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  1. This year, Minnesota might not be in the playoff race, but that doesn’t mean fans have to tune out from the exciting races across baseball. Former Twins players and prospects are on nearly every contending team’s roster. Some of these players had memorable Twins tenures, while others might not have gotten a full opportunity. Either way, they are in the thick of the playoff hunt as their team’s search for October glory. Division Leaders Tampa Bay: Nelson Cruz, DH Nelson Cruz was dealt at the trade deadline in a move that brought back two top pitching prospects, including Joe Ryan. Since the trade, Cruz has posted a .776 OPS, which is 130 points lower than he had with the Twins this year. He still has a 117 OPS+, and he has some big hits in a Rays uniform. Tampa looks to go back to the World Series with Cruz as their veteran leader. Chicago: Liam Hendriks, RP Chicago paid Liam Hendriks a ton of money this winter to bring him to the Southside, and he has lived up to the hype. He leads the American League in Saves, and he has a career-high strikeout rate. Minnesota never gave Hendriks a chance in the bullpen, and some question the team’s decision to let him go. Either way, Chicago paid him to perform like this and to help the team in October. Houston: Ryan Pressly, RP Pressly was dealt to the Astros back in 2018 for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino. Both of these players have impacted the 2021 Twins, and they look to have bright futures. Ryan Pressly is in the midst of a tremendous season at the backend of the Astros bullpen. He has a sub 1.00 WHIP for the second time in his career, and his chase rate ranks in the 94th percentile. Wild Card Contenders Boston: Martin Perez, SP Twins fans may not have fond memories of Martin Perez as he posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in over 165 innings back in 2019. His time in Boston has only been slightly better. In the season’s first half, he posted a 4.04 ERA, which isn’t easy to do in the AL East. His average exit velocity and BB% both rank in the 60th percentile or higher. Toronto: Jose Berrios, SP On Sunday, Jose Berrios made his first career start against the Twins, and the Blue Jays walked away with the win. Berrios was part of a blockbuster deadline deal that brought Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to Minnesota. Toronto didn’t need Berrios to be an ace, and he has posted a 130 OPS+. Also, he has been worth more win probability added for the Blue Jays this season than with the Twins. New York: Luis Gil, SP In 2018, Gil was sent to the Yankees for Jake Cave, but he was a long way from making an impact at the big-league level. He’s been impressive across six big-league starts this season by posting a 3.07 ERA and 11.7 SO/9. Right now, the Yankees are on the outside of the playoffs, but Luis Gil might be one of the pieces to get them back into the postseason. Oakland: Deolis Guerra, RP Deolis Guerra was part of the Johan Santana trade, and Oakland is his sixth organization since leaving Minnesota. Oakland also has former Twin Sergio Romo, but Guerra has been the more valuable player this season. He ranks in the 84th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, hard-hit %, and chase rate. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. Some of these players had memorable Twins tenures, while others might not have gotten a full opportunity. Either way, they are in the thick of the playoff hunt as their team’s search for October glory. Division Leaders Tampa Bay: Nelson Cruz, DH Nelson Cruz was dealt at the trade deadline in a move that brought back two top pitching prospects, including Joe Ryan. Since the trade, Cruz has posted a .776 OPS, which is 130 points lower than he had with the Twins this year. He still has a 117 OPS+, and he has some big hits in a Rays uniform. Tampa looks to go back to the World Series with Cruz as their veteran leader. Chicago: Liam Hendriks, RP Chicago paid Liam Hendriks a ton of money this winter to bring him to the Southside, and he has lived up to the hype. He leads the American League in Saves, and he has a career-high strikeout rate. Minnesota never gave Hendriks a chance in the bullpen, and some question the team’s decision to let him go. Either way, Chicago paid him to perform like this and to help the team in October. Houston: Ryan Pressly, RP Pressly was dealt to the Astros back in 2018 for Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino. Both of these players have impacted the 2021 Twins, and they look to have bright futures. Ryan Pressly is in the midst of a tremendous season at the backend of the Astros bullpen. He has a sub 1.00 WHIP for the second time in his career, and his chase rate ranks in the 94th percentile. Wild Card Contenders Boston: Martin Perez, SP Twins fans may not have fond memories of Martin Perez as he posted a 5.12 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP in over 165 innings back in 2019. His time in Boston has only been slightly better. In the season’s first half, he posted a 4.04 ERA, which isn’t easy to do in the AL East. His average exit velocity and BB% both rank in the 60th percentile or higher. Toronto: Jose Berrios, SP On Sunday, Jose Berrios made his first career start against the Twins, and the Blue Jays walked away with the win. Berrios was part of a blockbuster deadline deal that brought Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson to Minnesota. Toronto didn’t need Berrios to be an ace, and he has posted a 130 OPS+. Also, he has been worth more win probability added for the Blue Jays this season than with the Twins. New York: Luis Gil, SP In 2018, Gil was sent to the Yankees for Jake Cave, but he was a long way from making an impact at the big-league level. He’s been impressive across six big-league starts this season by posting a 3.07 ERA and 11.7 SO/9. Right now, the Yankees are on the outside of the playoffs, but Luis Gil might be one of the pieces to get them back into the postseason. Oakland: Deolis Guerra, RP Deolis Guerra was part of the Johan Santana trade, and Oakland is his sixth organization since leaving Minnesota. Oakland also has former Twin Sergio Romo, but Guerra has been the more valuable player this season. He ranks in the 84th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, xwOBA, xSLG, hard-hit %, and chase rate. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? 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
  3. Teams are often considered to be on the losing end of trades when dealing with the Tampa Bay Rays. The brass in St. Pete does more with less, and players seem to get better when going to Florida. Did the Twins just get them for a second time though? Derek Falvey and Thad Levine made a deal with Tampa prior to the 2018 season. They sent infield prospect Jermaine Palacios out in exchange for starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. After a solid but mediocre debut season, Odorizzi was an All-Star in 2019 and posted a career best 10.1 K/9 bolstering his 3.51 ERA. Palacios had a .575 OPS as a 21-year-old during his debut season in the Tampa organization, and dropped to a .542 OPS as a 22-year-old repeating Double-A. Now back at Double-A for Minnesota, he’s 24 and owns a .745 mark at the level. Regardless of what happens with Palacios, it’s hard not to see how Odorizzi worked out a win. Could that be happening again in terms of Nelson Cruz and Joe Ryan? The Twins had to deal their designated hitter. Cruz is 41-years-old and it’s more than evident this season was lost for Minnesota. Despite his .907 OPS here, Cruz needed to be flipped for any semblance of a return at the deadline. Getting a pitcher like Ryan, capable of fitting into the top-half of a rotation, seemed like a coup for the front office. It’s far too early to make determinations on what Ryan will be, but Tampa has to be underwhelmed in what they received. Cruz just recently surpassed the .700 OPS mark (thanks in part to facing his former club), and has just a .219 average with a .273 on-base percentage. It plays for a team that needed a big bat, but Nelson hasn’t been close to the Boomstick the Twins knew him as. Minnesota must be pleased with what they’ve seen from Ryan. In 9.0 IP for St. Paul he had a 17/2 K/BB and allowed just two earned runs. After returning from the Olympics as Team USA’s ace, that was enough to earn his first big league promotion. Across five innings he surrendered three runs while punching out five and walking one. The book that was suggested at Triple-A continued to read correctly at the Major League level, and it’s a step away from what has become tradition. Ryan is not a fireballer. His average fastball velocity for the Twins sat at just 90.8 mph. In a league focused on hitting triple-digits, it’s an uphill battle for a ball like that to play. His four-seam generated an average of 2,100 RPM and is used up in the zone. Twins Daily’s Parker Hagemen broke down the success of locating that pitch, and why it should be believed that the lesser velocity can still have a tremendous effect at the highest level. One start is entirely too soon to crown Ryan as Minnesota’s next ace. From my vantage point, I’m not even sure his stuff has that type of ceiling. What I do know is that the Twins getting this much control over Ryan in exchange for two month of an aging Cruz on a bad big league team is a steal in every sense of the word. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine don’t have a good track record on the free agent market, and their trades could even be questioned at times. When they’ve dealt with Tampa though, it’s hard not to consider the front office a resounding two-for-two. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  4. There is no denying that the 2021 offseason for the Minnesota Twins went about as poorly as possible. Knowing what we know now, though, what would the ideal offseason have looked like for the Twins? This offseason, the Minnesota Twins made six free agent signings and all of them (save for Nelson Cruz) blew up in their faces. The Minnesota Twins front office misfired badly and the losing season they are going through is the result. But what if things played out differently? In a “hindsight is 20/20” thought exercise, let’s play out what the ideal version of the 2021 offseason would have looked like for the Minnesota Twins and see how the Twins front office could have best spent their offseason dollars. In this thought exercise I am giving the Minnesota Twins the same budget as they spent in their actual offseason, which was approximately $41.75M. Additionally in this exercise, the Twins’ “ideal” offseason signings will need to be signed at a 20% increase over what they actually signed for in the offseason. This 20% increase would account for the the Twins prying away the players from the teams they actually signed with, making this a more realistic scenario of what could have been. Are “what if” games pointless as they have no bearing in reality? Probably. Are they fun? You bet they are! So let’s run through these... Designated Hitter Actual Offseason signing: Nelson Cruz - 1 year, $13MM Ideal Offseason signing: Nelson Cruz - 1 year, $13MM The only of the six offseason signings from the Twins’ offseason that they would redo in our ideal version would be bringing back Nelson Cruz on a 1 year, $13MM deal. In his 214 plate appearances with the Minnesota Twins this season, Cruz posted a .907 OPS, which led the team and was third-best in baseball after Shohei Ohtani and J.D. Martinez. The Twins had a clear need at designated hitter and opted to fill that slot with Cruz which was the right choice, which is why the Twins would make that same move again, if they knew then what they know now. Middle Infield Actual offseason signing: Andrelton Simmons - 1 year, $10.5MM Ideal Offseason signing: Kolten Wong - 2 year, $21.6MM After Nelson Cruz, the Andrelton Simmons signing was the largest investment