Minnesota Twins – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-09-19T04:38:57Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Jason Martinez <![CDATA[The Top Minor League Performers Of 2018]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132681 2018-09-19T01:00:00Z 2018-09-18T23:15:05Z Over at Roster Resource, I rank Minor Leaguers throughout the regular season using a formula that takes into account several statistics with age and level serving as important factors in how they are weighed. These are not prospect rankings!

This is how it works:

  • Hitters are mostly rated by total hits, outs, extra-base hits, walks, strikeouts and stolen bases.
  • Pitchers are mostly rated by strikeouts, walks, earned runs, home runs and hits allowed per inning.
  • A few counting stats are included (IP, plate appearances, runs, RBI) to ensure that the players atop the list played a majority of the season.
  • The younger the player and the higher the level, the more weight each category is given. Therefore, a 19-year-old with an identical stat line as a 25-year-old at the same level will be ranked much higher. If a 23-year-old in Triple-A puts up an identical stat line as a 23-year-old in High-A, the player in Triple-A would be ranked much higher.

A player’s potential does not factor in to where they are ranked. If you’re wondering why a certain prospect who is rated highly by experts isn’t on the list, it’s likely because they missed time due to injury (see Victor Robles or Nick Senzel), MLB promotion (Juan Soto) or just weren’t productive enough. While there are plenty of recognizable names throughout the MiLB Power Rankings Top 200 list, it’s also full of players who were relatively unknown prior to the season and have seen their stock rise significantly due to their performance. Here’s a closer look at the Top 20.

1. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 3B, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

Guerrero probably deserved to start his MLB career sometime between the debuts of NL Rookie of the Year candidates Ronald Acuña Jr. (April 25th) and Juan Soto (May 20th). All things being equal, that would’ve been the case.

But his call-up was delayed, mostly because third baseman Josh Donaldson was healthy in May and designated hitter Kendrys Morales was being given every opportunity to break out of an early season slump. As Guerrero’s path to regular playing time was becoming clearer, he suffered a knee injury in early June that kept him out of action for a month. When he returned, the Jays’ playoff chances had dwindled. Instead of adding him to the 40-man roster and starting his service time clock, they chose to delay his MLB debut until 2019.

You can hate the rule, but I’m certain Jays fans would rather have Guerrero under team control in 2025 as opposed to having him on the team for a few meaningless months in 2018 and headed for free agency after the 2024 season. And maybe it’s just me, but I kind of enjoy seeing what kind of numbers a player can put up when he’s way too good for his competition. And all this 19-year-old kid did was slash .381/.437/.636 with 20 HR, 29 2B, 37 BB, 38 K in 408 plate appearances, mostly between Triple-A and Double-A (he had 14 PAs during a rehab stint in the low minors).  Thanks for providing us with that beautiful stat line, Vlad Jr.

2. Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros Astros Depth Chart

Despite a slow start—he had 21 hits in his first 83 Triple-A at-bats with one homer and 20 strikeouts— the 21-year-old Tucker showed why the World Champions were willing to give him a chance to take their starting left field job and run with it in July.

Tucker wasn’t quite ready for the Big Leagues—he was 8-for-52 in two separate MLB stints prior to a recent third call-up—but his stock hasn’t dropped one bit after slashing .332/.400/.590 with 24 homers, 27 doubles and 20 stolen bases over 465 plate appearances in his first season at the Triple-A level.

3. Luis Rengifo, SS, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

A 21-year-old shortstop just finished a Minor League season with 50 extra-base hits (7 HR, 30 2B, 13 3B), 41 stolen bases, as many walks as strikeouts (75 of each) and a .299/.399/.452 slash line. If the name Luis Rengifo doesn’t ring a bell, you’re probably not alone. He kind of came out of nowhere.

The Mariners traded him to the Rays last August in a deal for Mike Marjama and Ryan Garton. Nine months later, the Rays shipped him to the Angels as the PTBNL in the deal for C.J. Cron. Based on those two trades, I can say without hesitation that the Mariners and Rays did not think Rengifo was this good. Not even close.

4. Nathaniel Lowe, 1B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

Lowe’s breakout season mirrors Juan Soto’s in one way: They both posted an OPS above 1.000 at two different levels before a promotion to a third. Soto’s third stop was in Double-A, and it was a very short stint before heading to the Majors. After destroying High-A and Double-A pitching, Lowe’s final stop of 2018 was Triple-A, where he finally cooled off.

Still, the 23-year-old has put himself squarely on the Rays’ radar. After homering just 11 times in his first 757 plate appearances, all in the low minors, Lowe broke out with 27 homers and 32 doubles in 555 plate appearances in 2018. His overall .330/.416/.568 slash was exceptional.

5. Alex Kirilloff, OF, Minnesota Twins | Twins Depth Chart

We’re four seasons into the Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano era—both debuted during the 2015 season—and we can’t say for certain whether either player will even be penciled into the regular lineup in 2019. They could be still turn out to be perennial All-Stars someday. But you can’t blame Twins fans if they temper their expectations for the next great hitting star to come up through their farm system. And yet, that might be difficult with Kirilloff, a first-round draft pick in ’16, and last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Royce Lewis, after the year each of them just had. Both are moving up the ladder quickly.

The 20-year-old Kirilloff, who missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery, was a hitting machine in his first full professional season. After slashing .333/.391/.607 with 13 homers in 65 games with Low-A Cedar Rapids, he hit .362 with seven homers and 24 doubles in 65 games with High-A Fort Myers. He also had 11 hits in the playoffs, including a 5-hit performance on September 5th.

6. Bo Bichette, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

All Bichette did during his age-20 season was hit 43 doubles and steal 32 bases while manning shortstop for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the 2018 Eastern League Champions. It’s unlikely that he’ll join Vlad Jr. in the Majors early next season, but he might not be too far behind.

