The Minnesota Twins announced a pair of roster moves late Thursday afternoon via a team release. First baseman/designated hitter Byungho Park cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Rochester and reliever Pat Light was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for cash considerations.
Clearing waivers means Park is officially off the 40-man roster but will remain in the organization. Park will join the big-league club in Spring Training in Fort Myers as a non-roster player, but will have an uphill battle to get back on the 40-man roster and wrangle playing time away from Joe Mauer and Kennys Vargas.
Park hit .268/.351/.598 through is first 25 big-league games, but just .143/.227/.293 over the final 37 before he was sent to Triple-A Rochester. Park struggled with high-end velocity in his tenure with the Twins. Check back on ColdOmaha.com later in the day as we’ll have a feature breaking down Park’s struggles in detail. Park hit .224/.297/.526 in 31 games with the Red Wings before wrist and hand issues ended his season in mid-August. Those issues required surgery in late August, and may have contributed to his struggles, as Park told Mike Berardino that he had felt the pain for quite some time.
Park was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for reliever Matt Belisle.
Light was designated for assignment to make room for utility infielder Ehire Adrianza. The Twins had 10 days to release, trade or put Light through waivers for the purpose of outrighting him, and opted to trade him to Pittsburgh, where he’ll work under the tutelage of vaunted pitching coach Ray Searage, who has revitalized the careers of pitchers Francisco Liriano, Ivan Nova, J.A. Happ and many others.
Light was acquired in the Fernando Abad trade last season, and was touted as a flamethrower with shaky command. The command part came to fruition with the Twins, as he issued more walks (15) than strikeouts (14) and innings pitched (14). He also sat more in the 94-95 mph range with his fastball (94.3 mph average with the Twins) than the 95-97 mph range that was advertised. At times he flashed a solid splitter that, when thrown correctly, got lateral movement reminiscent of a slider, but it was too inconsistent and forced him to rely too heavily on a fastball that he was unable to locate with regularity.
Basically speaking, when forced to throw his fastball, Light was hit — hard. Opposing batters hit .414/.564/.759 off his fastball, as opposed to a .513 OPS on pitches that PITCHf/x graded as a splitter and .619 on those graded as a slider. Light has significant potential, but the difference between him with command and not is night and day. He was also fairly low on the bullpen totem pole with the Twins, so a move should be good for him as well as for the team.