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  1. In November, the Minnesota Twins finally paid Byron Buxton. That was the right move all along, and it looks the part of a fair deal for both sides. One caveat to the talented centerfielder is his availability. With that in mind, do the Twins have a built-in insurance policy? Leader of the “Pay. The. Man” campaign, I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Twins locking Buxton up long term. My follow-up to that suggestion has always been the need for a capable fourth outfielder. Jake Cave hasn’t been that for quite some time, and despite a brief renaissance period for Rob Refsnyder, he’s not that guy either. Minnesota needs someone with the ability to start in centerfield over two weeks and hold serve. Currently, there are only two potential options on the 40 man roster: Nick Gordon Earning himself run because of his versatility last season, Gordon played 73 games for the Twins. Despite having played solely on the dirt in the minor leagues, he looked comfortable in the outfield. The defense should improve as he settles into the role, but the bat is where things may break down. His .647 OPS last season isn’t going to get it done, and with minimal power to his credit, he’ll need to expand heavily upon his on-base profile. Steamer projects a .697 OPS in 2021, and while still not good enough, it’s worth noting that he’s improved at every level in year two. I don’t think he’s the guy, but I like the idea of Minnesota rostering him as he brings a speed threat that has otherwise been missing. Gilberto Celestino This is an interesting case in that Celestino was thrust into action during 2021 before being ready. Celestino was promoted as a 22-year-old after just 21 games in Double-A with no centerfield options available. He understandably was overmatched, posting a .466 OPS in 23 MLB games. The defense has always been his calling card, and that too looked out of sorts at times. Settling back in at Triple-A St. Paul, Celestino turned it on. In 49 games, he posted an .827 OPS and was back to being strong in the outfield. The additional time to settle in no doubt helped regain confidence, a talent that can translate to the highest level. Celestino will be just 23-years-old in 2022 and remains someone to watch for the future. Steamer projections have him at a .692 OPS in 2022, which would be a substantial jump from his debut. Handing him the fourth outfielder role on Opening Day may be a bit soon, but a repeat of the Triple-A numbers should suggest he’s ready. This could become an option sooner rather than later. If Derek Falvey wants to go beyond the organization, options exist there as well. Some of that has to do with how the Twins move forward in trading assets. Max Kepler is a defensive stalwart in right field and can undoubtedly cover in center should Buxton go down. That allows the fourth outfielder to be less of a center-mandated role. However, if he’s not in the picture, things get understandably more complicated. The high end of the free-agent market would be signing corner and sometimes center outfielder Kris Bryant. That’s a bat that has fit the Twins for a while but would seem like a longshot at best. The more economical veteran options are a who’s who of retreads. Names such as Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick, and Billy Hamilton are all there. However, if there’s someone I’ve got my eye on, it’s another former Cub, Albert Almora. Since his top prospect days, Almora's stock has dropped after playing strong defense and posting a .777 OPS in his first two seasons. He’ll be just 28 in 2022, though, and a trip to the American League could be good for him. With the Mets Triple-A club last season, he owned a .759 OPS, and Steamer projections have him at a .691 OPS in 2022. If there’s a guy with upside to bank on while still having done it already, this is where I’m looking. Minnesota signing Almora to a two-year deal, or one with an option, would make Byron Buxton’s over-under of 120 games less of a gamble. At the end of the day, the Twins should want to get back to an outfield defense similar to 2020. Before being 12th in defensive runs saved a year ago, Minnesota was third in 2020. Defenders that can prevent runs will be at a premium whether the staff lacks top-tier talent or throws out young arms. The more confidence you can feel from the top four outfielders, the better. 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. Leader of the “Pay. The. Man” campaign, I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Twins locking Buxton up long term. My follow-up to that suggestion has always been the need for a capable fourth outfielder. Jake Cave hasn’t been that for quite some time, and despite a brief renaissance period for Rob Refsnyder, he’s not that guy either. Minnesota needs someone with the ability to start in centerfield over two weeks and hold serve. Currently, there are only two potential options on the 40 man roster: Nick Gordon Earning himself run because of his versatility last season, Gordon played 73 games for the Twins. Despite having played solely on the dirt in the minor leagues, he looked comfortable in the outfield. The defense should improve as he settles into the role, but the bat is where things may break down. His .647 OPS last season isn’t going to get it done, and with minimal power to his credit, he’ll need to expand heavily upon his on-base profile. Steamer projects a .697 OPS in 2021, and while still not good enough, it’s worth noting that he’s improved at every level in year two. I don’t think he’s the guy, but I like the idea of Minnesota rostering him as he brings a speed threat that has otherwise been missing. Gilberto Celestino This is an interesting case in that Celestino was thrust into action during 2021 before being ready. Celestino was promoted as a 22-year-old after just 21 games in Double-A with no centerfield options available. He understandably was overmatched, posting a .466 OPS in 23 MLB games. The defense has always been his calling card, and that too looked out of sorts at times. Settling back in at Triple-A St. Paul, Celestino turned it on. In 49 games, he posted an .827 OPS and was back to being strong in the outfield. The additional time to settle in no doubt helped regain confidence, a talent that can translate to the highest level. Celestino will be just 23-years-old in 2022 and remains someone to watch for the future. Steamer projections have him at a .692 OPS in 2022, which would be a substantial jump from his debut. Handing him the fourth outfielder role on Opening Day may be a bit soon, but a repeat of the Triple-A numbers should suggest he’s ready. This could become an option sooner rather than later. If Derek Falvey wants to go beyond the organization, options exist there as well. Some of that has to do with how the Twins move forward in trading assets. Max Kepler is a defensive stalwart in right field and can undoubtedly cover in center should Buxton go down. That allows the fourth outfielder to be less of a center-mandated role. However, if he’s not in the picture, things get understandably more complicated. The high end of the free-agent market would be signing corner and sometimes center outfielder Kris Bryant. That’s a bat that has fit the Twins for a while but would seem like a longshot at best. The more economical veteran options are a who’s who of retreads. Names such as Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick, and Billy Hamilton are all there. However, if there’s someone I’ve got my eye on, it’s another former Cub, Albert Almora. Since his top prospect days, Almora's stock has dropped after playing strong defense and posting a .777 OPS in his first two seasons. He’ll be just 28 in 2022, though, and a trip to the American League could be good for him. With the Mets Triple-A club last season, he owned a .759 OPS, and Steamer projections have him at a .691 OPS in 2022. If there’s a guy with upside to bank on while still having done it already, this is where I’m looking. Minnesota signing Almora to a two-year deal, or one with an option, would make Byron Buxton’s over-under of 120 games less of a gamble. At the end of the day, the Twins should want to get back to an outfield defense similar to 2020. Before being 12th in defensive runs saved a year ago, Minnesota was third in 2020. Defenders that can prevent runs will be at a premium whether the staff lacks top-tier talent or throws out young arms. The more confidence you can feel from the top four outfielders, the better. