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  1. Today Major League Baseball Trade Rumors put out their numbers for projected arbitration salaries. While they aren’t going to be spot on, the website is often seen as the gold standard in this space. Minnesota has some big names to decide on. The most notable eligible player here is also the one guy deserving of a long term extension. Byron Buxton will at worst be tendered a new deal, and his projected $7.3 million would be a steal. So too would a new long-term extension with Minnesota for anything less than $200 million. The only question here is whether a contract is agreed to with the Twins, and if they’ll wind up paying him for the duration of 2022. Taylor Rogers gets the second biggest number on Minnesota’s bill after being named a first-time All-Star in 2021. His $6.7 million seems like a steal in terms of value and talent but coming off an injury that shut down his season, it’s worth wondering if the Twins front office will feel the same way. Rogers should be back if there’s belief he’ll be healthy. Trading him with injury uncertainty could be a tough path. Ultimately, I think he returns. Both Tyler Duffey and Mitch Garver should be seen as favorable options to be back with the Twins. The former is a reliever with a high ceiling that lost his way at times during 2021. He could be dealt if Minnesota finds a willing partner, but the fit at the back end of the bullpen still remains great. Garver is arguably one of the best catchers in baseball, and although he could be coveted by the opposition in any deals Derek Falvey may try to swing, Minnesota will tender him a deal regardless. It’s still surprising to me that J.A. Happ netted the Twins anything, and John Gant is certainly a few rungs up on that ladder. He wasn’t amazing by any means, but there’s plenty of usable ability there. The question for the Twins is what they see his path going forward being. If he’s a starter then the $3.7 million doesn’t seem egregious at all. If he’s a reliever, that’s a middle-relief arm that doesn’t possess a ton of upside. I’d lean towards keeping him, but also wouldn’t be shocked if the front office feels otherwise. Minnesota will have easy decisions on Luis Arraez and Caleb Thielbar. At $2 million and under, both players provide well above that from a value perspective. The Twins may dangle Arraez this offseason on the trade market, but he’s also a strong candidate to remain an integral super-utility piece. Thielbar has made himself into a full-time big leaguer, and now he’ll get a payday for it. (An aside, both Baseball Reference and Fangraphs have Luis Aaraez pre-arb until 2023, so he shouldn't need more than the MLB minimum.) The trio of lower options include Juan Minaya, Danny Coulombe, and Rob Refsnyder. The first was arguably the Twins best reliever down the stretch and has pitched his way into the 2022 bullpen. Coulombe isn’t anything to get excited about, but he’s a fine option to round out a group that will need some cheaper arms as well. Refsnyder is an interesting case as he turned into a pumpkin following his return from the Injured List. Maybe Minnesota keeps him around as a depth outfielder, but Buxton or not, he can’t be the fourth option on this Major League roster. That leaves just two guys who I see as obvious DFA candidates. It makes no sense for Minnesota to retain the services of either Jake Cave or Willians Astudillo for more than $1 million each. To be frank, neither player fits the roster nor is worthy of a spot at the Major League minimum, but with arbitration eligibility, a non-tender is the way these have to go. Cave is no longer productive at the plate, at the novelty of Astudillo wore off a long time ago. If this comes to fruition as outlined Minnesota would retain 10 of their 12 arbitration eligible players for a total of $60.4 million. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  2. Derek Falvey has suggested that the Minnesota Twins plan for 2022 isn’t to rebuild. This team wants to compete, and if that’s the case, they have areas needing to be fixed. They’ll spend, but maybe they need to trade pieces to bridge the gap. Coming off a pandemic-shortened 2020, the Twins did a solid job holding serve regarding payroll. While it dropped, it didn’t fall off a cliff. I don’t know where I expect Minnesota to be in terms of dollars this season, but I think we’re in for an offseason that sees some major-league assets moved. If that’s going to be the case, who are the combinations that are defined by value and expendability? Max Kepler I’m torn on the idea of moving Kepler, given the Twins commitment to getting more out of him. He posted just a .719 OPS this season, and it was a down year. He remains one of the best outfield defenders in baseball, however, and that has significant value. For a guy that plays on the corners, you’d certainly like to see the power production of 2019 return. Given his name was dangled at the deadline, I can’t imagine Minnesota is against the idea of moving him, but it’d need to be a situation where someone is parting with assets based on what they believe Kepler can be rather than what he is currently. Alex Kirilloff can fill some of the gap here, and Trevor Larnach is also an option should the Twins move on. Mitch Garver After a down year in the shortened 2020 season, Garver has rebounded with a vengeance. Mitch is back to hunting fastballs, and despite some fluke injuries this season, he put up impressive numbers from the minute he got settled in. His final 51 games were played to the tune of a .991 OPS. I’m reluctant to hand the reigns over to Ryan Jeffers full-time, but Garver is the older of the two, and this is a position where Minnesota could exploit the strength and use it to secure pitching help. The Twins don’t have much for a backup option unless they want to go defense only with Ben Rortvedt behind the plate. That said, a veteran backup shouldn’t cost much on the open market, and there’s plenty of names they could chase after. Cody recently did a great breakdown of a partner for Garver. Luis Arraez Once again near the top of the league in batting average, Luis Arraez continues to be as predictable as they come. 2021 was his first season with an average south of .300, but that’s more related to a late-season slide than it is the body of work. He is always going to hit, there’s not much in terms of speed or pop, and his glove is just ok in the field. What Minnesota has to determine is where Jorge Polanco will play and what they want to do at shortstop. Arraez is either a rotational player with plenty of avenues for playing time, or he’s a luxury that they can parlay into something more necessary. A lot of Arraez’s functionality for this club directly correlates to the build-out of their infield. Miguel Sano In the final year of his three-year extension, Sano will cost Minnesota just over $9 million this season. He hasn’t lived up to the .923 OPS he posted in 2019, but he has plenty of functionality as a bottom-of-the-order hitter. He’s continued to post OPS+ numbers north of league average, and the power potential was once again evident in a season where he blasted 30 homers. I can’t imagine his value bringing back a whole lot for the Twins, but with the designated hitter expected to be league-wide, there may be more suitors interested in his services. I prefer the Twins don’t utilize a consistent batter as a designated hitter this season, but that’s definitely where Sano is at his best. Rocco Baldelli will also need to balance first base playing time with Alex Kirilloff returning to action. Obviously, if the Twins decide against paying Byron Buxton, then he’d likely be on the move as well and bring the greatest return. I can’t see a scenario in which any arms are moved, most notably because of that being Minnesota’s greatest need. Who else could you see as potential interest for another organization? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  3. The Marlins have pitching and need an offensive upgrade at catcher. The Twins have catching and plenty of need in their starting rotation. Is this trade match too good to be true? It's clear that starting pitching is Minnesota's biggest priority this winter, and the team will have to be creative to fill all the starting rotation needs. One of the avenues will undoubtedly be to explore the trade market. Free-agent starting pitching costs a premium, and the current regime hasn't been successful signing players in the past. Enter the Miami Marlins and their surplus of starting pitching. It seems like no team can have too much starting pitching, but the Marlins have a strong farm system and other MLB-ready options. According to MLB Pipeline, six of their top-10 prospects are pitchers, including four pitchers at the Double-A level or higher. Marlins manager Don Mattingly made it clear that upgrading catcher is a priority for the club this winter. "It's an area we're looking at," Mattingly said. "It's fairly safe to say it was some kind of message when we grabbed two catchers at the trade deadline and we also have Nick Fortes up here." Fortes, a 2018 MLB Draft pick, posted a 1.030 OPS in 34 plate appearances. However, he has a .651 OPS in 190 minor league games. Alex Jackson and Payton Henry, both catchers acquired at the deadline, struggled after joining the Marlins organization. With no clear long-term option, the Marlins can look to the free-agent class, but Yan Gomes (98 OPS+) is the best option. Minnesota entered the season with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos, but there were some struggles along the way. Ryan Jeffers struggled offensively at the Triple-A and MLB-level. Mitch Garver found his swing