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.
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