Minnesota Twins: Free Agency should be Ace or Bust for the Rotation
By Otto Johnson
The Minnesota Twins finally made their first foray into free agency on Monday, signing free agent Christian Vázquez to a three year, $30 million deal, and the team appears to be quite active in their pursuit of shortstop Carlos Correa. After addressing one of their biggest needs (catcher) and continuing to pursue another (shortstop), their largest remaining need is pitching.
The bullpen could use a reliever or two for sure, but what about the rotation? As we’ve talked about before, the Twins’ current rotation is very solid. Sonny Gray, while not quite an ace, is one of the 25 best starters in baseball. Tyler Mahle, when healthy, is an extremely high level pitcher. Kenta Maeda and Joe Ryan are excellent 3/4 options. Bailey Ober has produced like a stud.
On top of this, the team’s depth is much stronger than last year. The team isn’t leaning on Aaron Sanchez or Chi Chi Gonzalez anymore, they have Josh Winder, Louie Varland, and Simeon Woods Richardson. They don’t need a depth starter. They need an ace.
The Minnesota Twins need an ace starter or nothing ahead of the 2023 season.
During the early part of free agency, Jacob deGrom and Justin Verlander signed lucrative deals, leaving Carlos Rodon as the only available ace on the market. Outside of bringing in Carlos Correa, Rodon is the only target the team should be considering right now.
Rodon finished fifth in Cy Young voting with the Chicago White Sox in 2021 and sixth in Cy Young Voting with the San Francisco Giants in 2022. He’s posted a 2.67 ERA (2.42 FIP) with a 422-88 K-BB ratio over that time span. He’s a guy you trust wholeheartedly in a playoff game. The Twins need a guy like that, and if they can’t get Rodon, Nathan Eovaldi could work.
Eovaldi was dominant in 2021, and despite a step back in 2022, he would still qualify as an upgrade over the Twins starters if he got closer to his 2021 level. He’s worth a look, but only if the team can sign him to a team-friendly contract. If they can’t get Rodon OR Eovaldi for a deal, then they should be aiming to swing a trade.
Luis Arraez has been considered as a potential trade option to reel in an ace, and with only a few of those high-level starters available here and there, the team needs to push to have one anchor the rotation. If they can’t land one, they don’t need to force their hand and add a starter just because.
The team doesn’t need a player like Noah Syndergaard or Michael Wacha. Those guys would be good depth starters for sure, but the team doesn’t need those guys eating up innings from Ober, Winder, Varland, and Woods Richardson. The young players need the innings, and potentially could offer more than a washed-up starter.
The team needs to focus on Carlos Correa, and after he’s locked up, focus on adding an impact arm through free agency or via trade. Failing that, the Minnesota Twins front office should opt to avoid the market altogether.