Jump to content
Twins Daily
  • Create Account
  • Why The Twins May Opt For Short-Term SP Commitment


    Nick Nelson

    Yu Darvish is still out there, and the Twins are still (theoretically) in pursuit. But Jon Heyman reported on Thursday that the right-hander is seeking a deal in the area of seven years and $175 million. Anything approaching those figures would be unrealistic, not to mention irresponsible, for Minnesota to offer.

    Conventional wisdom says that if they miss out on Darvish, the Twins will turn to one of the market's other top starters such as Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn. But I actually think they might lower their gaze significantly and aim for a starter on a one-year deal. Here's why.

    Image courtesy of Bob DeChiara, USA Today (Trevor Cahill)

    Twins Video

    First of all, when you look at the upper tier of free agent starters beyond Darvish, there are an awful lot of question marks. Arrieta turns 32 in March and has steadily declined since his Cy Young season in 2015. Cobb has never thrown 180 innings in a campaign and had one of the league's worst swinging strike rates in 2017. Lynn's secondary numbers leave much to be desired.

    Even in a depressed market, all of these hurlers are likely looking at contracts of at least three years. And while the Twins shouldn't hesitate to take that leap for someone they truly believe in (such as Darvish), committing long-term to a player they harbor serious doubts over would be questionable.

    Also, there's this: The Twins are going to have a much clearer idea of the long-term outlook for their rotation after the 2018 season. Right now there are so many things up in the air. Such as:

    * Will Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, or another of the near-ready top prospects debut and do enough to establish himself as a staple going forward?

    * Will Phil Hughes bounce back and reassert himself as a credible option for 2019, his last year under contract?

    * Will Trevor May return from Tommy John surgery at full strength and lock down a rotation spot going forward? (He's under team control for two more years and the Twins might consider an extension if he looks good this summer.)

    * Will Ervin Santana reach 200 innings, thus guaranteeing his 2019 option?

    These are but a few of the many moving parts in Minnesota's starting pitching layout, creating a level of ambiguity that makes planning ahead somewhat difficult. There's no such thing as too many quality starters, of course, but you'd better be damn sure you're adding serious quality on any long-term deal.

    For example, if the Twins exit 2018 feeling pretty good about a rotation that includes Berrios, Romero, Gonsalves, Adalberto Mejia and May, but they're locked into Santana, Hughes and – say – Lynn for close to $50 million total in 2019, that's... far from ideal.

    If, on the other hand, the Twins identify someone they can sign to a one-year deal and feel reasonably confident in, that leaves them with very convenient flexibility. At the end of 2018, they'll have the option to move on from that player, as well as Kyle Gibson and perhaps Santana. Add in expiring contracts for Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier, and this would potentially give Derek Falvey and Thad Levine free rein to do just about anything they'd like in terms of building the team to their exact specifications.

    The problem is this: The Twins need to be in win-now mode, and typically you're not going to acquire a high-caliber pitcher on a one-year deal. These are usually reclamation projects or poor performers seeking to recoup value.

    Then again, this offseason is anything but typical. As spring training draws nearer and desperation mounts, it is entirely possible that a few fairly good pitchers will say screw it and settle for a high-dollar contract for 2018, hoping to pitch well and hit the market again next winter when things theoretically return to a state of normalcy.

    There are few if any better places for such a starter to land than in Minnesota, where he would work in front of the game's best outfield defense, and with the backing of a high-powered lineup.

    So let's take a look at a few candidates that might fit this mold. They won't all enthuse you, but I'd suggest they might all be more realistic than Darvish – and more logical than Cobb or Lynn – at this point.

    Jake Arrieta, RHP

    He seems to be the No. 2 starter on the market, but Arrieta has drawn shockingly little interest. Most notably, the Cubs have seemingly made little effort to re-sign the 2015 Cy Young winner, and that's pretty troubling. His sagging secondary numbers and velocity make Arrieta an iffy long-term proposition, but what if the Scott Boras client were willing to sign for something like one year, $30 million?

