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  1. Minnesota's current front office has been in this position before, with the team focused on adding a front-line starter. This winter is the time to outbid other clubs to get a top-tier pitcher in a Twins uniform. Minnesota will need to hit on some cheaper rotation options to be competitive in 2022, and these buy-low candidates all fit that bill. However, affordable rotation options aren't going to help the team to contend. In recent years, the current front office has targeted some of the top free-agent pitchers, but none have accepted Minnesota's offer. Leading into the 2019 season, Minnesota targeted Zach Wheeler and offered him a contract north of $100 million. He eventually signed with Philadelphia for $118 million. Minnesota looked into Madison Bumgarner that same winter, but he took a below-market deal to pitch close to his ranch in Arizona. The Twins had to pivot that winter and ended up signing Josh Donaldson, but that didn't help their starting pitching deficiency. Trading for Kenta Maeda was undoubtedly a move that bolstered the rotation for multiple seasons. Unfortunately, he is likely out for all of 2022 following Tommy John surgery. Minnesota signed Randy Dobnak to a unique contract extension last winter, and he followed that up with the worst season of his career. The front office has tried different avenues to build the starting staff even if they haven't worked out. Some fans may point to Jose Berrios as one player the Twins could have overpaid to stay at the top of the team's rotation. Some of the top-tier starting pitchers this year compare very similarly to Berrios. However, he and his team have gone through the arbitration process with the goal of him hitting free agency and capitalizing on his value. Minnesota was right to trade him away when his value was highest, and they have the same opportunity as the other clubs to sign him following the 2022 campaign. Free-agent starting pitching is something the Twins haven't spent a lot on in the past, and now the timing may be right. Some of the available veteran starting pitchers aren't going to consider Minnesota as a viable option. They see their careers as coming to a close, and there's no guarantee the Twins will be relevant in 2022. This crosses Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw off the list, but there are other names to consider. Two other top-tier free agents, Carlos Rodon and Noah Syndergaard have injury concerns that teams will want to avoid. There is certainly the upside potential with these two players, but the risk may not be worth the reward. This leaves players like Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, and Marcus Stroman as the remaining top tier starting pitcher targets. Based on Minnesota's previous track record, the only way to get an ace to Minnesota is to overpay. All three of the pitchers mentioned above will cost over $20 million per season, with Gausman and Ray having the potential to make even more. Even if the Twins are out of contention in 2022, these three players can be part of the franchise's next winning window. Other pitching will be needed, but Minnesota needs to outbid other teams to get a name penciled at the top of the rotation. To read more about this year's crop of free-agent pitchers, make sure to order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. If you order today, it will be sent directly to your email. Which pitcher do you think the Twins are most likely to target? 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
  2. After unloading Jose Berrios at the trade deadline, watching Kenta Maeda go under the knife, and seeing Michael Pineda hit free agency, the Twins starting rotation is bare. Who is the top choice to bolster it? As of right now you’d have to bank on either Bailey Ober or Joe Ryan being the Opening Day starter in 2022 for Rocco Baldelli. Both showed well in their rookie seasons, but if that’s the top of the rotation, there’s cause for concern in the year ahead. Minnesota failed tremendously on the mound, and depth was exposed quickly as both J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker flopped. For the Twins to make a turnaround in the year ahead, the focus must be on a resurgence from the bump. Similarly to the 2021 season, the hope is that Minnesota will see graduations from the farm. Top arms like Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, and Matt Canterino all posted mixed results with injuries sprinkled in. Another year back from the cancelled 2020 season, and the hope would be that a clean bill of health is parlayed into peak effectiveness. Before banking on the youth though, the Twins need to give Wes Johnson some workable ammunition for a group that is essentially bare. The free agent crop this offseason is a who’s who of big names, and while not all may make it to the open market, there should be one or two that fit to Minnesota’s liking. Here’s how I’d categorize the options: The Injured - Clayton Kershaw and Justin Verlander There’s a known commodity and a more unknown question here. Kershaw represents the unknown as he’s dealing with