The Twins are designating utilityman Willians Astudillo and left-hander Charlie Barnes for assignment, the club announced. Additionally, left-hander Devin Smeltzer and outfielder Kyle Garlick have cleared outright waivers. Minnesota added six prospects to the 40-man roster in advance of tonight’s deadline for Rule 5 draft protection: Royce Lewis, Jose Miranda, Blayne Enlow, Cole Sands, Chris Vallimont and Josh Winder.
Minnesota also announced that they’ve agreed to terms on a deal with outfielder Jake Cave on a major league contract. He’ll make $800K, reports Darren Wolfson of SKOR North (Twitter link). Cave had been projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz for a $1.1MM salary via arbitration. It’s not uncommon to see players on the non-tender bubble (as Cave appeared to be) agree to salaries for a bit lower than projected in advance of the non-tender deadline, however.
Amidst this large flurry of Twins transactions it’s the one jettisoning Astudillo that may grab the most attention. While the 30-year old didn’t quite get it done at the plate this past season, producing a .236/.259/.375 slash, his Twins tenure has often left fans looking past his offensive contributions. Dating back to his 2018 debut with the Twins, Astudillo has lined up at every position except for shortstop, providing adequate defense and pitching as admirably as one can expect in mop-up duty (including a 2.25 ERA in four 2021 innings). The multi-talented Astudillo is now all but certainly headed for free agency, though a reunion with the Twins later in the offseason isn’t yet out of the question.
Barnes, 26, is a soft-tossing lefty and former fourth-rounder who made his big league debut out of necessity to help soak up some innings in an injury-ruined season for the Twins’ rotation. He was clobbered for a 5.92 ERA while striking out just 20 of the 175 batters he faced. The Twins now have a week to trade Barnes or attempt to pass him through outright waivers.
Also gone from the roster are Smeltzer, a former Dodger prospect who came to the Twins in the Brian Dozier trade, and Garlick, an offseason waiver claim last winter who played a platoon role in Minnesota early this season. Smeltzer logged a 3.86 ERA through 49 innings during the 2019 season, his debut campaign, but has battled injuries and seen his performance dip in the two years since. He missed nearly the entire 2021 season due to elbow troubles.
Garlick, meanwhile, hit .232/.280/.465 with five homers and eight doubles in just 107 plate appearances. He hit 10 extra-base hits (four homers, six doubles) in just 63 plate appearances against lefties but spent the majority of the season on the injured list himself.
Most of the Twins’ additions are wholly unsurprising. Lewis was the No. 1 overall pick in 2017 and, despite missing the season due to an ACL tear, was never going to be exposed to the Ryle 5 Draft. Miranda was the Twins’ minor league player of the year and posted video-game numbers in the minors, hitting his way into Top 100 consideration. Winder has battled injuries but might be Minnesota’s top pitching prospect based on stuff alone. Enlow was an overslot third-rounder who has had his own injury troubles but is still held in high regard. Sands and Vallimont both rank among the Twins’ more promising arms themselves, even though Vallimont had a down year in 2021. The former Marlins righty, acquired in the trade that brought Sergio Romo to Minnesota and sent first baseman Lewin Diaz to Miami, is a potential fourth/fifth starter who’s reasonably close to MLB readiness.