Minnesota has avoided arbitration with backup catcher Drew Butera by signing him to a one-year, $700,000 deal.
Butera is perhaps the worst hitter in baseball, batting .183 with a .497 OPS in 184 career games, but the Twins are in love with his defense and have kept him on the roster for three seasons as a second- and third-string catcher.
Giving him a big-league roster spot and job are very much debatable decisions, but Butera was arbitration eligible for the first time and basically gets the lowest possible jump in salary. Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit are expected to once again alternate between catcher and designated hitter, leaving Butera to soak up whatever playing time behind the plate remains.
The Rays have traded right-hander Jake Odorizzi to the Twins, per team announcements on Saturday evening. The Twins will receive minor league shortstop Jermaine Palacios in the deal. Despite previous speculation, recently-DFA’d outfielder Corey Dickerson was not included in the trade.
With Odorizzi, the Twins finally have the front-end starter they’ve been seeking all winter. It’s a bargain deal as well, as the 27-year-old righty is under contract through 2019 and didn’t require the club to part with any of their top-shelf prospects in the trade. Odorizzi will be looking to stage a comeback in 2018 after a dismal performance with the Rays last year, during which he eked out a career-worst 4.14 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 through 143 1/3 innings.
Palacios, 21, ranked no. 27 in the Twins’ system last season. He split his year between Single-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers, raking a combined .296/.333/.454 with 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 539 plate appearances. He’s expected to continue developing at shortstop, though he’s also seen limited time at second and third base during his four-year career in the minors.