The Cubs, Guardians and Twins all announced Wednesday that they will have a new hitting coach in 2022. But there's one difference in Edgar Varela's situation in Minnesota: He hasn't been fired.
Varela, promoted to manager Rocco Baldelli's staff for 2020 when James Rowson was hired by the Marlins, will be reassigned to a coordinator's role in the Twins' minor-league system, the team said Wednesday. So will Kevin Morgan, a longtime minor-league field coordinator who was added to the coaching staff during spring training after the death of bench coach Mike Bell in February.
"They're going to be a part of helping our guys get better in the player-development realm, where they came from," said Derek Falvey, the Twins' president of baseball operations. "Both guys expressed a strong desire to be part of this organization and help us get better. … They're really happy to be a Twin."
Specific duties and titles for Varela and Morgan will be announced later this fall, Falvey said.
"As the manager, I have to take ownership of all the decisions we make [about] our staff," said Rocco Baldelli, who will return for a fourth season as manager in 2022. Moving on from Varela and Morgan, Baldelli said. "was not an easy decision to make."
Both Varela and Morgan have long histories as minor-league instructors, Varela with the Pirates and Morgan with the Mets.
The team has already begun a search for new additions to the coaching staff. In addition to Varela and Morgan's roles, they will add a permanent bench coach, and must fill the role of advisor and catching instructor held by Bill Evers, who is retiring after more than four decades in baseball.
The remainder of Baldelli's staff, Falvey said, is expected to return, including Rudy Hernandez, Varela's partner as hitting coach. The Twins' hitting under Varela and Hernandez was roughly league average, though far below the record-setting output of 2019. The Twins were without Byron Buxton and Mitch Garver for much of the season, and traded away designated hitter Nelson Cruz shortly after the All-Star break.
The Twins' next hitting coach figures to have some experience in using new analytic tools to help make adjustments, a new approach that "has accelerated in the last 12 to 24 months at the major-league level," Falvey said. "Your players are expecting to have some of those resources [and] people who know how to use that information, how to translate it for them."
Colina lost to Texas
Righthander Edwar Colina, a hard-throwing starting pitcher who made one appearance for the Twins in 2020, was claimed off waivers by the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Colina, 24, was sidelined the entire season after undergoing elbow surgery in the spring, then another procedure on the elbow late in the summer, Falvey said. Knowing his health remains in question and with an offseason of changes ahead, the Twins decided they were unlikely to have room on their 40-man roster for him this winter, Falvey said.
Colina, whose high-90s fastball made him one of the Twins' top pitching prospects when healthy, spent the 2020 season at the team's alternate site, and pitched in one game late in the season, facing four hitters, recording one out and allowing three runs. He spent the entire 2021 season on the 60-day injured list.