Moving from the Unknown to the Unlikely, here’s one of the better relievers that could nonetheless be available to the Atlanta Braves.
This reliever profile is one that the Atlanta Braves likely would not turn to first, simply because he’s left-handed. Sorry to spoil this one right up front, but that’s the reality.
Truth is, though, there’s zero chance that anyone would have anticipated that the Twins’ Taylor Rogers would even be discussed in a “trade deadline target” context before this season began.
The Twins have been an unqualified disaster this year. Expected to compete against the White Sox for the AL Central title, they have flopped in a big way, currently in last place at 34-48 as this is being written — after beating Kansas City on Sunday.
They have the second-worst run differential in the American League and third-worst record. At 14.5 games out, the only thing the Minnesota front office needs to be thinking about now is “2022”.
In that regard, closer Rogers would not be a throwaway for them at the deadline: he’s got another year of team control and this team should be able to resurrect itself over the next off-season. So their first choice likely would be “keep him”.
At the same time, though, he’s making $6 million now and that will undoubtedly escalate to something in the $10 million range for 2022, and the club has been pushing the top reaches of their payroll limits in recent years.
Rogers, for his part, is 30½ years old and has been closing games with regularity since 2019 (30 saves that season).
He has just 7 this year — with 2 blown saves — but that speaks as much about his team as his own performance.
In 32 games, he’s thrown 33 innings and struck out 44 hitters while walking just six. His WHIP is 1.121, and 3 hit balls have left the yard… in total giving him a 2.73 ERA.
In 21 outings, Rogers has faced the minimum number of hitters for the outs he’s recorded or just 1 hitter more than that.
The trick for the Atlanta Braves? Rogers throws with the wrong hand.
Rogers is worth discussing in this context, because he is likely to get consideration for a trade this Summer now that his team is all but officially dead and buried.
However, as much as Atlanta would love to have a “co-closer” available to complement Will Smith, that man would absolutely need to be right-handed: that would provide a chance for good match-up opportunities, while also not forcing the team to rely exclusively on Smith for late-inning protection.
Rogers is liable to be a bit more costly in a deal than the average reliever, too… on top of covering his salary, the Twins — again, they don’t have to move him at all — would insist on a solid prospect in return… perhaps a Top 5 from any team’s system.
If that’s indeed the price, I expect they will get it late this month.
But the Braves will almost certainly pass on Rogers as a trade option: there are other viable options available for them… and there is no need to add another southpaw closer to their stable.