Minnesota Twins: 10 possible undervalued free agent pitchers to pursue

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 3 : Jhoulys Chacin
SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 3 : Jhoulys Chacin /
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Minnesota Twins
BOSTON, MA – APRIL 14: Robbie Ross Jr. /

Robbie Ross, LHRP

Age on Opening Day: 28
2017 Salary: $1.825 million
2017 Stats: 8 G, 9 IP, 7.00 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, 11.1% BB, 20% K
Info: Ross’s 2017 numbers may leave some running to the hills, and frankly, it may make him the type of bargain that doesn’t even require a major league deal, but Ross is a guy who was a widely-hyped prospect coming up for the Rangers, Ross was a guy who had excellent breaking pitches to pair with his fastball that could sit into the mid-90s, but he never could develop a feel for a changeup.

After multiple years attempting to make it as a starter with the Rangers, the Red Sox converted Ross to the bullpen, where his lack of a change wasn’t an issue in him having success against hitters from both sides of the plate, and even pitching multiple innings. In 2015-2016, Ross threw in 108 games, tossing 116 innings, with a 3.57 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and a 43/109 BB/K ratio.

Ross had significant injuries to his elbow and then his back cost him 2017. It was notable in his velocity, seeing his fastball drop over 2 MPH and each of his breakers lose at least a half mile. While the velocity wasn’t major, the movement lost in his breaker was quite notable, as both were extremely valuable pitches and were negative value pitches in 2017.

However, he was throwing much better in AAA at the very end of the year, but the Red Sox chose not to activate him due to concerns with his back. His velocity and break were back with a healthy elbow, but the back left him not able to be activated. With an offseason of rest, he could be a very effective weapon in the bullpen from the left side.

Ross will likely cost just a one-year deal to bring him on board, but a good way to ensure you stand out would be to offer him a low base in 2017, something like $1 million for 2018 with a vesting option for 2019 at $4-5 million, making the full deal 2 years at $5-6 million, more than a deal for a quality lefty in the current market, especially one who is only 28.

CC Sabathia, LHSP

Age on Opening Day: 37
2017 Salary: $25 million
2017 Stats: 27 GS, 148 2/3 IP, 14-5, 3.69 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 8% BB, 19.3% K
Info: Sabathia burst onto the scene as a 20 year-old rookie in 2001, winning 17 games for the Indians, finishing second in the Rookie of the Year award voting to Ichiro Suzuki. For a 7-year run from 2006-2012, Sabathia was one of the elite starters in all of baseball, tallying 1591 2/3 innings over 226 starts during the regular season in that time, winning 122 games, with another 101 1/3 innings in the playoffs for the Indians, Brewers, and the Yankees.

In 2013, injuries and innings began to take their toll on Sabathia. He still made 32 starts in 2013, but he was visibly not the same, and injuries kept him to just 8 starts in 2014. When he returned, Sabathia was obviously a different pitcher, no longer a guy who could sit in the mid-90s with his powerful fastball anymore and get tons of swing and miss. He had to re-learn how to pitch.

Doing so on the fly, and especially in the world’s largest media market and for the game’s most visible team led to plenty of negative views on Sabathia in 2014-2015, but starting in 2016, Sabathia began to show what the “new CC” would look like going forward – a guy who could control the game deep into the game by keeping hitters off balance, relying on quality control and his new cutter much more than his pure fastball, using movement on his pitches to create weak contact rather than overpowering hitters.

Sabathia is 37, and many teams will be backing away, thinking he is done, even after his impressive playoff performances this recent fall. Because of his age, a multi-year deal may be enough to get things done over the rest of the competition, especially with an option for a 3rd year. Going to Sabathia with a 2 years, $20 million base salary with $3 million of fairly easy, health-based incentives each season along with another $2 million of more difficult, “performance” incentives.

Adding a way for him to achieve a 3rd year with something like 380 innings over the first two years of the deal or something to that accord could certainly put the Twins over the top in negotiation, and it would give them a proven, inning-eating left-hander in the middle of the rotation for a few years as the depth of minor league pitching works its way to the major leagues.

Sabathia is also at 237 wins, so averaging a dozen wins over the three seasons would bring him up to 273 wins, and in the modern game, that could be as many wins as we see for a long time.