A few days ago I suggested that one sign that the Twins figure to keep Brian Duensing in the bullpen is that they didn't import any left-handed relief candidates. They have holdover Tyler Robertson, prospect Caleb Thielbar and Duensing — and, of course, closer Glen Perkins.
Well, now they have imported an established LOOGY — Rafael Perez, signed Thursday to a minor-league deal.
Cleveland cut him loose after he barely pitched in 2012, and he had shoulder surgery last September. That surgery follows pretty obvious signs of deteriorating stuff — his strikeout rate has fallen and his walk rate risen over the past four years. Those are some pretty obvious warning signs.
Still, the Twins are clearly hoping that he may return to being the devastator he was five years or so ago.
What's more, they're even talking about trying him as a starter — something he hasn't done in the majors. Conceivably, it could be Perez in the rotation and Duensing in the bullpen.
I find this interesting: For his career (seven years with Cleveland), Perez really didn't display a strong platoon split. Righties had an OPS of .694, lefties .678. My prevailing image of Perez against the Twins is his unleashing an excellent slider against the Mauer-Morneau-Kubel array of left-handed bats, but he clearly wasn't limited to a LOOGY role.
He threw more innings against the Twins (38) than against anybody else, and he racked up an ERA of 1.89 against the Twins, so this may again be a case of Craig Monroe Syndrome at work — that the Twins overvalue him based specifically on what he's done against them.
Even if that's the case, it's a minor-league deal. By definition, the Twins aren't staking a whole lot on him.
Tampa Bay shortstop watch concludes: The Rays on Thursday shipped Reid Brignac to Colorado. So they've moved out both their "designated for assignment" infielders, neither to Minnesota.