Minnesota Twins – MLB Trade Rumors 2019-04-24T20:00:04Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress George Miller <![CDATA[Poll: Which Early-Season Surprises Are For Real?]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156773 2019-04-22T04:26:40Z 2019-04-22T04:25:30Z As we approach the one-month mark of the young 2019 season, the MLB standings are starting to take shape, with fast starters trying to separate from the pack and rebuilding teams falling behind. With that said, the current slate of division leaders features some surprises. Notably, preseason favorites like the Yankees and Red Sox have encountered considerable adversity, while juggernauts like the Dodgers and Astros have thus far met expectations. Meanwhile, a number of teams that received less attention as potential contenders have found themselves climbing MLB’s rankings. Power surges in Seattle and Minnesota have carried the Mariners and Twins to the top of AL’s West and Central divisions, respectively. Elite run prevention in Pittsburgh has allowed the Pirates to flourish in the hyper-competitive NL Central. An injection of youthful energy has driven the Padres to within striking distance of the powerhouse Dodgers. Let’s examine these upstart clubs and look ahead to their outlook for the rest of the season.

The Mariners made headlines throughout the offseason, but often for the wrong reasons. General manager Jerry Dipoto spent the winter shipping off nearly every Major Leaguer with value, and now fields a team that only vaguely resembles the one that won 89 games in 2018. Edwin Diaz, Robinson Cano, Jean Segura, and James Paxton were all dealt to the East Coast. Last season’s iteration of the Mariners was notorious for its unsustainable first-half performance, repeatedly winning one-run games, often thanks to the heroics of Edwin Diaz. In 2019, the story is of a different flavor, though skeptics may once again challenge the sustainability of April’s returns. This year’s team is slugging home runs at a historic rate, including a streak of 20 games in which the team hit at least one round-tripper. The 2019 Mariners have belted 56 home runs, 12 more than the next closest team, the Dodgers. Tim Beckham and Domingo Santana are churning out extra-base hits, and Mitch Haniger is rising to stardom. Still, the Astros are looming, and a spot in the AL Wild Card will not come easy, with sleeping giants in the AL East working through early adversity–to say nothing of the undeniable Rays.

In a division that has all the makings of a bloodbath, many might have counted out the Pirates after an uninspired offseason: whereas rivals’ offseasons were highlighted by flashy additions like Paul Goldschmidt, Yasiel Puig, and Yasmani Grandal, the Pirates were quiet in the winter, with names like Lonnie Chisenhall and Erik Gonzalez headlining the team’s moves. However, it has quickly become clear that the 12-7 Pirates boast one of the Majors’ best pitching staffs. Behind Jameson Taillon, Trevor Williams has emerged as an automatic quality start every outing. Meanwhile, Joe Musgrove is showing off the dynamic stuff that made him the centerpiece in the Gerrit Cole trade, and Jordan Lyles has been a pleasant surprise to round out the rotation. Felipe Vazquez is dynamite in the late innings, and Richard Rodriguez showed promise last season as a high-leverage option, though the bullpen is somewhat shaky beyond that combination. On offense, things are less peachy, but Josh Bell is turning heads by coupling prodigious power with a keen batting eye. Again, the NL Central will provide no shortage of resistance, but a starting rotation of this caliber should keep the Pirates in more than their fair share of games.

With the last three seasons resembling a roller coaster ride, the Twins entered the offseason hoping to turn a corner. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine set out with essentially blank future payroll, capitalizing on that flexibility by bringing aboard veterans like Nelson Cruz, Marwin Gonzalez, and Jonathan Schoop to bolster a group of young position players that the Twins hope will be galvanized by rookie manager Rocco Baldelli. Jorge Polanco, fresh off a spring contract extension, has provided encouraging production from the shortstop position, and Eddie Rosario is blasting home runs at an impressive rate. Byron Buxton appears to have unlocked the potential that made him a top prospect, and Jose Berrios is entering bona fide ace territory. The pitching appears much improved from years’ past, with a bullpen headed by Taylor Rogers, who belongs in conversations with the league’s elite relief arms. This team may have the most attainable path to October baseball, playing in a weak division where their primary competition is the Indians, a team that has at times appeared vulnerable in 2019.