7. Peter Alonso, 1B, New York Mets Mets Depth Chart

Alonso’s monster season (.975 OPS, 36 HR, 31 2B, 119 RBI between AAA/AA) ended in disappointment when he was passed over for a September promotion. As was the case with Vlad Jr., it didn’t make much sense to start his service time clock and fill a valuable 40-man spot during the offseason—neither Guerrero or Alonso have to be protected from the next Rule 5 draft—while the team is playing meaningless games. The 23-year-old Alonso did establish, however, that he is the Mets’ first baseman of the very near future, and they’ll plan accordingly during the upcoming offseason.

8. Touki Toussaint, SP, Atlanta Braves Braves Depth Chart

As tough as it will be to crack the Braves’ rotation in the coming years, the 22-year-old Toussaint has put himself in position to play a significant role in 2019 after posting a 2.38 ERA and 10.8 K/9 in 24 starts between Triple-A and Double-A. He’s also starting meaningful MLB games down the stretch as the Braves try to seal their first division title since 2013. After spending last October in the Arizona Fall League, where he followed up an underwhelming 2017 season by allowing 10 earned runs in 8 2/3 innings, he could find himself on the Braves’ playoff roster.

9. Vidal Brujan, 2B, Tampa Bay Rays Rays Depth Chart

The highest-ranked player to spend the entire season in Low-A, the 20-year-old Brujan slashed .320/.403/.459 while stealing 55 bases in his first crack at a full season league (27 games in High-A; 95 games in Low-A). He’ll still be overshadowed a bit in a deep Tampa Bay farm system that includes two of the best young prospects in the game, Wander Franco and Jesus Sanchez, but it’s hard to ignore such a rare combination of speed and on-base ability displayed by a switch-hitting middle infielder.

10. Michael King, SP, New York Yankees Yankees Depth Chart

The Yankees’ offseason trade that sent two MLB-ready players, Garrett Cooper and Caleb Smith, to the Marlins cleared a pair of 40-man roster spots prior to the Rule 5 draft and brought back $250K in international bonus pool money. They also received King, who—whether anyone expected it or not—was about to have a breakout season.

After posting a 3.14 ERA with a 6.4 K/9 over 149 innings in Low-A in his age-22 season, numbers that typically indicate “possible future back-of-the-rotation workhorse,”  he looks to be much more than that after his 2018 performance. In 161 1/3 innings across Triple-A, Double-A and High-A, King posted a 1.79 ERA, 0.911 WHIP and 8.5 K/9. He was at his best once he reached Triple-A, posting a 1.15 ERA with only 20 hits and six walks allowed over 39 innings.

11. Taylor Widener, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks Diamondbacks Depth Chart

Unlike the trade to acquire King, the Yankees appear to have gotten the short end of the stick in a three-team, seven-player offseason deal with Arizona and Tampa Bay. They traded away Nick Solak to the Rays and Widener to the Diamondbacks in exchange for Brandon Drury, who was supposed to fill a short-term need for infield depth.

While Drury was a bust in New York—he had nine hits in 51 at-bats before being traded to Toronto in a July deal for J.A. Happ—Solak, a second baseman/outfielder, put up terrific numbers in Double-A (.834 OPS, 19 HR, 21 SB) and Widener has emerged as one of the better pitching prospects in the game. The 23-year-old right-hander posted a 2.75 ERA, 2.8 BB/9 and 11.5 K/9 over 137 1/6 innings with Double-A Jackson.

12. Josh Naylor, 1B/OF, San Diego Padres Padres Depth Chart

The offseason signing of first baseman Eric Hosmer certainly didn’t bode well for Naylor’s future with the Padres. Whether he had an MLB future at all, however, was already in question. First base prospects can’t just be good hitters. They need to mash, which is far from what Naylor did in 2017 (.761 OPS, 10 HR between Double-A and High-A). But a 20-year-old holding his own in Double-A is still interesting, nevertheless. So it was worth paying attention when he hit .379 with seven homers, five doubles, 13 walks and 12 strikeouts in April. He also spent most of his time in left field in 2018, adding a bit of versatility to his game.

Although April was his best month, by far, he still finished with an impressive .297/.383/.447 slash line. He’ll enter 2019 as a 21-year-old in Triple-A who has flashed some power (17 HR, 22 2B in 574 plate appearances) and above-average plate discipline (64 BB, 69 K).

13. Eloy Jimenez, OF, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

Unlike the Jays and Mets, who had multiple reasons to keep Guerrero and Alonso in the Minors until 2019, the Sox’s decision to bypass Jimenez for a September call-up was more questionable.

Already on the 40-man roster and without much to prove after slashing .337/.384/.577 with 22 homers and 28 doubles between Triple-A and Double-A, Jimenez’s MLB debut appeared imminent as September approached. But White Sox general manager Rick Hahn, citing Jimenez’s need to improve his defense, confirmed in early September that he would not be called up. Of course, the 21-year-old probably would’ve benefited greatly from playing left field in the Majors for 20-25 games in September. And, of course, Hahn is just doing a good job of not saying the quiet part out loud: Eloy under team control through 2025 > Eloy under team control through 2024.

14. Dean Kremer, SP, Baltimore Orioles Orioles Depth Chart

After posting a 5.18 ERA in 2017, mostly as a relief pitcher in High-A, Kremer’s stock rose quickly with a full-time move to the starting rotation in 2018. In 16 starts for High-A Rancho Cucamonga, the 22-year-old right-hander posted a 3.30 ERA with a 13.0 K/9. After tossing seven shutout innings in his Double-A debut, the Dodgers included him as a key piece in the July trade for Manny Machado. Kremer continued to pitch well with Double-A Bowie (2.58 ERA, 45 1/3 IP, 38 H, 17 BB, 53 K) and now finds himself on track to help a rebuilding Orioles’ team in 2019.