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. The Minnesota Twins have 38 players on their 40 man roster, and the most glaring hole is in the starting rotation. They’re missing at least two pieces and have $40 million or so to spend. So let’s go crazy. They need to spend…on a bat. If you’ve been reading Twins Daily lately, I hope you haven’t missed Nick Nelson's piece on the front office avoiding free-agent starters. Derek Falvey has largely missed on the names he’s targeted, and he’s sat out on most of them. Length has been this club’s sticking point, and as Nick points out, it’s also been the track record of this front office. Cleveland sustained winning through pitching. The arms were developed internally, inexpensively, and near-peak of their projections. Given the success Falvey has seen using this blueprint and operating with the same parameters that Minnesota is not a sought-after destination, it’s understandable for him to get creative. That leaves opportunity on the trade market, like sending a high-end reliever in Brusdar Graterol to the Dodgers for an established arm like Kenta Maeda. I believe at least one trade will bring in a top-of-the-rotation starter, but dollars still need to be allocated. How about looking at this route. Come on down, Kris Bryant. Going into 2021, I had made a couple of points to suggest dealing for the former Cubs third basemen made a lot of sense. He can play left field and first base and had just a year left on his deal while fully intending to hit free agency. Minnesota declined, and the San Francisco Giants utilized him for their stretch run. Now a free agent, Bryant is a better fit for the Twins than you imagine. Even with the Cubs manipulation of the Vegas natives’ service time, Bryant will play 2022 at just 30 years old. His “injuries” have been largely overstated in that he’s missed significant time in just two of his seven big league seasons. When healthy, he’s been among the best in the sport. Coming off a 2021 in which he posted an .835 OPS with 25 homers, Bryant flashed his versatility played every position except for second base and catcher. He’s best suited on the corners, either in the infield or outfield, and that’s where the fit lies with the Twins. Josh Donaldson was mostly fine last season, posting an .827 OPS. He played in 135 games but was immediately on the Injured List with a leg issue to start the season. Donaldson needed significant time in the designated hitter spot to be eased back in, and he’s now another year older. Luis Arraez plays second base for Minnesota, but not well, and has bulky knees. Jose Miranda has forced his way into time, but that could come anywhere. What version of Miguel Sano shows up in his final contract year remains to be seen. Alex Kirilloff figures to play more first base than anything, and Trevor Larnach’s rebound is uncertain. Maybe the most significant linchpin here is if and when Max Kepler is moved. That’s a ton of moving pieces, but just one (with Kepler being the most likely), needs to be moved for a perfect set of musical chairs. Spending on bats seems to be much more fruitful on the free-agent market, and giving Bryant a three-to-five-year deal may be enough to have him call Twins Territory home. This lineup should already do plenty of damage when on, and adding Bryant to it only helps to supplement a pitching staff that would leave plenty to be desired. Spending dollars on his bat gets easier as the top of the Twins farm assumes rotation spots, and his versatility doesn’t hamstring any single player. With the Giants interested in retaining his services, the Seattle Mariners lurking, and Scott Boras angling for the biggest deal, there’s plenty of reasons this won’t happen before even considering the Twins. That all being said, the fit is there, and spending needs to happen regardless. Rather than continuing to do nothing with the funds freed up in trading Jose Berrios, it certainly makes sense to grab a player of impact instead of spreading them out between roster filler. Kris Bryant doesn’t pitch, and he isn’t a shortstop, but somehow this still seems to work. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  4. The Minnesota Twins' need for starting pitching has been well-documented, but what if the Twins pivoted and went all-in on offense? The Minnesota Twins have long struggled to acquire top-end starting pitching. This was the case with prior Twins’ front offices and has been the case under Falvey/Levine’s leadership. Whether it is because of injuries (Kenta Maeda) or poor evaluation (J.A. Happ), betting on starting pitchers is extremely risky as the Twins have seen play out season after season. After getting largely shut out from the first wave of free agent starting pitchers, the Twins have now found themselves in a spot where they need to sign Carlos Rodón, trade for starting pitching (they shouldn’t), or be in for another long season with a better shot of fighting for the number one pick in the draft than a playoff spot. But what if there is another direction that the Twins could go? What if the Twins went all in on offense? While there is a shortage of impact starting pitching left on the free agency market, there are no shortage of bats. This surplus of bats on the market could present an opportunity for the Twins to pivot, settle for back-of-the-rotation arms, and instead go heavy on bats to bolster up what is already a strength of the Minnesota Twins. Names like Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Nicolas Castellanos, and Michael Conforto are all all-star bats and are all still available as free agents. Not only is there a nice supply of big bats left on the free agent market, but the Twins have a need to fill multiple holes in their lineup as well, including shortstop, outfield and (potentially) designated hitter. The Minnesota Twins committed to Byron Buxton this offseason with a seven year contract. Additionally, the Twins have the young bats of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin ready to contribute for the next decade as well. An intriguing path for the Minnesota Twins to take would be for them to sign even more bats, completely lean into their offense and take on the identity of a bat-first team that will out-hit all of its opponents for years to come. Assuming that the Twins have $55M to spend this offseason, they would have the funds to bring in two superstar bats this offseason like Trevor Story and Kris Bryant. They could then fill out the rest of their team with fringe starting pitching, or trade Max Kepler and a marginal prospect for a moldable arm. Yes, this would leave the Twins with quite the shaky starting rotation, but with a lineup core of Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, and Alex Kirilloff, on top of Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco. John Bonnes could be pitching for the Minnesota Twins and they’d be in good shape with that potent lineup. I mean..just look at this team: You hear about football teams that take on an offensive identity and out-score their opponents in order to win games, but you hardly find that in baseball. The Twins are in a position that they could go all in on offense and outscore the rest of the league by producing fireworks all Summer at Target Field. What do you think? View full article
  5. The Minnesota Twins have long struggled to acquire top-end starting pitching. This was the case with prior Twins’ front offices and has been the case under Falvey/Levine’s leadership. Whether it is because of injuries (Kenta Maeda) or poor evaluation (J.A. Happ), betting on starting pitchers is extremely risky as the Twins have seen play out season after season. After getting largely shut out from the first wave of free agent starting pitchers, the Twins have now found themselves in a spot where they need to sign Carlos Rodón, trade for starting pitching (they shouldn’t), or be in for another long season with a better shot of fighting for the number one pick in the draft than a playoff spot. But what if there is another direction that the Twins could go? What if the Twins went all in on offense? While there is a shortage of impact starting pitching left on the free agency market, there are no shortage of bats. This surplus of bats on the market could present an opportunity for the Twins to pivot, settle for back-of-the-rotation arms, and instead go heavy on bats to bolster up what is already a strength of the Minnesota Twins. Names like Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Nicolas Castellanos, and Michael Conforto are all all-star bats and are all still available as free agents. Not only is there a nice supply of big bats left on the free agent market, but the Twins have a need to fill multiple holes in their lineup as well, including shortstop, outfield and (potentially) designated hitter. The Minnesota Twins committed to Byron Buxton this offseason with a seven year contract. Additionally, the Twins have the young bats of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin ready to contribute for the next decade as well. An intriguing path for the Minnesota Twins to take would be for them to sign even more bats, completely lean into their offense and take on the identity of a bat-first team that will out-hit all of its opponents for years to come. Assuming that the Twins have $55M to spend this offseason, they would have the funds to bring in two superstar bats this offseason like Trevor Story and Kris Bryant. They could then fill out the rest of their team with fringe starting pitching, or trade Max Kepler and a marginal prospect for a moldable arm. Yes, this would leave the Twins with quite the shaky starting rotation, but with a lineup core of Trevor Story, Kris Bryant, Byron Buxton, and Alex Kirilloff, on top of Josh Donaldson, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco. John Bonnes could be pitching for the Minnesota Twins and they’d be in good shape with that potent lineup. I mean..just look at this team: You hear about football teams that take on an offensive identity and out-score their opponents in order to win games, but you hardly find that in baseball. The Twins are in a position that they could go all in on offense and outscore the rest of the league by producing fireworks all Summer at Target Field. What do you think?
