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Twins look for backstop to pair with Ryan Jeffers as catcher market heats up

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal linked the Twins to Christian Vazquez, who split last season between Boston and Houston, hitting .274 and posting a 99 OPS+ in 119 games played.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Seattle Mariners Ryan Jeffers
Minnesota Twins catcher Ryan Jeffers slides safely home on Wednesday, June 15, 2022, to score during the ninth inning as Seattle Mariners catcher Luis Torrens waits for the throw at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
Lindsey Wasson / USA Today Sports
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SAN DIEGO — While most of the attention has been focused on the Minnesota Twins’ pursuit of Carlos Correa, it’s actually the catching market, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said, that has been the most active at the Winter Meetings.

And the Twins are plenty engaged.

Falvey said both the free agent market and the trade market have been “probably one of the more active early conversations” for the Twins, who are seeking a replacement for Gary Sanchez.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal linked the Twins to Christian Vazquez, who split last season between Boston and Houston, hitting .274 and posting a 99 OPS+ in 119 games played. The 32-year-old veteran is also reportedly garnering interest from the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Padres and Cleveland Guardians.

twins-mugs-ryan-jeffers-2022.jpg
Ryan Jeffers

While re-signing Correa is a priority for the Twins, adding another catcher to pair with Ryan Jeffers is a need that the Twins must address this offseason. Jeffers is the only catcher on the 40-man roster with Sanchez now out of the picture. Sandy Leon, acquired at the trade deadline last August, also is a free agent.

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“Where we sit right now, we really believe in Ryan, think he’s going to be a big part of our future. But we obviously need another one, and nobody catches just one person anymore,” Falvey said. “It’s been a lot of active dialogue. … It’s much more active than maybe some of the other markets right now for us.”

Injury updates

No news is good news for the Twins, who after a season full of injuries believe everyone is currently on track with their rehab.

“I don’t think there’s anybody that something has popped up on that we’d feel concerned about in any way,” Falvey said.

Alex Kirilloff, who had season-ending wrist surgery for the second straight year, is feeling good, Falvey said, and has started his hitting progression. Byron Buxton had a full checkup when he returned to the Twin Cities for the jersey unveiling and is in a good place, too. Same goes for starter Tyler Mahle, who was shut down late in the season with shoulder issues.

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Nick Paparesta, the new trainer hired this offseason after Michael Salazar was dismissed, has been “hyper-communicative” with players and staff members, Falvey said, as he begins fostering new relationships.

“He has some intention to go see a few of them, too, just to continue to build that relationship,” Falvey said.

Briefly

The first MLB draft lottery will be held on Tuesday in San Diego and the Twins hold a 0.9% chance of winding up with the first overall selection. The first six selections of the 2023 draft will be decided via the lottery, and all 18 teams that did not make the postseason are eligible. Washington, Oakland and Pittsburgh each hold a 16.5% chance at the first overall pick.

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