Friday, December 9, 2016

Winter Meetings: Rule 5

The first trade of the new Twins regime may well prove to be a minor one, but it was, if nothing else, creative almost to the point of bewildering.

And it came with a justification that underlined the difference between Terry Ryan (the former general manager) and "Falvine" (Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the duo that replaced him at the top of the food chain).

The Twins were involved in a three-way trade of Rule 5 picks in which they emerged with Justin Haley, a right-handed starter who compiled a 13-10, 3.01 mark for the Red Sox Double A and Triple A teams this year.

What was striking in how Levine explained what the Twins like about Haley. He cited spin rates and swing-and-miss percentages, concepts and figures that I doubt were ever uttered by Ryan. Some of what he talked about, such as Haley's ability to induce awkward swings, echoed old-school scouting, but they came with an idea of why he gets those swings.

Haley will get a real opportunity to make the roster this spring; as a Rule 5 pick, he's use-or-lose. He will be, at least in theory, a candidate for the back of the rotation, but there's no shortage of starting candidates who probably rank ahead of him right now. More likely is a long relief role, and the opportunity to pitch his way into something better.


While the Twins gained a pitcher in Rule 5, at least for a while, they lost a catcher, at least for a while. Stuart Turner, their third-round draft pick in 2013, was taken by the Cincinnati Reds.

He's got a genuine chance to stick there. One of the Reds veteran catchers, Devin Mesoraco, has had a string of injuries the past two years, and as the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, the organization sees Turner as a usable alternative.

Turner won't hit, but he, much like former Twins backup Drew Butera, probably has the defensive chops to be a backup catcher. The Twins obviously decided this fall that Mitch Garver was ahead of Turner; they put Garver on the 40-man roster and left Turner off.

Of course, it's possible Turner will be returned to the Twins. But in the meantime, they probably will be looking for a catcher or two for Triple A or Double A.

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