MILWAUKEE – The Twins acquired infielder Ildemaro Vargas from Arizona on Tuesday in exchange for cash considerations, pointing out that the 29-year-old utilityman’s versatility is a good fit for what they need.
“A guy that we really liked in a lot of different ways, organizationally,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “A guy that we think can do a lot of different things. Versatility, plays around the infield, can help you pretty much anywhere. Good contact bat. Probably a line drive-type bat regardless of who he’s facing. Probably can get the barrel on the ball.”
Vargas made the Diamondbacks’ Opening Day roster for the first time in 2019 and hit .269 with six homers and 24 RBI in four stints with the club that season. A switch hitter who is out of minor league options, he is batting .150 in eight games this year.
He has played all four infield positions as well as a game apiece in left and right field during a major league career that has spanned parts of four seasons.
Baldelli tried to explain that the trade was made because they had a chance to add a player who can move around the infield. But it can’t be ignored that, with Josh Donaldson likely out indefinitely because of a right calf injury, the Twins could use another gloveman.
Since Donaldson left early in a July 31 game against Cleveland, Ehire Adrianza’s playing time has spiked. Although he was out of the lineup on Tuesday, he’s appeared in all but three games since Donaldson’s injury.
Donaldson worked out in the gym on Tuesday and was not on the field before the game. The Twins hope he can increase activities when the team returns from the current road trip.
The Twins are carrying 16 pitchers, increasing the need for a flexible bench player. The Twins declined to look at their St. Paul camp for help there.
“This is a player that I believe, as a whole, we really liked,” Baldelli said. “A guy that we probably would be looking into acquiring regardless of what was going on at this moment. It wasn’t — I don’t think this is — a short-term play for us in any way.
“He’s a guy that we’re going to bring in and we already like what he can do, and maybe we can even develop him even more in some ways and kind of let him settle in and see what kind of role it ends up looking like.”
The Twins likely will make a corresponding move once Vargas joins the club. When that happens is unknown. He will have to fly commercial to town and will have to be tested for COVID-19 before he’s allowed to join his new teammates.
Righthander Michael Pineda has been throwing simulated games at the St. Paul camp with an eye on joining the Twins Aug. 31, when he completes his suspension for testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug. Pineda entered the season with 36 games left on his original 60-day suspension.
And Aug. 31 is less than three weeks away, which was the length of summer camp.
Pineda’s presence is serving a dual purpose at CHS Field. He is able to build up to help out the rotation as soon as he’s able to. Plus the hitters there get to face someone with major league-quality stuff.
Given the lack of health of those in the Twins rotation, Pineda’s arrival might be highly anticipated.
Righthander Homer Bailey (sore biceps) and lefthander Rich Hill (sore shoulder) remain on the injured list. Both made one start for their new team before needing more time to recover, but there are no indications when either will return.
Utility player Willians Astudillo was taken off of the injured list and optioned to the Twins’ reserve camp.
Astudillo tested positive for COVID-19 during the intake period of camp and needed time to recover.