Twins likely sellers at trade deadline for first time in a decade

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In the decade since Ron Gardenhire took over as manager the Twins have won six division titles, compiled an 815-682 (.544) record, and finished below .500 just once, when they were 79-83. And they’ve never been sellers at the trade deadline.

There’s still a chance to avoid that fate again this season, but time is quickly running out with an MLB-worst 12-26 record and an MLB-high 12.5-game deficit in the division. They’re on pace to go 51-111.

Unfortunately they don’t have a ton of valuable players to shop. I won’t bore everyone here with all the details, because I realize there’s only so much Twins stuff you guys can stomach, but in breaking down the various possibilities I think Jason Kubel, Matt Capps, Francisco Liriano, Delmon Young, and Kevin Slowey are the most appealing pieces that realistically may be moved.

Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau are likely untradeable on several different levels and everyone else is young and cheap enough to be part of the Twins’ plans or just not all that valuable in the first place. Strange times in Minnesota.

Diamondbacks return Rule 5 pick Tyler Jones to Yankees

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Diamondbacks’ right-hander Tyler Jones is headed back to the Yankees, the teams announced on Friday. The Diamondbacks had previously selected Jones in the Rule 5 draft last December, but elected to leave the 27-year-old off of their 40-man roster heading into the 2017 season. Rule 5 draft rules stipulate that when a player is not kept on the receiving team’s roster, the player must be offered back to his original team.

Jones signed a minor league contract with the Yankees prior to the 2016 season. He pitched to an impressive 2.17 ERA, 2.2 BB/9 and 13.2 SO/9 over 45 2/3 innings with Double-A Trenton, but was unable to make the leap to Triple-A or beyond during his stay with the organization.

Jones’ outlook with the Diamondbacks appeared slightly more promising. GM Mike Hazen described the righty as a power arm with a “good fastball and power curveball” after selecting him in the Rule 5 draft, and early reports indicated that Jones would be in the mix for a bullpen spot. A rough spring performance — underscored by his lack of experience at the Triple-A and major league levels — undid most of that confidence, however, and the Diamondbacks weren’t willing to keep him on the active roster throughout the entire 2017 season in order to acquire his control rights.

Jones is set to open the season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, per a report from the Yankees.

Derek Norris signing with the Rays

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Yahoo Sports’ Tim Brown reports that Derek Norris is signing with the Tampa Bay Rays.

Norris was released by the Nationals nine days ago, made redundant by the Nats’ signing of Matt Wieters and by everyone sliding down a notch on the depth chart below him. Norris hit only .186/.255/.328 with 14 home runs and a .528 OPS for the Padres in 2016.

Still, there always seems to be a place for a backup catcher. For Norris that place is Tampa Bay.