after a rough first month, but he was limited to 68 games. Minnesota's catching future is uncertain with both players' inconsistent 2021 campaign. From the Twins' perspective, Garver seems like the more likely player to be traded. He is six years older than Jeffers, and he has multiple years of team control remaining. Trading Garver allows the Twins to give Jeffers more regular at-bats, and it also provides the team with an opportunity to bring in a left-handed veteran catcher to serve in a back-up role (unless they feel that Ben Rortvedt is ready for such a role). Other teams with established catchers are likely to reach out to the Marlins. Last winter, Miami had discussions about acquiring Willson Contreras from the Cubs, but he is only one year away from free agency. MLB Trade Rumors identified Arizona's Carson Kelly and Pittsburgh's Jacob Stallings as other possible trade candidates. Kelly posted a 104 OPS+ in 98 games, while Stallings finished the year with a 92 OPS+ in 112 games. There's also no guarantee either of those teams are interested in trading their catchers. To be competitive in 2022, the Twins will need to trade MLB-level assets to acquire starting pitching. Besides the catchers, other established players like Max Kepler, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Arraez will likely hear their names in the rumor mill. For now, the Twins and Marlins seem like a strong match to make a trade this winter. Do you think the Marlins and the Twins will be able to work out a deal? 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
  4. Coming off a pandemic-shortened 2020, the Twins did a solid job holding serve regarding payroll. While it dropped, it didn’t fall off a cliff. I don’t know where I expect Minnesota to be in terms of dollars this season, but I think we’re in for an offseason that sees some major-league assets moved. If that’s going to be the case, who are the combinations that are defined by value and expendability? Max Kepler I’m torn on the idea of moving Kepler, given the Twins commitment to getting more out of him. He posted just a .719 OPS this season, and it was a down year. He remains one of the best outfield defenders in baseball, however, and that has significant value. For a guy that plays on the corners, you’d certainly like to see the power production of 2019 return. Given his name was dangled at the deadline, I can’t imagine Minnesota is against the idea of moving him, but it’d need to be a situation where someone is parting with assets based on what they believe Kepler can be rather than what he is currently. Alex Kirilloff can fill some of the gap here, and Trevor Larnach is also an option should the Twins move on. Mitch Garver After a down year in the shortened 2020 season, Garver has rebounded with a vengeance. Mitch is back to hunting fastballs, and despite some fluke injuries this season, he put up impressive numbers from the minute he got settled in. His final 51 games were played to the tune of a .991 OPS. I’m reluctant to hand the reigns over to Ryan Jeffers full-time, but Garver is the older of the two, and this is a position where Minnesota could exploit the strength and use it to secure pitching help. The Twins don’t have much for a backup option unless they want to go defense only with Ben Rortvedt behind the plate. That said, a veteran backup shouldn’t cost much on the open market, and there’s plenty of names they could chase after. Cody recently did a great breakdown of a partner for Garver. Luis Arraez Once again near the top of the league in batting average, Luis Arraez continues to be as predictable as they come. 2021 was his first season with an average south of .300, but that’s more related to a late-season slide than it is the body of work. He is always going to hit, there’s not much in terms of speed or pop, and his glove is just ok in the field. What Minnesota has to determine is where Jorge Polanco will play and what they want to do at shortstop. Arraez is either a rotational player with plenty of avenues for playing time, or he’s a luxury that they can parlay into something more necessary. A lot of Arraez’s functionality for this club directly correlates to the build-out of their infield. Miguel Sano In the final year of his three-year extension, Sano will cost Minnesota just over $9 million this season. He hasn’t lived up to the .923 OPS he posted in 2019, but he has plenty of functionality as a bottom-of-the-order hitter. He’s continued to post OPS+ numbers north of league average, and the power potential was once again evident in a season where he blasted 30 homers. I can’t imagine his value bringing back a whole lot for the Twins, but with the designated hitter expected to be league-wide, there may be more suitors interested in his services. I prefer the Twins don’t utilize a consistent batter as a designated hitter this season, but that’s definitely where Sano is at his best. Rocco Baldelli will also need to balance first base playing time with Alex Kirilloff returning to action. Obviously, if the Twins decide against paying Byron Buxton, then he’d likely be on the move as well and bring the greatest return. I can’t see a scenario in which any arms are moved, most notably because of that being Minnesota’s greatest need. Who else could you see as potential interest for another organization? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. On Wednesday, Twins Daily unveiled Baily Ober as our Minnesota Twins Rookie of the Year. Today, we extend our congratulations to Jorge Polanco for claiming the Most Improved honor. But before we get to Polanco, let's discuss those athletes who finished just short. HONORABLE MENTIONS Byron Buxton, CF: 61 G, .306/.358/.647, 23 2B, 19 HR, 9 SB, 4.2 fWAR, 169 wRC+ Jorge Alcala, RHP: 59 2/3 IP, 3.92 ERA, 61 K, 14 BB, 10 HR allowed, 90 ERA- Byron Buxton would have undoubtedly landed in the top spot on this list had he stayed healthy, but even still, one could argue that he should have placed in the top three. (Full discloser: Buxton received my top vote.) No one in the history of the Minnesota Twins has ever performed better overall than Buxton did throughout his 61 games. His 4.2 fWAR and 169 wRC+ led the team by a significant margin, with only Jorge Polanco's and arguably Mitch Garver's advanced metrics able to hold a candle to what he put forth (*hint hint*). Alcala, on the other hand, finished the season strongly after getting off to a slow start. He allowed only eight earned runs in 25 innings following the All-Star break while striking out 30 and walking five. His performance in September and October was particularly encouraging as he surrendered only a single run and struck out 15 of the 44 batters he faced. Had his first half of the season not been a relative stinker (4.67 ERA, 3.9 K:BB ratio), he maybe would have squeezed into the top three. Show: Caleb Thielbar, LHP 64 IP, 3.23 ERA, 77 K, 21 BB, 8 HR allowed, 75 ERA-, 0.9 fWAR It would be difficult to find a better story among the 2021 Twins roster than that of Caleb Thielbar. An 18th-round pick out of South Dakota State in the 2009 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, Thielbar posted career-highs in virtually every statistical category en route to putting together the best season of his career at age 34. Thielbar was arguably the team's top performer overall out of the pen, placing third in ERA- (Tyler Duffey, 73; Juan Minaya, 57) and second in fWAR (Taylor Rogers, 1.6) among the relievers who threw at least 40 innings. He was able to accomplish the feats due in large part to possessing one of the best fastball-slider combinations in the game. While he is arguably more well-known for his borderline-eephus curveball, which sits in the upper-60s, Thielbar's fastball and slider accounted for most of his outs this past summer. The four-seam fastball has always been his most utilized pitch — it accounted for 49% of the offerings to batters in 2021 — Thielbar more than doubled the use of his slider compared to 2020 while cutting his curveball usage nearly in half, according to Baseball Savant. Opposing batters could not figure out his slider as they slugged a meager .296 and struck out 19 times. It registered an average of 14.4 inches of horizontal break in 2021, which was a whopping 5.4 inches above average. Similarly, they couldn't touch his fastball with regularity despite it sitting in the low-90s. Thielbar's heater was worth a Run Value of -12, meaning it theoretically allowed 12 fewer runs over the course of the season compared to an average fastball. Thielbar's 2021 performance showed that his 2020 season wasn't a fluke and cemented himself a prominent role during 2022. Runner-Up: Mitch Garver, C 68 G, .256/.358/.517, 15 2B, 13 HR, 2.1 fWAR, 137 wRC+ 2021 Mitch Garver was a facsimile of 2019 Mitch Garver, which should be encouraging to Twins fans; the only blemish on his otherwise great season was a plethora of injuries that limited him to only 68 games. The reason for Garver's turnaround from a disastrous 2020 that saw him slash .167/.247/.264 in 23 games? He remembered how to hit fastballs. Not only did Garver hit fastballs in 2021, he destroyed them to the tune of a .688 slugging percentage with 10 home runs and 10 doubles. These numbers approximate his .829, 25, and 12 rates from the juiced-ball 2019 season, re-establishing him as one of the most powerful catchers in MLB Garver will likely enter the 2022 season as the team's primary catcher and will once again split time with Ryan Jeffers, barring an offseason trade. There's little reason to doubt that he can't put forth a similarly strong season if he can remain healthy, and doing so would make the Twins' offense that much scarier. Winner: Jorge Polanco, 2B 152 G, .269/.323/.503, 35 2B, 33 HR, 11 SB, 3.9 fWAR, 122 wRC+ Jorge Polanco was the Twins' best player, and he put together arguably his best season one year after ankle injuries debilitated him to the degree that many wondered if he'd be long for the team. Polanco became the first Twins' second baseman not named Brian Dozier to eclipse the 30 homer mark in a season, and his 35 doubles were the most on the team by nearly double-digits; Josh Donaldson's 26 came in second. His numbers would have looked even better had he not hit .237 with a near 7:1 K:BB ratio during the final month of the season. Polanco's meteoric rise from light-hitting albeit promising prospect to an All-Star-caliber, 30-home run middle infielder has been a joyous surprise to watch. His 2021 season reinvigorated his status in the fans' minds and likely the front office as well, as he figures to again be a staple of the Twins' lineup for years to come. Others receiving votes: Rob Refsnyder, Juan Minaya, Danny Coulombe, Miguel Sano, Nick Gordon, Taylor Rogers, Bailey Ober MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here View full article
