The 2017-2018 offseason is here for the Minnesota Twins. Who could be Twins be targeting in the free agent market?
Now that the Minnesota Twins have entered the offseason, they are looking to improve the roster through trades and through free agent signings. In this series, we’re going to examine individual players that the Minnesota Twins could have interest in this offseason through free agency.
We will not have any specific order to which player we highlight in this series, but we will look at each player’s past history, why he could be a good fit for the Minnesota Twins, and, last, the sort of contract likely to be required to sign the player.
We will continue the series with a look at one of the relief pitchers remaining on the market…
Tony Watson, LHP
Watson was drafted out of high school in Iowa by the Marlins in the 23rd round. He then attended the University of Nebraska, getting drafted in the 17th round by the Orioles in 2006 and then in the 9th round by the Pirates in 2007.
After an elbow injury that he was able to rehab rather than having surgery in 2009, Watson moved to the bullpen. By mid-2011, Watson was up for good with the Pirates.
Watson was one of the most reliable middle relievers in the game for a four-year span from 2012 to 2015, posting a 2.24 ERA over 277 2/3 relief innings over that 4-year span, with a 0.99 WHIP and a 67/250 BB/K ratio.
In 2016, Watson took over as the Pirates closer when they traded away Mark Melancon at the trade deadline. He continued in that role in 2017 until struggles with BABIP moved him out of the role.
Watson was moved to the Dodgers at the trade deadline this season, and his underlying numbers were closer to his career averages as he posted a 2.70 ERA and 1.05 WHIP over 20 relief innings in the regular season. In the postseason, he made 11 appearances, throwing 7 innings, with a 2.57 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, and a 1/3 BB/K ratio as he helped the Dodgers to the World Series.
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Watson made $5.6 million last season, and he’ll turn 33 at the end of May, so those factors will likely lead to a higher annual salary and shorter years for Watson, even though this is likely his one shot at free agency.
While many names have come off the free agent market, plenty still remain in a deep relief class. Oddly, Watson is getting very little rumor mention around the game this offseason with his track record.
Based on what else has been out there, asking for a deal that guaranteed him 2 years and $15-18 million would be certainly in line, and he could probably push for even more with his track record.
Should the Minnesota Twins do it?
The Twins did let Fernando Rodney know that he would be the primary closer when he was signed, which could lead to less interest in Watson for many, but a return to a role as a dominant 8th inning guy could be just what the doctor ordered for Watson, not to mention his local ties, being from Iowa.
If the Twins could get him for a deal that paid him $6-8 million annually guaranteed, he would be an excellent deal to get, especially for the setting up of other members of the bullpen, like fellow lefty Taylor Rogers.
Watson could be seen as an expensive option for the Twins, but with his talent, he could be one that falls through the cracks in the free agent market and becomes an excellent signing this offseason for the Twins.