Minnesota now interested in Keuchel, Kimbrel

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It’s not a matter of the Twins choosing between left-hander Dallas Keuchel and closer Craig Kimbrel. At least for now.

That’s because the Twins are interested in signing both Keuchel and Kimbrel, moves that would fortify a club that has surged to baseball’s best record.

Two sources with knowledge of the Twins plans confirmed their interest on Sunday.

The market dried up for both pitchers because teams would have to forfeit a pick if they signed before draft day, and teams covet their draft picks.

Mostly because teams would lose the slot money from their pool of bonus money that’s attached to each pick.

But those concerns ended late Sunday night, and the Twins have been in discussions with agents for both pitchers.

Kimbrel, 31, was 5-1 with a 2.74 ERA and 42 saves for the Red Sox last season.

There were reports during the offseason that Kimbrel wanted a whopping $100 million over six years, which teams refused to pay.

Now reports have him amenable to a three-year deal.

He had a 4.57 ERA during the second half last season and gave up eight runs in 14 innings during the postseason.

Still, he has 333 career saves, the Twins could use a proven arm in the bullpen.

And the Twins are believed to have more interest in Kimbrel, at this point, than Keuchel.

The Rays, Braves and Cubs are among teams in touch with Kimbrel as well.

But Keuchel, the 2015 Cy Young award winner, would bring an experienced arm to the starting rotation while allowing the Twins to move a current member of the rotation, Michael Pineda perhaps, into the bullpen.

Since he’s in his first season back following Tommy John surgery, Pineda’s innings should be monitored closely.

Keuchel sought a five-year deal during offseason free agency, but teams didn’t bite.

He recently let it be known that he’s willing to sign a one-year deal as long as it’s not lower than the $17.9 million qualifying offer he turned down from Houston.

The red flags with Keuchel are that he’s been on the disabled list in two of the last three seasons and his strikeout rate dropped from 7.7 per nine innings in 2017 to 6.7 last season.

His career average is 7.2. But the Twins might be willing to take a shot at Keuchel on a one-year deal.

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