    Trevor Cahill, RHP

    Much depends on health here. Cahill was traded to Kansas City following an excellent first half in San Diego but tanked after the move, battling a shoulder impingement issue down the stretch. His numbers as a starter for the Padres (3.69 ERA, .712 OPS, 72-to-24 K/BB in 61 innings) offer hope that he could be a dominant force if his arm is right. In the Offseason Handbook we predicted he would score a one-year, $12 million deal. Even that seems high now.

    Jaime Garcia, LHP

    Garcia was a Twin very briefly in late July, and pitched well in his lone start. All in all, 2017 saw the lefty put up the highest fastball velocity and strikeout rate of his career. This was offset, however, by a mediocre 4.41 ERA and a poor finish in New York. He probably expected to be fielding multi-year offers this offseason but it seems clear at this point that if he gets one it won't be for nearly the money he wants. Garcia may be best served to bet on himself with a one-year pact. Familiarity, in addition to the favorable setting, could draw him to Minnesota. It'd be kinda funny if both he and Zack Littell were pitching in the Twins rotation at some point.

    Jason Vargas, LHP

    The left-hander has had zero buzz around him in free agency, which is a little odd coming off a season in which he won 18 games and made the All-Star team. Vargas was brutal in the final two months of 2017 (6.49 ERA, 1.53 WHIP) but has been a steadily solid pitcher throughout his career and at 35 would bring the veteran presence factor.

    Chris Tillman, RHP

    I can already envision the backlash if the Twins sign Tillman as the final piece in their rotation. And I get it. He was beyond awful last year (7.84 ERA, 1.89 WHIP). But Minnesota has checked in on the right-hander, and I get the sense they view him as a legit option. He'd cost next to nothing ($5 million?), is still under 30, and in 2016 went 16-6 with a 3.77 ERA in 30 starts for the O's. When healthy, Tillman has generally held his own in a very tough division. I'm not saying I'd be inspired by this move, but if the Twins sign him I'll trust that the condition of his arm checked out. Ideally, the savings here would be applied elsewhere.

    Do you agree with the rationale behind seeking a starter on a one-year deal? Or do you feel it's top tier or bust?

    Think you could write a story like this? Twins Daily wants you to develop your voice, find an audience, and will pay you to do it. Just fill out this form.

    MORE FROM TWINS DAILY
    — Latest Twins coverage from our writers
    — Recent Twins discussion in our forums
    — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
    — Become a Twins Daily Caretaker

     Share

     Share


    User Feedback

    Recommended Comments



    Featured Comments

    Most  of the high level starters in 2018 off season will not hit free agency or be very very expensive.  Darvish makes a lot of sense, and I am willing to go to about $150 million.  Above that it is very dicey.  Adding 1 high level pitcher in a win now mode and knowing after 2018 Twins will need to make many more pitching decisions make me feel that this is by far the correct move.  If Darvish wants 7/$175 it gets very tricky.  

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I am in complete agreement with so many unknowns. I like the idea of finding that stopgap guy who will sign a one year deal. We had great hope for May as a solid starter until his injury. I still believe he will be a solid starter hopefully by the second half of the season. I like May over Cobb and Lynn especially with the 3 or 4 year commitment the later two will be looking for. I also think that Gonsalves and Romero will both get looks in spring training and one will earn enough praise to earn a shot early on. So what I see post All Star game is Santana,Berrios,Gibson,May and Gonsalves or Romero.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    It seems antithetical to say they should be in win-now mode, while at the same time calling it irresponsible to invest significantly in a front line starter.

     

    Payroll is barely at $100 million (with revenues around $250, and rising). A major signing should by no means hamstring this team going forward, especially with Mauer, Hughes, and Santana coming off the books in the near future.

     

    Also, these signings aren't made in a vacuum. A Darvish signing likely increases merchandise revenue, ticket sales, possibly additional revenue from more playoff games, more primetime TV appearances, etc. Sigmkng Darvish vs some washout reclamation project doesn't necessarily mean that the difference in their contract price will equal foregone revenue.

     

    The problem, IMO, is that people have convinced themselves that they can't afford it, and I'm not sure why. In reality, they can. It's just a matter of where ownership's priorities lie.

