Three weeks ago the Twins fired or reassigned all but one member of Ron Gardenhire’s coaching staff, which was a huge change for an organization that had fired a grand total of one coach during the previous decade.
Today the Twins announced the new coaching staff and it includes two of the “reassigned” coaches simply switching jobs.
First, the new guys: Tom Brunansky is the new hitting coach, Bobby Cuellar is the new bullpen coach, and Terry Steinbach is the new bench/catching coach. Brunansky and Cuellar were the hitting and pitching coaches at Triple-A and Steinbach is a native Minnesotan who finished his career with the Twins.
And now the reassigned guys: Joe Vavra, who was the hitting coach, is now the third base coach. Scott Ullger, who was the bench coach, is now the first base coach. Prior to being moved to bench coach Ullger previously had stints as the Twins’ hitting coach and third base coach, so he’s basically filled every possible role at this point.
It’s not often you see a hitting coach and a bench coach demoted to base coaches, but it fits with the Twins’ overall reluctance to make sweeping changes. Even when they shake things up they still can’t quite say goodbye to longtime staffers and in the end first base coach Jerry White, third base coach Steve Liddle, and bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek are the only members of the 2012 staff who won’t be on the 2013 staff.
The Red Sox have more or less withdrawn from the Edwin Encarnacion sweepstakes, with Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald noting that much of their reluctance hinges on the likelihood that they’d exceed the new $195 million luxury tax threshold by locking the DH into a lucrative deal. That doesn’t leave them without options, however, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the club could be interested in 29-year-old corner infielder Pedro Alvarez, as well as fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Matt Holliday.
After playing just 10 games at DH from 2010 to 2015, Alvarez suited up as the Orioles’ primary designated hitter and part-time third baseman in 2016. His defense is sub-par, to say the least, but he batted .249/.322/.504 with 22 home runs for Baltimore in 2016.
According to Heyman, the Red Sox envision using Alvarez in much the same way the Orioles did. He’d have a place as the team’s DH with the occasional infield start, while Hanley Ramirez would keep his post at first base. Whether the Red Sox make offers to Napoli, Holliday or Alvarez, they’re expected to pursue a short-term deal in order to stay under budget.
The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.
Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.
In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.
While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).