The Padres thrust themselves into the conversation for the postseason when general manager A.J. Preller and company added Manny Machado to the mix in a franchise-altering move. The team doubled down when the front office broke the mold by breaking camp with top prospects Fernando Tatis Jr. and Chris Paddack on the Opening Day roster. Those moves have paid massive dividends thus far, with Tatis forcing his way into the national spotlight, displaying a five-tool skillset. The club’s rotation of young outfielders is launching homers, and the anonymous bullpen has quietly been one of the best in baseball dating back to last season. Meanwhile, with a host of young starters comprising the rotation, the possibility of a Dallas Keuchel addition remains on the table–a move that would emphatically declare the Friars’ intention to make a postseason push. At the top of the NL West, the Dodgers represent a daunting giant to topple, and the rest of the National League features no shortage of contending teams, but the Padres’ spunk might lead to meaningful autumn baseball for the first time in nearly a decade.

While there are months of baseball left to play, trades to be made, injuries to work around, and breakouts to emerge, the games played in March and April are no less important than those in September. Early-season results can lay the groundwork for what’s to come. Which of the aforementioned blossoming clubs are best positioned to sustain their success and exceed expectations?

(Poll link for app users)

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[AL Notes: C. Davis, Lindor, Sano]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=156163 2019-04-15T17:46:44Z 2019-04-14T00:17:32Z Beleaguered Orioles first baseman Chris Davis entered Saturday without a hit in his previous 54 at-bats, the longest streak in major league history. But the former star’s nightmarish skid ended with a first-inning, two-run single off Boston’s Rick Porcello, giving Davis his first hit since Sept. 14, 2018. Davis later went on to collect two more hits and another pair of runs batted in during what wound up as a 9-5 victory for the Orioles. While Davis was one of Baltimore’s best players Saturday, he has delivered startlingly few valuable performances since 2016, the first season of a seven-year, $161MM contract that now looks like one of the worst investments in baseball history. Once a premier slugger, the 33-year-old Davis has slashed a hideous .198/.294/.388 (83 wRC+) with minus-0.8 fWAR since signing his current deal.

Davis appears to be a sunk cost for the rebuilding Orioles, who owe him roughly $108MM more and will pay him through 2037 because of deferrals, yet there’s no urgency on their part to get rid of him. Rookie general manager Mike Elias told Dan Connolly of The Athletic (subscription required) on Friday that the Orioles are “absolutely” planning to keeping Davis, adding that “he’s on this team and it’s no secret the fact that we have a large and long commitment to him, so our focus is going to be on getting the best performance out of him that we possibly can.” Elias went on to explain to Connolly that the Orioles, with the help of analytics guru Sig Mejdal and hitting coach Don Long, are “just going to do as much as we can incrementally to get him into a better place.”

More from the American League…

  • The Indians have played this season without their top performer, shortstop Francisco Lindor, who’s on the mend from a calf sprain and a high left ankle sprain. Fortunately for the Tribe, it appears Lindor’s progressing toward a return. After running the bases the past two days, the 25-year-old will work out with the team Sunday, and he could embark on a Triple-A rehab assignment Monday, Mandy Bell of MLB.com reports. When Lindor went down in early February, the Indians surely knew finding a capable fill-in for the three-time All-Star would be a difficult task; however, they likely didn’t expect their shortstop situation to be this dire in his absence. Replacements Eric Stamets (minus-35 wRC+ in 40 plate appearances) and Max Moroff (minus-58 wRC+ in 23 PA) have stumbled to a league-worst minus-0.8 fWAR thus far.
  • Twins third baseman Miguel Sano is slated to begin modified spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., during the middle of the upcoming week, Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press tweets. Beyond that, the Twins are hoping Sano – who’s working back from a right Achilles injury – will begin a rehab assignment in early May, according to chief baseball officer Derek Falvey. The Sano-less Twins have primarily turned to $21MM free-agent pickup Marwin Gonzalez at the hot corner, but the former Astro’s season has gotten off to an inauspicious start.
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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Giants Acquire Tyler Austin]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155798 2019-04-08T17:41:41Z 2019-04-08T17:06:43Z The Giants announced Monday that they’ve acquired first baseman/outfielder Tyler Austin from the Twins in exchange for minor league outfielder Malique Ziegler. To open a spot on the roster, they’ve designated fellow first baseman/outfielder Connor Joe for assignment.