15. Nicky Lopez, SS, Kansas City Royals Royals Depth Chart

Lopez started to turn some heads during last offseason’s Arizona Fall League, and it carried over into 2018 as he slashed .308/.382/.417 with nine homers, 15 stolen bases and more walks (60) than strikeouts (52) between Triple-A and Double-A.  It’s a sign that the 23-year-0ld’s bat is catching up with his stellar defense and that he’s closing in on the Majors, where he could team with Adalberto Mondesi to form one of the better young middle infield duos in the game.

16. Royce Lewis, SS, Minnesota Twins Twins Depth Chart

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 draft didn’t disappoint in his first full professional season, posting an .853 OPS, nine homers, 23 doubles and 22 stolen bases in 75 Low-A games before a 2nd half promotion to High-A Fort Myers. He didn’t fare quite as well (.726 OPS, 5 HR, 6 SB in 46 games), but he did hit three homers in the playoffs to help his team win the Florida State League championship. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the if he reached Double-A early next season as a 19-year-old with a jump to the Majors in 2020 not out of the question.

17. Michael Kopech, SP, Chicago White Sox White Sox Depth Chart

Throwing a 100 MPH fastball isn’t as rare as it used to be, but Kopech has reportedly touched 105 MPH, putting him in a class of his own. Unfortunately, the 22-year-old right-hander is expected to join a long list of pitchers who have had their careers interrupted by Tommy John surgery after he was recently diagnosed with a torn UCL.

The timing isn’t great, as Kopech had just arrived in the Majors in late August and would’ve likely been a leading candidate for AL Rookie of the Year in 2019. Still, he’ll only have to prove that he’s back to full health before he returns to the Majors—he should be ready to return early in the 2020 season— after making a strong impression in Triple-A with a 3.70 ERA and 12.1 K/9 in 24 starts.

18. Kevin Smith, SS, Toronto Blue Jays Blue Jays Depth Chart

Not only do Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio likely form the best trio of infield prospects in the game, two are sons of Hall of Famers—Vladimir Guerrero Sr. and Craig Biggio, and Bichette’s dad, Dante, was also pretty good. And yet, another Blue Jays infield prospect with a very ordinary name and without MLB lineage managed to stand out. The 22-year-old finished the season with 25 homers, 31 doubles, 29 stolen bases and a cumulative .302/.358/.528 batting line between High-A and Low-A.

19. Gavin Lux, SS, Los Angeles Dodgers Dodgers Depth Chart

The former first-round pick wasn’t overly impressive in his first full Minor League season in 2017, slashing .244/.331/.362 with seven homers and 27 stolen bases for Low-A Great Lakes. A move to the hitter-friendly California League in 2018, however, seemed sure to give his offensive numbers a boost. It did. Lux had a .916 OPS and 41 extra-base hits in 404 plate appearances, but he also didn’t slow down once he reached the upper minors late in the year.

In 28 regular season games with Double-A Tulsa, the 20-year-old Lux slashed .324/.408/.495 with four homers in 120 plate appearances. It didn’t end there. Over an eight-game playoff run, the left-handed batter went 14-for-33 with five multi-hit games.

20. Patrick Sandoval, SP, Los Angeles Angels Angels Depth Chart

Acquiring the 21-year-old Sandoval from the Astros for free agent-to-be catcher Martin Maldonado could turn out to be the steal of the trade deadline. While the lefty didn’t stand out in Houston’s deep farm system, he was having a strong season at the High-A and Low-A levels at the time of the trade (2.56 ERA and 9.9 K/9 in 88 innings). The change of scenery didn’t affect him one bit as he tossed 14 2/3 shutout innings in the California League before finishing the season with four impressive Double-A starts (19 2/3 IP, 3 ER, 27 K).

Power Ranking Leaders By Level

Triple-A
Hitter: Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
Starting Pitcher: Michael Kopech, Chicago White Sox
Relief Pitcher: Ian Gibaut, Tampa Bay Rays

Double-A
Hitter: Bo Bichette, Toronto Blue Jays
Starting Pitcher: Taylor Widener, Arizona Diamondbacks
Relief Pitcher: Matt Pierpont, Colorado Rockies

High-A
Hitter: Colton Welker, Colorado Rockies
Pitcher: Emilio Vargas, Arizona Diamondbacks

Low-A
Hitter: Chavez Young, Toronto Blue Jays
Pitcher: Jhonathan Diaz, Boston Red Sox

Short-Season A
Hitter: Tyler Freeman, Cleveland Indians
Pitcher: Jaison Vilera, New York Mets

Rookie 
Hitter: Wander Franco, Tampa Bay Rays
Pitcher: Joey Cantillo, San Diego Padres

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Prospect Notes: Vlad, 2018 Draftees, Twins, Franco, Pitchers]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132744 2018-09-13T16:54:45Z 2018-09-13T16:54:22Z With the season effectively over for all but a few teams, many front offices and fanbases alike are turning their sights toward the 2019 season and beyond as they hope for better days. With that in mind, here’s a look at some notes on some of the game’s top prospects from around the league…

