Nick Blackburn has started 137 games in the Major Leagues, but after being outrighted to Triple-A by the Twins on Monday, Blackburn will now have to earn his way back to the big leagues.
By being outrighted, Blackburn is no longer on the 40-man roster. He'll remain a starter in Triple-A but a return to the Twins, even in September when rosters expand, is far from guaranteed. Minnesota assistant general manager Rob Antony said Blackburn will have to earn a promotion.
"I talked to Nick today, let him know and told him, ‘Go down there, try and get straightened out and when September comes we'll evaluate the situation,'" Antony said according to Bollinger Beat. "There's no guarantees he'll come back. We could select him and bring him back if we want, or he could not be back this year - whatever we think is the right situation when the time comes."
Blackburn, who is under contract for $5.5 million next season, will have to earn a spot on the team in spring training regardless of his contract status.
"As far as next year goes, he's still a member of our organization," Antony said. "I suspect, unless we trade him in the offseason, he'll be back in spring training trying to win a job on the club."
Blackburn was 4-9 with a 7.39 ERA in 19 starts for the Twins this season.