Well, he’s apparently the new Clay Condrey. The Twins signed Condrey to a similar deal last year, though Condrey suffered an elbow injury before even throwing a pitch for the big-league club. This signing is mostly to give the team depth without having to commit much in terms of years or dollars. The deal isn’t terrible in terms of length or money, but it is puzzling that the Twins would guarantee someone like Hacker a spot on the 40-man roster. This is a front office that is typically very protective of its roster spots, since they like to protect their minor leaguers from the Rule V draft. However, the Twins do have eight impending free agents and only a few players worth protecting from the Rule V draft, so roster space isn’t quite such a premium this season. The Hacker signing does indicate that the team probably doesn’t anticipate re-signing many of its free agent pitchers, which probably isn’t a bad thing.
Hacker isn’t really anything to get excited about. He was drafted by the Yankees in the 23rd round of the 2002 draft, but suffered a string of elbow and shoulder injuries and didn’t make his minor-league debut until 2007. He was traded to the Pirates for Romulo Sanchez in 2009, then signed a minor-league deal as a free agent with the Giants last year. His only season in the major leagues came with the Pirates in 2009, when he posted an underwhelming 6.00 ERA and 1/2 K/BB ratio in just three innings. That he wasn’t really good enough to stick with a 99-loss Pirates team probably says a lot about Eric Hacker. His minor league stats aren’t very impressive either: a 3.50 ERA, 2.35 K/BB ratio, and 4.43 FIP in seven seasons.
Hacker isn’t any significant upgrade over Anthony Swarzak or Jeff Manship or any of the other good-control, mediocre-stuff pitchers that the Twins already have on the roster. That the Twins don’t feel as though their in-house options are better than a guy like Eric Hacker is a bit troubling. Either they are concerned about the lack of pitching depth in the upper minors (which, as Seth Stohs notes, they probably should be), or they feel that Hacker’s 16 minor-league wins last season make him a significant upgrade over any of their in-house options. All things considered, however, it’s hard to complain about adding pitching depth to a team that desperately needs it. Erin is a contributing writer for Twinkie Talk. You can email her at erinm725 [at] gmail [dot] com.