Minnesota Twins: Who’s Left in the Free Agent Rotation Market?

Taijuan Walker of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the first inning. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Taijuan Walker of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the first inning. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Twins have a need for starting pitching in 2021, and with the market beginning to move, we take a look at the players remaining.

The market for starting pitchers is beginning to move with the Yu Darvish and Blake Snell trades opening up the pitching market on their way to San Diego. This gives the Minnesota Twins the perfect opportunity to target some arms to get their rotation in place for the 2021 season.

The team needs to take a look at the quality free agents, and determine who they think could be good fits. This would probably mean a pitcher who falls in that $7-13 million range that the Twins are typically comfortable with while also having the ability to be contributions for a World Series contending team. I break down several options for the Minnesota Twins to go after.

Minnesota Twins Starting Pitcher Front Runners

Taijuan Walker: Walker has a really good profile for the Twins. He’s within the Twins’ price range and had modest success on a prove-it year in 2020 for Toronto following Tommy John surgery. I think he’d fit nicely in the rotation.

He’s my odds-on favorite for the pitcher who ends up on who ends up with the Minnesota Twins, but the bidding may get too competitive in a relatively thin arms race. Because there are so many arms out there, the odds stay low. Odds: 40%

James Paxton: A tall lefty that has historically been a very good strikeout pitcher, this was actually one of the pitchers that we’ve projected could land in Minnesota before. He’s been lights out at times, but he didn’t prove himself fully healthy in 2020 coming off back surgery and forearm issues (though he appears ready for 2021).

“The Big Maple” hails from Canada and is considered the sleeper of the free agents. I’d really love to see him in the powdered blues (as the Twins need a left-hander) more than most on this list, especially if he stays with in the Twins price limits. Odds: 35%

Jose Quintana: Another intriguing lefty who’s also coming off injury, Quintana is no longer the star he once was, but he could still be useful as a traditional innings eater who would go nicely in the middle. There’s some fear if he’s not at full health, but If the Twins do their due diligence, he could be exactly what the Twins are looking for. Odds: 30%

Minnesota Twins Middle of the Pack Contenders

Tomoyuki Sugano: The Japanese League standout for many years who’s finally taking his talents state side looks like he could be a No. 3 starter. There’s always some risk with foreign players who haven’t proven it yet in MLB, as the Twins well know with Tsuyoshi Nishioka. If it doesn’t become a bidding war, this could bode well in negotiations and give the Twins a chance. Odds: 25%

Garrett Richards: He’ll definitely fall within the Twins price range. Another strikeout pitcher, Richards brings appeal as a starter or long reliever possibility, but at times he has struggled with control. This may not be the perfect fit given his recent injury track record, but he’s definitely worth keeping an eye on.  Odds: 23%

Corey Kluber: Since battling back from injuries in 2019 and 2020, Kluber hasn’t brought the shut down stuff to the table that he once did, but he certainly has the largest resume of anyone on this lest in terms of past success.

If he comes cheap enough because of injuries, Minnesota should definitely take a chance on him. Kluber brings the most intrigue, just two years out from elite status, but his services will likely be competed for which could drive his price out of the Twins realm of possibility. Odds: 20%

Minnesota Twins Long shots

Jake Odorizzi: There’s a lot familiarity here and both sides would probably do a deal if the price is right. Unfortunately, with how this market is progressing, that price will likely be too high for the Twins or too low for Odorizzi.  Odds: 15%

Jon Lester: This is another experienced lefty who would make a good fit in Minnesota. He’s turning into a more of a back end, 5 inning starter than the star work horse he used to be, but I’ll venture he has some gems left in him. I’m not sure Minnesota appeals enough to him, though, as it sounds like he may want to stay and retire a Cub.  Odds: 10%

Masahiro Tanaka: Tanaka could be a perfect fit in Minnesota, and he definitely won’t get the $22-23 million he did with the Yankees, but he won’t go much lower than $15 million. Unfortunately, rumor has it he’d rather go back to Japan to play if the Yankees don’t resign him. That makes this match unlikely. Odds: 8%

Trevor Bauer: This is totally a pipe dream for Twins fans as he is just way, way too much expensive. He’ll likely get the most of any free agent left, and that could be $30-35 million a year for a 5-6 year deal. Plus, he doesn’t seem to keen on returning here. Odds: 5%

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