Category Archives: Minnesota Twins

2018 AL East Predictions

  1. Cleveland Indians

The Cleveland Indians are one of the best teams in the MLB and they are the clear favorites to once again win the AL Central in 2018. Cleveland has arguably the best starting rotation in the MLB as they are led by star pitchers Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco. However, the Indians have a very deep starting rotation with pitchers like Trevor Bauer and Danny Salazar also being decent starting pitchers. Cleveland possibly has an even better bullpen with elite closer Cody Allen to go along with elite setup man Andrew Miller and quality late-inning option Dan Otero. Cleveland’s pitching staff is the strength of the team, but they also have a very good offense. Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, and Edwin Encarnacion are all all-star caliber hitters. However, the Indians also have some quality depth in their lineup from top to bottom. Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley, Lonnie Chisenhall, and Bradley Zimmer have all proven that they can be quality hitters. However, they will need to improve if the Indians lineup reaches its full potential in 2018. If those 4 guys can improve this season then Cleveland could make the case that they are the best team in the MLB.

2. Minnesota Twins

Minnesota surprisingly sneaked its way into the playoffs last season, but now they have made some improvements this offseason to possibly make their team even better. The Twins already had a very good lineup as they had breakout seasons from players like Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano. Minnesota also has proven veterans Brian Dozier and Joe Mauer that can still produce at a high level on offense. The main concern for the Twins is their pitching. The Twins did acquire Jake Odorizzi via trade recently and that will provide some much needed depth for their rotation. Minnesota also has emerging star pitcher Jose Berrios who should continue to get better in 2018. However, the back end of the Twins rotation is a complete mess right now as they need more production from pitchers like Kyle Gibson and Adalberto Mejia. Minnesota will be without ace Ervin Santana due to injury until May, so the rest of the rotation will need to step up. The Twins starting rotation has the potential to be good, but they will need Santana to come back healthy and be the player that he was last season and they will need Berrios and Odorizzi to continue to improve. Minnesota’s bullpen wasn’t very good last season, but they made a few moves to improve in that area for 2018. Fernando Rodney is the team’s new closer, although he has been inconsistent in recent years. Addison Reed was a terrific addition for Minnesota as he will be a very reliable 8th inning option for Minnesota. Also, the addition of Zach Duke should provide some depth to Minnesota’s bullpen in the middle innings. Minnesota’s bullpen is a complete unknown heading into 2018, but it should be better than it was last season. Either way, Minnesota should be a playoff contender in 2018, although they likely don’t have the pitching to be able to compete with the Indians in the AL central.

3. Chicago White Sox

Chicago is a team on the rise despite starting the rebuilding process not too long ago as they have many elite prospects that could make an impact at the MLB level in 2018. Jose Abreu, Avisail Garcia, Matt Davidson, and Tim Anderson are the players that should carry the White Sox offense in 2018. However, they also added catcher Welington Castillo this offseason and that should make the White Sox lineup even better in 2018. However, the White Sox could be have really good lineup if elite 2nd base prospect Yoan Moncada improves in 2018. Chicago has major weaknesses in left field and center field heading into the 2018 season, but the rest of the lineup should be good enough to be an above average offense. The White Sox starting pitching rotation is unproven for the most part, but it does have the potential to be a very good rotation in 2018. The keys will be talented young pitchers Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez who will need to prove why they were such highly touted prospects. If those guys can pitch like we know they can then it will automatically make the White Sox rotation good. Carson Fulmer is another young pitcher with tremendous potential and he pitched well in 7 starts for the White Sox last season. James Shields and Miguel Gonzalez are the veteran pitchers of the group and Chicago is hoping that they can return to the players that they were several years ago. We’ll see if the White Sox rotation is good in 2018, but Fulmer, Lopez, and Giolito will need to be good if this rotation reaches its outstanding potential. The White Sox bullpen also could be decent as they have veterans Joakim Soria and Nate Jones at the back end of their bullpen. Soria is a proven closer and he should help to solidify that role and Nate Jones is an outstanding setup man as he proved once again last season. However, the rest of the White Sox bullpen is inexperienced and not very good. They will need somebody to step up in the 7th inning and middle relief roles if the White Sox want to have a good bullpen. Overall, Chicago should be an improved team in 2018 and they do have tremendous potential because of the great prospects that they will have on their team in 2018. However, this team is still rebuilding and they are likely a year or two away from playoff contention unless their pitching can make great improvements in 2018.

