The Minnesota Twins will certainly make more notable moves as the off-season goes along, but the signing of catcher/first baseman Jeff Clement to a minor league contract on Monday will have to suffice for now. The now 29-year old may be a recognizable name to some baseball fans and followers, as he was once considered a top prospect in the Seattle Mariners organization after being drafted third overall by them in 2005.
Clement spent most of 2012 with the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, and hit .276 with 16 home runs and 57 RBI along with a .486 slugging percentage and 35 doubles over 459 plate appearances. He did see some time with the Pirates late in the season, hitting .136 with one RBI over 24 plate appearances. His last taste of close to significant major league action came with Pittsburgh in 2010, when he hit .201 with seven home runs and 12 RBI in 54 games (154 plate appearances). A left knee issue that later required surgery coupled with an oblique injury suffered while rehabbing his knee limited Clement to just 31 games and 106 plate appearances in 2011, and he never reached the big leagues.
Overall, in parts of four big league seasons with the Mariners and Pirates, Clement has a .218 career batting average with 14 home runs and 39 RBI over 421 plate appearances and 152 games played. Obviously his minor league track record is more extensive, with over 2,500 plate appearances, and he has over 2,200 of those plate appearances at the Triple-A level. His production at that level has been solid (.280, 84 HR, 340 RBI, .493 slugging percentage), but it has never translated at the major league level.
Clement was actually originally drafted by the Twins in 2002 (12th round), but he chose to attend college rather than sign. His chances of making the Opening Day roster in 2013 are not particularly good with Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau currently in place at his two primary positions and other options in place behind them. But a big spring training could change things, and a productive early season run in Triple-A next year could earn Clement a quick promotion to the big leagues.