Twins fans have been beating the drum for their favorite team to sign either lefthander Dallas Keuchel, closer Craig Kimbrel or both.
I'm here to tell you to put down those drums.
After checking around over the weekend, it would take a major change of events for the Twins to sign either pitcher and bring him into a training camp that started three weeks ago.
Let's start with Keuchel.
Keuchel was 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA last season, which would look good in the Twins rotation. Threw over 200 innings but gave up just 18 home runs. But he did give up a league high 211 hits. And, in what is a red flag to a couple scouts I've spoken with, his strikeout rate dipped to a 6.7 per nine innings from 7.7 the year before.
He pitched most of 2016 with shoulder soreness, and a sore neck landed him on the DL in 2017. While healthy last season, there is concern about Keuchel's decline following two years with some sort of injury. And he's 31. That has scared teams away - well that plus reports that Keuchel wanted a five year deal at the outset of free agency.
The Twins did some sniffing around on Keuchel this offseason and decided to pass - like many teams have. AND since the Astros made a qualifying offer to Keuchel, any team that signs him loses a draft pick. And that has to factor in the decision.
Twins fans got stirred up last week when Jim Bowden tweeted that the club has been in contact with Kimbrel's agent. Let's dive into that one.
Was told that the Twins have routinely checked in with representatives of the remaining free agents as part of their never-ending monitoring of the market. The fact that it was Kimbrel's rep is not significant.
Early reports on Kimbrel were that he wanted a $100 million contract over six years - a significant sum for a closer. And indications over the weekend were that he continues to seek significant compensation for his services (I wouldn't be surprised that the contracts Manny Machado and Bryce Harper have signed have encouraged him to stick to his guns).
And those signings could lead to other signings, as division opponents have taken notice.
Scouts also have pointed out that Kimbrel's hiccups during the postseason -- he notched six saves but allowed 19 baserunners in 10 2/3 innings -- were concerning. I was told by someone with the club that a match with Kimbrel was very unlikely.
In both cases, the Twins are weary of bringing in a pitcher after camp opened. They went down that road with Lance Lynn last season. Lynn convinced them that he had been working out before the signing, was in good shape and was ready to step right in and continue his progression toward the regular season. We all know how that turned out -- and the Twins haven't forgotten that.
I got the sense that, unless Keuchel or Kimbrel were willing to sign a one-year contract, there's no deal here. And even if they were, it might be three weeks too late for the Twins. So expectations should be modified here. They are going to lean on the arms in camp to lock down the ninth inning. They signed Martin Perez right after TwinsFest and are willing to use him as a fifth starter. There's plenty of work left to do before Opening Day, but Perez hit 97 on the gun Sunday.
Looks like the Twins are moving on without showing any serious interest in Keuchel and Kimbrel.
Now onto today's game.
Most of the regulars are getting the day off today, but Jonathan Schoop is in the lineup against his former team. The pitching schedule is interesting. Righthander Kyle Gibson makes his spring training debut after spending the opening weeks of camp regaining lost weight due to a battle with E. coli.
Cedric Mullins, CF
Eric Young, LF
Chance Sisco, C
Renato Nunez, 1B
Rio Ruiz, 3B
Hanser Alberto, 2B
Jace Peterson, DH
DJ Stewart, RF
Richie Martin, SS
Dylan Bundy, RHP
Luis Arraez, 2B
Jonathan Schoop, 2B
C.J. Cron, 1B
Mitch Garver, C
Tyler Austin, DH
Alex Kirilloff, RF
Adam Rosales, SS
Luke Raley, CF
Brent Rooker, LF
Kyle Gibson, RHP