Earlier today, the Twins announced that they claimed righthanded reliever Oliver Drake off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays and outfielder Johnny Field from the Cleveland Indians. The team already had two open 40-man roster spots after their wheeling and dealing over the past week, so no further moves will have to be made to accommodate the two players. However, there has not been an announcement as to who will be removed from the active roster for Drake (we can all hope that it’s Matt Belisle) as Drake won’t be activated until Saturday, while Field will be sent to Triple-A Rochester.
Drake, 31, will be playing for his fifth team this season. He started Opening Day as a Brewer and made 11 appearances before being designated for assignment on May 1st. Four days later, he was traded to Cleveland where he made four appearances before being DFA’d again in late May. This time, it was five days before he found his new home when the Angels claimed him off waivers, who then DFA’d him in mid-June and subsequently outrighted him after eight appearances. Drake then lasted a whole month in the Angels minor league system before being claimed off waivers by Toronto to fill the hole created when they dealt Seunghwan Oh to Colorado, and finally was DFA’d one last time to make an additional roster spot after the Blue Jays received David Paulino and Ken Giles in exchange for closer Roberto Osuna.
Overall this season, Drake has a 7.57 ERA and .339 batting average allowed, but it’s his secondary numbers that make him an attractive reliever. Though he sits in the low-90s with his fastball, his career strikeout rate is near 25% as he possesses a deadly split-fingered fastball. His batting average on balls in play is a sky-high .437, so the hope is that he’ll show some positive regression to match this season’s 3.21 FIP and career 3.51 FIP.
As for Field, the Twins organization will be his third for the season. Originally drafted by Tampa Bay, he made his major league debut this season after hitting .351/.400/.432 at Triple-A Durham over 10 games. However, Field only hit .213/.253/.373 with terrible plate discipline numbers in 179 major league plate appearances and was eventually designated for assignment in July after the Rays needed another catcher following Wilson Ramos’ injury. Cleveland claimed him off waivers and kept him in the minors over the past month and a half, though Field was hurt and only appeared in five games for the Indians. He was DFA’d again following the deadline acquisition of outfielder Leonys Martin, and now he will be joining the Rochester Red Wings.
Looking at Field’s minor league stats, he gives me a similar vibe to Jake Cave, though it appears that Cave is still the better player. Bringing in Field is likely just to add organizational depth after Byron Buxton hit the minor league disabled list, though I’d say Field has a nonzero chance of being a September call-up.
Long story short, the Twins are hoping Drake can be a cheap relief option for the rest of the year while Field is merely outfield insurance.