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Article: Two Veteran Free Agents The Twins Could Target

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 09:08 PM

It's one of those things that can be difficult to quantify, but without a doubt, veteran presence matters in an MLB clubhouse.

In 2015, anyone who spent time around the team will tell you that 39-year-old Torii Hunter played a larger role in the group's success than his numbers show. And this year, 44-year-old Bartolo Colon's impact after joining the roster in mid-August overshadowed his production on the field.

Colon is back on the market and reportedly looking to give it another go next season. It's sadly time for the Twins to move on from Big Sexy, but there are two other well-traveled vets that look like potential fits.John Lackey "intends to pitch in 2018," according to Jon Heyman. He's 39 and has thrown almost 3,000 innings in the major leagues. When we last saw him on the mound, it wasn't pretty; the right-hander was roughed up in three relief appearances during the NLDS. And in general, it was a trying season for him, as he posted his worst ERA in five years while allowing a league-high 36 home runs.

But outside of the long ball troubles, Lackey pitched fairly well. His 1.28 WHIP would've ranked third among Twins starters and his 20.4% K-rate would have ranked second. From 2013 through 2016, he posted a 3.35 ERA and 1.18 WHIP with an excellent record of durability while pitching for teams that made the postseason every year (Red Sox, Cardinals, Cubs). He took home rings in 2013 and 2016.

Lackey is a capable starter with tons of experience, and he's accustomed to winning. He'll also be surely be available on a one-year deal, leaving the front office with plenty of long-term flexibility if they were to sign him.

The other name I'll be tracking is not a pitcher, but a hitter. Jayson Werth, 38, plans to keep playing and might look very nice on the Twins bench next season.

Like Lackey, he's coming off an inauspicious campaign, having hit .226/.332/.393 in the final year of a fairly disastrous $126 million contract with the Nationals. He was limited to 70 games this year by a bone bruise in his left foot. Werth hasn't had much success lately in general with a sub par .724 OPS over his past three seasons.

As a guy making $21 million and expected to serve as a regular in the outfield, Werth was a major liability. FanGraphs pegged him at -0.3 WAR in 2017.

But what if he were making a fraction of that on a one-year deal, being used more sparingly and more to his strengths? Werth posted an .820 OPS and 10/9 K/BB ratio against left-handed pitchers this year, but made less than 20% of his plate appearances against them. In his career, he has hit .293/.393/.538 against southpaws.

With the Twins, he could spend much of his time at DH while occasionally spelling Max Kepler or Eddie Rosario in the outfield corners against left-handers (though preferably not often as he'd be a huge step down defensively).

As a young team looking to build upon its success and return to the postseason, the Twins will surely have a keen interest in players that fit the veteran leader prototype. As it happens, two of the most experienced players on the free agent market look like pretty solid fits, given their needs. I wouldn't be surprised to soon hear Minnesota connected to one, or both.

Have you gotten your copy of the Offseason Handbook yet? You can read about these names and dozens of other Twins targets. Download yours now and dig in:


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#2 thegambler

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 09:18 PM

Lackey maybe. Werth, absolutely not. We need to start moving our youth through the program. We just lost Daniel Palka. We're going to start losing more players unless we start making them an option.
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#3 Winston Smith

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 09:46 PM

Kepler had an ops of .453 against LH pitching so Werth D could be a little sub-par and still be a big plus. If he is used right he could be worth it. Rosario isn't as bad but still not good. If not Werth somebody like him is a good idea.

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#4 USAFChief

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 09:47 PM

I’m hopeful a RH hitting fourth OFer is a winter addition, and Werth seems like a decent gamble for a mild rebound, enough to be very helpful if used properly.

Lackey, on the other hand, seems poised to crater, rather than rebound. Hard pass.
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#5 DocBauer

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 10:16 PM

Melky over Werth.
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#6 70charger

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 10:26 PM

John Lackey is a bad person and a bad teammate. I don't care if he's free. Hard pass.

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#7 caninatl04

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 10:45 PM

As for Lackey, I wonder how many of the home runs he gave up at Wrigley (with the wind blowing out) would be fly ball outs at the somewhat less friendly confines of Target.

As for Werth, just how much in dollars and roster spots is the cost of maybe 150 PA's a year?

