• Deep Starting Pitching Market Is A Lucky Break For Twins

    I may have exaggerated a little. I know – shocking for a blogger.

    The starting pitching free agents don't end with Zach Greinke.For months I’ve been saying that this free agent class of pitchers is almost historically deep. That might be a little strong, unless you think history only goes back as far as 2007. Because based on the dollars that were thrown around, 2006-2007 was an unbelievably lucrative free agent starting pitching market – for the players. It didn’t work out nearly as well for the owners.


    The top two contracts given out that year were unmitigated disasters. San Francisco is still trying to get out from under the $126M contract they gave Barry Zito while the Red Sox are finally finished with the $100+M they paid to get Daisuke Matsuzaka. Those two contracts are legendarily bad, and that’s NOT an exaggeration.

    But the next two were almost equally dismal. The Royals invested $55M in Gil Meche, though he saved them some of that when he voluntarily retired only four years into the deal. The next biggest deal went to Jason Schmidt, who made $47M and pitched only 43.1 innings. (Read that last sentence again.) And it didn’t stop there. The majority of the pitchers who signed for big money struggled and there were a lot of them: nine pitchers signed guaranteed deals for at least $20M.

    The teams may have figured out something since then. In the five years since, only eleven pitchers have reached that $20M level. No class since has had more than three pitchers reach that plateau. In fact, no class has had more than seven pitchers even get $10 million contracts.

    Or it could be that the pitchers since just haven’t been that good. For instance, last year was the year those seven pitchers got at least $10M. The market had three big names – CJ Wilson, Yu Darvish and Mark Buehrle. But beyond them, there wasn’t much. Hiroki Kuroda got a one-year, $11M deal from Yankees. Three others got $10+ million contracts, but they were all for multiple years, so the fifth, sixth and seventh biggest deals went to Aaron Harang ($6M/year), Chris Capuano ($5M/year) and Wei-Yin Chen ($3.8M/year).

    Did you just say “Who?” Exactly. If you’re looking for a thin market for starting pitching, the last five years qualify.

    This year is different. There are as many as 11 pitchers who could garner a $20M offer from a team. In the first draft of TwinsCentric’s Offseason GM Handbook (which you’ll be able to order soon, I promise), I count six that are virtually locks to make that money There are five more that might, and each will almost certainly get at least $10 million guaranteed. That’s deeper than any class since 2006.

    But it’s deeper still than that. Because after those guys there are another dozen pitchers who qualify as “innings eaters” or “intriguing gambles” which are the domains in which the Twins are most likely to dabble. Scott Baker belongs in the latter category and ranks 22nd overall on our list. By comparison, there were only 18 starting pitchers last year that signed major league contracts – and that was the most since 2006-2007.

    So, yes, I might have exaggerated a little in the past, so I’ll try and be a little more precise. (John Dyer-Bennett would have wanted it that way.) Right now, this year’s free agent starting pitching class looks to be the best group we have seen in at least five years. It is also flush with mid-level talent, going at least 20 to 25 players deep. And I’ll go a step further.

    If the Twins were trying to time find an offseason where average starting pitching would be available at a discount, they couldn’t have done a much better job. (Provided they actually spend some money.)

    ~~~
    This article was originally published in blog: Deep Starting Pitching Market Is A Lucky Break For Twins started by John Bonnes
    Comments 55 Comments
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by striker_86 View Post
      What about Peavy? Sox arent picking up his option....any chance we go after him?
      Are you sure that Peavy is that much better than Baker in the AL?

      Career AL numbers:

      Peavy: 3.93 ERA, 1.182 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 3.51 K/BB
      Baker: 4.15 ERA, 1.264 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 3.44 K/BB

      And Peavy's numbers were all prime career numbers where Baker's include some early career numbers, which make them look worse than Peavy's. Pretty much the same numbers in the AL in their prime years
      Their career numbers mean little going into next year. Baker is not even a year removed from TJ surgery and Peavy is going to throw >200 IP.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      The last time Jake Peavy threw 200 innings was when he won the Cy Young... In 2007. He will break that mark again in his next start but let's not pretend that he's some kind of workhorse.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      The last time Jake Peavy threw 200 innings was when he won the Cy Young... In 2007. He will break that mark again in his next start but let's not pretend that he's some kind of workhorse.
      Amen! I'd say the odds of Baker throwing 150+ IP next year is about the same as Peavy.

      As much as people want to get down on their knees for the almighty Jake Peavy all of a sudden, it should be noted that the White Sox have paid 48 million to him thus far for 417 IP of 4.18 ERA ball over three years...yeah... what a god damn workhorse he is!

