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.
Even Drellich of The Athletic reports that the Boston Red Sox are cutting the pay of team employees. Those cuts, which began to be communicated last night, apply to all employees making $50,000 or more. They are tiered cuts, with people making $50-99,000 seeing salary cut by 20%, those making $100k-$499,000 seeing $25% cuts and those making $500,000 or more getting 30% cuts.
Drellich reported that a Red Sox employee told him that “people are livid” over the fact that those making $100K are being treated the same way as those making $500K. And, yes, that does seem to be a pretty wide spread for similar pay cuts. One would think that a team with as many analytically-oriented people on staff could perhaps break things down a bit more granularly.
Notable in all of this that the same folks who own the Red Sox — Fenway Sports Group — own Liverpool FC of the English Premier League, and that just last month Liverpool’s pay cut/employee furlough policies proved so unpopular that they led to a backlash and a subsequent reversal by the club. That came after intense criticism from Liverpool fan groups and local politicians. Sox owner John Henry must be confident that no such backlash will happen in Boston.
As we noted yesterday, The Kansas City Royals, who are not as financially successful as the Boston Red Sox, have not furloughed employees or cut pay as a result of baseball’s shutdown in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Perhaps someone in Boston could call the Royals and ask them how they managed that.