  6. If you’ve been reading Twins Daily lately, I hope you haven’t missed Nick Nelson's piece on the front office avoiding free-agent starters. Derek Falvey has largely missed on the names he’s targeted, and he’s sat out on most of them. Length has been this club’s sticking point, and as Nick points out, it’s also been the track record of this front office. Cleveland sustained winning through pitching. The arms were developed internally, inexpensively, and near-peak of their projections. Given the success Falvey has seen using this blueprint and operating with the same parameters that Minnesota is not a sought-after destination, it’s understandable for him to get creative. That leaves opportunity on the trade market, like sending a high-end reliever in Brusdar Graterol to the Dodgers for an established arm like Kenta Maeda. I believe at least one trade will bring in a top-of-the-rotation starter, but dollars still need to be allocated. How about looking at this route. Come on down, Kris Bryant. Going into 2021, I had made a couple of points to suggest dealing for the former Cubs third basemen made a lot of sense. He can play left field and first base and had just a year left on his deal while fully intending to hit free agency. Minnesota declined, and the San Francisco Giants utilized him for their stretch run. Now a free agent, Bryant is a better fit for the Twins than you imagine. Even with the Cubs manipulation of the Vegas natives’ service time, Bryant will play 2022 at just 30 years old. His “injuries” have been largely overstated in that he’s missed significant time in just two of his seven big league seasons. When healthy, he’s been among the best in the sport. Coming off a 2021 in which he posted an .835 OPS with 25 homers, Bryant flashed his versatility played every position except for second base and catcher. He’s best suited on the corners, either in the infield or outfield, and that’s where the fit lies with the Twins. Josh Donaldson was mostly fine last season, posting an .827 OPS. He played in 135 games but was immediately on the Injured List with a leg issue to start the season. Donaldson needed significant time in the designated hitter spot to be eased back in, and he’s now another year older. Luis Arraez plays second base for Minnesota, but not well, and has bulky knees. Jose Miranda has forced his way into time, but that could come anywhere. What version of Miguel Sano shows up in his final contract year remains to be seen. Alex Kirilloff figures to play more first base than anything, and Trevor Larnach’s rebound is uncertain. Maybe the most significant linchpin here is if and when Max Kepler is moved. That’s a ton of moving pieces, but just one (with Kepler being the most likely), needs to be moved for a perfect set of musical chairs. Spending on bats seems to be much more fruitful on the free-agent market, and giving Bryant a three-to-five-year deal may be enough to have him call Twins Territory home. This lineup should already do plenty of damage when on, and adding Bryant to it only helps to supplement a pitching staff that would leave plenty to be desired. Spending dollars on his bat gets easier as the top of the Twins farm assumes rotation spots, and his versatility doesn’t hamstring any single player. With the Giants interested in retaining his services, the Seattle Mariners lurking, and Scott Boras angling for the biggest deal, there’s plenty of reasons this won’t happen before even considering the Twins. That all being said, the fit is there, and spending needs to happen regardless. Rather than continuing to do nothing with the funds freed up in trading Jose Berrios, it certainly makes sense to grab a player of impact instead of spreading them out between roster filler. Kris Bryant doesn’t pitch, and he isn’t a shortstop, but somehow this still seems to work. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. If you’ve followed my work here or on Twitter over the past couple of years, it’s become evident I’ve dove full steam into card collecting. While I’ve dabbled in basketball (hi, Anthony Edwards), and will grab my first hockey card soon (Kirill Kaprizov is in Upper Deck Series 2 out later this month), baseball is obviously the sweet spot. I’ve gone through a bit of a collecting lull in wanting to refocus my efforts and make sure I’m enjoying my collection for what it is. I’ve kicked around similar versions of this idea over the past couple of seasons and am now going to write it into existence. With the way cards have exploded, I want to notate a few players I think are worthy “investments” for the 2021 season. Here’s the deal, this isn’t a get rich quick type of situation, and I also shy away from the notion of prospecting. Bowman cards are often exorbitantly priced only to come cascading back to earth when prospects don’t pan out. No, my goal here is to identify a few undervalued players that will turn a nice ROI in the next 12 months. Before coming forward with the names let’s outline a couple of ground rules. No single card can cost more than $20. With that intention, it rules out grading any raw cards. Even at the lowest value submission level a card would be pushed beyond that threshold. The goal would be for nothing less than a 50% growth rate by March 2021. Alright, let’s get into it. 2018 Topps Jack Flaherty #93 PSA 9 - $12 Coming off his worst season in the majors, Flaherty is maybe an odd pitcher to target as the only non-hitter of this group. His 4.11 FIP suggests the 4.91 ERA maybe wasn’t that unfair, but I’m bullish on his 25-year-old season being his best yet. Coming off a 2019 that saw him finish 4th in the NL Cy Young voting, the 2020 3.42 xFIP tells a better story. He was bit harder by the longball than in any other season, and the strikeouts are still elite. I think the division is going to be awful, and the addition of Nolan Arenado raises the water level for St. Louis across the board. Another top five Cy Young finish wouldn’t shock me at all, and I think he’s a dark horse to win it. Pitchers aren’t great investments, but this isn’t a long hold and at $12 I want to capitalize on what I expect to be a good year. 2018 Topps Update Shohei Ohtani #US1 PSA 9 - $19.99 There’s clearly a theme here in that the value of 2018 Topps baseball product remains untapped. Yes, Ronald Acuna Jr. and Juan Soto are the headliners right now, but there’s a reason the boxes are at astronomical prices. Shohei Ohtani won the 2018 Rookie of the Year and has since been seen as slipping. While there’s no denying his 2020 was poor, 2019 featured an .848 OPS and 18 longballs in a season where he was kept off the mound. He’s back to pitching, looked great in his Spring Training debut, and remains the only player in history capable of both throwing 100 mph on the bump and launching balls over the fence with 100 mph exit velocities. If he’s anything close to what he was in 2018 or 19 at the plate, and even a middle of the rotation starter, his cards should rebound nicely. 2018 Topps Rafael Devers #18 PSA 9 - $19.99 Another 2018 entrant includes one of the young stars in Boston. I don’t expect the Red Sox to be any good in 2021, but Devers still seems entirely too slept on. He’s a year removed from a .916 OPS as a 22-year-old and plays in a premium market. Mookie Betts is gone, Andrew Benintendi is gone, and Jackie Bradley Jr. is gone. Devers gives the BoSox a face-of-the-franchise type hope and a rebound at age-24 should surge his cards upwards. ZiPS projects him for 3.2 fWAR and 32 dingers this season. He whiffed well above career norms in 2020 and getting back to a stronger level of plate discipline should aid his offensive game nicely. 