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Twins and Gibson Discussion and Extension

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The Twins Should Extend Odorizzi, Not Gibson

It has been noted here and elsewhere that the Twins are facing a rotation exodus one year from now, when three out of their four currently slotted rotation members are set to become free agents.

Some have argued that the team should establish some continuity by locking up Kyle Gibson with a long-term deal, fresh off a career year where it all came together for him. I'm here today to offer a different take:

It is Jake Odorizzi, not Gibson, the Twins should be seeking to extend.
Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports (Jake Odorizzi)
This is not a dismissal of Gibson. Far from it. I'm a believer in his emergence. Finally healthy and harnessing the full potential of his arsenal, he alternated between solid and filthy. His fastball clocked in at a career-high 93 MPH. Both his slider and curveball were among the league's toughest to hit in their respective categories.

Gibson has STUFF and SPIN, at a time where those assets are being scrutinized and valued as much as ever. If he follows up with another strong campaign next year, he's gonna be in demand, and he knows it. While I'm sure he'd like to stick with the Twins, I doubt he'll be cutting them any ultra-sweet deal.

Meanwhile, Odorizzi is coming off a second straight down year, by his standards anyway. Why extend him over Gibson?

I'll give you five good reasons.

1. Gibson is 31. Odorizzi is 28.

Odorizzi has thrown fewer career innings and has a strong bill of durability, with 28+ starts every season since 2014. Gibson isn't old, per se, but you could ink Odorizzi to a two-year extension and he'd be the same age when he finishes it as Gibby is now.

2. Odorizzi has a better track record than Gibson.

He's got a 3.95 career ERA and 1.24 WHIP, compared to 4.47 and 1.41 for Gibson. What's more, Odorizzi has achieved those superior numbers mostly as a fly-ball pitcher in the AL East. Yes, Odo is coming off a career-worst 4.49 ERA in 2018, but that's nearly identical to Gibson's career mark.

It troubles me that even in his big breakout season, Gibby's flaws were still evident as his control wavered and he allowed a fairly steady stream of baserunners, evidenced by an unspectacular 1.30 WHIP (we can't count on him replicating his career-high 75.5% strand rate).

3. Odorizzi might have turned a corner.

One could make an argument that this is the perfect time to strike a multi-year pact with Odorizzi. He was quietly very effective in down the stretch, erasing his problematic long-ball vulnerability with only three home runs allowed over 10 starts between August and September. During that span he held opponents to a .203/.292/.318 slash line. Taking it back a step further, he surrendered just six homers in 20 starts after June 1st.

Meanwhile, Odorizzi finished with the highest strikeout rate (8.9 K/9) since his rookie year. It sure seemed like the righty figured a few things out around the middle of the summer, and if he can build upon that with new pitching coach Wes Johnson, you've got something.

4. Contract security could make Odorizzi more open-minded about his usage.

Odorizzi is a model candidate for the "opener" strategy, as he allowed the highest OPS his third time facing opposing lineups (1.135) of any qualified pitcher in the game this year. This was noted by Parker Hageman in his feature for the Offseason Handbook, but so too was this reality: it's tough to screw around with the usage of a starting pitcher who's staring down free agency and unsure of his future.

“Hold on a sec, I’m a starter. I’m going to get paid as a starter,” Twins director of personnel Mike Radcliff empathized in the story, speaking not of Odorizzi specifically but the general conundrum of asking an established veteran to fill an experimental role.

With some income certainty for the coming years, the right-hander (or more accurately his agent) may be less inclined to protest such an arrangement, which could benefit the team greatly.

5. Odorizzi will be cheaper.

While you can easily find some positives in his numbers and trends (I did so above), the fact remains: Odorizzi is coming off a subpar season, just after the team that watched him blossom into a quality mid-rotation starter traded him for peanuts rather than pay him $6 million. I've gotta think he'd be amenable to a three-year contract on reasonable terms.

