marlins as it relates to Giancarlo Stanton. It’s a long-short that anything would happen, but it is the Yankees, so you never know. AJ Ramos, the Marlins closer, could be dealt. And after they received four prospects in exchange for David Phelps, they are right to expect a huge haul for Ramos. Dan Straily another pitcher who will warrant a lot of attention. He’s controllable for a few years yet and the journeyman is having a decent year for the Marlins. Edison Volquez has thrown a no-hitter this year, and he’s spent time on the disabled list too. He’s a veteran who has pitched in the playoffs in recent years, so he’ll draw some interest as well. The Phillies The Phillies seemed to think that they might compete in 2017. In short… No. They are arguably the worst team in baseball, and they should be looking to sell off veterans and start over. Of course, then we read that they are interested in acquiring Dee Gordon from the Marlins. So, they clearly aren’t looking at a big rebuild. Pat Neshek is the most likely Phillies player to be traded. The reliever has a 1.12 ERA this season, and he’s a free agent at the end of the year. They shouldn’t get a huge return for him, and yet because so many teams are interested, they’ll get a nice haul. Joaquin Benoit is a couple of notches below Neshek in the pecking order, but he’s another reliever who could be dealt. The team also has Howie Kendrick who is hitting .353 and playing a variety of positions. Daniel Nava is also having a solid season and isn’t making much money. A playoff team could use his bat off the bench. SUMMARY Well, the Twins have already made a trade with a team in the NL East, the Braves. Could they possibly make another deal in that division? Obviously I think the Twins focus at this point will be bullpen help. There are a few names to watch. Pat Neshek is the most obvious, but it’s possible they could be in on the likes of AJ Ramos or Joaquin Benoit. Click here to view the article
  4. After reviewing which players may be available in trades from the NL West and NL Central, today, we want to review the NL Eastern Division. STANDINGS Washington Nationals 59-38 Atlanta Braves 47-50 12.0 GB New York Mets 45-51 13.5 GB Miami Marlins 45-52 14.0 GB Philadelphia Phillies 34-62 24.5 GB So, I think it’s safe to say that the Nationals will win the division. In the wild card, the Chicago Cubs are five games behind the second wild card team. Then the Pirates are 7.5 games back. Atlanta is tied with St. Louis, 8.5 games back of a wild card berth. The Mets are 10 games back, and the Marlins are 10.5 games back. THE BUYERS Clearly the Nationals are, or at least were, buyers. Last week, they acquired some bullpen help, trading for RHP Ryan Madson and LHP Sean Doolittle from the A’s. Do they have other needs? Will they remain busy? The Nationals may need some outfielders as they have several on the disabled list right now. Also, Stephen Strasburg left his start this weekend, so they may be in need of more starting pitching, even if Strasburg is OK. THE SELLERS The division is interesting. Clearly there is going to be just one team that will make the playoffs from the NL East. The other teams all appear to be looking to sell at least to some level, but there are a couple of teams that seem to think they’re not too far off and may buy at the same time. The Braves It took about four days to go from “Close” to “Complete,” but the Twins and Atlanta worked out a deal that sent the Twins lefty Jaime Garcia and catcher Anthony Recker in exchange for Twins RHP prospect Huascar Ynoa. Garcia is a rental player, so Atlanta was happy to deal him for a young, high-ceiling pitching prospect like Ynoa who is years off. It’s a strategy they’ve used in recent years. But once in a while, we read a rumor that says that Atlanta is also a serious candidate for acquiring Sonny Gray. While it may not make sense for a sub-.500 team, the Braves do have a whole bunch of young pitching prospects that Oakland should be looking for. There could be a match, though many teams will be going after Gray. It’s strange to hear that they may have interest in Gray while at the same time there continue to be rumors that they could listen on Julio Teheran. They could get a huge return for Teheran, similar to what they would have to give up for Gray. Maybe there is a three-team possibility there somewhere. 42-year-old R.A. Dickey could be a possibility to be traded. The return wouldn’t be large, but they could get something from a team wanting an innings-eater at the back of their rotation. Closer Joe Johnson has had another strong season. He’s owed a miniscule $4.5 million in 2018. Old friend Kurt Suzuki is having a nice season for Atlanta as well. He could be a backup catcher for some team. Brandon Phillips is on the last year of his long-term deal. He’s got the no-trade clause but he was willing to give that up to go to Atlanta to start the season. The Mets The Mets have quite a few position players who could be dealt at the deadline. The biggest name is probably Jay Bruce who has 25 home runs. Also, Curtis Granderson, who has lost playing time this year, could interest some teams as a bench bat, part-time DH and clubhouse leader. Finally, Lucas Duda is having a strong season again after a couple of tough ones. He makes too much sense to go to the Yankees. All three are free agents at the end of the year. Asdrubal Cabrera is likely to be traded. He has an option for 2018 and has now played all of the infield positions. On the mound, reliever Addison Reed should draw some interest from a variety of teams. He also is a free agent at season’s end. So is left-hander Jerry Blevins. The Marlins There sure are a lot of denials being tossed around between the Yankees and the Marlins as it relates to Giancarlo Stanton. It’s a long-short that anything would happen, but it is the Yankees, so you never know. AJ Ramos, the Marlins closer, could be dealt. And after they received four prospects in exchange for David Phelps, they are right to expect a huge haul for Ramos. Dan Straily another pitcher who will warrant a lot of attention. He’s controllable for a few years yet and the journeyman is having a decent year for the Marlins. Edison Volquez has thrown a no-hitter this year, and he’s spent time on the disabled list too. He’s a veteran who has pitched in the playoffs in recent years, so he’ll draw some interest as well. The Phillies The Phillies seemed to think that they might compete in 2017. In short… No. They are arguably the worst team in baseball, and they should be looking to sell off veterans and start over. Of course, then we read that they are interested in acquiring Dee Gordon from the Marlins. So, they clearly aren’t looking at a big rebuild. Pat Neshek is the most likely Phillies player to be traded. The reliever has a 1.12 ERA this season, and he’s a free agent at the end of the year. They shouldn’t get a huge return for him, and yet because so many teams are interested, they’ll get a nice haul. Joaquin Benoit is a couple of notches below Neshek in the pecking order, but he’s another reliever who could be dealt. The team also has Howie Kendrick who is hitting .353 and playing a variety of positions. Daniel Nava is also having a solid season and isn’t making much money. A playoff team could use his bat off the bench. SUMMARY Well, the Twins have already made a trade with a team in the NL East, the Braves. Could they possibly make another deal in that division? Obviously I think the Twins focus at this point will be bullpen help. There are a few names to watch. Pat Neshek is the most obvious, but it’s possible they could be in on the likes of AJ Ramos or Joaquin Benoit.
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