The Twins had one of the worst pitching staffs in the majors this season, finishing with a combined 4.77 ERA that ranked 28th out of baseball’s 30 teams.
It was a given that they’d try to do some patchwork this winter, but could a big splash be on the way?
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Twins have already made “inquiries” about a possible trade for Rays right-hander James Shields. Nothing is close, but it stands to reason that Tampa Bay will be open to making a deal involving Shields this offseason given their solid organizational rotation depth and cost-conscious methods.
Shields is owed $9 million in 2013 and carries a $12 million club option for the 2014 season. And unless something changes drastically, the Rays won’t have the money to lock him up long term.
Minnesota’s Chris Parmelee could be attractive, packaged with either Denard Span or Ben Revere.
Shields, 30, registered a sparkling 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 223/58 K/BB ratio across 227 2/3 innings (33 starts) this summer for the Rays. Cafardo suspects that the Dodgers will also make a run at him.
Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw entered Wednesday night’s start against the Marlins without having issued a walk in his previous three starts. In fact, his last walk came on April 3 when he issued a free pass to Paul Goldschmidt with the bases empty and two outs in the bottom of the first inning. All told, Kershaw was on a streak of 26 walk-less innings before he took the mound at home to take on the Marlins.
Kershaw started off Wednesday in character, striking out the side in the first inning. He issued a walk in a tough second inning, but escaped without allowing a run. Kershaw walked two more in the third and again danced out of danger. In the fourth, Kershaw walked Lewis Brinson to load the bases with no outs and — you guessed it — didn’t end up allowing a run. His errant control finally came back to bite him in the fifth when Kershaw issued back-to-back two-out walks, then served up a three-run home run to Miguel Rojas down the left field line. His night was done when he completed the inning. Five innings, three runs, five hits, six walks, seven strikeouts, 112 pitches.
The six walks Kershaw issued over five innings marked his first six-walk outing since April 7, 2010 when he issued six free passes to the Pirates in 4 2/3 innings. The only other time he walked as many was on August 3, 2009 against the Brewers in a four-plus inning outing. Kershaw hasn’t even walked five batters in an outing recently — the last time was September 23, 2012 against the Reds.