Restoring the rosters: No. 12 – Minnesota

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This is part of a series of articles examining what every team’s roster would look like if given only the players it originally signed. I’m compiling the rosters, ranking them and presenting them in a countdown from Nos. 30 to 1.
No. 30 – Cincinnati
No. 29 – Kansas City
No. 28 – San Diego
No. 27 – Milwaukee
No. 26 – Baltimore
No. 25 – Chicago (AL)
No. 24 – Chicago (NL)
No. 23 – Pittsburgh
No. 22 – Detroit
No. 21 – Tampa Bay
No. 20 – New York (NL)
No. 19 – Houston
No. 18 – Oakland
No. 17 – St. Louis
No. 16 – Florida
No. 15 – San Francisco
No. 14 – Texas
No. 13 – Cleveland
12th place certainly isn’t bad, but the Twins would be far higher if, instead of coming up with teams based on players drafted and originally signed, these rankings went strictly by major league debuts. Johan Santana, David Ortiz, Francisco Liriano, Jason Bartlett and Cristian Guzman came up with the Twins, but all began their minor league careers elsewhere.
Rotation
Matt Garza
Scott Baker
Kevin Slowey
Nick Blackburn
Glen Perkins
Bullpen
Pat Neshek
LaTroy Hawkins
J.C. Romero
Grant Balfour
Jose Mijares
Peter Moylan
Jesse Crain
Moylan is the only one of the 25 players on the roster the Twins would lose if going to the “major league debut” standard. He was signed by the Twins in 1996, spent two years pitching in Rookie ball and then disappeared for eight years before impressing the Braves with his performance for Australia in the 2006 WBC and debuting later that season.
The rotation options are essentially the Twins’ current group, with Garza subbing in for Liriano/Carl Pavano. That looks like a net win for this group. Anthony Swarzak is the primary alternative to Perkins in the fifth spot. Kevin Mulvey wouldn’t be, since he was part of the Santana trade with the Mets.
The bullpen would be pretty strong with a healthy Neshek (he’s currently working his way back from Tommy John surgery). I’m throwing him into the closer’s role, given Hawkins’ lack of success in his most recent American League stints. Failing to make the cut was Eddie Guardado.
Lineup
LF Denard Span
C Joe Mauer
CF Torii Hunter
1B Justin Morneau
RF Michael Cuddyer
DH Jason Kubel
3B Danny Valencia
2B Matt Tolbert
SS Luis Rodriguez
Bench
C A.J. Pierzynski
INF Doug Mientkiewicz
INF Terry Tiffee
OF Jacque Jones
There’s hope for Valencia as the future at third base, but realistically, the lineup is only six players deep. Without credit for Bartlett, Guzman or even Alexi Casilla, the Twins just don’t have any adequate middle-infield options. Rodriguez and the disappointing Trevor Plouffe were the shortstop candidates, and second base came down to Tolbert and prospect Steven Tolleson. Mientkiewicz might actually be the superior choice there.
At least the top six is really nice. Mauer is about as valuable as anyone in the game, and Hunter and Morneau have also been among the AL’s best this year.
Summary
Of course, the Twins do deserve credit for finding and developing Santana and Ortiz, even if they may have actually held Ortiz back. The Twins under former general manager Terry Ryan were probably in the top five in baseball at scouting out and developing talent. Whether that’s going to hold true under Bill Smith remains to be seen, but the early returns aren’t especially encouraging. Whereas Ryan was a scout before becoming a GM, Smith is much more of an administrator. He’ll maintain the bottom line, but he may not pull off the coups that helped get the Twins to the playoffs four times in five years from 2002-06. He certainly hasn’t so far.

Report: Blue Jays and Marco Estrada nearing agreement on contract extension

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Jon Morosi reports that the Blue Jays and starter Marco Estrada are nearing an agreement on a contract extension. The deal is expected to be for one guaranteed year, Morosi adds.

Estrada, 34, was set to become a free agent after the season. He earned $26 million on a two-year contract signed with the Jays in November 2015. While the right-hander has a subpar 4.84 ERA on the season, he has a solid 170/67 K/BB ratio in 176 2/3 innings and has looked much better since the end of July. Between July 31 and his most recent start on Saturday, Estrada owns a 3.75 ERA.

J.A. Happ is the only other starter technically under contract with the Jays next season. Marcus Stroman will be eligible for his second year of arbitration and the Jays will certainly agree to give him a raise on his $3.4 million salary for the 2017 season. The Jays will likely be active this offseason in adding rotation help and they’re starting early by locking up Estrada.

Video: Jackie Bradley, Jr. robs Chris Davis of a home run

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Red Sox center fielder Jackie Bradley, Jr. robbed Orioles first baseman Chris Davis of his 25th home run on Tuesday evening, leaping at the fence in center field to make the catch and keep the game scoreless in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Davis swung at the first pitch he saw from Drew Pomeranz, a slider that crossed the middle of the plate.

This game has potential playoff implications, as the first-place Red Sox hold a three-game lead over the Yankees in the NL East. Meanwhile, the Orioles are still in the AL Wild Card race, trailing the Twins by 5.5 games for the second Wild Card slot.