Twins sign Parker to help bolster bullpen

Right-hander signs 1-year contract with incentives for 2019

January 14th, 2019
Los Angeles Angels pitcher Blake Parker (53) delivers against the Texas Rangers during the ninth inning of a baseball game Monday, Sept. 3, 2018, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Mike Stone)Mike Stone/AP

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins made their first bullpen acquisition of the offseason on Monday by signing former Angels reliever , a veteran of six Major League seasons, to a one-year contract with a base salary of $1.8 million.
Parker can earn more money at several milestones. He will receive an additional $500,000 for 130 games spent on the active roster, $400,000 at 140 games and $250,000 each for 150 and 160 games. He can earn up to $3.2 million in 2019 under this contract structure.
The 33-year-old Parker saved 14 games and recorded a 3.26 ERA in 2018, his first year of arbitration eligibility, but he was non-tendered by the Angels following the season. Parker broke out in '17, when he had a 2.54 ERA (168 ERA+) with 86 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings and eight saves as the closer for part of the season.
Parker relies heavily on his splitter, which has generated a 43 percent whiff rate since Statcast™ was introduced in 2015, ranking fourth among pitchers drawing at least 400 swings on splitters in that period. But the velocity of all three of his pitches dropped in '18, with his fastball dipping from 93.5 mph in '17 to 92.1 mph, and he saw a decrease in his strikeout rate and an increase in his hard-hit rate.
Parker represents another affordable high-ceiling addition for the Twins this offseason, especially if he can regain his 2017 form. Minnesota is making a similar bet on , who was signed to a one-year, $7.5 million contract that would provide substantial value if the second baseman can approach the 32 homers and .841 OPS from his All-Star campaign in '17. C.J. Cron's 30-homer power is signed for only $4.8 million in '19.
Though he doesn't have a lengthy track record as a closer, Parker should slot into the back end of the bullpen alongside , , and , and he could get consideration for the ninth inning, especially if the Twins don't add a more experienced closer before the season.
Parker was originally a 16th-round selection in the 2006 MLB Draft out of the University of Arkansas and he spent three seasons with the Cubs before being released in 2015. He has two seasons of team control remaining.
In a corresponding move, right-handed reliever was designated for assignment. Curtiss, 25, who is ranked as the Twins' No. 26 prospect by MLB Pipeline, logged a 7.20 ERA in 17 relief appearances for the club across two seasons. He recorded 10 saves with 61 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings for Triple-A Rochester in 2018.