Rumor: Twins interested in Nationals closer Matt Capps

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Tim Kurkjian of ESPN.com reports that the Twins are interested in Nationals closer Matt Capps, which along with yesterday’s report that they’re talking to the Blue Jays about various relievers makes it pretty clear that Minnesota is in the market for bullpen help.
It’s tough to find anyone who has any sort of confidence in Jon Rauch as a closer, but he’s actually done a very good job filling in for the injured Joe Nathan by converting 20-of-24 saves with a 3.22 ERA and 26/9 K/BB ratio in 36.1 innings.
Capps has a longer history of closing and I’m sure that’s what the Twins find appealing about him, but he’s hardly a prototypical flame-throwing closer and hasn’t really been any better than Rauch with a 2.86 ERA and 36/9 K/BB ratio in 44 innings.
Beyond that the Twins’ bullpen as a whole has hardly been a problem this year. In fact, Twins relievers lead the league with a 3.17 ERA and haven’t been particularly overworked, ranking in the middle of the pack in innings and appearances.
Capps certainly wouldn’t be a bad addition and pushing Rauch back into a setup role would only make the overall bullpen stronger, but Kurkjian speculates that the Nationals will ask the Twins for top catching prospect Wilson Ramos in exchange for Capps and … well, that would just be silly.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.

Ervin Santana gets Opening Day nod from Twins again

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Ervin Santana will once again start on Opening Day for the Twins, MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger reports. He’ll face the Royals at home in a day game on Monday, April 3.

The last pitcher to start back-to-back Opening Days for the Twins was Carl Pavano in 2011-12.

Santana, 34, is entering the third year of a four-year, $55 million contract signed in December 2014. Last season, the right-hander finished with a solid 3.38 ERA and a 149/53 K/BB ratio over 181 1/3 innings.