that the Minnesota Twins made last offseason. The thought was that Simmons’ bat would play well enough and that his glove would completely transform the team. While his glove has been solid (though not spectacular), Simmons is having one of the worst offensive seasons in team history, with his OPS of .565. In our ideal offseason, the Minnesota Twins would have signed Kolten Wong for a 2 year, $21.6MM contract. Wong has been excellent with the Milwaukee Brewers this year and owns a .810 OPS. Wong is only 30-years-old and would be under contract again for the Twins next season. Wong plays second base, which means the Twins would’ve needed to keep Jorge Polanco at shortstop under these circumstances, but at 2.7 fWAR compared to Simmons’s -0.3, signing Wong over Andrelton would’ve made a big difference for the Twins. Starting Pitcher Actual offseason signing: J.A. Happ - 1 year, $8MM Ideal Offseason signing: Robbie Ray - 1 year, $9.6MM The Minnesota Twins signed J.A. Happ last offseason hoping that he could fill the fourth starter role for the Twins in 2022. Instead, Happ completely imploded for Minnesota, posting a 6.77 ERA in 19 starts. What makes the Happ signing hurt even more for the Twins is that southpaw Robbie Ray signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for the identical 1 year, $8MM deal that J.A. Happ signed for. Under this exercise, the Twins would’ve needed to pay a 20% premium to guarantee Ray’s services, but for a 1 year, $9.6MM the Twins could have signed Ray who has a 2.71 ERA on the season and just became the all-time leader in K/9 in MLB history. Starting Pitcher Actual offseason signing: Matt Shoemaker - 1 year, $2MM Ideal Offseason signing: Carlos Rodón - 1 year, $3.6MM While J.A. Happ pitched terribly for the Minnesota Twins during his tenure here, Matt Shoemaker was even worse. In 16 appearances with the Twins, Shoemaker posted a 8.06 ERA and was worth -0.7 fWAR before getting DFA’d and ultimately released. At a 20% premium, the Minnesota Twins could have signed Carlos Rodón for just $3.6MM and gotten a pitcher who has been a revolution for the White Sox this year, with a 2.43 ERA and a 12.8 K/9. Relief Pitcher Actual offseason signing: Alexander Colomé - 1 year, $6.25MM Ideal Offseason signing: Sergio Romo - 1 year, $3MM Moving to the bullpen, Alexander Colomé was yet another disastrous signing for the Minnesota Twins this offseason, as he has a 4.26 ERA, six blown saves and the worst win probability added on the team. In their ideal offseason, the Minnesota Twins would have simply brought back Sergio Romo, who they let walk last offseason, for half of the price of Colomé. Romo has put together a 3.18 ERA in 54 appearances with the Oakland Athletics and has thrived there in a high-leverage role. Relief Pitcher Actual offseason signing: Hansel Robles - 1 year, $2MM Ideal Offseason signing: Collin McCugh - 1 year, $2.16MM Finally, in their ideal offseason the Minnesota Twins would have avoided Hansel Robles and his 4.91 ERA in Minnesota in favor of Collin McHugh for nearly the same price tag. McHugh signed with Tampa Bay this offseason and has been spectacular, featuring a 1.40 ERA and 11.6 K/9. Overall let’s compare the actual offseason for the Minnesota Twins to what the ideal offseason would have looked like: Actual offseason $ spent: $41.75MM Ideal offseason $ spent: $42.16MM Actual offseason fWAR acquired (with Twins): 0.2 fWAR Ideal offseason fWAR acquired: 14.4 fWAR Again, hindsight is always 20/20 and ideal history is always going to be an unfair game to play, but laying out what the ideal offseason for the Twins would have looked like is not only fun, but interesting to look at the types of players that succeeded as we try to find free agent options for the 2022 season. What trends stick out to you from the list of “ideal” free agents above? Which of the above names were you clamoring for the Twins to sign at the time? Leave a comment below and start the conversation! View full article
  5. This offseason, the Minnesota Twins made six free agent signings and all of them (save for Nelson Cruz) blew up in their faces. The Minnesota Twins front office misfired badly and the losing season they are going through is the result. But what if things played out differently? In a “hindsight is 20/20” thought exercise, let’s play out what the ideal version of the 2021 offseason would have looked like for the Minnesota Twins and see how the Twins front office could have best spent their offseason dollars. In this thought exercise I am giving the Minnesota Twins the same budget as they spent in their actual offseason, which was approximately $41.75M. Additionally in this exercise, the Twins’ “ideal” offseason signings will need to be signed at a 20% increase over what they actually signed for in the offseason. This 20% increase would account for the the Twins prying away the players from the teams they actually signed with, making this a more realistic scenario of what could have been. Are “what if” games pointless as they have no bearing in reality? Probably. Are they fun? You bet they are! So let’s run through these... Designated Hitter Actual Offseason signing: Nelson Cruz - 1 year, $13MM Ideal Offseason signing: Nelson Cruz - 1 year, $13MM The only of the six offseason signings from the Twins’ offseason that they would redo in our ideal version would be bringing back Nelson Cruz on a 1 year, $13MM deal. In his 214 plate appearances with the Minnesota Twins this season, Cruz posted a .907 OPS, which led the team and was third-best in baseball after Shohei Ohtani and J.D. Martinez. The Twins had a clear need at designated hitter and opted to fill that slot with Cruz which was the right choice, which is why the Twins would make that same move again, if they knew then what they know now. Middle Infield Actual offseason signing: Andrelton Simmons - 1 year, $10.5MM Ideal Offseason signing: Kolten Wong - 2 year, $21.6MM After Nelson Cruz, the Andrelton Simmons signing was the largest investment that the Minnesota Twins made last offseason. The thought was that Simmons’ bat would play well enough and that his glove would completely transform the team. While his glove has been solid (though not spectacular), Simmons is having one of the worst offensive seasons in team history, with his OPS of .565. In our ideal offseason, the Minnesota Twins would have signed Kolten Wong for a 2 year, $21.6MM contract. Wong has been excellent with the Milwaukee Brewers this year and owns a .810 OPS. Wong is only 30-years-old and would be under contract again for the Twins next season. Wong plays second base, which means the Twins would’ve needed to keep Jorge Polanco at shortstop under these circumstances, but at 2.7 fWAR compared to Simmons’s -0.3, signing Wong over Andrelton would’ve made a big difference for the Twins. Starting Pitcher Actual offseason signing: J.A. Happ - 1 year, $8MM Ideal Offseason signing: Robbie Ray - 1 year, $9.6MM The Minnesota Twins signed J.A. Happ last offseason hoping that he could fill the fourth starter role for the Twins in 2022. Instead, Happ completely imploded for Minnesota, posting a 6.77 ERA in 19 starts. What makes the Happ signing hurt even more for the Twins is that southpaw Robbie Ray signed with the Toronto Blue Jays for the identical 1 year, $8MM deal that J.A. Happ signed for. Under this exercise, the Twins would’ve needed to pay a 20% premium to guarantee Ray’s services, but for a 1 year, $9.6MM the Twins could have signed Ray who has a 2.71 ERA on the season and just became the all-time leader in K/9 in MLB history. Starting Pitcher Actual offseason signing: Matt Shoemaker - 1 year, $2MM Ideal Offseason signing: Carlos Rodón - 1 year, $3.6MM While J.A. Happ pitched terribly for the Minnesota Twins during his tenure here, Matt Shoemaker was even worse. In 16 appearances with the Twins, Shoemaker posted a 8.06 ERA and was worth -0.7 fWAR before getting DFA’d and ultimately released. At a 20% premium, the Minnesota Twins could have signed Carlos Rodón for just $3.6MM and gotten a pitcher who has been a revolution for the White Sox this year, with a 2.43 ERA and a 12.8 K/9. Relief Pitcher Actual offseason signing: Alexander Colomé - 1 year, $6.25MM Ideal Offseason signing: Sergio Romo - 1 year, $3MM Moving to the bullpen, Alexander Colomé was yet another disastrous signing for the Minnesota Twins this offseason, as he has a 4.26 ERA, six blown saves and the worst win probability added on the team. In their ideal offseason, the Minnesota Twins would have simply brought back Sergio Romo, who they let walk last offseason, for half of the price of Colomé. Romo has put together a 3.18 ERA in 54 appearances with the Oakland Athletics and has thrived there in a high-leverage role. Relief Pitcher Actual offseason signing: Hansel Robles - 1 year, $2MM Ideal Offseason signing: Collin McCugh - 1 year, $2.16MM Finally, in their ideal offseason the Minnesota Twins would have avoided Hansel Robles and his 4.91 ERA in Minnesota in favor of Collin McHugh for nearly the same price tag. McHugh signed with Tampa Bay this offseason and has been spectacular, featuring a 1.40 ERA and 11.6 K/9. Overall let’s compare the actual offseason for the Minnesota Twins to what the ideal offseason would have looked like: Actual offseason $ spent: $41.75MM Ideal offseason $ spent: $42.16MM Actual offseason fWAR acquired (with Twins): 0.2 fWAR Ideal offseason fWAR acquired: 14.4 fWAR Again, hindsight is always 20/20 and ideal history is always going to be an unfair game to play, but laying out what the ideal offseason for the Twins would have looked like is not only fun, but interesting to look at the types of players that succeeded as we try to find free agent options for the 2022 season. What trends stick out to you from the list of “ideal” free agents above? Which of the above names were you clamoring for the Twins to sign at the time? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
  6. It was an emotional night at Target Field, with Nelson Cruz’s return to town. Nelly homered and helped the Rays shorten Michael Pineda’s night to less than three innings, with Tampa Bay cruising to an easy win. Box Score Pineda: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (82.9% strikes) Home Runs: Rooker (5) Bottom 3 WPA: Pineda -.237, Gant -.138, Larnach -.133 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Friday night was an emotional affair for the Twins at Target Field even before the first pitch. For starters, the organization kicked off the “1991 Reunion Weekend” celebrations, with fans being able to take pictures with some World Series champions. Then, Gophers football head coach P.J. Fleck threw the ceremonial first pitch. But none of that seemed to be as big as the return of an old friend. Nelson Cruz played his first game as an opponent of the Twins since May 27, 2018, and the first one at Target Field since May 14 from that same year. Batting third for the Rays, he received a standing ovation from Twins fans, to whom he tipped his helmet. He also got shown some love from his old teammates, like Miguel Sanó, who crashed Nelly’s Zoom call with the media, asking “Papá Cruz” to go easy on the Twins. Cruz may have done what his friend and mentee asked him to do in his first at-bat – he struck out on three pitches. But his new teammates sure weren’t going to do the same. Brandon Lowe had hit a leadoff single to open the game before Cruz’s at-bat. Then, after it, Randy Arozarena hit a long double off the wall at center field, driving in Lowe. During the second inning, the Rays scored a couple more runs. Yandy Diaz hit a leadoff home run, and Mike Zunino scored after Pineda gave up back-to-back singles, followed by a wild pitch. Something seemed off with “Big Mike.” He faced Cruz for the second time in the game to open the third inning, and, this time, Nelson didn’t go easy. He crushed a hanging changeup to the left corner for a line-drive home run that left his bat at nearly 111 MPH. The Rays took an early 4-0 