Minnesota missed out on the Craig Kimbrel sweepstakes, but the Twins will certainly have opportunities to add other impact relievers before July’s trade deadline. The Twins have been able to do more than survive with their current bullpen situation. However, bullpen arms and bullpen usage are critical when it comes to winning games in October.
Here are 10 relievers who Minnesota could target before the trade deadline.
LHP Jake Diekman, Kansas City
2019 Stats: 4.10 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 39 K, 26.1 IP
Diekman’s 13.3 K/9 rate seems made for the post-season and some of his other peripheral numbers look better than his high ERA and WHIP. He has a $5.75 million club option for 2020, so he wouldn’t have to be a rental player. He also seems to be healthy after dealing with ulcerative colitis, a chronic disease of the colon. Since Diekman is on an AL Central squad, it could be tough to swing a deal. Does Minnesota want to send prospect that they could end up facing multiple times a season?
RHP Ken Giles, Toronto
2019 Stats: 1.08 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 42 K, 25.0 IP
Giles has been closing games for Houston and Philadelphia for the last five seasons and he might be amid the best season of his career. He entered the year with a career mark of 11.9 K/9 and he has exploded to 15.1 K/9 this season. Giles has one more year of arbitration as he signed this year for $6.3 million. Back in 2017, he struggled with the Astros on the way to the World Series title. This still doesn’t mean he can’t help a team win in 2019.
RHP Mychal Givens, Baltimore
2019 Stats: 5.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 37 K, 27.0 IP
Givens might not have the eye-popping numbers of some of the other names on this list but that doesn’t mean he should be ignored. His 12.3 K/9 total is a career high. Over the last three seasons, he has posted a 3.29 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP with 10.3 K/9. This season, he has struggled with the long ball as he has surrendered six home runs in 23 appearances. He is still arbitration eligible and the earliest he can be a free agent is 2022.
RHP Shane Greene, Detroit
2019 Stats: 1.04 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 28 K, 26.0 IP
Minnesota got a close-up look at Greene this weekend and has an AL leading 19 saves. He’s putting up career numbers, which might seem like a surprise when looking at the last three seasons. Since switching to the bullpen full-time in 2016, he has a 4.47 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP and 9.3 K/9. He will still be arbitration eligible in 2020 as he signed this season for $4 million. He’s a member of another AL Central foe, so Minnesota might look to other options.
LHP Brad Hand, Cleveland
2019 Stats: 0.98 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 40 K, 27.2 IP
Some of the names on this list would be rental players, but Hand doesn’t fit into that category. He is signed through 2020 with a club option for 2021. This will make him very intriguing to contending clubs. Minnesota needs another lefty to go with Taylor Rogers in the bullpen and Hand could fit that mold. Over the last three seasons, he’s posted a 2.62 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with a 12.0 K/9. Since he’s with Cleveland, Minnesota might not want to make an in-division trade and Cleveland’s asking price could be high.
RHP Greg Holland, Arizona
2019 Stats: 1.31 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 28 K, 20.2 IP
Holland is a familiar name to Twins fans as he was Kansas City’s closer for the first half of this decade. Tommy John surgery cost him the 2016 season and this year might be the first time he is back to his pre-surgery form. His 12.2 K/9 rate is his highest total since 2014. He has playoff experience as part of Kansas City’s trip to the 2014 World Series and he pitched in the 2017 NL Wild Card Game with Colorado. He’s a free agent at season’s end, so he could be a cheaper option than some of the other names on this list.
RHP Sergio Romo, Miami
2019 Stats: 5.48 ERA, 1.43 ERA, 21 K, 23.0 IP
Romo has the most playoff experience of anyone on this list. He was part of three World Series titles in San Francisco and has pitched in 27 playoff games. From 2016-2018, he posted a 3.63 ERA with a 1.17 WHIP and 9.8 K/9. Romo signed a cheap one-year, $2.5 million contract with Miami this off-season so there would be very little financial commitment to him. He also wouldn’t cost a lot to acquire. However, his decreased strikeout rate from 10.0 K/9 to 8.2 K/9 is concerning.
LHP Will Smith, San Francisco
2019 Stats: 2.19 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 35 K, 24.2 IP
Smith is in his second season back from Tommy John surgery and his performance seems to have seen few ill-effects. Over the last two seasons, he has posted a 2.43 ERA and a 0.90 WHIP with a 12.3 K/9. Even though he’s left-handed, Smith has been successful against righties and lefties as he has held righties to a .487 OPS and lefties to a .399 OPS. Smith will be a free agent this winter so it will be interesting to see what kind of deal the Giants will be able to get for him.
LHP Felipe Vazquez, Pittsburgh
2019 Stats: 2.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 43 K, 27.1 IP
Vazquez might come with one of the highest asking prices on this list. He is potentially under team control through 2023. This means, Pittsburgh would need to be overwhelmed in any kind of offer for their left-handed closer. He took over as the Pirates full-time closer in 2017. During that stretch, he has compiled a 2.19 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and a 11.5 K/9. Minnesota has some depth in their system, but it seems unlikely for them to deal an elite prospect.
LHP Tony Watson, San Francisco
2019 Stats: 2.55 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 21 K, 24.2 IP
Watson might be a name that is a little more unfamiliar to Twins fans. He’s pitched his entire career in the NL for the Pirates, Dodgers, and Giants. As a lefty, Watson is more than just a LOOGY. He has averaged over 70 innings pitched from 2013-2018 and he posted a career high 9.8 K/9 last season. His strikeout numbers have dipped a little this season (7.7 K/9) so that might be a cause for concern. Watson has a $2.5 million player option for 2020 or he could test the free agent waters.
Who do you think the Twins should target? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.