Top '13 Stories: #3 - Twins Spend On Free Agents
Following their third straight year of having their season torpedoed by a dismal starting rotation, the Minnesota Twins went on a free agent spending spree like Twins fans had never seen before. Within a month, they committed $86M to four players, including handing out their two largest contracts in team history
Those increases were not just a result of the inflated price of free agents. The top contract, a 4-year, $49M commitment to Ricky Nolasco, more than doubled the biggest contract the Twins had previously paid to a free agent, which was signed by Josh Willingham for 3-years and $21 million. Within a week, they topped that contract again, enticing Phil Hughes to ink a 3-year deal for $24 million.
But this isn’t just about the amount of money. This also ran contrary to the Twins historical attitude towards signing free agent starting pitchers. Their biggest FA pitcher contract before this year was their much maligned 2-year, $10M deal with Kevin Correia. Other than that, they’ve never paid more than $5M – and that was to Livan Hernandez in 2007. So the deals with Nolasco, Hughes and a subsequent 2-year, $11M deal with Mike Pelfrey represent the three biggest contracts they’ve ever given to starting pitchers – and they all happened within a month.
During the press conference in which they signed Nolasco, Terry Ryan was asked by Wally Langfellow of Minnesota Score
magazine whether or not this reflected a change in philosophy for the Twins.
“No, This isn’t a change in philosophy. We’ve always said, if we need to do something... Now we have the resources to do it. There’s no doubt, if we were still in the Metrodome, this probably wouldn’t happen. But we’re in Target Field. We’ve got more revenue and resources, certainly. This is a nice opportunity. We need pitching. We went out and got it.
As people recall, we tried to retain [Johan] Santana or retain Torii Hunter. To some extent, we just didn’t have the wherewithal. We would not hesitate to jump into free agency. I don’t think it’s the greatest path, because it is risky. We all know that. Free agency is not the answer. It’s a help and a supplement to a roster. But if you’re relying on free agency year-in and year-out, it’s not gonna work.
Now we’re in a situation where we need help. We need immediate help. And this is the reason Ricky is sitting here. But I don’t see this as a big change.”
I don’t know if it’s a change in philosophy, but something sure changed
. Hopefully, 2014 will show it is a change for the better.