lead. After that, Pineda induced a couple of ground ball outs, but before he could finish the inning, he departed the game with an apparent injury. Pineda didn’t have a lot of problems throwing strikes (39 out of 47 pitches), but his velocity was slightly below his season average, perhaps making it easy for Tampa Bay hitting to get six hits off him. Twins try to rally multiple times, Rays always respond Making his Twins debut, veteran Nick Vincent came in relief of Pineda to get the last out of the third. Then, he gave up a solo home run to Zunino in the fourth, making it 5-0 Rays. But other than that, the 35-year old managed to limit the damage to the one run for the remainder of his outing. During the bottom of the fourth, the Twins offense finally posed its first threat to Rays’ starter, Shane McClanahan, putting two men on. Sanó singled to the gap to score Brent Rooker from third, putting the Twins on the board, before stranding both runners left. Minnesota kept hitting the ball hard, trying to spark a rally. After Vincent pitched a scoreless fifth, Ryan Jeffers led off the home half of the inning with a single. Then, Rooker, with his third hit of the night, pushed him across. Josh Donaldson had the chance to cut the Rays’ lead to only one run, but he ended up striking out, ending the threat. In the following inning, Tampa Bay responded right back, with an inside-the-park home run by Kevin Kiermaier, making it 6-2. He hit a flyball to deep right, which looked like a triple, but Jorge Polanco juggled the ball before being able to get Kiermaier at home plate. Mitch Garver and Rob Refsnyder opened the bottom half of the sixth with back-to-back singles, and Sanó made it three consecutive hits with an RBI single to score Garver. Suddenly, the Twins had two men on with no outs, down by only three runs. That was Miggy’s second RBI of the night. But once again, Tampa’s pitching frustrated Minnesota’s offense and spoiled their rally, ending the inning with a ground ball double play. Rays explode for a four-run seventh John Gant gave up that inside-the-park home run in the sixth, but he settled in and retired the following three batters. With the bullpen needing to eat up innings, he was brought back to pitch the seventh, and that’s where things went sour. Tampa produced four runs on three hits and a sac-fly off him, putting this game well out of reach, 10-3. Even with such a large deficit, Minnesota didn’t give up. Rooker got his fourth hit of the night with a two-out solo home run in the home half, cutting Tampa’s lead to six. Donaldson and Garver hit back-to-back singles after him, and once again, the Twins were one swing away from getting right back in the game. But they couldn’t capitalize again. Making his second appearance as a Twin, Edgar García pitched a couple of scoreless frames to close up the game, providing yet another very effective outing. The offense fell in order in the bottom of the ninth, and Tampa ran away with the win. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Barnes 68 0 0 0 0 68 García 32 0 0 0 27 59 Gant 0 11 0 0 41 52 Vincent 0 0 0 0 37 37 Colomé 0 10 14 0 0 24 Thielbar 0 0 20 0 0 20 Duffey 0 15 0 0 0 15 Minaya 0 0 15 0 0 15 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  7. Box Score Pineda: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (82.9% strikes) Home Runs: Rooker (5) Bottom 3 WPA: Pineda -.237, Gant -.138, Larnach -.133 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Friday night was an emotional affair for the Twins at Target Field even before the first pitch. For starters, the organization kicked off the “1991 Reunion Weekend” celebrations, with fans being able to take pictures with some World Series champions. Then, Gophers football head coach P.J. Fleck threw the ceremonial first pitch. But none of that seemed to be as big as the return of an old friend. Nelson Cruz played his first game as an opponent of the Twins since May 27, 2018, and the first one at Target Field since May 14 from that same year. Batting third for the Rays, he received a standing ovation from Twins fans, to whom he tipped his helmet. He also got shown some love from his old teammates, like Miguel Sanó, who crashed Nelly’s Zoom call with the media, asking “Papá Cruz” to go easy on the Twins. Cruz may have done what his friend and mentee asked him to do in his first at-bat – he struck out on three pitches. But his new teammates sure weren’t going to do the same. Brandon Lowe had hit a leadoff single to open the game before Cruz’s at-bat. Then, after it, Randy Arozarena hit a long double off the wall at center field, driving in Lowe. During the second inning, the Rays scored a couple more runs. Yandy Diaz hit a leadoff home run, and Mike Zunino scored after Pineda gave up back-to-back singles, followed by a wild pitch. Something seemed off with “Big Mike.” He faced Cruz for the second time in the game to open the third inning, and, this time, Nelson didn’t go easy. He crushed a hanging changeup to the left corner for a line-drive home run that left his bat at nearly 111 MPH. The Rays took an early 4-0 lead. After that, Pineda induced a couple of ground ball outs, but before he could finish the inning, he departed the game with an apparent injury. Pineda didn’t have a lot of problems throwing strikes (39 out of 47 pitches), but his velocity was slightly below his season average, perhaps making it easy for Tampa Bay hitting to get six hits off him. Twins try to rally multiple times, Rays always respond Making his Twins debut, veteran Nick Vincent came in relief of Pineda to get the last out of the third. Then, he gave up a solo home run to Zunino in the fourth, making it 5-0 Rays. But other than that, the 35-year old managed to limit the damage to the one run for the remainder of his outing. During the bottom of the fourth, the Twins offense finally posed its first threat to Rays’ starter, Shane McClanahan, putting two men on. Sanó singled to the gap to score Brent Rooker from third, putting the Twins on the board, before stranding both runners left. Minnesota kept hitting the ball hard, trying to spark a rally. After Vincent pitched a scoreless fifth, Ryan Jeffers led off the home half of the inning with a single. Then, Rooker, with his third hit of the night, pushed him across. Josh Donaldson had the chance to cut the Rays’ lead to only one run, but he ended up striking out, ending the threat. In the following inning, Tampa Bay responded right back, with an inside-the-park home run by Kevin Kiermaier, making it 6-2. He hit a flyball to deep right, which looked like a triple, but Jorge Polanco juggled the ball before being able to get Kiermaier at home plate. Mitch Garver and Rob Refsnyder opened the bottom half of the sixth with back-to-back singles, and Sanó made it three consecutive hits with an RBI single to score Garver. Suddenly, the Twins had two men on with no outs, down by only three runs. That was Miggy’s second RBI of the night. But once again, Tampa’s pitching frustrated Minnesota’s offense and spoiled their rally, ending the inning with a ground ball double play. Rays explode for a four-run seventh John Gant gave up that inside-the-park home run in the sixth, but he settled in and retired the following three batters. With the bullpen needing to eat up innings, he was brought back to pitch the seventh, and that’s where things went sour. Tampa produced four runs on three hits and a sac-fly off him, putting this game well out of reach, 10-3. Even with such a large deficit, Minnesota didn’t give up. Rooker got his fourth hit of the night with a two-out solo home run in the home half, cutting Tampa’s lead to six. Donaldson and Garver hit back-to-back singles after him, and once again, the Twins were one swing away from getting right back in the game. But they couldn’t capitalize again. Making his second appearance as a Twin, Edgar García pitched a couple of scoreless frames to close up the game, providing yet another very effective outing. The offense fell in order in the bottom of the ninth, and Tampa ran away with the win. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Barnes 68 0 0 0 0 68 García 32 0 0 0 27 59 Gant 0 11 0 0 41 52 Vincent 0 0 0 0 37 37 Colomé 0 10 14 0 0 24 Thielbar 0 0 20 0 0 20 Duffey 0 15 0 0 0 15 Minaya 0 0 15 0 0 15 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0
  8. The Twins host Tampa Bay on a Friday the 13th evening. This is also the start of a reunion weekend for the '91 Twins. Who will be gray, who will have gained weight and who will have a new trophy spouse? Well, we probably won't know about the latter, but we will see many of our old favorites and remember when the team won playoff games. Personal moment: I shook Jack Morris' hand in Fort Myers several years ago. Jack shook my hand and kept walking. Pretty sure that moment was more memorable for me than him. Tampa is the first place team in the tough AL East, the third straight first place team the Twins will face. Minnesota has won five of seven versus Houston and Chicago. Tampa is also the darling of MLB, with their ability in the last several years to be competitive (or better) despite payroll limitations and a terrible home stadium.Their front office is viewed as smart, progressive and forward-thinking, relying on sabermetrics more so than on traditional baseball strategies. Interesting stats-the Rays lead all of MLB in strikeouts by their hitters, but still are third in runs scored despite only having the 13th best team OPS in baseball (lower than the Twins). Of course, Rocco was on the Tampa Bay staff before being hired to manage the Twins. The Twins will send out Michael Pineda who has been pretty solid since returning from the Injured List. The Rays starter will be Shane McClanahan, lefthander, who has pitched very well this month. Notable players for the Rays include former Twins Matt Wisler, JT Chargois and of course DH Nelson Cruz. Both Wisler and Chargois have been effective out of the TB bullpen. Cruz has had a few good games, but his overall numbers haven't been up to his standards. That will probably change by the time the Twins are done with the Rays. One more personal note, I'll pay a lot more attention to Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi. A new acquaintance of mine is good friends with Choi. They spent the All-Star break together playing golf, among other things. I have a bit more perspective on a foreign player coming to the US to play and not speaking English fluently. Go Twins! As of 4:30, the lineups are available. Here you go...... PLAYER W-L ERA WHIP IP H K BB HR S. McClanahan 6-4 3.75 1.25 84.0 77 99 28 11 M. Pineda 4-7 3.83 1.20 82.1 82 70 17 13 Tampa (70-45) HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG B. Lowe2B 86-377 65 26 5 .228 W. FrancoSS 37-153 22 5 2 .242 N. CruzDH 99-360 60 23 3 .275 R. ArozarenaLF 105-388 52 16 11 .271 J. Wendle3B 88-318 38 7 6 .277 Y. Diaz1B 85-335 39 8 0 .254 K. KiermaierCF 59-244 24 2 8 .242 M. MargotRF 79-307 47 9 10 .257 M. ZuninoC 48-235 44 23 0 .204 Twins (50-65) HITTERS H-AB RBI HR SB AVG J. Polanco2B 112-409 62 21 9 .274 B. RookerLF 16-102 6 4 0 .157 J. Donaldson3B 69-285 45 16 0 .242 M. GarverDH 36-162 28 13 0 .222 R. RefsnyderCF 21-68 10 2 0 .309 M. Sano1B 65-311 46 19 1 .209 T. LarnachRF 58-253 27 7 1 .229 R. JeffersC 34-163 27 9 0 .209 A. SimmonsSS 68-312 24 3 1 .21
