Twins activate Odorizzi, DFA Mejia

Baldelli: 'It is one of those very challenging decisions'

July 13th, 2019

CLEVELAND -- was designated for assignment on Saturday to make room on the Twins' roster for , who was activated from the 10-day injured list as expected before his scheduled start in the second game of the series between the Twins and Indians at Progressive Field.

Most notably in terms of the upcoming July 31 Trade Deadline, Mejia's removal means that the Twins' 40-man roster is down to 38 players after Andrew Vasquez was also outrighted off the 40-man on July 4, creating two possible openings for additions to the club.

"Obviously, we wanted to keep Mejia here," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He's got a great arm from the left side. He's made some adjustments. He's done a nice job for us at different times this year. I just think it is one of those very challenging decisions that there's no real good answer here. We had to make the best decision at the time for us."

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster. Within seven days of the transaction (it had been 10 days under the 2012-16 Collective Bargaining Agreement), the player can either be traded or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

The 26-year-old Mejia had been converted from starting to a relief role during Spring Training due to the Twins' abundance of rotation options, with the hopes that his big arm -- touching the mid-90s from the left side -- could adjust to the bullpen. Mejia, who was acquired from the Giants in 2016, was out of Minor League options, meaning that he would need to work through the transition at the Major League level.

But that transition didn't go as smoothly as the Twins had hoped, as Mejia posted an 8.74 ERA with 11 strikeouts and nine walks in 11 1/3 innings before he was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain.

Mejia missed 56 games as he worked not only to recover from the injury, but also to retool some of his mechanics at the Twins' Minor League facility in Fort Myers, Fla., in the hopes that he could regain command and consistency with his pitches. But his struggles continued upon his return, and he allowed two hits, two walks and a homer in the 11th inning of the Twins' July 7 loss to the Rangers that closed out the first half.

Though , and all have remaining Minor League options, strong seasons from all three relievers made it difficult for the Twins to push any of them off the roster.

"The fact we have several guys that have options on our roster that have pitched really well makes some of the decisions very difficult," Baldelli said. "We haven't had a situation where we go back and forth a ton like you do see around baseball these days. But it's because our guys have pitched really well."

Mejia posted a 4.63 ERA in 40 games -- including 25 starts -- for the Twins across four seasons.

"He was very thankful to everyone," Baldelli said. "The conversations are, obviously, very difficult. He's a great young man who is going to go on and do good things."

Odorizzi had been removed from his July 2 start against the A's with a blister on his right hand, which he said affected the way his fastball, slider and splitter all came out of his hand. The effects on his command were apparent in that game, when he issued more walks than strikeouts for the first time in nearly three months.

The All-Star right-hander said at the time that it was a recurring issue over several seasons that he could have pitched through, but the Twins decided to put him on the shelf and hold him out of his final start of the first half and the All-Star Game in order to have his hand ready for Saturday's start against the Indians.

Odorizzi had a 1.92 ERA with only four homers allowed through his first 13 starts of the season, but since has yielded six long balls in his past four appearances, during which he has 18 strikeouts and eight walks in 18 1/3 innings.