One free-agent pitcher the Twins have looked into this offseason is righthander Justin Masterson, a source with knowledge of their search said Monday.
The Twins have asked for, and have received, Masterson’s medical records. Masterson spent some time on the disabled list this season because of right knee inflammation. In the past, he has had surgery on his non-throwing shoulder. What ailed him the most in 2014 was his pitching.
Masterson, 29, was 7-9 with a 5.88 ERA with Cleveland and St. Louis this past season. It was awful timing for Masterson, who sought $17 million annually in extension talks with the Indians before the season. Those talks were tabled, and he had a poor four months with the Indians (4-6, 5.51) before they dealt him to the Cardinals. He didn’t fare any better in the National League (3-3, 7.04) before hitting the free-agent market for the first time in his career.
He is looking for a one- or two-year deal to re-establish his value. When he is right, he can eat up innings and stabilize a rotation. He throws a heavy sinking fastball, and began to have success when he learned to change speeds. He has been very tough on righthanded hitters, holding them to a .220 batting average, .306 on-base percentage and .301 slugging percentage in his career.
From 2011 to 2013, Masterson threw at least 193 innings and posted double-digit wins each season. He was an All-Star in 2013, during which he went 14-10 with a 3.45 ERA.
So he could be a good low-risk move for the Twins, whose starters posted a baseball-worst 5.06 ERA. But he could be for a lot of teams, as more than 10 clubs have expressed interest, including the Indians.
The Twins are looking at pitching and outfield help this offseason and will be linked to many names. Twins General Manager Terry Ryan is in contact with teams and agents about players.
“The trade possibilities might be a little leaner than free agents,” said Ryan, who spent last week in Arizona for the annual GM meetings.
Ryan also is continuing to work with new manager Paul Molitor to assemble his coaching staff.