Taylor had interest in returning to Twins before signing with Pirates

PITTSBURGH – The Twins pushed to bring Michael A. Taylor back to their outfield when he was a free agent at the beginning of spring training.

Instead, the first time they saw him this year was Friday at PNC Park wearing a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform.

"I won't get into the details of the conversations, but interest is one thing and putting something on paper is another," Taylor said. "I really enjoyed my time there, and I would've gone back, but it's not always up to me."

When the Twins didn't reach a deal with Taylor, they traded for Manuel Margot, assuming $4 million for the final year of Margot's contract. Taylor later signed a one-year, $4 million deal with the Pirates.

It's been a rough offensive season for Taylor, who is hitting .198 with one homer, nine RBI and 51 strikeouts in 47 games. He didn't use his abbreviated spring training as an excuse — he's one of several late signings to struggle — but he received only nine at-bats before the season started.

"Did it weigh on me? I would say a little bit," said Taylor, who didn't sign until March 16. "I wanted to be playing, and I wanted to start my year and get ready to build off what I did last year. At the same time, I wanted to have perspective with the opportunity I was given to have a little bit more time at home with my family. I was kind of torn between the two. I enjoyed the time at home but then also was happy to get going once that deal got done."

If Taylor had returned to the Twins, he likely would've been in a different role than he had last year because Byron Buxton returned to center field. Did that affect Taylor's interest in the Twins' offer?

"It didn't even get that far, honestly," he said.

Taylor started 110 games in center field last season with Buxton limited to designated hitter. He says he's "very happy" to see his friend roaming the outfield once again.

Reflecting on last season, Taylor praised the "great clubhouse" the team had.

"I think we had everything it took to be a championship team," said Taylor, who won a World Series title with the Washington Nationals in 2019. "Obviously, the playoffs are challenging, and there are a lot of things that have to go your way at the time. You have to click at the right time. We just fell a little short, but I definitely think the pieces were there."

Second tier?

The Twins would make the playoffs as a wild-card team if the season ended Friday, but they're 0-14 against the New York Yankees, Cleveland Guardians and Baltimore Orioles — the three teams with the best records in the American League.

"There have been a handful of games against those teams that we played games that we could have very easily or maybe even should have won, and we didn't," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "We played a lot of games against those teams where we just got beat, too. The fact that we haven't won a game, it's a pretty bold print, easy typed-up statement. There are no ways around those facts."

The Twins, swept in their six-game season series against the Yankees on Thursday, are 0-5 vs. Cleveland, and they were swept in a three-game series in Baltimore in April.

"We just have to play better baseball, go out there with confidence, do our jobs and win. That's it," Baldelli said. "We haven't beaten those teams, and you probably look at every other game we've played this year for the entire season, and we've played our butts off in all those other games and played really well."


• Hayden Senger hit an RBI double off Ryan Jensen in the 10th inning to send Syracuse to a 3-2 victory over the Saints at CHS Field. Twins top pitching prospect David Festa gave up two runs on five hits in five innings, striking out six and walking one.

• Twins prospect Emmanuel Rodriguez, the 21-year-old center fielder who has posted a .479 on-base percentage in 37 games at Class AA this year, was placed on the injured list Friday with a right thumb sprain.