Rather than risk losing him to free agency, the Minnesota Twins traded two-time Cy Young Award winner Johan Santana to the New York Mets in February of 2008 for outfielder Carlos Gomez and three pitchers (Phillip Humber, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra). Gomez played two seasons for the Twins before being traded to the Milwaukee Brewers, Humber (13 appearances) and Mulvey (two appearances) made no impact and Guerra has been the only player acquired in the Santana deal to remain in the organization over the last few years.
Guerra is will turn 25 just after the coming season starts (April 17), and his advance through Minnesota’s minor league system has been slow, but can he put together a strong spring and make a case for a spot on the Twins’ Opening Day pitching staff?
Guerra was going to pitch for Team Venezuela in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, but he was hospitalized with a blood clot in his right shoulder in March, underwent surgery and pitched in just three games all season. So last season qualifies as a lost year, but all indications are Guerra is fine physically and he should be able to resume his career without incident this year.
Guerra’s minor league track record is not impressive, with a 46-58 record and a 4.87 ERA in 194 appearances (123 starts), though his K/9 rate did rise in 2011 (9.0) and 2012 (9.1) after never being above 7.0 over the previous four seasons. Also troubling is the fact he did not even reach Triple-A until late in the 2010 season, with a 5.47 ERA at that level (34 appearances-four starts) to this point, and after that first stint in Triple-A he spent the entire 2011 season back in Double-A before spending most of 2012 with Triple-A Rochester.
Guerra is not currently on Minnesota’s 40-man roster, so he faces an uphill climb to make the team out of spring training even with an invitation to major league camp included in his minor league deal. He may start the season in Triple-A, but it would be a big surprise at this point if he ever becomes a capable major league pitcher.
Brad Berreman is a Senior Writer at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @bradberreman24.