      In comparison the Twins have paid Pavano (who is considered a "meh" signing around these parts") 24 mil for 506 IP of 4.27 ERA ball over the same time period.

      So is Peavy really the answer when Pavano has given you better numbers at 50% of the cost?
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      The last time Jake Peavy threw 200 innings was when he won the Cy Young... In 2007. He will break that mark again in his next start but let's not pretend that he's some kind of workhorse.
      I'm not saying he is a workhorse or even that the Twins should sign him. My point is that quoting Baker's and Peavy's stats and then implying they are equal pitchers at this point because their statistics are equal is ridiculous. One has a TON of questions after not throwing a pitch in 2012 coming off of TJ surgery and the other has had a very successful season where he is going to pitch over 200 innings.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Oxtung View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      The last time Jake Peavy threw 200 innings was when he won the Cy Young... In 2007. He will break that mark again in his next start but let's not pretend that he's some kind of workhorse.
      I'm not saying he is a workhorse or even that the Twins should sign him. My point is that quoting Baker's and Peavy's stats and then implying they are equal pitchers at this point because their statistics are equal is ridiculous. One has a TON of questions after not throwing a pitch in 2012 coming off of TJ surgery and the other has had a very successful season where he is going to pitch over 200 innings.
      Oh, sure. We have no idea what to expect of Baker but we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from Peavy (150-200 IP, 4-ish ERA).

      The thing is that Baker's ceiling is also what we can expect from Peavy and Baker can be signed for about 1/10th the price. It's a risk but it's a good risk to take.
    1. TopGunn#22's Avatar
      TopGunn#22 -
      Great Discussion. Always appreciate Bonnes, Seth and Thrylos. Riverbrain made some good points as well. My humble opinion is that our division is so winable on a year to year basis that to think we need to undertake some 5-year rebuilding plan is foolish. We need starting pitching. Lots of other teams do as well. We will have to out-bid several teams to accomplish this.
      I like the idea of offering Span as a centerpiece to acquire a good young pitcher. Maybe offer Span to the Nationals in a package for Detwiller and Lombo. Maybe to the Braves for Teherhan and make it a bigger deal and go after Prado. He could solve our 2B problem. Trading for a Josh Johnson or Brandon Morrow or James Shields should also be considered. (Once BJ Upton is gone, Rays may be in the market for a CF/Leadoff type guy. I think E. Jackson has proven he can pitch in the A.L If you trade for someone, sign someone like a Jackson or McCarthy and take a flyer on one other SP (not necessarily Baker, but that type of guy, you have a rotation that could compete in the A.L. Central and you simply move Revere to CF and the top of the order and play Parmalee in RF.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      A deeper group of pitchers goes two ways. There will also be more teams losing pitching and in the market.

      In this environment, I don't think it is as good for the Twins. with increased competition for free agent pitching, players will have more options. Why would they sign with the Twins? If the terms of the contract are the same, I think there would be at least 20 organizations that would be chosen over the Twins. It might be closer to 28. Objectively, how confident would you be in the Twins chances next year? How much confidence do you have in the pitching coach? the medical staff?

      The only way the Twins can persuade them is by overpaying in terms of years or dollars. Doing so will give the Twins the increased risk of a bad contract.

      The only way to avoid this is to let the market play out.

      It will be frustrating. We will see pitchers sign with other teams. Someone will write that the Twins could have signed "Pitcher X" for 30 mil over 3 years. Why didn't they? They must be cheap. In truth, "Pitcher X" only signs with the Twins if they add a 4th year or 15%.

      There is no easy way out of this hole. Giving bad contracts to decline phase pitchers could delay the turn around. I would stay out of the market until the end.
    1. nokomismod's Avatar
      nokomismod -
      This is a fun discussion. I still think there is enough potential offense for next year to try to make a run.
      I like Shields, Jackson, Grienke and others. Oakland might do their once every couple of years purge of pitchers via trade for prospects.
      As far as the Twins having a hard time attracting free agents, I don't see that. Maybe it's because I love it here myself. We have a beautiful ball park, an above average core of non diva players (Mauer, Morneau, Willingham, Doumit), decent bullpen, great city and state, and attractive women (just ask Ricky Rubio).
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      The Twins didn't have difficulty in attracting Willingham and Doumit last offseason and both wanted to extend their contracts mid-season.

