Twins outright Nick Blackburn, Tsuyoshi Nishioka off 40-man roster
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The team announced Monday afternoon that Blackburn and Nishioka have been outrighted off the 40-man roster. Nishioka will remain on the Triple-A Rochester roster, and Blackburn will join him there.
Blackburn, who makes $4.75 million this year and $5.5 million next year, owns a 7.39 ERA in 98 2/3 innings. Only three of Blackburn's 19 outings have resulted in quality starts this season. Blackburn also posted a 7.01 ERA in his final 11 starts of last year, making him perhaps the most ineffective starter in baseball since June 27, 2011.
Nishioka is under contract for $3 million per year through 2013, but in 254 career major league plate appearances he is hitting just .215/.267/.236. His Triple-A numbers this year haven't been much better -- .252/.311/.313 with only 16 extra-base hits in 89 games.
Nishioka likely sealed his own fate with several defensive gaffes in a three-game series against the Cleveland Indians on the Twins' previous road trip.
The Twins now have 38 players on the 40-man roster, and 24 players on the 25-man roster. A corresponding 25-man roster move will be announced in the near future.
With Blackburn and Nishioka off the 40-man, it's unlikely either of them will join the Twins when rosters expand in September.
Two possible candidates to fill Blackburn's rotation slot are Liam Hendriks and Esmerling Vasquez.
Hendriks struggled in two stints with the Twins earlier this year, but he owns a tidy 2.20 ERA with 82 strikeouts, 28 walks and only five home runs allowed in 106 1/3 innings for Triple-A Rochester.
Vasquez, recently inserted into Rochester's rotation, hasn't allowed a run in his last three outings (one start, two long relief appearances). Over that stretch he has struck out 20 batters while walking seven and allowing only eight hits in 18 2/3 innings.