The Twins have acquired right-hander A.J. Alexy from the Nationals, according to announcements from both clubs. Alexy had been designated for assignment by the Nats last week. In exchange, right-hander Cristian Jimenez will be going to the Nats. In order to open a spot on their 40-man roster, the Twins have designated righty Oliver Ortega for assignment.
Alexy, 25 in April, was a Dodgers draftee who went to the Rangers in the 2017 Yu Darvish trade. Since then, he’s posted some strong results in the minors but struggled to be as successful in the majors. He missed much of 2019 due to injury and then the minor leagues were canceled in 2020, but he showed promise in 2021. He tossed 65 minor league innings between Double-A and Triple-A, posting a 1.66 ERA along with a 29.8% strikeout rate. The 10.6% walk rate was certainly high but it was still a solid enough showing to get him into the majors.
Alexy posted a 4.70 ERA in 23 MLB innings that year, despite matching strikeout and walk rates of 17.5%, with both of those numbers being worse than league average. In 2022, he was limited to just seven innings in the show, getting tattooed for an 11.57 ERA in that short time. He tossed 96 innings in Triple-A with a 5.91 ERA, getting strikeouts at a healthy 23.6% clip but with the walks still high at 12.8%.
The Rangers overhauled their rotation this winter and designated Alexy for assignment in the process. Despite his struggles in the majors so far, he’s still young and has some solid results in the minors to build from. He also still has an option year remaining, allowing a team to keep him in the minors as starting depth. The Nats grabbed him off waivers from the Rangers but he got bumped from their roster when they signed Dominic Smith. He’ll now head to the Twins and enter their rotation mix.
The Twins have a solid group of starters with Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Kenta Maeda, Tyler Mahle and Bailey Ober the likely front five. However, there are injury concerns scattered throughout that crew. Maeda didn’t pitch at all in 2022 while recovering from Tommy John surgery, whereas the other four all made at least one trip to the IL in 2022 for various ailments. Alexy can now join Josh Winder, Simeon Woods Richardson and others as depth options on Minnesota’s roster.
By claiming Alexy and hanging onto him for a few weeks, the Nats will receive Jimenez for their troubles. He’s still quite young, not turning 19 years old until May. He spent 2022 in the Dominican Summer League, posting a 3.38 ERA over 37 1/3 innings with a 30.2% strikeout rate, 4.3% walk rate and 57.9% ground ball rate.
Ortega, 26, was just claimed off waivers from the Angels last week. He split his time between the majors and Triple-A in 2022, posting matching 22.3% strikeout rates at each level. His 6.6% walk rate in the minors was almost doubled in the majors at 12.2%, yet his major league ERA of 3.71 was somehow a couple runs better than his 5.96 mark in Triple-A. That was probably just bad luck, since his minor league BABIP was almost 100 points higher on the farm and his strand rate was 8% lower. He’s still young and has a couple of option years, making him appealing for any club looking for extra pitching depth. The Nats will now have a week to trade him or pass him through waivers.