MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins non-tendered young pitchers Jovani Moran and Ronny Henriquez off their 40-man roster on Friday ahead of the 7 p.m. CT deadline. The news came in tandem with the announcement that Moran will undergo Tommy John surgery after he finished the season on the IL with a left forearm strain.
Though the pair of pitchers will become free agents, early indications are that Minnesota could look to retain both on Minor League contracts -- likely involving a two-year commitment to Moran.
The Twins tendered contracts to all other players, including all seven of their arbitration-eligibles: Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Alcala, Ryan Jeffers, Kyle Farmer, Alex Kirilloff, Willi Castro and Nick Gordon. The Twins notably did tender a contract to Farmer, who is projected to earn $6.5 million in his final year of arbitration eligibility, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
The moves trimmed the Twins’ 40-man roster down to 36 players.
Moran had some success in limited bullpen action in 2022, but he couldn't find sustained success in ‘23 despite having been given an opportunity to establish himself, consistently struggling to throw strikes as he pitched to a 5.31 ERA in 43 big league appearances before he was sent to the Minors -- and, ultimately, ended the season on the Minor League IL.
The Twins have had some success with such two-year deals for a player recovering from injury. Most recently, they signed Brock Stewart to a two-year Minor League contract in 2022 as he built up from a pair of surgeries, and in turn they saw Stewart serve as one of their best MLB relievers in ‘23. They also signed Michael Pineda in ‘17 to a two-year, MLB deal while he recovered from Tommy John.
Henriquez arrived in the organization as part of the Mitch Garver-Isiah Kiner-Falefa deal during the Twins’ offseason frenzy ahead of the 2022 season and he made a brief appearance in the Majors, but his ‘23 started off slow due to injury and he never made it up to the Twins.
It would not have been surprising to see the Twins get a trade done involving Farmer, whose $6.5 million projection as a bench/platoon player could clash with the organization’s likely need to trim down on payroll for 2024. Minnesota made such a trade a year ago, when it dealt Gio Urshela to the Angels at the non-tender deadline ahead of his projected raise in the arbitration process, and several swaps between other teams occurred Friday evening.
The next notable date for these players will be the deadline to reach a deal to avoid exchanging salary figures and the arbitration process on Jan. 12, 2024. Arbitration hearings are slated to begin Jan. 29.