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Front Page: An Early Look at The Top Free Agent Starting Pitchers

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#1 Andrew Thares

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 09:05 AM

With all the excitement surrounding the 2019 Minnesota Twins, it is hard not to get wrapped up in this season, and to be frank, Twins fans should be. Seasons like this don’t come around that often. That being said, at some point, even if the Twins make a run all the way to the World Series, the 2019 season will come to an end, and every team will need to quickly shift into building their rosters for 2020. For the Twins, that focus will be centered around rebuilding the starting rotation, as Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Kyle Gibson, and Martin Perez ($7.5 million team option) will be free agents at season’s end. So, I thought it would be a good idea to look into who might be some of the big names the Twins could be linked to this winter.The first area of discussion will be whether the Twins should offer Odorizzi, Pineda or Gibson a qualifying offer. Last year, the qualifying offer amount was 1-year and $17.9 million, so we can project that number to be somewhere between $18 million and $19 million this year. Thanks to Kyle Gibson’s poor performance of late, and the 60-game suspension handed down to Michael Pineda for use of a masking agent, the only likely candidate for the Twins to extend a qualifying offer to is Jake Odorizzi. If you want a deeper dive on what might go into that decision for the Twins, Cody Christie wrote an excellent piece on the subject earlier this week.

The Twins also have a few options within their organization, like Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer or Brusdar Graterol, but their best options might come from outside the organization. Luckily for the Twins, they will have plenty of money to spend this winter, as they will have only roughly $90 million on the books entering the offseason. That’s with only losing Jason Castro and Jonathan Schoop from the lineup. So, who are the top pitchers that the Twins could look to spend some money on this winter? Let’s take a look.

Gerrit Cole

Among the list of upcoming free agent starting pitchers, Gerrit Cole will most definitely be the prize of the class. With Cole just turning 29 on Sunday, he will have a few more prime seasons ahead of him. Cole is practically a lock to receive a qualifying offer from the Houston Astros, but with a pitcher of his caliber, it shouldn’t have much of an impact on teams wanting to sign him like it did for other starting pitchers in recent years... pitchers like Dallas Keuchel and Lance Lynn. So far in 2019, Cole has a 2.81 ERA (2.88 FIP), with 13.58 K/9 and 2.19 BB/9 in 176 1/3 innings pitched, across 28 starts.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

For much of the 2019 season, Hyun-Jin Ryu was the clear-cut front-runner for the National League Cy Young Award, as he had a 1.27 ERA through his first 15 starts. However, he has seen some regression lately, as he has a 4.31 ERA over his last 11 starts, including giving up 21 earned runs over his last four starts. Despite this, Ryu should still remain a top target for teams looking to add a front-line starting pitcher. For his career, Ryu has a 3.03 ERA (3.35 FIP) in 719 1/3 innings.

Madison Bumgarner

We all heard plenty about Madison Bumgarner as a potential Twins target before the trade deadline.. Well this winter they will have another shot at the one-time ace, as he will become a free agent. Much like Cole, Bumgarner is a strong candidate for a qualifying offer. However, unlike Cole, there is a real chance this qualifying offer could impact teams’ willingness to pursue him. Despite a slightly higher ERA this season (3.81 in 2019 vs 3.26 in 2018), Bumgarner has done a lot to help his market value in 2019, as his strikeout and walk numbers are greatly improved from where they were a season ago. Additionally, Bumgarner has shown that he is back to full health, as he has already made 30 starts in 2019.

Zack Wheeler

Much like Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler was linked to the Twins before the trade deadline, and also like Bumgarner, he wasn’t actually moved, as the New York Mets surprised everyone when they decided to be buyers instead of sellers at the deadline. Wheeler is yet another likely candidate to receive a qualifying offer, and if that’s the case, he too could see that impact his signing. Wheeler has had a bit of down year in 2019, has his ERA is a full run higher than it was in 2018. However, many of the underlying metrics suggest he is still the same pitcher he has been over the course of his career.

Cole Hamels

Despite being well into the latter part of his career, Hamels is still preforming at the top of his game. So far in 2019, Hamels has a 3.69 ERA (3.89 FIP) in 126 2/3 innings. Additionally, Hamels’ strikeout numbers are still around where they were in his 20’s, pitching for the Philadelphia Phillies. It’s hard to say if Hamels will get a qualifying offer, but it would make some sense for the Cubs to do so, as he could easily be worth a higher-priced 1-year deal.