4. Kansas City Royals

It was a very rough offseason for the Kansas City Royals as they basically lost their 3 best position players Eric Hosmer, Lorenzo Cain, and Mike Moustakas. However, that wasn’t the only players that they lost as they also didn’t retain Melky Cabrera, Jason Vargas, and Joakim Soria. The team still has Salvador Perez, Whit Merrifield, and Alex Gordon to carry the offense in 2018. However, the rest of the lineup is basically filled with unproven or unproductive players. Cheslor Cuthbert, Jorge Soler, and Jorge Bonifacio all need to make improvments if the Royals want to have a good lineup in 2018. Also, young players like Hunter Dozier and Paulo Orlando will need to make contributions in 2018. Perez, Gordon, and Merrifield are enough to make the Royals offense decent, but for their offense to be successful then they will need other position players to step up. The Kansas City Royals starting pitching rotation appears to have major issues as well. Danny Duffy is the clear ace of the Royals pitching staff, but the problem is he is the only reliable starter that they have. Ian Kennedy and Jason Hammel are both proven veteran pitchers in the MLB, but they both were absolutely terrible last season. The Royals need Kennedy and Hammel to improve quite a bit if they even want a decent starting rotation. It is unclear who the 4th or 5th starters will be in the Royals rotation, but Kansas City needs at least somebody else besides Duffy to step up and have a good 2018 season or else the Royals will have a very poor rotation. The Royals bullpen also could be a weakness in 2018 especially after they lost Joakim Soria this offseason. Kelvin Herrera is the team’s closer and he is a decent option in that role, although he struggled for the team last season. Brandon Maurer is the new 8th-inning guy for Kansas City after being acquired this offseason, but he was absolutely terrible last season. The Royals absolutely need Herrera and Maurer to be much better in 2018 or else the Royals bullpen could be very bad. Either way, the Royals need some more depth in their bullpen even if those two guys return to form in 2018. Kansas City is clearly rebuilding their roster once again and they don’t appear to even have a shot at making the playoffs this season.

5. Detroit Tigers

Detroit still has some big bats in the middle of their lineup with Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, and Alex Castellanos. However, the problem is that the rest of the lineup isn’t very good and they probably won’t help the other 3 guys out very much. Cabrera and Martinez also are getting older and they didn’t have very good seasons in 2017 especially by their standards. If the Tigers have any hope of scoring runs in 2018 then they will need Cabrera and Martinez to step up and return to the all-star caliber players that they once were. The bullpen also appears to be a weakness as they don’t have much depth besides Shane Greene and Alex Wilson. Greene was a very good late-inning option for the Tigers last season and he figures to provide the team with a good closer. Alex Wilson had a down 2017 season, but he is likely to bounce back in 2018 and he is still a quality setup man. However, Detroit needs another relief pitcher to step up if they even want to have a decent bullpen. The strength of Detroit’s team is clearly their pitching staff. Michael Fulmer is the new ace of their rotation and he should continue to get even better in 2018 as he gains more experience at the MLB level. Jordan Zimmermann once was a terrific pitcher, but since he signed with Detroit he has been absolutely terrible. However, Matt Boyd and Daniel Norris are the keys to the success of the Tigers starting rotation. Both Boyd and Norris are talented starting pitchers, although they both had a very disappointing 2017. If they bounce back and at least become decent pitchers then the Tigers could have a good starting rotation. Detroit still has some good players, but they are in a clea rebuilding mode and it doesn’t appear that they have much hope at all for the 2018 season.


Twins sign Zach Duke to a 1-year deal

The Minnesota Twins added some depth to their bullpen in free agency as they signed veteran left-handed pitcher Zach Duke to a 1-year deal. Minnesota’s bullpen struggled last season as they only finished 22nd with a 4.40 ERA by their relief pitchers. Zach Duke won’t be a big difference maker in the Twins bullpen as he only has a 4.30 career ERA. However, Duke provides Minnesota with some much needed depth in the middle innings and this could be a bargain signing for Minnesota if he can return to the type of pitcher that he was in 2016 when he had a 2.36 ERA. Duke probably won’t make much an impact for the Twins bullpen in 2018, but he does provide a little bit more stability.

Grade: C

zach duke

Twins sign Pineda to a 2-year deal

The Minnesota Twins usually aren’t very active in free agency, but they did make a notable move this offseason as they signed veteran starting pitcher Michael Pineda to a 2-year/$10 million contract. Pineda probably won’t make much impact in 2018 as he is recovering from having Tommy John surgery in July. If he can come back to the pitcher that he was before the surgery then Minnesota could be receiving some much needed rotation depth. This signing is essentially a 1-year deal for the Twins as they are looking to have Pineda give them a boost during the 2019 season. However, there is a chance that he could come back at some point late in the 2018 season for the Twins. Pineda has spent the past few years with the Yankees and he had a decent 2017 season as he went 8-4 with a 4.39 ERA before his season-ending surgery. Pineda is an inconsistent pitcher as he has flashes of brilliance, but at times he can be very erratic. He certainly isn’t a top-of-the rotation pitcher for Minnesota, although he could be very valuable as Minnesota’s 3rd or 4th starter in 2019. Overall, this is a signing to make the Twins a better team going forward, yet it could be a bargain if Pineda returns to being the pitcher that he once was.

