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  • Ranking the Top-5 Remaining Free Agent Starting Pitchers


    Cody Christie

    There has been a flurry of free-agent signings with the looming lockout. Let’s revisit the top-five remaining free-agent starting pitcher options for the Twins.

    Image courtesy of David Banks, USA Today Sports

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    Minnesota’s current rotation is expected to include Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. Other rotational options include Randy Dobnak, Griffin Jax, and Lewis Thorpe. Some of the team’s top prospects are also on the 40-man roster, including Jordan Balazovic, Cole Sands, Drew Strotman, Chis Vallimont, and Josh Winder. 

    Each of the players below is still available with the looming lockout on the horizon. Included with each player is his projected salary, according to the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook.

    5. RHP Michael Pineda
    TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $8 million/season

    Twins fans are well familiar with Pineda, and he likely won’t get the fanbase excited about what he can bring to the rotation. He seems like an excellent candidate to be the team’s number three starter, but that would mean the Twins need to acquire two other arms to put ahead of him in the rotation. Pineda is a known quantity, and he has been a strong veteran presence during his time in Minnesota. He can add rotational depth, but he can’t be the team’s only offseason move. 

    4. LHP Yusei Kikuchi
    TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $15 million/season

    Kikuchi was an All-Star last season, but he struggled mightily in the second half with an ERA close to 6.00. He surrendered the hardest average exit velocity in baseball last season because he leaves too many pitches over the middle of the plate. He will be a project for any team that signs him, but he’s left-handed and has a three-pitch mix, so that’s intriguing. 

    3. LHP Clayton Kershaw
    TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $18 million/season

    Kershaw is a future inner-circle Hall of Fame member, so it seems unlikely for him to sign with a Twins team coming off a last-place finish. In the twilight of his career, Kershaw can pick the right destination for him and his family. That destination won’t be in Minnesota. 

    2. LHP Carlos Rodon
    TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $18 million/season

    Earlier this week, KSTP reported that the Twins were taking a serious run at Carlos Rodon, an intriguing name. He was one of the American League’s best starters last season, but shoulder issues kept him out near the season’s end. Another item to consider is the White Sox didn’t make him a qualifying offer. Chicago knows Rodon’s health better than anyone, and they may believe his injury will continue to linger.  

    1. RHP Marcus Stroman
    TD Offseason Handbook Prediction: $20 million/season

    Stroman is one of the last men standing out of the tier one starting pitchers. Twins fans may be suspicious of another pitch-to-contact arm at the top of the team’s rotation. He doesn’t have some of the injury question marks surrounding some of the other top names on this list. Also, his market is likely more extensive than the beginning of the offseason because the supply of top-tier pitchers is running low. Stroman seems like an excellent fit for the Twins, but will they outbid other teams to get an ace. 

    There isn’t much left on the shelf for the Twins to spend money on this winter. Likely, this points to the team needing to make multiple trades to fill numerous rotation spots. 

    Do you think the Twins will be able to add any of these starters? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

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    Kershaw ain't coming here. Stroman ain't coming here, sadly. I would like Rodon, but that can't be the top move.

    If the pitching reinforcements are Rodon, Bundy, and Pineda, then I'm not impressed. At all. (And I'm someone who wanted Pineda back) Too many health risks sitting in there. And frankly if they're shopping in the budget bin for all the pitching, then I'd better see an announcement of Trevor Story coming to town, because we gonna need the help.

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    Yeah, for a team that entered the off season with signing Buxton as their #1 priority (yes, it's done, glad about that but it took waaaay too long) and rebuilding the pitching staff as a clear #2 (with a SS also needed) the Twins FO approach of "slow and steady as she goes" is just maddening.  Rodriguez was the move I wanted with a couple SP's acquired via trade and one guy, like Bundy, for a low risk/high reward type of signing (although THAT guy for me was Andrew Heaney).  Rodon is head and shoulders above anybody else left, but there is a HUGE injury risk for him.  The $18 million annually SEEMS about right, but ohhhh, that shoulder scares me.  Especially with the White Sox not being all over bringing him back.  What do the White Sox KNOW ??  

