The Twins on Tuesday added a veteran pitcher who might help in the bullpen next season, and a power-hitting prospect who could show up in the outfield in another season or two.
Reliever Dan Runzler, who has a 3.86 ERA in 89 big-league games with the Giants, signed a minor league contract, Class AAA Rochester announced.
The 30-year-old lefthander reached the majors on the promise of a fastball that reaches 97 miles per hour, but his career was derailed by a knee injury in 2010.
Runzler, a ninth-round draft pick in 2007 out of California-Riverside, spent last year with the Diamondbacks’ Class AAA team until he was released in July, then joined the independent Sugar Land Skeeters, where he gave up one run in 17⅓ innings. With the Twins bullpen in flux, he could be a candidate for a lefty specialist job, as he has held major league lefthanded hitters to a .212 batting average.
Meanwhile, the Twins also pulled off their first trade of the offseason, acquiring 24-year-old Class A outfielder Daniel Palka from Arizona for catcher Chris Herrmann.
Palka, who hit .280 with 29 home runs last season for Class A Visalia and has 60 home runs and 80 doubles at three levels (315 total games) in the minors. Palka, the Diamondbacks’ third-round pick in 2013, was assigned to the Arizona Fall League last month despite having no experience above Class A, and he has hit .317 with two home runs in 15 games there.
Herrmann, 27, was drafted in the sixth round in 2009 as an outfielder but converted to catcher and appeared in 142 games with the Twins over the past four seasons, batting .181 with six home runs. He was the primary backup to Kurt Suzuki much of 2015, starting 32 games behind the plate.
Molitor, Sano finalists
Fresh off an 83-79 season in his first year on the job, the Twins’ Paul Molitor is one of three finalists for American League Manager of the Year Award, while slugger Miguel Sano was named a finalist for the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
Those announcements were made on MLB Network, which will announce all the Baseball Writers’ Association of America awards next week. The top rookies will be announced Monday, the top managers Tuesday.
Molitor is competing against two managers whose teams beat out the Twins in the final week of the season for spots in the playoffs: Houston’s A.J. Hinch and Texas’ Jeff Banister, who like Molitor just completed his first season as a big-league manager.
Sano, who was named both team MVP and top rookie after hitting .280 with 18 homers and 52 RBI in 80 games, is joined by a pair of shortstops, Houston’s Carlos Correa and Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor, as Rookie of the Year finalists. All three were called up over the summer; Correa and Lindor each played 99 games, Sano 80.