INDIANAPOLIS -- The Twins designated right-hander Boof Bonser for assignment on Tuesday to make room for Carl Pavano on the 40-man roster.
Bonser, 28, missed the entire 2009 season following shoulder surgery last February to repair a torn rotator cuff and a torn labrum. He was expected to be ready for the start of Spring Training this year and had been considered in the mix to compete for the fifth spot in the Twins' rotation or one of the club's few bullpen openings.
But after Pavano accepted the Twins' arbitration offer on Monday, the club had to clear a spot from its 40-man roster to add him. And with a strong competition already expected for the fifth starting spot, the Twins chose to cut ties with Bonser.
"It was a difficult decision because he's worked hard all season in our rehab program," Twins general manager Bill Smith said of Bonser. "But we have some depth in that position, so we made the decision to designate him."
The Twins now have to trade or non-tender Bonser by Saturday's tender deadline.
Bonser would have been arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter and his salary likely would have risen to around $1 million. That seemed like a large increase for the pitcher who still had plenty of questions surrounding him as he comes back from the injury. Even without Bonser, the Twins still have plenty of options for the final spot in the rotation, including left-handers Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins and Francisco Liriano and right-handers Anthony Swarzak and Jeff Manship.
In 2008, his last season with the Twins, Bonser started the year in the club's rotation, but by the end of May, he had been demoted to the bullpen due to his ineffectiveness. Bonser went 3-7 with a 5.93 ERA that season and posted an overall 18-25 record and 5.12 ERA in 163 career games with the Twins.
The Twins acquired Bonser from the Giants organization in November 2003 in the same trade that brought pitchers Joe Nathan and Liriano to Minnesota in exchange for catcher A.J. Pierzynski.
Bonser might not be the only pitcher trimmed from the Twins' roster by Saturday's tender deadline. Right-hander Jesse Crain is also considered to be a non-tender candidate. Crain is entering his final arbitration-eligible year and could see his salary rise to $3 million in 2010.
Smith said Tuesday that the club is still mulling its possible non-tenders and that the decisions are subject to what else might happen for the club this week.
There also have been indications that the Twins are listening to offers for Perkins, whose relationship with the club was strained toward the end of last season. Perkins angered the Twins' coaching staff by twice bringing up injuries following rough outings and then he filed a grievance to try to regain lost service time. Perkins was upset after being outrighted to Triple-A Rochester following a stint on the disabled list, costing him service time that would have otherwise allowed him to become arbitration-eligible as a "Super 2."
The 40-man roster currently is full, meaning that the Twins would have to clear a spot if they intend to take a player in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft. The Twins have the 20th pick.
"There is a small group [of players] that we continue to look at," Smith said. "But picking 20th there is some question as to whether the guys we might be interested in would be available at that point."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.