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Front Page: Dealing with Wheeler Gets Minnesota an Ace

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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 08:00 PM

This offseason the Minnesota Twins chief focus is going to be on acquiring impact pitching. The front office has suggested as much, and with most of the lineup positions spoken for, it’s where spending money makes sense. Jose Berrios is the only returning arm at this point, and despite getting substantial levels of consistency from the group last year, Rocco Baldelli is going to need a unit that can raise the bar.Everyone knows what the top of the market will look like. Gerrit Cole is going to command a return that could make even Mike Trout and Bryce Harper blush. He’s been nothing short of exceptional, just turned 29-years-old, and may still have another gear to reach. There’s no guarantee that Stephen Strasburg becomes the second premiere arm, but logic suggests he’ll opt out of the final four years and $100 million of his current deal. Every team in baseball should be tripping over themselves to offer these guys a payday. If the Twins aren’t in on them it’s a problem, but if they get turned down anyway, they’ll need to pivot.

For the sake of this argument let’s assume that Derek Falvey offers either of those pitchers a blank check and neither takes the bait. All is not lost with Zack Wheeler still being in the picture. He’s not the arm either of those pitches is, and he is older than Cole, but the former Mets hurler may be the most underappreciated talent looking for a new home.

A former first-round pick, Wheeler has been a model of consistency when healthy. In his three full seasons he’s pitched at least 180 innings with strong strikeout numbers and an ERA firmly in the mid-3’s. For New York in 2019 his ERA crept up to a 3.96 mark, but the 3.48 FIP suggests he was likely victimized by one of the worst defensive teams in baseball.

Over the course of his career Wheeler has avoided the long ball and kept baserunners to a minimum. He’s not going to challenge for the league lead in strikeouts but the 195 in 2019 was a new career high. With the Mets he was consistently a 10% whiff rate thrower, and he’s expanded his chase rates each of the past two seasons. With an average fastball of 97.1 mph this past season, Wes Johnson should be salivating at the opportunity to take him to the next level.

You can bet that the Twins have done a decent amount of background work on Wheeler already. They were in talks with Brodie Van Wagenen regarding Noah Syndergaard, and there’s no doubt that Zack’s name likely was added into the mix. Now costing only dollars, he doesn’t come with the price tag of coveted pieces from within the system. The ability to add a starter with his repertoire and upward projectability is a rare scenario, and one that Minnesota can’t miss on.

Paying for pitching on the open market is largely a landmine of failed opportunity. Teams either find themselves looking to overextend for the best option or having to settle for a patchwork piece that doesn’t fit the mold. Developing pitching is the greatest path to sustainable success and being able to acquire someone like Wheeler who provides a fair mix of pay and future potential looks like a slam dunk.

Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg represent the outlier opportunity to add one of the 5-10 aces in baseball to your staff. Someone like Wheeler gives the Twins an avenue to have two aces of their staff and allow them to battle each other for that top spot.

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#2 DocBauer

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Posted 17 October 2019 - 11:23 PM

I honestly believe the Twins will look at both Cole and Strasburg. How could they not considering payroll and opportunity? Now, even 5-6yrs at $30M do they love Target Field, the young lineup, Rocco, Johnson, the FO, etc.? Or are either drawn to lower tax rates, a place they call home, etc?

The Twins then have to look at the 2nd level options. Not bad, just the next tier, to go a long with other moves. Is Wheeler that guy? I'm torn between him and Bumgarner. Bumgarner has a ton of IP, and is a couple years older. But he has experience, and STILL has good velocity. Could Johnson work a few bits of magic and tweaking and have him at least close to what he was previously? Somewhat similar to Verlander finding new life in Houston?

Wheeler hasn't had near the career that Bumgarner has had. But he's also about 4yrs younger.

It could be easily argued that Odorizzi, acquired for next to nothing at a similar age and point in his career, would be a similar comparison. And Oddo, a hopeful, and expected re-sign, in whatever capacity, probably has less pure "stuff" than Wheeler.

Playing devil's advocate, and just assuming we lose out on Cole and Strasburg, even with similar offers, is Bumgarner or Wheeler the next best choice?
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#3 KirbyDome89

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 02:40 AM

Cole and Strasburg aren't turning down blank checks. If (when) MN doesn't land either, it'll be because they weren't the highest bidder. Period. 

 

Wheeler isn't near the pitcher Berrios is. Acquiring him isn't landing an ace. He's also closer in age to Gibson than Berrios. How long do the Twins have to wait for that "future potential?"

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#4 Rigby

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 04:43 AM

Wheeler is less than a year younger than Bumgarner.