  9. It’s been a few days since the Minnesota Twins allowed the dust to settle on their 2021 Trade Deadline moves. With some big names leaving the organization, and some big prospects entering, it’s time to take a look at the talent that moved places. The headliner was obviously the Jose Berrios move. As a fan, this one was always going to be hard to stomach. Berrios was drafted by the organization, developed, and became one of the best pitchers in Twins history. As it became increasingly evident that he would not sign a long-term extension with the club, moving him made more and more sense. Derek Falvey had to maximize the return on Berrios is there was going to be a deal, and he did absolutely that. I noted Austin Martin being my desired target should a swap with the Blue Jays be the plan of action. Still though, getting controllable pitching needed to happen considering Minnesota was moving an ace. To get both Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson was an absolute coup, and it was the strongest return any swap generated during the deadline. I wrote up the Cruz swap last week and getting Joe Ryan looks like a very strong return for a guy that’s an impending free agent and had limited suitors. While Nelson Cruz is great, there was never a point in which I thought he’d bring back much to work with. Instead, the Twins got Team USA’s game one starter in Ryan, and a flier that’s close to major league ready in Drew Strotman. No matter how Falvey organized this one, he did incredibly well. Flipping J.A. Happ to the Cardinals was impressive as well. I’ve kicked the notion that he could be seen as valuable to someone for weeks. That always was tongue in cheek with how poorly he’s pitched but leave it to St. Louis to make me look smart. John Gant is under team control in 2022, and that gives the Twins a veteran arm with a longer runway to decide a future on. He can both start and relieve, although he’s currently in Rocco Baldelli’s pen. Gant has pitched well above expectations this year, and his FIP suggests some massive regression is coming. That said, if the Twins can unlock another tier, they may have something to work with down the line. It wasn’t unexpected to see Hansel Robles moved, although I did think that Alex Colome may wind up being the more coveted reliever. Boston sent back a non-top 30 arm in Alex Scherff, but the 23-year-old has big strikeout numbers and is already at Double-A. Although he’s a reliever, that’s still a useful arm to add for an organization needing to develop pitchers for the highest level. There has to be some criticism directed at Falvey and Thad Levine, although none of it should be for what they did. Instead, not trading Michael Pineda or Andrelton Simmons looks like a missed opportunity. Both are impending free agents and serve no purpose to this club down the stretch. I’d like to see Pineda back next season, but that could happen on the open market anyways. There’s no reason for this team to hold onto any semblance of respectability and turning the results over to youth makes more sense than ever. Simmons has been fine defensively, but he’s non-existent at the plate and some contender could’ve parted with a bag of balls for a shortstop upgrade. When the bell run on July 31, we had seen the most exciting trade deadline in Major League Baseball history come to an end. The Minnesota Twins bettered their future, and made some high impact moves that both Falvey and Levine should be praised for. Now it’ll be up to the organizational infrastructure to develop and best position these talents in an opportunity to bear fruit and turn the tides of the big-league club. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  10. DH Nelson Cruz to Rays for RHPs Joe Ryan and Drew Stotman Many of the Twins' moves project to have positive results. On an expiring contract, Nelson Cruz was dealt for two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. There are plenty of questions about the team’s rotation for 2022, so adding two more pitchers to the mix can only help the organization’s pitching depth. The Cruz deal was far from the only one that made headlines. RHP Jose Berrios to Blue Jays for SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson José Berríos was dealt for a pair of top-100 prospects, which seems like a high price to pay for just over a year of Berríos. The Dodgers traded for starting pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner and received a similar trade package in return. Even the website, Baseball Trade Values believes the Blue Jays overpaid. LHP J.A. Happ to Cardinals for RHP John Gant and LHP Evan Sisk Speaking of teams that overpaid, the Twins found a taker for JA Happ, as the Cardinals were willing to trade for him. He’s been bad for most of the season, and his recent numbers don’t point to him improving. It seemed more likely for the Twins to designated him for assignment instead of finding a trade partner, but it was a crazy trade deadline, to say the least. RHP Hansel Robles to Red Sox for RHP Alex Scherff Robles, like Cruz, was on an expiring contract and plenty of contenders were looking for relief help. Minnesota signed Robles for $2 million this off-season and he's had some up-and-down moments as part of a Twins bullpen that has struggled for the majority of the season. Relief pitching can be fickle and Boston hopes Robles can find some of his previous successes. From Minnesota's perspective, the front office has to be happy to get any value back for a player that wasn't part of the team's long-term plans. Who Wasn't Traded? Not every part of the trade deadline was positive for the Twins. Minnesota had multiple players on expiring contracts that stayed with the team, including Michael Pineda and Andrelton Simmons. Pineda is the biggest head-scratcher as the trade market seemed hot for starting pitching. As the smoke cleared, the front office said the right things, but there doesn’t seem to be much value in keeping him around until season’s end. There were plenty of other rumors circulating on Friday, including some big names for the Twins. There was a chance of a Byron Buxton deal with multiple teams interested in the centerfielder. For good reasons, Minnesota’s price was likely high, and there will still be an opportunity to revisit trades this winter. There may also be a chance to revisit a contract extension with Buxton, especially with the young core the organization has built in the minor leagues. Another missed opportunity was parting ways with Josh Donaldson, as his name had been out in the rumor mill throughout the last few weeks. Minnesota signed Donaldson to his four-year deal, knowing that he may decline toward the backend of the contract. He has been relatively healthy this year and producing as one of the league’s best third basemen. This trade deadline might have been his peak trade value, especially since it’s tough to imagine the Twins contending in 2022. Overall, this might go down as a franchise-altering day in Twins history. However, there were some missed opportunities along the way. Now it might be a couple of years before fans know if the team indeed won or lost the 2021 trade deadline. Do you think the Twins were winners or losers at the trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Every trade deadline, teams are declared winners or losers. So, how did the Twins fare on a whirlwind day? DH Nelson Cruz to Rays for RHPs Joe Ryan and Drew Stotman Many of the Twins' moves project to have positive results. On an expiring contract, Nelson Cruz was dealt for two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. There are plenty of questions about the team’s rotation for 2022, so adding two more pitchers to the mix can only help the organization’s pitching depth. The Cruz deal was far from the only one that made headlines. RHP Jose Berrios to Blue Jays for SS/OF Austin Martin and RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson José Berríos was dealt for a pair of top-100 prospects, which seems like a high price to pay for just over a year of Berríos. The Dodgers traded for starting pitcher Max Scherzer and shortstop Trea Turner and received a similar trade package in return. Even the website, Baseball Trade Values believes the Blue Jays overpaid. LHP J.A. Happ to Cardinals for RHP John Gant and LHP Evan Sisk Speaking of teams that overpaid, the Twins found a taker for JA Happ, as the Cardinals were willing to trade for him. He’s been bad for most of the season, and his recent numbers don’t point to him improving. It seemed more likely for the Twins to designated him for assignment instead of finding a trade partner, but it was a crazy trade deadline, to say the least. RHP Hansel Robles to Red Sox for RHP Alex Scherff Robles, like Cruz, was on an expiring contract and plenty of contenders were looking for relief help. Minnesota signed Robles for $2 million this off-season and he's had some up-and-down moments as part of a Twins bullpen that has struggled for the majority of the season. Relief pitching can be fickle and Boston hopes Robles can find some of his previous successes. From Minnesota's perspective, the front office has to be happy to get any value back for a player that wasn't part of the team's long-term plans. Who Wasn't Traded? Not every part of the trade deadline was positive for the Twins. Minnesota had multiple players on expiring contracts that stayed with the team, including Michael Pineda and Andrelton Simmons. Pineda is the biggest head-scratcher as the trade market seemed hot for starting pitching. As the smoke cleared, the front office said the right things, but there doesn’t seem to be much value in keeping him around until season’s end. There were plenty of other rumors circulating on Friday, including some big names for the Twins. There was a chance of a Byron Buxton deal with multiple teams interested in the centerfielder. For good reasons, Minnesota’s price was likely high, and there will still be an opportunity to revisit trades this winter. There may also be a chance to revisit a contract extension with Buxton, especially with the young core the organization has built in the minor leagues. Another missed opportunity was parting ways with Josh Donaldson, as his name had been out in the rumor mill throughout the last few weeks. Minnesota signed Donaldson to his four-year deal, knowing that he may decline toward the backend of the contract. He has been relatively healthy this year and producing as one of the league’s best third basemen. This trade deadline might have been his peak trade value, especially since it’s tough to imagine the Twins contending in 2022. Overall, this might go down as a franchise-altering day in Twins history. However, there were some missed opportunities along the way. Now it might be a couple of years before fans know if the team indeed won or lost the 2021 trade deadline. Do you think the Twins were winners or losers at the trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  12. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/19 through Sun, 7/25 *** Record Last Week: 3-5 (Overall: 42-58) Run Differential Last Week: -5 (Overall: -71) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (17.