  6. But before we get to Polanco, let's discuss those athletes who finished just short. HONORABLE MENTIONS Byron Buxton, CF: 61 G, .306/.358/.647, 23 2B, 19 HR, 9 SB, 4.2 fWAR, 169 wRC+ Jorge Alcala, RHP: 59 2/3 IP, 3.92 ERA, 61 K, 14 BB, 10 HR allowed, 90 ERA- Byron Buxton would have undoubtedly landed in the top spot on this list had he stayed healthy, but even still, one could argue that he should have placed in the top three. (Full discloser: Buxton received my top vote.) No one in the history of the Minnesota Twins has ever performed better overall than Buxton did throughout his 61 games. His 4.2 fWAR and 169 wRC+ led the team by a significant margin, with only Jorge Polanco's and arguably Mitch Garver's advanced metrics able to hold a candle to what he put forth (*hint hint*). Alcala, on the other hand, finished the season strongly after getting off to a slow start. He allowed only eight earned runs in 25 innings following the All-Star break while striking out 30 and walking five. His performance in September and October was particularly encouraging as he surrendered only a single run and struck out 15 of the 44 batters he faced. Had his first half of the season not been a relative stinker (4.67 ERA, 3.9 K:BB ratio), he maybe would have squeezed into the top three. Show: Caleb Thielbar, LHP 64 IP, 3.23 ERA, 77 K, 21 BB, 8 HR allowed, 75 ERA-, 0.9 fWAR It would be difficult to find a better story among the 2021 Twins roster than that of Caleb Thielbar. An 18th-round pick out of South Dakota State in the 2009 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers, Thielbar posted career-highs in virtually every statistical category en route to putting together the best season of his career at age 34. Thielbar was arguably the team's top performer overall out of the pen, placing third in ERA- (Tyler Duffey, 73; Juan Minaya, 57) and second in fWAR (Taylor Rogers, 1.6) among the relievers who threw at least 40 innings. He was able to accomplish the feats due in large part to possessing one of the best fastball-slider combinations in the game. While he is arguably more well-known for his borderline-eephus curveball, which sits in the upper-60s, Thielbar's fastball and slider accounted for most of his outs this past summer. The four-seam fastball has always been his most utilized pitch — it accounted for 49% of the offerings to batters in 2021 — Thielbar more than doubled the use of his slider compared to 2020 while cutting his curveball usage nearly in half, according to Baseball Savant. Opposing batters could not figure out his slider as they slugged a meager .296 and struck out 19 times. It registered an average of 14.4 inches of horizontal break in 2021, which was a whopping 5.4 inches above average. Similarly, they couldn't touch his fastball with regularity despite it sitting in the low-90s. Thielbar's heater was worth a Run Value of -12, meaning it theoretically allowed 12 fewer runs over the course of the season compared to an average fastball. Thielbar's 2021 performance showed that his 2020 season wasn't a fluke and cemented himself a prominent role during 2022. Runner-Up: Mitch Garver, C 68 G, .256/.358/.517, 15 2B, 13 HR, 2.1 fWAR, 137 wRC+ 2021 Mitch Garver was a facsimile of 2019 Mitch Garver, which should be encouraging to Twins fans; the only blemish on his otherwise great season was a plethora of injuries that limited him to only 68 games. The reason for Garver's turnaround from a disastrous 2020 that saw him slash .167/.247/.264 in 23 games? He remembered how to hit fastballs. Not only did Garver hit fastballs in 2021, he destroyed them to the tune of a .688 slugging percentage with 10 home runs and 10 doubles. These numbers approximate his .829, 25, and 12 rates from the juiced-ball 2019 season, re-establishing him as one of the most powerful catchers in MLB Garver will likely enter the 2022 season as the team's primary catcher and will once again split time with Ryan Jeffers, barring an offseason trade. There's little reason to doubt that he can't put forth a similarly strong season if he can remain healthy, and doing so would make the Twins' offense that much scarier. Winner: Jorge Polanco, 2B 152 G, .269/.323/.503, 35 2B, 33 HR, 11 SB, 3.9 fWAR, 122 wRC+ Jorge Polanco was the Twins' best player, and he put together arguably his best season one year after ankle injuries debilitated him to the degree that many wondered if he'd be long for the team. Polanco became the first Twins' second baseman not named Brian Dozier to eclipse the 30 homer mark in a season, and his 35 doubles were the most on the team by nearly double-digits; Josh Donaldson's 26 came in second. His numbers would have looked even better had he not hit .237 with a near 7:1 K:BB ratio during the final month of the season. Polanco's meteoric rise from light-hitting albeit promising prospect to an All-Star-caliber, 30-home run middle infielder has been a joyous surprise to watch. His 2021 season reinvigorated his status in the fans' minds and likely the front office as well, as he figures to again be a staple of the Twins' lineup for years to come. Others receiving votes: Rob Refsnyder, Juan Minaya, Danny Coulombe, Miguel Sano, Nick Gordon, Taylor Rogers, Bailey Ober MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here
  7. It's clear that starting pitching is Minnesota's biggest priority this winter, and the team will have to be creative to fill all the starting rotation needs. One of the avenues will undoubtedly be to explore the trade market. Free-agent starting pitching costs a premium, and the current regime hasn't been successful signing players in the past. Enter the Miami Marlins and their surplus of starting pitching. It seems like no team can have too much starting pitching, but the Marlins have a strong farm system and other MLB-ready options. According to MLB Pipeline, six of their top-10 prospects are pitchers, including four pitchers at the Double-A level or higher. Marlins manager Don Mattingly made it clear that upgrading catcher is a priority for the club this winter. "It's an area we're looking at," Mattingly said. "It's fairly safe to say it was some kind of message when we grabbed two catchers at the trade deadline and we also have Nick Fortes up here." Fortes, a 2018 MLB Draft pick, posted a 1.030 OPS in 34 plate appearances. However, he has a .651 OPS in 190 minor league games. Alex Jackson and Payton Henry, both catchers acquired at the deadline, struggled after joining the Marlins organization. With no clear long-term option, the Marlins can look to the free-agent class, but Yan Gomes (98 OPS+) is the best option. Minnesota entered the season with what looked like one of baseball's best catching duos, but there were some struggles along the way. Ryan Jeffers struggled offensively at the Triple-A and MLB-level. Mitch Garver found his swing after a rough first month, but he was limited to 68 games. Minnesota's catching future is uncertain with both players' inconsistent 2021 campaign. From the Twins' perspective, Garver seems like the more likely player to be traded. He is six years older than Jeffers, and he has multiple years of team control remaining. Trading Garver allows the Twins to give Jeffers more regular at-bats, and it also provides the team with an opportunity to bring in a left-handed veteran catcher to serve in a back-up role (unless they feel that Ben Rortvedt is ready for such a role). Other teams with established catchers are likely to reach out to the Marlins. Last winter, Miami had discussions about acquiring Willson Contreras from the Cubs, but he is only one year away from free agency. MLB Trade Rumors identified Arizona's Carson Kelly and Pittsburgh's Jacob Stallings as other possible trade candidates. Kelly posted a 104 OPS+ in 98 games, while Stallings finished the year with a 92 OPS+ in 112 games. There's also no guarantee either of those teams are interested in trading their catchers. To be competitive in 2022, the Twins will need to trade MLB-level assets to acquire starting pitching. Besides the catchers, other established players like Max Kepler, Josh Donaldson, and Luis Arraez will likely hear their names in the rumor mill. For now, the Twins and Marlins seem like a strong match to make a trade this winter. Do you think the Marlins and the Twins will be able to work out a deal? 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
  8. Talking about Mitch Garver as a trade candidate, losing Edwar Colina to the Texas Rangers for nothing, coaching staff changes, Arizona Fall League rosters and more Minnesota Twins offseason news items.
