The Minnesota Twins continue to search for pitching in free agency, but a key domino in the market fell when Stephen Strasburg re-signed with the Nationals.
As we all sit on the edge of our seats to see what the Minnesota Twins will do to upgrade their pitching staff, several dominoes in this year’s pitching market have begun to fall. Zack Wheeler was the first player to set the market for the second tier of pitchers last week, agreeing to a five-year, $118 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies which played a large part in setting the market.
That deal has helped accelerate teams’ plans in free agency and on Monday another piece fell into place as Stephen Strasburg re-signed with the Washington Nationals. The seven-year, $245 million contract is an astronomical price and basically will give everyone below Strasburg in the market visions of briefcases full of cash as the hot stove season rolls along.
For a team like the Twins, Strasburg’s contract will have a major effect on what they want to do this offseason. When they were in pursuit of Wheeler last week, the Twins were willing to increase their offer of five years and $100 million according to Dan Hayes of The Athletic (subscription required), but Wheeler ultimately decided to stay on the east coast and in the National League, where he has spent his entire five-year career.
As crazy as it sounds, the $118 million number that Wheeler obtained almost seems low at this point, which may impact their pursuit of Madison Bumgarner. Many teams have been in pursuit of the San Francisco left-hander, but his price has begun to skyrocket thanks to the way this year’s market has shaped out.
On Monday, Bob Nightengale of USA Today confirmed the notion that Bumgarner’s camp will be looking for a five-year deal in excess of $100 million. That should be good news for the Twins, who were willing to offer the same deal to Wheeler, but the similarities might end there.
While Wheeler is a 29-year old that seems to have some upside, Bumgarner is a pitcher that is still 30 years old but has thrown seven 200-plus inning seasons in his career. That coupled with a two-year stint full of injuries may give the Twins second thoughts on whether to make the same offer. In addition, the crazy amount of cash Strasburg got from Washington could drive Bumgarner’s price even higher which may really have the Twins pump the brakes.
That’s where a scenario where Ryu signs with the Twins could become more likely. Minnesota has been interested in the fellow left-hander’s services and in another nugget from Hayes, it would come on a shorter-term deal of three years and around $65 million.
The money will likely go up with the Strasburg news, but the Twins would still be getting a high-end stop-gap who may have a lengthy injury history, but also finished second in the National League Cy Young voting last season.
In any event, the Twins look a little smarter for paying Jake Odorizzi $17.8 million on a qualifying offer and Michael Pineda $20 million over the next two seasons to fill two open spots in their rotation.
The key now is to add someone who could upgrade on Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez, but unless they dabble in the trade market, the price on all pitching has just gone up considerably and could persuade the Twins to look into the trade market to try and enhance their staff.