Twins trade for Rays reliever Kevin Jepsen

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Bullpen help has been an obvious need for Minnesota and the Twins finally addressed it, acquiring right-hander Kevin Jepsen from the Rays in exchange for minor leaguers Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia.

Jepsen throws in the mid-90s, but his strikeout rates have generally been underwhelming for a late-inning reliever and his control is poor. This season he has a nice-looking 2.81 ERA, but it comes with a sub par 34/20 K/BB ratio in 42 innings.

For his career, spanning parts of eight seasons for the Angels and Rays, he has a 3.80 ERA with 8.5 strikeouts per nine innings and 3.6 walks per nine innings while holding opponents to a .252 batting average.

Jepsen is a decent enough bullpen arm and should be at least a slight upgrade over the right-handed setup men the Twins have used for most of the year in Blaine Boyer and Casey Fien, but that’s a pretty low bar to clear. He’s making $3 million this season and is under team control for 2016 via arbitration, with a likely cost of at least $5 million.

Hu is a Single-A right-hander with good results and mediocre raw stuff, ranking among the team’s top 20 prospects coming into the season and improving his stock since then. Tapia is a 19-year-old rookie-ball starter signed out of Venezuela and hasn’t really emerged on the prospect radar much yet.

Royals fire manager Mike Matheny after 65-97 end to season

Minnesota Twis v Kansas City Royals
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Cal Eldred were fired by the Kansas Cty Royals on Wednesday night, shortly after the struggling franchise finished the season 65-97 with a listless 9-2 loss to the Cleveland Guardians.

The Royals had exercised their option on Matheny’s contract for 2023 during spring training, when the club hoped it was turning the corner from also-ran to contender again. But plagued by poor pitching, struggles from young position players and failed experiments with veterans, the Royals were largely out of playoff contention by the middle of summer.

The disappointing product led owner John Sherman last month to fire longtime front office executive Dayton Moore, the architect of back-to-back American League champions and the 2015 World Series title team. Moore was replaced by one of his longtime understudies, J.J. Picollo, who made the decision to fire Matheny hours after the season ended.

Matheny became the fifth big league manager to be fired this year.

Philadelphia’s Joe Girardi was replaced on June 3 by Rob Thomson, who engineered a miraculous turnaround to get the Phillies into the playoffs as a wild-card team. The Angels replaced Joe Maddon with Phil Nevin four days later, Toronto’s Charlie Montoyo was succeeded by John Schneider on July 13 and the Rangers’ Chris Woodward by Tony Beasley on Aug. 15.

In addition, Miami’s Don Mattingly said late last month that he will not return next season.