Twins Notebook: Abad attracting trade interest as deadline nears
DETROIT -- Veteran reliever Fernando Abad continues to attract trade interest as the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline draws closer, but the lefty's sporadic usage has given potential trade partners pause.After working on back-to-back days six times in ...
DETROIT -- Veteran reliever Fernando Abad continues to attract trade interest as the Aug. 1 non-waiver deadline draws closer, but the lefty’s sporadic usage has given potential trade partners pause.
After working on back-to-back days six times in the first two months of the season, Abad has done so just once in the past seven-plus weeks. He has made just eight appearances since June 16, posting a 9.00 earned-run average with seven walks and two home runs allowed in seven innings.
“He hasn’t had a ton of work,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “It’s just how it’s worked out. I think he has been throwing good. His arm is feeling strong. He’s still got that changeup at about three different speeds, depending how far he wants to downshift it.”
Molitor recalled two recent instances where Abad has touched 95 mph with his fastball. Both have come since going eight days between appearances because of a lower-back issue.
According to Abad, he suffered a lumbar strain on June 22 at home against the Philadelphia Phillies. After securing the final four outs to record his first career save, Abad jumped in celebration and wrenched his back.
“My back is fine now, but that’s how I hurt it,” Abad said.
He wouldn’t pitch again until June 30 at Chicago, where he walked two batters.
Earning just $1.25 million with the chance to pocket another $100,000 in performance bonuses, Abad has one more year of team control before hitting free agency for the first time after 2017. Considering the inflation on the situational lefty market last winter, his arbitration case as a five-plus player - which allows him to compare his results with recent free agents as well as those with five years of service time - could result in an aggressive raise.
Abad, 30, has been traded once before, but that was in November 2013 from Washington to Oakland. He is doing his best to block out midseason trade rumors.
“I like it here,” he said. “I’d like to stay here. Good teammates, good coaching staff, good situation.”
The Cleveland Indians, currently without a lefty in their bullpen, are known to be on the prowl for relief help from that side. National reports have suggested they will bid aggressively for high-end lefties such as Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller should the New York Yankees make them available.
If he can show he’s healthy, Abad could prove a solid second-tier option for contenders.
“I’m sure teams will come knocking on him,” said a scout from a National League contender with interest in Abad.
Thanks to a seven-week resurgence at the plate, Kurt Suzuki now ranks fifth among American League catchers in weighted runs created plus, a catch-all metric that adjusts for ballpark effect.
Of the 20 AL catchers with at least 100 plate appearances, Suzuki trails only all-stars Stephen Vogt (Oakland), Salvador Perez (Kansas City) and Brian McCann (New York Yankees) along with Jarrod Saltalamacchia of the Detroit Tigers.
At a career-best .289, Suzuki’s batting average was tied with Vogt for the lead among AL catchers entering Wednesday’s play.
“Kind of a return to what we saw a couple years ago,” Molitor said. “Just improved contact, a little bit of power that we’ve seen, but mostly I just think he’s been squaring more balls up.”
The Cleveland Indians, who just lost starting catcher Yan Gomes to a separated shoulder at Target Field on Sunday, figure to be among the teams weighing a run at Suzuki before the trade deadline.
“It’s just a confidence thing,” Molitor said. “He knows he can hit. This year, like a lot of guys, he had trouble getting out of the gate, but he’s got his numbers back up there really respectably. He’s getting the bulk of the playing time and he’s been responding.”