The Twins have claimed right-hander Matt Wisler off waivers from the Mariners, per an announcement from the Seattle organization. Minnesota opened three roster spots yesterday when outrighting Ronald Torreyes, Ian Miller and Ryan LaMarre, so a corresponding move wasn’t necessary.
Wisler, 27, was once one of the game’s top pitching prospects and was even a key piece in the trade that sent Craig Kimbrel from Atlanta to San Diego. The 2011 seventh-rounder has never really found his footing in the big leagues, though, and was shifted from a starting role to a bullpen setting back in 2017. That change didn’t prove fruitful, however, and he’s since bounced from Atlanta, to Cincinnati, back to San Diego, to Seattle and now to Minneapolis.
This past season, Wisler totaled 51 1/3 innings between the Padres and Mariners but struggled to a 5.61 ERA in that time. Home runs were his primary undoing, as the former top prospect yielded an average of 1.75 long balls per nine innings pitched.
Be that as it may, however, Wisler nonetheless provided cause for optimism. He averaged a hefty 11.1 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 while posting a gaudy 14.9 percent swinging-strike rate and 37.7 percent chase rate on pitches outside the strike zone. Wisler’s curveball ranked in the 72nd percentile among MLB pitchers in terms of spin rate, and while his 92.8 mph average fastball velocity isn’t exactly formidable in today’s game, it’s only slightly below the league average 93.1 mph.
If the Twins want to get a look at Wisler in Spring Training, though, likely need to be prepared to carry him on the 40-man roster all winter, as they can’t pass him through waivers themselves and be assured of keeping him. Even if he goes unclaimed on waivers a second time, he has the requisite service time to elect free agency. Wisler is also out of minor league options, so he’d need to break camp with the Twins or another club next year or else be designated for assignment.