Could the Twins be in line to add pitching help without giving up any prospects?
That might be the case since the draft pick compensation that would be attached to lefthanded starter Dallas Keuchel and righthanded reliever Craig Kimbrel will be gone at 12:01 a.m. (Eastern time) on Monday, the opening day of the major league amateur draft. The free agents remain available after going unsigned this offseason, and sources said the Twins could be in on one of the pitchers once the compensation has been removed.
Kimbrel or Keuchel?
— SKOR North (@SKORNorth) May 30, 2019
Jon Heyman, an MLB Network insider, reported the suitors for Keuchel include the Twins, Braves, Brewers, Cardinals, Rays and Yankees. Keuchel might be more appealing to teams now that it has been reported he is no longer asking for a multiyear deal and instead appears to be open to accepting a one-year contract. Buster Olney of ESPN reported that Keuchel would consider a prorated deal for close to $18 million.
Keuchel has been throwing simulated games that teams have been scouting. Keuchel’s agent, Scott Boras, told MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM on Monday that Keuchel has had several scouts watching him throw of late.
Keuchel, 31, went 12-11 with a 3.74 ERA last season in 34 starts for Houston in his seventh big-league season.
The 31-year-old Kimbrel began his major league career in 2010 with Atlanta and spent the past three years with Boston. He had a 5-1 record and 42 saves with a 2.74 ERA in 63 games (57 finished) with the Red Sox in 2018. He was selected to the AL All-Star team in all three of his seasons in Boston.
Kimbrel’s postseason performance in 2018 might have concerned teams — he had a 5.91 ERA in nine appearances — but he has 333 career saves and a 1.91 ERA. Kimbrel, unlike Keuchel, might still be pursuing a multiyear contract at this point.
If the Twins were to make a run at Keuchel or Kimbrel — and with a major league best 37-17 record they could be an attractive landing spot for either pitcher — the question would be whether the Twins would want to add help to the starting rotation or bullpen at this point?
The Twins, who were off Wednesday, entered the day with a 10-game lead over Cleveland in the American League Central. The Twins’ starting rotation includes Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Martin Perez and Kyle Gibson. Fifth-starter Michael Pineda went on the 10-day disabled list Tuesday because of right knee tendinitis, but the Twins promoted lefthander Devin Smeltzer and he pitched six shutout inning in a 5-3 win over Milwaukee on Tuesday at Target Field.
While Keuchel could help the rotation, the Twins might be more tempted to attempt to upgrade a bullpen that could use Kimbrel not only in a closer role, but also coming into games to get key outs.
The question is whether Kimbrel would accept that role? Another factor is how long it will take Keuchel and Kimbrel to get ready to pitch in big-league games and how effective they will be when they do get that chance? Those are questions not only being asked here, but by Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine.