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  • 3 Buy-Low Starting Pitchers for the Twins to Consider


    Cody Christie

    Starting pitching is at the top of Minnesota’s off-season wish list, and there are plenty of arms to consider. Here are three buy-low candidates the Twins can consider for the rotation’s back end.

    Image courtesy of Paul Rutherford, USA TODAY Sports

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    Minnesota will have money to spend on the free-agent market, but that doesn’t mean the club has unlimited funds to spend. Finding value in the free-agent market is something successful organizations do well, and it is an area this front office needs to improve.  

    Eduardo Rodriguez, LHP
    Projected Cost: $12 million

    At 28-years old, Rodriguez is relatively young to be reaching free agency, and there are multiple factors to consider when looking at his recent seasons. He missed all of 2020 after contracting COVID and later being diagnosed with myocarditis. His 2021 season was underwhelming as he posted a 4.74 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP in 157 2/3 innings. Even with these poor numbers, there were some positive signs. 

    Rodriguez strikes out a ton of batters as he posted a career-high 10.6 SO/9 in 2021. Over the last four seasons, he has combined to post a 113 ERA+ with nearly 10 K/9. He has a 3.71 FIP compared to a 4.13 ERA, so there may be signs of some bad luck impacting his numbers. Getting out of the gauntlet that is the AL East can also help a pitcher to improve. 

    Michael Pineda, RHP
    Projected Cost: $8

    Twins fans are very familiar with Pineda after he has spent the last four seasons as a member of the organization. He isn’t someone to get overly excited about, but he is a constant veteran pitcher. During his Twins tenure, he posted a 3.80 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP in 282 innings. However, those numbers came with time missed due to injury and suspension. 

    Pineda may seem like he has been around forever, but he is still only 32-years-old. Minnesota will need rotational depth, and Pineda can help a young pitching staff adjust to the big-league level. That being said, fans may be significantly underwhelmed by bringing back Pineda if it hinders the team’s ability to sign more significant free-agent options. 

    Andrew Heaney, LHP
    Projected Cost: $5 million

    Heaney might be the lowest buy-low candidate as the Yankees designated him for assignment last year, and he went unclaimed. New York had acquired him from Los Angeles at the trade deadline for a pair of minor leaguers. His time in the Bronx was rough after he allowed 13 home runs in 12 appearances. His time with the Angels was slightly better as he posted a 5.27 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP. 

    Like Rodriguez, Heaney has strong strikeout numbers even amid his 2021 struggles. Over the last four seasons, he has posted a 9.9 K/9 mark with a 1.25 WHIP, and his 4.81 ERA is nearly half a run higher than his FIP. His fastball spin and his chase rate both rank in the 90th percentile or higher. Heaney clearly isn’t a top of the rotation starter, but finding a new organization might help him refocus his career.

    To read more about this year’s crop of free-agent pitchers, make sure to order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. If you order today, it will be sent directly to your email. 

    Which pitcher do you think the Twins are most likely to target? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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    Agree with Lonestart that you're likely quite low on the E Rod salary, but he'd still be a good get for the Twins even if his price tag is a little higher. I think Heaney is an interesting bullpen convert project. I don't know what his market will look like as a former top prospect who's struggled in the bigs, but with his fastball and K rates I'd be interested to see what he could do while being unleashed for an inning or 2 at a time. I'd take a shot at him on a cheap deal and see what I could get out of him just letting it rip.

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    41 minutes ago, farmerguychris said:

    Dont we have enough back end starters already in-house?

    I don't think Ober and Ryan is enough to make it through the season. The other starters are more AAA depth than pitchers you would want to rely on to start a season.

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    Lefties with particular vulnerability to home runs are a tough fit for Target Field (which has played well for right-handed pull power over the years, though those park factors can change over time) - so signing Heaney seems like asking for trouble. But I like E-Rod as a target.

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    I'm happy to sign Pineda at this price...and I think there's a fine chance that he'd take it. 9In fact, I could see the twins going 2 years and $15-18M on him. He is who he is at this point, but if you go in understanding that he's got a lot of value. He's going to make 20-25 starts, throw 100-150 innings, with an ERA+ that's probably going to land between 105-125. You have to expect that he's going to miss some time (and if he doesn't, that's a bonus) but that he'll be effective when healthy. he likes it here, the team likes him, and if he comes into camp in shape he should be able to hold down a rotation spot for most of the year. If we make the rebound and get back to the playoffs, I wouldn't feel bad about Pineda making a start for the twins.

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    I think they need to cut Pineda free. I think if they seriously want to make the playoffs Pineda can be no more then the #4. If they actually want to be a contender, he needs to be #5. 
     

    But that $8M figure seems accurate if not too low, and that would almost certainly make him the Twins #2; #3 if they’re lucky. 

    They need to stay away from that caliber free agent. Go all out for a top guy, cross their fingers and get a high ceiling bounce back guy like Syndergaard, Foltynewicz or Paxton, make a high ceiling trade and then do a low money crapshoot.

    If they want to play it safe and pay 8-10M for a safe but zero ceiling guy like Pineda to bridge the gap to put near the top of the rotation, fine, but then I don’t want to hear any phony baloney about ‘contending’ next year. Be upfront and call it a rebuild.

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    3 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

    Yep... Who would want a pitcher like Carlos Rodon.  He was a bargain basement price at 1yr/ $3M or Anthony Desclafani on a 1/yr /$6M deal or  Robbie Ray 1yr/$8M?  Why would anyone want to sign these guys?

    what on gods green earth makes you think this front office can identify a potential bargain like one of those guys 

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    54 minutes ago, Hosken Bombo Disco said:

    what on gods green earth makes you think this front office can identify a potential bargain like one of those guys 

    Can’t tell if you’re being serious or sarcastic. There are plenty of buy low success stories in recent years. Odorizzi, Pineda, Hill, Clippard, Thielbar, Wisler, Harper… 

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    2 hours ago, nicksaviking said:

    I think they need to cut Pineda free. I think if they seriously want to make the playoffs Pineda can be no more then the #4. If they actually want to be a contender, he needs to be #5. 
     

    But that $8M figure seems accurate if not too low, and that would almost certainly make him the Twins #2; #3 if they’re lucky. 

    They need to stay away from that caliber free agent. Go all out for a top guy, cross their fingers and get a high ceiling bounce back guy like Syndergaard, Foltynewicz or Paxton, make a high ceiling trade and then do a low money crapshoot.

    If they want to play it safe and pay 8-10M for a safe but zero ceiling guy like Pineda to bridge the gap to put near the top of the rotation, fine, but then I don’t want to hear any phony baloney about ‘contending’ next year. Be upfront and call it a rebuild.

    I find it interesting that you'd be more impressed with a Thor, Folty, or Paxton signing than bringing Pineda back. Pineda is a far more predictable pitcher and they would likely feel comfortable expecting an ERA+ between 110-125 next year.

    Thor was no better than Pineda in 2018, significantly worse in 2019, and has thrown 2 awful innings between 2020 and 2021 combined. And he'll cost about twice as much probably.

    Folty was out of this world (143 ERA+) in 2018, but other than a league average 2019, he's been below average every year of his career, including 24 starts with an ERA of 5.44 this year.

    Paxton was incredible in 2017 (140 ERA+), but has been worse than Pineda since. Including an awful 21.2 total innings between 2020 and 2021.

    Feels like based on actual performance Pineda is the much safer pick for competing next year than taking a flier on 3 guys who either haven't been good or haven't even really pitched the last 3-4 years. Don't really understand the idea that signing Folty or Paxton is a sign they're trying to contend while bringing back the significantly better pitcher in Pineda isn't. Pineda has been an above average pitcher in his time with the Twins. Including being their #3 on pitching staffs that had top 10 ERAs the last 2 years. I think you're significantly underselling how well he's performed in his time in MN.

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    1 hour ago, Vanimal46 said:

    Can’t tell if you’re being serious or sarcastic. There are plenty of buy low success stories in recent years. Odorizzi, Pineda, Hill, Clippard, Thielbar, Wisler, Harper… 

    Those other guys had career All-Star type seasons this season. The only one comparable from your list is Odorizzi’s 2019 season. (Edit; Odorizzi is pitching for Houston in Game 1 of the World Series as I type this.)

    Anything is possible and hope springs eternal in March but it’s a long shot. For 2022, I like the idea of trading and developing. 

    Edited by Hosken Bombo Disco
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    I like all three at the prices listed, maybe even a little higher.  The fact is, the Twins need a LOT of pitchers.  Ryan and Ober will be a part of the rotation but be on innings and pitch limits.  Ed Rod would be a solid signing.  Pineda as was mentioned earlier is PREDICTABE.  He'll spend some time on the I.L. but for the most part give you decent innings and keep you in games.  Heaney is a lottery ticket, and if the Twins do what they SHOULD, and that is to sign one top tier SP (someone "like" but not necessarily, Robbie Ray) and trade for someone "like" Sandy Alcantara, Frankie Montas or Chris Bassitt, they are going to need to sign a "bargain basement" guy like Heaney.  Heaney has tremendous stuff.  He's got a TON more potential than a Shoemaker or Happ.  I'd sign him as a SP but I also like the idea of trying him in the BP.  Rollie Fingers made the transition.  So did Dennis Eckersly.  There are plenty of guys who washed out as SP's but became GOOD RP's.

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    12 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

    I find it interesting that you'd be more impressed with a Thor, Folty, or Paxton signing than bringing Pineda back. Pineda is a far more predictable pitcher and they would likely feel comfortable expecting an ERA+ between 110-125 next year.

    Thor was no better than Pineda in 2018, significantly worse in 2019, and has thrown 2 awful innings between 2020 and 2021 combined. And he'll cost about twice as much probably.

    Folty was out of this world (143 ERA+) in 2018, but other than a league average 2019, he's been below average every year of his career, including 24 starts with an ERA of 5.44 this year.

    Paxton was incredible in 2017 (140 ERA+), but has been worse than Pineda since. Including an awful 21.2 total innings between 2020 and 2021.

    Feels like based on actual performance Pineda is the much safer pick for competing next year than taking a flier on 3 guys who either haven't been good or haven't even really pitched the last 3-4 years. Don't really understand the idea that signing Folty or Paxton is a sign they're trying to contend while bringing back the significantly better pitcher in Pineda isn't. Pineda has been an above average pitcher in his time with the Twins. Including being their #3 on pitching staffs that had top 10 ERAs the last 2 years. I think you're significantly underselling how well he's performed in his time in MN.

    Completely agree about Pineda, you do know what he will give you, and it's overall decent pitching, but being safe is not how this team is going to go from 73 wins to 100 wins.

    The Twins lack high end pitching. The odds of the other three guys working out are obviously lower, but they are high velocity guys with upside. Even if slim, they have a chance to be a top of the rotation arm; Pineda basically has no chance at that.

    I've felt the most likely way to success is for this team is to take a step back and develop the young arms, so I'm not against playing it safe with Pineda. I just don't want to hear about them pretending to be "contenders" if they do. If they want to make a big, bold attempt at a quick turn-around, they need to sign arms who all have the potential to end up at the front of the rotation. Because they have none of those, and a contender would have three or four of those kinds of pitchers.

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    38 minutes ago, nicksaviking said:

    Completely agree about Pineda, you do know what he will give you, and it's overall decent pitching, but being safe is not how this team is going to go from 73 wins to 100 wins.

    The Twins lack high end pitching. The odds of the other three guys working out are obviously lower, but they are high velocity guys with upside. Even if slim, they have a chance to be a top of the rotation arm; Pineda basically has no chance at that.

    I've felt the most likely way to success is for this team is to take a step back and develop the young arms, so I'm not against playing it safe with Pineda. I just don't want to hear about them pretending to be "contenders" if they do. If they want to make a big, bold attempt at a quick turn-around, they need to sign arms who all have the potential to end up at the front of the rotation. Because they have none of those, and a contender would have three or four of those kinds of pitchers.

    I don't know that I agree Paxton or Foltynewicz have upside. Throwing hard doesn't automatically equal upside. They've established they are not front of the rotation guys. They're fighting to re-establish themselves as ML pitchers in general let alone front of the rotation guys.

    Pineda isn't giving "decent pitching." He's been well above average in his time with the Twins. I think you're maybe more focused on the flashy radar gun numbers than the actual results. Pineda isn't blowing people away, but he stops teams from scoring runs much better than the average ML pitcher. That's the goal. Prevent the other team from scoring. He does that. He shouldn't be the best pitcher the Twins have for 2022 if they're trying to contend. I think we very much agree there. But having him in the #3 spot is absolutely good enough to contend. In fact the Twins had the 2nd best fangraphs WAR in all of baseball for pitching staffs in 2019 and 2020 combined with him in the #3 spot.

    If the Twins are trying to contend they absolutely need to bring in better arms than Pineda, but taking a shot on Foltynewicz or Paxton for cheap should absolutely not be viewed as a better attempt to contend than having Pineda. Signing any of the 4 guys we're discussing as their best pitcher is 100% not a legit attempt to contend. They need somebody better than anyone we've mentioned to be their #1 and Thor is the only one with a legit shot to even be a #2. But Pineda is still a better option for building a contender than Paxton or Foltynewicz. Paxton and Foltynewicz should be the end of the offseason so sign him for cheap and cross your fingers guys, not any sort of sign of a plan to compete. They're younger, harder throwing versions of Happ and Shoemaker as back end, inning filling lottery tickets.

    I also think their best path is to develop the young guys, and if I were the FO my focus would be locking in the middle of my defense and top of my lineup (Buxton extension, Polanco extension, sign a big name SS) while figuring out which corner guys I want around and better balancing my roster. I'd much rather they trade some corner guys for pitching than sign a number of arms. But if they sign arms I don't want Paxton or Foltynewicz as anything other than competition with Ober and Ryan for back end roles or high velo bullpen options. If I signed Foltynewicz it'd probably be with a plan to let him rip for an inning at a time and see if he can pull a Liam Hendriks and reinvent himself as a shutdown reliever.

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    34 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

    I don't know that I agree Paxton or Foltynewicz have upside. Throwing hard doesn't automatically equal upside. They've established they are not front of the rotation guys. They're fighting to re-establish themselves as ML pitchers in general let alone front of the rotation guys.

    Pineda isn't giving "decent pitching." He's been well above average in his time with the Twins. I think you're maybe more focused on the flashy radar gun numbers than the actual results. Pineda isn't blowing people away, but he stops teams from scoring runs much better than the average ML pitcher. That's the goal. Prevent the other team from scoring. He does that. He shouldn't be the best pitcher the Twins have for 2022 if they're trying to contend. I think we very much agree there. But having him in the #3 spot is absolutely good enough to contend. In fact the Twins had the 2nd best fangraphs WAR in all of baseball for pitching staffs in 2019 and 2020 combined with him in the #3 spot.

    If the Twins are trying to contend they absolutely need to bring in better arms than Pineda, but taking a shot on Foltynewicz or Paxton for cheap should absolutely not be viewed as a better attempt to contend than having Pineda. Signing any of the 4 guys we're discussing as their best pitcher is 100% not a legit attempt to contend. They need somebody better than anyone we've mentioned to be their #1 and Thor is the only one with a legit shot to even be a #2. But Pineda is still a better option for building a contender than Paxton or Foltynewicz. Paxton and Foltynewicz should be the end of the offseason so sign him for cheap and cross your fingers guys, not any sort of sign of a plan to compete. They're younger, harder throwing versions of Happ and Shoemaker as back end, inning filling lottery tickets.

    I also think their best path is to develop the young guys, and if I were the FO my focus would be locking in the middle of my defense and top of my lineup (Buxton extension, Polanco extension, sign a big name SS) while figuring out which corner guys I want around and better balancing my roster. I'd much rather they trade some corner guys for pitching than sign a number of arms. But if they sign arms I don't want Paxton or Foltynewicz as anything other than competition with Ober and Ryan for back end roles or high velo bullpen options. If I signed Foltynewicz it'd probably be with a plan to let him rip for an inning at a time and see if he can pull a Liam Hendriks and reinvent himself as a shutdown reliever.

    I just don't see how anyone can expect this team to be an actual contender if Michael Pineda is the hypothetical game 1 or 2 starter in a playoff game. That would be just more of the same underdog situation this team has always put itself in come playoff time.

    And I don't think this team can acquire three other pitchers with more upside than him AND pay him 8-10M.

    The team you seem to be promoting does not sound like a contending team, which is fine, because again, my only issue is suggesting this team is a legit WS hopeful with Michael Pineda in the top half of the rotation.

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    22 minutes ago, nicksaviking said:

    I just don't see how anyone can expect this team to be an actual contender if Michael Pineda is the hypothetical game 1 or 2 starter in a playoff game. That would be just more of the same underdog situation this team has always put itself in come playoff time.

    And I don't think this team can acquire three other pitchers with more upside than him AND pay him 8-10M.

    The team you seem to be promoting does not sound like a contending team, which is fine, because again, my only issue is suggesting this team is a legit WS hopeful with Michael Pineda in the top half of the rotation.

    I don't think they need 3 other pitchers. Ober and Ryan and the rest of the prospects are going to get the #4 and 5 spots. And I think that's the right call. Pineda has been every bit a #3 pitcher in his time here and there's no real reason to think he won't do it again in 2022. I 100% agree that you can't contend with him as your #1 or 2 (although the playoffs this year have been anything but a showcase of starting pitching), but spending 8-10M on him as your #3 seems quite reasonable. 

    I don't see Paxton or Foltynewicz as having the upside of a #1 or 2. Besides 1 insane outlier season from each, neither has ever been better than Pineda so I don't see why they'd provide any hope of filling the #1 or 2 spot in a contending rotation.

    I think we mostly agree. If Pineda is the best, or second best, pitcher the Twins have going into 2022 they weren't really trying to contend and they shouldn't pretend they were. I just don't agree that bringing in any of the 3 you named (outside maybe Thor as the #2) would be a better indication that they're trying to contend or give them a better chance to contend.

    The team I'm promoting is one that doesn't spend big money on multiple FA starting pitchers, but trades for at least 1 young-ish, controllable arm that can slide into the #2 spot. Many have mentioned Marlins pitchers as targets and I'd trade just about any of our corner guys to them to get one of their guys. The Twins have too many corner guys and not enough up the middle defenders or starting pitchers. I'd spend money on the up the middle players and trade for the pitching.

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    There is no way on Jah's green earth that Rodriguez signs for a mere $12M.  The qualifying offer for the Red Sox is $18M and they sure seem likely to make that offer at a minimum.  Signing Big Mike Pineda is a no brainer--get it done.  But please:  SPEND WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR A CREDIBLE COUPLE FRONT LINE STARTERS.  We do not want more Shoemaker or Happ reclamation projects!

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    They need to focus on the top two tiers of pitchers and then use prospect capital to trade for pitching,

    Assuming Ryan and Ober are 4-5 I would not fill the top three roles with a buy low candidate. Of the three I am not certain Rodriguez is a buy low and may be a good multi year fit.

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    On 10/26/2021 at 6:39 PM, nicksaviking said:

    I think they need to cut Pineda free. I think if they seriously want to make the playoffs Pineda can be no more then the #4. If they actually want to be a contender, he needs to be #5. 
     

    But that $8M figure seems accurate if not too low, and that would almost certainly make him the Twins #2; #3 if they’re lucky. 

    They need to stay away from that caliber free agent. Go all out for a top guy, cross their fingers and get a high ceiling bounce back guy like Syndergaard, Foltynewicz or Paxton, make a high ceiling trade and then do a low money crapshoot.

    If they want to play it safe and pay 8-10M for a safe but zero ceiling guy like Pineda to bridge the gap to put near the top of the rotation, fine, but then I don’t want to hear any phony baloney about ‘contending’ next year. Be upfront and call it a rebuild.

    A pitcher with a 3.62 ERA in the #5 spot? I see him as a solid #3.

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    On 10/27/2021 at 7:00 AM, nicksaviking said:

    Completely agree about Pineda, you do know what he will give you, and it's overall decent pitching, but being safe is not how this team is going to go from 73 wins to 100 wins.

    The Twins lack high end pitching. The odds of the other three guys working out are obviously lower, but they are high velocity guys with upside. Even if slim, they have a chance to be a top of the rotation arm; Pineda basically has no chance at that.

    I've felt the most likely way to success is for this team is to take a step back and develop the young arms, so I'm not against playing it safe with Pineda. I just don't want to hear about them pretending to be "contenders" if they do. If they want to make a big, bold attempt at a quick turn-around, they need to sign arms who all have the potential to end up at the front of the rotation. Because they have none of those, and a contender would have three or four of those kinds of pitchers.

    If the Twins offense us healthy, they won't need high end pitching to make the playoffs.  An Average or slightly betternthan average rotation will work.  With that offense and a slightly better than average pitching, the Twins should score in the + 120 - 160 rins range which is on the 90 + wins range.

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