The Minnesota Twins’ and Matt Shoemaker’s time together has reached an end, just days after Shoemaker made critical comments to the Pioneer Press about how the team instructed him to pitch.
The Twins released the veteran starter, who began the year in their rotation and was pitching at Triple-A, a move manager Rocco Baldelli said had been in the works before Shoemaker made his comments.
“Those are comments that probably didn’t need to be made, but those were not the driving force in the decision and what happened with Shoe,” Baldelli said. “This was something that we had discussed and was already in play before those comments were made.”
The Twins plan to spend the next couple of months getting a look at some of their younger arms. As a result, Baldelli said, it was going to be hard for Shoemaker to have a chance to return to the major-league level. Releasing him potentially opens up opportunities for the 34-year-old veteran elsewhere.
“Out of respect for him, to know that, we just wanted to do what we thought was probably the right thing to do and let him get an opportunity to go pitch somewhere where he may be able to get back to the big leagues a little bit easier,” Baldelli said.
The Twins signed Shoemaker this offseason to a one year, $2 million deal to fill a back-of-the-rotation spot. The move backfired and the Twins eventually demoted him to the bullpen following a start in which he gave up nine runs (eight earned) while recording just one out in Kansas City. After five relief appearances, the Twins designated him for assignment. He had an 8.06 earned-run average.
Shoemaker accepted an assignment to Triple-A, where he had a 1.80 ERA in four appearances with the Saints. In his last start, he threw seven scoreless innings, after which he said he was “pitching the opposite of how the Twins wanted me to pitch.”
“This is not a bashing of the Twins. The Twins wanted to get more out of me in spring training — I understand that — but unfortunately it failed miserably,” Shoemaker said. “Because we’re not all robots. We’re individual people.”
Shoemaker also said he blamed himself for not saying no and that “analytics can’t quantify someone’s heart in competition.”
The Twins may not be making the playoffs, but they still plan to get the most out of the next couple months.
Part of that will be evaluating younger players and how they might fit moving forward. As part of that, Baldelli said the Twins will begin a review process over the course of the next week or so.
“We’re kind of in a little bit of a transition phase as we speak, and so we’re going to approach it a little differently and with a little bit more formality, at least for now,” Baldelli said. “…We’re going to go through and discuss all of our players and have some specific things that they’re going to spend time on from now until the end of the regular season (and) specifically address all those things, really trying to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.”
The process will start by coming together as a staff, Baldelli said, so messaging is uniform and everyone is clear on what they’re going to do and how they’re going to do it. Then, the message will filter down to players, both at a team and individual level.
Everyone will be involved, not just the team’s rookies, though the younger players, Baldelli said, will likely be given more specific areas of emphasis moving forward.
“One of the things we ask of every one of our people, staff and player, is to be willing to grow and be willing to learn and to be willing to work on things that we can do better,” Baldelli said. “All of us have things that we can improve on and we have the time to do it and the ability to do it right now.”
The Twins had third baseman Josh Donaldson on the field testing out his tight right hamstring ahead of the series opener in Cincinnati. Baldelli said they “(needed) to get him out on the field before we can make a call.” Donaldson was subsequently held out of the starting lineup for the fourth straight game.