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 93 | MIN 3, CWS 2: Jax Deals, Twins Steal One in Extras Game 94 | CWS 5, MIN 3: Berrios Goes Deep, Then Sheets Does Game 95 | CWS 9, MIN 5: Bullpen Implodes in Five-Run 8th Inning Game 96 | MIN 7, CWS 2: Polanco, Kepler Power Twins to Split Game 97 | LAA 3, MIN 2: Cruz-less Offense Comes Up Short Game 98 | MIN 5, LAA 4: Aggressive Baserunning Sparks Win Game 99 | LAA 2, MIN 1: Twins Narrowly Avoid Getting No-hit Game 100 | LAA 6, MIN 2: Bats Go Silent Once Again NEWS & NOTES The sell-off has officially begun. Nelson Cruz always ranked No. 1 on the list of Twins players most likely to be traded, and the front office didn't waste time, striking a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays eight days ahead of the deadline. Losing Cruz is painful in the sense that he's a legendary and incredibly likable player, but this is best for all involved. He ends up on a contending team where he makes a huge difference. Tampa reached the World Series last year and Nelly can help propel them back. Meanwhile, the Twin landed a pair of intriguing pitching prospects who are verging on big-league ready. And those prospects now have a much clearer path than in Tampa's crowded pitching pipeline. Naturally, we had plenty of coverage here; I recommend reading the articles below, which include Seth's instant report, Lucas' breakdown of the return package, John's reaction to the deal, and Nash's tribute to Cruz. Twins Trade Nelson Cruz to the Rays for Two AAA Starting Pitchers, by Seth Stohs Twins Minor League Pitching Report: Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman, by Lucas Seehafer Three Things to Like (and Hate) About the Nelson Cruz Trade, by John Bonnes Thank You Nelson Cruz! By Nash Walker We won't be seeing Cruz in a Twins uniform again this year. Nor Alex Kirilloff. The rookie outfielder opted for wrist surgery after reporting that the pain stemming from a torn ligament had intensified recently. His rehab will carry through the rest of the season but he'll have plenty of time to get ready for 2022, which is really all that matters at this point. Kirilloff finishes his first MLB campaign with a .251/.299/.423 slash line and eight home runs in 59 games. Adding to the exodus of high-quality hitters, Luis Arraez hit the Injured List on Saturday after injuring his knee early in the week. Thankfully, his absence looks to be more temporary than the other two, although his continuing knee troubles don't bode well for the 24-year-old. While the Twins suffered some tough losses last week, they did also get some guys back. Mitch Garver returned with a bang on Monday, launching home runs in his first two at-bats. Brent Rooker was recalled after mashing in Triple-A, and should get an extended look at DH in Cruz's stead. Jake Cave was also activated following a two-month stay on IL. HIGHLIGHTS With the trade deadline fast approaching, it's possible we'll see the Twins part with one or more of their foundational building block type players. Jorge Polanco is probably not among them, which is just fine because he's been busy proving he still deserves to be in that class. Polanco struggled last year and throughout the early weeks of 2021. He entered June with a sub-700 OPS but then finally started to find his groove again, swinging with greater authority and driving the ball with more consistency. Finding himself back near the top of the order regularly, Polanco is keying the offense right now; the past week saw him chip in a pair of three-hit games and two home runs, finishing 10-for-25 with six RBIs. Dating back to the start of June he's slashing .297/.346/.506, which is nearly identical to his overall line in 2019 (.295/.356/.485). On Wednesday, Michael Pineda took the mound for the first time in two weeks, and it was a big step in the right direction at a crucial moment. Through five efficient innings, Pineda held the White Sox to one run on four hits, striking out three and walking one. It wasn't a dominating whiff clinic like we saw earlier this year when Big Mike was at his best, but a reassuring performance nonetheless for any interested buyer. Pineda's slated to face the Tigers on Monday – his last turn before the deadline. Whatever Pineda gets back in a trade, it won't be much. To really score a haul, the Twins will need to give up one of their most in-demand pitching assets, and both are doing plenty to stoke their markets. Taylor Rogers tossed a pair of scoreless innings with three strikeouts, while José Berríos was masterful in his Saturday night start, allowing just two unearned runs over seven innings against the Halos. LOWLIGHTS The front office would surely love to unload Andrelton Simmons and the remaining millions he's owed before re-entering free agency at season's end. Problem is, they might be hard-pressed to find a taker. Simmons has been good in the field, but not good enough to offset the complete and total lack of offense. With each passing week, the shortstop slides further and further into futility at the plate. He went 2-for-22 in the most recent one, and is now slashing a woeful .220/.287/.288 with a negative WAR. Is any contending team really going to view him as enough of an upgrade to take on his remaining $4 million or so in salary? Getting back any kind of prospect is out of the question. Another dead-end move from the past offseason for this front office. It's beginning to look like we can place Hansel Robles in that bucket too. The Twins are more likely to find a buyer for him than Simmons, given the lesser money involved and the ubiquitous need for relief pitching, but he's not making himself a prized asset. Robles pitched twice this past week and gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits, including a back-breaking home run against the White Sox on Tuesday. Robles has a 5.32 ERA over his past 24 appearances, with opponents hitting .292/.376/.528 against him. One way or another, Robles will be gone after this year. Alex Colomé too. Rogers is "likely to be dealt" at the deadline according to Ken Rosenthal. Beyond Tyler Duffey there is no continuity built into this bullpen, especially because Jorge Alcala has obliterated all confidence. The right-hander is completely unraveling, and the past week added to his woes with five runs allowed over three innings of work. In his past dozen appearances Alcala has taken three losses, blown two saves, and given up 14 earned runs on 19 hits in 10 ⅓ innings (12.20 ERA). It's not even clear he should be in the majors right now, let alone pitching meaningful innings. You look at this relief corps in its current state, and it's just so immensely difficult to envision the kind of abrupt and drastic turnaround needed for the Twins to return to contention in 2022. Which may partially explain why the front office has seemingly softened its commitment to holding players with control beyond this year. This is starting to look more like a full-on rebuild. TRENDING STORYLINE The biggest storyline trending around the Twins right now is a deeply disheartening one: Byron Buxton reportedly rejected the team's contract extension offer as the two sides sought to find common ground, at perhaps their last opportunity to do so. It sounds like the club's final offer to Buxton was around $80 million plus incentives, which understandably wasn't enough to entice the superstar center fielder's camp as free agency looms. Hitting a wall in extension negotiations will compel the Twins to fully explore Buxton's trade market, but probably not until the offseason. The more immediate names to watch are guys like Berríos, Rogers, and Josh Donaldson, who could all be shipped out this week along with impending free agents. The deadline falls on Friday at 3:00 PM – and it's a hard deadline this time, with no post-waiver avenue available. Buyers need to stock up, nor or never. How different will the Twins' roster, and future, in a week? We should all be bracing ourselves for a major shakeup. LOOKING AHEAD The July 30th trade deadline is, of course, the date to circle. Rumors are sure to be flying throughout the next four days, with all the action building up to Friday afternoon. Berríos is scheduled to pitch for the Twins that night; will he still be here? Or have we already seen him for the last time in a Twins uniform? MONDAY, 7/26: TIGERS @ TWINS – TBD v. RHP Michael Pineda TUESDAY, 7/27: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tyler Alexander v. RHP Kenta Maeda WEDNESDAY, 7/28: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Wily Peralta v. LHP J.A. Happ FRIDAY, 7/30: TWINS @ CARDINALS – RHP José Berríos v. LHP Wade LeBlanc SATURDAY, 7/31: TWINS @ CARDINALS – RHP Bailey Ober v. RHP Jake Woodford SUNDAY, 8/1: TWINS @ CARDINALS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Johan Oviedo MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. The Twins lost their best veteran hitter to a trade, and lost their best young hitter to wrist surgery. Now they face the prospect of losing their best all-around player in the near future, following news of failed extension negotiations. Things are decidedly not chill in Twins Territory. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 7/19 through Sun, 7/25 *** Record Last Week: 3-5 (Overall: 42-58) Run Differential Last Week: -5 (Overall: -71) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (17.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 93 | MIN 3, CWS 2: Jax Deals, Twins Steal One in Extras Game 94 | CWS 5, MIN 3: Berrios Goes Deep, Then Sheets Does Game 95 | CWS 9, MIN 5: Bullpen Implodes in Five-Run 8th Inning Game 96 | MIN 7, CWS 2: Polanco, Kepler Power Twins to Split Game 97 | LAA 3, MIN 2: Cruz-less Offense Comes Up Short Game 98 | MIN 5, LAA 4: Aggressive Baserunning Sparks Win Game 99 | LAA 2, MIN 1: Twins Narrowly Avoid Getting No-hit Game 100 | LAA 6, MIN 2: Bats Go Silent Once Again NEWS & NOTES The sell-off has officially begun. Nelson Cruz always ranked No. 1 on the list of Twins players most likely to be traded, and the front office didn't waste time, striking a deal with the Tampa Bay Rays eight days ahead of the deadline. Losing Cruz is painful in the sense that he's a legendary and incredibly likable player, but this is best for all involved. He ends up on a contending team where he makes a huge difference. Tampa reached the World Series last year and Nelly can help propel them back. Meanwhile, the Twin landed a pair of intriguing pitching prospects who are verging on big-league ready. And those prospects now have a much clearer path than in Tampa's crowded pitching pipeline. Naturally, we had plenty of coverage here; I recommend reading the articles below, which include Seth's instant report, Lucas' breakdown of the return package, John's reaction to the deal, and Nash's tribute to Cruz. Twins Trade Nelson Cruz to the Rays for Two AAA Starting Pitchers, by Seth Stohs Twins Minor League Pitching Report: Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman, by Lucas Seehafer Three Things to Like (and Hate) About the Nelson Cruz Trade, by John Bonnes Thank You Nelson Cruz! By Nash Walker We won't be seeing Cruz in a Twins uniform again this year. Nor Alex Kirilloff. The rookie outfielder opted for wrist surgery after reporting that the pain stemming from a torn ligament had intensified recently. His rehab will carry through the rest of the season but he'll have plenty of time to get ready for 2022, which is really all that matters at this point. Kirilloff finishes his first MLB campaign with a .251/.299/.423 slash line and eight home runs in 59 games. Adding to the exodus of high-quality hitters, Luis Arraez hit the Injured List on Saturday after injuring his knee early in the week. Thankfully, his absence looks to be more temporary than the other two, although his continuing knee troubles don't bode well for the 24-year-old. While the Twins suffered some tough losses last week, they did also get some guys back. Mitch Garver returned with a bang on Monday, launching home runs in his first two at-bats. Brent Rooker was recalled after mashing in Triple-A, and should get an extended look at DH in Cruz's stead. Jake Cave was also activated following a two-month stay on IL. HIGHLIGHTS With the trade deadline fast approaching, it's possible we'll see the Twins part with one or more of their foundational building block type players. Jorge Polanco is probably not among them, which is just fine because he's been busy proving he still deserves to be in that class. Polanco struggled last year and throughout the early weeks of 2021. He entered June with a sub-700 OPS but then finally started to find his groove again, swinging with greater authority and driving the ball with more consistency. Finding himself back near the top of the order regularly, Polanco is keying the offense right now; the past week saw him chip in a pair of three-hit games and two home runs, finishing 10-for-25 with six RBIs. Dating back to the start of June he's slashing .297/.346/.506, which is nearly identical to his overall line in 2019 (.295/.356/.485). On Wednesday, Michael Pineda took the mound for the first time in two weeks, and it was a big step in the right direction at a crucial moment. Through five efficient innings, Pineda held the White Sox to one run on four hits, striking out three and walking one. It wasn't a dominating whiff clinic like we saw earlier this year when Big Mike was at his