an elbow injury that cost him multiple months this season. He is avoiding surgery for the time being but could be ticketed for a much longer time on the shelf if he goes under the knife. The career-Dodger will be 34 next season but has a ton of miles on his arm. Production has never been the issue and if he can avoid back and elbow concerns for the next year or so, there’s reason to like him on a short term deal. On the flip side you’ve got a guy in Verlander who will be returning from Tommy John surgery having last pitched in 2020. He’ll be 39 next season and has thrown just six innings since 2019. There’s hardly been a time in which you’ve questioned his ability though, and a clean elbow could have him looking like an appetizing option on a one-year deal. The Astros will likely give him a qualifying offer should that still exist, but Verlander definitely has familiarity with the AL Central. The Aging - Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke Having just turned 37, that’s about the only reason to define Scherzer as aging. He’s still every bit the dominant pitcher he has been over the course of his career, and he’s attempting to carry a Dodgers staff through the Postseason. Of the options available, I think he’s probably the most likely to be retained by the current team, and while I wouldn’t expect Los Angeles to give him a long extension, they certainly have the money to persuade him to stay. With the Astros having rotational issues this Postseason it’s clear they have work to do in that department. I’m not sure they hang onto a guy in Greinke that has hit somewhat of a decline. His 4.16 ERA was the highest mark since 2016 and he’s clearly struggled down the stretch. If another team believes they can work through the current ineffectiveness, this is probably the best bet for a good starter on a one-year deal. He seems like a fit for Minnesota but comes with plenty of uncertainties. The Youth - Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman If you want to secure a long-term pact with a rotation anchor this is where you’re turning. Starting with Stroman, you’ve got a guy in the midst of his prime and coming off a very strong season. Not a big strikeout guy, Stroman needs to be backed by a good infield as he’s a ground ball maestro. Someone that appears to be a very good leader and clubhouse presence, this is a personality that could mesh well with the Twins plans for quite some time. The breakout finally happened for Gausman, and it came in a big way. With the Giants being baseball’s best team, the 30-year-old posted a career best 2.81 ERA. He racks up strikeouts, limits walks, and looks every bit the ace you’d hope for. 2020 is where things seemed to click for the former Orioles pitcher, so you’ll need to make sure there’s a belief in the results going forward, but nothing he’s put up recently is anything an organization would want to avoid. A positive this winter is that pitching options are plentiful. Those above just barely scratch the surface considering names like Syndergaard, Bundy, and even Pineda are all available. The Twins need to find a path forward, and for a transitional time it might make sense to focus on short term deals. There should be any number of options that are within their wheelhouse, and while the big names are there as always, this might be an opportunity to land the right fit without breaking the bank. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  3. Minnesota will need to hit on some cheaper rotation options to be competitive in 2022, and these buy-low candidates all fit that bill. However, affordable rotation options aren't going to help the team to contend. In recent years, the current front office has targeted some of the top free-agent pitchers, but none have accepted Minnesota's offer. Leading into the 2019 season, Minnesota targeted Zach Wheeler and offered him a contract north of $100 million. He eventually signed with Philadelphia for $118 million. Minnesota looked into Madison Bumgarner that same winter, but he took a below-market deal to pitch close to his ranch in Arizona. The Twins had to pivot that winter and ended up signing Josh Donaldson, but that didn't help their starting pitching deficiency. Trading for Kenta Maeda was undoubtedly a move that bolstered the rotation for multiple seasons. Unfortunately, he is likely out for all of 2022 following Tommy John surgery. Minnesota signed Randy Dobnak to a unique contract extension last winter, and he followed that up with the worst season of his career. The front office has tried different avenues to build the starting staff even if they haven't worked out. Some fans may point to Jose Berrios as one player the Twins could have overpaid to stay at the top of the team's rotation. Some of the top-tier starting pitchers this year compare very similarly to Berrios. However, he and his team have gone through the arbitration process with the goal of him hitting free agency and capitalizing on his value. Minnesota was right to trade him away when his value was highest, and they have the same opportunity as the other clubs to sign him following the 2022 campaign. Free-agent starting