Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.
The Twins added two former first-round draft picks to their 40-man roster Tuesday, in Kyle Gibson and Aaron Hicks, with plans to bring each to spring training next year.
Tuesday was the deadline for teams to add players to the 40-man, protecting those eligible from the Dec. 6 Rule 5 draft. Beyond Gibson and Hicks, the Twins added six others: catcher Josmil Pinto, shortstop Daniel Santana, starting pitcher B.J. Hermsen and relievers Michael Tonkin, Caleb Thielbar and Tim Wood.
The 40-man roster is now full.
Gibson, 25, the No. 22 overall pick in the 2009 draft, will be competing for a spot in the Opening Day rotation. He had Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery on his right elbow Sept. 7, 2011, but proved he was healthy by going 3-2 with a 5.40 ERA in the Arizona Fall League.
Hicks, 23, was the No. 14 overall pick in the 2008 draft. He probably won’t start next April with the big league club, but he’ll be a prime candidate for a mid-season promotion. He’s a well-polished center fielder and a switch-hitter, who batted .286 with 13 home runs, 32 stolen bases and an .844 OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) last year at Class AA New Britain.
Santana, 22, batted .286 with eight home runs, 17 stolen bases and a .739 OPS at Class A Fort Myers.
Pinto, 23, batted .295 with 14 home runs and an .844 OPS in 105 games between Class A and Class AA.
Hermsen, 22, the team’s minor-league pitcher of the year, opened the season at Fort Myers and wound up going 11-6 with a 3.22 ERA in 22 starts for Class AA New Britain.
Tonkin, 23, who is the brother-in-law of former Twins outfielder Jason Kubel, racked up 97 strikeouts this year in 69 1/3 innings between Class A Beloit and Class A Fort Myers.
Thielbar, 25, a lefthander who pitched for the St. Paul Saints in 2011, climbed quickly through the Twins minor-league system this year and posted a 3.57 ERA in 25 appearances for Class AAA Rochester.
Wood, 30, who signed a minor-league deal with the Twins earlier this month, posted a 2.19 ERA with 21 saves for Class AAA Indianapolis (Pirates).
MINOR LEAGUE SIGNEES
The Twins also announced 10 players who’ve been signed to minor-league deals with invitations to big league camp: pitchers Samuel Deduno, Shairon Martis, Luis Perdomo, Esmerling Vasquez and P.J. Walters; outfielders Brian Dinkleman and Wilkin Ramirez; infielders James Beresford and Deibinson Romero and catcher Eric Fryer.
The Twins had interest in re-signing Scott Baker, and the righthander had interest in coming back to Minnesota, but negotiations reached a sticking point before Baker agreed to sign with the Cubs on Tuesday.
Baker's new deal with the Cubs will pay him $5.5 million guaranteed, with an additional $1.5 million in incentives, a person familiar with the contract confirmed.
Baker missed all of last season while recovering from Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery in his right elbow. The Twins declined a $9.25 million option for next year, letting him become a free agent.
Two weeks ago, Baker said the sides were making progress toward a new deal. But, according to the person familiar with his new contract, the Twins insisted on the deal including an option for 2014. Baker, 31, wanted a deal that would let him re-establish his value and then test the market again next fall.
In the end, the Twins weren't really that close, so Baker is heading to the Cubs. He went 63-48 with a 4.15 ERA in seven years with Minnesota.
The Twins are moving forward with Scott Diamond as the only starter penciled into their 2013 starting rotation.
The Twins signed Jared Burton and Casey Fien to minor-league deals last offseason and watched them turn into key members of this year’s bullpen. Maybe Tim Wood will do the same.
The Twins announced Saturday night that they’ve agreed to terms on a minor-league deal for Wood, who was named the International League’s best reliever this year by Baseball America.
Wood, who turns 30 next week, posted a 2.19 ERA and notched 21 saves in 54 appearances for Class AAA Indianapolis (Pirates), averaging 8.2 strikeouts and 3.0 walks per nine innings.