best, but a reassuring performance nonetheless for any interested buyer. Pineda's slated to face the Tigers on Monday – his last turn before the deadline. Whatever Pineda gets back in a trade, it won't be much. To really score a haul, the Twins will need to give up one of their most in-demand pitching assets, and both are doing plenty to stoke their markets. Taylor Rogers tossed a pair of scoreless innings with three strikeouts, while José Berríos was masterful in his Saturday night start, allowing just two unearned runs over seven innings against the Halos. LOWLIGHTS The front office would surely love to unload Andrelton Simmons and the remaining millions he's owed before re-entering free agency at season's end. Problem is, they might be hard-pressed to find a taker. Simmons has been good in the field, but not good enough to offset the complete and total lack of offense. With each passing week, the shortstop slides further and further into futility at the plate. He went 2-for-22 in the most recent one, and is now slashing a woeful .220/.287/.288 with a negative WAR. Is any contending team really going to view him as enough of an upgrade to take on his remaining $4 million or so in salary? Getting back any kind of prospect is out of the question. Another dead-end move from the past offseason for this front office. It's beginning to look like we can place Hansel Robles in that bucket too. The Twins are more likely to find a buyer for him than Simmons, given the lesser money involved and the ubiquitous need for relief pitching, but he's not making himself a prized asset. Robles pitched twice this past week and gave up three runs (two earned) on three hits, including a back-breaking home run against the White Sox on Tuesday. Robles has a 5.32 ERA over his past 24 appearances, with opponents hitting .292/.376/.528 against him. One way or another, Robles will be gone after this year. Alex Colomé too. Rogers is "likely to be dealt" at the deadline according to Ken Rosenthal. Beyond Tyler Duffey there is no continuity built into this bullpen, especially because Jorge Alcala has obliterated all confidence. The right-hander is completely unraveling, and the past week added to his woes with five runs allowed over three innings of work. In his past dozen appearances Alcala has taken three losses, blown two saves, and given up 14 earned runs on 19 hits in 10 ⅓ innings (12.20 ERA). It's not even clear he should be in the majors right now, let alone pitching meaningful innings. You look at this relief corps in its current state, and it's just so immensely difficult to envision the kind of abrupt and drastic turnaround needed for the Twins to return to contention in 2022. Which may partially explain why the front office has seemingly softened its commitment to holding players with control beyond this year. This is starting to look more like a full-on rebuild. TRENDING STORYLINE The biggest storyline trending around the Twins right now is a deeply disheartening one: Byron Buxton reportedly rejected the team's contract extension offer as the two sides sought to find common ground, at perhaps their last opportunity to do so. It sounds like the club's final offer to Buxton was around $80 million plus incentives, which understandably wasn't enough to entice the superstar center fielder's camp as free agency looms. Hitting a wall in extension negotiations will compel the Twins to fully explore Buxton's trade market, but probably not until the offseason. The more immediate names to watch are guys like Berríos, Rogers, and Josh Donaldson, who could all be shipped out this week along with impending free agents. The deadline falls on Friday at 3:00 PM – and it's a hard deadline this time, with no post-waiver avenue available. Buyers need to stock up, nor or never. How different will the Twins' roster, and future, in a week? We should all be bracing ourselves for a major shakeup. LOOKING AHEAD The July 30th trade deadline is, of course, the date to circle. Rumors are sure to be flying throughout the next four days, with all the action building up to Friday afternoon. Berríos is scheduled to pitch for the Twins that night; will he still be here? Or have we already seen him for the last time in a Twins uniform? MONDAY, 7/26: TIGERS @ TWINS – TBD v. RHP Michael Pineda TUESDAY, 7/27: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tyler Alexander v. RHP Kenta Maeda WEDNESDAY, 7/28: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Wily Peralta v. LHP J.A. Happ FRIDAY, 7/30: TWINS @ CARDINALS – RHP José Berríos v. LHP Wade LeBlanc SATURDAY, 7/31: TWINS @ CARDINALS – RHP Bailey Ober v. RHP Jake Woodford SUNDAY, 8/1: TWINS @ CARDINALS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Johan Oviedo 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
  14. Nelson Cruz is the newest member of the Tampa Bay Rays. This offseason Tampa was among the final suitors in contention to land his services. Minnesota ended up bring back the 40-year-old and he’s picked up right where he left off. Unfortunately for the Twins, their season has gone as anything but expected, and they find themselves as a clear seller. The best designated hitter in the American League stays in that role and gives Tampa another thumper in the middle of their lineup. Given Cruz’s advanced age and contract status, it was hard to fathom much of a return. Minnesota instead included Calvin Faucher as a throw in prospect and landed Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman, Tampa’s 10th and 17th best prospects per MLB pipeline. Both may be relievers, and are already past their 24th birthdays, but they have high velocity stuff and already are at Triple-A. For an organization needing arm talent as both starters and in the bullpen, this is a real solid get for a guy that wasn’t going to be around in a couple of months. Ryan will need to be added to the 40 man this winter, with Strotman already holding down a spot. Cruz leaves as a fan favorite, one of the most productive players in history, and having done so as a leading member of a record setting homer club. Here’s some instant analysis from industry experts: For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  15. Aaron and John talk about Byron Buxton turning down the Twins' contract offer, Nelson Cruz being traded to Tampa Bay, Alex Kirilloff's season-ending surgery, and what's ahead in what figures to be a drama-filled week leading up to the MLB trade deadline. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, iHeartRadio or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. View full article
  16. Nelson Cruz is about to be a Tampa Bay Ray. One of the finest DHs in Twins history is Piece #1 of what could be several Twins trades before the July 30th deadline. Just minutes ago, several national baseball writers, including Jeff Passan announced that the Twins and Rays have reached a deal for the reigning AL champions from Tampa to add slugging DH Nelson Cruz. According to Bob Nightengale, the deal will involve four players including pitcher Drew Strotman. The Twins have made it official, noting the Wichita right-handed reliever Calvin Faucher will also be going to the Rays. In return, the Twins will get pitchers Strotman and Joe Ryan. The Players Drew Stotman is a 24-year-old right-handed pitcher. He has spent 2021 with the Rays Triple-A affiliate in Durham, NC. He is 7-2 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. In 58 1/3 innings, he has given up 50 hits, walked and struck out 62 batters. He was the Rays fourth round pick in 2017 out of St. Mary's in California. Joe Ryan is a 25-year old right-hander. He has spent the season with Triple-A Durham as well. He is 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. In 57 innings, he has given up 35 hits, walked just ten and struck out 75 batters. He was the team's 7th round pick in 2018 out of Cal State-Stanislaus. The two have combined to make 23 starts for Durham and worked twice out of the bullpen. Ryan ranks as the Rays #10 prospect while Stotman ranked #17. Calvin Faucher was the Twins 10th round pick in 2017 out of UC-Irvine. In 30 2/3 innings with Double-A Wichita, he posted a 7.04 ERA and a 2.05 WHIP. He is a good athlete on the mound. But let's be honest, we're here, right now, to learn about the prospects coming to the Twins from the Rays organization, and to thank Nelson Cruz for two-and-a-half terrific seasons. Nelson Cruz won the AL Silver Slugger for DH his first two years with the team. He finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting both years as well. In 2021, at 41, he is again having a terrific season and represented the Twins at the All-Star game last week. In his time with the Twins, Cruz played in 258 games. He hit .304/.386/.598 (.984) with 435 doubles, 76 home runs and 191 RBI. He was clearly the leader in the clubhouse. He has won humanitarian award for his community service in the cities he has played in as well as his home in the Dominican Republic. The Rays head into Thursday games with a 57-39 record, one game back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. They are the current leader in the race for an AL Wild Card spot. They have a need at DH. The Rays need a right-handed power bat. Please feel free to share your thoughts on Nelson Cruz's time with the Twins, today's trade to the Rays, the two pitchers they received in return. View full article
  17. Just minutes ago, several national baseball writers, including Jeff Passan announced that the Twins and Rays have reached a deal for the reigning AL champions from Tampa to add slugging DH Nelson Cruz. According to Bob Nightengale, the deal will involve four players including pitcher Drew Strotman. The Twins have made it official, noting the Wichita right-handed reliever Calvin Faucher will also be going to the Rays. In return, the Twins will get pitchers Strotman and Joe Ryan. The Players Drew Stotman is a 24-year-old right-handed pitcher. He has spent 2021 with the Rays Triple-A affiliate in Durham, NC. He is 7-2 with a 3.39 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP. In 58 1/3 innings, he has given up 50 hits, walked and struck out 62 batters. He was the Rays fourth round pick in 2017 out of St. Mary's in California. Joe Ryan is a 25-year old right-hander. He has spent the season with Triple-A Durham as well. He is 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. In 57 innings, he has given up 35 hits, walked just ten and struck out 75 batters. He was the team's 7th round pick in 2018 out of Cal State-Stanislaus. The two have combined to make 23 starts for Durham and worked twice out of the bullpen. Ryan ranks as the Rays #10 prospect while Stotman ranked #17. Calvin Faucher was the Twins 10th round pick in 2017 out of UC-Irvine. In 30 2/3 innings with Double-A Wichita, he posted a 7.04 ERA and a 2.05 WHIP. He is a good athlete on the mound. But let's be honest, we're here, right now, to learn about the prospects coming to the Twins from the Rays organization, and to thank Nelson Cruz for two-and-a-half terrific seasons. Nelson Cruz won the AL Silver Slugger for DH his first two years with the team. He finished in the Top 10 in MVP voting both years as well. In 2021, at 41, he is again having a terrific season and represented the Twins at the All-Star game last week. In his time with the Twins, Cruz played in 258 games. He hit .304/.386/.598 (.984) with 435 doubles, 76 home runs and 191 RBI. He was clearly the leader in the clubhouse. He has won humanitarian award for his community service in the cities he has played in as well as his home in the Dominican Republic. The Rays head into Thursday games with a 57-39 record, one game back of the Boston Red Sox in the AL East. They are the current leader in the race for an AL Wild Card spot. They have a need at DH. The Rays need a right-handed power bat. Please feel free to share your thoughts on Nelson Cruz's time with the Twins, today's trade to the Rays, the two pitchers they received in return.
