Cardinals, Twins To Swap John Gant For J.A. Happ

2:18pm: The Twins are also getting minor league lefty Evan Sisk, tweets’s Mark Feinsand. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic adds that Minnesota is sending cash to cover some of Happ’s $8MM salary.

2:12pm: The Twins and Cardinals have reached a deal that will send right-hander John Gant from St. Louis to Minnesota, reports Robert Murray of FanSided. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Twins are sending veteran lefty J.A. Happ to St. Louis. The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s La Velle E. Neal III had recently reported the Twins had a deal to trade another of their starting pitchers.

It’s a swap of two struggling pitchers, although Gant, unlike Happ, is controllable for another year beyond the current campaign. The 28-year-old Gant has long worked as a swingman in St. Louis, pitching to a 3.72 ERA in 339 innings dating back to his 2016 debut with the Braves. He’s sporting a solid-looking 3.42 ERA on the season, but that’s a deceiving mark; Gant has issued a staggering 56 walks in 76 1/3 innings this year, to go along with an identical 56 punchouts. That lack of command makes him a surefire regression candidate if he can’t right the ship.

That said, while command has never been Gant’s strong suit, he’s also never struggled to quite this level. Gant walked a still-too-high 12.1 percent of batters from 2017-20, but he’s seen that mark balloon to 16.2 percent in 2021. Meanwhile, his 20.6 percent strikeout rate from 2017-20 has dropped, matching that 16.2 percent walk rate.

Gant is earning $2.1MM this year and is due a raise in arbitration this coming offseason, so there’s no guarantee he’ll be tendered by the Twins. But he’ll give his new club some length in the bullpen or perhaps even as a starter down the stretch, where he’ll have a couple months to prove he can improve his command and contribute next year.

More to come.