Twins acquire lefty pitcher Kris Johnson from Pirates for Duke Welker
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The Twins traded Duke Welker for left-handed starter Kris Johnson, according to Dustin Morse, head of baseball communication for the Twins.
Welker came over in the Justin Morneau trade as a player to be named later. Now, he's headed back in exhange for Johnson.
Johnson, 29, has just four Major League appearances, including one start, but his 2013 Triple-A numbers offer some promise. He appeared in 26 Triple-A games in 2013, including 21 starts. He went 10-4 with a 2.39 ERA and two saves.
Let's dig a little deeper, though. In Triple-A, his FIP last season was 3.43, opponents batted .231 against him and he had a 1.17 WHIP. In 135 2/3 innings he struck out 94 batters and walked 43, for a 6.24 K/9 and a 3.48 BB/9. That's a higher walk rate than you'd like to see, but keep in mind the expectations can't be terribly high, given the circumstances under which he was acquired.
It's not exactly fair to compare minor league stats to stats in the Majors, but that 6.24 strikeouts per nine innings would have been the highest rate on the Twins starting staff of pitchers with more than 10 innings pitched. (Cole DeVries had a K/9 of 10.29 in seven innings of work.) Mike Pelfrey had the highest of all Twins starters with at least 10 innings pitched, and he averaged fewer than six strikeouts per nine innings (5.95 K/9).
Johnson is by no means a lock to make the team, but he could add rotation depth or compete for a bullpen spot. The Twins are in decent shape with bullpen lefties (Glen Perkins, Caleb Thielbar and Brian Duensing), but adding an arm could help.
With all that said, he's a 29-year old with 10 1/3 Major League innings in his career, so there's clearly limited upside.