NEW YORK – The Twins didn’t earn any victories at Yankee Stadium this week, but they didn’t leave New York empty-handed.
The Twins claimed Yankees righthander David Hale off waivers, the team announced during Thursday’s series finale, adding a veteran reliever to their beleaguered bullpen.
“This is a guy we pursued this offseason. We think we may have been the runners-up to the Yankees, in terms of enticing him. From a pitch-profile standpoint, we’ve liked him,” Twins General Manager Thad Levine said of the 30-year-old Hale. “He’s a pitcher who can pitch in a variety of roles. He was a starter in the minor leagues, and he’s pitched in multiple-inning stints.”
That part, the Twins know. Hale pitched two scoreless innings vs. them Monday, striking out three in what was his only appearance with the Yankees. New York designated Hale for assignment after the game in order to acquire righthander A.J. Cole from the Nationals, and the Twins grabbed Hale.
A third-round pick of the Braves in 2009, Hale has primarily been a starting pitcher in the minor leagues, and posted a 5.52 ERA in three starts for Class AAA Scranton this year. He has also pitched 47 games for the Braves (2013-14) and 19 for the Rockies (2015-16), with a career 4.43 ERA in the majors.
“It’s a fastball-changeup-curveball [combination],” Levine said. “He’s an intelligent guy, and has had success throughout his minor league career.”
Adding Hale meant Aaron Slegers’ stint in the majors amounted to one afternoon. The Twins, fearing overworking the bullpen after four consecutive starts shorter than five innings, summoned him in case Kyle Gibson faltered. But Slegers wasn’t used Thursday, and he was sent back to Class AAA Rochester less than 24 hours after being called up.
“We had a bit of an emergency situation,” Levine said. “But we see [Slegers] as a starter. [This gives] Aaron a chance to go back in the rotation and be next in line on the starting front.”
Kinley’s future uncertain
Tyler Kinley sat in street clothes in front of his locker Thursday morning, looking like a man in limbo. He doesn’t know when or where he will pitch next, though the Twins invited him to fly home on their charter to wait out the next week.
The Twins, who designated the Rule 5 draft pick for assignment, have until Wednesday to trade the righthander, or place him on waivers for any other team to claim. If nobody does, the Twins are obligated to offer him back to the Marlins for $25,000. Or they can offer Miami some other compensation.
“We’ve talked about the possibility of him ending up in a Twins uniform,” manager Paul Molitor said. “I don’t know how likely that it, but we’ll see what [the Marlins’] response is.”
The Twins will first investigate the possibility of trading Kinley, Levine said, but “this doesn’t diminish our desire to keep him in our system. … We like the player. He changed the way he pitched, throwing the high fastball effectively with his slider, which has always been an out pitch.”
As a Rule 5 pick, Kinley had to stay on the Twins’ 25-man roster all season to sever his ties with Miami. But they couldn’t even make it work for a month, largely because Kinley wasn’t effective enough to warrant regular work.
With the increasing number of roster spots devoted to bullpen help, is it realistic anymore for a team with postseason ambitions to keep a Rule 5 pick on the roster?
For the right player, it is, Molitor said. “It’s something you still have to be open-minded about, regardless of how high your expectations are for that particular club,” he said.
• The Twins will know in the next two days about another Rule 5 player: Luke Bard, the 2012 Twins first-round draft pick who was designated for assignment by the Angels on Saturday after the righthander posted a 5.40 ERA in eight appearances. “We’re monitoring that,” Levine said. “We’d be happy to have Luke Bard back in our organization.”
• Lefthander Adalberto Mejia was placed on the disabled list at Rochester after developing a blister on his pitching hand.