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  • Deep Starting Pitching Market Is A Lucky Break For Twins

    I may have exaggerated a little. I know – shocking for a blogger.

    The starting pitching free agents don't end with Zach Greinke.For months I’ve been saying that this free agent class of pitchers is almost historically deep. That might be a little strong, unless you think history only goes back as far as 2007. Because based on the dollars that were thrown around, 2006-2007 was an unbelievably lucrative free agent starting pitching market – for the players. It didn’t work out nearly as well for the owners.


    The top two contracts given out that year were unmitigated disasters. San Francisco is still trying to get out from under the $126M contract they gave Barry Zito while the Red Sox are finally finished with the $100+M they paid to get Daisuke Matsuzaka. Those two contracts are legendarily bad, and that’s NOT an exaggeration.

    But the next two were almost equally dismal. The Royals invested $55M in Gil Meche, though he saved them some of that when he voluntarily retired only four years into the deal. The next biggest deal went to Jason Schmidt, who made $47M and pitched only 43.1 innings. (Read that last sentence again.) And it didn’t stop there. The majority of the pitchers who signed for big money struggled and there were a lot of them: nine pitchers signed guaranteed deals for at least $20M.

    The teams may have figured out something since then. In the five years since, only eleven pitchers have reached that $20M level. No class since has had more than three pitchers reach that plateau. In fact, no class has had more than seven pitchers even get $10 million contracts.

    Or it could be that the pitchers since just haven’t been that good. For instance, last year was the year those seven pitchers got at least $10M. The market had three big names – CJ Wilson, Yu Darvish and Mark Buehrle. But beyond them, there wasn’t much. Hiroki Kuroda got a one-year, $11M deal from Yankees. Three others got $10+ million contracts, but they were all for multiple years, so the fifth, sixth and seventh biggest deals went to Aaron Harang ($6M/year), Chris Capuano ($5M/year) and Wei-Yin Chen ($3.8M/year).

    Did you just say “Who?” Exactly. If you’re looking for a thin market for starting pitching, the last five years qualify.

    This year is different. There are as many as 11 pitchers who could garner a $20M offer from a team. In the first draft of TwinsCentric’s Offseason GM Handbook (which you’ll be able to order soon, I promise), I count six that are virtually locks to make that money There are five more that might, and each will almost certainly get at least $10 million guaranteed. That’s deeper than any class since 2006.

    But it’s deeper still than that. Because after those guys there are another dozen pitchers who qualify as “innings eaters” or “intriguing gambles” which are the domains in which the Twins are most likely to dabble. Scott Baker belongs in the latter category and ranks 22nd overall on our list. By comparison, there were only 18 starting pitchers last year that signed major league contracts – and that was the most since 2006-2007.

    So, yes, I might have exaggerated a little in the past, so I’ll try and be a little more precise. (John Dyer-Bennett would have wanted it that way.) Right now, this year’s free agent starting pitching class looks to be the best group we have seen in at least five years. It is also flush with mid-level talent, going at least 20 to 25 players deep. And I’ll go a step further.

    If the Twins were trying to time find an offseason where average starting pitching would be available at a discount, they couldn’t have done a much better job. (Provided they actually spend some money.)

    ~~~
    This article was originally published in blog: Deep Starting Pitching Market Is A Lucky Break For Twins started by John Bonnes
    Comments 55 Comments
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      I think your estimates are way too low, Seth. I think Jackson will get at least 3/$30m. Sanchez will probably get close to the same if he pitches well in his remaining starts (he looked pretty bad with Miami in his final months and struggled with Detroit right off the bat).
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      This is a deep FA pitching class??? Grienke yes--if he could keep his head together. Sanchez maybe but not having a good time now with Detroit. The rest--you gotta be kidding.

      I wouldnt give any of them more than 6mill a year; or 15 mill for 3. They are not youngsters--staying healthy for 3 years is a question for all of them. I have stated on other threads that Jackson (#4 starter here for Nats--yes deep rotation) is overrated. I dont think he is better than Diamond. He may be the best after Greinke.

      Twins much better off trading Span/Revere/Morneau (packaged with somebody else) for a good number 2 starter or better yet a high prospect ready to pitch in 2014.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by DAM DC Twins Fans View Post
      This is a deep FA pitching class??? Grienke yes--if he could keep his head together. Sanchez maybe but not having a good time now with Detroit. The rest--you gotta be kidding.

      I wouldnt give any of them more than 6mill a year; or 15 mill for 3. They are not youngsters--staying healthy for 3 years is a question for all of them. I have stated on other threads that Jackson (#4 starter here for Nats--yes deep rotation) is overrated. I dont think he is better than Diamond. He may be the best after Greinke.