  9. Talking about Mitch Garver as a trade candidate, losing Edwar Colina to the Texas Rangers for nothing, coaching staff changes, Arizona Fall League rosters and more Minnesota Twins offseason news items. View full video
  10. Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers entered the 2021 season with hopes of being one of baseball’s best catching duos. Unfortunately, both players struggled at times, which casts doubt on the future of Twins catching. In recent years, Minnesota has successfully utilized a two-catcher rotation. In 2019, Mitch Garver and Jason Castro split catching duties, with both players posting OPS+ totals of 100 or more. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has been a big fan of rest and recovery during his tenure. This rotational system for catchers allows for regular rest at one of the most grueling positions in the sport. One reason the Garver-Castro pairing worked so well was that Garver bats right-handed and Castro bats left-handed. This allowed for a more natural platoon of the batters. Entering this season, there was hope that Garver and Ryan Jeffers would settle into their two-catcher rotation. Like many things for the 2021 Twins, the plan didn’t work, and one reason is the handedness of the catchers. Neither catcher was hitting very well in the season’s first month. Garver ended April by hitting .172/.213/.431 (.644) with 27 strikeouts and seven extra-base hits in 18 games. Jeffers hit .147/.216/.176 (.393), with one of his five hits being for extra bases. Baldelli tried to get Garver’s bat going by having him face more lefties, but that doesn’t help Jeffers, who has hit .189/.259/.385 (.644) against righties in 2021. At the end of April, the Twins moved Jeffers to Triple-A, a minor league level where he had yet to appear. Jeffers hit .217/.340/.446 (.786) with the Saints this year, including a 26 to 16 strikeout to walk ratio. Garver’s bat took off after Jeffers’ demotion. In 22 games, he hit .281/.438/.579 (1.017) with nine extra-base hits. It looked like the 2019 version of Garver was back. In early June, Garver suffered a gruesome "groin" injury that kept him out a month and made it necessary to call up Jeffers. Since early June, Jeffers has posted a .714 OPS with 23 extra-base hits in 71 games. Garver returned in July, and he has a .998 OPS with 12 extra-base hits in 24 games. Garver is one of baseball’s best offensive catchers when healthy, so does that make him a tradable asset? Minnesota’s off-season plan will include acquiring starting pitching, which means spending big on free agents or trading away players and prospects. Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are both under team control for multiple years, so it makes sense to deal one of these players away if it helps the team rebuild for the short term. Garver knows the future is uncertain for the Twins. “You never really know what the organization is thinking,” Garver said. “You saw it in ’18, they traded away some homegrown guys that had been a staple in the lineup for a long time. And you saw what we did in ’19 when we turned it around, won 100 games with the lineup that we have, added a few pieces and we were a really good team. Who knows what could happen?” Minnesota also has Ben Rortvedt as an option to fill the backup catcher role. He is considered the best defensive catcher out of the three, and he is left-handed to help form a more natural platoon. However, there are questions about how much he can hit at the big-league level. At Triple-A this season, he hit .254/.324/.426 (.750), but his OPS is 240 points lower with the Twins. In a part-time role, Rortvedt might find success, especially if he is only facing right-handed pitching. Many fans have questions about Minnesota’s direction moving forward. Will the team enter 2022 with both Garver and Jeffers on the roster? Can Rortvedt be the team’s regular back-up catcher? 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
  11. In recent years, Minnesota has successfully utilized a two-catcher rotation. In 2019, Mitch Garver and Jason Castro split catching duties, with both players posting OPS+ totals of 100 or more. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has been a big fan of rest and recovery during his tenure. This rotational system for catchers allows for regular rest at one of the most grueling positions in the sport. One reason the Garver-Castro pairing worked so well was that Garver bats right-handed and Castro bats left-handed. This allowed for a more natural platoon of the batters. Entering this season, there was hope that Garver and Ryan Jeffers would settle into their two-catcher rotation. Like many things for the 2021 Twins, the plan didn’t work, and one reason is the handedness of the catchers. Neither catcher was hitting very well in the season’s first month. Garver ended April by hitting .172/.213/.431 (.644) with 27 strikeouts and seven extra-base hits in 18 games. Jeffers hit .147/.216/.176 (.393), with one of his five hits being for extra bases. Baldelli tried to get Garver’s bat going by having him face more lefties, but that doesn’t help Jeffers, who has hit .189/.259/.385 (.644) against righties in 2021. At the end of April, the Twins moved Jeffers to Triple-A, a minor league level where he had yet to appear. Jeffers hit .217/.340/.446 (.786) with the Saints this year, including a 26 to 16 strikeout to walk ratio. Garver’s bat took off after Jeffers’ demotion. In 22 games, he hit .281/.438/.579 (1.017) with nine extra-base hits. It looked like the 2019 version of Garver was back. In early June, Garver suffered a gruesome "groin" injury that kept him out a month and made it necessary to call up Jeffers. Since early June, Jeffers has posted a .714 OPS with 23 extra-base hits in 71 games. Garver returned in July, and he has a .998 OPS with 12 extra-base hits in 24 games. Garver is one of baseball’s best offensive catchers when healthy, so does that make him a tradable asset? Minnesota’s off-season plan will include acquiring starting pitching, which means spending big on free agents or trading away players and prospects. Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are both under team control for multiple years, so it makes sense to deal one of these players away if it helps the team rebuild for the short term. Garver knows the future is uncertain for the Twins. “You never really know what the organization is thinking,” Garver said. “You saw it in ’18, they traded away some homegrown guys that had been a staple in the lineup for a long time. And you saw what we did in ’19 when we turned it around, won 100 games with the lineup that we have, added a few pieces and we were a really good team. Who knows what could happen?” Minnesota also has Ben Rortvedt as an option to fill the backup catcher role. He is considered the best defensive catcher out of the three, and he is left-handed to help form a more natural platoon. However, there are questions about how much he can hit at the big-league level. At Triple-A this season, he hit .254/.324/.426 (.750), but his OPS is 240 points lower with the Twins. In a part-time role, Rortvedt might find success, especially if he is only facing right-handed pitching. Many fans have questions about Minnesota’s direction moving forward. Will the team enter 2022 with both Garver and Jeffers on the roster? Can Rortvedt be the team’s regular back-up catcher? 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
  12. Suggesting that 2020 was an awful year for Mitch Garver would be putting it lightly. Even with the small sample size, he left plenty to be desired going into the season. But now, where has the dust settled? In trying to play a season through a global pandemic plenty was made regarding the small sample size even a full slate of games would provide. Offering players just 60 games of runway largely invalidated the length necessary for baseball statistics to normalize. For Minnesota Twins catcher Mitch Garver, the total was just 23 games and his .511 OPS looked like a far cry from his Bomba Squad contributions a year prior. Shelved for the stretch run, Garver ceded time to rookie Ryan Jeffers. The 2018 draftee was selected for his bat and the .791 OPS through his first 26 games at the big league level made things interesting. It appeared that the Twins would either have a nice tandem if Mitch returned to form, or that their new pick would unseat the veteran. Fast forward to where we are today, and the roles have reversed. Through 79 games this season Jeffers has just a .666 OPS and was demoted to Triple-A in favor of non-hitting defensive option Ben Rortvedt. Garver meanwhile has rebounded to the tune of an .880 OPS but again has been hampered by injuries and played in just 61 games. Missing most of his time this season due to an unfortunate foul ball ricochet, it’s fair to suggest that Garver’s injury situation has been fluky at best. Recently a nagging back has kept him out, but a return to the lineup for the final two weeks has now commenced. The production itself has returned, but we’re dealing with a sample that would’ve been considered too small just a season ago. That leaves Derek Falvey and Thad Levine in an interesting position going into the offseason. 