I get that Gibson is the hot commodity right now. But taking a step back, Odorizzi has consistently shown a much higher floor, and given his reliable domination of opponents in the first meeting of a game (.645 OPS allowed and 24% K-rate, career) he's a good bet to at least excel as a reliever if it comes to that.

Oh, and here's the other thing: if Gibson does have a beastly season next year, the Twins can extend a qualifying offer. That seems like a less viable scenario with Odorizzi.

So, there you go. Where do you weigh in? Have I convinced you on the merits of an Odorizzi extension? Or do you lean more toward Gibson? Maybe you'd try and extend both? Neither? Let's hear it.

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149 Comments

Great list. 

Great article. I honestly think it would be a mistake to lock up Gibson for the long term. Odorizzi you can count as your #5 starter for the next few years. Why not try to get a 2 year extension with Gibson? Buy him out of his arbitration for this year and tack on another year. Give him more money than he would get in arbitration this year and extend him for about 2 years, 24 million. If he bombs this year and last year was an anomaly, you're only on the hook for one more year and he's 33 at the end of the deal. If he's good, you have him for cheap the second year.

    • jokin, mikelink45, Minny505 and 2 others like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Dec 18 2018 10:37 PM
Extend both, they have the money.
    • birdwatcher, goulik, Sconnie and 8 others like this
Agree completely. Handing out extensions coming off career years has been a repeated mistake in the past. Hope he does great, but Gibby is at high risk for the same category.

So, next question... what would it cost to extend Odo?
    • TheLeviathan, ChrisKnutson and tarheeltwinsfan like this
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ChrisKnutson
Dec 18 2018 10:45 PM
Never thought of this as an option, but now I’m intrigued.
    • Oldgoat_MN, mikelink45 and DocBauer like this

This is out of the box, but a good thought.Depends on price, butI can see being onboard with this and the idea if Gibson has a good year, you can QO him.  

    • caninatl04 likes this
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Physics Guy
Dec 18 2018 10:56 PM

Here's the rub though, how does Gibson respond to an extension for Odorizzi and not himself?

    • goulik and Hosken Bombo Disco like this
No chance. He's a number four or five starter. Why pay for that? And why are we worried about money? They have less than fifty million committed past 2020. Are we trying to win, or win the efficiency prize?
    • markos, Danchat, bluechipper and 6 others like this
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jorgenswest
Dec 18 2018 11:29 PM
If the Twins project Odorizzi to progress from a number 4 towards a number 3 extending him makes some sense. Even number 4 pitchers are very useful pieces.

How important is it to have a core of veteran players locked up beyond 2019? I am not sure there is a great deal of value but I would rather pay for the rest of the prime in Odorizzi’s case rather than the decline of an older player into his 30s.

Interesting thought.
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Nick Nelson
Dec 18 2018 11:43 PM

 

So, next question... what would it cost to extend Odo?

It's a good question. 3/30? 

 

 

No chance. He's a number four or five starter. Why pay for that? And why are we worried about money? They have less than fifty million committed past 2020. Are we trying to win, or win the efficiency prize?

Well, you need fourth and fifth starters. And if you're getting a sub-4 ERA from one of those spots, isn't that a good thing? The cost efficiency is just part of the equation but it sure doesn't hurt. 

    • luckylager, Oldgoat_MN, Blackjack and 5 others like this
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Nick Nelson
Dec 18 2018 11:47 PM

 

Here's the rub though, how does Gibson respond to an extension for Odorizzi and not himself?

I think you approach Gibson and make an offer as well, but he's in a better bargaining position. He also knows he's coming up on maybe his one chance to net that big career-making contract. 

    • DocBauer, rghrbek, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this
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ChrisKnutson
Dec 18 2018 11:48 PM

If the Twins project Odorizzi to progress from a number 4 towards a number 3 extending him makes some sense. Even number 4 pitchers are very useful pieces.
How important is it to have a core of veteran players locked up beyond 2019? I am not sure there is a great deal of value but I would rather pay for the rest of the prime in Odorizzi’s case rather than the decline of an older player into his 30s.
Interesting thought.


