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Twins First Deal Gets Creative

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 13 December 2017 · 1,219 views

minnesota twins michael pineda
This morning, the Twins started off the Wednesday of the Winter Meetings with an agreement. Former New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda, was announced as signing a two-year deal with the club. Before diving into any specifics, Minnesota adding starting pitching is a good thing. Opening up the hood however, that's where this move gets juicy.

Thad Levine and Derek Falvey targeted an injured player with their first major league free agent signing of the offseason. Pineda made 17 starts for the Yankees in 2017 prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery. A best case scenario would put him on track to return late in 2018, but the more likely reality is that he misses all of the upcoming season. Knowing this, the front office got him on a team friendly two-year, $10 million deal. Paying him $2 million in the first year while he rehabs, the Twins will then bump his salary to $8 million in 2019.

Over the past three seasons for the Yankees, Pineda has thrown 432.2 IP and compiled a 4.56 ERA. His 3.82 FIP is a much nicer number, and his 9.5 K/9 would be easily the best mark on the Twins starting staff. He also pounds the zone well, issuing free passes at just a 2.0 BB/9 clip.

For the Twins, building a rotation more capable of missing bats and sitting down hitters, Pineda fits the mold. His fastball sits mid-90s and he pairs it with an upper 80s changeup and a mid 80s slider. Over the course of his career, he's owned a 12.5% swinging strike rate, which checks in around the same level as guys like Yu Darvish. In 2016 with the Yankees, Pineda spiked that number all the way up to 14.1%. He also generates a solid chase rate, getting batters to swing at pitches outside of the zone over one-third of the time.

Although Tommy John still presents a handful of hurdles to overcome, it's a much more routine procedure than it was even five years ago. Expecting some dip across the board is probably fair, but many pitchers return to the same level, if not better, after having the surgery. Paying $2 million in 2018 to have a hands on approach with a pitcher that will be just 30 years old in 2019 is a very good bet.

At the end of the day, a healthy Pineda probably gets something along the lines of Tyler Chatwood's three-year, $38 million deal. Instead of an average annual value north of $12.5 million, the Twins will get a healthy Pineda in 2019 at a modest $8 million mark. This is a creative way to take a gamble with significant upside, and it's the way teams with lower budgets should look to find competitive advantages.

Spending on Pineda does little to the Twins other plans, and it should only enhance Twins fans expectations of what lies ahead. This front office puts its best foot forward once again, and the more times it happens, it never seems to get old.

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tarheeltwinsfan
Dec 13 2017 04:41 PM

One correction: The Twins do not geta healthy Pineda in 2019 for a modest $8 million. It will cost the Twins $10 million to get him for 2019. Whether that is a modest amount or not, I guess time will tell.

I like it. A high upside arm with a relatively low commitment.  Short contracts are generally good for the team. How much is Hughes getting paid next year? 

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Ted Schwerzler
Dec 13 2017 07:04 PM

One correction: The Twins do not geta healthy Pineda in 2019 for a modest $8 million. It will cost the Twins $10 million to get him for 2019. Whether that is a modest amount or not, I guess time will tell.


Pineda’s Base salary in 2019 is $8m and there’s around $3m that he can earn in incentives.
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Ted Schwerzler
Dec 13 2017 07:04 PM

I like it. A high upside arm with a relatively low commitment.  Short contracts are generally good for the team. How much is Hughes getting paid next year?


Hughes is on the hook for $13.2m each of the next two years.
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andy4butler
Dec 16 2017 08:25 AM

Pineda’s Base salary in 2019 is $8m and there’s around $3m that he can earn in incentives.


The point that the other poster was making is that you are ignoring the 2million spent in 2018 for no 2018 value making his 2019 salary 8 million plus this postponed 2 million = 10 million in 2019. Technically wince you are paying some now, time value of money makes this even more than 10 million. Then you add on the incentives. It is more or less not as favorable as being made out in your original blog.
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Ted Schwerzler
Dec 16 2017 08:29 AM

The point that the other poster was making is that you are ignoring the 2million spent in 2018 for no 2018 value making his 2019 salary 8 million plus this postponed 2 million = 10 million in 2019. Technically wince you are paying some now, time value of money makes this even more than 10 million. Then you add on the incentives. It is more or less not as favorable as being made out in your original blog.


That’s wasn’t ignored, and the $2m was even mentioned. That’s part of the point. Paying $2m in the first year for nothing but the ability to monitor and oversee the rehab is a steal when you’re getting a potential #3 starter in 2019 at $8m. If healthy, Pineda gets over $10m AAV easily, so you’ve created instant value by offering a guy a place to rehab.
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andy4butler
Dec 16 2017 07:16 PM

That’s wasn’t ignored, and the $2m was even mentioned. That’s part of the point. Paying $2m in the first year for nothing but the ability to monitor and oversee the rehab is a steal when you’re getting a potential #3 starter in 2019 at $8m. If healthy, Pineda gets over $10m AAV easily, so you’ve created instant value by offering a guy a place to rehab.


As long as we are on the same page as to now it is 10m + incentives for 2019, we are on the same page. We are also on the same page with IF healthy. Pineda wasn't getting more than a one year contract coming off a layoff anyway going into next year so it wasn't like he would get offered much more. i agree that there is potential value there and am optimistic the Twins might have some thoughts on how to optimize the rehab. There is risk too which likely makes it a fair deal.

Note he has a career ERA+ of 101 and is coming off injury. For comparison, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb have career ERA+ as 114 aand 111 respectively.

I appreciate the FO creativity, but we aren't talking like they did something out of this world. Finding 40m/3 yrs Cozart and using Polanco plus prospects for Cole or Archer (obviously the quantity and quality of the prospects matters), well that would have been stronger creativity in my mind.