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  1. Relievers pitch limited innings, but their impact on the game can reverberate through a team’s season. Alex Colome came to the Twins with a successful track record, but things didn’t go as planned. So, does it make sense to sign a reliever to a big contract? Every winter, relievers hit the open market with a proven track record, but relief pitching is never a sure bet. Here is how the top free agent relievers have fared over the last three off-seasons. Last winter, the Chicago White Sox gave Liam Hendriks a three-year, $54 million contract. In his first Southside season, he impressed as he posted baseball’s highest reliever WAR. The other relievers to receive over $10 million per season were Brad Hand and Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal was limited to 23 2/3 innings, and Hand was worth -0.3 WAR in 68 appearances. Leading into the 2020 season, Atlanta signed Will Smith to a three-year, $40 million deal following an All-Star Season. Over the last two seasons, he has a 124 ERA+ and a 1.10 WHIP. The other big deals that winter were for Drew Pomeranz (four-years, $34 million) and Will Harris (three-years, $24 million). Pomeranz tore his flexor tendon, and this has limited him to 44 1/3 innings. Harris underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, and this limited him to 23 2/3 innings. During the 2019 winter, some of the best relievers in recent history all hit the free-agent market in the same offseason. Craig Kimbrel, Zack Britton, Andrew Miller, and David Roberston all signed for an average value of over $11.5 million. However, each of these players had mixed results during the life of their contract. Kimbrel struggled through the first two years before bouncing back in 2021 (191 ERA+). Britton dominated in the first two years of his deal (232 ERA+), but he underwent two surgeries to remove bone chips from his elbow this year. Age started to catch up with Miller as he posted a 4.12 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP during his two-year deal. Robertson was limited to 6 2/3 innings as he needed Tommy John surgery in 2019. Upcoming Free Agent Class This winter’s free-agent crop includes some well-known names, but many top names have questions about their future performance. Kenley Jansen, the top available reliever, is 34-years-old and has pitched a ton of innings throughout his career. Craig Kimbrel has a $16 million option with the White Sox that seems likely to be declined, but he is coming off a strong season. It seems unlikely for the Twins to target either of these options because of the associated costs ($10 million or more per season) and other risks. Other top-tier options seem closer to meet Minnesota’s needs and are available for a more reasonable amount. At 32-years-old, Raisel Iglesias is the youngest among the top-tier relievers. He has been one of baseball’s best relievers for six straight seasons, and this should net him a multi-year contract. Mark Melancon, the oldest top-tier reliever, posted some strong numbers this season (175 ERA+), but he is already 37-years-old. If Minnesota wants one of the top-tier options, Iglesias might be the safest bet. He can provide insurance for Taylor Rogers as he comes back from a finger injury, and he can help improve a bullpen group that improved significantly in the second half. To read more about these relievers and other off-season options, make sure to pre-order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. Designed to serve as an essential companion for the Twins offseason ahead, this digital Handbook places you in the shoes of the general manager, equipping you with all the information you need to construct your own team-building blueprint (or predict what the real front office will do). Should the Twins spend big on a reliever? 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. Every winter, relievers hit the open market with a proven track record, but relief pitching is never a sure bet. Here is how the top free agent relievers have fared over the last three off-seasons. Last winter, the Chicago White Sox gave Liam Hendriks a three-year, $54 million contract. In his first Southside season, he impressed as he posted baseball’s highest reliever WAR. The other relievers to receive over $10 million per season were Brad Hand and Trevor Rosenthal. Rosenthal was limited to 23 2/3 innings, and Hand was worth -0.3 WAR in 68 appearances. Leading into the 2020 season, Atlanta signed Will Smith to a three-year, $40 million deal following an All-Star Season. Over the last two seasons, he has a 124 ERA+ and a 1.10 WHIP. The other big deals that winter were for Drew Pomeranz (four-years, $34 million) and Will Harris (three-years, $24 million). Pomeranz tore his flexor tendon, and this has limited him to 44 1/3 innings. Harris