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Twins Claim Daniel Duarte, Designate Ryan Jensen

The Twins claimed right-hander Daniel Duarte off waivers from the Rangers, per announcements from both clubs. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster, Minnesota designated fellow righty and fellow waiver claim Ryan Jensen for assignment.

Duarte, 27, made his big league debut with the 2022 Reds but pitched only 2 2/3 innings that year due to inflammation in his elbow. He was healthier and posted generally solid run-prevention numbers in 2023, totaling 31 2/3 innings of 3.69 ERA ball for Cincinnati. That earned run average masks some much shakier K/BB numbers, however. Duarte has fanned a well below-average 16.7% of his MLB opponents and walked an unsightly 15.3% of them. He’ll need to improve one or both of those areas in order to stick in the big leagues.

That said, there’s reason to hope for improvement. Duarte has fanned 26.8% of his opponents at the Triple-A level, and while his 11.6% walk rate there is still too high, it’s a far sight better than his big league mark to date. He’s averaged a strong 95.7 mph on his heater, and scouting reports on the right-hander tout his plus slider. Duarte has a minor league option remaining, so he can be an up-and-down arm for the Twins this season if they hang onto him for the remainder of the offseason and into the 2024 campaign.

Jensen, 26, was the No. 27 overall pick by the Cubs back in 2019 but hasn’t made his big league debut. The Twins claimed him off waivers in early January. Command issues have plagued him throughout his minor league tenure, and Chicago placed him on waivers shortly after the trade deadline, surely hopeful of sneaking him through in order to retain him without committing a 40-man roster spot. That didn’t happen, as Seattle claimed him on waivers. He’s since bounced to the Marlins and Twins via the waiver wire, and he’ll now spend no more than a week waiting to learn his next stop. The Twins have seven days to trade Jensen or attempt to pass him through outright waivers.

In 2023, Jensen split the year between Double-A and Triple-A, working to a combined 5.32 earned run average in 64 1/3 innings of work. He operated primarily out of the bullpen, his first season doing so after spending the first few years of his career as a starting pitcher. He sports an overall 4.42 ERA with an above-average 26% strikeout rate and ugly 14.5% walk rate in his minor league career.

Jensen has a mid-90s heater, plus ground-ball rates, above-average strikeout rates and a pair of minor league options remaining, so the Twins would surely be glad if they’re able to pass him through waivers and keep him in the organization. But he’s also been designated for assignment thrice in the past six months and claimed by a new club each time, so there’s a decent chance another team will scoop him up in hopes of tapping into some of the former first-rounder’s latent potential.

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