pitching is something the Twins haven't spent a lot on in the past, and now the timing may be right. Some of the available veteran starting pitchers aren't going to consider Minnesota as a viable option. They see their careers as coming to a close, and there's no guarantee the Twins will be relevant in 2022. This crosses Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander, and Clayton Kershaw off the list, but there are other names to consider. Two other top-tier free agents, Carlos Rodon and Noah Syndergaard have injury concerns that teams will want to avoid. There is certainly the upside potential with these two players, but the risk may not be worth the reward. This leaves players like Kevin Gausman, Robbie Ray, and Marcus Stroman as the remaining top tier starting pitcher targets. Based on Minnesota's previous track record, the only way to get an ace to Minnesota is to overpay. All three of the pitchers mentioned above will cost over $20 million per season, with Gausman and Ray having the potential to make even more. Even if the Twins are out of contention in 2022, these three players can be part of the franchise's next winning window. Other pitching will be needed, but Minnesota needs to outbid other teams to get a name penciled at the top of the rotation. To read more about this year's crop of free-agent pitchers, make sure to order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. If you order today, it will be sent directly to your email. Which pitcher do you think the Twins are most likely to target? 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
  4. At Twins Daily, we spent a lot of time preparing for the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. The Minnesota Twins had the #2 pick and we spent more than a month, behind the leadership of Jeremy Nygaard, considering who the options might be for the Twins. After the Astros selected Carlos Correa with the first pick, the Twins drafted outfielder Byron Buxton, a prep star from Appling County High School in Georgia. Two picks later, the Baltimore Orioles drafted right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman from LSU. I really liked the idea of the Twins drafting Gausman then. Now, you can count me as someone who would love to see the Twins sign Gausman now that the Cincinnati Reds have non-tendered him.LOOKING BACK With a quick look back at the days leading up to the 2012 draft, it was pretty apparent that Byron Buxton was the best athlete in the draft. The Twins were in need of a catcher, and Mike Zunino was early the top college catching prospect in the draft. Gausman, along with Kyle Zimmer (University of San Francisco) and Mark Appel (Stanford, and the #1 overall pick the previous year) were the college pitching names to know. Many were surprised when the Astros took Carlos Correa from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy with the first overall pick. Of course, we have since learned that the Twins had Correa in ahead of the draft and most believe that he was Number One on their draft list as well. The Twins took Buxton. The Mariners drafted Zunino next and then the Orioles selected Gausman one pick before the Royals selected Zimmer. In mid-May of 2012, Jeremy posted an interview with Kevin Gausman while he was still pitching for LSU. While I am always intrigued by immensely athletic baseball players from the prep ranks, as we got closer to the draft, I admit that I went public with the though that I would like to see the Twins draft Gausman. Why? Several reasons. First and foremost, he was a college pitcher who could be ready for the big leagues very quickly. And he was. He debuted with the Orioles less than a year later, on May 23rd, 2013. But it wasn't just that. It was reports of his stuff. Not only was he consistently working with a fastball in the mid-90s, but he sometimes had games where he reached 98 mph regularly. In addition, he had a really, really good changeup and great makeup. There were some concerns about his ability to spin the ball but there was hope that he could develop his curve ball and his slider. A college pitcher at one of the best baseball schools in the country who throws in the mid-90s with five pitches and plus-plus makeup. His Career To Date Gausman debuted in 2013 and spent parts of six seasons with the Orioles. He pitched in 150 games and made 127 starts. 15 of those 23 relief appearances came in his rookie season. In 2016, he worked 179 2/3 innings and posted a 3.61 ERA while pitching mostly in the AL East. The following season, he made 34 starts and posted a 4.68 ERA in 186 2/3 innings. In 21 starts at the beginning of 2018, he was 5-8 with a 4.43 ERA. At the July trade deadline in 2018, he was traded to Atlanta with reliever Darren O'Day in exchange for four minor leaguers and some international bonus pool money. He went 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA in ten starts. Last season, he earned $9.35 million in his second year of arbitration. But 2019 did not go well for Gausman. He made 16 starts for the Braves and went 3-7 with a 6.19 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP over 80 innings. He had a couple