The Twins announced that they signed right-handed relief pitcher Josh Staumont to a one-year contract. Staumont was non-tendered by the Kansas City Royals earlier this offseason. The 40-man roster now sits at 37.
Welcome to Minnesota, Josh!— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) December 27, 2023
We have signed the right handed pitcher to a 1-year deal! pic.twitter.com/9cUsy0c5Tf
The exact financials of the deal have not been disclosed at this time, but he was projected to make between $1.2 - $1.7 million in arbitration, so it’s safe to assume the final number is below that projection. If Staumont performs this season, he is controllable for one additional year via arbitration before becoming a free agent after 2025.
Staumont was once considered a promising back-end bullpen option for KC. He pitched 110.2 innings with a 2.93 ERA/3.95 FIP, 26.7% K rate, and a 11.4% walk rate from 2019 to 2021. The last two years have been much more concerning, with his numbers ballooning to a 6.09 ERA and 15.9% walk rate, though his FIP and K rate were right in line with his career averages. Prior to 2023, he relied primarily on a fastball-curveball combination, but last season he added a fairly effective slider to his pitch mix.
Perhaps more concerning is his health situation. Staumont missed 124 games over the last two seasons with what was deemed at the time as a neck strain, but ultimately turned out to be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. If that sounds familiar, it’s the same issue that derailed Phil Hughes’ Twins’ career after a promising start. It was also what Chris Archer was recovering from when he signed with the Twins in 2022.
TOS is a fairly new phenomenon without much data to show how pitchers are able to recover, though the list is not an encouraging one. Beyond Hughes and Archer, other pitchers to receive treatment include Matt Harvey, Chris Young, Tyson Ross, and Twins legend Jaime Garcia. All formerly effective pitchers who weren’t very good upon their return.
However, there are a few distinct differences to note. The first is that Staumont is a reliever, while the other pitchers were trying to return as starters. Chris Archer’s innings were carefully managed by the Twins in 2022 to help his effectiveness, which will be much easier to do out of the bullpen. The second point is that we don’t know the extent of Staumont’s treatment. The diagnosis typically involves a resection of a small portion of the lower ribs, but it’s unclear if Staumont received that same surgery or a different type of treatment. Either way, the Twins felt good enough about it to give him a Major League deal.
This also marks the first MLB move the Twins have made this offseason. With the team cutting costs, they’ve been waiting for the markets to settle and see where they can extract some value. Between his good stuff, shaky control, and injury concerns, Staumont is a good low-cost, high-ceiling option. He’ll slot into the bullpen hierarchy with the likes of Jorge Alcala, Kody Funderburk, and Jordan Balazovic, bringing them into low-leverage situations as Rocco is sorting out who can be trusted down the line.
This deal also likely has minimal impact on future moves. Staumont’s deal is likely near the league minimum, meaning he won’t significantly impact spending. Additionally, there’s a good chance he starts the season on the IL, meaning the Twins still likely need another reliever to push someone like Cole Sands out of the Opening Day mix. Don’t plan on them jumping in on the likes of Josh Hader or Robert Stephenson, but another couple of low-end MLB deals or high-end minor league ones makes a lot of sense. After all, you can never have enough pitching.