Joe Mauer was in the middle of another excellent season when he took a hard foul ball off the mask on August 19. He suffered a concussion and a month later he remains on the disabled list as attempts to come back have been stymied by dizziness and other symptoms.
Mauer has spent most of this week working out at home, away from the team, and general manager Terry Ryan told Jeff Kirshman of MLB.com that the Twins are encouraged enough by his progress that a Monday return is possible.
At the time of the concussion Mauer was hitting .324 with an .880 OPS in 113 games while throwing out a league-high 43 percent of steal attempts. Mauer’s normal backup, Ryan Doumit, is no longer catching this season due to a concussion of his own, so the Twins are going with rookies Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann behind the plate.
The Rays have traded right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, per team announcements on Saturday evening. The Twins will receive minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios in the deal. Despite previous speculation, recently-DFA’d outfielder Corey Dickerson was not included in the trade.
With Odorizzi, the Twins finally have the front-end starter they’ve been seeking all winter. It’s a bargain deal as well, as the 27-year-old righty is under contract through 2019 and didn’t require the club to part with any of their top-shelf prospects in the trade. Odorizzi will be looking to stage a comeback in 2018 after a dismal performance with the Rays last year, during which he eked out a career-worst 4.14 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 143 1/3 innings.
Palacios, 21, ranked no. 27 in the Twins’ system last season. He split his year between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, raking a combined .296/.333/.454 with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. He’s expected to continue developing at shortstop, though he’s also seen limited time at second and third base during his four-year career in the minors.