Minnesota Twins: Jake Odorizzi open to long-term deal with Twins

The Minnesota Twins right-hander accepted his qualifying offer last week but revealed he’s still open to remaining in Minnesota long-term.

The Minnesota Twins filled one of their open spots in the 2020 starting rotation last week when Jake Odorizzi accepted a qualifying offer from the team. Although the one-year, $17.8 million deal is nothing to laugh at, Odorizzi revealed how much he likes pitching in Minnesota during an interview on MLB Network’s Hot Stove Monday morning.

“I really enjoy Minnesota,” Odorizzi said in the interview. “The people up there are fantastic. Obviously the team is really good. Our front office does a great job. Having [manager Rocco Baldelli] there is a great familiarity with me. But that’s kind of out of my control. The door is open from me, and it’s just a matter of if they want me.”

For the Twins, this decision could come down to which version of Odorizzi they believe they’re getting. After being acquired by the Twins in March of 2018, Odorizzi has shown two different versions of himself after struggling through the 2018 season (7-10, 4.49 ERA) but making his first All-Star team in 2019 (15-7, 3.51 ERA).

Although it appeared that Odorizzi figured it out at first glance, his All-Star campaign was a tale of two halves. After soaking in knowledge from new pitching coach Wes Johnson, Odorizzi flourished, going 10-2 with a 2.24 ERA in his first 14 starts. But warning signs began to show up from there as Odorizzi saw a jump in his walk rate and couldn’t find the ability to go deep into ballgames as he went 5-4 with a 4.46 ERA in his final 15 starts.

It might be because of those splits that the Twins only made the one-year commitment to Odorizzi, but the door is obviously not closed for the two sides to strike a long term agreement. With Jose Berrios, who is also an offseason extension candidate, the only other returning starter in the Twins’ rotation, Odorizzi at least solidifies one of the team’s holes for 2019.

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If the Twins believe that Odorizzi’s first half was not a fluke, there could be a long-term deal in the works. If not, the Twins will ride out Odorizzi’s 2020 and perhaps turn to some of their younger prospects such as Brusdar Graterol, Randy Dobnak or even Jhoan Duran as soon as 2021.