of stints on the injured list with plantar fasciitis. Atlanta DFAd him and Cincinnati claimed him in early August. He made 15 appearances for the Reds (one start) and went 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. That brings us to Monday when the Reds non-tendered him, making him a free agent. The "Stuff" In 2019, 57% of Gausman's pitches were fastballs which averaged 94.0 mph. That is up slightly from where he was in 2018. From 2013-2017, his fastball averaged between 94.7 and 95.9 mph. In college, his "typical" fastball was about 94 mph but he threw it anywhere from 92 to 98 mph. After throwing his slider about 13-14% of the time between 2016 and 2018, he threw just his slider just 2% of the time in 2019. He threw his changeup about 5.5% of the time the last couple of seasons. The pitch has consistently been ten mph slower than his fastball, which is a good differential. In 2019, he threw his split-finger pitch 35% of the time after it has been between 16-22% previously in his career. I won't pretend to be an expert or a video guy, but he continued to throw hard and throw pitches in the strike zone. He got equal or even higher percentages of swings and misses. In other words, he has the same or at least similar stuff now as he had at the beginning of his major league career. I do know who has a good reputation for being able to find the strengths of a pitcher and even add some velocity. That's the reputation that Wes Johnson has, and with the help of the Research and Development group, just maybe they can find the key to getting Gausman to top form. Gausman has the pedigree, the high draft pick status, and the stuff that earned him that spot. His arm has remained pretty healthy through his first seven big league seasons. That report of "plus makeup" certainly indicates his ability to work and to work within a team environment. And, he won't turn 29 until days after the calendar changes to 2020. And Now... Seven-and-a-half years later, I would love to see a scenario where the Twins have Byron Buxton manning centerfield and Kevin Gausman on the mound. Teaming the duo with another 2012 first-round draft pick in Jose Berrios and the team might have three strong 5.5 players. If Johnson and company can work their magic on Gausman and just get him back to his peak performance, the Twins could have found a very solid #3 starter to fall right between Berrios and Odorizzi in the rotation. Even if they can just get him to his career average numbers, he would make a solid #5 starter for 150 to 170 innings. Because of his relative youth, I don't expect that Gausman's services will come terribly cheaply. I would also expect that he might prefer a one-year, make-good deal. The Twins made a similar deal a year ago with Jonathan Schoop. Schoop was coming off of an injury-plagued season which followed a solid career. Schoop played well for the Twins and would have played more if not for the emergence of Luis Arraez. Personally, and admittedly, I'm probably a bit high on Gausman and believe in his stuff and the makeup he is touted for. I would be willing to get a little creative. I'd consider offering a one year, $5.5 million deal. I would structure it such that Gausman would make $4 million in 2020. I'd include a team option for 2021 at about $8 million but have a $1.5 million buyout. In fact, I would love to include a second option year, at about $10 million, but in that, I would prefer the buyout drop to $1 million. That would mean Gausman could then become a free agent at age 31, the more "normal" free agency age. At those numbers, it would be fairly low risk but there could be some relatively high reward. Even better, it wouldn't keep them from going after he upper-echelon free agents that are out there this offseason. In my mind, of all of the non-tendered free agents, I think that Kevin Gausman clearly has the highest potential. What do you think? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY - Non-Tendered Players That Could Interest the Twins - Get To Know 'Em: Kevin Gausman - Looking Forward by Looking Back (2012 Draft) Click here to view the article
  5. LOOKING BACK With a quick look back at the days leading up to the 2012 draft, it was pretty apparent that Byron Buxton was the best athlete in the draft. The Twins were in need of a catcher, and Mike Zunino was early the top college catching prospect in the draft. Gausman, along with Kyle Zimmer (University of San Francisco) and Mark Appel (Stanford, and the #1 overall pick the previous year) were the college pitching names to know. Many were surprised when the Astros took Carlos Correa from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy with the first overall pick. Of course, we have since learned that the Twins had Correa in ahead of the draft and most believe that he was Number One on their draft list as well. The Twins took Buxton. The Mariners drafted Zunino next and then the Orioles selected Gausman one pick before the Royals selected Zimmer. In mid-May of 2012, Jeremy posted an interview with Kevin Gausman while he was still pitching for LSU. While I am always intrigued by immensely athletic baseball players from