Tier 1: Minnesota Twins Top Targets
James Paxton: In order to win in the playoffs, you need top pitching. James Paxton could fit that bill. Paxton has a career 3.58 ERA (3.31 FIP) and an excellent 9.9 strikeouts per nine innings rate (that’s gotten better as his career has progressed). While 2020 was a down year where he had to fight through injuries, he was very good in every single year for the rest of his career.
Paxton has one of the most consistent track records in all of baseball, and with an injury-plagued 2020 season, he could come at a cheaper rate. Paxton would be a stellar No. 2-3 starter, and with a slow-moving market, the Twins should go after this lefty. Chances: 30%
Corey Kluber: When Corey Kluber put together a pitching showcase to show off his arm, 25 teams showed up. The Minnesota Twins were one of them. While the two-time Cy Young award winner hasn’t pitched well since 2018, injuries have played a large part in that, as it’s hard to find a groove when you pitch in eight games over a two year span.
The upside is clear here. Klubot was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball from 2014 to 2018, and the Twins clearly think he could enough left in the tank to be a very good 2-3 starter for the next two years. The only question is if the team gets outbid or Kluber opts to go elsewhere. Chances: 40%
Jake Odorizzi: Pitching is a clear need for the Twins, and Jake Odorizzi would be a familiar face who could give the Twins a big boost. Odorizzi wouldn’t cost too much money, as he had a very rough 2020, but he was an All-Star in 2019, so there’s a lot of value there.
Odorizzi also would be comfortable coming back here, as he didn’t quite seem ready to leave the franchise after their early exit in the 2020 playoffs. I actually expect him to be back in a Twins uniform next year, filling a role in the back of the starting rotation. Chances: 50%