The Twins picked up their second notable arm of the day and acquired a right-hander Tyler Mahle in a trade with the Reds, the teams announced. Cincinnati is getting prospects Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand as well as a left-handed pitching prospect Steven Hajjar in the transaction. Minnesota was interested in Mahle back in the offseason, when they also picked up another Reds starter, Sonny Grayin a swap deal that sent 2021 first round Chase Petty to the red ones.
Minnesota has focused on improving its pitching staff, both in the rotation and in the bullpen. Having already landed the Orioles closer Jorge Lopez In this morning’s deal with Baltimore, their focus appears to have shifted to Mahle, who would reunite with Gray and give the Twins a starter they could manage for the rest of the current season and into 2023. campaign.
Mahle, 28, shook off a terrible start to the 2022 season next month and has played quite well over the past two months. He was briefly on the injured list in mid-July with a shoulder sprain, but Mahle missed only minimal time and made several effective starts since his return. May 29 he posted a 2.83 ERA with a 27.9% strikeout rate and a 7% walk rate in 57 1/3 innings.
From 2020 In his breakout season, Mahle posted a 3.93 ERA with a 27.4% strikeout rate and an 8.9% walk rate in 332 big league innings. He averaged 94 mph on the way with the heater and relied heavily on a splitter and slider that had an above-average pitch at times — he’s favored the splitter lately (especially as a lefty reliever).
Besides Mahle’s solid ERA, it’s easy to wonder how he’ll fare once he finally escapes the home-happy confines of Cincinnati’s Great American Ballpark. He’s worked to an ugly 4.83 ERA and averaged 1.69 home runs per nine innings over the past three seasons at home, but boasts a stellar 2.93 ERA and just a 0.52 HR/9. He also has an above average rotation for his heater and rates in the 76th percentile or better according to Statcast in each of the following metrics: projected ERA, projected batting average, projected slugging percentage and projected wOBA.
Mahle will give the Twins some much-needed help in a rotation that started the season surprisingly strong but has stalled recently. Members of the Opening Day rotation Bailey Ober and Chris Paddack is on the injured list — Paddack is out for the season with Tommy John surgery — and 2020. Cy Young is second. Kenta Maeda recovering from a TJ procedure late last season.
The Twins relied heavily on Mahle’s former Reds teammate Gray, a rookie. Joe Ryan and veterans Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy until now in 2022 Gray and Ryan have been strong — despite Ryan coming off a disastrous five-homer start in his last outing — and Bundy has been serviceable, if unspectacular, despite two disastrous starts in late April. and early May. Archer was limited to four or five outings per start during the season, but he’s started to fade in recent weeks and the overall mix of the Twins’ rotation has simply fallen off in July. Twins starters posted a horrendous 6.49 ERA in July, third-worst among all major league teams.
Mahle is making $5.2 million this season. $, making him quite affordable even when factoring in his final arbitration salary for next season (or, as Dan Hayes of The Athletic offers, possible long-term extension). Even without an extension, he could be included in 2023. staff with Gray, Ryan and (health) Maeda. It’s a much stronger foundation than the team put into the current season.
Unlike this morning’s acquisition of Lopez, the Twins paid quite a bit from the top of their system to get this deal done. Steer, 2019 The Twins third-round pick recently moved to the back of Baseball America’s midseason top 100 after a big first half.
Splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A, Steer posted a combined .269/.361/.528 batting line with 20 home runs, 23 doubles, three triples, a 17% strikeout rate and a strong 10.8% walk rate. norm. He has split his time between second base, third base and shortstop this season, spending most of his time at the hot corner (although Baseball America lists second as his best position). Based on his performance this year, it’s not unreasonable to think that Steer could be a Reds option next year.
Meanwhile, Encarnacion-Strand, 22, was a fourth-round pick by Minnesota just last year. Like Steer, he had a huge season in the minors, hitting a combined .302/.374/.612 batting line with 25 home runs, 25 doubles and four triples among Class A advanced and double A. Encarnacion-Strand, not Steer , has been more of an issue with strikeouts, as he has pitched in about a quarter of his plate appearances this season against a solid 8.7% walk rate. BA ranked him 14th in the Twins system, touting his plus-plus raw power but noting that he’s a third-base outfielder at best and may have to transition across the diamond.
Hajjar, 21, was a second-round pick by the Twins in last year’s draft and had an impressive first pro season this year. Minnesota has limited his workload, as evidenced by 45 1/3 innings in 13 starts, but the results have been good. The former Michigan standout has posted a 3.18 ERA and a stellar 39.2% strikeout rate thus far, though his 14% walk rate is something he’ll certainly need to improve upon as he realizes his ceiling as a mid-rotation starter at some point.
Hajjar can reach the mid and upper 90s with his heater, which he complements with a slider and changeup. Notably, Hajjar spent more than a month on the shelf with a shoulder strain, and his performance dipped after his return. Still, he’s a clearly talented arm the Reds could add at the level of an average farm system they’re rapidly replenishing.
With this deal, the Twins have now moved from four of the top five picks in 2021. draft picks since trading Gray before the season. That will affect a system that has also been hurt by a slew of injuries to last year’s wave of top prospects (such as Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic). And it’s also a testament to the strength of last year’s class. Additionally, some of the Twins who recently graduated from the farm are getting strong production, including the aforementioned Ryan reliever. John Duran and a sluggish cornerback Joseph Mirandaamong other things, there will be a little less pressure to join the upper levels of their system in the near future.
Time will tell if the Twins have another step up. They could certainly use another reliever and/or another starter, not to mention a backup catcher or outfielder, all rumored to be on Minnesota’s wish list. It’s about two hours until they find a way to make another deal (or deals). Meanwhile, the Reds are sure to have other players as general manager Nick Krall and his staff continue to fill out the farm while shedding payroll.
C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic first reported (via Twitter) that the Twins and Reds were in “serious” talks about Mahle. The New York Post’s Jon Heyman in a tweet that a deal has been made. Ted Schwerzler of TwinsDaily was first with the return (Twitter link).