The Twins have released reliever Joe Smith, per Betsy Halfand of the Pioneer Press (via Twitter). The 38-year-old side-slinger appeared in 34 games for the Twins this season, pitching to a palatable 4.61 ERA. His usage was fairly protected, however, compiling only 27 1/3 total innings in that time, and his peripheral numbers suggest a performance that doesn’t exactly fall in line with his prolific career. Smith’s 6.29 FIP was the worst such mark of his career, and his hard hit percentage rose to 42.1 percent, well-above the league average mark of 35.7 percent.
Still, it’s certainly possible that, by pedigree alone, Smith catches on somewhere to finish out the season. Smith has appeared in every season since 2007 (except for 2020, for which he opted out), taking turns with the Guardians, Mets, Angels, Blue Jays, Astros, Cubs, and Mariners before suiting up for the Twins. His most stable function came as a setup man for the Guardians from 2009 to 2013, but particularly the final three seasons of that stretch in which he averaged 71 appearances and just under 66 frames with a 2.42 ERA/3.33 FIP and almost 21 holds per campaign.
In addition, right-handers Aaron Sanchez and Jharel Cotton have both cleared waivers and accepted assignments to Triple-A St. Paul, per The Athletic’s Dan Hayes (via Twitter). The pair could serve as depth for the rest of the season as the Twins make a push for the playoffs.
Cotton, 30, made 25 appearances covering 30 innings for the Twins this season, posting a disjointed 2.83 ERA/5.48 FIP, 21.5 percent strikeout rate, 11.1 percent walk rate, and 29.5 percent groundball rate. Sanchez, 30, made one start for the Twins and previously made seven starts for the Nationals. In total, the veteran has registered a 7.68 ERA/4.93 FIP over 36 1/3 innings for the two clubs combined.
Frankly, the Twins have enough pitching depth in Triple-A right now with players like Devin Smeltzer, Josh Winder, and Jovani Moran – all of whom remain on the 40-man roster – that the greater possibility is that Sanchez and Cotton simply help cover the innings load in St. Paul for the rest of the season. Not to mention, Minnesota has a number of arms on the injured list that could still return to bolster the Major League crew.