Twins GM: ‘We’ve placed a lot of claims on players we think can help our team’

By John Shipley
St. Paul Pioneer Press
DETROIT — No one can accuse the Twins’ front office of not paying attention.
When Minnesota went 2-6 on a recent West Coast road trip, it convinced president of baseball operations Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine to trade away the starter they had just traded for, Jaime Garcia. They sent him to the Yankees for two prospects, then dealt all-star closer Brandon Kintzler to Washington for another.
Well, there’s one more deadline approaching, and Levine said Saturday, Aug. 12, the Twins’ six-game winning streak has not gone unnoticed.
“We’ve already pivoted once in this process, and I think we demonstrated a willingness to respond to the way the team’s performing, and the team’s obviously performing extremely well right now,” Levin said.
After Aug. 1, all major league players must pass through waivers before they can be traded, and to be eligible for postseason play, a player must be on the roster by Sept. 1.
“On a daily basis we are active on the trade-waiver wire process,” Levine said. “We’ve placed a lot of claims on players we think can help our team now and in the future.”
Waiver claims are awarded on the basis of winning percentage; the teams with the worst records get first dibs. The Twins entered Saturday’s game against the Tigers at Comerica Park with an 8-3 record in August and claim to the second American League wild-card spot.
“We haven’t made a trade yet, which is evidence to the fact that we may not be the only team that thinks those players would be attractive,” the GM added. “… But it’s not for a lack of effort on our part. We have the support of ownership to do it, and we’re going to continue to be creative and aggressive the rest of the season as a means to help the team.”
It’s not impossible. Don Baylor, who helped the Twins make the postseason and win the 1987 World Series, was acquired on Sept. 1.
Top pick promoted
The Twins have promoted top prospect Royce Lewis to Class A Cedar Rapids so the No. 1 overall pick in the June amateur draft can experience postseason play.
Lewis, 18, was hitting .271 with 11 extra-base hits and 15 stolen bases in 36 games in the rookie Gulf Coast League Fort Myers, where the Twins planned to keep him all season.
“I think 99 times out of 100, that’s how you would handle a high school player out of the draft in his first season — with a short-season club,” Levin said. “I think Royce could be that exception.”
It doesn’t mean Lewis, who received a $6.7 million signing bonus, will start next season at an advanced level of the minor leagues, Levin added.
“We’re going to still manage his development in a responsible fashion,” he said. “I think we’re just allowing for him to participate in that a little bit; he’s dictated he’s ready for this opportunity. They’re lined up to play in the playoffs, and we thought it was just a perfect environment to put a mature player in, just to get a taste, and then we’ll see where that puts him in 2018.”
Back problem, solved
Reliever Ryan Pressly credits an adjustment in his delivery for his recent success. Pitching coach Neil Allen, he said, noticed he was overarching his back, likely because he was trying to throw too hard.
“It was hard to get a consistent release point,” Pressly said. “So we’ve cleaned that up a lot and the results have been there.”
In his past six appearances, Pressly has given up zero runs on two hits and a walk in 8 1/3 innings while fanning five. He earned the victory in a 9-4 on Friday with 1 1/3 innings of relief. The right-hander with a fastball that consistently hits the high 90s is 2-2 with a 5.40 earned-run average.
Earlier this season, his ERA was over 10.00.
“You just have to find a way to keep making adjustments and keep getting better,” he said. “I wasn’t able to do that in the beginning of the season, but now that we’ve made that adjustment mechanically, my confidence is up where it needs to be and everything’s been kind of clicking.”
Manager Paul Molitor said he will determine the Twins’ starter for Wednesday against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday. Bartolo Colon will start the three-game series against the AL Central Division leaders at Target Field.