2015 Topps Kris Bryant #616 SGC 9.5 - $15 There’s a lot of belief here, but there’s also an opportunity that I saw an undervalued offering given the slab it resides in. PSA 9’s of this same card goes for between $25-30 right now and despite SGC being more well known for vintage offerings, the 9.5 is a superior grade. Bryant is in his final year with the Cubs, one Chicago angled for by manipulating his service time all those years ago. He recently turned 29 and is coming off an injury plagued 2020. Throw out what took place during the pandemic and the Vegas native owns a career .901 OPS and posted a .903 mark in 2019. He should surpass the career 200 home run mark (needing 28) this season, and he’s playing for his first big payday. Health, most notably the back, remains a key question for him but otherwise the talent remains through the roof. Honorable Mentions: I was intentional in targeting quick flips with these players, but I think the shortstop class for 2022 is an equally appealing proposition. Unfortunately, graded copies of rookie offerings for Trevor Story, Carlos Correa, and Javier Baez already fall beyond the rules for this exercise. I do also like Trea Turner quite a bit, and Gleyber Torres may be my favorite long term hold right now. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  8. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have shown a patience during their tenure with the Twins, and whether picking a right spot for a swap, or jumping in late on a free agent, they’ve been extremely calculated. The market as a whole has really worked to feel players out, and Minnesota’s front office should be expected to continue a similar process. This duo has had success on the trade market though and finding a dance partner matches up in plenty of key areas heading into the 2021 season. Knowing there’s both offense and pitching needs to address, here’s the top five players the Twins could trade for in order of impact. 1. Colorado Rockies Trevor Story Francisco Lindor was going to appear in this space as well, but he's reportedly headed to the New York Mets. A trade within the division of that magnitude always seemed unlikely anyways. Story can come over from the National League however, and would give the Twins one of the best hitting infielders in baseball. He's no slouch with the glove, but it's the power bat that puts up gaudy numbers as well. There's always a slight concern leaving the elevation of Coors Field, but D.J. LeMahieu has certainly had no issues. 2. Cincinnati Reds Luis Castillo or Sonny Gray Both from the same team, but with substantially different ramifications. Luis Castillo looks the part of a Cy Young pitcher waiting to happen. He’s just 28 and should be entering his prime, while having already evolved into a strikeout machine with some of the best peripherals in baseball. He’s under team control through the 2023 season, and you can expect to break the prospect bank in an attempt to acquire him. It seemed likely that a resurgence was to be expected for Gray once he got out of the Cracker Jack box that is Yankee Stadium. He’s ratcheted up the strikeout tallies each of the past two years but has always danced around some free passes. 31 and with a team option in 2023, Gray has more of a monetary commitment but is a pitcher that would see at least an equal payday on the open market. With the Reds clearly motivated to move assets, either option would represent a substantial rotation upgrade for the Twins. 3. Pittsburgh Pirates Joe Musgrove Down in the middle of the list only because of what he’s done thus far, Musgrove looks like a pitcher waiting to be rescued from the Pirates keep. He just recently turned 28 and isn’t a free agent until 2023. The strikeouts took a huge leap in 2020 and his FIP has always outperformed what the defense behind him has allowed. Matched with a mastermind pitching coach in the form of Wes Johnson, I’d hardly be shocked if Musgrove didn’t end up being one of the best arms in baseball. He’s not going to turn into Gerrit Cole, but he may be the next best thing. 4. Chicago Cubs Javier Baez or Kris Bryant If the Twins are intent on dealing for infield help, there’s no reason not to call the Chicago Cubs. Javier Baez had a dreadful 2020, but he was coming off two seasons of a combined .865 OPS prior to that. He’s a premier shortstop with an incredibly high ceiling at the plate. He’s not cheap in that he’ll make somewhere around $11 million in 2021, and he’s set to become a free agent after the year. Still, as a brother-in-law to Jose Berrios, pairing those two together in Minnesota could be a nice bit of roster construction. The allure for Bryant is more based around assumption than present reality. You absolutely have to believe he’s not cooked and that the shoulder will hold up. If that’s true, there’s an offensive stud here and he acts as insurance for both Josh Donaldson at third base, and Alex Kirilloff in left field. Despite seeming to have drawn ire for quite some time, 2020 was his first down year, and his health has been the chief concern. The former Rookie of the Year is a free agent following the season, but the Cubs selloff could make him more available than expected. 5. Colorado Rockies Jon Gray There was some belief that the Rockies may simply non-tender Gray and allow him to be a free agent. That didn’t happen and the former first round pick is back after posting a 6.69 ERA last season. The 4.18 FIP dating back to 2018 isn’t going to open many eyes, but that number was 3.46 through his first 58 MLB starts. Gray has been a consistent strikeout pitcher with a heavy fastball and a change of scenery could be what is necessary to unlock his full potential. German Marquez has figured it out in Colorado while Gray has not, plucking him a year before he heads into free agency could be a nice move with him banking on building value. 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. As things stand right now the Minnesota Twins have what can be considered an incomplete 26-man roster. There’s work yet to be done, as there is for most teams in baseball, and the front office may find favor in one-year agreements for 2021. The reality right now is that teams are using the lack of traditional revenues as reasons to spend less for the 2021 Major League Baseball season. On top of that, there’s uncertainty regarding the 2022 season due to an expiring CBA and the previous history between the league and Players Association. While the Twins may see reduced payroll as a way forward in terms of financial flexibility, one-year deals may be an outlier allowing them to still maximize a competitive window. It’s a pretty hard sell for the Pohlad’s to suggest they are committed to winning while instructing Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to take their foot off the gas in the midst of developmental emergence. This organization signed their biggest free agent in history just last offseason, and not pairing him with more talent as the home-grown group has emerged would be a head-scratcher at best. While it wouldn’t necessarily reduce the bill for 2021, removing future monetary commitment is a practice that makes some sense this time around. Think back to 2018 for a moment. Minnesota made a splash with Spring Training already underway. In a less than ideal market for both players, the secured the services of Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison. Both players came in a bit disgruntled at the process they witnessed over the winter, and their output left plenty to be desired. At that time, the suggestion of hired hitman brought forth the discussion as to whether chemistry was ever truly able to be established. With a different set of parameters this time around, a similar plan could be truly beneficial. Thus far the only deal of consequence for Minnesota has been the acquisition of former Angels closer Hansel Robles on a one-year deal. Internally, he joins Michael Pineda as a free agent following the 2021 season. There’s a sunk cost already with Josh Donaldson, and then much of the Twins roster is on team-friendly extensions, or just into the arbitration process. In short, there’s not much of a massive monetary leap year over year from what’s already committed to. Enter the onslaught of one-year deals. Kris Bryant for $18 million, yep, sure. Trevor Story at the same price, why not. How about Sonny Gray for just over $10 million, or Jon Gray coming in just under $6 million. The reality is that while all of those players are substantially more costly than a prospect at the league minimum, the future financial fear is off the table. You could add Nelson Cruz and his $16 million ask to this group as well. The point isn’t that the money is inconsequential, but that you’d be maximizing your opportunity while still having flexibility in the seasons ahead. For years Major League organizations have seen record growth and financial dividends. 