     

    Think of it this way, the Pohlad's are risk averse investors. When it comes to baseball, they'd rather take the safe return, and invest in treasury notes as opposed to a potentially volatile, but high-upside IPO.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    How many of the above pitchers would require draft pick compensation? All Round B? Would the Twins lose a draft pick?  As far as going for a guy on a 1 year deal, I'd go with Vargas.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    You're much more confident than I am that the Twins can figure out a lot about their internal SP candidates in a single season. None of their SP prospects even have any meaningful AAA experience yet. They might debut later in 2018 but I don't think we'll be confident enough in any of them to lessen our need for external reinforcements before 2019.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

     

    It seems antithetical to say they should be in win-now mode, while at the same time calling it irresponsible to invest significantly in a front line starter.

    I didn't say that. Quite the opposite in fact. "The Twins shouldn't hesitate to take that leap for someone they truly believe in." 

     

    I'm just far from convinced that they believe in any of those other top 4 guys. And I'm not certain they should. They're fallback options.

     

    The downside that's overlooked by saying "Just spend the dang money" is that it pretty much deprives them of being able to make a similar (or even bigger) splash next offseason, when they have more spending flexibility and a clearer idea of their long-term needs. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

     

    The downside that's overlooked by saying "Just spend the dang money" is that it pretty much deprives them of being able to make a similar (or even bigger) splash next offseason, when they have more spending flexibility and a clearer idea of their long-term needs. 

    That's true but do you see anybody in next year's SP FA class that would clearly be better than either Darvish or Arrieta? I still like Darvish better than Keuchel but in general any big FA pitcher they sign will likely be early 30s with the same type of questions as this year's group. 

     

    Unless they can pull off something crazy like a Machado or Harper signing followed by a big trade for a starter, I don't see the advantage of waiting a year to spend on the same type(s) of pitchers. 

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    The downside that's overlooked by saying "Just spend the dang money" is that it pretty much deprives them of being able to make a similar (or even bigger) splash next offseason, when they have more spending flexibility and a clearer idea of their long-term needs.

    With the relatively small number of players that trickle out into the FA market each year, I think you have to time your splash more by its availability than by the

    clarity of your needs.

     

    (That said, I doubt our SP needs will be meaningfully reduced by next winter anyway, assuming we fail to land Darvish this winter.)

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    It was just a short time back when many people were applauding the major contracts given out by the Twins for pitchers like Nolasco, Pelfrey, etc. And then they bemoaned the fact that those contracts prevented the Twins from pursuing other free agents a couple years later. And now history is repeating itself. If the front office has doubts about the value of Darvish, Arrietta, Cobb, and Lynn, then they should opt for a one-year guy with some chance of a rebound/turnaround season. Push the young arms already in the system to see if they are ready. There are five or six young arms mentioned in prospect reviews as having major league potential. See if any of those are the real thing. Throwing money at a problem isn't the answer if you don't have confidence in what you are getting. I saw a short video of a Twins fan complaining about the front office not offering Darvish whatever he wanted. The fan actually said that "all they are interested in is having a competitive team on the field and that the at the end of the year, the books are in the black." To me, that sounds like running a business properly.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

     

    It was just a short time back when many people were applauding the major contracts given out by the Twins for pitchers like Nolasco, Pelfrey, etc. And then they bemoaned the fact that those contracts prevented the Twins from pursuing other free agents a couple years later. And now history is repeating itself. If the front office has doubts about the value of Darvish, Arrietta, Cobb, and Lynn, then they should opt for a one-year guy with some chance of a rebound/turnaround season. Push the young arms already in the system to see if they are ready. There are five or six young arms mentioned in prospect reviews as having major league potential. See if any of those are the real thing. Throwing money at a problem isn't the answer if you don't have confidence in what you are getting. I saw a short video of a Twins fan complaining about the front office not offering Darvish whatever he wanted. The fan actually said that "all they are interested in is having a competitive team on the field and that the at the end of the year, the books are in the black." To me, that sounds like running a business properly.

