Free Agent Pitching and Brett Tomko


The Twins need to find some arms to help fill out their starting rotation and to eat up innings in the bullpen when Matt Capps, Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing aren’t pitching.  Who is the best guy still floating around in free agency?

Brett Tomko.

He hasn’t pitched more than 100 innings in the Major Leagues since 2007, but  38 year old Brett Tomko could be a cheap arm with tremendous upside, in part because… Who am I kidding?  Brett Tomko (surprisingly not profiled in the 2011 TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook) would be a disaster for the Minnesota Twins (Or any other organization).  When all else fails, general managers and owners should keep one rule in mind: No Tomkos.

The Twins will likely look to sign at least one starting pitcher and a couple of bullpen pitchers before heading to spring training, here are a couple of guys that the Twins should kick the tires on:

If it isn’t Brett Tomko, Edwin Jackson  is easily the best free agent starting pitcher left.  Jackson throws hard and throws a lot of innings.  His durability and ability to pitch deep into games could limit the number of innings that will be thrown by a Twins bullpen with more question makes for 2012 than they had a year ago.  Jackson is probably priced out of the Twins’ range (three years, $33 million+), but if management is serious about contending in 2012 and beyond, locking up the 28 year old Jackson would be a step in the right direction. 

If the Twins are looking for an aging veteran who can bridge the gap to Liam Hendriks and Kyle Gibson (post Tommy John), then maybe Kevin Millwood would be interested in signing a minor league contract and earning a spot in spring training.  Ideally Millwood could keep a spot in the rotation warm for a couple of months to give Hendriks the benefit of some additional Triple-A seasoning (where he has logged just 49 and a third innings).

If fastballing relievers are more the Twins’ speed, perhaps Joel Zumaya remains on their radar.  Despite an elbow fracture that cost him almost two years, if Zumaya is healthy, he could reach triple digits on the radar gun, something lacking from the Twins arsenal of right handed relievers.  Several teams are rumored to be interested in seeing Zumaya pitch in the near future, and that outing could determine his value going forward (1 year, league minimum plus incentives?)

If the Twins are looking for a left handed reliever at a reduced rate, Mike Gonzalez could be available after failing to live up to the 2 year $12 million dollar contract the Baltimore Orioles gave him in 2010.  Bill James projects Gonzalez to sport an ERA of just 3.23 in 2012 (more in line with his career numbers than his 4.01 in 2010 or 4.39 in 2011) and to continue to strike out more than a batter an inning.  Despite being a left-hander, Gonzalez has faired well against batters from both sides of the plate, holding both to a batting average under .220.  If Gonzalez can rebound, he would be a bargain in the two million dollar range.

There are still 66 more days until pitchers and catchers report in Ft. Myers, Florida for Spring Training and I have a feeling the Twins will add several pitchers to the roster before then, just hope that there are #NoTomkos.

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