The Twins’ on-again, off-again deal to acquire pitcher Jaime Garcia from the Braves switched back to “on” when the trade was finalized on Monday. Garcia gives the Twins a chance at rotation stability as they attempt to stay in the American League Central and Wild Card race. Here are five things to know about the new Twins pitcher:
1) Pay attention to the spelling of his first name. The “i” is before the “m,” and per Baseball Reference, Garcia’s first name is pronounced like “hi-may.” Learn this. Love this. Otherwise, you will be misspelling and mispronouncing his name for at least the next 10 weeks.
2) Speaking of which, you don’t need to get too acquainted with Garcia. He’s a free agent at the end of this season, and this trade has the appearance of being a short-term “rental”-style move. The Twins only had to give up one low-level minor league prospect to get Garcia, though they are taking on his full remaining $4.65 million salary for the rest of this season.
3) When healthy, Garcia, 31, has been an effective left-handed starter throughout his career, posting a 3.65 ERA in 176 career games (all but 11 of which have come as a starter). He has averaged 7.2 strikeouts and 2.7 walks per nine innings in a career that started with St. Louis in 2008. He pitched with the Cardinals up until this season, when he was acquired by the Braves. The “when healthy” caveat is an important one, however. Garcia has had a litany of injuries in his career. Between 2012 and 2015, he made just 56 total starts — an average of 14 per season. But he made 30 starts last season and has made 18 this year. The Twins will hope his health is stable for at least the final two months of this season.
4) He gives the Twins some rotational depth, something they have sorely lacked pretty much from the start of the season. Garcia is slated to make his Twins debut on Friday. To make room for him in the rotation, the Twins sent Kyle Gibson to Class AAA Rochester, meaning 44-year-old Bartolo Colon will stay in the rotation. Having Gibson as a fallback plan in case any member of the current rotation — Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios, Adalberto Mejia, Colon and Garcia — is injured or ineffective is a better spot than the Twins have been in for much of the year.
5) Garcia was born in Mexico and played high school baseball in Texas. The Orioles originally drafted him, but he re-entered the draft and wound up with the Cardinals. Pitching with St. Louis, he started seven career playoff games — including two World Series games, in which he posted a 1.80 ERA over 10 innings.