    But it is so much more than a business. It is a social contract with a community.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    IF I had any belief, or the Twins had any history of signing a top flight FA, I could buy into the strategy of evaluating the questions in this years staff, May, Gonsalves, etc. Then when those results are in, buy a mid season rental, or a big signing next year. But there isn't anything in the Twins DNA that shows that a legitimate possibility. NADA.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    You're much more confident than I am that the Twins can figure out a lot about their internal SP candidates in a single season. None of their SP prospects even have any meaningful AAA experience yet. They might debut later in 2018 but I don't think we'll be confident enough in any of them to lessen our need for external reinforcements before 2019.

    that and Berrios and Mejia are the only two 2017 starters probable for ‘19. Still plenty of room for a long contract and get the minor league graduates a spot.
    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I only like the development of our young pitchers as a option.  I would sign Darvish to 3 years, but he would not take it.  I would offer Cobb and/or Lynn 2 years.  Vargas was not really good before last year and ended up badly.    I love the one year Arrieta - is it just wishful thinking? 

     

    Cahill and Tillman are not options in my mind.  They do not improve the rotation.  And Jaimie Garcia???? What does he bring?  He is a filler, not a rotation guy.  I would want Gibson more than Garcia and Mejia should build on what he did last year.  

     

    So lets hope Gonsalves, Romero and some surprise pitcher pushes there way into the rotation.   I think we will be okay.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    I still think Lynn would be worth a long term deal outside of Darvish... but on this idea, I think both Cahill and Vargas (preferably Cahill) make sense.  Not liking the idea of a 1 year deal, but I could see the logic and get behind it, especially since Cahill is a reasonable bet to put up similar numbers to Darvish... It's the shoulder injury that I'd need to be comfortable with.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    7 years 175 million is less than Mauer's contract , and his is 8 years old. There is more money to be had by the Twins  especially if they win. 23 mill a year for Mauer is 23% of a Hundred mill team payroll. 25 mill for a year for Darvish is only 18% of a 135 million payroll.  

     

    The money will come back to the team easily if they make a big statement AND if they win. I have been back and forth on this but right now I think they should go for it. Darvish will have at least three great years in him. Why not try to win?

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    that and Berrios and Mejia are the only two 2017 starters probable for ‘19. Still plenty of room for a long contract and get the minor league graduates a spot.

    There is a ton of money coming of the very dusty books. Even if two of the young guys are going to be legit they won't be right away. Look at the development of Berrios. It will take time to be a pitcher capable of winning in the playoffs. If a good deal is available there is no better time then now. That being said if Darvish is really going to get as many years as speculated even a non-banker might balk at that deal

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    They should sign Garcia, and then trade him right before opening day. This will signal to the team that they are throwing in the towel on the season, at which point the players will get angry and prove them wrong. There might also be a life-size cardboard likeness of Falvey involved.

    Maybe we should be scouting the California Penal League for a new pitcher too?

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    The starting rotation as it stands right now is cause for concern. Not much depth or flexibility. Obviously. another "quality" arm in the rotation is needed, but if that fails, the front office needs to get creative and maybe take a flier on one of these "Lesser" names, but one that might put together a decent season like Vargas did for KC last year. But man, let's do it soon. Spring Training is just around the corner!

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Sigh... I hoped this off-season would be different. Every year they wait is another year overlapping the time when Buxton, Sano, Rosario, Berrios, etc. need to get paid.

     

    If the Twins can't compete for the best FA SP in a year where every large market org sits out for financial reasons, what makes people think they can compete next off-season when their luxury tax penalties are reset?

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

     

    I am all for signing Tillman to a 1 year deal.  He has been an opening day starter for Baltimore.  I also don't think this should be the only signing.  This team still needs a top end starter, such as Darvish, if the money/years are good.

     

    Tillman does not excite me.  I'd much rather they get Cobb or Lynn than Tillman on a short deal.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites

    Arrieta is the least offensive to the senses, but giving up a high(ish) draft pick on a big 1-year contract isn't preferable.

     

    Honestly, if these are the options out there after the top guys, I'd rather just roll the dice with Gonsalves/Romero/Jorge/May.

     

    Guys like this, and in some cases these exact guys, will be available down the line either off the scrap heap or trade wire.

    Link to comment
    Share on other sites




    Join the conversation

    You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
    Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

    Guest
    Add a comment...

    ×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

      Only 75 emoji are allowed.

    ×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

    ×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

    ×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

    Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...