The Minnesota Twins have reportedly signed San Diego native Joel Zumaya to a guaranteed contract according to MLB.com’s Jason Beck. He’s guaranteed $800,000 and could earn up to $1.7 million with incentives. Zumaya, 27, was drafted in 2002 out of Bonita Vista High School in the 11th round (320th selection overall) by the Detroit Tigers.
Zumaya has had myriad injuries hinder his career since his stellar 2006 campaign when he was one of the most dominant relief pitchers in baseball. He is known for his aggressive mentality on the mound, along with his fastball/curveball combination. His fastball has consistently cracked 100 mph. He reportedly has reached 104.8 mph, at the time, a major-league record.
He has not been healthy since his 2006 campaign. However, to acquire such a talent at such a bargain (barring health), could be a huge win for the Twins. Zumaya missed the 2011 season after undergoing “exploratory surgery” on his right elbow May 10. The surgery was a follow-up to a more serious surgery he had the previous year, when he fractured his elbow, keeping him out since midseason 2010. While there was no new structural damage found in May of last year, doctors determined the screw from the previous surgery needed to be replaced.
On Dec. 14, Zumaya sparked enough interest throwing for more than 50 scouts. He reportedly threw 93-96 mph, and according to one scout in attendance, had a “decent curveball with OK command,” reported by Ken Rosenthal. One scout said, “He will find a job on a big-league team.” He was impressive enough to have “at least three teams pushing hard for Zumaya” in the days leading up to his one-year guaranteed deal with the Twins today.
In late October, I listed Zumaya as one the Padres’ potential targets because of his high fly-ball ratio. Also, because I viewed him benefiting in spacious PETCO Park while regaining his value. We could see a similar result in Minnesota, another pitcher’s ballpark. Zumaya has a career fly-ball ratio of 46.4 percent.
Zumaya has a career 3.05 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, with a 2.13 BAA. In 38 1/3 innings in 2010, he had a 2.58 ERA with 43 Ks. In 2009 and 2010, Zumaya’s fastball averaged 99 mph, according to Pitch f/x.