3:37PM: The Twins officially announced that Buxton and Pineda have been reinstated. LaMonte Wade Jr. was optioned to the alternate training site in a corresponding move, and righty Juan Minaya has been designated for assignment.
9:07AM: The Twins didn’t make any moves at the trade deadline but will still receive some key additions this week. Dan Hayes of The Athletic tweets that center fielder Byron Buxton will be activated from the injured list today, while right-hander Michael Pineda will return from his reduced 60-game PED suspension tonight as well. Third baseman Josh Donaldson will be reinstated from the IL tomorrow, Hayes adds.
The Twins have faceplanted over the past week, dropping six straight games to fall to third place in the American League Central. They’re still in playoff position but are now slotted in as a No. 7 seed under the expanded format, whereas they’d previously been in the mix for the top overall seed in the American League. There’s still time to right the ship, of course, particularly with six more games against the first-place White Sox and three more against the second-place Indians still on the schedule.
Buxton began the season in a 1-for-15 slump but has hit .264 with five homers and a .566 slugging percentage in 15 games since. Unfortunately, he’s only drawn one walk on the year, leaving him with an ugly slash line of .221/.225/.456. He’s been out since Aug. 20 due to shoulder inflammation, but the hope will be that he can continue his power output while showing a bit more discipline to boost that OBP in a meaningful way. Buxton’s glovework remains sound as ever; he’s checked in at +5 Defensive Runs Saved and a +3.0 Ultimate Zone Rating in just 170 innings.
Pineda, meanwhile, will make his season debut when he’s reinstated from the restricted list. The Twins re-signed the big righty to a two-year, $20MM contract over the winter, knowing full well he’d need to miss 39 games under the 60-game PED ban he received late last year. Of course, at the time, the expectation was that those 39 games would represent just 24 percent of the 162-game schedule — not 65 percent of a 60-game schedule.
The 31-year-old Pineda was a key member of the Twins’ staff prior to last year’s suspension, logging 146 innings with a 4.01 ERA and 4.02 FIP. He’ll join a rotation mix that also includes Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Rich Hill and Randy Dobnak.
As for Donaldson, he’s played just seven games this year due to a calf strain — an injury that president of baseball operations Derek Falvey recently said the team approached in a deliberately conservative manner given the slugger’s history with calf issues. Donaldson, who inked a four-year, $92MM deal with the Twins in the offseason, opened the season in a 4-for-22 skid, though he belted 37 homers with an even .900 OPS for the Braves a season ago. Marwin Gonzalez has received the bulk of playing time at third base in Donaldson’s absence and struggled at the plate (.225/.299/.324). He’ll likely return to a super-utility role when Donaldson is activated.