2020 saw the Twins opting for a split with veteran backstop Alex Avila. It’d be unfortunate if the roster needs a player like that given Minnesota’s internal options. What needs to happen however, is that this version of Mitch Garver continues to present itself over the course of a full season in 2022. The knock on Garver has always been his defensive ability. Ratcheting up his framing prowess and receiving skills took his game to new heights, and the bat that has always been his calling card has stood out since his true emergence on the big league roster. With an electronic strike zone looking more likely than not, the Twins need a thumping version of Garver to remain productive. At 30-years-old there’s not much reason to worry about the expense side of the equation. Under team control until he’s entering his age-34 season, Garver could be carried through arbitration without ever truly needing a long-term extension. Minnesota certainly could opt to keep Garver around if his production warrants it past his prime, but the incentive to do so will be entirely results based as opposed to necessary projection. There’s plenty up in the air when it comes to the Twins in 2022. A team that was supposed to compete should have never flopped this hard. It’s been great to see Mitch Garver take back the reigns on his career however, and looking for a full runway of games, the goal will be to replicate the offensive performance once again. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  13. The offensive juices ran dry once again for the Twins, leading to a series split against the playoff-hopeful Blue Jays. Box Score: Griffin Jax: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (83 pitches, 61 strikes) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (16) Win Probability Chart: Top 3 WPA: Mitch Garver (.122) Byron Buxton (.096) Jake Cave (.091) Bottom 3 WPA: Nick Gordon (-.188); Josh Donaldson (-.188) Griffin Jax (-.169) Jax Maxes Out It’s been a tough rookie season for Griffin Jax. After being called up in early June, Jax became a full-time starter almost immediately. He’s shown glimmers of hope, but today was not one of those days. After today’s outing, his ERA rose slightly to 6.78 on the season. Nothing to write home about, per se, but a good outing against the Blue Jays at that. This leaves questions to be asked about his role for next season. Ted Schwerzler took a look at the future of this role (and many others) earlier this week. Lord Byron is Back! Even the mighty need some time to heat up after returning from the IL. Since returning from the IL on August 27th, Byron Buxton hasn’t quite lived up to the bar of his MVP-caliber run in the first half of the season. However, Buxton seems to be heating back up, just in time for the end of the season. Today, he hit his 6th home run of the month, putting him just one less than Jorge Polanco. Since coming back from the IL, the Twins have been 14-14 in games that Buxton plays in. Even though the games don’t matter on paper, Buxton gives hope to all Twins fans for next year on the horizon. In the meantime, enjoy Buxton’s bomb from today. GarvSauce: Good as Gravy Mitch Garver finds himself in a very similar but elongated boat as Byron Buxton. Long IL stint: check. Painful recovery post IL stint: check. The past year hasn’t been kind to Mitch. However, Garver continues to bounce back to his 2019 ways with another double today that almost left the ballpark. Since coming back from this latest stint, Garver has been a gravy train that can’t be stopped with back-to-back multi-hit games before today. If this continues, Garver will finish the season with a line slightly higher than his career numbers, showing that continued improvement is on the horizon. Around the Bases Max Kepler came back to the lineup with two singles under his belt, his first multi-hit game since his undisclosed (but non-COVID) illness. Jake Cave hushed his haters by driving in the first run of the game. Although Miguel Sano later struck out to leave two runners stranded, he produced a big double off of Alek Manoah. Nick Vincent balked. Bullpen Usage WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Vincent 0 13 0 0 33 46 Coulombe 0 0 0 37 0 37 Farrell 0 19 0 18 0 37 Garza Jr. 0 16 0 0 18 34 Barraclough 0 0 0 33 0 33 Minaya 13 0 19 0 0 32 Thielbar 0 14 0 0 17 31 Duffey 12 0 17 0 0 29 Colomé 24 0 5 0 0 29 Moran 0 0 0 19 0 19 Alcalá 10 0 6 0 0 16 Postgame Interviews View full article
  14. Box Score: Griffin Jax: 5 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (83 pitches, 61 strikes) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (16) Win Probability Chart: Top 3 WPA: Mitch Garver (.122) Byron Buxton (.096) Jake Cave (.091) Bottom 3 WPA: Nick Gordon (-.188); Josh Donaldson (-.188) Griffin Jax (-.169) Jax Maxes Out It’s been a tough rookie season for Griffin Jax. After being called up in early June, Jax became a full-time starter almost immediately. He’s shown glimmers of hope, but today was not one of those days. After today’s outing, his ERA rose slightly to 6.78 on the season. Nothing to write home about, per se, but a good outing against the Blue Jays at that. This leaves questions to be asked about his role for next season. Ted Schwerzler took a look at the future of this role (and many others) earlier this week. Lord Byron is Back! Even the mighty need some time to heat up after returning from the IL. Since returning from the IL on August 27th, Byron Buxton hasn’t quite lived up to the bar of his MVP-caliber run in the first half of the season. However, Buxton seems to be heating back up, just in time for the end of the season. Today, he hit his 6th home run of the month, putting him just one less than Jorge Polanco. Since coming back from the IL, the Twins have been 14-14 in games that Buxton plays in. Even though the games don’t matter on paper, Buxton gives hope to all Twins fans for next year on the horizon. In the meantime, enjoy Buxton’s bomb from today. GarvSauce: Good as Gravy Mitch Garver finds himself in a very similar but elongated boat as Byron Buxton. Long IL stint: check. Painful recovery post IL stint: check. The past year hasn’t been kind to Mitch. However, Garver continues to bounce back to his 2019 ways with another double today that almost left the ballpark. Since coming back from this latest stint, Garver has been a gravy train that can’t be stopped with back-to-back multi-hit games before today. If this continues, Garver will finish the season with a line slightly higher than his career numbers, showing that continued improvement is on the horizon. Around the Bases Max Kepler came back to the lineup with two singles under his belt, his first multi-hit game since his undisclosed (but non-COVID) illness. Jake Cave hushed his haters by driving in the first run of the game. Although Miguel Sano later struck out to leave two runners stranded, he produced a big double off of Alek Manoah. Nick Vincent balked. Bullpen Usage WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Vincent 0 13 0 0 33 46 Coulombe 0 0 0 37 0 37 Farrell 0 19 0 18 0 37 Garza Jr. 0 16 0 0 18 34 Barraclough 0 0 0 33 0 33 Minaya 13 0 19 0 0 32 Thielbar 0 14 0 0 17 31 Duffey 12 0 17 0 0 29 Colomé 24 0 5 0 0 29 Moran 0 0 0 19 0 19 Alcalá 10 0 6 0 0 16 Postgame Interviews
  15. Nick Gordon posted the best game of his young Major League career as the Minnesota Twins scored seven runs to beat the playoff-hopeful Toronto Blue Jays. Box Score Pineda: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home runs: Gordon (4) Top 3 WPA: Garver .245, Gordon .202, Buxton .180 Win Probability Chart (Via FanGraphs) The Minnesota Twins leaned on Michael Pineda on the mound tonight in what could be one of his final starts as a member of the organization. Big Mike provided a steady start for the Twins, tossing five innings, allowing just eight hits and two runs and striking out two. The first run the Blue Jays scored was right away in the top of the second inning when Lourdes Gurriel knocked an RBI double. The Twins quickly rebounded in the third inning, though, when they got a leadoff double from Byron Buxton followed by an RBI single from Jorge Polanco and later an RBI single from Mitch Garver. The Blue Jays quickly rebounded in the fourth inning when Teoscar Hernandez hit a solo home run off of Pineda to tie the game, his 30th home run of the season. After that, though, it was all Minnesota the rest of the way, highlighted by the bat of red-hot Nick Gordon who smashed a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and an RBI single in the seventh. The home run was Gordon’s fourth on the season, and his four-RBI game marks a career high for the long-time Twins prospect. Nick Gordon’s batting average is now up to .263 on the season with a respectable OPS of .711. Gordon continues to make a case for a roster spot on the 2022 team. The Twins’ bullpen was nails in relief of Michael Pineda as they received four scoreless innings from a combination of Nick Vincent, Caleb Thielbar, Luke Farrell and Ralph Garza, Jr. In the end, the Twins took the game 7-2 and won their third straight game to move their record to 68-85 on the season. Postgame Interviews What’s Next The Minnesota Twins will continue their four-game home series against the Blue Jays on Friday night, sending Bailey Ober to the mound to face off against former Twins’ ace, José Berríos. Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN TUE WED THU TOT Barraclough 32 0 35 0 0 67 Vincent 0 40 0 0 13 53 Thielbar 0 22 16 0 14 52 Minaya 0 36 0 13 0 49 Moran 34 0 0 0 0 34 Farrell 0 34 0 0 19 53 Duffey 0 0 11 12 0 23 Alcalá 0 0 10 10 0 20 Colomé 0 0 7 24 0 31 Garza Jr. 17 0 0 0 16 33 Coulombe 0 0 17 0 0 17 View full article
  16. Minnesota Twins utility man Nick Gordon is having a tremendous finish to the season, peaking in September in his first big league season. He had three more hits tonight, including a home run, and drove in four runs as the Twins beat the Blue Jays. Also featured in this video are Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, Michael Pineda, B.J. Boyd, Jimmy Kerrigan, Ben Rortvedt, Tomas Telis, Mark Contreras, Jose Miranda and Ryan Mason.