underwent surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, and this limited him to 23 2/3 innings. During the 2019 winter, some of the best relievers in recent history all hit the free-agent market in the same offseason. Craig Kimbrel, Zack Britton, Andrew Miller, and David Roberston all signed for an average value of over $11.5 million. However, each of these players had mixed results during the life of their contract. Kimbrel struggled through the first two years before bouncing back in 2021 (191 ERA+). Britton dominated in the first two years of his deal (232 ERA+), but he underwent two surgeries to remove bone chips from his elbow this year. Age started to catch up with Miller as he posted a 4.12 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP during his two-year deal. Robertson was limited to 6 2/3 innings as he needed Tommy John surgery in 2019. Upcoming Free Agent Class This winter’s free-agent crop includes some well-known names, but many top names have questions about their future performance. Kenley Jansen, the top available reliever, is 34-years-old and has pitched a ton of innings throughout his career. Craig Kimbrel has a $16 million option with the White Sox that seems likely to be declined, but he is coming off a strong season. It seems unlikely for the Twins to target either of these options because of the associated costs ($10 million or more per season) and other risks. Other top-tier options seem closer to meet Minnesota’s needs and are available for a more reasonable amount. At 32-years-old, Raisel Iglesias is the youngest among the top-tier relievers. He has been one of baseball’s best relievers for six straight seasons, and this should net him a multi-year contract. Mark Melancon, the oldest top-tier reliever, posted some strong numbers this season (175 ERA+), but he is already 37-years-old. If Minnesota wants one of the top-tier options, Iglesias might be the safest bet. He can provide insurance for Taylor Rogers as he comes back from a finger injury, and he can help improve a bullpen group that improved significantly in the second half. To read more about these relievers and other off-season options, make sure to pre-order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. Designed to serve as an essential companion for the Twins offseason ahead, this digital Handbook places you in the shoes of the general manager, equipping you with all the information you need to construct your own team-building blueprint (or predict what the real front office will do). Should the Twins spend big on a reliever? 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. Raisel Iglesias, RHP, 29 years-old Cincinnati Reds, NL Central (38-43) Under team control through 2020. 2019: 3.86 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 11.85 K/9, 4.13 BB/9 in 32 ⅔ IP 2018: 2.38 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 10.00 K/9, 3.13 BB/9 in 72 IP What’s To Like There isn’t much to dislike about a hard throwing reliever with a wipe-out slider and proven effectiveness in late inning, high leverage situations. Actually, it is exactly what Minnesota needs. Albeit it would be even better if he was left-handed but nonetheless Raisel Iglesias is a quality bullpen arm. From 2016-18 Iglesias was lights out while pitching in a tough and hitter-friendly division. Pitching against the Cubs, Cardinals and Brewers in places like Great American Ballpark, Wrigley Field and Miller Park is no easy task and Iglesias has handled it well. ERA+ is a park adjusted statistic with 100 being league average. From 2016-18, the Cuban born right-hander posted an ERA+ well above average in each season. Here is his ERA+ each year in chronological order: 169, 181, and 177. It’s important to remember that 100 is league average, meaning Iglesias was superb over that three year stretch. FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) is another great metric to look at when evaluating how a pitcher has performed. Essentially it is a measure of what a pitcher’s ERA would be based on the types of balls put in play against him. Over his career, Iglesias has posted a 3.50 FIP. His best year was 2017 in which he had a 2.70 FIP and the worst was 4.23 in 2018. Using the chart above you can see he has consistently been above average when it comes to FIP. For those that prefer conventional metrics like ERA he’s done well in that department too. Over the same three year period his ERA ranged from 2.38 in 2018 to 2.53 in 2016. Concerns 2019 has not been as favorable to Iglesias as his stretch from 2016-2018. While he’s maintained a solid FIP of 3.92, his ERA+ has dipped to 121. That's still above average, but much below his career high of 181 in 2017. Iglesias has also posted a 3.86 ERA which the highest it’s been since his rookie year in 2015. His K/9 is the highest of his career at 