2020 provided an unprecedented halt to those trends, but the reality for the vast majority of the league is that a profit was still turned. Having the ability to regain that opportunity in the near future remains a priority for ownership, and this would give them a clear vision to see that come to fruition. Players in the final year of contracts, and especially those with hefty price tags, should not require a ransom be paid in exchange for their services. The Rockies Story is an elite talent, but plenty of Minnesota’s system should stay intact. Bryant would seemingly have even less of a required package, and the same could be said about Colorado’s Gray. I don’t know how Falvey and Levine will navigate these waters when they finally dip their oars in, but this seems like a plausible path forward. In a traditional cycle I’d be less interested in a team full of short-term reinforcements. If it means that talent is bolstered and payroll flexibility is still to be achieved, this could be a blueprint that satisfies all needs. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  10. After years spent building up their core players, the Chicago Cubs appear to be stuck in no-mans land this offseason. They would like to add to their team (which greatly underperformed in 2019), but they do not have the payroll flexibility to do so. Additionally, their farm system is all but depleted of impactful prospects that can help the team in the short term. As a result, the Cubs have moved in the direction of potentially trading away some of their core pieces, with an aim at more long-term success. On such piece that has become available is Kris Bryant. The former second overall pick in the MLB Draft, has been an excellent player since he entered the league in 2015. His debut sparked some controversy, as the Cubs intentionally left him off their opening day roster. Instead, Bryant didn’t make his MLB debut until April 17th, 2015. As a result, the Cubs bought themselves an extra year of team control before Bryant becomes a free agent, which will be after the 2021 season instead of after the 2020 season. Early reports suggest that the Cubs are asking for a king’s ransom in exchange for Bryant, which could inevitably sway the Twins from making a move for him. However, if the Cubs do see moving Bryant as aligning with their plans for the future of their organization, they might have to come down on their asking price, just to get other teams to enter into the conversation. When you look around the rest of major league baseball, there aren’t many teams where trading for Kris Bryant makes more sense than it does for the Minnesota Twins. They have a clear need to upgrade at third base (hence their interest in Josh Donaldson), they have the the cap space to take on the expensive final two years of arbitration (Bryant is due $18.6 M in 2020), and they have the prospect capital to make this deal work. So, what kind of package could the Twins offer that would realistically get the Cubs to bite on a trade for Kris Bryant? I think the starter to this conversation would be around the Twins giving up one of either Royce Lewis or Alex Kirilloff. If the Cubs are insistent on both, then I don’t think this is a deal that makes much sense for the Twins, but one or the other is reasonable. The Twins might also need to include another prospect a tier down from Lewis and Kiriloff. This includes the likes of Brusdar Graterol, Trevor Larnach and Jordan Balazovic. Personally, I see Balazovic the least likely of these players to get dealt away to the Cubs, as they are still trying to compete, and of the group mentioned he is the furthest prospect away. Finally, the Twins might also have to include another prospect or two as kickers, someone like a Cole Sands or Travis Blankenhorn would make sense. Now, many of you might be thinking this is far too much to give up for two seasons of Kris Bryant, and if so, you are probably right, but the idea is to explore a trade package that could actually get the Cubs to trade away one of the faces of their franchise, while they are still clearly within a competitive window. The Cubs are also reportedly interested in acquiring MLB-ready talent, which could cause the Twins to pull back as they don’t really have much to offer in that regard (outside of Eddie Rosario who would make zero sense for the Cubs to acquire given their current outfield state). At the end of the day, this could be the deciding factor that keeps the Cubs from actually trading away Bryant, but when an opportunity to acquire a player of Kris Bryant’s ability is available, the Twins should at least consider taking a stab at it. What do you think? Should the Twins look to make a big move for Kris Bryant if they miss out on Josh Donaldson, or look for other alternatives to improve this team for 2020 and beyond? Let us know in the comment section down below. 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. After missing on all of the big-name free agent starting pitchers this offseason, the Minnesota Twins have shifted their focus to former MVP third baseman Josh Donaldson, to try to make their big splash this winter. However, with reports coming out that the Twins are increasingly pessimistic about their chances of signing Donaldson, they may have to change their course yet again. One potential option that they could set their sights on is another former MVP third basemen, in Kris Bryant.After years spent building up their core players, the Chicago Cubs appear to be stuck in no-mans land this offseason. They would like to add to their team (which greatly underperformed in 2019), but they do not have the payroll flexibility to do so. Additionally, their farm system is all but depleted of impactful prospects that can help the team in the short term. As a result, the Cubs have moved in the direction of potentially trading away some of their core pieces, with an aim at more long-term success. On such piece that has become available is Kris Bryant. The former second overall pick in the MLB Draft, has been an excellent player since he entered the league in 2015. His debut sparked some controversy, as the Cubs intentionally left him off their opening day roster. Instead, Bryant didn’t make his MLB debut until April 17th, 2015. As a result, the Cubs bought themselves an extra year of team control before Bryant becomes a free agent, which will be after the 2021 season instead of after the 2020 season. Early reports suggest that the Cubs are asking for a king’s ransom in exchange for Bryant, which could inevitably sway the Twins from making a move for him. However, if the Cubs do see moving Bryant as aligning with their plans for the future of their organization, they might have to come down on their asking price, just to get other teams to enter into the conversation. When you look around the rest of major league baseball, there aren’t many teams where trading for Kris Bryant makes more sense than it does for the Minnesota Twins. They have a clear need to upgrade at third base (hence their interest in Josh Donaldson), they have the the cap space to take on the expensive final two years of arbitration (Bryant is due $18.6 M in 2020), and they have the prospect capital to make this deal work. So, what kind of package could the Twins offer that would realistically get the Cubs to bite on a trade for Kris Bryant? I think the starter to this conversation would be around the Twins giving up one of either Royce Lewis or Alex Kirilloff. If the Cubs are insistent on both, then I don’t think this is a deal that makes much sense for the