Twins interested in Jose Contreras?
1500ESPN’s Patrick Reusse reports that reliever Jose Contreras, who missed almost all of last season with a torn UCL ligament, has been working out in Fort Myers with some key people in the Minnesota Twins’ organization: Cedar Rapids (low-A) hitting coach Tommy Watkins and Tony Oliva.
Contreras, who tore the vital ligament in June of last year and never underwent Tommy John surgery to repair, is interested in playing again. The question is, can his elbow hold up? As Ben Lindbergh discussed in his 2010 piece in Baseball Prospectus, a torn ligament never heals on its own, but there are two methods this can be improved upon without requiring surgery. The first is building up strength in the elbow so the muscles pick up the lack of ligament stability and the second is having scar tissue build up. Of course, by his research, approximately 55% of pitchers who have done some resting and rehabbing for a tear have eventually required Tommy John.
The Cuban pitcher will be 41 years old next year so there’s no reason to go under the knife just to eke out one more season. Prior to the injury, Contreras was still bringing it in his fourth decade on earth, transitioning well to the bullpen in the National League. He averaged 92 on his fastball – and getting hitters to miss at a high frequency (career 9.3% swinging strike rate). On a minor league deal, Contreras, if proven healthy, could add some depth to the Minnesota Twins’ bullpen for a minimal investment.
UPDATE: 1500ESPN's Darren Wolfson inquired with a front office member if the fact that Contreras working with some members of the Twins signified anything and the person said it was "random."