  • ESPN’s Keith Law named Blue Jays third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. his prospect of the year for a second consecutive season (subscription required), citing familiar questions about his long-term defensive capabilities but adding that there’s “zero question in my mind” that Guerrero is more than ready to thrive against Major League pitching at the moment. As for 2018 draftees, Cardinals third baseman Nolan Gorman and Royals lefty Daniel Lynch have been the two most impressive in his estimation. Gorman destroyed Appalachian League pitching and was promoted to full-season Class-A ball despite only having turned 18 in May. Lynch, a University of Virginia product, split his pro debut between those same two levels and pitched to a 1.58 ERA with a 61-to-8 K/BB ratio in 51 1/3 innings.
  • Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com took a longer-term look at prospects yesterday, attempting to forecast who will be the top-ranked prospects this time a year from now. With names like Guerrero, Eloy Jimenez, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Kyle Tucker all expected to graduate from prospect lists next year, Callis and Mayo tab Twins shortstop Royce Lewis, the No. 1 overall pick from 2017, as their pick to be the game’s top prospect a year from now. More encouraging for Twins fans is that 2016 first-rounder and outfielder Alex Kirilloff, who missed the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery, lands third on the same list after hitting .348/.392/.578 between Class-A and Class-A Advanced in his return from that surgery.
  • Meanwhile, Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser writes that Rays shortstop Wander Franco has been tabbed as BA’s breakout prospect of 2018. (Franco also appears on the previously mentioned lists from Law and MLB.com.) The 17-year-old Franco grew up living next to Indians superstar Jose Ramirez in the Dominican Republic and calls his childhood neighbor and friend his “idol” and greatest influence as a hitter. Glaser speaks to Franco about his relationship with Ramirez and his progress in 2018, and he also chats with Franco’s Appalachian League manager, Danny Sheaffer, about the young phenom’s strengths and upside. Franco was one of just two 17-year-olds playing in the Appy League this year but crushed older pitching to the tune of a .351/.418/.587 slash with 11 homers, 10 doubles and seven triples in 273 plate appearances.
  • Evaluating pitching prospects is among the most challenging endeavors for teams and online analysts alike. Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs recently explored the pitfalls of attempting to do so, suggesting that many mainstream publications (his own past work at Fangraphs included) have leaned too heavily in favor of “power-over-feel” prospects and downplayed the potential significance of players cut from the Shane Bieber cloth — those who possess above-average command and stuff but perhaps not an overpowering arsenal of 60- or 70-grade offerings. McDaniel highlights Tigers righty Matt Manning, White Sox righty Dylan Cease and Rays lefty/first baseman Brendan McKay in examining the various elements that have contributed to this line of thinking in an interesting column that those who avidly follow prospects will want to check out in its entirety.
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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Joe Mauer Undecided On Playing Beyond 2018]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132741 2018-09-13T13:49:18Z 2018-09-13T13:49:18Z Each one of Joe Mauer’s nearly 8,000 career plate appearances has come in a Minnesota Twins uniform. The St. Paul native has said in the past in stating that he can’t see himself playing anywhere other than Minnesota if he’s to continue his career beyond the 2018 campaign — the final season of a franchise-record eight-year, $184MM contract. But while Mauer has previously said he’d like to continue playing, he took a more cautious approach in speaking with La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune yesterday.

“There’s a lot [more] that goes into it than just, ‘Do you want to play?” Mauer replied when asked about continuing his career. “There’s a lot of different dynamics that go into it. I owe it to myself and my family to sit down and think about those things.”

Specifically, the 35-year-old Mauer goes on to cite yet another concussion that he suffered when making a diving attempt at a foul ball behind first base this past May, as well as the expected arrival of his third child this coming November. Mauer was well on his way to becoming one of the the best-hitting catchers in Major League history (and still can be considered as such, albeit over a shorter period than many expected) when a long-running series of concussions forced him out from behind the plate and began a decline in his offensive output.

To his credit, Mauer may have performed a bit better than some would expect since changing positions. He’s posted slightly above-average overall numbers at the plate (.276/.358/.387; 104 OPS+), including a particularly solid .305/.384/.417 slash last season. There’s no dodging the fact, though, that his bat hasn’t produced at anywhere near its once-elite levels. And while he quickly became a strong defensive first baseman,  that decline in offense is all the more glaring when considering the manner in which he moved down the defensive spectrum from catcher to first base.

None of that is to suggest that Mauer can’t still provide some value to the 2019 Twins (or, in the event of a dramatic shift in thinking, to another team). He’s turned in 10.3 wins above replacement from 2014-18, per Baseball-Reference (6.3, per Fangraphs). He’s also still a solid source of on-base percentage who rarely strikes out and is known for making opposing pitchers work (4.19 pitches per appearance — 14th-best in the Majors). That said, if he were to return for a 16th big league season, it would assuredly be at a significantly reduced rate.

As for whether the Twins’ front office would want him back, both chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine expressed to Neal that they’re open to bringing the former No. 1 overall pick back in 2019.

“If he came with us with the question you posed, ‘I’d like to play another season, what does that look like?’ I think we’re rolling up our sleeves and having a conversation with him,” said Levine. Falvey added that Mauer has “earned the right to have that conversation at his own pace” and that the team “fully supports” Mauer’s preference to make that an offseason decision rather than one they’ll discuss in September.

In the event that Mauer does decide to hang things up, the Twins will have some internal options to replace him. Logan Morrison’s $8MM mutual option will presumably be bought out following an injury-ruined season, but Tyler Austin has performed reasonably well since being traded over from the Yankees (.243/.313/.541 through 83 PAs). Miguel Sano has experience at first base and is likely better suited in the long run playing there than at third base. The free-agent market offers some potential platoon partners for Austin (e.g. Matt Adams), and the trade market, too, will present numerous options.

All of that cart-before-horse talk should be put on hold, however, as Mauer’s ultimate decision will undoubtedly impact the manner in which Falvey, Levine and the rest of the front office go about constructing a 2019 roster they hope can atone for a disappointing 2018 campaign in Minneapolis.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Ervin Santana Won’t Return This Season]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132511 2018-09-08T20:23:33Z 2018-09-08T20:10:52Z Injured Twins right-hander Ervin Santana won’t return this season, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. The news doesn’t come as a surprise, as Minnesota’s out of the playoff race and Santana has barely pitched this season.

Long a quality starter, including as recently as 2017, Santana endured a horrid season that was cut short by nagging issues with his right middle finger. Santana underwent surgery on that finger in early February, and he was only supposed to miss 10 to 12 weeks. Instead, the 35-year-old didn’t make his 2018 debut with the Twins until July 25, and that ended up as one of just five major league starts he made this season. Santana, who hasn’t pitched since Aug. 16, will conclude 2018 with an unsightly 8.03 ERA/7.94 FIP, 5.84 K/9, 3.28 BB/9 and a 23 percent groundball rate in 24 2/3 innings.

