These pitchers are all under 30, have multiple seasons of control left, and are all guys that would be immediately pitchers at the front of the rotation for the Twins. The downside is that to acquire a pitcher like this group, you would have to trade a BIG package of players away to acquire the player.
Cole turned 27 in September and already has 5 major league seasons under his belt. He struggled through injury in 2016 and was a victim of a huge spike in home runs allowed in 2017 that skewed his ERA, but Cole has been a guy who has walked just 6.3% of hitters he’s faced and struck out 22.7% of batters faced, so he’s at roughly 3.5 strikeouts for every walk, and he gets plenty of strikeouts.
Cole has struggled with some injury stuff in two of his four full seasons in the majors, which is something to consider. He’s also under two more seasons of arbitration before he’s free agency eligible after the 2019 season, so this could be a trade for just two seasons of control as well. Still, Cole has elite talent and the Pirates could be in the process of retooling right now.
The crazy thing to consider is that when Denard Span was traded away, the Twins approached the Braves about Teheran and were rebuffed as Teheran was likely to be in the major league rotation that season. He’s not 27 until late January, and he’s got over 1,000 major league innings. If the Twins would have attempted to get Teheran last offseason, he would have been incredibly more expensive than coming off his 2017 season when he struggled, especially coming out of the gate.
While many want to call Teheran more of a mid-rotation starter, he is very much like Brad Radke or James Shields were as “ace” starters for their organizations. He’ll eat up innings, taking the ball every 5 days, and he’s going to keep his team in the game. Getting a guy like Teheran to pair with Berrios at the top of the rotation would be an excellent 1-2 punch.
Teheran has also been signed to a reasonable long-term deal by the Braves which has 2 years and $20M guaranteed left on it, but could go to 3 years and $31M with a 2020 option when Teheran will still just be 29. That would be a high quality pitcher for that level of contract.
Like many of these pitchers, Stroman has plenty of value to his own team, and it would take a very impressive deal to pry him away from his team, with the Blue Jays likely requiring more persuasion than others to make that move.
Stroman may not be a huge guy (or even an average guy in height) at a listed 5’8″ (he’s not quite that tall in reality, but we’ll let him have it), but he’s a big game pitcher for sure. He missed most of 2015, but that was due to a knee issue, not arm issues, and he’s thrown 200 innings the last two seasons with quality performance. At 27 in May, he’s still got three more seasons of arbitration, not eligible for free agency until after 2020, which leaves plenty of control for a team to acquire, but it also means that he will likely require a huge trade package to move him.
Would there be a more excellent fit than “Thor” in the land of the Swedes and Norwegians? The flame throwing righty missed time in 2017 with some questionable circumstances that still haven’t seemed to be cleared up between he and the team. Syndergaard was also a big fan of pitching coach Dan Warthen, so the team letting him go cannot be good for that team/player relationship.
Syndergaard is one of the hardest throwers in the entire game, with a 97-98 MPH AVERAGE fastball! His numbers in 2015 and 2016 speak for themselves with elite strikeouts while keeping his walk rate reasonable. Over roughly 2 full seasons worth of big league time, he’s posted a career 2.89 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, which is tremendous for a guy with his velocity.
Syndergaard qualifies as a super-2 this offseason, so he is eligible for arbitration, but he will then have arbitration for 4 total seasons, not becoming a free agent until after the 2021 season. He would cost a fortune, but if there’s even a chance to make the acquisition, you have to make a serious effort.
More from Puckett's Pond
- Minnesota Twins: Holiday Wish List for the rest of the Offseason
- Minnesota Twins: After signing with the Mets, Correa spurns Twins again
- Minnesota Twins: You Spin Me Right Round, Right Round
- Minnesota Twins: What happens next at Shortstop?
- Minnesota Twins: Grading the Twins’ Joey Gallo signing
The final two players are both in division pitchers, which could cost the Twins more than an average team to acquire them, but they are both talented enough that it is worth the extra cost in trade to acquire either.
Duffy will turn 29 in December, and he has 7 seasons in the majors, but because he spent a lot of that time working between the bullpen and rotation to establish himself, he has thrown just ~770 innings in the majors, so his arm is not that taxed. He did have a clean up procedure in his elbow this offseason, but that was to remove scar tissue and typical surgery scar tissue breakup in the elbow after having Tommy John previously.
Duffy has really turned into one of the toughest lefties to face on a nightly basis in the last few years. His ERA hasn’t been tremendous, but putting up tremendous strikeout rates, keeping walk rates reasonable, and doing it all from the left side makes him incredibly valuable.
Duffy is signed to a very reasonable contract that has 4 seasons and $60 million left before it runs out after the 2021 season. The reasonable cost and division foe could mean a bigger cost, but should certainly be considered.
No doubt that the Detroit Tigers are rebuilding. Their July and August was a seeming rotating door of long-time veteran players going out the door. One guy they held onto was Fulmer, and now if they intend to consider offers on Fulmer this offseason, that may end up being a mistake.
Fulmer won the rookie of the year award in the AL in 2016, and he was having a tremendous season in 2017 until his elbow began barking. He ended up shutting things down ahead of September, and in early September, he had nerve reassignment surgery this offseason, moving the nerve in his elbow, requiring a 3-4 month recovery.
That could mean that the price on Fulmer is lower, or it just could mean that the market won’t be as heavy on Fulmer as it was in the summer, but with the Tigers being in division, and Fulmer being their possible biggest chip as far as acquiring prospects, it may not be any cheaper this offseason than in season, but if the Twins were confident in the medicals, it’d make sense to make the call.