Austin, 27, will add a powerful but strikeout-prone bat to the Giants’ outfield mix while providing some insurance should Brandon Belt incur an injury. The former Yankees prospect was at one point looked at as a potential pairing with Greg Bird in the Bronx, but the Yankees flipped him to the Twins last July in the trade that sent Lance Lynn to New York. The Twins, cognizant of the potential retirement of Joe Mauer, viewed Austin as a possible option at first base until they managed to land C.J. Cron on waivers when the Rays dumped his salary. Both Cron and Austin are right-handed hitters, and Minnesota’s signing of Nelson Cruz to man the DH spot in the lineup made Austin, who is out of minor league options, somewhat redundant.

Last season in 268 plate appearances between the Twins and Yankees, Austin batted a combined .230/.287/.480 with 17 home runs and 10 doubles. Seventeen long balls in just 268 PAs and a .250 isolated power (slugging minus batting average) speak to Austin’s ability to make loud contact, but Austin also punched out in a whopping 35.4 percent of his trips to the plate.

Austin has been more of a first baseman than an outfielder throughout his career and, in fact, has only seen 36 frames of action on the outfield grass in the Majors. He’s logged over 2600 innings of time in right field across parts of seven minor league seasons, however, so despite a lack of recent experience, he’s no stranger to the position. That said, Austin does not run well, and his lack of range is a tough fit in the spacious Oracle Park.

Joe, 26, made his big league debut with the Giants this season but managed just one hit and a walk in 16 plate appearances before being jettisoned from the roster. The Reds selected Joe out of the Dodgers organization in December’s Rule 5 Draft but traded him to San Francisco late last month. He’s still carrying Rule 5 status, so any team that acquires Joe would need to carry him on the MLB roster. The Giants will have a week to trade him or pass him through waivers, and if he goes unclaimed, they’d be required to offer him back to the Dodgers for $50K. Considering Joe’s outstanding .299/.408/.527 batting line between Double-A and Triple-A last season, it’s possible that another organization will want to speculate on his potential.

The Twins, in return for Austin, will add another athletic outfielder to the lower levels of their minor league system. The 22-year-old Ziegler was a 22nd-round pick by the Giants in 2016 and split last year between the Rookie-level Arizona League and the Class-A South Atlantic League, batting a combined .237/.340/.370 with four homers, 12 doubles, a pair of triples and eight steals in 250 plate appearances. He’s not considered a top prospect in a thin Giants farm, though Fangraphs’ Eric Longenhagen did make mention of him in his pre-2018 overview of the Giants’ system: “Ziegler is a lithe, athletic outfielder who was a late pick out of an Iowa Juco in 2016. He makes explosive use of his lower half during his swing but his barrel control and raw strength are questionable.”

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[AL Notes: Sano, Clevinger, Yankees, Beltran, Pedroia]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155729 2019-04-07T22:04:20Z 2019-04-07T21:37:28Z Injured Twins slugger Miguel Sano has resumed baseball activities and could begin a rehab assignment “within a week,” manager Rocco Baldelli said Sunday (via Do-Hyoung Park of MLB.com). That would put Sano on track for a return to Major League action sometime in early May. Sano’s on the mend from a cut on his lower-right Achilles, which has left third base to free-agent pickup Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza. They’ve struggled mightily across a combined 33 plate appearances, having totaled a meager three hits (two singles and a double). Sano wasn’t nearly that woeful last year, but the 2017 All-Star’s .199/.281/.398 line in 299 plate appearances was still a major letdown. A bounce-back showing from the 25-year-old upon his return could help the Twins challenge the Indians for the AL Central crown.

