Minnesota Twins options for a shutdown bullpen in 2018

benjaminchase
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 31: Manager Paul Molitor
OAKLAND, CA - MAY 31: Manager Paul Molitor /
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CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 18: Wade Davis
CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 18: Wade Davis /

Available Free Agents

The team would have to let someone go from the 40-man to make a signing, but in the case of a handful of players available, that could be worth the risk:

Wade Davis
While many will have Davis as the premier name guy available on the market due to his exposure throwing for the Royals and Cubs in high-leverage situations in the playoffs the last few years, he’s a guy to be concerned about as a significant investment. This season was the third straight season Davis’ average fastball velocity declined, along with the average velocity on all of his other pitches as well. He does have a very solid fastball, cutter, curveball combination of pitches, but with his recent injury hiccups and the heavy load his arm just had in the playoffs, I’d stay away.

Greg Holland
Holland will be an intriguing free agent case. He missed all of 2016 before returning in 2017 and claiming the closer role for a playoff team. He put up very good numbers in that role in his first year back from surgery as well, making 61 appearances, throwing 57 1/3 innings, saving 41 games (leading the National League), with a 3.61 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a 26/70 BB/K ratio. Holland’s fastball was back to pre-surgery levels of velocity, though not to his peak velocity, and his slider and curve were at his previous velocity. Holland did use a different grip on his slider, and that allowed him to find the previous level of graded effectiveness in the pitch. With a mid-90s fastball and elite slider, Holland could be impressive as a closer. He did decline a $15M player option, so he could be looking for more for an individual season or more security in having a longer-term contract (his option was only for 2018, so he could want 2-3 years guaranteed).
Greg Holland Holland will be an intriguing free agent case. He missed all of 2016 before returning in 2017 and claiming the closer role for a playoff team. He put up very good numbers in that role in his first year back from surgery as well, making 61 appearances, throwing 57 1/3 innings, saving 41 games (leading the National League), with a 3.61 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a 26/70 BB/K ratio. Holland’s fastball was back to pre-surgery levels of velocity, though not to his peak velocity, and his slider and curve were at his previous velocity. Holland did use a different grip on his slider, and that allowed him to find the previous level of graded effectiveness in the pitch. With a mid-90s fastball and elite slider, Holland could be impressive as a closer. He did decline a $15M player option, so he could be looking for more for an individual season or more security in having a longer-term contract (his option was only for 2018, so he could want 2-3 years guaranteed). /
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 06: Addison Reed
HOUSTON, TX – OCTOBER 06: Addison Reed /
Addison Reed

Reed has been a bullpen mainstay in the major leagues almost immediately after he was selected by the White Sox in the 3rd round of the 2010 draft. He made his debut in 2010 and was the White Sox closer in 2012. He had some up and down times with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he rediscovered his effectiveness with the Mets when acquired in Queens in 2015. In 2017, combined between the Mets and Red Sox, Reed made 77 appearances, throwing 76 innings, saving 19 games, with a 2.84 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and a 15/76 BB/K ratio. Reed doesn’t work with an overpowering fastball, but he locates extremely well and gets late wiggle that allows the pitch to play up well. He pairs that primarily with a mid-80s slider, and the two pitches have played up in the last two years, though his slider struggled in its effectiveness after his trade to Boston midseason of 2017. As one of the youngest back-end bullpen relievers on the market, he could draw a big market, however.

Bryan Shaw
Shaw has been an underrated part of the dominant Cleveland bullpen the last few seasons. Shaw is a workhorse that has led the major leagues in appearances 3 of the last 4 seasons. Over the last 4 seasons, Shaw has averaged 77 appearances, 71 innings, a 3.08 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and a 23/65 BB/K ratio. While he wouldn’t be a top choice for a closer, Shaw would be a workhorse middle reliever, throwing his mid-90s cutter and low-80s slider to get out hitters. Shaw would be the type of signing that really helped to lengthen out the bullpen, giving the Twins a reliable arm that could throw multiple days in a row with effectiveness.

CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 18: Tony Watson
CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 18: Tony Watson /
Tony Watson

Watson spent 2013-2015 as one of the most dominant middle relievers in the entire game, which was all the more impressive as he was doing it from the left side. In 2016, Watson took over as the team’s closer in the second half of the season and was quite good. He struggled out of the gate as the closer with the Pirates this season, but he still has elite stuff from the left side. Interestingly, in a season where fly balls became the talked-about thing, Watson actually had his lowest fly ball rate of his major league career, with less than 30% of all hits as fly balls. While Watson once had an elite change to go with a very good fastball and an above-average slider, his change fell off in 2017. Getting his feel back for his change could allow Watson to move back to that elite reliever role, and he could be a guy that is able to be signed for less than other more “name” closer types, like a Holland or Davis.

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