Stephen Strasburg

Stephen Strasburg’s availability this offseason will rely entirely on what he decides to do with his 4-year $100 million player option that he has at season’s end. If he chooses to opt out, Strasburg will join Cole and Ryu among top starting pitchers available this winter. Despite being overshadowed by Max Scherzer over the past few seasons, Strasburg remains as one of the top starting pitchers in the game. In 2019, Strasburg’s 5.3 fWAR ranks sixth in major league baseball. What happens with Strasburg will undoubtedly be the most intriguing story line as the 2019-2020 offseason gets underway.

As we can see, there are plenty of options available for the Twins to target to bolster their starting rotation, and I didn’t even get into the possibility of making a trade. What the Twins actually end up doing is still very much up in the air, but one thing is for sure, Twins Daily will be there every step of the way to cover to Twins, even as we start to hunker down for the winter. What are your thoughts, do you see any of these pitchers sporting a Twins uniform in 2020, and if so, who do you think is is the most likely candidate?

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#2 beckmt

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 10:21 AM

Now a QO for Oderizzi is almost mandatory. Would still offer Pineda a contract, more like 2/24 and hope he wants to be with his friends on a good team.  

Of the others the only one I am interested in is Cole and do not see the Twins being in the $200 million range for the contract (according to MLBtraderumors this is where they are expecting the contract to be). Bumgarner will probably be back in SF as not resigning him will be a major PR disaster.Rest will depend on whether they have a QO attached, outside of maybe Hamels think most will and I believe Hamel will want more money than the Twins will want to offer.   


#3 adorduan

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 10:52 AM

I don't think the Twins have a realistic chance of signing any of those free agents on other teams.

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#4 D.C Twins

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 11:54 AM

Twins best chance of obtaining better starting pitching is through trades.

 

Our owner/FO are not interested in "overpaying."

 

With market competition, the winner will ultimately "overpay" for these starters.

 

Ergo, we will not get any of these.

 

Which is fine, but, as I've stated numerous time, if we are not willing to"overpay" in money, for quality staring pitching, we need to be willing to "overpay" in prospects in a trade.

 

Quality starting pitching very very very rarely comes at a reasonable cost, and when it does, it does so largely through luck.

 

Let's not depend on luck shall we?

 

Time to loosen the vice like grip on our prospects. Then window is open now

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#5 Kelly Vance

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 11:55 AM

I think they use the options on Perez and Cruz.Odo is not worth 19 million. Sorry, I like him but we can spend that money in better ways. I really hope Gibson beats the colitis thing. But it killed Glenn Frey of Eagles fame. RIP.That shows it is a serious thing. I suspect he might be taking a year off. 

 

I could see the Bum or Wheeler, but not the others.Time to let Busdar, Thorpe and Smeltzer compete for a spot. 

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#6 jud6312

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 12:36 PM

 

I think they use the options on Perez and Cruz.Odo is not worth 19 million. Sorry, I like him but we can spend that money in better ways. I really hope Gibson beats the colitis thing. But it killed Glenn Frey of Eagles fame. RIP.That shows it is a serious thing. I suspect he might be taking a year off. 

 

I could see the Bum or Wheeler, but not the others.Time to let Busdar, Thorpe and Smeltzer compete for a spot. 

 

I really hope you're wrong about that Perez option.


#7 jud6312

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 12:37 PM

I wish they'd back up the trucks for a Cole offer, but I don't see it happening.

 

QO for Odo. Offer Pineda a "you owe us" contract. Watch the market on Gibson and see where it goes from there.

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#8 Vanimal46

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 02:07 PM

The time to get Cole was 2 years ago when he was under arbitration. The Pohlads will never back up the Brinks truck for a free agent pitcher.
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#9 gman

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:01 PM

I think Thorpe gets a tryout the rest of September for a starting role on next years team. It gets easy to see 2 guys who spent the bulk of this year in the minors getting a lot of starts in next years rotation. Odo gets a qualifying offer and Gibson takes a 3 year deal. They will probably sign a free agent starter next March, although I think this years free agents will not wait so long to take a decent if not great contract offer. A possible trade with Tampa Bay for Snell, who is their most expensive player.


