DETROIT – The Fernando Rodney Experience is headed west, as the veteran closer was dealt to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for minor league righthander Dakota Chalmers.
It was just one of few moves the Twins made Thursday evening. Righthander Tyler Duffey will come up from Class AAA Rochester to take Rodney’s spot, and first baseman-outfielder Tyler Austin is coming, too.
Left-handed pitcher Adalberto Mejia was placed on the 10-day disabled list Friday morning with a strained wrist suffered during Monday's game at Cleveland that fiorced him to leave after he threw five innings and allowed only one hit.
The Rodney trade came about quickly Thursday, as the A’s put in a waiver claim on the 41-year-old. At that point, the Twins could have pulled him off waivers and not be able to trade him this month; let the A’s have him for nothing; or attempt to work out a deal.
Without much leverage, the Twins got what they could: a young pitcher with a big arm who has had trouble throwing strikes — and who is injured.
Chalmers, 21, was drafted in the third round in 2015, and the A’s gave him a $1.2 million bonus to keep him from attending Georgia. His fastball reaches the upper 90-mile-per-hour range and he also throws a slider and changeup. The Twins view him as a starter.
But there are two items of concern:
One, in 121⅓ minor league innings, Chalmers has walked 91 batters while striking out 137. He has reworked his mechanics a couple of times in an effort to improve his command, but nothing has worked yet.
Two, he pitched in only two games this season at Class A Beloit before needing Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery. The Twins are going to help him complete his rehabilitation, then try to make him into a major league-caliber pitcher.
So they didn’t get much in return for Rodney, who was 3-2 with a 3.09 ERA and 25 saves in 31 attempts — his six blown saves were tied for third in the majors. But, again, the Twins didn’t have much leverage.
Rodney, with 325 career saves — second to Boston’s Craig Kimbrel among active closers — is joining his 10th big- league team. The Twins were interested in picking Rodney’s $4.25 million option for 2019 before dealing him away.
The Twins likely will take a collaborative approach to protecting late-inning leads. Addison Reed had 19 saves in 2017 and has 125 in his career, but he has struggled in his first year with the Twins, falling to 1-6 with a 4.74 ERA in Thursday’s loss at Cleveland.
Duffey, 27, is being called up for the third time this season. He is 4-4 with a 2.72 ERA for the Red Wings.
Austin, 26, came over with minor league pitcher Luis Rijo from the Yankees in exchange for righthander Lance Lynn on July 30. He batted .223 with eight homers and 23 RBI in 34 games with New York this season before being sent to the minors. He is batting .255 with two homers for Rochester since the trade. It was a matter of time before the Twins took a look at Austin, who has good power potential.
Rodney is the sixth veteran traded away by the Twins in recent weeks, joining infielders Brian Dozier (Los Angeles Dodgers) and Eduardo Escobar (Arizona) and pitchers Lynn, Zach Duke (Seattle), and Ryan Pressly (Houston).