Two years ago, Baseball America’s scouting report on Wood said, “Despite his slender frame and unassuming appearance, Wood can run his fastball up to 94-95 mph with sink.”
He’s battled elbow and shoulder issues in his career but has shown promise when healthy. In 2009, he had a 2.82 ERA in 18 appearances for the Marlins, but over the next two years, he posted a 5.55 ERA in 39 combined appearances for the Marlins and Pirates.
The Twins also agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with catcher Eric Fryer, who batted .204 in 65 games for Class AAA Indianapolis.
Fryer, 27, has batted .267 in 16 career big league games, all with the Pirates. The Twins likely signed him to provide depth at Class AAA Rochester.
The Twins have agreed to terms on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training for starting pitcher Samuel Deduno, who could have left as a free agent after being taken off the 40-man roster last week.
Deduno, 29, arrived in camp on a minor league deal this year and began the season at Class AAA Rochester before going 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts for the Twins.
Deduno has long struggled with his control, but he was able to harness it enough to give the Twins eight quality starts -- at least six innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs allowed.
“He was frustrated when he was taken off the roster because he felt like he’d earned a spot, but he understands,” said Deduno’s agent, Paul Kinzer. “He feels like he’s going to come in [to spring training] and earn a spot in the rotation.”
The Twins removed Deduno, P.J. Walters and Esmerling Vasquez from the 40-man roster because they plan to add new players in coming weeks. Walters has since re-signed on a minor league deal, and like Deduno, Vasquez, who went 0-2 with a 5.68 ERA in six starts with the Twins, has agreed to terms on a minor league deal.
The Twins plan to announce the Deduno and Vasquez deals as soon as the contracts are officially signed.
Friday has been a busy day on the waiver wire for the Twins.
The Orioles claimed infielder Alexi Casilla, and the Twins claimed two players from the Rockies -- reliever Josh Roenicke and shortstop Tommy Field. Also, the Twins took starting pitcher Samuel Deduno off their 40-man roster and assigned him to Class AAA Rochester.
Deduno has the right to accept that assignment or become a free agent. Deduno went 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts this year, so the move was a little surprising.
Update: I spoke to Deduno's agent, Paul Kinzer, who said Deduno is weighing his options right now but probably will re-sign with the Twins on a minor-league deal.
The Twins were expected to non-tender Casilla this offseason rather than give him another raise from his $1.38 million salary through arbitration. He batted .250 with a .305 on-base percentage in seven years with the Twins, though he will always be remembered for delivering the game-winning hit in their Game 163 victory over the Tigers in 2009.
Casilla, 28, became expendable when the Twins traded Francisco Liriano to the White Sox in a deal that brought utility infielder Eduardo Escobar. Jamey Carroll also can play multiple infield positions, and the Twins have two young shortstops they like in Pedro Florimon and Brian Dozier.
Now, Field has been added to the mix. The 25-year-old played two games for the Rockies this year and batted .246 with a .715 OPS last year at Class AAA Colorado Springs.
Roenicke, 30, the son of former Orioles outfielder Gary Roenicke and nephew of Brewers manager Ron Roenicke, posted a 3.25 ERA in 63 appearances for the Rockies last year. He had 54 strikeouts and 43 walks in 88 2/3 innings and his fastball averaged 92.3 mph, according to Fangraphs.com.
Update: It doesn't sound like the Twins will re-sign Scott Baker before the free agent market opens at 11 p.m. At that point, other teams will be able to bid. At this point, Baker might need to see what offers are out there before deciding if it's best to remain in Minnesota or move on.
Twins pitcher Samuel Deduno, who left his start Sept. 26 with blurry vision in his left eye, has reported no problems since the season ended. He saw an eye doctor in the Twin Cities on Tuesday, and things checked out fine, General Manager Terry Ryan said.
Citing the HIPAA Privacy Rule, Ryan said he couldn't give more details, but this sounded like good news for Deduno. The 29-year-old righthander from the Dominican Republic went 6-5 with a 4.44 ERA in 15 starts for the Twins this year and remains on their 40-man roster.
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