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Twins interested in Reds closer Raisel Iglesias

Iglesias would definitely be an upgrade to the Twins bullpen, but how strong is that shoulder?

Milwaukee Brewers v Cincinnati Reds
Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It’s no secret the Twins are in need of pitching, both in the starting rotation and the bullpen. Though free agent help is available, signing those guys can be pretty spendy for teams with smaller budgets like the Twins. But there are other options — like trades.

Reports came out over the weekend that the Twins are already doing their “due diligence” on possible trade targets, explicitly by inquiring about Cincinnati Reds closer Raisel Iglesias.

The 28-year-old Cuban defector posted a 2.49 ERA and 2.70 FIP over 76.0 innings in 2017, and also had 28 saves, if you’re still into that stat. His arsenal includes pretty good slider and changeup, and a fastball that can hit the 90s mph.

Before the Reds signed Inglesias in 2014, he pitched for three year’s as one of the best relievers in Cuba’s top baseball league, Serie Nacional. Iglesias did make a few spot starts there, too, and when the Reds signed him, they apparently intended to use him as a starting pitcher. After making 16 starts as a rookie in 2015 and five more starts in 2016, injuries required a move back to the bullpen. So 2017 was actually Iglesias’s first full year as a reliever in MLB.

Iglesias has an unusual contract as well. The Reds signed Iglesias right around the time international bonus pool rules were changing in 2014, but MLB granted Iglesias and two other Cubans a special exception. As a result, Iglesias was exempt from the international bonus pool limits, so the Reds were able to hand him a seven-year deal worth $27 million. Given Igelias’s age and amount of service time in Cuba, that would not be possible anymore.

So Iglesias is good and under team control until 2022 — both things that are quite desirable to the Twins. Though Iglesias is earning more than a typical player with only 2.15-ish years of major league service time, his contract is pretty affordable if he continues to perform well.

Which brings me to the possible downsides of trading for Igelsias. Those shoulder injuries I mentioned earlier, the ones that required him to move back to the bullpen? Those are troublesome. Igelsias has been shut down multiple times with shoulder impingements and fatigue. (He also missed time in spring training earlier this year because he injured his hip and elbow falling over in the shower, which is really neither here nor there, but I thought it was amusing.) Were these issues fixed by Iglesias going back to relieving, or will they possibly rear their ugly head again down the road?

Another possible downside is the potential cost for Igelsias, in terms of what the Twins would need to give up to acquire him. The very things that make Igelsias desirable to the Twins make him desirable to the Reds and other teams as well. How much would it take to get the deal done, and is it worth it for a reliever? It could be; it also could not be. (See, isn’t speculation fun?)

However, I trust Derek Falvey and Thad Levine based on the moves they’ve already made. They’ve been thoughtful and prudent in all their signings and hirings so far, so I don’t see some sort of Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps type debacle happening. IT’s also not clear from the reports at how serious they are about actually acquiring Iglesias.

MLB are holding their GM Meetings this week in Orlando, FL. Though those meetings aren’t so much focused on trades and the like, maybe some talks will happen.