What does the Pablo Lopez extension means for future of Twins starting rotation?

Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins
Chicago White Sox v Minnesota Twins / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

It was an off-day on Monday, but the Minnesota Twins were hard at work securing another huge win.

Pablo Lopez agreed to a four-year, $73.5M contract that means barring a trade he won’t play for another team until the 2028 season. It’s a massive coup for a team that has somehow found a way to fight its small ball reputation to secure three of the best players in the league on team-friendly deals that set the team up to do big things in the future.

Lopez joins Carlos Correa (6-years, $200 million) and Byron Buxton (7-years, $100 million) as a core piece of the Twins roster moving forward. There will be others who join, but those three veterans are the face of the Twins franchise for the foreseeable future and fans have to love what they see.

There will be a lot to unpack about this extension, but the immediate thing to think about is what it means for the Twins starting rotation moving forward.

Minnesota is laying the foundation for constructing its rotation of the future, but it doesn’t end with Lopez. Joe Ryan is set to be the Robin to Lopez’s Batman in the rotation, as those two will be the anchors that the team can build around.

Who that ends up being is where things get exciting.

Tyler Mahle and Sonny Gray are both due for contract extensions, but the Twins don’t have other options on the board. Chris Paddack signed a three-year extension during Spring Training and there’s hope that he can become a factor later in the season. Tons of people are high on Bailey Ober who just missed the cut on Opening Day but is furthering his development at Triple-A St. Paul.

Add to that list Louie Varland and Simeon Woods-Richardson — among others — and all of a sudden the Twins future rotation is starting to look like something fans have hoped for but never seen before.

This is not scientific at all, but this is what a future Twins pitching rotation could look like:

  1. Pablo Lopez
  2. Joe Ryan
  3. Chris Paddack
  4. Simeon Woods-Richardson
  5. Bailey Ober

Hading out big extensions likely takes the Twins out of big money free agent moves, but guys like Lucas Giolito and others could factor into the picture too. Simply put, the Twins are in a position to have an embarrassement of pitching riches and that absolutely rules.

There will be plenty of time to dive into more about what the whole rotation will look like but everything starts with the two guys at the top.

Pablo Lopez and Joe Ryan are the Twins pitching duo fans have been waiting for

WIth the Lopez extension, Minnesota can now build its rotation around the last two Opening Day starters and bonafide aces of its staff.

Lopez and Ryan are a perfect tandem, and the potential fulfillment of a prophecy that was promised over a decade ago. A few Cy Young Awards need to be tossed into the mix for the comparison to truly be appropriate, but it’s hard not to think of what Twins fans almost had with Johan Santana and Francisco Liriano.

That pitching duo never became what it could have been for the Twins, but this second-coming might be even better from a sustainability standpoint.

Santana was going to get traded, as the Twins weren’t going to pony up to keep him in Minnesota. This time around, Minnesota has Lopez locked through the 2027 which is also how long Joe Ryan is under contract.

Minnesota could realistically get four incredible years out of two top pitchers in ways it’s been forced to watch elsewhere in the AL Central but has been unable to figure out. Verlander and Scherzer in Detroit, Burhle and Garland in Chicago, the many duos Cleveland has put together, and now Lopez and Ryan in Minnesota.

Not for nothing, but all of those teams — even the Royals — went to the World Series during the tenure of their top pitchers. The Twins also have a duo of Byron Buxton and Carlos Correa to add to this mix, both of whom are under contract until 2027 as well.

It’s easy to get ahead of ourselves but it’s also impossible to not be insanely excited for what this means for the future. There’s always a chance things might not work out, but right now this Twins team feels different than any we’ve seen in the past and the future looks brighter than it ever has.