The Twins and right-handed reliever Matt Belisle have agreed to a one-year deal, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (Twitter link). The CAA Sports client will earn a guaranteed $2.05MM, tweets Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.
After its bullpen finished 2016 with the majors’ fifth-worst ERA and eighth-worst fWAR, rebuilding Minnesota has spent the past few months searching for capable relievers. Belisle, who’s coming off a terrific campaign with the Nationals, is the Twins’ first notable bullpen addition of the offseason. The 36-year-old yielded a minuscule 1.76 ERA in 46 innings, compiled 6.26 K/9 against 1.37 BB/9 and posted a 47.2 percent ground-ball rate in 2016.
Belisle was also effective at preventing runs as a member of the Cardinals in 2015, when he posted somewhat similar numbers to last season (2.67 ERA, 6.68 K/9, 52.4 percent grounder rate), though he did record a lofty BB/9 (4.01) across 33 2/3 frames.
The Twins will be the sixth major league team for Belisle, who spent time as both a starter and reliever with the Reds between 2003-08 before a six-year run in Colorado from 2009-14. Belisle was eminently reliable from 2010-12; at his best in Colorado, he tossed a career-high 92 innings of 2.93 ERA pitching and logged 8.9 K/9 against 1.57 BB/9 in 2010. He’ll now aim for another successful year in Minnesota, which will add Belisle to a late-game mix that will also feature the likes of Brandon Kintzler, the currently rehabbing Glen Perkins, Ryan Pressly and Trevor May, among others.
Given that the Twins don’t figure to contend for a playoff spot in 2017, Belisle could find himself on the move around the summer trade deadline if he fares well over the first few months of the season.
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