Falvey: Bullpen Upgrades “Not A Priority”
The twins have been active this offseason and have re-signed Carlo Correa while you meet new faces such as Pablo Lopez, Joey Gallo, Christian Vazquez, Michael A Taylor and Kyle Farmer. Things have been relatively quiet around the bullpen, however, and it doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon. The club’s baseball operations president, Derek Falvey, tells Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune that a significant expansion of the bullpen is not a pressing issue at this time. “If we had to do anything at this point, it would probably be to add depth in the middle [innings]’ said Falvey. “We remain open, but [relief pitching is] not a priority.”
Last year, the club’s auxiliary corps was firmly in midfield. Their collective 3.84 ERA ranked 15th among the 30 teams in the league, while their 3.85 FIP ranked 14th, their 3.79 xFIP 10th, and their 3.50 SIERA ninth. This group was also hit when the deadline was taken over Michael Fulmer reached free agency, although he remains unsigned.
It seems that Falvey and the other decision makers in Minnesota have a lot of confidence in their internal options. George Lopez was acquired by the Orioles on effective date last year but has two years of club control remaining. “We did our bullpen shopping at [trade] Deadline last year by adding some depth, added Jorge [López]’ said Falvey. After many years of mediocre performance as a starter, López transitioned to a full-time role in 2022 with great results. In 44 appearances for the O’s, he posted a 1.68 ERA while hitting grounders with a 60% clip, hitting 27.6% of faced batters and walking 8.7%. Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep up that pace after the trade, with a 4.37 ERA, 53.7% grounder rate, 17.6% strikeout rate, and 13.7% walk rate as a twin .
López will be looking for a rebound after that frustrating end to his 2022 season, although the club also have other intriguing names in the mix who could rise. Jhoan Duran was primarily a starter in the minors but cracked the majors in a relief role last year and completely dominated. He threw 67 2/3 innings over 57 appearances with a 1.86 ERA, hitting Grounder with a 61% clip while hitting 33.5% of opponents and walking just 6% of them. “He has adapted to a new role at the highest level faster than we had hoped,” said Falvey.
To others in the mix encouraging her, Falvey had this to say: “We’ve been watching Grab Jax develop into someone we can rely on. What Jovani Moran did last month of the season, he can really build on that.” Jax also went from a starter to a reliever in 2022 and while he didn’t match Durán’s results he still did well. With 65 appearances last year, he finished the year with a 3.36 ERA, 47.3% groundball rate, 26.9% strikeout rate and 6.9% walk rate. Moran, on the other hand, put up a 2.21 ERA in 40 2/3 innings and kept the ball on the ground at a speed of 48.9% while eliminating 32.9% of batters faced, despite scoring 11% went from them.
Though Falvey admits they may still make a small addition, they seem to feel like they already have the high-leverage weapons they need. “We feel like we covered the eighth and ninth innings,” he says. Other aides likely to be in the club’s bullpen are among others Kaleb Thielbar, Emilio Pagan, Jorge Alcala and Trevor Megil.