Somewhat expected news dropped on Saturday night when LaVelle E. Neal of the Star Tribune basically removed Hyun-Jin Ryu from the Twins' potential list of targets in his latest Winter Meetings primer article.
Similar to Zack Wheeler, Ryu has a preference to stay on the coast. For Wheeler, the east was most desirable. But for Ryu, he would like to remain in or near Los Angeles, where he has spent his entire career.
With this presumably in mind, Madison Bumgarner has the best resume of the remaining free agent pitchers. Tom Froemming wrote today about why you shouldn't be fooled by Bumgarner's legacy.
There is no doubt that the Twins need to improve their rotation to repeat success, but if Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, and Ryu are off the board, and Bumgarner isn't as advertised, who is next?
His name may carry ill-advised weight because of the Cy Young Award back in 2015, but former Atlanta Braves hurler Dallas Keuchel could still provide depth to the staff for at least the next two years.
Keuchel is entering his age-32 season and has posted sub-4.00 ERA seasons in back-to-back years. His strikeout numbers don't pop, and his fastball averaged just 87.8 MPH in 2019, so how is he getting outs?
Keuchel posted the highest ground ball rate among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched last year. He did benefit from his defense as his FIP was almost a full run higher than his ERA.
The Twins had one of the worst infield defenses in baseball in 2019, but can improve defensively and help maintain Keuchel's ERA with the common denominator: Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson saved 15 runs and posted a 2.4 UZR at third base last year for the Braves. Keuchel started two games in the NLDS and struggled, but that was mostly because he allowed three home runs in eight innings.
Donaldson's 6.1 bWAR in 2019 was higher than Wheeler, Bumgarner and Ryu, and was just shy of Strasburg and Cole. He will also likely demand only a three-year contract because of his age (he turns 34 on Sunday).
Acquiring Keuchel and Donaldson on three-year deals, along with team friendly contracts on Odorizzi, Pineda, and Alex Avila, is hardly a failed offseason. I would consider that haul a slam dunk with Donaldson as the headliner.
What do you think? Enjoy your Sunday!