After some debate over which arbitration-eligible players would be tendered contracts, the Twins ended up keeping them all, for now at least. The two deadline roster casualties were Jovani Moran and Ronny Henriquez, neither of whom were eligible for arbitration yet.
#MNTwins tendered contracts to everyone except for Jovani Moran, who is about to undergo Tommy John surgery, and Ronny Henriquez.— DanHayesMLB (@DanHayesMLB) November 18, 2023
Twins hope to sign Moran to a two-year minor-league deal and working to bring Henriquez back on a minor-league deal, too.
The 40-man sits at 36.
Both Moran and Henriquez were viewed as promising bullpen pieces as recently as last season, but terrible seasons altered the course. Moran appeared in 43 games for the Twins in 2023, pitching 42.1 innings with a 5.31 ERA. He still struck out plenty of batters, but, as they say in Target Field, walks will haunt. His 14.7% walk rate was 9th worst in all of baseball among pitchers who threw at least 40 innings.
The final straw for Moran came on August 5th against the future NL Champion Arizona Diamondbacks. With the Twins up 12-1, Moran came in to finish the blowout. He displayed a complete inability to control any of his pitches, walking the first three batters he faced. Up that much, your only job is to throw strikes and end the game, and Moran couldn’t even manage that. He was optioned to AAA the next day, where he walked batters even more often in eight games before he was shut down with a forearm injury which ultimately led to Tommy John surgery.
After an elbow injury delayed the start of his season, Henriquez threw 57 innings for St. Paul which were an abject disaster from start to finish. He finished with a 5.69 ERA, but more worrying were his 13.7% walk rate and 18.7% strikeout rate, both career worsts by a large margin. His career averages were 6.7% and 28.9% prior to this season, respectively. With numbers so far off from what he had displayed at any level, it’s safe to assume he was never fully healthy in 2023. Henriquez is still only 23 and would figure to have plenty of interest from teams on a minor league deal, provided he can be fully healthy next year.
As Dan Hayes reported, the Twins would like to keep both in the organization, but with several holes to fill on the Major League squad, they couldn’t afford to keep them on the 40-man roster. The Twins have threaded this needle successfully before, removing players like Kyle Garlick and Jake Cave only to bring them back on minor league pacts shortly thereafter. Moran in particular seems most likely to return for the benefit of rehabbing with the organization you already know.
This also means that the Twins tendered contracts to all six of their arbitration-eligible players. Below are their expected salaries, via MLB Trade Rumors:
- Kyle Farmer: $6.6 million
- Willi Castro: $3.2 million
- Caleb Thielbar: $3 million
- Ryan Jeffers: $2.3 million
- Alex Kirilloff: $1.7 million (Super Two)
- Jorge Alcala: $1 million
- Nick Gordon: $1 million
Almost all of that group was expected back, but the biggest questions were with Gordon and Farmer. While Gordon’s salary is fairly small, he is out of options and coming off of a poor, injury-marred season where Willi Castro took over the role Gordon was supposed to fill. But the Twins need outfield depth and they have to figure there’s a good chance to sneak him through waivers if he doesn’t make the team out of Spring Training.
Farmer is a well-liked, useful player, but $6.6 million is a hefty salary for a utility player on a team reportedly slashing salary. He likely still gets traded before the season, but Farmer fills an important role on the Twins as the only player currently on the 40-man roster who could fill in at shortstop if Carlos Correa were to miss significant time.