Tim Wood and September Call-Ups

I saw on mlbtraderumors.com today that the Twins had signed RHP Tim Wood to a minor league deal for next season with an invitation to Spring Training.

Wood was the top closer in the AAA International Association in 2012, at least among those pitchers who spent most of the season in that league.  He saved 21 games, which was one off the league lead and had a 2.19 ERA and 67 Ks in 70 innings pitched with great ratios for the Indianapolis Indians.

Apparently the Pirates, a team that almost always needs more pitching, felt that Wood’s performance didn’t deserve a September call-up, at least insofar as I was unable to find anything on the internet to suggest that Wood wasn’t healthy come the end of the International League season.

Apparently Wood was not on the Pirates’ 40-man roster, which means they would have had to drop someone and potentially expose that player to waivers in order to promote Wood.  Needless to say, the Pirates also saved a few dollars (probably around $50,000) by not promoting Wood.  To the low-rent Pirates, even such a slight savings may feel significant.

In my mind, failing to call up a player for the last few weeks of the major league season after a AAA season as good as Wood’s did  is counterproductive.  Promoting these kinds of players sends a message to everyone in the minor league system that performance will be rewarded by the parent club.  It also gives the parent club a much better chance at re-signing a valuable veteran player for the next season.  Even if Wood’s promotion meant dropping someone else from the 40-man roster, it’s hard to believe the Pirates didn’t have even one player less deserving than Wood.

Wood is a small right-hander who will be 30 next season, so it’s entirely likely the Pirates just didn’t see him in their future plans no matter how great a season he had.  However, he’s always had fairly good stuff (at least based on his strikeout rates), but lacked major league command, at least until the last year and half at Indianapolis.

If his command has genuinely improved, he could still be an effective relief pitcher at the major league level for at least a couple of seasons.  As such, his signing is a great low-risk, low-cost move for the Twins.

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