Atlanta Braves v Minnesota Twins

With middle infield struggling, Twins likely to add Trevor Plouffe

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I probably should have left this one for Aaron, but oh well…

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Joe Christensen tweeted today that Twins manager Rob Gardenhire offered strong hints that shortstop Trevor Plouffe will soon be promoted from Triple-A Rochester.

Plouffe, the Twins’ first-round pick in 2004, made his major league debut last season and looked overmatched. While he did deliver two homers in 41 at-bats, he batted just .146 and finished with a 14/0 K/BB ratio.

This season, though, Plouffe seems to have made some strides in Triple-A. The 24-year-old is hitting .282/.344/.590 with six homers in 21 games. That’s a .934 OPS for a guy who has never topped 750 in his previous minor league stops. Plouffe has actually been incredibly consistent in his mediocrity, finishing with OPSs of .736, .723, .720 and .730 between Double- and Triple-A the last four years.

He’d certainly be an asset to the Twins if he could post a .730 OPS in the majors right now. The team is getting a .449 OPS out of its second basemen and a .504 mark at shortstop. Alexi Casilla has been the starter at short, while the Twins have given defensive liabilities Michael Cuddyer and Luke Hughes time at second as Tsuyoshi Nishioka recovers from a broken leg.

When the Twins do promote Plouffe, they might as well give him a look as the everyday shortstop. He does have some experience at second, but Casilla has a lot more. Plus, if Plouffe hits, the Twins will probably want to stick with him after Nishioka returns. Ideally, Plouffe would hit enough to secure the job and send Casilla back to a utility role for the final four months of the season.

Spring training will be slightly shortened in 2018

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  General view of action between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The A's defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.

Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.

The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.

While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.

Report: Rays trade Logan Forsythe to the Dodgers for prospect Jose De Leon

ST. PETERSBURG, FL - AUGUST 4: Logan Forsythe #11 of the Tampa Bay Rays waits in the dugout to get on deck to bat during the third inning of a game against the Kansas City Royals on August 4, 2016 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
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Update (7:05 PM EST): The Rays and Dodgers have both announced the trade.

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Update (6:57 PM EST): That was fast. Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports the two sides have agreed to the trade. Forsythe for De Leon. An announcement is expected shortly.

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that the Dodgers and Rays are “deep into discussions” on a trade involving second baseman Logan Forsythe. Passan adds that the two sides have discussed pitcher Jose De Leon — the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect — as part of the return for Forsythe, but it’s unclear if he’s in the deal currently being discussed.

Forsythe, 30, hit a productive .264/.333/.444 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI in 567 plate appearances in 2016. He was even better the year before, finishing with an .804 OPS. Forsythe can fill the Dodgers’ obvious need at second base, but he also has experience playing third base, first base, shortstop, and corner outfield.

Forsythe is entering the second year of his two-year, $10.25 million contract extension with the Rays. He’ll earn $5.75 million in 2017 and his controlling team has an $8.5 million club option with a $1 million buyout for the 2018 season.