  17. Minnesota Twins utility man Nick Gordon is having a tremendous finish to the season, peaking in September in his first big league season. He had three more hits tonight, including a home run, and drove in four runs as the Twins beat the Blue Jays. Also featured in this video are Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, Michael Pineda, B.J. Boyd, Jimmy Kerrigan, Ben Rortvedt, Tomas Telis, Mark Contreras, Jose Miranda and Ryan Mason. View full video
  18. Box Score Pineda: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home runs: Gordon (4) Top 3 WPA: Garver .245, Gordon .202, Buxton .180 Win Probability Chart (Via FanGraphs) The Minnesota Twins leaned on Michael Pineda on the mound tonight in what could be one of his final starts as a member of the organization. Big Mike provided a steady start for the Twins, tossing five innings, allowing just eight hits and two runs and striking out two. The first run the Blue Jays scored was right away in the top of the second inning when Lourdes Gurriel knocked an RBI double. The Twins quickly rebounded in the third inning, though, when they got a leadoff double from Byron Buxton followed by an RBI single from Jorge Polanco and later an RBI single from Mitch Garver. The Blue Jays quickly rebounded in the fourth inning when Teoscar Hernandez hit a solo home run off of Pineda to tie the game, his 30th home run of the season. After that, though, it was all Minnesota the rest of the way, highlighted by the bat of red-hot Nick Gordon who smashed a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and an RBI single in the seventh. The home run was Gordon’s fourth on the season, and his four-RBI game marks a career high for the long-time Twins prospect. Nick Gordon’s batting average is now up to .263 on the season with a respectable OPS of .711. Gordon continues to make a case for a roster spot on the 2022 team. The Twins’ bullpen was nails in relief of Michael Pineda as they received four scoreless innings from a combination of Nick Vincent, Caleb Thielbar, Luke Farrell and Ralph Garza, Jr. In the end, the Twins took the game 7-2 and won their third straight game to move their record to 68-85 on the season. Postgame Interviews What’s Next The Minnesota Twins will continue their four-game home series against the Blue Jays on Friday night, sending Bailey Ober to the mound to face off against former Twins’ ace, José Berríos. Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN TUE WED THU TOT Barraclough 32 0 35 0 0 67 Vincent 0 40 0 0 13 53 Thielbar 0 22 16 0 14 52 Minaya 0 36 0 13 0 49 Moran 34 0 0 0 0 34 Farrell 0 34 0 0 19 53 Duffey 0 0 11 12 0 23 Alcalá 0 0 10 10 0 20 Colomé 0 0 7 24 0 31 Garza Jr. 17 0 0 0 16 33 Coulombe 0 0 17 0 0 17
  19. The Twins won a marathon game 9-5 in Chicago on Tuesday night. In an offensive outburst, Josh Donaldson, Max Kepler, Nick Gordon, and Mitch Garver all had three hits to pace the Twins. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Jax 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K Homeruns: Gordon (3) Top 3 WPA: Gordon .217, Donaldson .192, Buxton .175 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The battle for 2022 draft positions continued on Tuesday night, as Minnesota kicked off a two-game set in Chicago against the Cubs. Here’s how the Twins lined up to face Alec Mills. The Twins got off to a strong start, with back-to-back singles putting Luis Arraez on third and Byron Buxton on first base. Buxton stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by Wilson Contreras, with Arraez scoring. A Josh Donaldson sacrifice fly made it 2-0 Twins after the top of the first. The Cubs immediately chipped away at the Twins lead, scoring one in the first, one in the second, and one in the third. The later two runs came from solo home runs from Trayce Thompson and Willson Contreras, giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead after three innings. The familiar home run bug has continued to bite Griffin Jax, who only managed to make it through three innings. The Twins fought back in the top of the fourth inning. A Josh Donaldson walk, wild pitch, and Max Kepler single cut the deficit to 3-2. A Nick Gordon home run to left center field added two more runs, giving the Twins a 5-3 lead. The Twins continued to add to their lead in the top of the fifth. A Luis Arraez walk and Byron Buxton single were backed up by further singles from Josh Donaldson and Max Kepler, increasing the Twins lead to 7-3. The Cubs trimmed the lead in the sixth inning. A Rafael Ortega single was followed up by a Frank Schwindel double. Jorge Alcala replaced Danny Coulombe and struck out Wilson Contreras, but allowed a Patrick Wisdom single, scoring two runs. Alcala, however, has been on a recent run of good form which is encouraging news for a bullpen which needs padding heading into 2022. The Twins immediately increased the lead. Doubles from Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sano, followed by singles from Nick Gordon and Mitch Garver added two runs, pushing the lead to 9-5 and giving the Twins offense 16 hits on the night. Byron Buxton was hit by a pitch in the foot in the top of the ninth inning. Mercifully, Alexander Colome threw a scoreless inning to draw a marathon four-hour game to a close, bringing the Twins record for the season to 66-85. Bullpen Usage Chart THU FRI SAT SUN TUE TOT Barraclough 0 0 32 0 35 67 Vincent 0 0 0 40 0 40 Thielbar 0 0 0 22 16 38 Minaya 0 0 0 36 0 36 Moran 0 0 34 0 0 34 Farrell 0 0 0 34 0 34 Duffey 0 16 0 0 11 27 Alcalá 0 13 0 0 10 23 Colomé 0 14 0 0 7 21 Garza Jr. 0 0 17 0 0 17 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 17 17 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will finish their short series in Chicago. Joe Ryan will take the mound against Kyle Hendricks. First pitch is at 6:40 CST. Postgame Interviews View full article
  20. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Jax 3 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K Homeruns: Gordon (3) Top 3 WPA: Gordon .217, Donaldson .192, Buxton .175 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The battle for 2022 draft positions continued on Tuesday night, as Minnesota kicked off a two-game set in Chicago against the Cubs. Here’s how the Twins lined up to face Alec Mills. The Twins got off to a strong start, with back-to-back singles putting Luis Arraez on third and Byron Buxton on first base. Buxton stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by Wilson Contreras, with Arraez scoring. A Josh Donaldson sacrifice fly made it 2-0 Twins after the top of the first. The Cubs immediately chipped away at the Twins lead, scoring one in the first, one in the second, and one in the third. The later two runs came from solo home runs from Trayce Thompson and Willson Contreras, giving the Cubs a 3-1 lead after three innings. The familiar home run bug has continued to bite Griffin Jax, who only managed to make it through three innings. The Twins fought back in the top of the fourth inning. A Josh Donaldson walk, wild pitch, and Max Kepler single cut the deficit to 3-2. A Nick Gordon home run to left center field added two more runs, giving the Twins a 5-3 lead. The Twins continued to add to their lead in the top of the fifth. A Luis Arraez walk and Byron Buxton single were backed up by further singles from Josh Donaldson and Max Kepler, increasing the Twins lead to 7-3. The Cubs trimmed the lead in the sixth inning. A Rafael Ortega single was followed up by a Frank Schwindel double. Jorge Alcala replaced Danny Coulombe and struck out Wilson Contreras, but allowed a Patrick Wisdom single, scoring two runs. Alcala, however, has been on a recent run of good form which is encouraging news for a bullpen which needs padding heading into 2022. The Twins immediately increased the lead. Doubles from Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sano, followed by singles from Nick Gordon and Mitch Garver added two runs, pushing the lead to 9-5 and giving the Twins offense 16 hits on the night. Byron Buxton was hit by a pitch in the foot in the top of the ninth inning. Mercifully, Alexander Colome threw a scoreless inning to draw a marathon four-hour game to a close, bringing the Twins record for the season to 66-85. Bullpen Usage Chart THU FRI SAT SUN TUE TOT Barraclough 0 0 32 0 35 67 Vincent 0 0 0 40 0 40 Thielbar 0 0 0 22 16 38 Minaya 0 0 0 36 0 36 Moran 0 0 34 0 0 34 Farrell 0 0 0 34 0 34 Duffey 0 16 0 0 11 27 Alcalá 0 13 0 0 10 23 Colomé 0 14 0 0 7 21 Garza Jr. 0 0 17 0 0 17 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 17 17 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will finish their short series in Chicago. Joe Ryan will take the mound against Kyle Hendricks. First pitch is at 6:40 CST. Postgame Interviews
