Tony La Russa officially named Matt Cain his All-Star starter at this afternoon’s press conference and also unveiled the National League lineup, with Carlos Gonzalez as the designated hitter/leadoff man and the past two MVPs, Ryan Braun and Joey Votto, batting third and fourth:
1. Carlos Gonzalez, DH
2. Melky Cabrera, CF
3. Ryan Braun, LF
4. Joey Votto, 1B
5. Carlos Beltran, RF
6. Buster Posey, C
7. Pablo Sandoval, 3B
8. Dan Uggla, 2B
9. Rafael Furcal, SS
Unlike the other eight starters Gonzalez wasn’t voted in by the fans, but because the NL ballot didn’t include a designated hitter choice the spot was left to La Russa’s preference. It’s not often you see a leadoff man with a .578 slugging percentage, but Gonzalez has hit leadoff in a regular season game 107 times in his career, including 33 times last season.
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.”