Twins, but one or the other is reasonable. The Twins might also need to include another prospect a tier down from Lewis and Kiriloff. This includes the likes of Brusdar Graterol, Trevor Larnach and Jordan Balazovic. Personally, I see Balazovic the least likely of these players to get dealt away to the Cubs, as they are still trying to compete, and of the group mentioned he is the furthest prospect away. Finally, the Twins might also have to include another prospect or two as kickers, someone like a Cole Sands or Travis Blankenhorn would make sense. Now, many of you might be thinking this is far too much to give up for two seasons of Kris Bryant, and if so, you are probably right, but the idea is to explore a trade package that could actually get the Cubs to trade away one of the faces of their franchise, while they are still clearly within a competitive window. The Cubs are also reportedly interested in acquiring MLB-ready talent, which could cause the Twins to pull back as they don’t really have much to offer in that regard (outside of Eddie Rosario who would make zero sense for the Cubs to acquire given their current outfield state). At the end of the day, this could be the deciding factor that keeps the Cubs from actually trading away Bryant, but when an opportunity to acquire a player of Kris Bryant’s ability is available, the Twins should at least consider taking a stab at it. What do you think? Should the Twins look to make a big move for Kris Bryant if they miss out on Josh Donaldson, or look for other alternatives to improve this team for 2020 and beyond? Let us know in the comment section down below. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  12. Kris Bryant was a star prospect on the way to the big leagues back in 2015, but the Cubs kept him in the minor leagues to pick up an extra year of service time. At least this is what Bryant is alleging in a grievance field with the Major League Baseball Players’ Association. The decision in this case could have ramifications across the baseball landscape with Minnesota’s own Bryon Buxton.Bryant’s Case Bryant is alleging manipulation of his service time that will keep him from reaching free agency until after the 2021 season. Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, and the MLBPA are arguing that he started the 2015 season at Triple-A, so the club could delay his service-time, a move that is entirely within an organization’s rights. That spring, he had hit .425 with nine home runs in 40 at-bats and those numbers were no accident. In an interview with Sahadev Sharma at The Athletic, Bryant talked about how he trained differently for that spring so he could put up strong numbers and make it hard for the team to send him down. “It was so obvious,” Bryant told The Athletic. “‘Oh, he’s gotta work on his defense.’ Stuff like that. But now I can look back on it and just laugh about it because I was told to work on my defense… and I think I got three ground balls in those games that I played. So it’s like, ‘Oh, now he’s ready.’” He made his big-league debut on April 17, 2015, which meant he only missed 12 days that season. Still, he will fall one day short of being eligible for free agency after the 2020 campaign. Buxton’s Case Buxton’s own service time issue doesn’t exactly mirror Bryant’s, but he could have an argument if Bryant wins his case. During the 2018 season, Buxton struggled through multiple injuries and ended the year on the Rochester Red Wings roster. He wasn’t made a September call-up and this choice didn’t sit well with Buxton at the time. “Yes, I ain’t sugarcoating nothing,” Buxton told the Star Tribune last December. “It kind of didn’t go over well.” Migraine headaches, a broken toe and a strained wrist cost him much of the 2018 season, but his health seemed to be improving in August with Rochester. He batted .365/.400/.596 (.996) with nine extra-base hits in 12 games and he had every reason to think his performance warranted a September call-up. But by keeping him down, the Twins picked up another year of team control. Instead of reaching free agency following the 2021 season, Buxton will have to wait until after the 2022 campaign. Minnesota had reasons for keeping him down including a lingering wrist injury, poor strike zone discipline, and not enough playing time at the big-league level. However, Thad Levine admitted service time played a role in why Buxton was kept in the minors. "I think part of our jobs is we're supposed to be responsible to factoring service time into every decision we make," Levine said. "I still feel pretty resolute in saying that the other three factors were more present for us in this decision-making process than that. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we weren't at least aware of service-time impacts on decisions we make." Realistically, this is an issue that needs to be addressed in the next collective bargaining agreement. There’s not timeline for a decision in MLBPA’s case for Bryant and there’s no guarantee he will win, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on. Click here to view the article
  13. Bryant’s Case Bryant is alleging manipulation of his service time that will keep him from reaching free agency until after the 2021 season. Bryant’s agent, Scott Boras, and the MLBPA are arguing that he started the 2015 season at Triple-A, so the club could delay his service-time, a move that is entirely within an organization’s rights. That spring, he had hit .425 with nine home runs in 40 at-bats and those numbers were no accident. In an interview with Sahadev Sharma at The Athletic, Bryant talked about how he trained differently for that spring so he could put up strong numbers and make it hard for the team to send him down. “It was so obvious,” Bryant told The Athletic. “‘Oh, he’s gotta work on his defense.’ Stuff like that. But now I can look back on it and just laugh about it because I was told to work on my defense… and I think I got three ground balls in those games that I played. So it’s like, ‘Oh, now he’s ready.’” He made his big-league debut on April 17, 2015, which meant he only missed 12 days that season. Still, he will fall one day short of being eligible for free agency after the 2020 campaign. Buxton’s Case Buxton’s own service time issue doesn’t exactly mirror Bryant’s, but he could have an argument if Bryant wins his case. During the 2018 season, Buxton struggled through multiple injuries and ended the year on the Rochester Red Wings roster. He wasn’t made a September call-up and this choice didn’t sit well with Buxton at the time. “Yes, I ain’t sugarcoating nothing,” Buxton told the Star Tribune last December. “It kind of didn’t go over well.” Migraine headaches, a broken toe and a strained wrist cost him much of the 2018 season, but his health seemed to be improving in August with Rochester. He batted .365/.400/.596 (.996) with nine extra-base hits in 12 games and he had every reason to think his performance warranted a September call-up. But by keeping him down, the Twins picked up another year of team control. Instead of reaching free agency following the 2021 season, Buxton will have to wait until after the 2022 campaign. Minnesota had reasons for keeping him down including a lingering wrist injury, poor strike zone discipline, and not enough playing time at the big-league level. However, Thad Levine admitted service time played a role in why Buxton was kept in the minors. "I think part of our jobs is we're supposed to be responsible to factoring service time into every decision we make," Levine said. "I still feel pretty resolute in saying that the other three factors were more present for us in this decision-making process than that. We wouldn't be doing our jobs if we weren't at least aware of service-time impacts on decisions we make." Realistically, this is an issue that needs to be addressed in the next collective bargaining agreement. There’s not timeline for a decision in MLBPA’s case for Bryant and there’s no guarantee he will win, but it’s certainly something to keep an eye on.
