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Hopefully Simmons "issues" are not like Romero...

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Cord cutters dilema 2021

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Spring Training Games Thread 2021

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 03:03 PM
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Reusse: Modern Game Unkind to Dozier, Plouffe

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 12:03 PM
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Recent Blogs


The Free Agent Starter Who Could Be Another Kenta Maeda

The Twins need greater depth and stability at the back end of their rotation for 2021. To get it, they should target the closest thing this market has to a left-handed Kenta Maeda: erstwhile Chicago southpaw José Quintana.
Image courtesy of © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
For Quintana, who’ll turn 32 next week, free agency came at precisely the wrong time. His 2020 was cut short not only by COVID-19’s impact on the entire league, but by a literal cut he suffered while doing dishes during the coronal interregnum. Before that, though, Quintana had made at least 31 starts and topped 170 innings pitched in each of his seven full seasons, and in the year before that, he’d made every start across a campaign split between Double A and the majors.

Starters this durable are in short supply during any offseason, but especially so this winter. Alas, Quintana has struggled over parts of the last three seasons, almost ever since the trade that took him from the South Side of Chicago to the North Side. He’s still been worth 3.2 WARP, according to Baseball Prospectus, in a total of 355 innings, but he has delivered that value too unsexily. The shine is off of him, and the market for his services has been slow to warm.

That could be good news for the Twins, because despite clear signs of aging and a lack of dazzling new-age pitch characteristics, Quintana still has the ability to be a solid second or third starter, even for a playoff-caliber team. There are elements of his game the Cubs did too little to encourage, and weaknesses they were unable to shore up, that ideally suit the strengths and emphasis points of Wes Johnson and the Minnesota pitching infrastructure.

Quintana has never had especially high spin rates. However, he’s shown good rising action on his fastball despite that, at least in the past. He gets around his curveball a bit, so it has sweeping action and doesn’t come out of exactly the same slot as his heat, but that gives the pitch a two-plane shape and allows him to command it both within and outside the strike zone.

As was the case when the Twins acquired Maeda last year, there are alterations they could make to Quintana’s pitch mix that could unlock better performance for him. He’s a two-fastball pitcher, with a good sinker, but doesn’t yet mix the two as effectively as he should. He doesn’t use his changeup at all against fellow lefties, or throw his curve as much as he could against righties.

Quintana has made some mechanical tweaks recently, but there are more that could help him become more consistent and dominant. Beginning late in 2019, he introduced a more forceful shift from hyperextension to flexion of his spine. It didn’t really produce the effect he wanted, but it’s the right starting point, should he come under Johnson’s tutelage. If any pitching coach in the league can be trusted to find the right adjustment to balance, posture, and timing in a delivery, it’s Johnson. For whatever reason, Quintana’s release point also dropped significantly in 2020, but that should be an easy problem to fix. Finally, small adjustments to the way he grips and positions the seams for each of his pitches could fix some of the problems he's had generating the movement that once made him a near-ace.

With those calibrations right and his pitch mix optimized, Quintana could be a four-pitch stud, not unlike Maeda and José Berríos. Heck, if the Twins are especially eager, they could help him revive the slider/cutter he threw during his best seasons with the White Sox. In that sense, he’s similar to Jake Odorizzi, who thrived after the team helped him change horizontal lanes better beginning in 2018.

In all likelihood, Quintana would cost close to $10 million on a one-year deal, but the Twins could (and should) try to negotiate a lower annual salary by offering multiple years. In doing so, if they did restore him to the pitcher he’s been in the past, the team would also capture the upside for 2022 and (perhaps) 2023. It’s a bit of a risk, but as with Maeda, the upside far outweighs the potential for a bust here, and his likely price tag would preserve flexibility as the team addresses other needs. Considering those other, looming costs, it’s worth choosing Quintana over Jake Odorizzi and other slightly higher-floor options.

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10 Comments

I am surprised that Quintana is projected for 10 million.His last full year with Cubs 4.68 era with underlying numbers to match. I am not as optimistic about the rebound. I would be OK if he is the fifth starter. Don't want a fourth starter that we need a rebound from.

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specialiststeve
Jan 19 2021 09:40 PM

He is not Maeda .... but as a fourth starter.... not a great bet.. as a 5th starter... fine... 

A very well thought out and well researched arguement that I want to believe in. I WANT to believe in Quintana based on previous years of watching him, his IP, and his final results before joining the Cubs. I WANT to believe at 32yo, the same age as fellow lefty Paxton but with a better IP and health history, he has life left to make him a potential steal in a new environment.

I think Johnson is a tremendous pitching coach. But in the article you reference many negatives from arm slot to pitch mix to virtually abandoning a slider/cutter he had previously. At what point do we dismiss the bandbox of Wrigly Field and the Cubs poor handling of his abilities and repertoire and just wonder if the last 3 seasons are reality vs fixable issues?

I threw away my crystal and magic 8 ball years ago because they never seemed to work right. LOL I understand the arguement here that he could be a steal. But it also sounds like he's been a bit of a mess for 3yrs now. Just how good of a janitor is Johnson to clean up that mess?

I WANT this to be a signing and have something close to the old Quintana. And the FO and Johnson are way smarter than I am. But I'm just not sure this would be the mountain I would choose to climb from the outside looking in.

Personally, beyond Bauer, I don't feel the market is as vacant as many subscribe to. I think there are a few really nice 3/4 options available to raise the staff beyond the trade market. (Which remains a possibility). Quintana is absolutely one of those possibilities, despite the obvious question marks.

And while I can't wait for a couple young arms to rise up soon, I have to ask, is "fixing" Quintana a better option than Odorizzi returning?
    • Doctor Gast likes this

Angels - 8 Million - one year deal. Makes more sense there as they always seem to have starting pitchers get hurt.His track record of throwing innings will help there. I hope the Twins are going for a little more upside even if it comes with injury risk. A few starts from the Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorp group is OK. I am just hoping for more depth and higher upside.

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Doctor Gast
Jan 20 2021 05:41 AM

To get to the PS we have get past CWS. CWS are loaded w/ RH bats that can hammer LHP. I think Wes can do something w/ him but IMO we can do better w/ more bang for the buck

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Doctor Gast
Jan 20 2021 08:09 AM
Looks like Quintana is going to the Angels

Yep, he gone.

I like Paxton better.

    • DocBauer likes this
Go big or go home.
Come on Twins.
Make some headlines.
From reporting it looks like the Twins weren't interested in Quintana.

Will be interesting to see how Happ does compared to Ray and Quintana this year.