Had he been his typical self this year, Santana would’ve been a strong candidate to return to Minnesota in 2019. Now, the Twins will have to decide on Santana’s $14MM option within the next few weeks, but it’ll be a shock if they don’t buy the veteran out and send him to the free-agent market. Not only did Santana struggle through an injury this year, but he took issue with the front office’s decision to sell earlier in the summer. Santana and the Twins seem to be heading toward a divorce, then. In the meantime, he’s undergoing three platelet-rich plasma injections in his finger, Beradino reports.

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Jose Berrios Hires Wasserman Media Group]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132402 2018-09-07T00:44:26Z 2018-09-07T00:35:23Z Twins righty Jose Berrios has hired the Wasseman Media Group to represent him, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press reports.

Though he is not slated to reach arbitration eligibility this offseason, Berrios may still have some contractual matters to address with the Minnesota organization. He negotiated with the club last winter, though no deal was reached, and certainly could again be targeted for an extension over the offseason to come.

Berrios, 24, has now turned in two-straight solid campaigns in Minnesota after struggling in his 2016 debut. Through 28 starts in 2018, he owns a 3.92 ERA with 9.2 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9.

Those aren’t dominant numbers, to be sure, but Berrios arguably still has some untapped upside. He has boosted his swinging-strike rate to 11.1% this year, though he’s also permitting more home runs (1.29 per nine; 13.7% HR/FB) than he did last season.

As Berardino notes, Berrios would hardly be the first 2+ service-class pitcher to contemplate a long-term deal. There’s a long tradition of contracts for such hurlers, many of which have fallen in the same general price range and structure. Where Berrios fits in that line of precedent is up for debate — and, of course, negotiation.

Berrios had previously been a client of MDR Sports Management. MLBTR’s Agency Database has been updated to reflect his new representation.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Initial X-Rays Negative Following Sano Leg Injury]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132306 2018-09-05T02:16:58Z 2018-09-05T02:16:58Z Twins slugger Miguel Sano had to be carted off the field Tuesday after suffering an apparent left leg injury upon sliding into second base (video link via MLB.com). That’s the same leg that caused Sano to miss the final few weeks of the 2017 season — an injury that ultimately led to surgery to insert a titanium rod into his shin. Initial x-rays on the injury were negative, according to the team, and Sano has been diagnosed with a bruised lower leg, although there figure to be further evaluations and updates after the game. Whether lingering effect from that offseason procedure have impacted Sano isn’t clear, but the 2018 campaign has been a nightmare for the former top prospect. A year after hitting .264/.352/.507 with 28 homers in 483 plate appearances, Sano has struggled to a dismal .202/.285/.405 slash with a 37.6 percent strikeout rate.

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Select Gregorio Petit]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132238 2018-09-04T00:34:07Z 2018-09-04T00:34:07Z The Twins announced that they’ve selected the contract of infielder Gregorio Petit. In a corresponding move, the club transferred injured first baseman Logan Morrison to the 60-day disabled list.

Petit, 33, didn’t put up great numbers this season in Rochester, where he hit .268/.313/.327 with one home run over 312 PAs. He was somewhat more productive n a limited Twins stint earlier this year, with a .308/.400/.308 showing in 30 trips to the plate.

Over parts of six seasons in the majors, Petit carries a .253/.298/.350 slash in 456 plate appearances. His chief appeal lies in his defensive versatility. In that limited MLB action, Petit has appeared everywhere on the field except for behind the dish, on the mound, and in center field while spending most of his time as a middle-infielder.

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Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Latest On Byron Buxton]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132142 2018-09-03T04:11:54Z 2018-09-03T04:11:54Z The Twins won’t be recalling Byron Buxton to the Major League roster, a decision that puts the team in line to gain an extra year of control over the young outfielder.  The situation has already created controversy, and there seems to be at least a chance that Buxton and his representatives at Jet Sports Management could look into filing a grievance with the league.  In a statement to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal (subscription required), agency owner B.B. Abbott said “We will examine this against the rights provided to all players under the CBA.  Until then, we will let Twins fans form their own opinions about this decision.”  MLBPA executive director Tony Clark also commented on Buxton, saying that the union “will review all options with Byron and his representatives.”

Minnesota GM Thad Levine did mention that the team was aware of Buxton’s service time circumstances, and Rosenthal is skeptical about the three larger factors (concerns about the wrist injury that sent Buxton to the DL, a lack of room in the Twins outfield, and “a performance standpoint factor“) that Levine cited as the chief reasons for Buxton remaining in Triple-A.  Buxton has not only been healthy enough to play regularly in Triple-A, Rosenthal observes, but the outfielder has also been hitting quite well in recent games.  Rosenthal wonders if the Twins’ desire to retain Buxton for an extra season will cost them in the long run, as Buxton may now be soured on signing a longer-term extension to remain in Minnesota beyond 2022.

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Heyman On Joe Mauer's Future]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132070 2018-09-02T18:57:10Z 2018-09-02T18:57:10Z
  • Twins icon and pending free agent Joe Mauer is uninterested in playing elsewhere, per Heyman, who adds that it’s believed Minnesota would welcome the first baseman back in 2019. The question is whether the St. Paul native will choose to play next year, which would be his age-36 season. Mauer’s now in the final weeks of the franchise-record eight-year, $184MM extension he signed as a superstar catcher in 2010. The deal hasn’t quite worked out as hoped, though, thanks in part to injuries and a decline in production. Mauer has posted league-average offensive numbers over 444 PAs this year, with a .278/.350/.379 line (99 wRC+).
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Twins Notes: Buxton, Gimenez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=132054 2018-09-02T16:16:24Z 2018-09-02T16:16:24Z The Twins won’t recall center fielder Byron Buxton from Triple-A Rochester this season, in part because the left wrist issue he has been dealing with throughout the summer is “still lingering,” general manager Thad Levine said Saturday (via Dan Hayes of The Athletic; subscription required). But the decision to not bring the 24-year-old Buxton back to the majors this season is likely more related to his service time, suggests Hayes, who notes they’re now in position to control him through 2022 instead of 2021. Levine did acknowledge the service time as a factor, saying: “We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we weren’t at least aware of service-time impacts on decisions we make.” Levine added Buxton’s agent is “displeased, disappointed for sure,” though the GM would like to “make amends” with Buxton at some point so as not to damage the sides’ relationship. At this time in 2017, Buxton was a cornerstone player for the playoff-bound Twins, potentially setting himself up for a lucrative extension.  A year later, he and the Twins have endured a year to forget. Injuries helped limit Buxton to a .156/.183/.200 line with no home runs and 28 strikeouts against three walks in 94 major league plate appearances. He was much better at Triple-A, hitting .272/.331/.456 with four HRs in 148 PAs, though he did post a 28.4 percent strikeout rate.