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    Rondon concerns me the most.  I would be willing to do like a 2 year with 3rd year option or something like that at most.  The fact White Sox feared him accepting a 1 year 18 mil contract gives me pause.  He spent his whole career with them and was one of better pitchers but 18 mil was too much for him?  

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    10 hours ago, bean5302 said:

    The Twins couldn't get Stroman at 3 years and $71MM? Seriously... like, I can't wrap my head around this one. Stroman and Rodriguez both look like steals.

    How do we know Twins did not make a similar offer?  The deadline of the CBA made things interesting for players not calling different teams.  Maybe they made a similar offer and Stroman said I want to stay in NL.  Maybe we were not in on him at all because he has low K numbers.  

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    Do any of you think that the Twins are not going to sing big money pitchers and are going to use their young pitchers and see what they have? That might not be a bad idea. Let a few of them get the "yips" out of being new to the major leagues, and see which 3-4-5 of the young pitchers has what it takes to get batters out in the majors. Then in 2023 we take the best of the young pitchers, who have a half year to 3 quarters of a year experience having pitched in the majors in 2022,  Maeda coming back (healed I hope) and probably Lewis and Miranda somewhere in the lineup with Kirilloff -1B , Polanco= 2B , a SS to be named (hopefully Lewis), Miranda 3B, Larnach LF , Buck- anywhere he wants to play, and Kep in RF,  2 of Jeffers/ Garver/Rortvedt at catcher, Donaldson/Sano/ Araez at DH and substitutes at 3B, 1B, 2B, Lf, and Gordan at utility SS, 2b, CF. Not a bad offensive or defensive team. Now about those young pitchers....

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    Just now, tarheeltwinsfan said:

    Do any of you think that the Twins are not going to sing big money pitchers and are going to use their young pitchers and see what they have? That might not be a bad idea. Let a few of them get the "yips" out of being new to the major leagues, and see which 3-4-5 of the young pitchers has what it takes to get batters out in the majors. Then in 2023 we take the best of the young pitchers, who have a half year to 3 quarters of a year experience having pitched in the majors in 2022,  Maeda coming back (healed I hope) and probably Lewis and Miranda somewhere in the lineup with Kirilloff -1B , Polanco= 2B , a SS to be named (hopefully Lewis), Miranda 3B, Larnach LF , Buck- anywhere he wants to play, and Kep in RF,  2 of Jeffers/ Garver/Rortvedt at catcher, Donaldson/Sano/ Araez at DH and substitutes at 3B, 1B, 2B, Lf, and Gordan at utility SS, 2b, CF. Not a bad offensive or defensive team. Now about those young pitchers....

    "Sign"...not "sing" Sorry for my eror. My typin gets worse, the moore excited I get abot the subject mattor being tiped about. 

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    4 hours ago, Trov said:

    How do we know Twins did not make a similar offer?  The deadline of the CBA made things interesting for players not calling different teams.  Maybe they made a similar offer and Stroman said I want to stay in NL.  Maybe we were not in on him at all because he has low K numbers.  

    Okay, how come the Twins didn't sign Stroman at 4/$95MM? Stroman was signed for a STEAL. It shows the Twins had every opportunity, should they have taken it, to sign a very good pitcher for multiple years at or above what the market paid. Arguing maybe the Twins didn't have time to come back with 3yrs and 70,000,000.01 is ridiculous. Even had the Twins spend far more than that, Stroman would still have been a bargain.

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    21 minutes ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

    Do any of you think that the Twins are not going to sing big money pitchers and are going to use their young pitchers and see what they have? That might not be a bad idea. Let a few of them get the "yips" out of being new to the major leagues, and see which 3-4-5 of the young pitchers has what it takes to get batters out in the majors. Then in 2023 we take the best of the young pitchers, who have a half year to 3 quarters of a year experience having pitched in the majors in 2022,  Maeda coming back (healed I hope) and probably Lewis and Miranda somewhere in the lineup with Kirilloff -1B , Polanco= 2B , a SS to be named (hopefully Lewis), Miranda 3B, Larnach LF , Buck- anywhere he wants to play, and Kep in RF,  2 of Jeffers/ Garver/Rortvedt at catcher, Donaldson/Sano/ Araez at DH and substitutes at 3B, 1B, 2B, Lf, and Gordan at utility SS, 2b, CF. Not a bad offensive or defensive team. Now about those young pitchers....

