Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Who gets the 40-man spot left by Zumaya?

The Twins took a chance when they signed Joel Zumaya to an incentive-laden contract. That high-risk deal could have come with some great rewards but Zumaya's time with the Twins was over before it even started. Only 13 pitches into his first workout with the Twins, he walked off the mound with soreness in his right elbow. Now the often-injured flamethrower will go under the knife again but this time it will be for Tommy John surgery.

Zumaya's recent injury means the Twins will now have spot open on their 40-man roster for the beginning of the 2012 season. The team will release Zumaya or put him on 60-day DL, which will open up a spot for an outlying player to make the jump to the 40-man roster. There are a variety of candidates in camp for the Twins who would be more than willing to get one step closer to being on the 25-man roster for the organization.

Here are some brief profiles on a few of the candidates but there is always a chance of another player proving his worth in the rest of spring training.

Sean Burroughs, 3B: The former first-round pick has been on quite the roller coaster ride during the last few seasons. After getting mixed up with drugs and alcohol in the mid-2000s, he found himself completely out of baseball and struggling with life. He has overcome those problems and he made his way back to the big leagues with the Diamondbacks in 2011. Burroughs has a chance to challenge Danny Valencia for playing time at third but at this point that could be a long shot. In 2011 Gardenhire seemed to put Valencia in the doghouse on multiple occasions and Burroughs could be waiting in the wings if that happens again this season. He could also provide a veteran bat off of the bench and this could be his last chance to succeed on baseball's biggest stage.

Brian Dozier, SS-2B: After a break-out minor league season in 2011, the Twins and their fans have been keeping a close eye on Dozier so far this spring. With a pitching staff composed of "pitch-to-contact" pitchers, the Twins saw in 2011 how important defense up the middle can be for the success of the team. There have been some questions about whether Dozier will be able to stick at shortstop for the long-term but it looks like the Twins will give him every opportunity to succeed at that position this spring. Jamey Carroll was brought in on a two-year contract to fill the gap at shortstop but a hot start from Dozier could leave the Twins with little choice but to bring him to Minnesota. Dozier isn't required to go on the 40-man roster until the end of the 2012 season but there are good odds he will be making his debut in the coming year.

Jared Burton, RHP: If the Twins want to fill Zumaya's roster spot with a right-handed pitcher, there are plenty of options in camp for the Twins. One of those options comes in the form of Jared Burton who joins the Twins out of the Reds organization. He has seen some success in the past by posting a 2.92 ERA with a 1.289 WHIP and 94 strikeouts from 2007-2008. The last couple of seasons have been spent trying to recover from injuries such as a thyroid dysfunction, a strained oblique, and a shoulder problem. Now he has a clean bill of health and the Twins will be looking for plenty of arms to step-up and earn a spot in the 2012 bullpen. Even if Burton doesn't make the squad when the team leaves Fort Myers, he could be one of the first options to join the team when there is an injury. 

The Twins won't be forced to make this decision on this 40-man roster spot for at least a couple more weeks. This will give each of the above listed players plenty of time to prove they belong one step closer to the big leagues for 2012. With everything he has gone through, the sentimental pick might be the Burroughs comeback story. But the team did struggle to find bullpen options last year, so Burton or another pitcher could be given a chance to start the year. Dozier would be the long-shot at this point; but if the team thinks they will add him later this year, the odds could swing more in his favor.


JimCrikket said...

I know we've all pretty much given up on this possibility, but it does give Terry Ryan the option of filling the spot from outside the organization, as well. They're obviously going to give the 379 pitchers in camp (well, it SEEMS like they have that many) every opportunity first, but if nobody steps up, they could make a deal before Opening Day. It also gives them similar flexibility in case there's an injury during ST and they need to fill another spot from outside.

TT said...

"The Twins won't be forced to make this decision on this 40-man roster spot for at least a couple more weeks."

You have the cart before the horse. The Twins will never be "forced" to make this decision. They don't need to take Zumya off the 40 player roster until they have someone who needs the roster spot.

Its possible, maybe even likely, that they will have several roster spots open up when they establish the 25 player roster and players who are out of options will be waived. So they might not need Zumya's spot for very a long time.

Jim H said...

I am not sure how this works, if they keep Zumaya on the 40 man roster, will they be forced to pay him the $1.8 million? Or just the $400,000? Will Zumaya have to be released to avoid paying him the full amount? Maybe they can negotiate a new deal? If anybody knows I would be interested.

thrylos98 said...

Just to make one procedural thing clear: If Zumaya is still in the Twins' roster (60-day DL or not) after they break camp, he is owed an extra $450K per his contract. This might be a problem for the Twins, or it might not.

I think that the extra sport will go to a pitcher, unless they decide to go with 3 catchers and Towles wins the job. On the other hand, Gray's 40-man spot does not look too secure these days as well, so there might be some additional flexibility there

PK said...

Based on the first few games and his two appearances, it looks like Jared Burton is the front-runner, but there is a long way to go to opening day. I'm guessing Zumaya will eventually be put on the 60-day DL.

TT said...

If thrylo88 is right about owing him the additional $450K, then the Twins will release him unless they can negotiate something for next season.But either way it is irrelevant to the roster discussion.

As I said earlier, there are likely to be several openings on the 40 player roster at the end of spring training. I believe Maloney, Burnett and Gray are out of options. Its hard to imagine all three on the active roster in addition to Terry Doyle, the rule 5 guy who will be sent back if he doesn't make the 25 player roster. And I doubt there will be four players not on the roster now who head north with the team.

Jim H said...

Is Burnett out of options? I thought I had read elsewhere that he had an option left. I think TT is largely correct, Zumaya's spot on the 40 man roster isn't likely to be a big deal. Gray, Maloney and Doyle won't all make the 25 man roster. If Burroughs were to make the roster instead of Hughes, Hughes would still have to be passed through waivers. There are a number of things the Twins can do at the edge of the roster.