Here’s the latest news from around the American League…

  • Indians righty Mike Clevinger left Sunday’s start against the Blue Jays prematurely, throwing just 75 pitches over 5 innings of work. Mandy Bell of MLB.com later revealed that Clevinger’s early exit was indeed injury-related, as he experienced upper back tightness. Bell added in a subsequent Tweet that Clevinger said he will be ready to make his next scheduled start.
  • Former All-Star outfielder Carlos Beltran has excelled in his new role with the Yankees, writes James Wagner of The New York Times. Following his exceptional playing career, Beltran has brought his passion to an advisory role in Brian Cashman’s front office, where he develops scouting reports and offers counsel to younger players. Beltran, who had been considered for the Yankees’ vacant manager position prior to the 2018 season, would seem to have a chance to manage a Major League ballclub or serve as a primary decision-maker in a front office, if that’s what he wants.
  • Longtime Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia should be available for the team’s home opener on Tuesday, according to Bob Nightengale of USA Today. Assuming that all goes well in today’s game with Low-A Greenville, in which Pedroia will play all nine innings, he should be ready to be activated ahead of the reigning World Champions’ return to Fenway Park. He will be re-evaluated after Sunday’s game, but there is optimism that Boston will have its veteran second baseman back in the near future.
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TC Zencka <![CDATA[Twins Select Contract Of Chase De Jong, DFA Tyler Austin]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155618 2019-04-06T16:12:22Z 2019-04-06T15:41:49Z The Minnesota Twins have selected the contract of right-hander Chase De Jong, while first baseman Tyler Austin will be designated for assignment, per The Athletic’s Dan Hayes (via Twitter).

De Jong, 25, was a 2nd round draft selection of the Blue Jays before seeing time in the Dodgers and Mariners organizations. He joined the Twins via the Zach Duke deal last July, making four starts with Minnesota in 2018, going 1-1 with a 3.57 ERA (4.92 FIP). A rough spring in which he surrendered more runs than innings pitched led to a reassignment to minor league camp, but the Twins are obviously satisfied with the progress he’s made since then.

There was some confusion as to who was getting the call, with various reports from last night suggesting that Zack Littell was being brought up. Littell will remain in Triple-A, however, while De Jong has an opportunity as the Twins’ fifth starter, though someone like Martin Perez could conceivably move from the bullpen to the rotation instead. The Twins have a day off on Monday and another next Thursday following a two-game series with the Mets, so they could conceivably go without a fifth starter until the Blue Jays come to town April 15-18.

Austin, meanwhile, has plenty of pop in his bat, but has yet to consistently get on base in the big leagues. He went 1-4 this season after slashing .230/.287/.480 with 17 home runs in 268 plate appearances between the Twins and Yankees in 2018. Those numbers track with Austin’s career averages as a .232/.291/.469 hitter across a total 371 big-league at-bats. Austin was out of options, so he’ll need to clear waivers before being reassigned.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Offseason In Review: Minnesota Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155524 2019-04-06T02:00:45Z 2019-04-06T02:00:45Z This is the latest post of MLBTR’s annual Offseason in Review series, in which we take stock of every team’s winter dealings.

The Twins added some pop to the lineup but opted for a measured, cautious approach to the offseason despite being one of only two plausible contenders in baseball’s weakest division.

Major League Signings

Trades and Waiver Claims

Extensions

  • Max Kepler, OF: Five years, $35MM plus two club options
  • Jorge Polanco, SS: Five years, $25.75MM plus two club options

Notable Minor League Signings

Notable Losses

Fresh off a disappointing 78-84 season, the Twins entered the offseason with more payroll flexibility than any team in Major League Baseball. The expiration of their contractual commitments to Joe Mauer and Ervin Santana left Minnesota as the game’s lone organization with not one single dollar committed to the payroll beyond the 2019 season. That fiscal freedom was all the more important given that the American League Central features two teams in the earlier stages of a rebuild (Royals, Tigers) and a third that had been in that process for several years (White Sox).

With Mauer retiring and Logan Morrison returning to free agency after a torn labrum in his hip ruined his 2018 campaign, the Twins had no set options at first base or designated hitter and ample money to spend at the positions. The former was filled affordably when Minnesota picked up C.J. Cron on a waiver claim after the Rays designated the slugger for assignment in a cost-cutting move. Cron’s .253/.323/.493 batting line and 30 home runs a season ago with the Rays easily marked his most productive year in the Majors. Securing his rights simply by being willing to pay him what wound up as a $4.8MM salary seems like an easy victory for Minnesota even if Cron’s bat steps back a bit in 2019. They’ll also be able to retain him in arbitration this winter, making Cron a potential multi-year addition with no real cost of acquisition beyond a relatively modest financial commitment.

As for their vacancy in the DH slot, the Twins managed to buy perhaps the game’s most consistent slugger over the past decade. With American League clubs increasingly trending toward rotating multiple players through the designated hitter position, Nelson Cruz faced a more limited market than one might have expected. The Astros and Rays were Cruz’s two main other suitors, but neither offered a second season or matched the Twins’ offer.