#10 Mike Sixel

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:13 PM

I doubt they sign one of those guys.

They should not sign Pineda. When did he last play a full year? And he knowingly took a banned substance, screwing the team this year.

Perez is a number five starter. Mid market teams should not pay that kind of player more than the minimum.

The have to lock up Odorrizi. No way you go into the off season needing three pitchers.

Good luck to the FO, they are going to need it. Of course, they chose this path last off season, by not acquiring any longer term players, I have no sympathy at all.
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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#11 Cooper Carlson

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:44 PM

Someone not on this list who I can see the Twins acquiring is Tanner Roark. Extremely consistent guy who could by a number 3 or 4. I would like someone on this list plus Roark.

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#12 ScooterDance

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 03:57 PM

No chance we sign any of these guys. Never done it. Never will.
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#13 joemama

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 05:31 PM

 

No chance we sign any of these guys. Never done it. Never will.

https://getyarn.io/y...70-5e53446049d3

 

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#14 mikelink45

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 06:53 PM

I am so disappointed with Pineda that it is hard to be reasonable. The only reality in this post to me is Odorizzi and Thorpe. Then good luck.

#15 laloesch

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 07:02 PM

I doubt they sign one of those guys.
They should not sign Pineda. When did he last play a full year? And he knowingly took a banned substance, screwing the team this year.
Perez is a number five starter. Mid market teams should not pay that kind of player more than the minimum.
The have to lock up Odorrizi. No way you go into the off season needing three pitchers.
Good luck to the FO, they are going to need it. Of course, they chose this path last off season, by not acquiring any longer term players, I have no sympathy at all.


I agree. This front office has put itself behind the eight ball. I don't know what they are going to do next season, but they aren't signing any of those guys mentioned above.

#16 operation mindcrime

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 07:15 PM

Are Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco and Ervin Santana free agents?
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#17 Brandon

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 09:52 PM

I can see the Twins signing 1 solid starter like Odorizzi, Keuchel, Zack Wheeler, or Cole Hammels

 

Gibson is a wild card as we don't fully know how his injury/ illness will affect him moving forward.But I think the Twins would like to keep him if the price is reasonable.

 

I can also see the Twins going after an innings eater like Homer Bailey, and Tanner Roark, Cashner,someone who is less expensive but solid/ ok.

 

Picking up Martin's option 

 

and going with a rookie.If they can sign Pineda or some pitcher coming off injury on a low cost deal I think they would do that too.Or sign someone to compete for a spot either on a minor league or spring invite deal but the money would be a factor.  

 

With their offense, the Twins would only need to find league average starters to be competitive. you know like back in the Terry Ryan era.

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#18 Mike Sixel

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 10:00 PM

I can see the Twins signing 1 solid starter like Odorizzi, Keuchel, Zack Wheeler, or Cole Hammels

Gibson is a wild card as we don't fully know how his injury/ illness will affect him moving forward. But I think the Twins would like to keep him if the price is reasonable.

I can also see the Twins going after an innings eater like Homer Bailey, and Tanner Roark, Cashner, someone who is less expensive but solid/ ok.

Picking up Martin's option

and going with a rookie. If they can sign Pineda or some pitcher coming off injury on a low cost deal I think they would do that too. Or sign someone to compete for a spot either on a minor league or spring invite deal but the money would be a factor.

With their offense, the Twins would only need to find league average starters to be competitive. you know like back in the Terry Ryan era.


Most of those you named aren't league average.

It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#19 sftwinsfan

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Posted 08 September 2019 - 10:06 PM

Agree that acquiring starting pitching via trade is probably their most likely scenario. Seems pretty difficult to pick up up to three starters via free agency with any success. I haven't seen anything that gives me any confidence in internal options. Smeltzer, Dobnak, and Thorpe look like back of the rotation options at best. Graterol isn't ready.


#20 Roaddog

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Posted 09 September 2019 - 05:16 AM

I could see Wheeler. Otherwise it's gonna be someone who struggled that they think they can fix.
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