January 19: Bowman’s deal contains an opt-out clause, Darren Wolfson of SKOR North. The timing of that opt-out isn’t known at this time. Wolfson adds that Hobie Harris, who also signed a minor league deal with the Twins, does not have an opt-out.
January 18: The Twins are adding reliever Matt Bowman on a minor league contract with a non-roster Spring Training invite, reports Mark Feinsand of MLB.com (X link). The ZS Sports client would lock in a $925K salary if he secures a spot on the MLB roster.
Bowman, 32, got back to the big leagues late last season after an extended injury absence. The sinkerballer had thrown over 180 innings with the Cardinals and Reds between 2016-19. He was a generally solid middle innings arm during that stretch. The Princeton product turned in a sub-4.00 ERA in three of his four seasons while keeping the ball on the ground on more than 55% of batted balls allowed.
That’s when injuries intervened. An elbow sprain cost Bowman the shortened 2020 season. After a few months trying unsuccessfully to rehab the injury, he required Tommy John surgery that September. Bowman wound up missing another two full seasons after going under the knife. That spanned a two-year minor league pact with the Yankees, but Bowman returned to the organization on another non-roster deal last winter.
Finally healthy, he spent most of the year at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. Bowman had fairly typical results for the RailRiders. He allowed 3.99 earned runs per nine across 58 2/3 innings behind an above-average 51.9% grounder rate. He fanned a nearly average 22.6% of opponents. An 11.7% walk rate was higher than ideal, but it’s not uncommon for pitchers to battle some command issues early in a return from Tommy John surgery. In his MLB career, he owns a decent 8.1% walk percentage.
Bowman showed enough in the minors to get a brief look in Aaron Boone’s bullpen. New York added him to the 40-man roster shortly after the All-Star Break to keep him from becoming a free agent after he triggered an opt-out in his minor league deal. The Yankees didn’t actually recall him until September. He pitched three times, tallying four innings of four-run ball with three strikeouts and a pair of walks. Bowman averaged 93.1 MPH on his sinker in that limited look.
The Yankees outrighted him from the 40-man roster at season’s end, sending him back to free agency. He’ll now battle for a spot in a Minnesota relief group that was a league average unit in 2023. Bowman is now out of options. If the Twins call him up, they’d need to keep him in the majors or again designate him for assignment.