  21. Last season Mitch Garver was a non-factor at the dish for Minnesota. He played just 23 games in the shortened calendar but also posted a paltry .511 OPS. His expected on-base prowess had fallen off, and the power production was non-existent. Amid failed expectations, there was an intercostal injury that placed him on the shelf. In talking with Garver and through observation while he was active, there was an evident inability to uncork his traditional swing path. The muscle strain was hampering his typical swing and had him late and less than effective when making contact. While all players deal with injuries or fatigue during a season, this was something Garver couldn’t produce through. Fast forward to 2021, and we have seen the same stellar catcher that exploded onto the scene two seasons ago. Although he started slow and missed time due to a gruesome injury, he now has 50 games under his belt and is toting a .901 OPS. Since May 1, Garver owns a 1.060 OPS, and that number jumps up to 1.180 since returning from the Injured List. Blasting his way through opposing pitching staffs, Garver is working harder by carrying a 1.038 OPS against righties. Now 30-year-old and under team control through 2023, there’s not much reason to extend the backstop. However, it is worth making the argument that Mitch may be the best catcher in baseball, and that’s something that the Twins would love to have at their disposal when retooling for another run at the division and beyond. Joining him in this year of resurgence is none other than Jorge Polanco. After adding 22 dingers to the Bomba Squad tally in 2019, Polanco quite literally limped through 55 games and a .658 OPS last season. He was consistently bailing out on swings, revealing that his surgically-repaired ankle was never truly right. Like Garver and many Twins batters, for that matter, Polanco got off to a slow start in 2021. Even despite that, he’s now racked up 100 games worth of action and has an .811 OPS to show for it. It’s all but certain that a new career-high in homers is coming, and the move to second base has proven to be a successful if not welcomed change of scenery. Since July 1, Polanco owns a .963 OPS with a .325 average. He’s finding gaps, putting the ball over the fence, and looking like every bit of his swing exudes both confidence and power. Rocco Baldelli needed this version of Polanco back, and this is the guy Derek Falvey believed he extended before the 2019 season. There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical about the Twins chances in 2022. They had a clear retooling opportunity, but the trade of Jose Berrios is a significant blow to their need for immediate pitching help. The front office will set out to find a new group of supplementing talent, but this internal pair is one they should again feel confident in for the year ahead. Minnesota was seen as a contender coming into 2021 due mainly to the expectations placed on the holdovers. Many failed to reach those marks, and some have still had more questions than answers. For Garver and Polanco, though, it’s never been more clear what’s left in the tank. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. In a year that the Minnesota Twins have been devastated and decimated by injury, two players are seeing their production creep back up thanks to a clean bill of health. Last season Mitch Garver was a non-factor at the dish for Minnesota. He played just 23 games in the shortened calendar but also posted a paltry .511 OPS. His expected on-base prowess had fallen off, and the power production was non-existent. Amid failed expectations, there was an intercostal injury that placed him on the shelf. In talking with Garver and through observation while he was active, there was an evident inability to uncork his traditional swing path. The muscle strain was hampering his typical swing and had him late and less than effective when making contact. While all players deal with injuries or fatigue during a season, this was something Garver couldn’t produce through. Fast forward to 2021, and we have seen the same stellar catcher that exploded onto the scene two seasons ago. Although he started slow and missed time due to a gruesome injury, he now has 50 games under his belt and is toting a .901 OPS. Since May 1, Garver owns a 1.060 OPS, and that number jumps up to 1.180 since returning from the Injured List. Blasting his way through opposing pitching staffs, Garver is working harder by carrying a 1.038 OPS against righties. Now 30-year-old and under team control through 2023, there’s not much reason to extend the backstop. However, it is worth making the argument that Mitch may be the best catcher in baseball, and that’s something that the Twins would love to have at their disposal when retooling for another run at the division and beyond. Joining him in this year of resurgence is none other than Jorge Polanco. After adding 22 dingers to the Bomba Squad tally in 2019, Polanco quite literally limped through 55 games and a .658 OPS last season. He was consistently bailing out on swings, revealing that his surgically-repaired ankle was never truly right. Like Garver and many Twins batters, for that matter, Polanco got off to a slow start in 2021. Even despite that, he’s now racked up 100 games worth of action and has an .811 OPS to show for it. It’s all but certain that a new career-high in homers is coming, and the move to second base has proven to be a successful if not welcomed change of scenery. Since July 1, Polanco owns a .963 OPS with a .325 average. He’s finding gaps, putting the ball over the fence, and looking like every bit of his swing exudes both confidence and power. Rocco Baldelli needed this version of Polanco back, and this is the guy Derek Falvey believed he extended before the 2019 season. There’s plenty of reason to be skeptical about the Twins chances in 2022. They had a clear retooling opportunity, but the trade of Jose Berrios is a significant blow to their need for immediate pitching help. The front office will set out to find a new group of supplementing talent, but this internal pair is one they should again feel confident in for the year ahead. Minnesota was seen as a contender coming into 2021 due mainly to the expectations placed on the holdovers. Many failed to reach those marks, and some have still had more questions than answers. For Garver and Polanco, though, it’s never been more clear what’s left in the tank. 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
  23. Box Score Bailey Ober: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (64 pitches, 44 strikes (68.8%)) Home Runs: Jeffers (9), Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco (0.126), Bailey Ober (0.117), Miguel Sano (.109) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Return of Arraez Before Saturday’s game, the Twins announced that Luis Arraez was being activated from the Injured List. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to Triple-A St. Paul (will he finally make his Saints debut?). He was put into the cleanup spot in the Twins lineup. It paid immediate dividends for the team. In the first inning, he came up with runners on second and third base. He gave the Twins a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly. He added another RBI his second time up. With runners on first and second, he hit a double down the right field line. He added a walk later in the game. Bailey’s Big Hit Bailey Ober had not had an at-bat in a baseball game in eight years, since he and Vikings center Garrett Bradbury were starring at Charlotte Christian High School in North Carolina. He stepped to the plate, and on an 0-1 pitch, lined a single to right field for his first big-league hit. OK, softly lined a single to right field. It doesn’t matter. Congratulations to Ober! The Twins' pitchers haven’t had a lot of hits of late. More importantly, Bailey Ober pitched well. He began with three scoreless innings, and then in the fourth, he gave up a run but was able to limit damage with a big double play ball. Despite a 7-1 lead, Ober was due to bat for the third time but Willians Astudillo pinch hit and grounded a single through the infield to give the Twins an 8-1 lead. Ober’s fastball sat between 92 and 93 mph, but he is able to get swings and misses with it up in the strike zone. Why? As important, the Twins bullpen combined for five shutout innings. Jorge Alcala worked two innings, and then Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya and Alexander Colome each pitched one inning. (see the bullpen usage chart below) Jeffers Jolts In the third inning, Ryan Jeffers came to the plate and hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 7-0 lead. It was his ninth homer of the season, but it was his third in his past two starts. Remember, he had two homers in that crazy, 17-14 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday. In his past nine games, Jeffers is 9-for-29 (.310) with two doubles, three homers and an OPS north of 1.000). Since returning from the IL, Mitch Garver has played in five games and hit .278 (1.324 OPS) with two doubles, three homers and ten RBI. After both struggled mightily at the plate in April, Twins fans are now seeing what we thought we might from the Twins catching duo. It feels appropriate to talk about the performance of Twins catchers on a night when Hall of Fame catcher Ted Simmons' number was retired by the Cardinals and a statue of his likeness was unveiled outside the stadium. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Coulombe 0 10 0 0 23 0 33 Thielbar 13 16 0 0 0 14 43 Alcala 0 11 0 0 0 21 32 Gant 0 0 24 0 0 0 24 Colomé 16 0 0 0 0 16 32 Minaya 0 0 45 0 0 18 63 Duffey 11 7 0 0 32 0 50 Burrows 0 0 63 0 0 0 63