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#5 Jham

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 05:49 AM

The real failure at the deadline the trade deadline this year may not have been the failure to improve or chances at and in the playoffs, but rather the missed opportunity to salvage the 2020 rotation. It certainly appears that we've left ourselves with too much to do.
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#6 AceWrigley

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 07:17 AM

For the sake of argument, Wheeler and Madbum are the same age, but Bumgartner has over 1,000 more innings on his arm. He pitched 200 innings in his 21 year-old season. It's not always the age, it's the mileage (thank you Indiana Jones, baseball savant).

 

Quirky info: they were both signed as No. 1 picks of the Giants; Madbum in 2007, Wheeler in 2009. Heck, why choose. Sign both of them, and Pineda.

 

Rotation = Bumgartner, Berrios, Odorizzi, Wheeler and Pineda. You could do a lot worse. It's not Verlander, Cole & Greinke or Scherzer, Strasburg & Corbin, but then again those 2 threesomes probably won't be together next year.

Edited by AceWrigley, 18 October 2019 - 07:17 AM.

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#7 Vanimal46

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 08:28 AM

For the sake of argument, Wheeler and Madbum are the same age, but Bumgartner has over 1,000 more innings on his arm. He pitched 200 innings in his 21 year-old season. It's not always the age, it's the mileage (thank you Indiana Jones, baseball savant).

Quirky info: they were both signed as No. 1 picks of the Giants; Madbum in 2007, Wheeler in 2009. Heck, why choose. Sign both of them, and Pineda.

Rotation = Bumgartner, Berrios, Odorizzi, Wheeler and Pineda. You could do a lot worse. It's not Verlander, Cole & Greinke or Scherzer, Strasburg & Corbin, but then again those 2 threesomes probably won't be together next year.


Doesn't that indicate Bumgarner has been way more durable over his career than Wheeler?

I wouldn't be opposed to either one for the Twins, but given the choice I would go Bumgarner 10 times out of 10 because of his durability and ability to pitch with his left arm.
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#8 Steve Lein

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 08:58 AM

I'm certainly for going after Wheeler, I've said I want him and Bumgarner...

 

But he's not an ace. He's not even on Berrios level. I put him as a below average #2 starter or decent #3... when he's on. He goes through stretches just like Jose has where he's bad.

 

Wheeler's ERA was above 4.50 for about 2/3's of the season, while Jose was never above 4.00. Wheeler's WPA for the year was negative. At a -.42 mark versus Berrios being +1.9. 

 

Maybe the coaches can get more out of him, and I think that's fair to project a little (but not a certainty), and certainly improves the rotation, but let's not call Wheeler something he's not.

 

If you can't get Cole or Strasburg, Wheeler is a good option, but then it becomes you need multiple of him, so a Bumgarner in addition.

 

I would love to have a rotation of: Cole/Strasburg, Berrios, Odorizzi, Pineda/other FA, Internal rookies

 

But if you don't get that, you have to shoot for something like: Berrios, Bumgarner, Odorizzi, Wheeler, Pineda/Other FA/internal rookies.

 

You have the lineup, now fix the pitching. 

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Scouting Report: Power: 30, Hitting: 50, Arm: 60, Defense: 45, Speed: 45. "Line drive swing and shows good contact and on-base abilities. Double's power at his peak. Strong arm from 2B or the OF, stiff hands. Not a fast runner, but above average instincts on the bases. Skinny body doesn't look the part, but will sneak up on you. ACL surgery sapped much of his athleticism." (Probably)


#9 Thegrin

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 10:23 AM

If I want to play on the West Coast, Minnesota could write a blank check and I would ignore it, because I know that a West Coast team will also write a blank check.

Sometimes, where you want to play is more important than how much money they will give you.:)

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#10 Shaitan

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 10:38 AM

Has Wheeler pitched in the post season? It seems like the other impact arms have. That experience isn't a deal breaker to me, but it's a nice perk.


#11 laloesch

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 12:02 PM

 

If I want to play on the West Coast, Minnesota could write a blank check and I would ignore it, because I know that a West Coast team will also write a blank check.

Sometimes, where you want to play is more important than how much money they will give you.:)

 

Exactly. It's along the lines that people don't want to play for the Twins because it's Minnesota and the Twin Cities kinda like people don't want to play for the Sabres because it's welllll Buffalo.

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#12 jkcarew

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 01:02 PM

I'd take Wheeler in a heart-beat. Like others, don't think he's any more of an ace that Berrios, but I'd take him. What I like about him is his relative consistency in getting into at least the 7th inning. I might like Burgarner more in the shortest term...but do worry more about the miles on his arm relative to Wheeler, despite being only one year older. It'll be interesting to see how many years Bumgarner gets.


#13 Mike Sixel

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 01:09 PM

The real failure at the deadline the trade deadline this year may not have been the failure to improve or chances at and in the playoffs, but rather the missed opportunity to salvage the 2020 rotation. It certainly appears that we've left ourselves with too much to do.


