Source: Twins land Maeda in Mookie blockbuster
Top prospect Graterol headed to Red Sox in three-team trade
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins reportedly added another impactful starting pitcher on Tuesday night, but paid a significant price to do so. A source confirmed to MLB.com's Mark Feinsand that the Twins acquired starting pitcher Kenta Maeda from the Dodgers and sent top pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol to the Red Sox as part of the three-team blockbuster that reportedly sent Boston's Mookie Betts and David Price to Los Angeles.
The clubs have not confirmed the deal.
TWINS GET: RHP Kenta Maeda (from LAD)
RED SOX GET: OF Alex Verdugo (from LAD), RHP Brusdar Graterol (MLB Pipeline's No. 83 prospect, from MIN)
DODGERS GET: OF Mookie Betts, LHP David Price, cash (all from BOS)
Even after signing Josh Donaldson to a four-year deal, the Twins were still in need of an upgrade to round out their starting rotation. In Maeda, Minnesota will add a consistent, durable pitcher to a suddenly deep group of veteran starters that gives the club plenty of options and insurance down the stretch.
José Berríos and Jake Odorizzi will remain fixtures at the head of the rotation, while the Twins will now have a wealth of options behind them between Maeda, Homer Bailey, Michael Pineda, Rich Hill and young arms like Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer and Sean Poppen. Veteran right-hander Jhoulys Chacín, who has playoff experience, will also be a non-roster invitee to Spring Training on a Minor League deal.
Graterol is indeed a steep price to pay for the Twins, and their willingness to deal the No. 3 prospect in the organization, per MLB Pipeline, and the No. 83 prospect in baseball, shows the club's desire to win now and take advantage of this window. Graterol's dazzling fastball velocity and movement gave him a high ceiling that was on full display in his Major League cameo at the end of the 2019 season. But the Twins had a need for experience and stability in their starting rotation and dealt from a current area of strength in their bullpen to address that immediate need.
Graterol was poised to pitch out of the bullpen for the time being, and his limited history of workload in the Minors due to injuries could have limited his ability to impact the club as a starter in the immediate future. The Twins still have a pair of highly regarded starting prospects in Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran who could impact the team as soon as this season. Balazovic was recently ranked No. 86 in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 and Duran is reportedly considered to be on the cusp of inclusion in that group as well.
Significantly, Maeda offers the Twins another starting option with significant playoff experience. The Twins have been open about the fact that they signed Hill to a one-year deal with the hope that the veteran left-hander can pitch impactful innings in October -- and possibly in the second half -- depending on the pace and quality of his recovery from offseason left elbow surgery that should keep him out of action until June or July.
With a 3.31 ERA in 32 2/3 career postseason innings, Maeda could prove solid insurance to the Twins for the stretch run and a possible playoff trip in case the 39-year-old Hill isn't fully effective in his return from surgery or Pineda requires an acclimation period in his return from suspension -- or any variety of similar situations. Maeda also pitched as a reliever in most of his postseason appearances due to the Dodgers' starting depth and could offer such flexibility.
Even outside of that value for the depth Maeda brings to the starting group, he also brings plenty to the table with his regular-season performances. He has a 3.87 ERA with 641 strikeouts in 589 career innings and has pitched at least 125 1/3 innings in each of his four Major League seasons. The Statcast metrics also back up this success, as his success in inducing weak contact with a variety of offerings actually suggests that he's underperforming his expected potential.
Maeda was in the 96th percentile of Major League pitchers in average exit velocity allowed last season and in the 95th percentile for hard-hit rate allowed.
Another important factor to consider is that Maeda is under team control through the 2023 season, as he was originally signed by the Dodgers to a very team-friendly, eight-year, $25 million deal. With Odorizzi, Hill and Bailey potentially due to become free agents next season, the flexibility that Maeda's contract could allow the Twins through their window of contention could be significant.