The Twins announced a series of roster moves ahead of this weekend’s series in Toronto. Minnesota selected the contracts of right-handers Chi Chi González, Jharel Cotton and Ian Hamilton while recalling outfielder Mark Contreras from Triple-A St. Paul. González will start this evening’s game, as had been reported yesterday.
In corresponding moves, four players — Max Kepler, Emilio Pagán, Trevor Megill and Caleb Thielbar — have been placed on the restricted list. That’s typical procedure for players who haven’t been vaccinated against COVID-19 on teams heading to Toronto. The Canadian government prohibits unvaccinated athletes from crossing the border, so that quartet will be out of action until next week.
Cotton has bounced on and off the roster a couple times this season. Claimed off waivers from the Rangers last winter, he’s made four appearances in relief for the Twins. Over 6 2/3 innings, Cotton has allowed just two runs but issued six walks. He’s impressed in St. Paul, allowing four runs in 11 2/3 frames while striking out 18 batters against three walks.
Hamilton is in line for his team debut, nearly a year and a half after Minnesota claimed him off waivers from the Phillies. The Twins outrighted the Washington State product off their 40-man roster a few weeks later, and he spent the entire 2021 campaign in St. Paul. He posted a 4.12 ERA across 59 innings last year, striking out an excellent 33.5% of opponents but walking a sky-high 15.2% of batters faced. The 26-year-old maintained that strikeout prowess while getting his walk rate to a more manageable 9.6% this year, allowing only one run in 12 2/3 frames. Hamilton has 14 games of MLB experience under his belt, with the 2018-20 White Sox.
While the Twins didn’t specify that González, Cotton and Hamilton were coming up as designated COVID substitutes, that appears to be the case. Dan Hayes of the Athletic tweets the trio won’t have to pass through waivers when the others are able to return to the roster. That’s unique to COVID substitutes, who won’t occupy a permanent 40-man roster spot.
The commissioner’s office has the unilateral authority to grant teams permission to designate players as substitutes, which it does when it determines a club has been particularly affected by virus protocols. In all likelihood, each of González, Cotton and Hamilton will come off the 40-man roster on Monday.