But I am again in favor of 1-year deals while the Twins wait for reinforcements in 2019.

#8 beckmt

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 11:35 PM

Grossman is probably as good or better than Werth and tends to hit lefties better.We also will need to see if Kepler or Rosario are platoon only or can stand in against all but the super tough lefties.Werth would probably want to be more than a bench bat so do not see the fit here.

LackeyNo, No, No.

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#9 prouster

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 11:40 PM

John Lackey is a bad person and a bad teammate. I don't care if he's free. Hard pass.


Why do you say this?

#10 h2oface

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 04:18 AM

No reason to not get a more productive vet, if one is needed. I guess Mauer and Dozier and Santana aren't enough? Why not? I am relieved that Colon will be gone.
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#11 The Wise One

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 04:20 AM

 

Why do you say this?

Lackey pitches to the inside of the plate and occasionally hits the batter. Maddon when he was coach at Tampa took exception when Lackey missed inside and hit one of his and called him a bad teammate because of hitting a batter could get a teammate hurt in the melee, 


#12 gman

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 05:13 AM

No and No. They are simply not good enough any more to take up valuable roster spots on coming Twins teams.

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#13 rv78

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 06:47 AM

Just hire Torii to be a coach and let's pass on all the crusty worn out veterans that will only take roster spots away from the young guys. I thought when Ryan left, this organization would quit dumpster diving for worthless players. Colon proved otherwise. Let's hope that is the end of it.

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#14 peterb18

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 07:13 AM

Definitely agree with Beckmt.....Grossman would be a better choice than Werth. However, neither would be beneficial....both are washed up.
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#15 yarnivek1972

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 07:51 AM

Lackey pitches to the inside of the plate and occasionally hits the batter. Maddon when he was coach at Tampa took exception when Lackey missed inside and hit one of his and called him a bad teammate because of hitting a batter could get a teammate hurt in the melee,


FWIW, Lackey is by far the active leader in HBP with 133. Next is CC Sabathia with 109. Bronson Aroyo and Ervin Santana are the only other actives over 100.

That said, I have no problem with a guy pitching hard inside to make hitters uncomfortable. That is part of the game. A part Twins pitchers have never done enough of IMO.
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#16 Doctor Wu

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 08:04 AM

I wouldn't want either one either. Frankly, I'd rather them bring back Colon on a cheap deal than gamble on the likes of Lackey.

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#17 drjim

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 08:35 AM

I would personally go for one of the pitchers listed in the other article over Lackey.

 

I wouldn't mind a flyer on Werth, I don't see a huge difference between him and Grossman. And I do think there is value in having veterans round out rosters if they embrace the role.

Papers...business papers.

#18 Vanimal46

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 08:47 AM

Lackey was cooked last season. Next year he'll be burnt to a crisp. 

 

Also, as an advocate for increasing pace of play in baseball, Lackey would drive me nuts. Never forget it took him literally 5 minutes to throw 6 pitches in a playoff game. 

 

Hard pass on Werth as well. 

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#19 Nick Nelson

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 09:25 AM

Wow. Y'all really don't like John Lackey!

 

John Lackey is a bad person and a bad teammate. I don't care if he's free. Hard pass.

He can't be that detrimental of a teammate given that every club he's been on in the past four years has been extremely successful.

 

 

I thought when Ryan left, this organization would quit dumpster diving for worthless players. Colon proved otherwise. Let's hope that is the end of it.

We're COMPLAINING about the Colon signing now?? Do you folks have extremely short memories or are you just attached to your narratives?

 

 

Lackey was cooked last season. Next year he'll be burnt to a crisp. 

Again, a "cooked" Lackey would have been ranked second on the Twins in K-rate and third in WHIP. Opponents hit .248 against him. The home runs were his only major issue and that can change a lot from year to year (e.g. Phil Hughes). I feel somewhat confident that Lackey is not going to have an 18.4 HR/FB rate again.

 

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#20 sploorp

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Posted 08 November 2017 - 09:34 AM

No more considering pitchers who slot in behind Santana.We already have an entire farm system full of them.Time to aim for somebody that can slot in front of Santana.The team has more than enough money.

 

If your interested in taking risks, just resign Colon and make him a long reliever.We would at least know what we're getting.

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