The Twins have had some luck with Independent League stars. And according to a tweet from the American Association, the official twitter feed of the independent professional baseball league, the Twins went out and signed another stud, C.J. Ziegler, from the Independent league:
— American Association (@AA_Baseball) December 11, 2013
C.J. Ziegler, a massive first baseman at six-foot five inches and 245 pounds, was named the Independent League Player of the Year and signed with the Minnesota Twins today. He will be reporting to Spring Training in February and will have a shot at making the big league squad. Ziegler will join the likes of Chris Colabello, Andrew Albers, and Caleb Thielbar as players on the Twins 40-man roster who were picked up from the Independent League.
Ziegler mashed 30 home runs last year in 107 games while hitting .318 and driving in 99 runs. Oh, and he also had an OPS of 1.053 and 32 doubles. But before you think we have a controversy at 1B with Joe Mauer, Ziegler has struggled in the minors. While his success in the Independent League is noticeable and rewardable, his play in A ball and above has been nothing to jump in joy over at all. He hit .404 in low-A ball but nothing over .265 at any other upper level in the minors. In AAA, he hit a measly .182 in 77 AB. Maybe, if given the chance, he could become a player to give Mauer a break at 1B, but who knows. We will have to wait and see once Spring Training rolls around.
In Other Free Agent News
It appears the Twins are still very active in the Free Agent market and have not stopped pursuing pitchers this offseason. Yes, you read that correctly. Even after signing two free agent pitchers this offseason, the Terry Ryan and the Twins are staying very active in the market of numerous pitchers around the Major Leagues. As baffling and shocking as it sounds with how true we stay to our minor league system, Ryan has not stopped trying to add more arms to our starting rotation and boy, is that a sigh of relief.
A few of the players the Twins have been linked to in the past day or two include the following:
- Matt Garza – Stop right there. The Twins after throwing 49 million dollars at Ricky Nolasco and another 24 million at Phil Hughes are still in talks with possibly signing Matt Garza?!?! Another bright note about Garza is that he has been open to the return to his former club, which means the Twins are still in the mix. It is to be expected that Garza will sign within the next 24-48 hours.
- Bronson Arroyo – A reliable innings eater with the Reds for just a shade under a decade who is aging fast, but would be another steady arm in the starting rotation. The Twins seem to be pursuing Arroyo heavily, but there are other teams out there looking at Arroyo as well.
- Masahiro Tanaka – Even if you cannot pronounce his name or have nightmares about the last player we paid a posting fee for a few years ago, Tanaka seems to be the real deal and would be a great addition to the rotation. He posted a 24-0 record last year with an ERA of 1.27 and a WHIP of 0.943. You are definitely reading those numbers correctly. If posted, granted his Japanese team wants to put him out there on the market, Tanaka will be heavily pursued by many of the teams, leaving the likelihood of him becoming a Twins slim, but not out of the question.
- Johan Santana – The former ace and Cy Young award winner with the Twins is still on our radar, but we are not alone. There is a log jam of 7-8 teams looking into Santana, but his oft-injured arm is a huge question mark for many ball clubs. He would be welcomed back into Twins Territory I am sure, but just seems to be a long shot as reliability is what is key to us having a successful rotation next year.
- Mike Pelfrey – Talks are still occurring between Pelfrey and the Twins and a return is not out of the question. It will definitely depend if the Twins go out and any of the pitchers above him on this list or not. I had hoped Pelfrey would have had a better season last year, but that just did not happen and I am not sure I would want to pour more money into a pitcher who has already had a significant arm/elbow injury and struggled post surgery.
Bartolo Colon- old, linked to steroids, got crushed in the playoffs
It is refreshing and positive to see the Twins so active this offseason, but very unusual at the same time. I cannot remember a single winter where I was constantly checking to see if the Twins were in talks with any key free agents, or even in trade talks for that matter. This offseason has been a very out of characteristic one to say to the least, but it appears Terry Ryan is finally sick of losing and knows what needs to be addressed for this team to turn things around. Signing one of those big name pitchers to accompany Nolasco and Hughes may not solve all of the Twins issues, but it definitely would not hurt.
Maybe by the time you are done reading this article, the Twins will be inking a deal with one of them?
<feverishly checks Twitter for Twins updates>