The Twins’ addition of right-handed power doesn’t stop with the pairing of Cron and Cruz, as longtime Orioles infielder Jonathan Schoop was brought aboard on a one-year deal to replace former second base stalwart Brian Dozier. A healthy Schoop would give the Twins three new bats with 30-homer potential, though like several others on the Twins roster, Schoop in search of a rebound campaign after floundering through the worst season of his career in 2018.

Minnesota’s largest signing of the winter was either driven by an injury to Miguel Sano, a quieter-than-expected market for Marwin Gonzalez, or possibly both. Gonzalez, signed to a two-year deal in early March, landed a shorter deal with a smaller guarantee than just about anyone forecast at the onset of free agency. He’s slotting in at third base in the season’s early stages while Sano mends a laceration on his foot that required stitches and at one point had him in a walking boot. Once Sano returns, Gonzalez should move all over the field and spell a number of Twins regulars. Carrying him could even allow the Twins to get by without a true backup center fielder on the roster; because both Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario can play center field, either could man the position on days when Buxton needs a break, with Gonzalez shifting to an outfield corner.

Adding Gonzalez at an affordable rate on a rather short-term commitment capped off a series of offseason moves that deepened the Twins’ roster without incurring much long-term risk. Viewed from that stance, one could call Minnesota’s offseason a clear success.

Questions Remaining

The flip side of the coin, however, is to ask whether the Twins did enough. The American League Central is as vulnerable as it ever will be right now. The Royals and Tigers entered the season more likely to come away with the No. 1 pick in next the 2020 draft than with a spot in the postseason. The White Sox talked a big game and made publicized pursuits of premier free agents — namely Manny Machado — but came away with a collection of spare parts and marginal upgrades. Even the division-favorite Indians weakened their roster as ownership mandated a payroll reduction. The moves the Twins did make signaled a hope to contend in 2019, so why limit the additions to a series of short-term acquisitions?

The company line has been that while the team believes in its core, it needs to see that core improve before investing at a high level to supplement it. That, as MLBTR’s Jeff Todd pointed out in January, seems like circular logic. It was somewhat befuddling to see general manager Thad Levine speak of spending in free agency “not when you’re trying to open the window to contend, but when the window is wide open” in the same interview that chief baseball officer Derek Falvey stated that he “feel[s] really good” about the group of young players the Twins have in house.

Minnesota’s core group, after all, isn’t especially young or controllable anymore. Rosario and Sano are free agents after the 2021 season. Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi, who comprise three-fifths of the starting rotation, are all free agents after the current campaign. There’s another wave of talent on the rise, but it comes with all the uncertainty (in timeline and ultimate results) of any bunch of prospects.

If the front office believes in this current group, and sixty percent of the division looks like a postseason afterthought, shouldn’t that constitute a “wide open” window for contention along the lines to which Levine alluded? Next season, the White Sox project to have Eloy Jimenez, Dylan Cease, Michael Kopech and Nick Madrigal all at the MLB level. The Tigers and Royals will be a year further into their rebuilds. Cleveland may be weakening, but the rotation still looks strong and the division’s two best position players will still be under team control.

The logic from the front office seems to paint significant trade/free-agent investments and developing the current core as an either-or proposition. Perhaps for a team with a more limited payroll outlook, that’d be the case, but the only players the Twins are paying beyond 2019 are Gonzalez, Kepler and shortstop Jorge Polanco after the latter two signed affordable five-year extensions this spring. There’s little reason to think that the Twins couldn’t have proactively supplemented the group to a greater extent while also hoping the in-house group developed to another level.

To use a fairly aggressive example, the team could have even supported a Manny Machado-style contract and still had room to make alterations in 2020 and beyond. That’s not to say they should have signed him but rather to point out that even a $30MM salary on the books moving forward would only have brought next year’s payroll commitments to about $70MM. The idea that spending now would’ve prevented them from adjusting down the road doesn’t add up — especially not for an organization whose farm system is regarded as one of the game’s 10 best and could soon provide especially high yields (Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff).

In the rotation, the Twins opted to give Martin Perez a surprising $4MM guarantee despite already having numerous fifth starter candidates in house. If the plan was to add another starter, choosing a clearer upgrade over internal candidates would’ve been more prudent. That’s not to say they should have recklessly signed Dallas Keuchel at all costs, but certainly there were more definitive upgrades at reasonable values. Perhaps they’ll be able to coax something out of the former top prospect that the Rangers never were — Levine knows Perez well from his days in Texas — but adding another dice-roll to a roster that is teeming with rebound hopefuls (Schoop, Buxton, Sano, Jason Castro, Michael Pineda, Addison Reed) doesn’t feel like an inspired move.

It’s a similar tale in the ’pen, where Blake Parker has had some success over the past two seasons and could prove to be a bargain. But Parker lost some velocity from 2017 to 2018 and was non-tendered by the Angels despite a reasonable arbitration projection. A $1.8MM base salary presents virtually no risk, but the free-agent and trade markets both had quality upgrades available that could have made the Minnesota relief corps more formidable. And it’s not as if there weren’t multiple openings in the bullpen anyhow; 30-year-old journeyman Ryne Harper making the Twins’ roster was a fun spring storyline but also underscores that there was certainly room for further augmentation.

Of course, the Twins may well have been more active in pursuing multi-year upgrades than they let be known. The Athletic’s Robert Murray and Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN reported over the winter that they pursued Yasmani Grandal and offered as much as three years at a $13-15MM annual rate. Others might have spurned the Twins’ overtures, too. But for a team with this type of long-term payroll space and such a weak division, it feels like the Twins pulled some punches. Owner Jim Pohlad’s comments in a January interview with Wolfson all but plainly stated he’d never even consider a contract another contract of eight or more years, but there’s a middle ground on the spectrum.

2019 Season Outlook

On the one hand, the Twins clearly upgraded their roster and quite arguably made some of the offseason’s best deals. Cruz and Gonzalez, in particular, seem like big wins for the front office at those price points, and Cron has the potential to be among the most impactful waiver claims of the year. This team is better than it was at the end of the 2018 season, and it’d be a disappointment if the Twins didn’t contend for at least a second Wild Card spot — if not the AL Central crown.

But a near-miss or yet another early postseason exit would further call into question the strict adherence to shorter-term deals at the cost of larger-scale upgrades. Maintaining long-term flexibility is undoubtedly important for clubs, but if a year with a completely blank payroll slate and three tanking teams in the division isn’t the time to capitalize on that flexibility — when is? The Twins are postseason contenders regardless, but this offseason feels like a series of savvy additions mixed with missed opportunities.

How would you grade the Twins’ offseason? (Poll link for Trade Rumors app users.) 

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Gonsalves, Gordon Open Season On Minor League Injured List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155202 2019-04-01T16:45:11Z 2019-04-01T16:45:11Z
  • The Twins organization announced the Opening Day rosters for its Triple-A club Monday, revealing that left-hander Stephen Gonsalves is opening the season on the injured list due to a left flexor/pronator strain. Infielder Nick Gordon is also opening the season on the IL due to acute gastritis (inflammation of his stomach lining). Both Gonsalves and Gordon entered the 2018 season ranked among baseball’s 100 best prospects, though neither elevated his status last season. Gonsalves did make his MLB debut, though he was tagged for a 6.57 ERA in a small sample of four starts. The 24-year-old Gonsalves impressed with a 2.96 ERA and nearly a strikeout per frame in 100 1/3 Triple-A innings, but his 4.9 BB/9 mark there was the worst of his career. Still, he’s an important depth piece should the Twins lose a starter to injury, making his recovery timeline (which has yet to be announced) worth monitoring for Twins fans. As for Gordon, he obliterated Double-A pitching for 42 games before posting a disastrous .212/.262/.283 slash in 99 Triple-A games (his first exposure to that level of pitching).
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    TC Zencka <![CDATA[MLB Awards “Championship Belt” During Arbitration Symposium]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=155035 2019-03-30T18:16:56Z 2019-03-30T18:16:56Z Major League Baseball hosts an annual symposium on arbitration wherein delegates from each team come together with the league to make recommendations for upcoming arbitration hearings. There is a ceremony near the end of the symposium when a “championship belt” is awarded to the team that best accomplished the “goals set by the industry,” per The Athletic’s Marc Carig. Passed annually from one year’s winner to the next, The Belt is a chintzy, plastic “prize,” intended as a moment of levity and morale for what can be a difficult process on all sides. In this thoughtful article, Carig digs into the arbitration process, its history, the toll it takes on those involved, and of course, The Belt.

