Twins dump Blake Parker amid more changes to struggling pen

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins have made more changes to their ravaged bullpen, designating right-hander Blake Parker for assignment.

Before their game on Wednesday against the New York Yankees, the AL Central leaders also sent right-hander Kohl Stewart to Triple-A Rochester and promoted left-hander Devin Smeltzer and right-hander Carlos Torres from the International League club.

Parker, who signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract as a free agent with the Twins in January, had a 4.21 ERA in 37 games. He recorded only one out in his last appearance on Tuesday, allowing three hits, four runs and one walk.

Parker became the fourth reliever dumped by the team in the last two weeks. Adalberto Mejia was eventually claimed off waivers, and Matt Magill and Mike Morin were ultimately traded. Over the last seven games, Minnesota’s bullpen has allowed 32 runs (25 earned) in 26 innings.

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“We would have loved to keep every one of those guys. None of them had options,” Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. “The reality is, the rules, the way they work in Major League Baseball is that we couldn’t retain them by sending them to the minor leagues.”

The 36-year-old Torres was signed as a minor league free agent last month. He has appeared in 362 major league games over parts of 10 seasons, most recently with the Detroit Tigers. Smeltzer started two games for the Twins earlier this season, but he’ll work in relief for now.

The series of bullpen shuffles has created more flexibility for Falvey and general manager Thad Levine over the next week before the trade deadline, with the likelihood of acquiring pitching help perhaps increasing with the team’s shrunken lead in the division over Cleveland.

“We definitely have support from (owner) Jim Pohlad on what we need to add in terms of salary,” Falvey said.

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