the prep ranks, as we got closer to the draft, I admit that I went public with the though that I would like to see the Twins draft Gausman. Why? Several reasons. First and foremost, he was a college pitcher who could be ready for the big leagues very quickly. And he was. He debuted with the Orioles less than a year later, on May 23rd, 2013. But it wasn't just that. It was reports of his stuff. Not only was he consistently working with a fastball in the mid-90s, but he sometimes had games where he reached 98 mph regularly. In addition, he had a really, really good changeup and great makeup. There were some concerns about his ability to spin the ball but there was hope that he could develop his curve ball and his slider. A college pitcher at one of the best baseball schools in the country who throws in the mid-90s with five pitches and plus-plus makeup. His Career To Date Gausman debuted in 2013 and spent parts of six seasons with the Orioles. He pitched in 150 games and made 127 starts. 15 of those 23 relief appearances came in his rookie season. In 2016, he worked 179 2/3 innings and posted a 3.61 ERA while pitching mostly in the AL East. The following season, he made 34 starts and posted a 4.68 ERA in 186 2/3 innings. In 21 starts at the beginning of 2018, he was 5-8 with a 4.43 ERA. At the July trade deadline in 2018, he was traded to Atlanta with reliever Darren O'Day in exchange for four minor leaguers and some international bonus pool money. He went 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA in ten starts. Last season, he earned $9.35 million in his second year of arbitration. But 2019 did not go well for Gausman. He made 16 starts for the Braves and went 3-7 with a 6.19 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP over 80 innings. He had a couple of stints on the injured list with plantar fasciitis. Atlanta DFAd him and Cincinnati claimed him in early August. He made 15 appearances for the Reds (one start) and went 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. That brings us to Monday when the Reds non-tendered him, making him a free agent. The "Stuff" In 2019, 57% of Gausman's pitches were fastballs which averaged 94.0 mph. That is up slightly from where he was in 2018. From 2013-2017, his fastball averaged between 94.7 and 95.9 mph. In college, his "typical" fastball was about 94 mph but he threw it anywhere from 92 to 98 mph. After throwing his slider about 13-14% of the time between 2016 and 2018, he threw just his slider just 2% of the time in 2019. He threw his changeup about 5.5% of the time the last couple of seasons. The pitch has consistently been ten mph slower than his fastball, which is a good differential. In 2019, he threw his split-finger pitch 35% of the time after it has been between 16-22% previously in his career. I won't pretend to be an expert or a video guy, but he continued to throw hard and throw pitches in the strike zone. He got equal or even higher percentages of swings and misses. In other words, he has the same or at least similar stuff now as he had at the beginning of his major league career. I do know who has a good reputation for being able to find the strengths of a pitcher and even add some velocity. That's the reputation that Wes Johnson has, and with the help of the Research and Development group, just maybe they can find the key to getting Gausman to top form. Gausman has the pedigree, the high draft pick status, and the stuff that earned him that spot. His arm has remained pretty healthy through his first seven big league seasons. That report of "plus makeup" certainly indicates his ability to work and to work within a team environment. And, he won't turn 29 until days after the calendar changes to 2020. And Now... Seven-and-a-half years later, I would love to see a scenario where the Twins have Byron Buxton manning centerfield and Kevin Gausman on the mound. Teaming the duo with another 2012 first-round draft pick in Jose Berrios and the team might have three strong 5.5 players. If Johnson and company can work their magic on Gausman and just get him back to his peak performance, the Twins could have found a very solid #3 starter to fall right between Berrios and Odorizzi in the rotation. Even if they can just get him to his career average numbers, he would make a solid #5 starter for 150 to 170 innings. Because of his relative youth, I don't expect that Gausman's services will come terribly cheaply. I would also expect that he might prefer a one-year, make-good deal. The Twins made a similar deal a year ago with Jonathan Schoop. Schoop was coming off of an injury-plagued season which followed a solid career. Schoop played well for the Twins and would have played more if not for the emergence of Luis Arraez. Personally, and admittedly, I'm probably a bit high on Gausman and believe in his stuff and the makeup he is touted for. I would be willing to get a little creative. I'd consider offering a one year, $5.5 million deal. I would structure it such that Gausman would make $4 million in 2020. I'd include a team option for 2021 at about $8 million but have a $1.5 million buyout. In fact, I would love to include a second option year, at about $10 million, but in that, I would prefer the buyout drop to $1 million. That would mean Gausman could then become a free agent at age 31, the more "normal" free agency age. At those numbers, it would be fairly low risk but there could be some relatively high reward. Even better, it wouldn't keep them from going after he upper-echelon free agents that are out there this offseason. In my mind, of all of the non-tendered free agents, I think that Kevin Gausman clearly has the highest potential. What do you think? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY - Non-Tendered Players That Could Interest the Twins - Get To Know 'Em: Kevin Gausman - Looking Forward by Looking Back (2012 Draft)
