The Twins acquired versatile infielder Ildemaro Vargas from the D-backs on Tuesday in exchange for cash considerations in a move that manager Rocco Baldelli described as possibly being oriented toward the long term.
Vargas, 29, doesn't fill an area of need on the Twins' 2020 roster. Marwin González and Ehire Adrianza already offer plenty of versatility around the infield, with Willians Astudillo and No. 19 prospect Travis Blankenhorn also waiting in the wings at the St. Paul, Minn., alternate training site. Baldelli also said the acquisition had nothing to do with Josh Donaldson's right calf strain, which has lingered since July 31.
According to Baldelli, it instead had more to do with what the Twins liked about Vargas' skillset and the idea of adding him to the roster as another potential utility option moving forward.
"I think we would be looking into acquiring Vargas regardless of what we had," Baldelli said. "Bringing a guy in that you really like, as opposed to a certain fit. We're bringing him in knowing that we have guys that fill similar roles already and guys that can do some of the things that he can do.
"It's not like we didn't have that already, but we think that this is a player that can do it and do it for us going forward in the future."
Vargas was designated for assignment by the D-backs on Thursday after starting the season 3-for-20 with a walk. He has extensive Minor League experience and is a career .257/.287/.387 hitter in 265 big league games over four seasons. He saw his most playing time in 2019, when he appeared in 92 games. Most of that action was at second base, though Vargas also appeared at third base, shortstop and in the corner outfield spots. He also played some first base this season.
Baldelli expects Vargas to join the Twins when they return to Minneapolis at the conclusion of their current road trip. Minnesota's player pool is full at 60 players. Vargas will soon be added to the 28-man active roster, though no corresponding move has been announced at this time.
Vargas is out of Minor League options, meaning that the Twins would need to designate him for assignment and expose him to outright waivers to move him off the active roster. If Vargas maintains his roster spot through the end of the season, he could make sense as a utility option in coming years based on Minnesota's roster situation.
Both Adrianza and González are bound for free agency at the end of this season, meaning there could be room for Vargas' versatility alongside the likes of Blankenhorn and possibly Nick Gordon. It's worth noting that the Twins also claimed Adrianza off waivers in 2017 in a similar situation as a versatile, out-of-options infielder.
"I don't think this is a short-term play for us in any way," Baldelli said. "He's a guy that we're going to bring in, and we already like what he can do, and maybe we can even develop him even more in some ways and kind of let him settle in and see what kind of role it ends up looking like. It's more about the ability of the player than the circumstances of our season."
The Twins activated Astudillo off the 10-day injured list and optioned him to their alternate training site on Tuesday. That's where Astudillo had already been working out since he was cleared for baseball activity on July 26 after he tested positive for COVID-19 during the intake screening for Summer Camp.
"I think he's in great shape," Baldelli said. "It may be more of an administrative-type move as far as where he's at. Not much is going to change as far as what he's doing. He's doing very well. Knowing that he is an option for us -- always, at any given point -- it's a very good feeling, and you never know when those moves are going to come. They could come any time."