Zumaya tore his ulnar collateral ligament on Feb. 25, while throwing a batting-practice session on a practice field at the Lee County Sports Complex.
Zumaya, 27, is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery on Thursday. Dr. James Andrews will perform the operation in Pensacola, Fla.
The Twins could've placed him on the 60-disabled list to open the season, but decided to release him to immediately create an open roster spot.
"We needed roster space," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "It's as simple as that. It didn't make much difference. I talked to him this morning and explained what we were doing, and he understood."
It will be Zumaya's third operation on his elbow, as he had surgery after fracturing his elbow while pitching for the Tigers against the Twins on June 28, 2010, and had follow-up surgery last year that forced him to miss the '11 season.
It's the latest setback for Zumaya, who has been through a plethora of injuries since coming up with the Tigers as a rookie sensation in 2006, when he posted a 1.94 ERA with 97 strikeouts in 83 1/3 innings.
Since that rookie season, Zumaya has dealt with a finger injury that forced him to miss 96 games in 2007, a shoulder injury in '08 that cost him 72 games and another shoulder injury in '08 that caused him to miss 41 games before undergoing shoulder surgery in '09.
Zumaya will be paid the full $850,000 from the deal he signed this offseason even though he failed to make the Opening Day roster. It was originally reported that he would earn only the $400,000 that was guaranteed in the contract, but he would've earned that only if he simply failed to make the roster without injury.
With the move, the Twins have 38 players on their 40-man roster.