  6. 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 under .500 after a tough series, getting swept in Los Angeles, coupled with great play from Cleveland and Kansas City. They are 5.5 games back of Cleveland now, and four games behind second-place Kansas City. They are also four games back of Kansas City for the second wild card spot. The Rays are in between. The Twins are not out of it, but man, in one week they have gone from buyer to potentially selling.After reviewing the National League teams last week, Nick reviewed the AL West teams yesterday. STANDINGS Boston Red Sox 56-47 New York Yankees 53-46 1.0 GB Tampa Bay Rays 53-49 2.5 GB Baltimore Orioles 48-53 7.0 GB Toronto Blue Jays 47-54 8.0 GB The Yankees are currently sitting in the first of two wild card positions, a half-game ahead of the Royals. The Rays are a half-game out of the second wild card spot. The Orioles are 4.5 games back, and the Blue Jays are 6.5 games back. THE BUYERS Unlike other divisions that we have highlighted, the AL East has three of their five teams which could fit into the buyers’ category. The Red Sox are already making moves. They released Pablo Sandoval, eating millions upon millions of dollars in salary. They called up top prospect Rafael Devers, and they traded a couple of prospects for former Twins infielder Eduardo Nunez. Last week, the Yankees made a big move, adding third baseman Todd Frazier and closer David Robertson from the White Sox. They are believed to be in serious talks with the A’s regarding Sonny Gray. The Rays don’t have the economic means to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees for high-priced talent, but they’ll certainly be on the phone a lot over the rest of the week. Also noteworthy, any rumors (real or imagined) a few weeks ago that Chris Archer might be available are certainly untrue now. As the Twins continue to fall behind Cleveland and Kansas City and are further out of the wild card race, the Twins could find interest in the likes of Ervin Santana, Brandon Kintzler and even Jaime Garcia in the AL East. THE SELLERS That leaves two teams that should fit into the sellers category, the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Orioles That the Orioles are only a handful of games under .500 is pretty impressive when you consider their starting pitching. Kevin Gausman is 7-7 with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.72 WHIP.Wade Miley is 4-9 with a 5.69 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP.Ubaldo Jimenez is 4-6 with a 7.19 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP.Chris Tillman is 1-5 with a 7.01 ERA and a 1.94 WHIP.My guess is any of those pitchers would be available. Gausman, the #3 overall pick in the 2012 draft, would cost quite a bit and he would be intriguing in the long-term. The other three could be had for very little. The Orioles do have a couple of intriguing relievers. 31-year-old Brad Brach has been very good in the late innings. In 43.1 innings, he has a 2.70 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. He’s got 46 strikeouts over 43.1 innings. Side-winding Darren O’Day is also likely available. Though he’s posting a 4.67 ERA over 34.2 innings, he has 43 strikeouts. Zach Britton has missed most of the season. He was the best reliever in baseball a year ago, but he’s only had limited time since returning and hasn’t yet returned to dominance. The Blue Jays The Jays got off to a terrible start. Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitski have missed significant time with injury. They lost Edwin Encarnacion to Cleveland and Jose Bautista got off to a miserable start. Bautista might be of interest since he’s come on a bit and his contract is up after the season. The name that Toronto should be throwing out is 1B Justin Smoak who, frankly, hasn’t been very good until this year when he has become a huge power hitter. Sell high. As it relates to the Twins and their need for pitching, the Jays probably aren’t a likely partner. They do, however, have Marcus Stroman who is one of those pitchers that has incredible talent and years of team control remaining. He’s the kind of guy that a team will be willing to give up a lot for, a couple of high-ranking prospects and more. Francisco Liriano hasn’t been particularly good (5.99 ERA, 1.67 WHIP), but he’s rumored to be of interest for the Royals. Marco Estrada (4-7, 5.52 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) does have 118 strikeouts in 109.1 innings. He could be intriguing. J.A. Happ is 3-7 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. He’s pretty Jaime Garcia-like. SUMMARY As noted, the Twins have gone from buyer to we’ll-see, and there’s a chance they could be sellers by the deadline on Monday. That change likely means that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will not go overboard in terms of what they’d be willing to give up right now. However, if they still are buyers, there are some players, particularly a few bullpen guys, who the Twins could have some interest in acquiring. Click here to view the article