      Twins much better off trading Span/Revere/Morneau (packaged with somebody else) for a good number 2 starter or better yet a high prospect ready to pitch in 2014.
      Sanchez has actually started to put it together a bit. He has been pitching quite well in September. I'd still be leery of the guy. He was below average for at least two months this season, maybe even three. He was scuffling well before the trade to Detroit.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Few good pitchers will ever be free agents. Great pitchers, yes, because they are expensive. But good pitchers? Not super likely. If they want good pitchers, they will need to trade.
    1. greengoblinrulz's Avatar
      greengoblinrulz -
      Rather make a deal for someone like Brandon Morrow than mess around with whom Terry Ryan will chase....jeff francis types
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Another view might be that since 2013 is going to be a rebuilding year anyway, it might be better to focus on trading for prospects who are projected to be ready in 2014 and 2015 rather than paying big bucks for someone who is ready before they are needed.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Quote Originally Posted by glunn View Post
      Another view might be that since 2013 is going to be a rebuilding year anyway, it might be better to focus on trading for prospects who are projected to be ready in 2014 and 2015 rather than paying big bucks for someone who is ready before they are needed.
      I like the long term build with youth way, not sure the band aid approach gets us very far.
    1. JP3700's Avatar
      JP3700 -
      Surprised no one has even mentioned Jake Peavy. The white sox have already said they aren't going to pick up his option. I don't think the twins should go after him but his being on the market might make a couple of the mid level guys like Jackson, Marcum or Sanchez more affordable/available.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think this is a market the Twins are best kind of sitting back and watching for a bit. Once Greinke signs, the next tier will go. Jackson and Sanchez should get decent deals, like over $20M. I'm not sure I see anyone else who would get more than $6M a year... I mean, i think if the Twins were aggressive, like they were with Carroll and Doumit last year, and offered Blanton 2 years and $12M, I think he'd probably sign. Guthrie was released 2 months ago.I'm intrigued by Ervin Santana, and I might go 3 years, $18M with him.

      There you go... there's my strategy... be aggressive and see if you an have Anibal Sanchez (4 years, $28M), Ervin Santana (3 years, $18M), and Joe Blanton at 1 year, $5M. There's $18M and three pitchers who are likely the top three in the Twins rotation, followed by Diamond and then Deduno for the short-term. If they're not willing to sign those deals quickly, stay in good standing with their agents and offer them the same deal, or 95% of the same deal, in early January.
      These numbers are way too low. Sanchez and Jackson are definitely getting 10+M/yr deals and Marcum will probably get 10M/yr if he looks relatively healthy.

      Ervin Santana is looking all kinds of awful and there is no reason to be intrigued. Blanton has a long history of sucking in the NL.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      Francisco Liriano!
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post

      There you go... there's my strategy... be aggressive and see if you an have Anibal Sanchez (4 years, $28M), Ervin Santana (3 years, $18M), and Joe Blanton at 1 year, $5M. There's $18M and three pitchers who are likely the top three in the Twins rotation, followed by Diamond and then Deduno for the short-term. If they're not willing to sign those deals quickly, stay in good standing with their agents and offer them the same deal, or 95% of the same deal, in early January.
      I think that the market is actually thin and the Twins are better of trading Span/Willingham/Morneau/someOFprospects for young projectable MLB-ready arms with 4-6 years of control.

      That said:
      - I don't think that the Twins will ever give a 4 year deal to a FA pitcher.
      - I don't think that any of these guys who are free agents are better than a fixed Baker
      - I don't think that any of these guys who are free agents are much better than a good Liriano

      The Twins got to go to the root cause of this and look at a different pitching coach for starters.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think this is a market the Twins are best kind of sitting back and watching for a bit. Once Greinke signs, the next tier will go. Jackson and Sanchez should get decent deals, like over $20M. I'm not sure I see anyone else who would get more than $6M a year... I mean, i think if the Twins were aggressive, like they were with Carroll and Doumit last year, and offered Blanton 2 years and $12M, I think he'd probably sign. Guthrie was released 2 months ago.I'm intrigued by Ervin Santana, and I might go 3 years, $18M with him.

      There you go... there's my strategy... be aggressive and see if you an have Anibal Sanchez (4 years, $28M), Ervin Santana (3 years, $18M), and Joe Blanton at 1 year, $5M. There's $18M and three pitchers who are likely the top three in the Twins rotation, followed by Diamond and then Deduno for the short-term. If they're not willing to sign those deals quickly, stay in good standing with their agents and offer them the same deal, or 95% of the same deal, in early January.
      Yeah, I think we're going to argue a little bit about the salaries if you think Anibal Sanchez is going to sign at less per year than Carl Pavano did.
      I agree on Blanton, though I might go 6.
      I don't know about Santana - he's been awful this year but very good the last two. He had a miserable April, and then had his workload cut down in July (tired arm?) and seems to be fixed and effective now. Since July 30, he's had a 3.30 ERA with 46/15 in 57 innings. I don't know if his overall numbers will garner a mutli-year deal or not, but if it does, I think it'll be closer to 3/24 (or even 3/27) than 3/18. (BTW, I like that name, too. But I can't imagine the Twins paying the freight unless the market really drops out.)
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      I think that the market is actually thin and the Twins are better of trading Span/Willingham/Morneau/someOFprospects for young projectable MLB-ready arms with 4-6 years of control.
      Here was the primary challenge I faced when trying to write this story: defining "thin." I decided to come up with 3 measures of the thinness or thickness of a market:
      1. How many $20+ M contracts are signed - these are rare and clearly a sign that a team is investing in a significant pitcher. Over the last 6 years, here is how many have signed those deals: 3, 2, 2, 3, 1, 9.
      2. How many $10+M contracts are signed - these are either solid guys or very good guys that are getting a one-year deal. Over the last 6 years, here is how many have signed those deals (beyond the $20+ M) : 4, 3, 4, 2, 1, 6.
      3. How many get at least a major league deal. I don't have the exact numbers for these handy, but most years it has been 12-18.

