How MLB rules help Twins' impending minor league free agents

The Minnesota Twins practice during summer training camp. (FOX 9)

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Despite there being no minor league season in 2020, players will receive credit for this season. Players who would have been free agents after the 2020 season under normal circumstances will, in fact, become free agents after the 2020 season. Which Twins minor leaguers does this impact?

Last week, Baseball America’s JJ Cooper wrote the following:

“There was no 2020 MiLB season, so a legal argument could have been constructed that there was no championship season, which would mean that all players who came into the season with six years of minor league service time compiled would have to wait until after the 2021 season to reach free agency.”

So, what does this mean for Minnesota Twins and their players?

Well, mostly it means that it will affect them as if there was a season played. If they would have said that it isn’t a ‘championship season’, all players would be one year further from free agency. The team would have had one more year of control.

Six-Year Minor League Free Agents

Players that the Twins signed in the past offseason on minor league deal will be free agents at season’s end, unless they are on the 40-man roster.

So, a player like Calten Daal or Mitch Horacek who are on minor league deals with the Twins will become free agents at the end of the year.

Guys like Drew Maggi and Jack Reinheimer and Wilfredo Tovar who are on the current Twins 60-player pool will become free agents at the end of the season, unless they are added to the 40-man roster before then.

Caleb Thielbar signed a minor league free agent deal with the Twins. He was practicing in St. Paul. He got added to the 40-man roster to be added to the team’s 28-man roster. If the Twins keep him on their 40-man roster all season, he isn’t a free agent. But if the Twins do take him off of the 40-man roster, he can become a free agent.

First-Time Free Agents

Players drafted in the 2014 MLB draft are eligible to be free agents at the end of the season. So are the guys who signed as international free agents after the 2013 season and through the 2014 season.

Sam Clay - LHP - 27

Clay was the Twins fourth round pick in 2014 out of Georgia Tech. The Twins gave him an opportunity to start and he was an All Star starting pitcher in the Midwest League, but he moved to the bullpen where he has had some ups and downs. However, he is left-handed, and he has allowed just one home run since the 2017 season. He is at the Twins alternate training site. During the Twins recent road trip, he was on the taxi squad.

Jake Reed - RHP - 27

Reed was the team’s fifth round pick in 2014 out of the University of Oregon. Reed signed quickly and immediately made a strong impression. After a dominant debut, he went to the Arizona Fall League. In 2015, he was quickly promoted to Double-A. The past four seasons have been split between Double-A and Triple-A. At times, particularly the second half of 2018, he was dominant. However, he has not been given a big-league opportunity. He has not been added to the Twins player pool, though one would hope if that group expands (as has been discussed), he would be in that group.

Andro Cutura - RHP - 26

Cutura was the Twins’ seventh round pick in 2014 from Southeastern Louisiana University. After just six starts in 2016, he needed Tommy John surgery and missed all of 2017. He returned in 2018. He spent most of 2020 at Double-A Pensacola and pitched four innings for the Red Wings.

Jose Martinez - RHP - 23

Martinez signed from Venezuela with the Twins on August 3rd, 2013. His progression through the organization has been slow. He spent a season each in the Dominican Summer League and the Gulf Coast League. He then spent two years with the Elizabethton Twins. He spent 2018 and 2019 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Moises Gomez - RHP - 23

The Twins signed Gomez out of Venezuela in April of 2014. They were patient with him early. He spent a year in the DSL before spending two seasons in the Gulf Coast League. He split 2017 between Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids. He missed time with injury in 2018 but pitched his nine games in E-Town. In 2019, he was one of the top relief pitchers in the minor league system. Between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, he posted a 2.91 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP. He also pitched in the Arizona Fall League.

One More To Watch

Nick Gordon was added to the Twins 40-man roster after the 2018 season. 2020 is his second option year, so obviously he would have another option after this year. However, if the Twins top pick from that 2014 draft were to be removed from the 40-man roster and unclaimed, the 24-year-old could become a free agent as well.