Not to mention at the start of the year, bringing in a number five starter instead of someone else. This mess is their own making.
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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#14 Trov

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 01:15 PM

I am not certain Strasburg turns down 4 years $100.In the recent years of FA for pitchers, how many pitchers have got much more? Only a few pitchers are making more than $25M per season.Many pitchers over last couple off seasons were thinking they would get that, and did not.Yes, Strasburg is coming off very good year, most innings pitched his whole career and strike out/ walk rates are the same.It will be interesting to see what he decides, but how much more than $25M a year over 4 will he be asking for?Kershaw is getting $31M a year over next two, would he ask for 4 years $120, and will he get it?The main thing going for him compared to Keuchel and Arrieta, both guys last two years hoping for huge pay day but did not get it, is Strasburg numbers have remained strong and he finally played full year.  

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#15 bustedstuff88

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 03:07 PM

 

I honestly believe the Twins will look at both Cole and Strasburg. How could they not considering payroll and opportunity? Now, even 5-6yrs at $30M do they love Target Field, the young lineup, Rocco, Johnson, the FO, etc.? Or are either drawn to lower tax rates, a place they call home, etc?

The Twins then have to look at the 2nd level options. Not bad, just the next tier, to go a long with other moves. Is Wheeler that guy? I'm torn between him and Bumgarner. Bumgarner has a ton of IP, and is a couple years older. But he has experience, and STILL has good velocity. Could Johnson work a few bits of magic and tweaking and have him at least close to what he was previously? Somewhat similar to Verlander finding new life in Houston?

Wheeler hasn't had near the career that Bumgarner has had. But he's also about 4yrs younger.

It could be easily argued that Odorizzi, acquired for next to nothing at a similar age and point in his career, would be a similar comparison. And Oddo, a hopeful, and expected re-sign, in whatever capacity, probably has less pure "stuff" than Wheeler.

Playing devil's advocate, and just assuming we lose out on Cole and Strasburg, even with similar offers, is Bumgarner or Wheeler the next best choice?

 

They will indeed be looking at them but I believe its virtually a foregone conclusion already that neither Cole nor Strasburg want to pitch anywhere other than on a coast, which we are not. Ive already mentally moved on from these two, unfortunately.

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#16 ewen21

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 03:20 PM

 


A former first-round pick, Wheeler has been a model of consistency when healthy.
 

And there's the rub.He is 29 and missed THREE SEASONS in a row.He had two decent years in a row, but he is in no way "an ace"

 

That said, he did have 23 games where he pitched six innings or more so the guy fits my profile for the kind of pitcher I want

 

 

 

Wheeler isn't near the pitcher Berrios is. "

"isn't near the pitcher Berrios is" is a little much.

Berrios is probably better, but it's closer than what you are saying

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#17 Vanimal46

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 04:28 PM

And there's the rub. He is 29 and missed THREE SEASONS in a row. He had two decent years in a row, but he is in no way "an ace"

That said, he did have 23 games where he pitched six innings or more so the guy fits my profile for the kind of pitcher I want

"isn't near the pitcher Berrios is" is a little much.
Berrios is probably better, but it's closer than what you are saying


I find it ironic Wheeler is thought of as an ace with his injury history, and Bumgarner is dismissed because of too much milage on his arm.

Bumgarner has been way more durable in his career other than a couple of freak accidents (falling off a dirt bike hurting his shoulder, and getting drilled by a line drive on the mound).

Mileage on the arm doesn't appear to affect Scherzer, Verlander, and Grienke. I really think Bumgarner is one of those unicorns in baseball. A true work horse that can pitch 200 innings year in year out.
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#18 Oxtung

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 04:47 PM

At what point do we come to understand that there is no such thing as "durable" in baseball? You're only "durable" until you're not. Ervin Santana, Nolasco, CC Sabathia, and a bunch of other pitchers were once considered "durable" too. Past experience is not a predictor of future success when it comes to "durability".

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#19 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 04:56 PM

 

If I want to play on the West Coast, Minnesota could write a blank check and I would ignore it, because I know that a West Coast team will also write a blank check.

Sometimes, where you want to play is more important than how much money they will give you.:)

Absolutely right. These guys are human beings, not robots. Cole likes playing for Houston, so they get first crack. He's from SoCal and his family is still there so the Angels and Dodgers would be his next choice. He is going to get basically the same money wherever he goes, and so Is Strasburg, Wheeler, etc., any of the "top" guys. It's not a money contest at the top level - it's a fit and desire contest. Money matters more to the second and third tier guys because it won't be the same everywhere. 

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#20 notoriousgod71

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Posted 18 October 2019 - 05:22 PM

Quit trying to find a diamond in the rough and sign the best guy out there.

 

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