There is no question that the Twins will need to make some additions to their starting staff when the offseason comes back, whenever that is. Many of the top free agent starting pitchers are no longer available. The Twins did sign Dylan Bundy to team with Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan in the rotation, but clearly they will add more. They may need to do so with some creative trades. Here are three such options that the Twins might consider.
Freeland has been a serviceable pitcher throughout his career which is an impressive statement to make considering he’s spent five seasons in Colorado. Freeland owns a career 4.20 ERA which is a fair baseline of what to expect from the southpaw moving forward. He flew under the radar posting a 4.33 ERA in 2021 with 120 innings pitched and had peripherals to match. Even if he doesn’t get a bump from moving out of the worst pitching environment in baseball, Freeland would already slot in nicely as the Twins #3 in the rotation for a bargain in regards to payroll.
At 29 years old, Freeland is due $7m in 2022 with another year of control in 2023. For the Rockies who have no shot at contending in the next two years, this is the exact type of player that should be shopped to get a hold of any type of young talent that could be a part of their next contending window while relieving some payroll. The Twins could easily put together a trade package consisting of young players far from the top of their prospect rankings. It may just be a matter of whether the Rockies front office comes to their senses and gets realistic about their future.
Much like Freeland, Weaver would be a multi-year acquisition. The 28-year-old right-hander has had an up-and-down career in terms of performance and health. The former first round pick sports a 4.64 career ERA and has averaged over a strikeout per inning in his six seasons. In those seasons, however, Weaver has eclipsed 65 innings only once and that was in 2018. For the right price, the upside could be worth the gamble. With a fastball averaging around 94 mph, a wipeout changeup, and 60-grade command, finding a way to work a full season out of Luke Weaver could have a huge payoff.
The Diamondbacks are likely a bit more realistic than their division mates in Colorado, although it’s worth noting that Weaver is only due $2.4m in 2022. They have some nice pieces but don’t quite have a clear cut core in place to build around. Given Weaver’s injuries and contract status, they may see more upside in taking a few prospects that fit their timeline than gambling on Weaver and potentially losing. Like Freeland, there’s likely a prospect package that makes sense for both teams.
Despite his 4.21 ERA in 100+ innings last year, Jake Odorizzi may not have a rotation spot in Houston given their depth of young starting pitching. I can’t blame anyone who wants to turn the page on the Twins teams of the last three Twins seasons, but this former Twin fits right into the next steps of this organization. Odorizzi has shown plenty of signs of being the same pitcher he has been during his whole career. Vintage Jake Odorizzi would go a long way in shoring up a currently rookie-led rotation and provide some much-needed innings.
Signed to fill in for an injured Framber Valdez last spring, Odorizzi is set to make a $3.0 million signing bonus and $5.0 million in base salary for 2022. He gets half a million for 100 innings and an extra million for 110, 120, 130, 140 and 150 innings pitched. In 2023, he’s due $6.5 million with a $3.25 million buyout. His stuff would likely play up in a bullpen role in Houston, but it’s likely to cause some waves with a pitcher who wants to start and may have already ruffled some feathers in the organization. It may just be mutually beneficial for all parties. The Astros save some money, the Twins add an arm, and Odorizzi gets to start. It seems like a match made in heaven.
People’s interest in bona fide stud pitchers is understandable, but the Twins need quantity just as much as quality. Are there any middle of the rotation arms you’d like to see the Twins pick up before Spring Training?