  14. As has been stated before there was a long thread on how the Bryon Buxton September callup was handled. This is to be a different look with regards to damage to the long term franchise. 1. Case 1 Texas and Profar. Texas did a service time saving manipulation of Profar's time. This worked out very badly for Texas. (Side note Profar's agent is Boras so not all of this may be relevant). The long term result was that went after 2017 or 2018 when Texas tried to get an extension with Profar, the Texas front office was told not to bother without paying market rate or above market rate (my guess based on what happened here). This led to the trade of Profar to the A's for not what I would consider a market rate deal for Texas. Profar is in the same category as Buxton as he was rated in the top 5 prospect list for 2 years running at one time. Without the extension given Texas's time line they were forced to take what they could get (given Profar would be a free agent before Texas became relevant again). How does this affect Buxton? The Twins do not look as if they are actively planning to compete without a bit of the luck factor in 2019. There are two possible outcomes here: Buxton plays OK this year breaks out next year and hits his maximum trade value about the time the Twins expect to become relevant (2020 - 2024). Twins are then faced with the issue of (do you trade a potential superstar when you are ready to compete or do you hold on to compete and lose Buxton in 2 years for a compensation draft pick). Then there is the issue of the FO talking about sustainability. That would mean looking at trading Buxton at this time when the best Twins talent is years is arriving and creating issues in the clubhouse and ongoing for the Twins keeping players who could be the face of the franchise. Kyle Gibson (the union rep), has already weighed in by commenting he thought Buxton should have been brought up. This leads to 2 more issues: 1. Having problems with keeping players who are getting good or watching them walk after 6 years. Or being forced to trade them (issue with this is you are dealing with other GM's who on the free spending teams will give you a number of their lessor 4 - 15 type prospects, but put there top prospects off limits in deals like this). This rational being that in 1 - 2 years they could sign them without giving up prospects. 2. Team reputation: Unless you pay more money than anyone else will offer, you will not get good FA's to come here. This leaves you with taking chances or having to sign players with warts (bad clubhouse personalites, lack of hustle, and me first types). You will never win big with these types. Option 2: If you want to play hardball and Buxton plays into your hands by having a bad spring you could send him to Rochester and leave him for the year. If you as the FO are convinced he is not going to stay here, this might be the winning option. It will now align Buxton with the new upcoming core and you could get 2 - 3 years from Buxton when the Twins might be really good. Downside: There is this pesky thing called the CBA, this would certainly be noted by the union (especially if Buxton did well in Rochester and was not called up). It would certainly complicate things and might lead to the union holding out for shortened club control be free agency as small and mid market clubs would take note and try to group talent into possible windows. Extreme case is that it might be litigated based on deliberate manipulations with the goal of bringing all sports into a much changed employee - employer relationship (this might be done by dissolving the sports unions). 2. The Kris Bryant - Chicago Cubs case. This is more of the common case where the Cubs sent Bryant down at the start of the season to gain an extra year of control over him (even though Kris Bryant was clearly major league ready). What this has done to the Cubs is that there is almost no chance he will resign with the Cubs unless they offer more than any other club. Cubs might, but are not guaranteed to do that. Or the relationship may be so far south Cubs would have to do a big overpay to keep him. Where does thing affect Buxton? 1. It means that the union will almost certainly want changes to the CBA in this area. This could be a big sticking point (if the union decides to exist). This could lead to a nasty strike(which might last for a long time into the season before being settled), or major changes to the length of team control (most of which I have seen is about 4 years). This would in the long run kill the small market teams from being competitive for any length or period of time). 2. Buxton could develop a bad or me first attitude (this would be very bad for clubhouse chemistry) and could try and force his way out early than the Twins would want.
  15. How does this strategy work when creating the starting line-ups? I'm glad you asked... American League All-Star Starters C: Salvador Perez, Kansas City Royals 1B: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers 2B: Jose Altuve, Houston Astros 3B: Miguel Sano, Minnesota Twins SS: Carlos Correa, Houston Astros OF: George Springer, Houston Astros OF: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels OF: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees DH: Corey Dickerson, Tampa Bay Rays SP: Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox There aren't too many surprises on this starting line-up. Catching has become a wasteland across the baseball world but Perez provides some offensive punch and solid defensive skills. At first base, there isn't anyone that stood out to me from the first half so I picked Cabrera, the player likely on his way to Cooperstown. Houston is off to a tremendous start and their core trio of players all deserve starting nods. Trout is injured but he is still the best player in the game and he deserves to be recognized. Miguel Sano is in a tight race with the Indians' Jose Ramirez for the starting job at third. My vote goes to Sano for his bat and what he has meant to the Twins in the first half. Judge had a first half for the ages and his numbers can't be ignored. Dickerson leads a designated hitter pack that doesn't have a lot of standout candidates. Sale seems like the logical choice to be the American League's starting pitcher. Twins' fans saw first hand what he did to Minnesota's line-up when the club was in Boston. He's at the top of the AL in a variety of pitching categories and it makes sense to trot him out for the first couple of innings. National League All-Star Starters C: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants 1B: Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks 2B: Daniel Murphy, Washington Nationals 3B: Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs SS: Corey Seager, Los Angeles Dodgers OF: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals OF: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies OF: Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers SP: Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals There were a couple of tough decisions on the National League side of the game. There are a handful of players with strong credentials at first base but I eventually settled on Goldschmidt for what he can do on both sides of the ball. Third base was another challenge. Bryant had an amazing 2016 and he has been doing well this season so he gets the starting nod (even though he was just hurt). I'm a big fan of Nolan Arenado so as a fan I would vote for him. Harper and Blackmon stand out as strong candidates in the outfield. With Trout injured, Blackmon might be the best center fielder in the game. Bellinger has been a force since being called up so the only thing holding him back might be his late arrival. Posey, Murphy and Seager were easy choices at their position. Like Sale in the American League, Scherzer is off to a tremendous start. As the reigning NL Cy Young winner, Scherzer looks poised to make another All-Star squad and be the first pitcher on the mound. Clayton Kershaw would be another candidate but Scherzer's numbers are too strong this season. So there's my starters with a few picks that were tough to make. Who would part of your All-Star starting rosters? