Cuddyer to the DL; McDonald Promoted
Joe Christensen is reporting that Darnell McDonald, the 29-year-old outfielder that the Twins acquired from the Washington Nationals a few weeks ago (in exchange for not re-acquiring Rule 5 draft pick Levale Speigner when the Nationals removed him from the team's active roster) has been called up to the big leagues. Problem is, no one seems to know who is being removed from the roster to make room for him. Even the Twins website is ambiguous -- it has McDonald'd contract being purchased, but also says nothing about a replacement player.
First things first -- Alexander Smit was removed from the 40-man roster when he was waived (and subsequently claimed by the Reds), so McDonald slots into his old position on the 40-man. Now for the confusing part -- who McDonald is replacing.
The speculation so far has centered on Michael Cuddyer, who has been rumored to be heading to the DL. That doesn't seem to be backed up by cryptic comments from Twins brass, however, and seems possible that he will be fine in a couple of days. I tend to think that Cuddyer ending up on the DL is the most likely scenario, but the alternative is that the Twins are sending Garrett Jones back down to make room for McDonald. Why do this? The probable reason is that, even if Cuddyer doesn't need to be disabled, he probably will need to miss a few days. Torii Hunter is probably also still a little touch and go. Garrett Jones is simply not a very good outfielder, so down by two players at the position, the Twins may simply be looking for an insurance policy in the outfield for the next few days.
Either way, I think was a logical step for the Twins, and I expected McDonald to be called up at some point this season. For one thing, he's hitting a combined .307 this season between Rochester and Columbus, with a solid .813 combined OPS. For another, he's 29, and will be 30 when next season rolls around, so the Twins undoubtedly want to find out what he's capable of doing in order to decide whether to keep him around. Third (and related to the second reason), he may very well be eligible to be a minor league free agent at the end of the season (I would guess he is, but haven't found out for sure). All of this added up to McDonald getting a shot with the Twins at some point this season, and the time appears to be now.
UPDATED: So Michael Cuddyer is headed to the DL, and the Twins playoff chances just took a significant hit. I'm happy for Darnell McDonald, who will get another chance to demonstrate that he's an MLB caliber ballplayer -- but this is pretty bad news for the Twins. Still, on the plus side it's a good chance to evaluate another ballplayer. Mentally, I'm already shifting into "player evaluation" mode from "rooting for the playoffs" mode -- but I'm always optimistic, and will stay so now thanks largely to the Twins starting pitching. Anything can happen, though, so we'll see.