    • With help from his family, just-acquired Twins catcher Chris Gimenez will decide in the offseason whether to continue his career, Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press tweets. The 35-year-old journeyman has racked up 1,033 major league PAs since debuting in 2009, including 225 with Minnesota last season, though he has spent the majority of this season with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[September Call-Ups: 9/1/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131982 2018-09-01T22:38:55Z 2018-09-01T21:24:34Z A few call-ups were announced yesterday, but we’re likely to see far more prospect promotions and even contract selections take place today as rosters expand. We’ll use this post to keep track of those moves…

    • The Marlins selected the contract of righty starter Jeff Brigham today; he’ll be among those playing in the majors for the first time ever. Brigham’s solid 3.44 ERA in Triple-A this season is muddied a bit by his 4.45 FIP, but he’s maintained solid ratios. Brigham’s 8.25 K/9 and brilliant 2.24 BB/9 give him a solid 3.69 K/BB ratio that probably looks quite nice to a Marlins club that’s hurting for serviceable major league starters. Miami has also recalled right-handers Sandy Alcantara and Nick Wittgren along with catcher Chad Wallach.
    • The Athletics selected several contracts today, including that of catching prospect Beau Taylor. The lefty-hitting backstop has never played in the majors, but he’s done well for himself at the Triple-A level this season by drawing walks in 14% of his plate appearances while hitting .248. He’s even chipped in a pair of stolen bases. The biggest knock on Taylor is his lack of power; the 28-year-old owns a sub-.100 ISO and has never hit more than eight homers in a given season. Other contracts selected by the Astros today include those of lefty Dean Kiekhefer and righties Chris Hatcher and Liam Hendriks. The A’s recalled lefty Daniel Coulombe and shortstop Franklin Barreto as well.  
    • The Indians selected the contract of right-hander Jon Edwards today, who hasn’t pitched in the major leagues since 2015. The 30-year-old Edwards has done well for himself in the Tribe’s minor league system in 2018, though, racking up 56 strikeouts in just 39 1/3 innings while pitching to a 3.64 ERA. Though he’s exhibited extreme control issues in the past, his 2.70 BB/9 in 30 innings with Triple-A Columbus suggests there’s a possibility he’s put those problems behind him. The Tribe promoted catcher Eric Haase to the majors alongside him.

