ANAHEIM, CALIF. – Despite having trouble getting production from the shortstop and catching positions, indications are that finding bullpen help remains the Twins’ top priority as the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline approaches.
Two pitchers the Twins are interested in are Athletics closer Tyler Clippard and Braves reliever Jim Johnson. The Twins have used righthanders Blaine Boyer and Casey Fien in late-inning setup roles and would like to add a third arm to build a bridge to closer Glen Perkins. The preference would be to add someone who can miss bats and match up with dangerous hitters late in games.
Twins scouts have scattered throughout the league in recent weeks to evaluate potential trade targets, and there have been a series of conference calls between Ryan and his staff about players. He has a list of trade targets, based on his scouts’ recommendations.
The market for bullpen help should be a good one. Teams can aim high for top arms such as Padres closer Craig Kimbrel or Phillies closer Jonathan Papelbon, and the Reds might be willing to part with closer Aroldis Chapman.
But there are several other relievers who could interest the Twins. San Diego has three in righthanders Brandon Maurer, Shawn Kelley and Joaquin Benoit. The Twins have gotten steady performances from lefthanders Brian Duensing and Ryan O’Rourke, but if they feel the need to upgrade there, the Brewers have two lefties in Neal Cotts and Will Smith, with Cotts believed to be more available than Smith. Miami righthander Steve Cishek, who was demoted to Class AA last month but has a 0.77 ERA since his return, could be another option.
This is not an exhaustive list, as teams will make decisions over the next several days on whether they are buyers or sellers before the deadline.
With several enticing prospects in the minors, the Twins could put an attractive package together with little trouble. Indications are that they would prefer to hold on to prospects such as righthander Jose Berrios. Outfielder Oswaldo Arcia, recently on a tear at Class AAA Rochester, could be a bargaining chip to play in the right deal.
Could the Twins land a shortstop? Twins manager Paul Molitor is juggling Danny Santana, Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez at the position, according to matchups. Santana, the Opening Day starter at short, has struggled and the Twins are trying to keep his confidence up.
“It is challenging right now,” Molitor said of his daily task of picking a shortstop.
It is not clear if the Twins are really interested in Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki. And adding him — and the $98 million he’s guaranteed over the next five years — goes against how they have operated in the past. The Dodgers’ Jimmy Rollins and the Brewers’ Jean Segura could be available because both clubs have prospects at the position who are nearly ready.
Molitor is not badgering Ryan about making a deal, preferring to sit back and let his general manager work.
“Terry was in here [Wednesday],” Molitor said. “We did not talk once about people on the outside.
“For me, it’s a trust thing. He knows more about handling those things than I do. I’m not going to go out there and try to talk about things like that. We had a meeting before the All-Star break about personnel and evaluation and that’s about as far as we’ve gone.
“He’s keeping his eyes and ears open to see what is going on. Everyone is curious about teams that are going to be on the move one way or the other.”
Twins get extra pick
The Twins landed the third pick in Competitive Balance Round B of the 2016 draft, following a lottery held Wednesday in New York.
It’s the second consecutive year the Twins have been awarded a pick in the competitive balance portion of the draft. They received the 73rd overall pick in this year’s draft, which was held in June. The 2016 draft order won’t be finalized until the end of the offseason.
The competitive balance rounds — which take place following the first and second rounds of the first-year player draft — are for the 10 smallest markets and 10 lowest revenue-generating teams each year. Any team that received revenue sharing also gets in the lottery for Round B, which is how the Twins qualified.