Twins add to bullpen by getting Jepsen from Rays
Thielbar DFA'd; New reliever set to join club Saturday
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins received much-needed relief help before Friday's non-waiver Trade Deadline, as they acquired right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen from the Rays for two Minor Leaguers.
The Twins sent pitchers Chih-Wei Hu and Alexis Tapia to Tampa Bay. Hu was ranked Minnesota's No. 20 prospect by MLBPipeline.com. The Twins also designated Triple-A left-hander Caleb Thielbar for assignment. Jepsen will join the Twins on Saturday, and a corresponding move will come then.
Jepsen, 31, figures to be the club's top setup reliever for closer Glen Perkins, as the Twins are looking to upgrade a bullpen that has posted a 3.97 ERA, which ranks 24th in the Majors.
"We were trying to upgrade the bullpen and Jepsen has experience, has pitched in the postseason and has pitched in the back end of bullpens for contending teams," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "He'll help us. There's no question."
Jepsen has a 2.81 ERA with 34 strikeouts and 20 walks in 41 2/3 innings with Tampa Bay this year. The eight-year veteran, who played with the Angels from 2008-14 before joining the Rays this season, has a career 3.80 ERA with 305 strikeouts and 130 walks in 322 1/3 innings.
Jepsen was teammates with Torii Hunter and Ervin Santana from 2008-12, and both had nothing but positives to say about him.
"He has a really good arm," Hunter said. "I think he'll definitely help us out. He has some experience. I've seen him grow."
Said Santana: "Tremendous. He knows how to pitch. He throws gas. He's nasty. Anywhere you put him, he's going to get the job done."
He's a hard thrower, as his fastball averages 94.4 mph, according to Fangraphs.com. He also mixes in a curveball and an occasional changeup.
Jepsen is making $3.03 million this year and is eligible for arbitration again next season before he can become a free agent after the 2016 season.
"That was big because we certainly want to bring a guy over here that was going to stay with us for longer than the two-month period," Ryan said. "It's important to get some control so you're not renting a player for two months."
Ryan said the Twins could still look to make a move in August, but that it's more difficult because of the waiver process. He also said he tried to make other moves right up until the 3 p.m. CT Deadline.
"Just because you do one deal you don't just shut it down," Ryan said. "We've talked about various things over the last 10 days or so and some were serious talks. But most of our looks were bullpen-oriented. I don't to get too carried away here that we were trying to fix multiple positions. We were concentrating mostly on bullpen."
Hu, 21, had a 2.44 ERA with 73 strikeouts and 19 walks in 84 2/3 innings with Class A Advanced Fort Myers. He made a spot start with Triple-A Rochester, allowing one run over six innings against Tampa Bay's affiliate on May 19. He was signed by the Twins as an amateur free agent in 2012 from Taichung, Taiwan.
Tapia, 19, posted a 3.82 ERA with 33 strikeouts and seven walks in 33 innings with Rookie-level Elizabethton this season. He also made two relief appearances early in the season for Fort Myers. He was signed as an amateur free agent in 2012 from Valencia, Venezuela.