  18. On Wednesday, the Minnesota Twins announced that rookie Alex Kirilloff would undergo surgery on his ailing wrist. It looks to be virtually season-ending, but the return provides plenty of reason for promise. When initially coming back to the lineup from his stint on the Injured List, Kirilloff noted that he would be playing through pain, and it was all about tolerance. Surgery was never ruled out, and as can be the case with these types of injuries, it seemed like a matter of when, not if. Through 47 games back in the lineup, Minnesota’s rookie slashed .260/.316/.387. The first two numbers aren’t bad, but the slugging percentage leaves plenty to be desired from a guy who has shown so much more power potential. The “more” is why 2022 looks to be a really exciting opportunity for Kirilloff. Assuming surgery goes well, and rehab is straightforward, the inputs for substantially better outputs are already there. Kirilloff’s xwOBA in 2021 sits at .365, nearly 60 points higher than his .308 mark. His .288 xBA is more than 30 points higher than his .251 avg, and his xSLG at .532 is a far cry more impressive than the actual .432 mark he compiled. In the Statcast numbers, we can see what he can become, or maybe even should’ve been. Kirilloff crushed opposing pitching to a similar tune as teammate Nelson Cruz. The difference is that one has a healthier (Cruz dealt with a ruptured tendon in recent seasons) wrist, which enables strength through the point of contact. Looking at Kirilloff’s assessment of projected and actual outcomes, we can see a stark difference between what was and what is. Notably, the max exit velocity and hard-hit percentage are substantially lower than what you’d expect for someone with consistent exit velocity and a high barrel rate. It’s why, and you can gravitate towards any batter’s expected outcomes, there’s reason to believe that future reality skews more towards the expected than actual production. So, what does that mean for the Twins and their star rookie? If there’s a positive when it comes to such an injury, it’s that a cleaner bill of health should allow runway for a loftier set of expectations to be reached. I wouldn’t put it past Kirilloff to contend for a batting title; his swing is that pure. What should be a near-certain bet is multiple 30 homer seasons once settling in at the highest level. The Twins look to have played this timeline correctly. Kirilloff more than got his feet wet this season and was able to adjust to the opposition on the fly. He now has an entire offseason to rehab and get right while also understanding what lies ahead in terms of competition. The results aren’t where he’d have liked them to be, and surgery isn’t an ideal scenario, but he’s best equipped to attack the competition in the season ahead. Bet on Alex bouncing back well, and those expected outcomes should soon start to become a reality. 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
  19. When initially coming back to the lineup from his stint on the Injured List, Kirilloff noted that he would be playing through pain, and it was all about tolerance. Surgery was never ruled out, and as can be the case with these types of injuries, it seemed like a matter of when, not if. Through 47 games back in the lineup, Minnesota’s rookie slashed .260/.316/.387. The first two numbers aren’t bad, but the slugging percentage leaves plenty to be desired from a guy who has shown so much more power potential. The “more” is why 2022 looks to be a really exciting opportunity for Kirilloff. Assuming surgery goes well, and rehab is straightforward, the inputs for substantially better outputs are already there. Kirilloff’s xwOBA in 2021 sits at .365, nearly 60 points higher than his .308 mark. His .288 xBA is more than 30 points higher than his .251 avg, and his xSLG at .532 is a far cry more impressive than the actual .432 mark he compiled. In the Statcast numbers, we can see what he can become, or maybe even should’ve been. Kirilloff crushed opposing pitching to a similar tune as teammate Nelson Cruz. The difference is that one has a healthier (Cruz dealt with a ruptured tendon in recent seasons) wrist, which enables strength through the point of contact. Looking at Kirilloff’s assessment of projected and actual outcomes, we can see a stark difference between what was and what is. Notably, the max exit velocity and hard-hit percentage are substantially lower than what you’d expect for someone with consistent exit velocity and a high barrel rate. It’s why, and you can gravitate towards any batter’s expected outcomes, there’s reason to believe that future reality skews more towards the expected than actual production. So, what does that mean for the Twins and their star rookie? If there’s a positive when it comes to such an injury, it’s that a cleaner bill of health should allow runway for a loftier set of expectations to be reached. I wouldn’t put it past Kirilloff to contend for a batting title; his swing is that pure. What should be a near-certain bet is multiple 30 homer seasons once settling in at the highest level. The Twins look to have played this timeline correctly. Kirilloff more than got his feet wet this season and was able to adjust to the opposition on the fly. He now has an entire offseason to rehab and get right while also understanding what lies ahead in terms of competition. The results aren’t where he’d have liked them to be, and surgery isn’t an ideal scenario, but he’s best equipped to attack the competition in the season ahead. Bet on Alex bouncing back well, and those expected outcomes should soon start to become a reality. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. What’s Their Situation? As usual, the Rays are exceptional. As of July 22nd, their record stands at 57-39, 7th best in baseball, with the fifth-best run differential. The reigning AL champions will have their eyes set on another deep playoff run after being beaten by the Dodgers at the final hurdle in 2020. The Rays currently sit a game behind the surprising Boston Red Sox in a log-jammed AL East. The Blue Jays and Yankees are comfortably behind them but within a good week of breathing down their neck at the top of the division. At the time of writing, Tampa Bay has a 73% chance to make the playoffs, according to Fangraphs, comfortably fourth-best in the AL, behind the Red Sox, White Sox, and Astros. The Rays have a 2021 payroll of just over $69 million (makes you think), a whopping $59 million below league average. They can add and add creatively, but don’t expect them to take on any massive contracts. That’s not what they do. What Do They Need? Like most great teams, the Rays don’t have a lot of holes. By fWAR, they boast the 6th best offense and 9th best pitching staff in MLB. Their bullpen is solid (3rd best in MLB), while their starting pitching is less robust (16th). While their offense is potent, it’s aided by solid defense and excellent baserunning. Their 100 team wRC+ is good for 12th in baseball, even behind the eighth-place Twins (103). Which Twins are the Best Fit? Nelson Cruz was the primary Twins' trade target linked to the Rays, and for good reason. The Rays were keen to sign Cruz before he initially landed in Minnesota and could use a power boost to a robust and deep lineup which Cruz could provide. The Rays don’t have a glaring hole at DH, with the excellent Austin Meadows (122 wRC+) getting plenty of at-bats there. Still, Cruz is the type of luxury item you purchase in a season in which you want to return to and win your first World Series, particularly when you would only need to pay a prorated portion of his 2021 salary. Starting pitching is the other area the Rays could strengthen. While he’s a fit in that he’s excellent, it’s hard to see the Rays pursuing Jose Berríos when they have Tyler Glasnow on the shelf and a stable of outstanding pitching talent close to MLB ready. Michael Pineda is a more logical fit to provide solid innings through the remainder of the season, which offers little respite in the AL East. Like Cruz, Pineda would be a rental. He would also be relatively cheap, compared to Cruz. Who Could the Twins Get Back? Examining the Rays top 30 prospects is genuinely a pleasure. Behind all that incredible MLB talent, they have a deeply stocked pantry of prospecty goodness. In choosing potential Twins targets, I’ll admit to being ambitious. Each of the Rays top five prospects are consensus top 100 MLB prospects, so I stuck to more projectable prospects in the 6-15 range, acknowledging that due to the strength of the Rays farm system, their 6-15 is better than most. Here are three prospects the Twins would likely covet from the Rays system. Greg Jones, SS, A+ Jones and Ryan Jeffers have UNC Wilmington in common, the former being a supplemental first-rounder in 2019. As a prospect, Jones is an incredible athlete, showcasing 70-grade speed. He is a solid hitter who generates good bat speed and makes solid contact from both sides of the plate. Jones showcases the ability, athleticism, and defensive chops to stick at SS or move to 2B. However, some see it as likely he will eventually transition to CF at the MLB level. Cole Wilcox, RHP, A The Padres drafted Wilcox as the 80th overall pick in 2020. He was promptly shipped to Tampa Bay as part of the Blake Snell trade. Wilcox has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, which he uses consistently up in the zone, a strong slider, and an emerging changeup. Some believe Wilcox will eventually transition to a bullpen role. In 44 IP at High A so far this year, he sports a 2.03 ERA with 52 Ks. Seth Johnson, RHP, A The Rays took Johnson as the 40th overall pick in the 2019 draft. He has a big fastball which tops out at 98 mph but usually sits 92-95 mph. Johnson also showcases an outstanding swing and miss slider and a loopy curveball. Johnson may end up as a reliever given his reliance on his fastball/slider combination but has the tools and athleticism to develop into an MLB starter if he continues to develop his third pitch successfully. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. The Twins have already completed one big trade with the Rays, sending them Nelson Cruz for two AAA pitching prospects. That was the obvious deal, but more possibilities could remain. However, the unwritten maxim of ‘don’t do business with the Rays unless you want to look foolish’ still holds. They have, perhaps, the sharpest front office in the game. So, let’s make a trade. What could go wrong? What’s Their Situation? As usual, the Rays are exceptional. As of July 22nd, their record stands at 57-39, 7th best in baseball, with the fifth-best run differential. The reigning AL champions will have their eyes set on another deep playoff run after being beaten by the Dodgers at the final hurdle in 2020. The Rays currently sit a game behind the surprising Boston Red Sox in a log-jammed AL East. The Blue Jays and Yankees are comfortably behind them but within a good week of breathing down their neck at the top of the division. At the time of writing, Tampa Bay has a 73% chance to make the playoffs, according to Fangraphs, comfortably fourth-best in the AL, behind the Red Sox, White Sox, and Astros. The Rays have a 2021 payroll of just over $69 million (makes you think), a whopping $59 million below league average. They can add and add creatively, but don’t expect them to take on any massive contracts. That’s not what they do. What Do They Need? Like most great teams, the Rays don’t have a lot of holes. By fWAR, they boast the 6th best offense and 9th best pitching staff in MLB. Their bullpen is solid (3rd best in MLB), while their starting pitching is less robust (16th). While their offense is potent, it’s aided by solid defense and excellent baserunning. Their 100 team wRC+ is good for 12th in baseball, even behind the eighth-place Twins (103). Which Twins are the Best Fit? Nelson Cruz was the primary Twins' trade target linked to the Rays, and for good reason. The Rays were keen to sign Cruz before he initially landed in Minnesota and could use a power boost to a robust and deep lineup which Cruz could provide. The Rays don’t have a glaring hole at DH, with the excellent Austin Meadows (122 wRC+) getting plenty of at-bats there. Still, Cruz is the type of luxury item you purchase in a season in which you want to return to and win your first World Series, particularly when you would only need to pay a prorated portion of his 2021 salary. Starting pitching is the other area the Rays could strengthen. While he’s a fit in that he’s excellent, it’s hard to see the Rays pursuing Jose Berríos when they have Tyler Glasnow on the shelf and a stable of outstanding pitching talent close to MLB ready. Michael Pineda is a more logical fit to provide solid innings through the remainder of the season, which offers little respite in the AL East. Like Cruz, Pineda would be a rental. He would also be relatively cheap, compared to Cruz. Who Could the Twins Get Back? Examining the Rays top 30 prospects is genuinely a pleasure. Behind all that incredible MLB talent, they have a deeply stocked pantry of prospecty goodness. In choosing potential Twins targets, I’ll admit to being ambitious. Each of the Rays top five prospects are consensus top 100 MLB prospects, so I stuck to more projectable prospects in the 6-15 range, acknowledging that due to the strength of the Rays farm system, their 6-15 is better than most. Here are three prospects the Twins would likely covet from the Rays system. Greg Jones, SS, A+ Jones and Ryan Jeffers have UNC Wilmington in common, the former being a supplemental first-rounder in 2019. As a prospect, Jones is an incredible athlete, showcasing 70-grade speed. He is a solid hitter who generates good bat speed and makes solid contact from both sides of the plate. Jones showcases the ability, athleticism, and defensive chops to stick at SS or move to 2B. However, some see it as likely he will eventually transition to CF at the MLB level. Cole Wilcox, RHP, A The Padres drafted Wilcox as the 80th overall pick in 2020. He was promptly shipped to Tampa Bay as part of the Blake Snell trade. Wilcox has a fastball that sits in the mid-90s, which he uses consistently up in the zone, a strong slider, and an emerging changeup. Some believe Wilcox will eventually transition to a bullpen role. In 44 IP at High A so far this year, he sports a 2.03 ERA with 52 Ks. Seth Johnson, RHP, A The Rays took Johnson as the 40th overall pick in the 2019 draft. He has a big fastball which tops out at 98 mph but usually sits 92-95 mph. Johnson also showcases an outstanding swing and miss slider and a loopy curveball. Johnson may end up as a reliever given his reliance on his fastball/slider combination but has the tools and athleticism to develop into an MLB starter if he continues to develop his third pitch successfully. 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
