Breaking Twins Deals With Jorge Lopez, Tyler Mahley And Michael Vollmer

Breaking Twins Deals With Jorge Lopez, Tyler Mahley And Michael Vollmer

Rarely have the weaknesses of the first-place team been so obvious and the fan base (rightly) rarely too skeptical about addressing those weaknesses in a purposeful and satisfying manner, but the twins accomplished exactly what they set out to do on Tuesday before the MLB trade deadline: add merchandising impact.

In a series of three separate moves, they captured All-Stars closest Jorge Lopez of the Orioles, frontline starter Tyler Mahley of the Reds and set-up man Michael Vollmer of the Tigers, and dispatched a total of eight prospects – including co-stars Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion Strand and Stephen Hajjar Kid Povich – on one of the busiest date days in team history.

This is uncharted territory, not only for the front office led by Derek Falvey which has been around since 2017 but also for the system led by Terry Ryan for the past two decades. Sergio Romo was the biggest pre-deadline addition to Falvey’s 2019 trading deadline, and Ryan has never been known for streaming big deadlines. Twins fans have been conditioned to expect minor pickups or big mid-season sell-outs.

Things have changed. They were buyers, not just to check the necessary boxes at minimal cost, but to add real impact booms to both the spin and the much-needed board. And in doing so, the twins broke off a major potential capital, including four of the top 20 odds from my mid-season ratings. For once, they behaved as they should for the opposing team.

Mahley, a 27-year-old fastball right-winger in the mid-’90s, came at the most cost and holds the most ascent as a starter in the playoffs for this season and the next. His surface-level numbers are pretty impressive on their own, including 3.93 ERAs and 10.4 hits in every nine rounds since 2020, but his base metrics are better and Mahle should take advantage of a new pitch.

As a volleyball bowler, Mahle has been particularly ill-suited for the Cincinnati football field, scoring 4.83 ERA since 2020 compared to 2.93 ERA on the road. And while his 4.40pm ERA this year isn’t very good, Mahley’s secondary numbers continue to paint the picture of a front-line starter. In fact, the 3.60 FIP and 3.22 xERA are both better than they were in 2020 and 2021.

Last season, in a 3.75 ERA post, 27 percent of hitters faced and allowed 704 OPS. This season, in his 4.40pm post, he’s sucked in 26 percent of his front runners and allowed 0.690 OPS. With a more forgiving home field, it’s easy to imagine Mahley emerging as one of the top 25 players in baseball or so. Twins officials believe he really does exist.

The mid-’90s fastball is one of the best losing bats in MLB and limits damage on contact. The spacer and its slider are swing and miss weapons that enable Mahle to neutralize left and right hand hitters. Carlos Correa summed it all up succinctly when asked about the twins getting Mahle, saying, “I looked at his Baseball Savant page and saw a lot of red.”

In a best-of-three opening round series, twins Mahley, Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan could start. Next year’s rotation could feature Mahley, Gray, Canta Maeda, as well as Ryan and some mix of Billy Ober, Josh Winder, Chris Baddack, and senior prospects, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Jordan Palazovich, and Louie Farland, all of whom have kept the Deadline Twins. .

Valvey explained that the Twins targeted shooters with team control beyond the next two months, seeing long-term value as essential when giving up potential top 20 teams Steer, Encarnacion-Strand and Hajjar to Mahle, and Povich to L贸pez. Extended rentals like Fulmer can make a big impact, but Mahle and L贸pez can do so and be big factors in future seasons as well. This is the key.

L贸pez, a debuting All-Star at age 29, saved 19 games with a 1.68 ERA for the Orioles, and an interesting wrinkle is that two of his three outings all season in which he allowed multiple earned runs came against the Twins. Eliminate those games and he will have 0.99 ERA in 46 rounds, with an average hit of 0.146 and only one homer allowed. It’s hard to be more dominant than that.

L贸pez’s record as a cutting assistant is limited to this year, but this is also his first year as a full-time saviour. Coming through the Brewers Farm System, he was in the top 100 potential starts, but L贸pez has an ugly 6.36 ERA in his 58 career starts. The Orioles turned Lopez into the center of the Bulls late last season and he showed enough promise that they were committed to keeping him there.

As a beginner, his speed fluctuated, his control was shaky and he lacked the non-quick pitches to neutralize the left sweeper. These are common problems for younger beginners, and it’s also common for these “failed” beginners to thrive by dialing in their mix of tunes and maximizing speed without worrying about multiple trips through the lineup.

Many of the best MLB painkillers, and most of the best painkillers in the history of twins, have been “failed” starters. Just like Lopez. Drowning him in the mid-’90s as a starter is now mired in the ’90s as a homebrew, with the hitter spurring 60 percent of the balls in play. He has ditched the four-seam fastballs in favor of more plungers. With more speed and better shape, his choppy and smashing balls are weapons.

