Minnesota Twins: 10 possible undervalued free agent pitchers to pursue
Joe Smith, RHRP
Age on Opening Day: 34
2017 Salary: $3 million
2017 Stats: 59 G, 54 IP, 3-0, 1 save, 3.33 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 4.7% BB, 33.2%
Info: The Ohio native had a chance to return to his home state team for the playoff run in 2017, but he’s really been a steady guy for many years as a sidearm pitcher who throws three pitches that effectively act as four from his side arm slot. Smith works with a fastball that sits in the upper-80s, a frisbee slider in the low-80s, and a seldom used change in the upper-70s. He uses his two-seam fastball low in the zone and his four-seam fastball to give a “rising” fastball appearance to hitters, giving him four looks, three of which (two-seam, four-seam, slider) he uses almost equally.
Smith is seldom the guy that is brought up when someone discusses elite setup men, but Smith has been exactly that for the last 11 years, sporting a career 2.97 ERA over 698 relief appearances and 624 2/3 innings with a 1.19 WHIP, 8.5% walk rate, and 21.2% strikeout rate.
The Twins could use a player that can be a consistent veteran arm in the bullpen, which Smith certainly would be, and while he’s a guy that would cost a few million dollars, he would be worth it for the stable arm in the bullpen with what will likely be quite a few young, dynamic arms that could have some volatile moments over the course of 2018. I’d imagine a 2 year deal for $8 million would get Smith, especially at 34, preferring the security of a multi-year deal than attempting to cash in big on annual salary over one year.
Huston Street, RHRP
Age on Opening Day: 34
2017 Salary: $9 million
2017 Stats: 4 G, 4 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 1/3 BB/K
Info: A first round pick in 2004 that immediately found his way to Oakland for the full season of 2005, saving 23 games with a 1.72 ERA over 67 games in his rookie season, Street has had a 13-year career as primarily the closer for the teams he’s been with, pitching for the Athletics, Rockies, Padres, and Angels.
However, one of the issues for Street throughout his career has been injuries. He missed significant time in just about every other year starting in 2007, and then he’s really struggled with health in the last two years with the Angels.
While Street has never been an elite velocity guy, he’s seen his average velocity dip down under 88 MPH, and with his change up sitting fairly steady at 80 MPH, the change has lost its effectiveness over the years, and Street seemed to pick that up, moving to more of a fastball/slider pitcher in 2017 in the short time he was healthy.
Street still has a very effective slider and the ability to spot his fastball in his rehab appearances before he had to shut down due to a combination of groin and rotator cuff injuries. He was reportedly healthy enough to return at the end of the season, but the Angels didn’t want to bring him back at that point.
Street likely is a guy who would require a small base salary with heavy incentives, perhaps something like 1 year, $1.5M with $3-5M of fairly easily attainable incentives, provided health, along with another $3-5 of “performance” incentives, ones that he’d have to be both healthy and effective to reach. Adding on a vesting option for 2019 could sweeten things enough to bring him in, and if he’s hurt to the point where he’s not usable, he’s just $1.5M tossed aside, not a major loss for the team (obviously a big loss for you or me, but not for an MLB team).