Supplementing the Twins: Lance Lynn
Image courtesy of © Jeff Curry-USA TODAY SportsGiven the landscape of the 40 man roster, the Twins have opportunity to add some real pieces to a very strong nucleus. The lineup remains young and on the rise, while the pitching staff has a couple of holdovers worth penciling in going forward. To challenge the Indians in the division, and aim for a deeper playoff run, some hired guns will need to be acquired. So, where do we start?
Pitching is, has been, and will continue to be the most integral part of a big league baseball team. Minnesota has reliable starters in the form of Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios. Kyle Gibson remains an uncertainty, and there’s a group of about five or so pitchers that could round out the back end. With a shot at either Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish remaining a pipe dream, the organization likely will need to add two middle-of-the-road types that present some upside.
Enter Lance Lynn.
Coming off a three-year, $22 million deal with the St. Louis Cardinals, Lynn enters free agency for the first time in his career. Drafted in the first round back in 2008 by the Cardinals, he’s played for one organization throughout his entire career. In just shy of 1,000 MLB innings, he owns a 3.38 ERA across 161 starts.
After missing the 2016 season due to Tommy John surgery, Lynn led the league in starts during 2017. Taking the ball 33 times for the Cardinals, he owned an 11-8 record with a 3.43 ERA. With a 7.4 K/9 and a 3.8 BB/9, it wasn’t far off from his career norms, but Lynn did take a slight step backwards.
A relatively balanced pitcher, Lynn has generated groundballs 44.3% of the time over his career, and was at 44% in 2017. Homers have never been a big issue for him, despite the 27 (14.2% HR/FB) being a career worst this season. There isn’t a whole ton of hard contact generated off of him, and he makes things work with a fastball that tops out around 93 mph. The repertoire is mostly sinkers, with the occasional changeup and curveball filtered in.
Heading into his age 31 season, Lynn will be another year removed from his Tommy John procedure, and will likely be looking to capitalize on his lone big payday opportunity. I’d guess a deal somewhere in the four to five year range, with an average annual value between $12-15 million makes a good amount of sense.
Looking at what he’s done thus far in his career, it’s hard not to compare Lynn’s results to that of another Twins starter. While he hands out walks a bit more often, both the strikeout numbers and ERA compare favorably to that of Minnesota ace Ervin Santana. Bringing Lynn into the fold would give the Twins another very solid option every fifth day, and create a true trio of quality starters at the top of the rotation.
Over the course of his six year career, Lynn has been a model of consistency. Everything from in depth numbers like chase rate and swinging strike percentages, to surface numbers like strikeouts and ERA have held strong. Going into his more veteran years, that's a good indicator of a relatively safe bet.
When Derek Falvey and Thad Levine set out to begin offering free agent contracts this offseason, pitching likely will be at the top of the priority list, and Lance Lynn could be option 1. Instead of building a rotation full of lights out aces, which is simply both difficult and incredibly expensive, the Twins can add quality while increasing the water level of the group as a whole. Look for another pitcher to be targeted in this space next week.
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