Tampa Bay calling up stud pitching prospect Matt Moore is getting all the attention–and rightfully so–but the Rays have also promoted Russ Canzler to the majors after the 25-year-old took home International League MVP honors by hitting .314 with 18 homers, 40 doubles, and a .930 OPS in Durham.
Canzler signed with the Rays as a minor-league free agent this offseason, so he’s far from a top prospect, but he also hit .287 with 21 homers and a .938 OPS at Double-A in the Cubs’ system last year.
As for how much or even where he’ll play for the Rays, that remains unclear. Canzler saw significant action for Durham at third base, first base, right field, and left field, but was primarily a first baseman prior to this season.
Dan Johnson, Steve Cox, Kevin Witt, and Toby Hall previously won the International League MVP award while in the Rays’ farm system and that didn’t exactly lead to future stardom, but Canzler at least has a chance to be an interesting player if given an opportunity.
Free agent left-hander Wade Miley is among several offseason targets for the Twins, according to a report from Darren Wolfson of KSTP. Miley’s $12 million option was declined by the Orioles back in November, and while he’s expected to attract another major league deal in 2018, he hasn’t exactly been highly sought after this offseason.
The 31-year-old lefty finished his second campaign with the Orioles in 2017, producing an 8-15 record in 32 starts and ranking second-to-last among all AL starters with a 5.61 ERA, 5.3 BB/9 and 8.1 SO/9 in 157 1/3 innings. Even taking Miley’s undeniable durability into account — he remained healthy for the bulk of the season and completed his sixth straight year with 30+ starts — his declining value and career-worst numbers may lower his price tag as the 2018 season approaches.
Wolfson notes that the Twins have engaged in “regular dialogue” with Miley’s agent this winter, but he’s far from the only starting pitcher they have their eye on. Right-handers Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Chris Tillman are still on their radar, among several others, and club owner Jim Pohlad said Saturday that he was “totally on board” with the idea of signing a big-name free agent like Darvish or another available starter. “There are some interesting names and some interesting opportunities there,” Pohlad told a crowd at TwinsFest. “I’m as intrigued by it as anybody and attracted to it as anybody.”