The Twins have signed right-hander Michael Feliz to a minor league contract and assigned him to their Triple-A affiliate, the St. Paul Saints (as announced by the Saints themselves). Feliz, a client of Octagon, was designated for assignment by the Red Sox earlier this month and rejected an outright assignment in favor of free agency.
Feliz, 29, has seen action in parts of eight big league seasons, mostly coming with the Astros and Pirates, The right-hander was one of four players (alongside Joe Musgrove, Colin Moran and Jason Martin) traded from Houston to Pittsburgh in the trade that brought Gerrit Cole to the Astros. He spent parts of four seasons in the Pittsburgh bullpen, at times looking like a viable late-inning reliever but also lacking the consistency to remain in a leverage role.
Feliz’s best season in the Majors came with the Pirates in 2019, when he pitched 56 1/3 innings of 3.99 ERA ball and punched out 30.5% of his opponents. Feliz’s 11.3% walk rate and 1.76 HR/9 mark that season were obvious areas that could be improved upon, but it was a generally encouraging season for a then-26-year-old hurler who had ranked among the best pitching prospects in the Astros’ system prior to his inclusion in the Cole trade.
Since that season, however, Feliz has been beset by shoulder, forearm and elbow injuries. Between those injuries and subpar performance on the mound (which, of course, could well have been impacted by those health troubles), he’s pitched just 25 Major League innings with an ugly 8.28 ERA dating back to Opening Day 2020.
Feliz’s average fastball, however, which sat at 96.3 mph back in 2017, is down to just 93.8 mph through this year’s small sample. That said, he’s found success this season for the most part in spite of that diminished heater. In 3 1/3 big league frames, he’s allowed one earned run on a hit and two walks with four strikeouts. And, with the Red Sox’ Triple-A affiliate in Worcester, Feliz carried a 3.28 ERA with a 27.7% strikeout rate against an 8.9% walk rate through 24 2/3 innings.
Bullpen help is a glaring need for the Twins. Breakout rookie Jhoan Duran and starter-turned-reliever Griffin Jax have served as the only consistent arms in an otherwise woeful relief corps, which figures to be an area the front office will address over the next week-plus. Bringing Feliz into the fold gives them another depth option for the final few months of the season, but it’d be a surprise if Minnesota didn’t acquire at least one veteran arm (if not two or more) prior to Aug. 2.