The Twins have signed right-hander Hunter Wood to a minor league contract, per Chris Hilburn-Trenkle of Baseball America.
Wood, 28, spent the 2021 season in the Rangers organization but made just five big league appearances before an elbow injury sidelined him for the remainder of the season. He eventually underwent surgery that installed an internal brace to address what was termed (by the team) as a “mild” sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. That surgery, performed in late June, came with a projected recovery timetable of “at least” eight months.
Wood has appeared in parts of four seasons between Tampa Bay, Cleveland and Texas, pitching to a combined 3.34 ERA in 91 2/3 innings with a 21.8% strikeout rate, an 8.1% walk rate and a 36.7% ground-ball rate. Of those marks, only the walk rate is better than league-average, but Wood has been excellent in terms of limiting hard contact when healthy, per Statcast (career 87.2 mph average exit velocity, 4.0% barrel rate and 29.5% hard-hit rate).
While he’s technically made 10 starts in the Majors, Wood has totaled just 17 frames during those “starts.” The Rays used him as a frequent opener from 2018-19, but Wood’s longest career outing in the big leagues is three innings, so he’ll likely continue to work in short-relief stints for the Twins once he’s fully mended from surgery and assigned to a minor league affiliate. Eventually, Wood figures to serve as bullpen depth in Triple-A, and vie for a spot in the big league bullpen when a need inevitably arises. Were he to make it back to the big leagues, Wood could be controlled for four more years beyond the current season, but he has a ways to go before that’s even a legitimate consideration.