Right-hander Chi Chi González has exercised an opt-out clause in his minor league contract with the Twins, reports Darren Wolfson of SKOR North (Twitter link). Minnesota has until Saturday to decide whether to select him onto the big league roster or grant him his release.
González has made one MLB start for the Twins, getting the ball last Friday against the Blue Jays. He allowed three runs in as many innings in an eventual 9-3 Minnesota win. He’d been called up as a designated COVID-19 substitute, however, replacing a quartet of players who weren’t permitted to attend the Toronto series because of their vaccination status. The substitute designation meant González only occupied a temporary spot on the roster, and he was quickly returned to the minor leagues thereafter.
This time around, the Twins have to decide whether González merits a more defined spot on the big league club. He’s out of minor league option years, so adding him to the 40-man means he’d have to take a place on the MLB active roster as well. Wolfson floats the possibility of the organization selecting González, having him start Saturday’s game against the Rays — the Minnesota starter is still listed as to be determined — then designating him for assignment anyhow. If that’s the course of action the organization takes, they’d likely lose González next week, as he’d have the right to refuse an outright assignment even if he passes through waivers unclaimed.
Minnesota could also choose to keep González on the big league roster as a long relief/rotation depth option, as they’re currently dealing with various pitching injuries. Sonny Gray and Bailey Ober recently landed on the injured list, joining Josh Winder and Joe Ryan on the shelf. The Twins have already been without or lost Chris Paddack, Kenta Maeda and Randy Dobnak to longer-term issues, and while Gray and Ryan seem to be trending towards a return, there’s an argument for stockpiling depth considering the injury histories of most of Minnesota’s arms.
González has started five of eight games with the Twins’ top affiliate in St. Paul this season. He’s worked 36 2/3 innings with a 3.44 ERA, striking out a league average 23.2% of opponents with an excellent 55.7% ground-ball rate. That’s solid work in the high minors for the former first-round pick, but he struggled to a 6.15 ERA in the majors with the Rockies from 2019-21.