Lance Lynn to the Twins?
Image courtesy of David Kohl-USA TODAY SportsIf the Twins were to make another move, many would assume it would be one of Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn. According to a source close to Jon Heyman, he believes that Lance Lynn is a “pitcher of interest” for the Twins, and that he is favored by the Twins among the top three.
The addition of Lance Lynn could be the move that takes the Twins rotation from one filled with question marks, to one with solidified depth. Right now, the Twins rotation to start the season would be Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Alberto Mejia, and one of Phil Hughes, Tyler Duffey or Anibal Sanchez.
Adding Lynn would give the Twins five starters that they can trust in their rotation until Ervin Santana returns, and provide added depth if one of the other starters goes down with an injury during the season.
Lance Lynn had a strong performance in 2017, posting a 3.43 ERA (4.75 xFIP) over 186.1 innings, after coming back from Tommy John surgery. However, the inflated xFIP, along with a career low .244 BABIP last season cause some hesitation in thinking that Lynn will be able to replicate those numbers again in 2018.
Another area of concern for Lance Lynn is his fastball velocity. Lynn is a pitcher who relies heavily on his four-seam, two-seam and cut fastballs, and last year he saw his average fastball velocity drop from the 92.4 MPH it was at in 2015, before his Tommy John surgery, down to 91.3 MPH. A 1.1 MPH drop may not sound like a lot, but when a pitcher is already throwing in the low 90’s every MPH is critical, and if that number were to drop any lower it could be detrimental for Lynn.
There is one bright spot for Lynn coming off of 2017, and that was his 0.304 xwOBA. This ranked 45th amongst the 118 pitchers who threw at least 2,000 pitches last season. This suggests that Lynn was a slightly above average starting pitcher last season, and backs up his 3.43 ERA a lot better than his other peripheral metrics do.
So, if the Twins really do have aspirations of signing Lance Lynn, what would it take to get him? At the beginning of the offseason MLB Trade Rumors predicted that Lance Lynn would receive an offer of 4-years and $56M. Given the way the market has panned out this winter, it might be easy to assume that Lynn would receive an offer south of that mark. However, unlike Darvish, I don’t think there will be too big of a drop from this price, if there is one at all. A big reason for this being that earlier in the offseason Tyler Chatwood signed a 3-year $38M deal with the Cubs.
Given that Chatwood was considered to be a step down from Lynn entering this offseason, it would be hard to believe that Lynn would accept a deal that is equal to or less than that of Chatwood’s. If this is the case, it doesn’t leave the Twins a lot of wiggle room with either years or dollars for them to come down from the 4-years and $56M projection.
Additionally, Lance Lynn received a qualifying offer from the Cardinals. If the Twins were to sign Lynn they would have to give up their third highest pick in the 2018 First Year Player Draft (75th overall). Though, unlike previous years under the old CBA, the Twins would have had to give up their top unprotected pick (20th overall). So, by comparison, giving up the 75th pick in the draft for an established major league pitcher isn’t a terrible trade-off, but it is still a factor that the Twins front office will need to take into consideration before making an offer for Lynn.
Personally, I would like to see the Twins add another piece to their rotation, but the addition of Lance Lynn, or Cobb and Arrieta for that matter, seems a bit risky to me. If they are able to swoop in and get Lynn at an absolute bargain, I think they should make the move, otherwise they might be better off staying put, and look to invest more money into free agency next offseason.
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