LOS ANGELES – The Twins’ pursuit of Jaime Garcia was merely delayed, not derailed. They finally got their new lefthander Monday.
Minnesota acquired Garcia, a nine-year veteran with postseason experience, from the Braves along with veteran catcher Anthony Recker and cash, nearly a week after rumors surfaced that a deal was close. In exchange, the Twins sent 19-year-old righthanded pitcher Huascar Ynoa to Atlanta, though the real acquisition for the Braves is salary relief: The Twins will pay the $4.65 million that is owed Garcia for the season’s final 10 weeks.
Ynoa is not listed among the Twins’ top 30 prospects by mlb.com.
The Twins get an added benefit, too: A tangible show of support from a front office that hadn’t made a major move to buttress a roster that has hung in the playoff chase all season. Minnesota is just 3½ games out of first in the AL Central, and just 10 wins shy of last season’s total.
“It’s an exciting bit of news for us,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said. “I think our players will be uplifted by it, that our people upstairs are trying to give us a better chance to get to the postseason. … We know [Garcia’s] track record. He certainly knows how to pitch, and it’s a nice addition to our club.”
Garcia is 4-7 with a 4.30 ERA for Atlanta this season, but has won his past two starts, limiting the Diamondbacks to one run on four hits over seven innings, and the Dodgers to three runs over seven innings Friday. Garcia will join his new team in Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, and will make his American League debut Friday in Oakland.
“I had a chance to speak with him earlier this afternoon,” Molitor said. “He’s tremendously excited about the opportunity to come over here and help us win some ballgames.”
Molitor sounded energized about the prospect of stabilizing a rotation that has been thinned by injuries and ineffectiveness all season.
“Our plans are still in flux,” Molitor said, especially given that 44-year-old Bartolo Colon made his second Twins start Monday and was reasonably effective. “I’d rather wrestle with having pitchers pitch well, than have to desperately pick one of them to stay.”
A strong indication that Colon will stay in the rotation happened after the game when the Twins sent righthander Kyle Gibson to Class AAA Rochester.
Recker, a 33-year-old veteran of seven major league seasons with four teams, is batting .223 with four home runs in 41 games for Class AAA Gwinnett this season. He is expected to be assigned to either Class AAA Rochester or AA Chattanooga by the Twins, who now have five catchers on their 40-man roster. The Twins received a reported $100,000 from the Braves to offset the remainder of Recker’s salary.
Ynoa, signed as a 16-year-old for $800,000 in 2014, has a 5.26 ERA in six starts for rookie-level Elizabethton this season. The younger brother of White Sox reliever Michael Ynoa, he replaces Nick Burdi, rejected as an injury risk as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, as the Braves’ haul in the trade.
Back to Beantown
The Twins ran out of time to make a decision about Justin Haley. So the Red Sox made it for them.
The righthanded reliever, selected out of Boston’s system in last December’s Rule 5 draft, was offered back to the Red Sox on Monday after he cleared waivers, and Boston accepted him back.
“It was a real tough decision” to offer him back to Boston, Molitor said. “It came down to some of the roster issues we have,” meaning they needed to find room on the roster for Garcia and Recker.
Haley appeared in 10 games in relief for the Twins, posting a 6.00 ERA with 14 strikeouts and six walks in 18 innings. But he has been on the disabled list for much of the season because of soreness in his pitching shoulder. He spent the past month at Rochester completing a rehab assignment, but the Twins had reached the 30-day limit for such assignments. Under Rule 5, players must remain on the major-league roster all season or be offered back to the original team; the Red Sox chose to accept Haley back and likely will assign him to the minor leagues.
Alan Busenitz was in the parking lot of a Texas Roadhouse restaurant in Rochester on Sunday when Red Wings manager Mike Quade called with word of his promotion.
“I went inside, told the guys I was leaving, and went back to the ballpark,” Busenitz said. “It was pretty exciting.”
Busenitz impressed the Twins during his two-week stint in June, when he allowed only two earned runs in 8⅔ innings and gradually became more confident. He was recalled Monday to take the spot of lefthander Craig Breslow, who was designated for assignment Sunday.
“He’s an interesting guy. He can run it up there,” Molitor said. “We like his arm, we like his tenacity, and he certainly has good composure on the mound.”
Molitor said Busenitz has worked on improving his breaking pitch to complement his fastball and slider, which made him an obvious choice for the bullpen vacancy.
Buxton to return
Byron Buxton is expected to be activated Tuesday, when he returns from a strained left groin. Molitor said the Twins would like to find a way to keep Zack Granite around, but it may not be possible with the need for bullpen depth.