Grade: B-

michael pineda

Twins trade Garcia to the Yankees

Starting Pitcher Jaime Garcia only made one start for the Twins and now he is being traded once again as Minnesota traded him to the New York Yankees in exchange for minor league pitching prospects Dietrich Enns and Zack Littell.


Twins analysis/grade:

The Minnesota Twins just gave a prospect in order to acquire Jaime Garcia from the Braves and he looked good in his one start against the Athletics. However, Garcia didn’t last long with the Twins as the team just traded him to the Yankees after only acquiring him a few days earlier. Minnesota is certainly getting a couple of really good pitching prospects in return for Garcia. Dietrich Enns is definitely the closest of the two prospects to reaching the major leagues. Enns is currently pitching at Triple-A mostly as a starting pitcher where he has been very good as he has a 1.99 ERA this season. Enns isn’t a hard-thrower, but he has outstanding pitch control which is why he is on the verge of making his MLB debut. He has a 1.87 career ERA in 6 minor league seasons which is amazing considering that he was a 19th round pick of the Yankees in 2012. Enns might be a good bullpen option for the Twins and it is possible that he could make his MLB debut this season. Minnesota also acquired 21-year old right-handed starting pitcher Zack Littell in this trade. Littell has had a very impressive 2017 season as he is 14-1 with a 1.93 ERA in High-A and he has a very good 3.24 career ERA in 5 minor league seasons. Littell can throw mid-90’s with his fastball and his recent success can be attributed to an improved changeup and curveball. If Littell continues pitching very well like he has this season then he could make it to the majors in a few years and he could be good starting rotation depth for the Twins. It is strange that the Twins would trade away Jaime Garcia right after they had just acquired him. However, this was ultimately a good trade for the Twins as they are getting two very good minor league prospects to help them continue to build for the future.

Grade: B+


New York Yankees analysis/grade:

The New York Yankees are once again playoff contenders mostly because of their improved offense and a somewhat improved starting rotation. However, the Yankees needed some more starting pitching depth which is why they added Jaime Garica. He is having an average season in 2017 as he is 5-7 with a 4.29 ERA, but he will be a good 5th starter in the Yankees rotation. The Yankees could even move him into the bullpen if they decide that Jordan Montgomery would fit best in the 5th spot in their rotation. Garcia is not an elite starting pitcher, but he still improves the team by adding much more depth to their rotation. New York gave up two quality prospects in order to acquire Garcia and that is why this trade isn’t as good for the Yankees, but Garcia should help the Yankees even if it’s just for a couple of months.

Grade: C

jaime garcia twins

Twins acquire Jaime Garcia from the Braves

The Minnesota Twins added to their rotation depth on Monday as they acquired starting pitcher Jaime Garcia and catcher Anthony Recker in exchange for minor league starting pitcher Huascar Ynoa.


Twins analysis/grade:

Minnesota has amazingly stayed in the thick of the american league playoff race this season after having an awful 2016 season. However, the team’s pitching depth has been a major issue for Minnesota as they have lacked a good 3rd option in their rotation behind Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios. Jaime Garcia will provide much needed starting pitching depth for the remainder of the season for Minnesota as they look to remain competitive in the AL central and in the AL wild card race. Garcia is having a decent season as he had a 4.30 ERA for the Braves this season and the Twins are hoping that he can continue to stay consistent. The Twins also acquired catcher Anthony Recker in this trade and he will add some much needed catcher depth for Minnesota behind starting catcher Jason Castro. Recker will likely spend most of his time in Triple-A, but he could compete with Chris Gimenez for the backup catcher role with the Twins. There is no doubt Jaime Garcia makes Minnesota’s rotation better, although the Twins are still building towards the future and they should be acquiring prospects instead of selling them off. This is a decent trade for Minnesota since they are making their team more competitive, but giving up a talented young prospect just isn’t worth it.

Grade: C+


Braves analysis/grade:

The Braves are an improved team this season, but they are still not competing for a playoff spot this season which is why it made so much sense to trade away Jaime Garcia. He is set to be a free agent after the season and it wasn’t likely he would return to the Braves anyway, so it made sense to get a decent young prospect in exchange for him. Right-handed pitcher Huascar Ynoa was the 22nd ranked prospect in the Twins minor league system and he is only 19 years old which means he still has some more time to improve. Ynoa has a good fastball and an average changeup, but he just needs to control his pitches better. He has a 5.26 ERA in 6 starts this season in Minnesota’s minor league system. It certainly isn’t encouraging for him to be struggling that much in rookie ball, but it is still a small sample size and he still has time to improve. Ynoa is an intriguing prospect and if the Braves can develop him effectively then he could be a decent player one day. Jaime Garcia made the Braves rotation better, yet it wouldn’t have meant much to have him on their team since the Braves aren’t competing for a playoff spot and he will be a free agent this offseason. This is a good trade for the Braves, although it remains to be seen the type of player that Ynoa becomes in a few years.