    Clearly, given the tumultuous relationship between Major League Baseball, the owners, and the Players’ Association, the optics here aren’t great. However harmless the intent (or however private), an award for essentially best limiting the earning potential for players is not likely to sit well with the MLBPA – or the public for that matter. MLB confirmed existence of The Belt, explaining it as “an informal recognition of those club’s salary arbitration departments that did the best.” This season, the finalists were the Astros, Braves, Cubs, Indians, Rays, and Twins.

    Executive Director of the MLBPA Tony Clark reacted with a statement (via Twitter), saying, “That clubs make sport of trying to suppress salaries in a process designed to produce fair settlements shows a blatant lack of respect for our Players, the game, and the arbitration process itself.”

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Select Ryne Harper]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154793 2019-03-28T00:00:20Z 2019-03-28T00:00:20Z The Twins announced that they’ve selected the contract of right-hander Ryne Harper. He’ll make their Opening Day bullpen, and his first appearance in a game will mark his MLB debut. Minnesota also placed third baseman Miguel Sano (heel laceration) and relievers Matt Magill (shoulder tendinitis), Addison Reed (thumb sprain) and Gabriel Moya (shoulder tendinitis) on the 10-day injured list and optioned infielder Ronald Torreyes to Triple-A Rochester.

    Harper’s promotion comes as a 30th birthday present for the journeyman right-hander, who has spent parts of eight seasons in the minors since being selected by the Braves in the 37th round of the 2011 draft. Harper has technically been on a Major League roster before, as the Mariners selected his contract in 2017 but optioned him back to the minors before he ever appeared in a big league game.

    Harper spent the 2018 season in the Twins’ system and posted a terrific 86-to-10 K/BB ratio in 65 innings of relief. Harper’s Spring Training was outstanding, as he fired 11 innings with 14 strikeouts no walks and no earned runs allowed.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Add Ryne Harper To Opening Day Roster]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154634 2019-03-27T16:31:40Z 2019-03-27T14:21:59Z
  • In one of the better stories of Spring Training, Ryne Harper has made the Twins’ Opening Day roster, as manager Rocco Baldelli recently announced (Twitter link via Betsy Helfand of the St. Paul Pioneer Press). Harper, who turns thirty today, enjoyed a terrific spring with the Twins and will now have the opportunity to pitch in his first big league game after grinding through eight minor league seasons. The call to the big leagues for Harper is surely sweetened by the fact that he’s come as close to making his big league debut as possible in the past; the Mariners selected Harper’s contract back in 2017 but optioned him back to Triple-A before he ever appeared in a game. He was outrighted before ever being summoned back to the big leagues.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Twins Re-Sign Adam Rosales To Minor League Deal]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154654 2019-03-26T23:02:49Z 2019-03-26T23:02:21Z The Twins announced that they’ve re-signed veteran infielder Adam Rosales to a minor league contract. He’ll report to Triple-A Rochester to open the season.

    Rosales, 35, had a huge spring with Minnesota, batting .278/.350/.694 with four homers and three doubles in 40 trips to the plate. He’d hoped to earn a roster spot with the Twins, but Minnesota’s addition of Marwin Gonzalez provided the team ample depth behind Jorge Polanco, Jonathan Schoop, Ehire Adrianza, Willians Astudillo, Ronald Torreyes and the injured Miguel Sano.

    Rosales has experience at all four infield positions, so he can bounce around the diamond with the Twins’ top affiliate while waiting to see if an opportunity presents itself at the MLB level. The veteran spent the 2018 season in the Indians organization and tallied 21 plate appearances for Cleveland late in the season. In doing so, he finished out the year on their active roster, meaning that in order for the Twins to retain him without releasing and re-signing him, they’d have had to pay Rosales a $100K retention bonus as an Article XX (B) free agent. It’s commonplace for organizations and veteran players to sidestep that issue; Junichi Tazawa (Cubs), Andrew Romine (Phillies) and John Axford (Blue Jays) have all signed similar deals over the past 24 hours.

    In 1807 plate appearances at the Major League level, Rosales is a .226/.291/.365 hitter. He’s spent time with the Athletics, Padres, Rangers, Reds, Diamondbacks and Indians at the MLB level.

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    Ty Bradley <![CDATA[Giants Acquire Michael Reed From Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154253 2019-03-23T21:14:08Z 2019-03-23T20:58:56Z Per Dan Hayes of the Athletic, the Giants have acquired OF Michael Reed from Minnesota for OF John Andreoli and cash. Per Kerry Crowley of the Mercury News, lefty Steven Okert was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man.