While I’d like to think Odorizzi is capable of turning the corner, I’m just not sure, does it make sense to extend Odorizzi for anything more than he’s making right now per year ($9.4M)? Or are we better off signing Julio Teheran next offseason (same age, better track record)?

 

I think you approach Gibson and make an offer as well, but he's in a better bargaining position. He also knows he's coming up on maybe his one chance to net that big career-making contract. 

 

I have a feeling Gibby and his agent will wait until about mid way through the year before entertaining any type of long term offer and then it will take a 4 year deal (assuming he doesn't turn into a pumpkin).  Like Nick says this is his one time to make big money, and I am sure he will bet on himself instead of a 2 or 3 year 10 mil per offer.

Odo is simply more likely to sign at this point.

So two down years projects to be better next year by reverting to career totals that make it appear more attractive? And a turning the corner year gets the same treatment in the other direction? I'm not buying. Trending performance means a lot more to me, and I hope it does to the new manager, too.

    • Mike Sixel, KGB, SF Twins Fan and 1 other like this
Nick, did you just cite being the worse pitcher in baseball the 3rd time through as a reason to extent Odorizzi? Accumulating marginal starters that are willing to open or bullpen has become a goal? I’m with you on the age and the upside his previous track record suggests. Not so much on your other points...including September statistics garnered in the wasteland that was the 2018 AL Central.
    • birdwatcher, bluechipper, mikelink45 and 5 others like this

I couldn't disagree more. Odorizzi averages just over 5 innings a start for his career which puts a tremendous strain on the bullpen. I would rather have Gibson ,who had a revelation on how to trust his stuff and rely upon his defense instead trying to be perfect. I know Gibson is older but he is a lot more capable of shutting a lineup down especially in a playoff game.

 

 

    • birdwatcher, Oldgoat_MN, Blackjack and 14 others like this

As much as I would like to see the FO start committing to some players longer than 1 year, I don't think committing to a back of the rotation starter is the place to start.The 40 man roster is full of younger potential 4th & 5th starter.And I believe the FO's was also suppose to be great at developing pitching, why commit to Odorizzi for 3 years?

    • bluechipper, mikelink45 and Hosken Bombo Disco like this
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yarnivek1972
Dec 19 2018 06:38 AM

No chance. He's a number four or five starter. Why pay for that? And why are we worried about money? They have less than fifty million committed past 2020. Are we trying to win, or win the efficiency prize?

This, exactly. Odorizzi is the type of starting pitcher that is always readily available every offseason. Twins should be aiming higher.

If you commit 2-3 years to a guy performing at or near replacement level, it makes it harder to replace him if/when a better choice comes along. Say the Twins sign him through 2021. And he slots in the 4/5 spot. What happens when you want to bring up a pitching prospect but have no room because your worst starter is guaranteed millions? You have to most likely send down a pitcher better than Odorizzi to make room. And that’s not how to build sustainability. You should always be looking to improve your weakest links. That’s how you get better.
    • Kelly Vance, mikelink45, adorduan and 3 others like this

I agree completely with extending Odorizzi!Now is the time. I think it would be wise of the fron office to approach Gibson as well, but he is going o cost much more I think.For sure get Odorizzi done, but chase Gibson as well.

Interesting.But I still prefer to sign Gibby to an extension.If it is more expensive, so be it.As many have stated, the Twins have the space to do it.  

 

Hadn't thought of extending Odorizzi, and it does make some sense.If several of the young studs perform as hoped for, he could always be a nice trade piece in July of this year or next.

    • DocBauer and Original Whizzinator like this

 

Interesting.But I still prefer to sign Gibby to an extension.If it is more expensive, so be it.As many have stated, the Twins have the space to do it.  