11.85 but his BB/9 is also the highest of his career at 4.13. Another area where he’s declined is WHIP. From 2016-2018 his WHIP hovered barely above 1.00. However, in 2019, his WHIP sits at 1.44. It’s not ideal for a late inning reliever to be allowing almost 1.5 base runners for every inning he pitches. Iglesias is still only 29-years-old and while he’s declined a bit this year he’s still an above average pitcher. Perhaps moving out of the hitter friendly NL Central and transitioning to the AL Central would allow him to regain his 2016-2018 dominance. If Minnesota does in fact acquire him they will certainly be hoping that’s the case. See Also Jake Diekman, LHP, Royals Ian Kennedy, RHP, Royals Sergio Romo, RHP, Marlins Shane Greene, RHP, Tigers Felipe Vázquez, LHP, Pirates Will Smith, LHP, Giants Liam Hendriks, RHP, Athletics Ty Buttrey, RHP, Angels Ken Giles, RHP, Blue Jays Sam Dyson, RHP, Giants Brad Hand, LHP, Indians Oliver Perez, LHP Cleveland Robert Stephenson, RHP, Reds John Gant, RHP, Cardinals Alex Colome, RHP, White Sox Seth Lugo, RHP, Mets Greg Holland, RHP, Diamondbacks Sean Doolittle, LHP, Nationals Kirby Yates, RHP, Padres 10 Relievers Minnesota Could Target
  4. MLB Networks’ Jon Morosi reports that the Twins have checked in with the Reds about a potential deal for closer Raisel Iglesias. In his first full season as a relief pitcher, Iglesias posted a 2.49 ERA with a 10.89 K/9 and a 3.41 K/BB. His fastball hits in the mid-90s and his slider helped to generate a 13.9% swinging strike rate. https://twitter.com/jonmorosi/status/929840824761937927 One of the benefits of Iglesias is that he is not a rental part. He is under control through 2021 so the Reds can demand a high price. His seven-year, $27 million deal gives him the right to opt out at any point when he qualifies for arbitration. This could mean a larger pay-day if he continues to pile up strong numbers. He would be a Super Two player following the 2020 season. Iglesias isn’t the only option for the Twins. According to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, the Twins are calling on a number of guys. Minnesota’s farm system ranks in the middle of the pack since so many top tier prospects have made their debuts in recent years. This could make it hard to package a deal for Iglesias. Last summer, the Reds listened to offers for Iglesias but they were looking for a package that would “blow them away.” Minnesota has also expressed interest in bringing back former closer Brandon Kintzler. Over the past two seasons, Kintzler recorded 45 saves on the way to being named a 2017 AL All-Star. Kintzler was traded to the Nationals last season and they have also expressed interest in re-signing him. Do the Twins want to send multiple top prospects to the Reds for one of baseball’s best relief pitchers? Should the club look to the free agent market for players like Kintzler? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. It’s no secret that the Twins bullpen was a weakness in 2017. With a largely unproven group of arms, Minnesota fans were left pulling their hair out in late-inning situations. There is no doubt the Twins will be looking for some upgrades this offseason as the club looks to build off of their 2017 success. Could the Reds have a piece the Twins are interested in acquiring? Do the Twins have what it would take to bring in one of baseball’s best relief arms?MLB Networks’ Jon Morosi reports that the Twins have checked in with the Reds about a potential deal for closer Raisel Iglesias. In his first full season as a relief pitcher, Iglesias posted a 2.49 ERA with a 10.89 K/9 and a 3.41 K/BB. His fastball hits in the mid-90s and his slider helped to generate a 13.9% swinging strike rate. One of the benefits of Iglesias is that he is not a rental part. He is under control through 2021 so the Reds can demand a high price. His seven-year, $27 million deal gives him the right to opt out at any point when he qualifies for arbitration. This could mean a larger pay-day if he continues to pile up strong numbers. He would be a Super Two player following the 2020 season. Iglesias isn’t the only option for the Twins. According to KSTP’s Darren Wolfson, the Twins are calling on a number of guys. Minnesota’s farm system ranks in the middle of the pack since so many top tier prospects have made their debuts in recent years. This could make it hard to package a deal for Iglesias. Last summer, the Reds listened to offers for Iglesias but they were looking for a package that would “blow them away.” Minnesota has also expressed interest in bringing back former closer Brandon Kintzler. Over the past two seasons, Kintzler recorded 45 saves on the way to being named a 2017 AL All-Star. Kintzler was traded to the Nationals last season and they have also expressed interest in re-signing him. Do the Twins want to send multiple top prospects to the Reds for one of baseball’s best relief pitchers? Should the club look to the free agent market for players like Kintzler? