Twins Sign Relief Pitcher Matt Belisle

Twins Sign Matt Belisle to Major League Contract – Last Pitched with the Washington Nationals.

I was originally going to post an update on what the Twins’ brain trust shared over the weekend at this year’s Twins Fest. Minnesota’s President of Baseball Operations, Derek Falvey, dropped the nugget that Minnesota would be looking to pick up a couple more relievers prior to Spring Training.

In just a few days, the once-slow market for free agent pitchers heated up with multiple signings league-wide. Finally, news broke that the Twins had come to terms with one themselves.

Tonight, per Jon Heyman at FanRag Sports:

That makes it one relief arm down, one or two more to go. The market is thinning quickly, however. One of the Twins’ top targets, Boone Logan, signed earlier today with the reigning division champs, the Cleveland Indians.

Belisle, 36, signed a one-year, major league contract worth $2.05 million (with possible bonuses).

The signing of a major league deal means that the Twins must make a corresponding roster move to get back down to 40 players.

Belisle originally came up to the bigs with the Cincinnati Reds, starting 30 games ten years ago. Since then, he’s been primarily a reliever.

His career ERA is 4.20, but he’s been remarkably better than that the past two seasons – first with the St. Louis Cardinals (2.67) and last year with the Nationals (1.76 in 40 games).

He has a career 3-1 strikeout/walk ratio, with one of his best performances in hitter-friendly Coors Field in 2010 when he posted the great slash line in 76 appearances: (92 IP / 91 Ks / 16 BB / 2.93 ERA / 1.09 WHIP).

We’ll know shortly who the odd man out is on the 40-man roster. The prevailing opinion is that the top candidate is fellow righty reliever, Michael Tonkin, who is out of options.

Belisle is not a situational pitcher. He’s able to record outs from right-handed batters and lefties alike. That, in and of itself, is why Tonkin may be looking for a new home this weekend.

Belisle, despite keeping potentially damaging lefties to an extremely low .190 OBP, was left off the post-season roster after developing a calf strain. Oddly, he allowed a .340 OBP to right-handed batters – one stat to keep an eye on this coming season.

Reliever Joe Blanton, who last year pitched for the L.A. Dodgers, is still an interesting Twins’ relief target. With the pool dwindling quickly this week, a decision should be made in the next couple days by Blanton and his agent on his next team.

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