The Twins announced after tonight’s game that they’ve designated infielder/outfielder Taylor Motter for assignment in order to open a spot on the roster for right-hander Ervin Santana, who has been activated from the 60-day disabled list.
It’ll be the season debut for Santana, who underwent surgery on his the middle finger on his right hand back in February. Originally expected to miss around 12 weeks, Santana wound up missing the entire first half of the season (and then some) as his rehab proved to be considerably slower than expected. He’ll now join a Twins club that has significantly underperformed in 2018 and will almost certainly be acting as a seller leading up to the non-waiver trade deadline.
Santana himself, in fact, could emerge as a trade option for the Twins, though he’ll likely only have enough time to make a pair of starts (at best) before next Tuesday’s deadline. But, with $4.94MM of his $13.5MM salary still yet to be paid out, Santana may very well clear waivers in early August and allow the Twins to market him there. There’s a chance that Santana could be controlled into the 2019 season, be it by the Twins or another club, but he’d need to pitch quite well in the season’s final couple of months in order to convince a club to exercise his $14MM option for the 2019 season.
The 35-year-old Santana’s absence has played no small role in Minnesota’s 2018 flop, as he’d been the staff’s most consistent starter over the past two seasons. Dating back to 2016, Santana logged 392 2/3 innings of 3.32 ERA ball, averaging 7.2 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and 1.1 HR/9 with a roughly 42 percent ground-ball rate along the way. The Twins had hoped he’d pair with Jose Berrios to lead an improved rotation mix and make a run at the AL Central, but instead Minnesota has received no value any of Santana, Byron Buxton or Miguel Sano over the course of the season. As a result, players like Santana, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Zach Duke, Fernando Rodney and others will find themselves on the trade block in the coming days.
As for Motter, he was claimed off waivers after the Mariners designated him for assignment earlier this summer. The versatile 28-year-old managed just one hit in 23 plate appearances, though, missing time with a concussion along the way. The Twins will have a week to trade Motter or run him through outright waivers. He’s a career .190/.263/.313 hitter in the Majors (407 plate appearances), but he’s had considerably more success at the Triple-A level.