The Twins have placed right-hander Randy Dobnak on outright waivers, according to Darren Wolfson of Skor North and Brandon Warne of Access Twins.
Dobnak, 27, made his MLB debut in 2019 and showed enough promise over that season and the shortened 2020 campaign that Twins made a long-term investment in him. He and the club agreed to a five-year, $9.25MM deal in March of 2021 that also came with three team options and various escalators that could bring the total outlay to $29.75MM. At the time, the Twins were hoping that they had locked up some extra control over a promising young arm that they saw potential in, while Dobnak got to lock in some guaranteed money by giving up future earning power.
Unfortunately, Dobnak has endured a very frustrating pair of seasons since then. A finger strain sent him to the IL multiple times in 2021, limiting him to just 14 big league appearances on the season. He also had diminished results while able to take the mound, registering a 7.64 ERA over 50 2/3 innings.
It seems that the offseason didn’t allow him to heal up, as another right middle finger strain sent him to the 60-day injured list in March of 2022. He’s been on the IL all year, having yet to appear for the big league club. He did recently start a rehab assignment, however, making his first appearance August 16 in the Florida Complex League. Since rehab assignments come with a 30-day limit for pitchers, Dobnak was nearing the time where he needed to be reinstated. Activating him from the 60-day IL would have meant opening up a spot on the 40-man roster, but it seems the Twins preferred not to do that, instead sending Dobnak out to the waiver wire. He threw 13 2/3 innings as part of that rehab assignment with a 5.93 ERA.
By placing Dobnak on waivers, the Twins are taking a risk that they may lose him to another organization. However, after two mostly lost seasons, the interest from other clubs may be limited. There’s also the financial aspect of a claim to consider. He’s making $800K here in 2022, which is just barely over the league minimum. However, he’ll go up to $1.5MM next year, $2.25MM in 2024 and $3MM in 2025. Then there’s a $1MM buyout on a $6MM option for 2026 and $100K buyouts on 2027 and 2028 options valued at $7MM and $8.5MM, respectively. Any team that claims Dobnak would be on the hook for those guarantees and buyouts, which would be a sizeable commitment for a pitcher who has been often injured and has yet to show quality results over a meaningful stretch of big league action.
What seems most likely to transpire is that Dobnak clears waivers, thus staying in the Twins’ organization without taking up a spot on the 40-man roster. Even if some team were intrigued enough to put in a claim, the Twins might be content with having the contract of their books. If that does indeed come to pass, Dobnak would be able to reject an outright assignment and elect free agency by virtue of having over three years of MLB service time. However, he lacks the five years of service time necessary to do so without forfeiting any salary. In the event he clears waivers, he would most likely accept an assignment to the minors and try to work his way back onto the roster.