L贸pez has been a fantastic thinner for nearly 50 rounds after having had a poor start for nearly 300, so naturally you should be somewhat skeptical about his ability to maintain an elite level of performance. However, starting and mitigating very different roles amplify different strengths and weaknesses, and Lopez is simply the latest in a long line of Bullpen diversion success stories.

This version of L贸pez bears little resemblance to the faltering starter, both in terms of raw materials and results. Relying on him to maintain his current level of performance is not fair, because almost no one does this is Good, but a high-powered diver in the ’90s with many pitches swinging and missteps is a very straightforward recipe for relief dominance.

Lopez joins one of the few teams for whom he hasn’t had the most powerful raw stuff on the field crew because that honor goes to Jhoan Duran and his fast average speed of 100.6 mph. L贸pez can hit triple figures with his holes, which average 97.8 mph, and each of his three non-quick pitches has his opponents hit a hit rate of under 200.

There are only nine MLB lighters with a strike rate above 25 percent and a ball rate above 55 percent this season, and the twins now have two of them in rotation and Lopez. There aren’t many loyalists who are throwing this hard, missing so many bats and urging so many ground players, perhaps giving the Twins one of the league’s late elite groups for the next 2 1/2 seasons.

Vollmer, the 29-year-old impending free agent, also found success switching to bowling last season after injuries derailed his once-promising career, which included being named Rookie of the Year in 2016 and being named to the team All-Stars in 2017. Vollmer has a 2.80 ERA and 105 hits in 96 runs from rest, dropping just seven queues and an average of 0.238.

Vollmer’s approach is very different from his days as a rookie when he touched the ball and mostly relied on a player who drowned in the mid-’90s to keep the ball on the ground. He lost some speed, but Fulmer’s hit rate comfortably jumped as he became one of MLB’s heaviest slip shooters, relying more on what is an elite breaker ball.

Early indications suggest that L贸pez would be the closest of twins, freeing Duran for a role of a high-powered firefighter that would include some multi-role outings. Fulmer and Griffin Jax can get into the role of setup men, prompting Emilio Pag谩n and Tyler Duffey to use low leverage. Moving everyone down a step or two on the bulls ladder can solve a lot of problems and create more depth.

Remarkably, the twins added three developed arms, including a starter controlled until 2023 and an assistant controlled until 2024, while splitting only one prospect out of the top ten in Steer, but giving up so many young talents. Certainly not without risks. They push the chips into the middle to increase their chances of a playoff or playoff rounds. This is the goal after all.

Farm systems aren’t just for providing a major league team with young talent to build around, although that certainly tends to be the focus. It could also be about using leads as a way to acquire veteran talent in the big league, in the same way that NFL, NBA, and NHL teams use draft picks. Draft picks can’t be traded in MLB (with rare exceptions), so prospects take their place.

In the 13 months since last year’s draft, the twins have traded four of their first five picks, taking on top-notch Chase Petty for Gray this spring, using second- and fourth-placed Stones Encarnacion Strand in the deal for Mahle and making Povich’s third part of Lopez package. They made good choices, used player development to increase their value and cashed in.

They did the same with Steer, a 2019 third-round pick who was once a skilled single-stroke player and is now a legitimate player thanks to mechanical tweaks and training. But with Jose Miranda at the top of the long-range depth chart at third base and Jorge Polanco at second base through 2025, the twins felt Steer’s trade was safer despite believing it would be regular, perhaps very soon.

The Encarnacion Strand has hit 0.320 with 29 players in 109 minor league games, including throwing a Double-A since promotion last month, but it’s likely to end up at first base, capping its value at the crowded bottom of the defensive spectrum. Hajjar and Povich profile as intermediate starters, which are valuable but far from underrated. Both are in low minors.

Yannier Can贸 has what makes him a quality underdog based on his raw elements and his success in the minor league, but the 28-year-old with spotty control and doesn’t go onto the field off the left, fails to convince the twins that he can play a high-impact role. Sawyer features Gibson Long as a rear starter. Juan Nu帽ez and Juan Rojas are rookie ball lottery tickets.

Collectively, there are plenty of young talent to trade away, in terms of quality and quantity, but that’s the price of doing business when targeting high-quality promotions with multiple seasons of team control rather than shopping the cart again. Mahle, L贸pez, and Fulmer are this year’s massive upgrades. Mahle and L贸pez hold great future value, and for once, the twins are actually striving to make it happen.

RELATED READING: Twins trade three pitchers in bold moves on deadlines that meet the biggest needs

(Photo by Jorge Lopez: Tommy Gilligan/USA Today)

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