    Reed, 26, was in camp with the Twins after an outstanding AAA performance in the Atlanta system last year. A career .269/.382/.395 hitter in the minors, Reed took it up a notch last season, slashing a ridiculous .363/.459/.539 in 229 plate appearances for AAA-Gwinnett.  Scouts were never too bullish on the longtime Brewer – his highest ever rank in the Milwaukee system per Baseball America was 14th, following the 2014 season – but the recent performance has been too enticing to ignore.

    Incredibly, Reed may slot in as the San Francisco’s top projected outfielder for the upcoming season – Steamer, at least, seems to agree. The Giants may not, but the righty-swinging Reed should see plenty of time at each outfield position in ’19, which he may well begin by serving as the weak-side platoon option in center field for lefty Steven Duggar.

    Andreoli, 28, was brought in with a host of others to compete for a spot in the wide-open SF outfield, though his minor-league track record doesn’t glow nearly as brightly as Reed’s. The righty did put up an impressive .397 OBP at the AAA level last season, albeit in the much more hitter-friendly confines of the Pacific Coast League.

    Okert, 27, has been decent in limited action for the Giants over the last three seasons, and had a banner (3.30 FIP, 12.22 K/9 vs. 2.27 BB/9) AAA season in 2018. Righties have always given the southpaw trouble, but he should have no issue latching on with a new franchise in the coming days.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Release Tim Collins, Adam Rosales]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=154145 2019-03-23T02:49:39Z 2019-03-23T02:49:39Z The Twins have released lefty Tim Collins and infielder Adam Rosales, the team announced. Both were Article XX(B) free agents, meaning they’d have required $100K retention bonuses if kept but not added to the 40-man roster.

    With the Minnesota organization deciding to head in a different direction with its final roster spots, it was obviously deemed preferable to allow these two players a chance to seek opportunities elsewhere. Both could in theory return to the Twins on new arrangements.

    Collins, 29, ran up a dozen strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings during camp. He also has thrown just 22 2/3 MLB frames over the past four seasons, with all of those coming last year with the Nationals. He pitched to a 3.86 ERA with 8.3 K/9 and 4.8 BB/9 for D.C.

    AS fr the 35-year-old Rosales, he’s looking to crack the majors for the 12th-straight season. To this point, he has accumulated 1,807 plate appearances of .226/.291/.365 hitting while lining up all over the infield. He had been on fire at the plate this spring, running up a .294/.368/.735 slash with four home runs (as well as four walks and four strikeouts) in his 38 plate appearances.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rosario Open To Long-Term Deal With Twins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=153849 2019-03-21T03:39:24Z 2019-03-21T03:39:24Z
  • Outfielder Eddie Rosario tells Dan Hayes of The Athletic that he’s open to signing a long-term deal with the Twins (subscription link). The interest is mutual, Hayes adds, though to this point there’s been no meaningful progress in talks. Rosario has solidified himself as a quality regular over the past two seasons, hitting a combined .289/.326/.493 with 51 homers, 64 doubles, four triples and 17 steals. He’ll earn $4.19MM in 2019 after reaching arbitration for the first time and won’t be a free agent until after the 2021 season. Rosario will play the upcoming season at age 27 and would’ve been eligible for free agency entering his age-30 season. Agreeing on how many free-agent years to buy out and placing an annual value on those seasons will be the main talking point in negotiations, as both the Twins and Rosario’s representatives have a pretty clear idea of what he can plausibly earn in his final two arbitration years.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Twins Release Lucas Duda]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=153797 2019-03-20T19:49:22Z 2019-03-20T19:00:36Z The Twins have released first baseman Lucas Duda, as Dan Hayes of The Athletic was among those to report (Twitter link). The move comes in advance of the opt-out clause his contract provided on Saturday.

    Duda, 33, has long been quite a productive MLB hitter, though he hit a wall late in the 2017 season and hasn’t recovered since. He’ll head back out onto an unforgiving free agent market for defensively limited sluggers.

    While he hasn’t hit anywhere near his prior levels of late, Duda has remained an approximately league-average bat. That’s not enough, clearly, for a player who’s likely to be viewed at most as a platoon first baseman. But there’s still some reason to hope that he can be a useful member of the right roster.

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