Grade: B-

jaime garcia

Biggest need remaining for every AL Central team

Chicago White Sox – Biggest need: Centerfielder

This team has needs all over the place especially after trading away Adam Eaton and Chris Sale this offseason. However, the centerfield position seems to be a complete mystery for the White Sox heading into 2017. Adam Eaton was supposed to be in that role, but now that he was traded away then the team doesn’t have much left. Charles Tilson and Leury Garcia will compete for the starting job, but neither player has much MLB experience. Tilson has only 2 at-bats at the MLB level and Garcia has had a little more experience, but he is a career .188 hitter in 308 at-bats. Tilson figures to be the starter as of right now, although it would be smart for the White Sox to bring in a more experienced centerfielder as a temporary solution.

Cleveland Indians – Biggest need: Centerfielder

Cleveland doesn’t seem to be interested in re-signing last year’s starter in centerfield Rajai Davis, so it likely means the team will have a new starter at that position in 2017. Tyler Naquin is projected to be the team’s starting centerfielder, but he hit only .174 in 23 at-bats for Cleveland last season. The Indians should probably bring in some more depth at the position because who knows how well Naquin will perform as the everyday centerfielder.

Detroit Tigers – Biggest need: Centerfielder

The Tigers traded away Cameron Maybin who was the starter in centerfield for the team last season. However, the issue is that the team hasn’t found a decent replacement for Maybin as they are projected to have the inexperienced JaCoby Jones as the starter in 2017. Jones only has 28 career at-bats and he has only hit .214, so it is a complete unknown as to how well he’ll play at that position. The team also has Tyler Collins and Anthony Gose as options in centerfield, but neither of those guys is exciting.

Kansas City Royals – Biggest need: 2nd base

The Royals have 3 young players that could win the starting 2nd base job for the Royals in 2017, but none of the players are great options. Whit Merrifield will probably be the starter at 2nd base, but he only has one career season of experience as he hit .283 with 2 home runs. Christian Colon and Raul Mondesi both have more experience than Merrifield, but Mondesi is just a .185 career hitter and Colon is a .268 career hitter. Kansas City should at least add a veteran 2nd baseman in order to compete with Merrifield.

Minnesota Twins – Biggest need: Centerfielder

It wasn’t too long ago that centerfielder Byron Buxton was the top prospect in all of the MLB, but he has struggled tremendously to start his career. Buxton had 10 home runs with a .225 average last season for the Twins and the team is hoping that he can develop some more in 2017. Buxton can make remarkable defensive plays at times in centerfield, but it doesn’t matter much if he can’t produce consistently on offense. Danny Santana is a decent backup, but he isn’t nearly as talented as Buxton is. The Twins should sign a veteran centerfielder just in case Buxton struggles again in 2017.

Twins sign Jason Castro to a 3-year deal

Minnesota pulled off an acquisition for one of the most coveted catchers available this offseason as they signed Jason Castro to a 3-year/$24.5 million deal. This certainly is shocking signing considering that the Twins weren’t active at all last offseason. However, I do really like this signing for Minnesota. First of all, the Twins starting catcher Kurt Suzuki became a free agent this offseason which meant that they would probably have to find a replacement for him. Suzuki is a decent catcher and he provides some offensive production, but it’s clear that the Twins would have to replace him soon since he’s 33 years old. Castro certainly is an overall upgrade at the catcher position for the Twins mostly because of his defensive skills as a solid pitch framer which is a unique ability that he provides. It’s also really hard to find a catcher that can contribute with some offensive production as well. Castro only hit .210 last season which isn’t good at all, but he did show a lot of power in his 113 games played as he hit 11 home runs last season. We know Castro will always have really good power for a catcher, but he will need to boost his batting average and become a more consistent hitter. Castro certainly has a lot of talent as he was an all-star player just a few years ago for the Astros when he hit .276 with 19 home runs during the 2013 season. Minnesota will at least be getting a good defensive catcher and a player that can hit some home runs. However, if he can regain his consistent hitting then this signing is really good for the Twins. Some people are acting like paying Castro $8 million a year is overpriced. However, I actually think that it’s a team-friendly price to pay a really talented catcher in a really weak market for catchers. This signing is even better for Minnesota because it is symbolic in showing that they are willing to make the acquisitions to improve their team. They didn’t improve their team in any area last offseason and it really showed since they were one of the worst teams in the MLB in 2016. We’ll see if Castro can improve his consistency offensively next season and if he does then this signing could provide big rewards for Minnesota.

Grade: B+