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  16. Since 2010, the Twins have selected three college players in the first round, right-handed pitcher Alex Wimmers, shortstop Levi Michael and left-handed pitcher Tyler Jay. Wimmers and Michael have failed to transform into MLB regulars. Jay was drafted with the hopes of being a top tier starter. This spring the Twins announced he will be used as a relief pitcher moving forward. Today's profile looks at one of the players expect to come off the board with a top-three pick. His college experience and skills on both side of the ball make him an intriguing prospect. Will he be the Twins' choice at number one?WHO IS HE? McKay is a left-handed pitcher and first baseman from the University of Louisville. He was originally drafted in the 34th round of the 2014 draft by the San Diego Padres. His commitment to Louisville was strong and that decision seems to have paid off. McKay is 6-2, 220 pounds and was born on December 18, 1995. WHY THE TWINS WILL DRAFT HIM McKay has been a legitimate two-way threat during his collegiate career. As a freshman, he hit .308/.418/.431. He followed that up by hitting .333/.415/.513 as a sophomore. On the mound, he was even more impressive. Over 97 innings during his first year, he posted a 1.77 ERA with a 117 to 34 strikeout to walk ratio. He avoided a sophomore slump with a 2.30 ERA and a 128 to 42 strikeout to walk ratio over 110 innings. During his junior campaign, McKay has made huge strides at the plate. He's combined for a 1.159 OPS and 17 home runs which is more homers than his first two seasons combined. On the mound, he ranks in the NCAA's top-10 for strikeouts despite having pitched fewer innings than all but one the other pitchers in the top-10. MLB.com columnist Jim Callis told USA Today that he doesn't believe there has been a prospect who was equally highly regarded as both a pitcher and a hitter as McKay since Dave Winfield out of the University of Minnesota in 1973. Winfield, a Minnesota native, went on to a Hall of Fame career as a hitter and that comparison could make the Twins want to pull the trigger on McKay. WHY THE TWINS WON'T DRAFT HIM As the season has stretched on, McKay has seen some wear and tear from playing on both sides of the ball. His fastball has dropped to 88-91 mph but he has also been working on adding a cut fastball. He hasn't been able to refine pitching or hitting since he has been spending time doing both. His velocity isn't overwhelming and it's not hard for big league teams to find a first baseman/DH who can hit for power. McKay's stock has definitely dropped as the spring has progressed. He doesn't have the athletic ability of some other top college picks from recent years like Kris Bryant or Dansby Swanson. If McKay's future is on the mound, there are better pitchers the Twins will look at before taking McKay. Baseball America also thinks McKay would be better suited to be part of a National League organization. This would allow him to continue to pitch and hit on a regular basis. Even with a slow end to his spring, McKay is still one of the first names Commissioner Manfred will announce on June 12. Will he be trading in a Cardinals jersey for new Twins digs? Other draft-related articles: Twins Daily Draft Preview Royce Lewis Pavin Smith 10-Round Mock Draft Click here to view the article
  17. WHO IS HE? McKay is a left-handed pitcher and first baseman from the University of Louisville. He was originally drafted in the 34th round of the 2014 draft by the San Diego Padres. His commitment to Louisville was strong and that decision seems to have paid off. McKay is 6-2, 220 pounds and was born on December 18, 1995. WHY THE TWINS WILL DRAFT HIM McKay has been a legitimate two-way threat during his collegiate career. As a freshman, he hit .308/.418/.431. He followed that up by hitting .333/.415/.513 as a sophomore. On the mound, he was even more impressive. Over 97 innings during his first year, he posted a 1.77 ERA with a 117 to 34 strikeout to walk ratio. He avoided a sophomore slump with a 2.30 ERA and a 128 to 42 strikeout to walk ratio over 110 innings. During his junior campaign, McKay has made huge strides at the plate. He's combined for a 1.159 OPS and 17 home runs which is more homers than his first two seasons combined. On the mound, he ranks in the NCAA's top-10 for strikeouts despite having pitched fewer innings than all but one the other pitchers in the top-10. MLB.com columnist Jim Callis told USA Today that he doesn't believe there has been a prospect who was equally highly regarded as both a pitcher and a hitter as McKay since Dave Winfield out of the University of Minnesota in 1973. Winfield, a Minnesota native, went on to a Hall of Fame career as a hitter and that comparison could make the Twins want to pull the trigger on McKay. WHY THE TWINS WON'T DRAFT HIM As the season has stretched on, McKay has seen some wear and tear from playing on both sides of the ball. His fastball has dropped to 88-91 mph but he has also been working on adding a cut fastball. He hasn't been able to refine pitching or hitting since he has been spending time doing both. His velocity isn't overwhelming and it's not hard for big league teams to find a first baseman/DH who can hit for power. McKay's stock has definitely dropped as the spring has progressed. He doesn't have the athletic ability of some other top college picks from recent years like Kris Bryant or Dansby Swanson. If McKay's future is on the mound, there are better pitchers the Twins will look at before taking McKay. Baseball America also thinks McKay would be better suited to be part of a National League organization. This would allow him to continue to pitch and hit on a regular basis. Even with a slow end to his spring, McKay is still one of the first names Commissioner Manfred will announce on June 12. Will he be trading in a Cardinals jersey for new Twins digs? Other draft-related articles: Twins Daily Draft Preview Royce Lewis Pavin Smith 10-Round Mock Draft
  18. Last year Kris Bryant pranked the Mesa Community College Thunderbirds by posing as a European transfer student. This year, pitching legend Greg Maddux repays the favor. Enjoy.
  19. American League MVP Race For the second time in his young career, Mike Trout has surpassed 10 WAR according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs has Trout a tick under 10 with a 9.4 WAR. Both of these totals are a full win higher than his next closest competitor, Mookie Betts. Betts versus Trout is going to be the hot-button topic in the MVP race. Trout led all of baseball in runs, walks, OBP, and OPS + while playing terrific defense in center field. The Angels PR Department tweeted out a list of Trout's accomplishments this season and it's pretty remarkable. Betts led all of baseball in at-bats and total bases while playing defense that might have been better than Trout's. The Angels haven't been within five games of first place since the middle of May. Betts and the Red Sox have been near the top of the AL East for most of the season. Since September 7, Boston has lead the East. Over the last month of the season, while being in the middle of the pennant race, Betts has hit .310/.373/.389 with seven extra-base hits. Should the voting members of the BBWAA pick a very good player on a 90-win team? Or should the best player in baseball over the last couple of years get his second MVP award? Betts might have the narrative that voters tend to favor but Trout has been better than Betts so my vote goes to him. Who should win? Trout Who will win? Betts Complete Ballot: 1. Trout, 2. Betts, 3. Josh Donaldson, 4. Jose Altuve, 5. Manny Machado, 6. Robinson Cano, 7. Adrian Beltre, 8. Dozier, 9. Francisco Lindor, 10. Corey Kluber National League MVP Race While the AL race might be close, the National League race could be a unanimous choice. The Chicago Cubs were the best team in baseball for most of the season. They won over 100 games and cruised to a division title in what had been one of the toughest divisions in recent years. Kris Bryant has been the best player in the league and he should easily win his first MVP. Bryant has been impressive during his second full-season. He led the NL in runs while raising all of his offensive numbers. In 2015, he led the league with 199 strikeouts but he cut that number back to 154 this year. He's also been used at multiple defensive positions including third base, first base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions. Corey Seager and Daniel Murphy will have a good battle for the NL's runner-up spot. Both players had very good seasons on teams that easily won their divisions. Seager's impressive rookie campaign could be the sign of future MVP awards. Murphy might be the missing link for a Nationals club that has struggled with finding post-season success. Who should win? Bryant Who will win? Bryant Complete Ballot: 1. Bryant, 2. Seager, 3. Murphy, 4. Anthony Rizzo, 5. Freddie Freeman, 6. Max Scherzer, 7. Nolan Arenado, 8. Brandon Crawford, 9. Justin Turner, 10. Noah Syndergaard How would you ballot look for each league? Leave a COMMENT and start this discussion.
  20. I was one of a few lucky souls to be selected to attend this Friday's Deckstravaganza event at Target Field. The Twins hype up the event as a one-of-a-kind social media experience. Besides the unique vantage point for the game, I will be pretty active on social media throughout the evening. Make sure to follow me on the various social media platforms>> Twitter: @NoDakTwinsFan Instagram: @NoDakTwinsFan Also check out my full recap of the festivities at my blog or on Twins Daily.
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