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  6. Over the weekend, news broke that the Twins checked in on the availability of Cincinnati Reds closer Raisel Iglesias. While he's undoubtedly not the only player Minnesota has looked at on the trade market, his name has filtered into the media cycle at this point. No matter how much substance there is to the situation moving forward, it's worth looking at Iglesias as a player, and whether or not he fits for the Twins. First and foremost, Minnesota needs to shore up the bullpen heading into 2018. While Brandon Kintzler and Matt Belisle did an admirable job in the closer role for Paul Molitor a season ago, it's hard to imagine either in that scenario during game seven of the ALCS. As the Twins look to follow up a postseason berth this year, they'll no doubt have sights set on a deeper venture towards the World Series. While relief pitching has become the sexy topic in the playoffs, the reality is a complete team still trumps everything. The Astros won a World Series with a bullpen that was virtually on par with Minnesota in 2017, and that's worth keeping in mind. Getting to Iglesias in a vacuum, the Reds current closer is a soon-to-be 28 year old from Cuba. He is not a free agent until 2022, and is currently signed on a team friendly contract through 2020. Across 76.0 IP in 2017, Iglesias picked up 28 saves and posted a career best 2.49 ERA. His 2.70 FIP was also a career best and he cracked 10.0 K/9 for the first time in his big league career. As a starter during the 2015 season, Iglesias sat around 93 mph with his fastball. In relief last season, he was pushing 96 mph on average and dropped down to 85 mph on his slider. Despite being a bit of an older player, Iglesias quickly ascended to the big leagues. After signing out of Cuba, he pitched just 29 innings at Triple-A prior to his 2015 debut. Raisel only threw three seasons in Cuba before taking his age 23 year off to go through the process of getting stateside. Even at 28, you'd like to believe his body is a bit better for the wear. Should Minnesota choose to pursue him, the asking price would probably be substantial. Wade Davis was just a one year rental at 31 years old for the Chicago Cubs, and he required the Royals receiving Jorge Soler in return. Still under team control, and with age on his side, I'd imagine the Reds would ask the Twins for at least one top six prospect. If I'm Minnesota, it's a hesitant place to start, but something I'd be interested in hearing out. As a general philosophy, I believe it makes sense for teams close to winning to parlay either picks or prospects into immediately usable assets. Obviously this isn't a practice you can repeatedly employ or you run the risk of depleting your long term viability. Tracking guys with qualifying offers or dealing top prospects will eventually leave you in a barren place on the farm. That being said, Minnesota finds themselves in unique territory given the current organizational landscape. Following a strong season, most of the club's top prospects from the past few seasons have reached the big leagues. They won't hold an enviable draft pick having finished as one of the final teams playing as well. If the Twins can entice Cincinnati with someone like Nick Gordon or Alex Kirilloff, they could get a solid return for someone that may be an expendable piece. Closers are a fickle beast, and I'd hate to see the Twins acquire Iglesias only to use him in the 9th inning of games they lead. Ideally, bringing him in would involve him being relied upon to get high leverage outs regardless of where in the game that is. Also, if Gordon or Kirilloff generate that much interest, I'd probably see what other starting pitching they may be able to net as an alternative. If this is the only level of return that seems viable though, it's tough to pass up. The reality is that the Minnesota Twins aren't too far away, and raising the water level of the big league roster is a must. There's some really strong impact prospects in the farm system, but some of them are representative of the next wave. While you'd love to see everyone you draft come through your system, sometimes the best tradeoff is matching them elsewhere and turning a prospect into an immediately usable player. With the GM meetings ready to kick off, and the Hot Stove warming up, we'll get plenty more exciting nuggets in the weeks and months ahead. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine seem to know they have something exciting on their hands, and I feel comfortable with the direction the seem to be running in. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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