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AL Central Notes: Vazquez, Malloy, Bubic

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Now with more clarity on their broadcasting situation established for 2024, the Twins have started to make some significant offseason moves, including the Jorge Polanco trade and the signing of Carlos Santana.  Since rumors about Polanco’s possible departure have swirled for months, it stands to reason that the Twins could also now finally move other trade candidates as Max Kepler or Christian Vazquez, though The Athletic’s Aaron Gleeman writes that there hasn’t been any real steam on a possible salary-shedding Vazquez trade.”

Minnesota was reportedly speaking with teams about potential Vazquez deals back in November, though Gleeman and Dan Hayes wrote at the time that a trade may not be too likely, both due to Vazquez’s $20MM in remaining salary and the catcher’s very disappointing 2023 campaign.  In their most recent piece, Gleeman and Hayes agree that a Vazquez trade may still be something of a longshot, with the Twins’ desire to retain catching depth also acting as a factor.  If Vazquez was dealt, Ryan Jeffers would step into the starting catching role and either rookie Jair Camargo or another veteran addition would be the backup, so Minnesota might prefer to stand pat.

More from the AL Central…

  • After playing third base in college and at the start of his pro career in 2021, Justyn-Henry Malloy now looks to be on more or less a full-time path as a corner outfielder, and the Tigers prospect told Evan Petzold of the Detroit Free Press that he has spent the winter preparing for this role.  “Every day, I’m out here shagging fly balls and making throws to bases,” Malloy said. “I want to be a player that my pitchers can trust….It’s something that I circle on my day, that we’re going to do some defense and get better.  That’s been my mentality all offseason.”  Baseball America ranked Malloy as the sixth-best prospect in Detroit’s system and also cited him as one of 15 players who just missed making their 2024 edition of the sport’s best prospects, noting that Malloy has a good throwing arm but struggled with accuracy in throwing from third to first base.  While Malloy’s defensive future is still a question mark, his bat already seems big league-ready — Malloy hit .277/.417/.474 with 23 home runs over 611 plate appearances with Triple-A Toledo in 2023.
  • Kris Bubic underwent Tommy John surgery last April, and the Royals southpaw told Jaylon Thompson of the Kansas City Star that he is now about 10 days away from his first bullpen session.  Bubic expects to return around the middle of the season given the usual TJ recovery timeline, and he is taking the opportunity during his rehab to make some mechanical changes, as well as looking forward to continue work on developing a slider as a new pitch in his arsenal.  Bubic was the 40th overall pick of the 2018 draft, and is one of several well-regarded Royals pitching prospects who have yet to really break out at the big league level, thus greatly hampering Kansas City’s rebuild efforts.  The Tommy John procedure provided yet another obstacle for the 26-year-old Bubic, who has a 4.85 ERA over 325 career Major League innings.



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