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Falvey on Maeda deal: 'We really wanted Kenta'

@dohyoungpark
February 11, 2020

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kenta Maeda hadn't yet arrived in the Twins' clubhouse on Tuesday as pitchers and catchers trickled in ahead of Wednesday's report date at Hammond Stadium. Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey was just happy that he and general manager Thad Levine were able to get

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Kenta Maeda hadn't yet arrived in the Twins' clubhouse on Tuesday as pitchers and catchers trickled in ahead of Wednesday's report date at Hammond Stadium. Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey was just happy that he and general manager Thad Levine were able to get on the phone with the club’s newest pitcher on Monday night after a long week of negotiations.

"Obviously, this one became a bit more public a little earlier on in the process than would be ideal," Falvey said. "But I would say that we certainly continued to work and figure out a solution, because we really wanted Kenta, and found a way to go."

Falvey said that the Twins' interest in Maeda began with some conversations with the Dodgers around the Winter Meetings in mid-December and picked up over the last several weeks as Los Angeles engaged in discussions with Boston regarding the trade that sent Mookie Betts to the West Coast.

Though the originally reported three-team deal between the Dodgers, Red Sox and Twins didn't go through as planned, Falvey said that the Twins turned their focus toward working directly with the Dodgers in order to get a deal done. The Twins wanted Maeda in Minnesota -- even at the cost of Brusdar Graterol, the top pitching prospect in their organization.

"I will say, personally, it’s hard to part with young talent, ever," Falvey said. "It's never comfortable. But when you have the ability to acquire a pitcher who we think is of Maeda's caliber, [who can] make an impact for this current roster -- we made a lot of decisions this offseason to invest in the now. That’s been our stated goal from the start of the offseason until today."

All the chaos left Graterol in a difficult position, as the 21-year-old was left at the Twins' complex in Fort Myers not knowing where he would end up, with questions of his health swirling due to reports that the Red Sox held up the trade after an evaluation of his medical records. Falvey was already down in Fort Myers and worked with Fred Guerrero, the Twins' Latin America scouting director, to provide the young right-hander with support during the difficult process.

"We were very communicative with him, and I tried to just make sure we were there to answer as many questions as is possible, and give him what I could at the time," Falvey said. "At the end of the day, I just want to treat him with as much respect as he’s owed and deserved, and I wanted to control it from our side of things as best we could."

Twins hope to get Buxton into games by mid-March
A cheerful Byron Buxton was briefly spotted in the Twins' clubhouse on Tuesday, well ahead of next Monday's full-squad report date. According to manager Rocco Baldelli, Buxton is swinging a bat as part of his recovery from a September labrum surgery, and the Twins hope to have their center fielder in games by mid-March as part of a measured ramp-up to Opening Day.

"Just in my own mind, I had expectations; he’s probably above that level," Baldelli said. "I think he feels great, so he’s ramping things up. We're going to keep him at a good, steady pace because the goal is to get Buck ready so he's ready to play Opening Day, and that's really what our focus is going to be on."

Dammann to organize Spring Training
From bullpen catcher to quality control coach, Nate Dammann has quickly worked his way into a more prominent role on the club's coaching staff. His expanding reach will encompass the planning of the Spring Training schedule this season following the departure of former bench coach Derek Shelton, who organized camp last year but now manages the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"He knows what we do," Baldelli said. "He knows this complex. He knows our process very, very well. He’s prepared for it well. I’m excited to watch it go, and [new bench coach] Mike Bell is going to do a lot of presenting and speaking to the group and things like that. He'll lead a lot of the on-field discussion, too. It'll be a group effort. I'm excited to watch our staff come together and go."

Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.