The hot stove has remained tepid to this point, and while that has been cause for a bit of antsiness among fans and people who care about this news, it also allows us to do what teams are doing with these players — dig in a bit deeper.
So today, we’re taking a look at the power rankings of the players who offer the best fits for the Twins as free agents this offseason with all avenues considered.
1. Shohei Ohtani – RHP/LHH – Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters
Because of the cost-to-potential ratio here, Ohtani is No. 1 on every team’s ranking by default. He may be a $200 million talent when all is considered, but will sign for less than $3 million while raking in endorsement money to make up some of the difference in the meantime. He didn’t pitch much last year due to ankle and thigh issues, but offers a blistering fastball in the upper 90s with a good split/slider combo. There’s no way to handicap the race at this point, but every team should throw a dart in his direction. For the Twins, he’d start out as the No. 3 but likely ascend to No. 1 in very little time.
2. Yu Darvish – RHP – Los Angeles Dodgers
He’s the consensus best starter on the market, and might have more potential than one might think at age 31. He has a diverse repertoire with improving command, and a lot of his issues seem to center around whispers that he tips his pitches. He’s pitched far more like a really great No. 2 than someone who should be paid like a Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer, but as far as aces on this market, Darvish is atop the list. Prepare to approach $30 million per year, however.
3. Carlos Santana – 1B/DH – Cleveland Indians
Santana is the safest impact bat in the market, and will command far less than guys like Eric Hosmer and J.D. Martinez because his skill set is predicated on his eye at the plate rather than sexier skills such as power. That eye at the plate is what keeps his value afloat even when he doesn’t have his power game working, as was true in 2015 when he hit just .231/.357/.395. Even still, his OPS+ was 102 and wRC+ 107. He’s considered a capable defender at first base, and can mix-and-match there with Joe Mauer as the latter enters the final year of his deal. Santana would be an ideal fit atop the Twins order — and any order, really — to move Brian Dozier down into a better spot for run production. This move would vault the Twins into the conversation of best AL offense behind the Houston Astros.
4. Jake Arrieta – SP – Chicago Cubs
The luster is clearly fading on the 2015 NL Cy Young winner, but even at his low points — as a Cub, that is — he’s a very good and valuable starter. Two years ago he’d have been primed to earn $25 million-plus per year in a contract, and the fact is he probably hasn’t taken that much of a hit even with consecutive years of decline. He turns 32 in March, so there’s still a legit chance he’s got plenty of bullets left, and he’s only thrown 1,161 MLB innings. By comparison, Johnny Cueto — who is almost a month older than Arrieta — has thrown more than 600 more innings. If he signs for $20 million per year, that’s a solid deal. Truthfully, he’ll probably get more than that.
5. Logan Morrison – 1B – Tampa Bay Rays
Morrison gets a boost because there’s no qualifying offer tied to him, and he was truly terrific this past season for the Rays. LoMo hit .245/.353/.516 with 38 homers, set a career-high with a 13.5 percent walk rate and successfully traded a few more strikeouts for a big jump in homers. The story is that he nuked his groundball/flyball ratio, scoring the dirt for the sky and never looking back. He may well sign for three years and $30 million and provide more value than Eric Hosmer over that duration.
See players 6-12 on ZoneCoverage.com here!