LAS VEGAS – Add Cody Allen and Andrew Miller to the relievers the Twins are interested in as they search for upgrades for their bullpen at baseball’s winter meetings.
Allen, 30, was a longtime bedrock of the Indians bullpen, as his 149 saves are the most in franchise history. His 2018 season was a rough one, however, as his ERA ballooned to 4.70 after being below 3.00 in each of the previous five seasons. He still converted 27 of 32 save opportunities, but he had to grind through several of them.
The culprit, he indicated during the season, was that he lost the feel for his normally trusty curveball. If the Twins could help him get his mechanics straightened out, he could be asset.
Miller, 33, has been one of the top lefthanded relievers in the game — until last season. Shoulder problems forced Miller to the disabled list three times with Cleveland in 2018. He pitched in just 37 games, posting a 4.24 ERA. From 2014 to ’17, Miller did not have an ERA above 2.04. He pitched in the postseason in each of those years — with the Orioles, Yankees and Indians — as he was one of the most coveted weapons out of the bullpen.
The Twins have more interest in Allen than Miller, according to a source with knowledge of the team’s search, and there are concerns about Miller’s health. Miller has been linked to the Mets and Cubs as well.
And the Twins might prefer to sign either reliever to a one-year deal, which could be problematic from the players’ perspective.
While the Twins likely will convert some starters into relievers this season — Fernando Romero is a candidate — they would like to add a veteran arm or two.
No Kikuchi, though
The Twins also have some interest in Japanese lefthander Yusei Kikuchi, according to another source, but are not confident that they can land him. That’s probably because the list of suitors includes the Yankees and Mariners, franchises with lengthy histories of employing players from the baseball-crazed nation.
Kikuchi, 27, was posted last week by the Saitama Seibu Lions and can negotiate with all 30 major league clubs. The Lions will receive a percentage of the guaranteed money in any contract Kikuchi signs.
Kikuchi, who is represented by über-agent Scott Boras, was 14-4 with a 3.08 ERA in 23 starts for the Lions last season. His fastball reaches the low-to-mid-90s, and his slider is his next-best pitch. He also throws a curveball and changeup. He did spend time on the disabled list during the season because of a sore shoulder.
The Twins took a long, hard look at Kikuchi, and they are impressed. But indications are that they will not make a serious bid to sign him.
Sano switches agents
Twins third baseman Miguel Sano has switched agents again. The slugger is now being represented by the Cobb Eddy Sports Group.
It comes as Sano is focusing on being in top condition like never before. He has a live-in nutritionist and has been working out twice a day near his home in the Dominican Republic. The Twins are convinced Sano is taking his health seriously.
With Sano having three years and 66 days of service time, his new agency is on board just as he heads into his first year of salary arbitration.
This is the third agency Sano has been affiliated with since he signed in 2009 when he was 16 years old. Rob Plummer was his agent at the time. Before the 2016 season, Sano moved to Roc Nation, the agency founded by music icon Jay-Z. Sano was represented by Kyle Thousand during his time at Roc Nation.