  22. What’s Their Situation? The Brewers have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the NL Central but still need to close the gap on the top of the NL West if they want to have a chance at home-field advantage. The Brewers currently have the 7th-best odds of winning the World Series, according to Vegas Insider, and their deadline mentality should be “we’re going for it.” They may not match up perfectly, but there is no way the Brewers don’t call the Twins and vice versa. There is too much that the Brewers could use that the Twins have for them to not have conversations for at least a few players. What Do They Need? If the Brewers intend to go for it, they need to do it at their most significant areas of weakness: First base (-2.0 bWAR, last in NL) and third base (-1.2 bWAR, 13th). Milwaukee needs to do something at these positions to give themselves a shot at postseason success. The Brewers may also want to improve their bullpen. Don’t get me wrong, the Brewers bullpen, led by Josh Hader, has been terrific in 2021. It ranks 7th in opposing batting average (.221) and is tied for first in strikeouts per nine (11.0). But aside from Hader, who has posted otherworldly numbers (15.6 K/9, 281 ERA+), plus the rebounding Devin Williams, Brad Boxberger, and Brent Suter, there are places to upgrade. Which Twins Are the Best Fit? Josh Donaldson would fill the Brewers’ greatest on-field need. It’s the other stuff - contract and injuries - that give Brewers fans pause. And that doesn’t even get into all the other recent happenings that could potentially make Donaldson not well-liked in other clubhouses. Jose Berrios, under control in 2022, is an excellent fit for 29 teams not named the Twins and the Brewers are no exception, but he, like Taylor Rogers, would both be luxuries, and it’s hard to say how much the Brewers want to deplete their farm system. Nelson Cruz isn’t an obvious fit for a National League team, but Craig Counsell is well known for doing things out of the ordinary. And even Brewers bloggers are sipping that Kool-Aid. At a minimum, could you imagine having that option on the bench every game? Plus, there are DH days available in September with trips to Cleveland and Detroit, not to mention a late August visit to none other than Target Field. Additionally, Michael Pineda as a #4 starter, Hansel Robles as another mid-innings option, and Miguel Sano getting a change of scenery and opportunities at first and/or third base might all be things the Brewers front office discusses. Who Could The Twins Get Back? Unless the Twins are moving Berrios, I can’t believe any of Garrett Mitchell, Brice Turang, or Hedbert Perez would be available. Ethan Small and Aaron Ashby are probably safe to be included in that group as well. The strength of the Brewers system is behind the plate. Depending on which ranking outlet you prefer, the club boasts six catchers in their Top 22 prospects, or maybe you want to call it three in the top 10. It’s not that the Twins don’t have catching options, but quick, who’s their highest-rated catching prospect? (I’ll give you a hint, when you take Jeffers and Rortvedt out, neither MLB.com nor Baseball America has a catcher listed. TwinsDaily’s midseason rankings go 20-deep… no catchers.) Nick Kahle, C, 23yo - Kahle is probably the most likely match from a value perspective. He would profile as a backup with a chance to be more, considering he’s still got a few years to up his stock and has only played 76 games since being drafted. Kahle did play in both the American Association and Australia during the 2020 season to work on his development. Abner Uribe, RHP, 20yo - You’re not going to find Uribe at the top of any prospect lists… unless you sort by mph. He’s a lottery ticket, no doubt, and he’s already spending most of his time coming out of the bullpen, but he’s a flamethrower who’s broken 100 mph. Zavier Warren, C, 22yo - The Twins would be wise to ask about catcher/utility player Warren, who may have the chops to stick behind the plate, but has the bat and athleticism to play elsewhere. Antoine Kelly, LHP, 21yo - Kelly projects as one of the higher-ceiling pitchers in the system after being drafted in 2019 and showing off his powerful fastball in rookie league. He impressed during his stint at the alternate training site, but momentum was lost when he underwent Thoracic Outlet Surgery this spring. An already high-risk/high-reward prospect has seen the gap between his floor and ceiling widen even further and is a huge question mark. But that’s the fun of the trade deadline.
  23. The Brewers came within one game of the 2018 World Series and three years later are in a position to make another playoff run. They have to go for it. They’ve never won a National League pennant and haven’t appeared in a World Series since losing to the Cardinals in 1982. What’s Their Situation? The Brewers have put some distance between themselves and the rest of the NL Central but still need to close the gap on the top of the NL West if they want to have a chance at home-field advantage. The Brewers currently have the 7th-best odds of winning the World Series, according to Vegas Insider, and their deadline mentality should be “we’re going for it.” They may not match up perfectly, but there is no way the Brewers don’t call the Twins and vice versa. There is too much that the Brewers could use that the Twins have for them to not have conversations for at least a few players. What Do They Need? If the Brewers intend to go for it, they need to do it at their most significant areas of weakness: First base (-2.0 bWAR, last in NL) and third base (-1.2 bWAR, 13th). Milwaukee needs to do something at these positions to give themselves a shot at postseason success. The Brewers may also want to improve their bullpen. Don’t get me wrong, the Brewers bullpen, led by Josh Hader, has been terrific in 2021. It ranks 7th in opposing batting average (.221) and is tied for first in strikeouts per nine (11.0). But aside from Hader, who has posted otherworldly numbers (15.6 K/9, 281 ERA+), plus the rebounding Devin Williams, Brad Boxberger, and Brent Suter, there are places to upgrade. Which Twins Are the Best Fit? Josh Donaldson would fill the Brewers’ greatest on-field need. It’s the other stuff - contract and injuries - that give Brewers fans pause. And that doesn’t even get into all the other recent happenings that could potentially make Donaldson not well-liked in other clubhouses. Jose Berrios, under control in 2022, is an excellent fit for 29 teams not named the Twins and the Brewers are no exception, but he, like Taylor Rogers, would both be luxuries, and it’s hard to say how much the Brewers want to deplete their farm system. Nelson Cruz isn’t an obvious fit for a National League team, but Craig Counsell is well known for doing things out of the ordinary. And even Brewers bloggers are sipping that Kool-Aid. At a minimum, could you imagine having that option on the bench every game? Plus, there are DH days available in September with trips to Cleveland and Detroit, not to mention a late August visit to none other than Target Field. Additionally, Michael Pineda as a #4 starter, Hansel Robles as another mid-innings option, and Miguel Sano getting a change of scenery and opportunities at first and/or third base might all be things the Brewers front office discusses. Who Could The Twins Get Back? Unless the Twins are moving Berrios, I can’t believe any of Garrett Mitchell, Brice Turang, or Hedbert Perez would be available. Ethan Small and Aaron Ashby are probably safe to be included in that group as well. The strength of the Brewers system is behind the plate. Depending on which ranking outlet you prefer, the club boasts six catchers in their Top 22 prospects, or maybe you want to call it three in the top 10. It’s not that the Twins don’t have catching options, but quick, who’s their highest-rated catching prospect? (I’ll give you a hint, when you take Jeffers and Rortvedt out, neither MLB.com nor Baseball America has a catcher listed. TwinsDaily’s midseason rankings go 20-deep… no catchers.) Nick Kahle, C, 23yo - Kahle is probably the most likely match from a value perspective. He would profile as a backup with a chance to be more, considering he’s still got a few years to up his stock and has only played 76 games since being drafted. Kahle did play in both the American Association and Australia during the 2020 season to work on his development. Abner Uribe, RHP, 20yo - You’re not going to find Uribe at the top of any prospect lists… unless you sort by mph. He’s a lottery ticket, no doubt, and he’s already spending most of his time coming out of the bullpen, but he’s a flamethrower who’s broken 100 mph. Zavier Warren, C, 22yo - The Twins would be wise to ask about catcher/utility player Warren, who may have the chops to stick behind the plate, but has the bat and athleticism to play elsewhere. Antoine Kelly, LHP, 21yo - Kelly projects as one of the higher-ceiling pitchers in the system after being drafted in 2019 and showing off his powerful fastball in rookie league. He impressed during his stint at the alternate training site, but momentum was lost when he underwent Thoracic Outlet Surgery this spring. An already high-risk/high-reward prospect has seen the gap between his floor and ceiling widen even further and is a huge question mark. But that’s the fun of the trade deadline. View full article
  24. Although Oakland is currently looking up in their division, the need to increase their hold on a Wild Card spot is there, and Minnesota has the firepower to help them do just that. What’s Their Situation? The Oakland Athletics currently find themselves second in the American League West with a record of 52-40. They are 3.5 games back of the Houston Astros and have a 3.5 game lead on the Seattle Mariners for the 2nd Wild Card spot. Ideally, this is a team angling for a postseason berth. Unlikely to have the firepower necessary to catch Houston, hanging onto a Wild Card spot and going from there would seem to be a good goal. Traditionally the Athletics aren’t big spenders, but it’s hardly uncommon for them to see their names in the thick of things when the dust settles on the season. After beating the White Sox in the Wild Card round a year ago, Oakland would love to exact revenge against the division-rival Astros, who they bowed out against in the Division Series. What Do They Need? Bob Melvin’s club could probably use a bit more hitting help than pitching, given they’re within the top 10 in the latter while being outside it in the former. There’s power in the lineup, but the designated hitter spot could use an upgrade, and that’s exactly where rumors have them focusing. Jon Heyman recently noted that Oakland would be seen as a legitimate landing spot for the services of Twins slugger Nelson Cruz. Oakland’s starters have been a top 10 group in baseball, but their bullpen has compiled just the 21st ranked unit in terms of fWAR. Plucking from the 25th best unit in Minnesota doesn’t provide many options, but there are at least two that come to mind. Which Twins Are the Best Fit? Buyers for a designated hitter aren’t plentiful. Only half of the sport uses one, and half of that half are uncompetitive. Cruz works in Oakland though, and he’d have to be seen as their most desired target from Minnesota. Should the Twins want to try and increase the return, packaging the Dominican slugger, adding an arm makes some sense. Taylor Rogers is the most premium of relief options, but someone like Hansel Robles could help as well. They have made impact moves for starters previously, and Jose Berrios would resemble that, but Minnesota also has both J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda on the block. Who Could the Twins Get Back? There’s not much hope for a massive return when considering any of the expiring veteran contracts the Twins have. As good as Nelson Cruz has been, the market simply won’t be there to drive the price up too high. That being said, the Athletics have some nice names in their system, and throwing in someone like Taylor Rogers may move the needle. Arguably the most untouchable from Oakland would be 18-year-old shortstop Robert Puason. Short of including Jose Berrios, he’s not coming back to the Twins. Someone like Daulton Jefferies or Greg Deichmann could have appeal as they are both now older prospects. Jefferies is a former first-round pick who got blasted in his big league debut and has scuffled at Triple-A this year. Deichmann was a 2017 2nd round pick but is now having his best pro season as a 26-year-old at Triple-A. If Minnesota wants to try and get creative, working a way to nab Jesus Luzardo would be somewhat of a coup. He hasn’t panned out as expected, but the prospect hype was all there, and a change of scenery could do him well. I can’t imagine anyone from 15-30 in the Athletics prospect rankings being off the table in a swap that includes Nelson Cruz. Grant Holmes is a 25-year-old Triple-A arm, and Austin Beck was the 6th overall pick as an outfielder back in 2017. View full article
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