Last season Scott Diamond was supposed to be the Twins’ Opening Day starter, but instead the left-hander began the year on the disabled list while recovering from offseason surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow.
Once healthy enough to pitch Diamond was terrible for the Twins, going 6-13 with a 5.43 ERA before a demotion to Triple-A. He stayed at Triple-A this season and was even worse with a 6.52 ERA and .328 opponents’ batting average in 80 innings, which convinced the Twins to release the 27-year-old who once was touted as part of their long-term plans.
Diamond has found a new home in the Reds organization, as Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that he’s agreed to a minor-league contract with Cincinnati and will try to turn things around for their Triple-A affiliate. Diamond’s miniscule strikeout rate always meant sustained success would be unlikely, but as far as Triple-A depth goes he’s a fine no-risk pickup for the Reds.
Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN.com reports that the Twins are monitoring the situation of free agent left-hander Joe Saunders and could be interested in signing him if he is willing to take “a minimal deal.”
Saunders made $6.5 million with the Mariners last season, but he struggled to find much interest over the winter after putting up a 5.26 ERA and 107/61 K/BB ratio over 183 innings. The 32-year-old had a tryout last week with the Rangers, who are also on the lookout for rotation depth.
As of now, the Twins project to go with Kevin Correia, Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, and Mike Pelfrey for the first four spots in their starting rotation. Sam Deduno, Scott Diamond, and Vance Worley, who are all out of options, will compete for the final spot this spring.
Phil Hughes will join Ricky Nolasco in a rebuilt Twins rotation, according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, agreeing to a three-year, $24 million contract on Saturday.
Hughes, the winter’s youngest free agent at age 27, is coming off a rough season in which he went 4-14 with a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts and one relief appearance for the Yankees. Getting out of Yankee Stadium and it’s shallow right field porch should do him a whole lot of good, though it’s not like he’s been any sort of ace on the road, either.
The curious thing is that Hughes held out for the longer deal rather than going the Josh Johnson route and signing a one-year contract, with the chance of landing a much bigger payday next winter. Certainly, if he had bounced back and turned in a season more like his 2012, he could have been in a position to land the kind of four-year, $49 million deal that Nolasco just got or something bigger. Frankly, it suggests a lack of confidence that he’d rather have the much more modest three-year deal right now.
With Hughes and Nolasco in the fold, the Twins have clearly upgraded what was the league’s ugliest rotation last season. Kevin Correia will be back to occupy another spot, with Samuel Deduno a heavy favorite to join him. The team still has to decide whether to bring in another veteran or to let Kyle Gibson, Vance Worley, Andrew Albers and Scott Diamond compete for the fifth spot.