 

Hadn't thought of extending Odorizzi, and it does make some sense.If several of the young studs perform as hoped for, he could always be a nice trade piece in July of this year or next.

What do you think his trade value would be?You picked him up last year for a marginal minor league player when he had 2 years of team control.Last year was a continuation of his downward slide and he would be more expensive with the extension.

I get that you are banking on the fact Odo has figured something out just like Gibson seemed to the end of 2016 but his not being able to handle the lineup the third time through kind of scares me.If you are right and he becomes Gibson 2 that sounds like a great deal.If he remains the same or regresses it seems like an overpay.

 

Based on your stats and if they truly can get him to sign a 3/30 contract it might be a risk worth taking.My gut says no but head says maybe.I guess it depends on how much you believe in Odo's end of the year stats and if they will transfer to next year and beyond.

    • DocBauer likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Dec 19 2018 08:51 AM

Item 3 is probably the reason why you do it. If the twins think that turnaround is for real, then I think they should do it. If not, I'd pass. Of course, on the flip side, I'm sure Jake is well aware of his second half turnaround too and if he and his agent thinks it's repeatable, I doubt you get too much discount. There's always that injury risk, so something both Jake and Kyle would have weigh if they get extended....

 

That said, didn't realize Gibby's WHIP was so high. He's a ground ball pitcher, is he not? So doesn't that tend to lead to higher strand rates and DPs?

    • Original Whizzinator likes this
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birdwatcher
Dec 19 2018 09:04 AM

I don't understand the obsession with making multi-year commitments, especially to pitchers. I'd understand it if the pitcher could also make a commitment to perform at the same level each year, but...

 

You make a long-term commitment to a player because you HAVE to in order to retain his services, right? Unless you feel that Odor Easy gives you a better chance in 2020 than all your other options for that #5 slot, which would be a sad indictment IMO, you part ways. 

 

To these untrained and statistically meh eyes, he's a dull 5-inning starter who often strains your pen. I'm not sure we're not better off, right now even, with starts from Mejia, Gonsalves and Stewart. And I wouldn't even place a bet that he has a better 2020 than Thorpe, Littell, or De Jong, and I'll take my chances on the emergence in 2021 of someone like Graterol, Alcala, and Wells.

 

And if each and every one of my internal options fails to be an improvement over Odor Easy, I'm finding someone via trade or FA for that 5th spot because guys like him are basically always out there if your professional scouts are doing their jobs.

    • Mike Sixel, TheLeviathan, Hosken Bombo Disco and 3 others like this

I don't understand the obsession with making multi-year commitments, especially to pitchers. I'd understand it if the pitcher could also make a commitment to perform at the same level each year, but...

You make a long-term commitment to a player because you HAVE to in order to retain his services, right? Unless you feel that Odor Easy give you a better chance in 2020 than all your other options for that #5 slot, which would be a sad indictment IMO, you part ways.

To these untrained and statistically meh eyes, he's a dull 5-inning starter who often strains your pen. I'm not sure we're not better off, right now even, with starts from Mejia, Gonsalves and Stewart. And I wouldn't even place a bet that he has a better 2020 than Thorpe, Littell, or De Jong, and I'll take my chances on the emergence in 2021 of someone like Graterol, Alcala, and Wells.

And if each and every one of my internal options fails to be an improvement over Odor Easy, I'm finding someone via trade or FA for that 5th spot because guys like him are basically always out there if your professional scouts are doing their jobs.


I'd love a multi year commitment, but not for pitchers like Odorizzi. I concur 100% with you that pitchers like Odorizzi are available every season. No reason to lock him in.

Totally separate note that you didn't comment about... I don't buy Odorizzi as a solid sell candidate either. The Twins gave up very little to get him for 2 years. Why would anyone give the Twins value for less than 1 year of Odorizzi?
    • mikelink45 and Tomj14 like this

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