Minnesota Twins Free Agent Signings Part 2

We Continue to Break Down the Twins’ Free Agent Signings

We have already broken down the chances for Ben Paulsen, Matt Hague, and Tommy Fields. Today, we’ll look at some other Twins’ signees and their hopes to make the final 25 and the trip north to Target Field.

Outfielders: J.B. Shuck & Leandro Castro

Shuck is a name many Twins fans are familiar with, after playing for both the A.L. Central Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox over the past three seasons.

Other than 2013, when Shuck finished 5th in the Rookie of the Year race, he hasn’t played a full season in the majors. That year, Shuck slashed .293 AVG / .331 OBP / .697 OPS / 60 R / 39 RBI while spending time in the same outfield with Mike Trout.

In 2014, Shuck spent most of his time at AAA, getting beat out by the more powerful bats of Kole Calhoun and Collin Cowgill in the Angels’ Spring Training.

After that season, he was traded to the Indians, before making his way to the White Sox the following year.

Over the past three seasons, the 29-year old Shuck has been platooning, usually facing righties (80% of his at-bats).

While it’s true most of his collecting numbers are higher batting versus righties, his slash line is actually better against lefties.

Versus righties: .204 / .248 / .540 as a left-handed hitter. Batting the same versus lefties: .237 / .318 / .621 – not really what a manager is looking for in late-inning situations against tough right-handed relievers from a left-handed batter.

But, Shuck is a reliable outfielder, making highlight plays in the field. According to FanGraphs, he has made a catch 29% of the time when the opportunity is remote – only a 1-10% chance at making the play.

In unlikely situations (10-40%), he makes the catch 67% of the time. By comparison, Byron Buxton rates 8% (remote) and 50% (unlikely). So if management is looking for a solid glove in late-inning situations defensively, Shuck’s their man.

Leandro Castro, 27, spent nine years in the Philadelphia Phillies organization before playing independent ball last year. His 10-year average is just .279 but he seemed to have found his stroke over the past two, hitting above .315 in each season.

What Castro brings with him is some speed, stealing over 20 bases four times in his minor league career – though his success rate is at just 70%. His chances of making it Minneapolis may be low, but he will help provide depth at the AAA level, and be a reliable glove and pinch runner if called up.

Catchers: Dan Rohlfing & Eddy Rodriguez

Rohlfing was originally drafted by the Twins in 2007, and played eight seasons for Minnesota in the minors – reaching AAA Rochester in 2013.

Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A tough year at the plate in 2014 (.205 AVG, 25% strikeout rate), and getting hurt in minor league spring training in 2015 led to the Twins trading him to the New York Mets’ AAA team in Las Vegas.

After stints with the Mets and Arizona Diamondbacks, Rohlfing elected free agency last fall to sign with the Twins. Considering the lack of catching depth in the Twins’ system, it was a smart bet on Rohlfing’s part to do so.

Solid behind the plate, he finally put together a good year at the plate for Reno in the Pacific Coast League – .289 AVG, 45 points above his minor league average. He also slugged a career-high .474, with 15 of his 39 hits going for extra bases.

Rohlfing needs to have a breakout Spring Training, and “hope” for injuries in order for him to finally make his major league debut.

Meanwhile, Eddy Rodriguez just wants to get back to the big leagues. He’s one of those rare players who have had but a cup of coffee in the show.

Rarer still, Rodriguez homered in his first career plate appearance, as a San Diego Padre off Johnny Cueto in August of 2012. He played in one more game four days later before being sent down once again.

Rodriguez has bounced around the minors since 2006 with the Reds, independent leagues, the Padres, Tampa, and finally the Yankees.

Last year, he scuffled at the plate once again, hitting only .214 in an injury-plagued season. Unfortunately for Rodriguez, that showing at the plate was just 15 points below his career average. He elected free agency after the season.

He too sees his best chance to make it to the majors is with the Twins. At 31, the Cuban-born Rodriguez is looking at probably his last chance.

Notes: Twins signed more players today to minor league deals with invitations to Spring Training, including six pitchers. Among them is Alex Wimmers, who pitched briefly with the Twins last season. More on those signings this weekend.

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