Twins trade Jaime Garcia to Yankees for two minor-league pitchers
MINNEAPOLIS — After making just one start in a Twins uniform, the veteran left-hander was shipped to the New York Yankees early Sunday morning for a pair of minor leaguers.
The Twins, according to a person with direct knowledge, will also pick up all but the pro-rated minimum of Garcia's remaining $4.2 million salary, as he heads into free agency this offseason. That will leave the Yankees on the hook for just $187,000 the rest of the season.
The Twins will receive Double-A right-hander Zack Littell, who has gone a combined 14-1 with a 1.87 earned run average in 20 outings (18 starts) this season. Originally drafted by the Seattle Mariners in the 11th round in 2013, Littell, 21, is rated the 22nd-best prospect in a deep Yankees system.
Littell is 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds with a career walk rate of just 2.0 batters per nine innings. Armed with a low-90s fastball and an above-average curveball, his strikeout rate has spiked to 10.64 per nine in seven starts since making the jump from Class A Tampa.
Also joining the Twins is Triple-A left-hander Dietrich Enns. A former 19th-round pick out of Central Michigan, the 26-year-old Enns is 1-1 with a 2.29 ERA in seven starts at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after missing 2 1/2 months with a shoulder strain.
Softening the financial blow to some extent, according to a person with direct knowledge, the Twins carry insurance on their $66 million obligation to injured right-hander Phil Hughes. Active for just 70 days this season before being placed on the 60-day disabled list on July 18, Hughes' $13.2 million salary includes up to $8.15 million while on the DL.
Such policies typically carry deductibles, whether for the first 30 DL days or longer, as well as exceptions for specific types of injuries. The details of the Twins' coverage on Hughes are unknown, but a fractured leg sent him to the DL for the final 116 days of the 2016 season, a potential rebate of up to $5.83 million on the $9.2 million he earned last year.
The Twins also are paying $4 million toward Ricky Nolasco's $12 million salary with the Los Angeles Angels this season.
Officially acquired on July 24 from the Atlanta Braves at the start of an eight-game road trip, Garcia was brought in to help the surprising Twins remain in contention. Instead, they were swept in a three-game series at Dodger Stadium and suffered a walk-off loss on a two-run homer by Rajai Davis in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday night in Oakland.
Garcia, 31, worked 6 2/3 innings and picked up the victory after allowing three earned runs on Friday night at the Oakland A's. After reworking an initial agreement due to the Braves' medical concerns over relief prospect Nick Burdi, the Twins gave up rookie-level right-hander Huascar Ynoa to acquire Garcia and his remaining obligation.
Ynoa received an $800,000 signing bonus out of the Dominican Republic in July 2014. Littell signed for $100,000 with the Mariners.
Garcia joins right-hander Jeff Bittiger as the only pitchers to go 1-0 while winning their only start in Twins history. On Sept. 7, 1987, Bittiger worked the first seven innings in an 8-1 win over the Chicago White Sox, allowing a solo homer in the sixth to Harold Baines.
Four days later in Cleveland, Bittiger retired just one batter while giving up three runs in the fourth inning of a 13-10 win. His final appearance for the Twins came in relief at Kansas City on Oct. 4 (one earned run in one inning), and Bittiger, now a pro scout for the Oakland A's, was left off the postseason roster and subsequently released on Nov. 12.
Since 1961 six other pitchers have gone 1-0 while making one start in a Twins season, but all of them earned their victories in relief.
Garcia's quick turnaround was reminiscent of hall of fame catcher Mike Piazza's eight-day stay with the then Florida Marlins in May 1998. Piazza, acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a blockbuster salary dump, played in five games before being shipped to the New York Mets.
Also Sunday, the Twins announced they had released veteran left-hander Craig Breslow, who had been designated for assignment on July 23. Breslow, 36, earned $1.25 million after posting a 5.23 ERA in 30 relief outings.