Minnesota Twins lose Oliver Drake on waivers, opens door for relief pitcher additions
By Nate Palmer
The Minnesota Twins are set to begin work on a very important offseason and a small move involving Oliver Drake may signal bigger moves to come.
The Minnesota Twins, in some normal offseason roster moves, lost two players this past weekend via waiver claims. First off, Johnny Field will be headed to join the Chicago Cubs organization. This really isn’t a big deal especially after the Twins claim of Michael Reed recently. What has at least a touch of intrigue to it is that the Twins exposed relief pitcher Oliver Drake and lost him to the Tampa Bay Rays to cut the 40-man roster down to 36.
Drake had one of the most intriguing storylines of the 2018 season for unconventional reasons. As was covered at length after joining the Twins, Drake set a major league record for teams played for, with the Twins being the fifth MLB team in 2018. The others were the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, and Los Angeles Angels.
As I wrote more in depth at the time of the claim, while the claim was a head scratching move there were plenty of deeper level stats that gave reason for optimism concerning Drake and his ability to have success in the Twins bullpen. Those stats seemed to prevail as it was success that Drake had in the Twins bullpen.
The 31-year-old right hander appeared in 19 games for the Twins and logged 20.1 innings. Over that time on the mound for Minnesota, Drake logged a 2.21 ERA, recorded 22 strikeouts and seven walks, and a 9.7 K/9. There may have been some luck with those results as Drake’s FIP ended the season at 3.31, but even with that FIP his season was still filled with some solid performances. That all came from someone who likely felt weird ever unpacking his suitcase in 2018.
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I don’t want to stand here and advocate that the Twins should have never exposed Drake to waivers and risk losing him. While Drake could have potentially provided value to the Twins in 2019, there is something bigger that it seems to signal as the Twins front office is set to embark on the GM meetings.
The Twins are positioned with plenty of assets to acquire players this offseason in the way of both cash and trade assets. Clearing the space of Drake off of the 40-man and out of the bullpen signals once again that the Twins are looking to use some of those assets on relief pitching.
There are plenty of quality veterans available so it will just be a matter of time to see who the Twins start to pursue seriously. MLB Trade Rumors recently released predictions on where free agents will sign and they linked the Twins to former New York Mets closer Jeurys Familia for 3 years and $33 million. He certainly could be on the Twins radar along with pitchers such as Craig Kimbrel, Zach Britton, David Robertson, and Adam Ottavino and many other relievers.
We all know this is a big offseason for the Twins in their quest to become an annual postseason contender and eventual World Series winner. It appears the Twins front office may have quietly signalled that the bullpen is one of the areas they have their eyes on as a top priority heading into 2019.