    Earlier…

    • The Mariners have selected the contract of Justin Grimm among their September moves, whom they signed to a minor league contract on July 25th. Grimm’s been plagued by shoulder and back issues all season and struggled to a cataclysmic 13.50 ERA in 12 2/3 innings for the Royals earlier this season, which led to his release early on in the summer. With the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate, though, he’s put up a pristine 1.64 ERA and an even more impressive 13.91 K/9 mark. In addition to Grimm, Seattle also selected the contract of Kristopher Negron, and recalled right-handers Chasen Bradford and Ryan Cook, lefty James Pazos, catcher David Freitas.
    • The Nationals have selected the contract of right-hander Austen Williams, who’ll be getting his first MLB cup of coffee this September. He’s been quite impressive in the upper minors this season, including a 0.55 ERA in 16 1/3 innings at the Triple-A level. That’s backed up by excellent peripherals, including 20 strikeouts against just four walks. Williams had pitched exclusively as a starter until this season, and it appears a transition to a relief role has catapulted him to a status as an incredibly intriguing talent. The Nats also recalled catcher Pedro Severino to fill in while Wieters is dealing with a hip/groin injury (per Jamal Collier of MLB.com).
    • The White Sox promoted Caleb Frare to get his first taste of the bigs; as James Fegan of The Athletic points out, he needed to be added to the 40-man roster in order to be protected from the coming winter’s Rule 5 Draft. They’ve good reason to do so, as the lefty reliever has thrived with the organization ever since being acquired from the Yankees a month ago in exchange for $1.5MM in international bonus pool funds. He’s put up fantastic numbers in 12 2/3 innings at Triple-A Charlotte, including a 0.71 ERA and 13.50 K/9. Aaron Bummer will join him as the other White Sox player to receive a September promotion so far.
    • The Royals have selected the contract of catcher Meibrys Viloria to account for the hole left by Drew Butera, who was traded to the Rockies yesterday. Fascinatingly, Kansas City decided to promote the 21-year-old Columbia native even though he’s never played above the High-A level. He’s done just fine there, though, batting .260/.342/.360 in 407 plate appearances over the course of 2018. Viriola is expected to maje his MLB debut as early as this week while mainstay catcher Salvador Perez deals with a sprained thumb.
    • After a short stay in the minors, righty reliever Ray Black is back up with the Giants. He’s had a poor showing in the majors so far, allowing ten earned runs in 15 1/3 innings. He did manage to strike out 22 batters in that span, though, and owns a 2.11 FIP in 25 2/3 innings at Triple-A this season. His blistering 16.13 K/9 at that level perhaps speaks to his potential even more.
    • The Cardinals recalled catcher Carson Kelly today, who’s widely considered to be the club’s catcher of the future once Yadier Molina’s contract is complete. However, he’s yet to prove his worth at the major-league level, as evidenced by his .150/.216/.187 batting line across 118 MLB plate appearances. The Redbirds have also called up lefty Tyler Webb and righty Daniel Poncedeleon.
    • The Phillies have opted to recall outfielder Aaron Altherr, who’d largely been a fixture in the club’s major-league outfield for the past two seasons prior to a late-July demotion. While his 13.3% walk rate so far this season was downright fantastic, that was about the only aspect of Altherr’s performance to be happy about; he was striking out at a 32.7% clip while hitting just .171 and slugging just .305. Philadelphia also added outfielder Dylan Cozens and righty reliever Yacksel Rios to their active roster.
    • The Yankees are set to give right-hander Stephen Tarpley his first taste of major-league action after selecting his contract earlier today. Tarpley is quite an interesting arm-he’s been utilized as a multi-inning reliever at two levels of the minors this year, and to great effect. Most recently, he’s pitched to a 2.65 ERA and 10.06 K/9 across 17 appearances spanning 34 innings at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. Infielder Tyler Wade and right-hander Luis Cessa will also join the MLB club as rosters expand.
    • The Mets will give righty Eric Hanhold his first taste of major-league action, MLBTR has learned. Acquired in the 2017 trade that sent Neil Walker to the Brewers, Hanhold has apparently been quite unlucky to own his 7.11 ERA at Triple-A this season. Rather, his 3.43 FIP in 19 innings at that level produces some level of optimism that he can serve as a quality reliever in the majors. A .429 BABIP and 2.86 K/BB ratio further strengthen that case.
    • The Reds are set to give shortstop prospect Blake Trahan a September call-up, as C. Trent Rosencrans of The Athletic was among those to tweet. Trahan came to the Reds by way of the club’s third-round draft pick back in 2015. He did not rank amongst MLB Pipeline’s top 30 Reds prospects in the publication’s most recent rankings, though Fangraphs ranks him 24th in that regard thanks to a 55 speed tool and a 60-grade arm. He’s also likely to be a league-average shortstop. That’s about all there is to like about Trahan at present, as he’s only hit .245/.327/.302 at the minors’ highest level.
    • The Reds have also recalled Lucas Sims, who arrived in Cincinnati just prior to the non-waiver trade deadline as part of the package in exchange for sending Adam Duvall to Atlanta. Sims owns a 5.96 ERA and 7.15 K/9 in a Braves uniform, but his minors track record indicates he might have better days yet to come; the righty has managed to strike out at least ten batters per nine innings at every level of the minors post-Rookie ball, and has a sub-4.00 MiLB ERA in each of the past two seasons.
    • The Twins will promote right-hander Zach Littell, according to Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Littell has but 3 1/3 innings of MLB experience, during which time he allowed seven earned runs with one strikeout en route to a demotion. His 3.57 ERA at Triple-A this season is far more palatable, albeit unspectacular.
    • The Twins also announced that they’ve selected the contract of left-hander Andrew Vasquez, who’ll be receiving his first cup of coffee after pitching to a sub-1.50 ERA out of minor-league bullpens across the past three seasons combined. They’ve also selected catcher Chris Gimenez in addition to recalling outfielder Johnny Field and right-hander Tyler Duffey.
    • The Red Sox have officially recalled five players, including first base/outfield type Sam Travis. After serving as a somewhat serviceable piece in 2017 (.263/.325/.342 batting line), Travis has struggled in limited major-league action this year to the tune of a 45 wRC+ and -0.1 fWAR. Boston has also promoted left-handers Bobby Poyner and Robby Scott, as well as right-hander William Cuevas and infielder Tzu-Wei Lin.
    • The Tigers have recalled right-hander Sandy Baez from Double-A Erie, per a club announcement. Baez made his major-league debut back on June 4th, entering the game in relief during a double-header. He didn’t allow any runs in 4 1/3 innings, though he did walk three batters in that appearance. Aside from that, Baez has never pitched above Double-A, and owns a troublesome 5.64 ERA there on the 2018 season, in part due to command issues.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[August Trade Deadline Countdown Rumors]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131924 2018-09-01T02:39:09Z 2018-09-01T02:39:09Z Midnight eastern time will mark the end of the August revocable waiver trade period. While deals can still occur in September, organizations must form their eventual postseason rosters out of players on hand when the calendar flips tonight. We have already seen several notable players move today. Josh Donaldson is reportedly going to the Indians; Gio Gonzalez is said to be moving to the Brewers; Ryan Madson went to the Dodgers; and Andrew McCutchen is now a member of the Yankees.

    There’s still time for dealing to be done, though — just under an hour and a half, in fact. We’ll use this post to track any late-breaking developments …

    • The Dodgers are still looking to make a late strike for a right-handed hitter, per MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand (via Twitter). It’s not entirely clear whether the team is trying to obtain a specific target or, rather, still working the lines on multiple options. Neither is it fully evident precisely what sort of player the Dodgers would be interested in, though an outfield-capable bat of some kind would seem to make the most sense given the recent travails of Matt Kemp and Chris Taylor.
    • Mets lefty Jerry Blevins won’t be spending the final month of the season in a different uniform, according to MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo (Twitter link). As had been hinted earlier today, the veteran reliever will rather surprisingly stay in Queens until his contract runs out at season’s end. He had cleared waivers, suggesting contenders weren’t interested in taking his entire salary, but still seemed like a fairly obvious target for organizations interested in boosting their matchup options for the final month of the season.
    • Whether it means anything or not is hard to say, but Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press notes on Twitter that the Twins elected to hold second baseman Logan Forsythe out of the lineup today, “just in case.” There hasn’t been a lot of chatter surrounding the pending free agent, who was acquired as part of the salary swapping involved in the deal that sent Brian Dozier to Los Angeles in July. But Forsythe has gone on to post a .406 OBP in 106 plate appearances in Minnesota. While he’s not hitting for much power and hasn’t maintained his hot start, it’s certainly possible to imagine Forsythe fitting on some rosters — even, perhaps, that of his former team. And the Twins, surely, would be glad to save some further cash.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Agency Changes: Maldonado, Moya]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131706 2018-08-31T02:01:46Z 2018-08-31T01:16:39Z Astros catcher Martin Maldonado has enlisted the Boras Corporation to represent him in his upcoming free agency, reports Jon Heyman of Fancred (Twitter links). Twins lefty Gabriel Moya is also under new representation, having enlisted the Beverly Hills Sports Council, per Heyman.