    Sure. It's possible the Twins could be Bundy, Ryan, Ober, Winder, Balazovic on opening day. 3 question marks and two back end rotation options. 

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    1 hour ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

    Do any of you think that the Twins are not going to sing big money pitchers and are going to use their young pitchers and see what they have? 

    I think this is exactly what they're doing. I don't believe they have any intention of competing in 2022. And I think there's something to be said for letting the younger guys get in some innings, although I'm not all that impressed with the pipeline. Balazovic and Duran are the top prospects and neither has a ton of minor league innings and both have injury concerns.

    They need to swing a trade for good, young, controllable pitching, but that won't be cheap. It really bothers me they couldn't do a deal with Berrios. A still youngish pitcher that would still probably be productive when the Twins are competitive again.

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    I have a huge issue with not even trying in 2022. Especially if there are going to be 12 or 14 play-off teams. This offense is good enough to get a play-off spot and you are wasting a prime year of Buxton, Polanco etc. and the last year of Donaldson. The unwillingness of the front office to be aggressive in pursuit of pitching is maddening.

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    I wanted Rodon, but that was assuming the Twins were going to go fairly big in acquiring starting pitching. I'd still take him, but if he's only getting a one year deal or so, it doesn't seem that he'll be part of a contending team.

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    1 hour ago, howeda7 said:

    I have a huge issue with not even trying in 2022. Especially if there are going to be 12 or 14 play-off teams. This offense is good enough to get a play-off spot and you are wasting a prime year of Buxton, Polanco etc. and the last year of Donaldson. The unwillingness of the front office to be aggressive in pursuit of pitching is maddening.

    I assume they're doing something. Then again, I assumed they were going to get someone to slot near or ahead of Berrios last year. Instead they signed Matt Shoemaker and JA Happ. I think they're throwing in the towel on 2022. Otherwise Stroman, Gausman, Ray or Verlander would be here. 

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    On Pineda, one wonders whether or not the Twins already have a handshake deal in place for Big Mike, and simply want to wait until after the Rule 5 draft to use a roster spot for him.  Quite plausible, even though I have no evidence to support it other than reasonable supposition.

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    Hey this FO has made their big splash this off-season. Signing the best part-time player in baseball to a $100M+ deal. What are you complaining about? With the likes of Bundy, now Faria, and a couple more dumpster dives they'll be all set as usual. You know, Wes Johnson can tun these low end starters into All-Stars if they have 1 pitch that is above average. Look how well it worked last year!!

    This FO is a joke.

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    6 hours ago, bean5302 said:

    Okay, how come the Twins didn't sign Stroman at 4/$95MM? Stroman was signed for a STEAL. It shows the Twins had every opportunity, should they have taken it, to sign a very good pitcher for multiple years at or above what the market paid. Arguing maybe the Twins didn't have time to come back with 3yrs and 70,000,000.01 is ridiculous. Even had the Twins spend far more than that, Stroman would still have been a bargain.

    Probably the Twins didn't want Stroman because he attended Dook University. Sincerely, Tarheeltwinsfan BA UNC  1967 and  JD UNC  1972.

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    I have figured out the Twins' strategy on pitching. (Clears throat.) Never spend big money on pitching.

    Small money on multi-year contracts is good. They'll do that (Maeda, Dobnak). They'll do medium-big one-year money (qualifying offer to Jake Odorizzi). But if you won't sign José Berríos at what he was willing to sign for, you simply will never sign any big-money pitcher to a multi-year deal.

    So, from this list, I would predict the Twins sign Michael Pineda.

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