The Timing of the Edwar Colina Move isn't That Strange
The Minnesota Twins ruffled more than a few feathers when they attempted to pass right-handed relief prospect Edwar Colina through waivers earlier this week, only to be foiled by the Texas Rangers making a claim on the 24-year-old righty who missed all of 2021 due to elbow issues.
Exposing Colina on waivers before the bulk of a nearly 90-loss roster didn’t add up in the minds of many fans when the move was announced Wednesday, but in my estimation, it actually makes plenty of sense.
It just didn’t work out.
Before we knew anything about where Colina’s health stood — he spent the bulk of the season on the 60-day IL, but for offseason purposes will have to be activated from that list — the move made sense for at least one fairly easy-to-understand reason.
That reason is that every team is in a roster crunch right now.
Since 60-day IL stints create a roster exemption on the 40-man roster, teams are in the conundrum of having perhaps as many as 48-50 players on their 40-man rosters, functionally speaking.
So massive cutdowns — such as the one above — are happening. What better time to try to sneak a player through waivers than when everyone else is cutting?
Sure, it would make more sense theoretically to dump Nick Vincent first, as many bemoaned on Twitter Wednesday, but Vincent was going to be a free agent at season’s end — even before the procedural move to take him off the 40-man roster, at least that’s what Baseball Reference says.
It just so happened that the Rangers were in a spot to make an addition.
Still, they can’t keep him on the 60-day IL throughout the offseason, so odds are they’ll try to pass him through waivers — just as the Twins attempted to. If he passes through waivers, it kind of validates the idea of what the Twins were trying to do. If he doesn’t, the Twins have a fairly high waiver claim by virtue of being one of the 10 worst teams in MLB last season.
Or maybe the Rangers will burn that 40-man spot all offseason, akin to a team taking a shot on a guy like Akil Baddoo in the Rule 5 draft when he’d barely played the last two seasons. If you’re going to be bad, you may as well hoard as many intriguing players as you can for the future.
But 40-man spots are not unlimited. That’s sort of implied by the name. The same people who bemoan how good J.T. Chargois is with the Rays right now — five years after the Twins moved on — are ignoring the fact that saving those 40-man roster spots on guys who might or might not click just isn’t a thing.
Do you think White Sox fans are upset that Juan Minaya seemed to figure some things out with the Twins at age 30 — more or less the exact same age as Chargois?
They are not. Maybe it’s because they’re knee-deep in the throes of facing the Houston Astros in the postseason — fair enough — but again, a team can’t just hold guys down on the 40-man roster because they might be interesting.
What is Colina’s ceiling, anyway? Value brand Brusdar Graterol? Because I have news for Twins fans who were livid that he was traded for Kenta Maeda — he has been a non-factor for the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In his parts of two seasons, he’s thrown 56.2 innings, struck out 6.4 batters per nine and has been worth 0.2 bWAR. Among relievers with 50-plus innings thrown over that span, only four have a lower K/9 rate.
That’s not bound to go up as Graterol gets older and, in theory, loses his best stuff. Indeed it’s possible the Dodgers — one of the most analytically sound teams in the game — could unlock something he’s missing and turn him into the bat-missing dynamo we all thought we saw in 2019, but right now he isn’t that.
Holding onto him instead of trading him would be a lot like the Twins holding onto Fernando Romero until the bloody end. And yet, if Graterol figures it out in 2025 with the Detroit Tigers, there’ll be someone out there upset that he was traded for the guy who was runner-up in the Cy Young race in 2020 when the Twins needed that type of pitcher.
It’s just a neverending cycle.
But anyway, back to Colina. Graterol’s foibles as a flamethrower don’t spell doom for Colina. That would be foolish analysis. But again, it does unscore the volatility of young, hard-throwing relievers.
There’s a good lesson in angst here, too.
A lot of the pent-up anger about the Twins losing Baddoo, Zack Littell, LaMonte Wade Jr. or whoever else was unleashed on this Colina decision as if it somehow was going to be the pitching version of David Ortiz 2.0.
But before flying off the handle about a move like this — or rather, why even do that when baseball is supposed to be a fun thing and not something that makes people want to lose their ever-loving minds — maybe it’s important to get added context.
Colina had an arthroscopic debridement procedure on his elbow in late May for an injury that originally popped up in Spring Training. So first, that delay in getting the elbow scoped is….curious.
He didn’t pitch all season, which is as good a time as any to expect he might be slipped through waivers unclaimed, right?
Beyond that, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey noted recently in a Zoom call that Colina had undergone a second medical procedure on the elbow. He used the phrase “to address the situation again” which brings up some questions:
Was it a recurrence of the original injury? Was the injury worse than originally thought?
These are probably all things we should be curious about before being apoplectic on Twitter about a move a team makes — regardless of their recent track record with such moves.
In short, it was the right time to move Colina off the roster — and it just didn’t work out. Maybe he pans out with the Rangers or in seven years with some other team, but the Twins didn’t have the luxury of waiting around to find out. They have a lot of sh*t to fix this offseason, and will need all of those 40-man spots to get it done.
Either way, it was a lot of weird energy spent on a guy getting 86’d from the roster who hasn’t really pitched in two years and has gotten one big-league out.