  7. After reviewing the National League teams last week, Nick reviewed the AL West teams yesterday. STANDINGS Boston Red Sox 56-47 New York Yankees 53-46 1.0 GB Tampa Bay Rays 53-49 2.5 GB Baltimore Orioles 48-53 7.0 GB Toronto Blue Jays 47-54 8.0 GB The Yankees are currently sitting in the first of two wild card positions, a half-game ahead of the Royals. The Rays are a half-game out of the second wild card spot. The Orioles are 4.5 games back, and the Blue Jays are 6.5 games back. THE BUYERS Unlike other divisions that we have highlighted, the AL East has three of their five teams which could fit into the buyers’ category. The Red Sox are already making moves. They released Pablo Sandoval, eating millions upon millions of dollars in salary. They called up top prospect Rafael Devers, and they traded a couple of prospects for former Twins infielder Eduardo Nunez. Last week, the Yankees made a big move, adding third baseman Todd Frazier and closer David Robertson from the White Sox. They are believed to be in serious talks with the A’s regarding Sonny Gray. The Rays don’t have the economic means to compete with the Red Sox and Yankees for high-priced talent, but they’ll certainly be on the phone a lot over the rest of the week. Also noteworthy, any rumors (real or imagined) a few weeks ago that Chris Archer might be available are certainly untrue now. As the Twins continue to fall behind Cleveland and Kansas City and are further out of the wild card race, the Twins could find interest in the likes of Ervin Santana, Brandon Kintzler and even Jaime Garcia in the AL East. THE SELLERS That leaves two teams that should fit into the sellers category, the Baltimore Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Orioles That the Orioles are only a handful of games under .500 is pretty impressive when you consider their starting pitching. Kevin Gausman is 7-7 with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.72 WHIP. Wade Miley is 4-9 with a 5.69 ERA and a 1.79 WHIP. Ubaldo Jimenez is 4-6 with a 7.19 ERA and a 1.61 WHIP. Chris Tillman is 1-5 with a 7.01 ERA and a 1.94 WHIP. My guess is any of those pitchers would be available. Gausman, the #3 overall pick in the 2012 draft, would cost quite a bit and he would be intriguing in the long-term. The other three could be had for very little. The Orioles do have a couple of intriguing relievers. 31-year-old Brad Brach has been very good in the late innings. In 43.1 innings, he has a 2.70 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. He’s got 46 strikeouts over 43.1 innings. Side-winding Darren O’Day is also likely available. Though he’s posting a 4.67 ERA over 34.2 innings, he has 43 strikeouts. Zach Britton has missed most of the season. He was the best reliever in baseball a year ago, but he’s only had limited time since returning and hasn’t yet returned to dominance. The Blue Jays The Jays got off to a terrible start. Josh Donaldson and Troy Tulowitski have missed significant time with injury. They lost Edwin Encarnacion to Cleveland and Jose Bautista got off to a miserable start. Bautista might be of interest since he’s come on a bit and his contract is up after the season. The name that Toronto should be throwing out is 1B Justin Smoak who, frankly, hasn’t been very good until this year when he has become a huge power hitter. Sell high. As it relates to the Twins and their need for pitching, the Jays probably aren’t a likely partner. They do, however, have Marcus Stroman who is one of those pitchers that has incredible talent and years of team control remaining. He’s the kind of guy that a team will be willing to give up a lot for, a couple of high-ranking prospects and more. Francisco Liriano hasn’t been particularly good (5.99 ERA, 1.67 WHIP), but he’s rumored to be of interest for the Royals. Marco Estrada (4-7, 5.52 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) does have 118 strikeouts in 109.1 innings. He could be intriguing. J.A. Happ is 3-7 with a 4.13 ERA and a 1.32 WHIP. He’s pretty Jaime Garcia-like. SUMMARY As noted, the Twins have gone from buyer to we’ll-see, and there’s a chance they could be sellers by the deadline on Monday. That change likely means that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will not go overboard in terms of what they’d be willing to give up right now. However, if they still are buyers, there are some players, particularly a few bullpen guys, who the Twins could have some interest in acquiring.
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