      I don't think it will be that difficult to attract free agents. Obviously, the players like it here and after a horrible season last year, the Twins pulled down some decent bats on the market.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      You can attract players, but the first stop is contract money and second is playing for a winner. 2-3-4 years or more. Or, you wait out and sign people to a one-year.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rosterman View Post
      You can attract players, but the first stop is contract money and second is playing for a winner. 2-3-4 years or more. Or, you wait out and sign people to a one-year.
      The Twins signed Willingham on December 15th. There will be guys willing to sign with the team if JR makes competitive offers. It shouldn't take extra years in most cases.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      I like Marcum, Shields, and Jackson(though less than the first 2). Guthrie would be good at the correct price 7 mil range. Pitching is always dicy and I would rather trade for younger arms(also a risk, but many small market clubs have excess pitching talent). If the Twins feel they can win this thing next year, they will need to sign or trade for 2 - 3 pitchers. I feel they could be further away from that, but if the front office feels that go for it. Both the Tigers and the White Sox are flawed ballclubs that have had (White Sox) better than expected years. Tigers will also need to change up pitching staff from contact back end to stuff back end(defense issues). That may need pitchers also. Prces are likely to be high, hope the Twins guess right
    1. PseudoSABR's Avatar
      PseudoSABR -
      There's not a lot at the top (i.e. Grienke) but the Twins would never be in on top tier guys (or they shouldn't be); but the middle tiers are pretty fat, to the point where someone might fall into affordability. There's old guys like Loshe, Dempster, Millwood, Kuroda, Arroyo who will be attractive to competitors but the Twins will have no interest in. Whether it's Sanchez, Peavy, Marcum, or Jackson, I'd be pretty happy if the Twins signed any to a deal less than 10m per and less than three years. Add the possibility that Floyd, Haren, and Shields could also hit the market, the Twins might be able to pluck a mid-to-top of the rotation guy. One from the McCarthy, Blanton,Saunders, Villaneuva, Young group might be more realistic. And there's also the crazies/projects: Zambrano, Liriano, E-Santana, J-Sanchez, and Dice-K (ha).

      In any case, there's far more out there than years past. The Twins have money to spend, and even if they don't compete, they should be in the business of acquiring assets.

      tl;dr:
      Top Tier - Grienke
      Old Tier - Dempster, Kuroda, Millwood, Lohse, Arroyo (Oswalt)
      Option Tier - Shields, Floyd, Haren
      (Twins affordability begins here-perhaps)
      Second Tier - A-Sanchez, Peavy, Marcum, Jackson
      Third Tier - McCarthy, Blanton, Saunders
      Questions Tier - Chris Young, Villaneuva, Guthrie, Baker, Maholm (option)
      Crazy Tier - Liriano, Zambrano, E-Santana, J-Sanchez, (Dice-K)

      Nearly all of those guys are better than what the Twins have thrown out there four of five days.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think this is a market the Twins are best kind of sitting back and watching for a bit. Once Greinke signs, the next tier will go. Jackson and Sanchez should get decent deals, like over $20M. I'm not sure I see anyone else who would get more than $6M a year... I mean, i think if the Twins were aggressive, like they were with Carroll and Doumit last year, and offered Blanton 2 years and $12M, I think he'd probably sign. Guthrie was released 2 months ago.I'm intrigued by Ervin Santana, and I might go 3 years, $18M with him.

      There you go... there's my strategy... be aggressive and see if you an have Anibal Sanchez (4 years, $28M), Ervin Santana (3 years, $18M), and Joe Blanton at 1 year, $5M. There's $18M and three pitchers who are likely the top three in the Twins rotation, followed by Diamond and then Deduno for the short-term. If they're not willing to sign those deals quickly, stay in good standing with their agents and offer them the same deal, or 95% of the same deal, in early January.
      with tampa wanting to trim payroll and open to trading shields... why not span to tampa?even if we threw in the 2 rejects from chicago hernadez and escober? then add a jackson and sanchez.....plus a pair of quality relievers and a middle infielder and we have a start to the 2013 season,for around 105.000,000
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by DAM DC Twins Fans View Post
      This is a deep FA pitching class??? Grienke yes--if he could keep his head together. Sanchez maybe but not having a good time now with Detroit. The rest--you gotta be kidding.

      I wouldnt give any of them more than 6mill a year; or 15 mill for 3. They are not youngsters--staying healthy for 3 years is a question for all of them. I have stated on other threads that Jackson (#4 starter here for Nats--yes deep rotation) is overrated. I dont think he is better than Diamond. He may be the best after Greinke.

      Twins much better off trading Span/Revere/Morneau (packaged with somebody else) for a good number 2 starter or better yet a high prospect ready to pitch in 2014.
      You said it first!
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