Is Another Arm Coming?
Image courtesy of © Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY SportsOn February 18, the Star Tribune’s Phil Miller tweeted that Falvey was quoted as saying “I’m not turning my phone off” in regard to adding another starter. Since that date, Darren Wolfson reported on 1500 ESPN radio that Minnesota lowballed Lance Lynn, and then more reports surfaced in early March suggesting an offer of two years and $20 million was made to the former Cardinals starter. Just under a $3 million boost on the rejected qualifying offer probably isn’t going to get it done, but it’s hard to ignore the makings of a fire being in place.
Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn are the trio the baseball world is currently focused on. While Mike Moustakas, Neil Walker, and a host of position players remain unsigned, it’s impact pitchers that are generally in short supply. With those three arms still to be had, almost every outlet sees Minnesota as a logical landing spot. On ESPN, David Schoenfield put five teams down as his “best bets” to land one of them. While the Brewers should be competitive with their additions, it’s the Twins and Nationals that look the best of the bunch (excluding the Orioles and Phillies). His piece can be added to the long list of articles making the suggestion that Minnesota make another move, but the question remains if, and if so, who?
Of the group, it seems as though Jake Arrieta remains the most remote possibility. Being a Scott Boras client, Arrieta has sought a massive payday and has seemingly stood behind that notion. After peaking late, Arrieta has put just four strong seasons of work together. In a Cubs uniform, he looked the part of an ace and picked up a Cy Young award in 2015. At 32 years-old however, there’s a lot of mileage on the arm, and the decline could be both sharp and immediate.
Should the Twins continue to create the Rays of the Midwest, then Alex Cobb has to be considered. Both Logan Morrison and Jake Odorizzi serve as recruiters, while pitching guru Josh Kalk is already in house. Undergoing Tommy John surgery, Cobb has just 34 starts under his belt since 2014. At 30 however, age is still on his side and the 2.82 ERA from 2013-14 looks dazzling in retrospect. Minnesota has to have some level of belief that there’s more to be unleashed than the 3.66 ERA and 6.4 K/9 of 2017, but he too would represent a clear upgrade.
Rounding out the trio is the name the Twins have been most tied to, Lance Lynn. If not for Yu Darvish, it was probably Lynn who presented the most intriguing combination of dollars and sense on the free agent market this offseason. Also a Tommy John survivor, Lynn will soon be 31 and bounced back to start a league high 33 games in 2017. The career 3.4 BB/9 isn’t ideal for a starter, and jumping up to 3.8 in 2017 is worrisome. However, he’s consistently posted K/9 totals over 8.0 and that’s something the Twins would love to have on the bump.
As things stand, the Twins have exactly three weeks left until Opening Day in Baltimore. That same time frame applies to those players still left on the open market. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine could run Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes to the mound as 50% of their starting rotation (until Ervin Santana returns), but that duo doesn’t provide much confidence for a team with postseason aspirations. Both represent solid depth options, but with money left in attempts to reach 51% of revenues, a path to an upgrade is in clear view.
The longer the process drags on, the more negative the impact becomes for both sides. Getting free agents into camp and acclimated should be of integral importance, regardless of it being with the Twins or elsewhere. Although it’s not as if the players are simply doing nothing, gearing up their throwing programs within the organization is a far better use of time. Examples of late-signing free agents aren’t plentiful, and signings well into the season bring back bad memories of Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. Despite being tied to draft pick compensation, both a team and the player budging a bit makes too much sense not to get done.
When the smoke clears, I’m inclined to believe Minnesota will have one more new face in the clubhouse. Lynn seems to be the odds-on favorite, with Cobb or no one coming in ahead of Arrieta. A one-year pact to give up the pick would be tough, but a two-year deal hardly benefits guys looking for some stability. One thing is certain, the calendar isn’t stopping and we’ll have resolution at some point.
- Blake, mikelink45, Sconnie and 1 other like this