    Maldonado, 32, is a month from his first trip to the open market after spending parts of eight seasons with the Brewers, Angels and Astros. He’s hitting a combined .222/.279/.359 in 350 plate appearances between the Halos and Astros. His power has trended up since the trade, however, as he’s hit three homers, four doubles and a triple in just 60 trips to the plate with his new club.

    Maldonado has never been much of a threat at the plate but is considered one of baseball’s premier defenders behind it; the 2017 Gold Glove winner has thrown out a remarkable 40 percent of would-be base thieves (82 of 205) dating back to 2015 and regularly ranks among the game’s top pitch framers.

    That profile is enough to draw strong interest. The catching market includes some fairly notable names, including a few backstops who’ll certainly draw greater interest than Maldonado. But with Tyler Flowers deciding to re-up with the Braves in advance of free agency, there’s now one less competitor.

    As for Moya, 23, he’s still looking to establish himself in the majors. In 31 frames over the past two seasons, he carries only a 4.94 ERA with 8.4 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9. Still, he has put up awfully impressive numbers in the upper minors, including a 1.90 ERA with 50 strikeouts against a dozen walks in 42 2/3 Triple-A innings this year and an eye-opening 0.77 earned-run mark with an 87:15 K/BB ratio over 58 1/3 Double-A frames last year.

    As always, you can find the most up-to-date agency information in MLBTR’s Agency Database.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Cubs Acquire Bobby Wilson From Twins For Chris Gimenez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131754 2018-08-30T21:45:33Z 2018-08-30T21:05:28Z The Cubs have acquired backstop Bobby Wilson from the Twins in a deal that will send fellow veteran receiver Chris Gimenez to Minnesota, as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press was among those to report on Twitter. Cash or a player to be named later will also go to the Twins in the arrangement.

    To create space on their 40-man roster, the Cubs announced, righty Cory Mazzoni was designated for assignment.

    This deal involves a pair of catchers whose careers to date share quite a few similarities. Clearly, the Chicago organization preferred Wilson to Gimenez — at least, that is, at this point in the season.

    Truthfully, there isn’t a ton that separates the two on the stat sheet. Both are 35 years of age and known for their positive clubhouse presence. Wilson and Gimenez have respectively, appeared in nine and ten MLB seasons while taking a grand total of 1,000 and 1,033 plate appearances. At the time of the trade, they had each spent time in the majors with six different clubs — several of them in common (Rangers, Rays, Twins, and now Cubs).

    Though Gimenez has the advantage in the hitting department over the course of his career, he has endured a dreadful season at the plate. He didn’t produce at all in a dozen MLB games with the Cubs earlier in the year and is batting a meager .204/.282/.303 in 227 Triple-A plate appearances.

    Wilson, certainly, hasn’t impressed the Chicago brass with his offensive output in 2018. In 151 plate appearances for the Twins, he’s slashing just .178/.242/.281 with a pair of home runs. Instead, it’s likely his sturdy defensive reputation — in particular, as a pitch receiver — that sparked today’s move.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Michael Pineda Has Torn Meniscus, Won’t Pitch In Majors This Season]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=131577 2018-08-28T21:06:12Z 2018-08-28T21:06:12Z Right-hander Michael Pineda has been diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his right knee and will not pitch in the Majors this season, Twins manager Paul Molitor revealed to reporters (Twitter links via Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). Lefty Adalberto Mejia is also done for the season due a nerve issue in his left arm that’ll require more than the remaining five weeks to sufficiently heal.

    The knee injury for Pineda is a discouraging one, as the right-hander had all but worked his way back to health following 2017 Tommy John surgery and had been expected to make a few starts for the Twins in September. The silver lining is that Pineda’s arm is seemingly fine, and he should be ready for Spring Training without any real health restrictions.

    Minnesota’s signing of Pineda to a two-year, $10MM contract was never about the 2018 season anyhow. While the club would’ve considered it a bonus had the big right-hander been able to pitch out of the ’pen or make a few starts in September, the real goal of the signing was to acquire a talented arm to insert into the 2019 rotation.

    Pineda has struggled to find consistency in the Majors, but he’s averaged 9.1 K/9 against 2.1 BB/9 while racking up grounders at a roughly league-average clip. That’s a favorable combination of skills for any pitcher, and Pineda will be viewed as an important piece in what the Twins hope will be a considerably better 2019 season.

    As for Mejia, he could also be a part of the rotation picture next season, though the lack of a September platform to make his case for that role is disheartening for him in its own right. Minnesota acquired the now-25-year-old lefty from the Giants in the July 2016 trade that sent Eduardo Nunez to San Francisco, and he went on to make 21 starts for the Twins in 2017, working to a 4.50 ERA through 98 innings. Mejia notched a 3.32 ERA with 8.8 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in 62 1/3 Triple-A frames in 2018, and he’s posted a 2.01 ERA in 24 1/3 innings in the Majors this year.

    The Twins’ rotation in 2019 currently projects to feature Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi. Pineda should be favored to hold down one of the two vacancies, and there’ll be several candidates to take the fifth starter’s job, including Mejia, Fernando Romero, Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart, Zack Littell and perhaps Trevor May. Minnesota could also look to either free-agent market or trade market this offseason for further rotation help, perhaps looking to condense some of those depth options into a more definitive upgrade to bolster the starting staff.

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