  24. After a long and emotional trade deadline day on Friday that ended in another Twins loss, the team came out hitting on Saturday and the pitching backed them up on the way to a nice 8-1 win in St. Louis. Box Score Bailey Ober: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (64 pitches, 44 strikes (68.8%)) Home Runs: Jeffers (9), Top 3 WPA: Jorge Polanco (0.126), Bailey Ober (0.117), Miguel Sano (.109) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Return of Arraez Before Saturday’s game, the Twins announced that Luis Arraez was being activated from the Injured List. Gilberto Celestino was optioned to Triple-A St. Paul (will he finally make his Saints debut?). He was put into the cleanup spot in the Twins lineup. It paid immediate dividends for the team. In the first inning, he came up with runners on second and third base. He gave the Twins a 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly. He added another RBI his second time up. With runners on first and second, he hit a double down the right field line. He added a walk later in the game. Bailey’s Big Hit Bailey Ober had not had an at-bat in a baseball game in eight years, since he and Vikings center Garrett Bradbury were starring at Charlotte Christian High School in North Carolina. He stepped to the plate, and on an 0-1 pitch, lined a single to right field for his first big-league hit. OK, softly lined a single to right field. It doesn’t matter. Congratulations to Ober! The Twins' pitchers haven’t had a lot of hits of late. More importantly, Bailey Ober pitched well. He began with three scoreless innings, and then in the fourth, he gave up a run but was able to limit damage with a big double play ball. Despite a 7-1 lead, Ober was due to bat for the third time but Willians Astudillo pinch hit and grounded a single through the infield to give the Twins an 8-1 lead. Ober’s fastball sat between 92 and 93 mph, but he is able to get swings and misses with it up in the strike zone. Why? As important, the Twins bullpen combined for five shutout innings. Jorge Alcala worked two innings, and then Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya and Alexander Colome each pitched one inning. (see the bullpen usage chart below) Jeffers Jolts In the third inning, Ryan Jeffers came to the plate and hit a three-run homer to give the Twins a 7-0 lead. It was his ninth homer of the season, but it was his third in his past two starts. Remember, he had two homers in that crazy, 17-14 loss to the Tigers on Wednesday. In his past nine games, Jeffers is 9-for-29 (.310) with two doubles, three homers and an OPS north of 1.000). Since returning from the IL, Mitch Garver has played in five games and hit .278 (1.324 OPS) with two doubles, three homers and ten RBI. After both struggled mightily at the plate in April, Twins fans are now seeing what we thought we might from the Twins catching duo. It feels appropriate to talk about the performance of Twins catchers on a night when Hall of Fame catcher Ted Simmons' number was retired by the Cardinals and a statue of his likeness was unveiled outside the stadium. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Coulombe 0 10 0 0 23 0 33 Thielbar 13 16 0 0 0 14 43 Alcala 0 11 0 0 0 21 32 Gant 0 0 24 0 0 0 24 Colomé 16 0 0 0 0 16 32 Minaya 0 0 45 0 0 18 63 Duffey 11 7 0 0 32 0 50 Burrows 0 0 63 0 0 0 63 View full article
  25. We still have a ways to go, and while there is no August waiver trade period in 2021, Rocco Baldelli’s roster should continue to get a shake-up over the next few weeks. Cycling in different hitters and pitchers when attempting to find future opportunities, this club can also look back on what has been and begin making assessments for 2022 and beyond. While not all the biggest storylines, here are five key takeaways from what we’ve seen to this point: Miguel Sano is inconsistently consistent Through 21 games to start the year, Sano owned a .119/.280/.209 slash line. Over his next 38 games from May 15 through June 30, he held a .233/.280/.549 slash line. Then, in July, he’s owned a .246/.325/.478 slash line across 20 games. He’s got a .737 OPS in 79 games this year and has paired that with 17 homers and a .291 OBP. If you’re looking for Miguel Sano to be the mega-prospect he once was considered, that’s probably on you at this point. The slash line still leaves plenty to be desired, but he’s got a 103 OPS+ and has not wavered on a solid sense of plate discipline. Timing continues to elude him for frustrating stretches, but he’s also capable of going on an absolute power tear. Should the Twins find themselves back in a position of strength throughout their lineup, a bat like that in the bottom half is hardly something to scoff at. He’s owed $9.25 million in 2022, and that’s an overpay but not to the extent of being ultimately damaging and acting as a primary designated hitter; that may be the role he’s always been destined for anyways. Nick Gordon has utility I was convinced that opportunity had passed the Twins former first-round pick by for quite a while. I knew he could play at the big-league level but wasn’t sure it would happen in a Minnesota uniform. Now I’m more convinced that it needs to continue. He’s still the same player he’s been throughout the minors. A soft-hitting speedster that will occasionally run into one, this is a singles hitter that has the instincts to swipe bases. Add in the utility he’s provided by learning centerfield on the fly, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster in 2022. Gordon may find a bit more success in year two when it comes to batting average; he’s made a career out of taking steps forward after acclimating to a level. Even if he doesn’t, though, speed on the bench is something Minnesota hasn’t had, and the combination of being a lighter version of Chris Taylor is a good thing for any roster to have. Mitch Garver can still mash To say that 2020 was disastrous for Mitch Garver would be putting it lightly. The Twins Silver Slugger winning catcher posted a terrible .511 OPS and hit just two homers in 23 games. Things started slow for him in 2021, with a .517 OPS being toted through 17 games. In his last 29 games since April 28, with a severe injury mixed in there, Garver has slashed .299/.449/.740 with nine homers and a 20/19 K/BB. The life-altering foul tip he took was incredibly scary, but as rehab progressed and healing took place, he’s been back behind the dish and picked up where he left off. Even after being plunked by a pitch on his hand recently, it’s fair to dream of the production that will soon return. Garver is a late-blooming prospect, so he’s going to age relatively quickly, but this is the anchor of a tandem behind the dish that Twins fans were hoping for. The pitching staff needs an overhaul Minnesota owns the fourth-worst pitching staff in baseball by fWAR in 2021. The starters rank 24th, and the relievers are 25th. The entire unit has been a complete abomination. With the uncertain status of Jose Berrios’ future and veterans like J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda being done this offseason, the rotation will be in flux. Taylor Rogers sapped his trade value with a finger injury just days ago, but whether he was dealt or not, the rest of the bullpen remains a complete question mark. None of the signings made by the front office have worked out, and while they were short-term pacts, a re-do is less exciting when considering just how many times they missed over the winter. Derek Falvey has long been lauded for his ability to develop and identify pitching. Minnesota has a farm system rich with names attached to arms, but none have begun to bear fruit, and plenty are currently injured. For this organization to thrive at the highest level, it’s going to need to start on the mound once again, and they’re going to be doing so from next to nothing for 2022. Corner rookies are real In a season where winning takes a back seat, the best way to prevent it from becoming lost is by watching your youth thrive. Alex Kirilloff is done for the year after having wrist surgery, but it’s pretty realistic to call his rookie campaign a success. The top prospect came up early and handled his own. He’s not an ideal fit in the outfield, but he’ll play at first base, and the bat is every bit as advertised. Trevor Larnach joined Kirilloff sooner than expected, but it’s hard to pick apart much of what he’s done this season. Even while slumping of late, the 24-year-old owns a .322 OBP and has shown plenty of power potential. He’ll run into more baseballs as his career progresses, and the discipline in the box has been a sight to behold. These are both pillar players that Minnesota needs to see as foundational cornerstones of future lineups, and early returns should suggest they are both capable of doing just that. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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