      By those 3 measurements, this year's free agent market is going to be better than any of the last five classes in all three categories. I think if you go through the class, that becomes apparent.

      So when you say you think the market is "thin" I would be interested in your definition. I'll admit - I struggled to find mine. It might not be right.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      God... I'm hoping that I'm being reasonable with my wish list but I'm prepared for the possibility of not being within reason.

      I'd like to see the Twins target one FA and make a real strong push. Overpay if they have to... But pick one and roll the dice.

      My choice... if the Rays dont pick up his option. Shields would be the guy in my opinion.

      I'd also like the Twins to trade for one young SP with upside ready to be a rookie next year. I don't care who they give up to get this young SP. if it takes Span and someone else... OK... Lets do it.

      My choice... Target the Braves and see what it takes to get Terehan.

      I'd also like to see the Twins roll the dice on a young rule 5. Put him in the rotation and ride it out.

      My choice... No idea... Open to suggestions. Lets see if our scouts can pull out a gem.

      Diamond... can make it 4... Baker if he's willing to sign for a smaller contract with larger bonuses could be 5...

      Deduno... 5 or 6 depending on Baker... Devries... choice 6 or 7... Hendriks... 7 or 8... Gibson in June or July can be 8 or 9.

      Plus take a chance on a Minor League FA or two which I'm sure they will do.

      All in All... Not overwhelming but better in my opinion.
    1. kab21's Avatar
      kab21 -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      I don't know about Santana - he's been awful this year but very good the last two. He had a miserable April, and then had his workload cut down in July (tired arm?) and seems to be fixed and effective now. Since July 30, he's had a 3.30 ERA with 46/15 in 57 innings. I don't know if his overall numbers will garner a mutli-year deal or not, but if it does, I think it'll be closer to 3/24 (or even 3/27) than 3/18. (BTW, I like that name, too. But I can't imagine the Twins paying the freight unless the market really drops out.)
      Since Santana successfully rehabbed and avoided TJ he has been awful, alright, good and awful. If you look closer his FIP has been in the 4-5.00 range (xFIP 4-4.50) during those seasons. Right now his velocity and K's are both going down and he's looking like a prime candidate to be absolutely awful in the future. I don't think he's intriguing at all and he should be avoided at all costs.
    1. Heinie Manush's Avatar
      Heinie Manush -
      Quote Originally Posted by clutterheart View Post
      One thing to note in the GM handbook, the Twins have money to spend with a lot coming off the books this year AND no player on their roster will require a significant investment in the next 3-5 years.

      So if they sign a pitcher for 4 years 20 Million, it would not cause them to lose any young superstars on their current roster to FA.

      Twins need 2-3 Starting Pitchers & maybe a MI if there is one to be had
      1 Staring Pitcher 20 Million a year makes the payroll around 90 Million
      1 Starting Pitcher 8 million a year makes the payroll around 98 Million
      With a million or two to spend for a decent MI bench player or a flyer on a project makes the payroll around 100 million.

      Unless they plan to cut payroll down even further, this team has the long term room to get some decent starting pitchers if they choose to.
      We do need a quality MI as well as a quality starter and a solid starter. The thing to remember is that we've got two free agent classes to accomplish this. Sure, things can fall into place and we could make a run in 2013 but the realistic course is to plan for 2014. Turn Span, Morneau and dollars into the above as well as a solid set up man and a replacement in case Plouffe/Parmalee doesn't pan out and we should contend in 2014.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Yes--pick up a mediocre starter (Sheilds?? Peavy??) and maybe overpay him...trade Morneau/Span/Revere for another (younger) starter...go with IF next year of Parmalee, Dozier at 2B, Florimon, Plouffe with Carroll as UT...hope for Gibson/Baker to join Diamond and these 2 pitchers in rotation--with Deduno, Walters, DeVries battling it out in ST for 4 and 5 roles. Trade more at deadline (based on progress of Hicks, Arcia and Sano for 2014).
    1. striker_86's Avatar
      striker_86 -
      What about Peavy? Sox arent picking up his option....any chance we go after him?
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      I think that the market is actually thin and the Twins are better of trading Span/Willingham/Morneau/someOFprospects for young projectable MLB-ready arms with 4-6 years of control.
      Here was the primary challenge I faced when trying to write this story: defining "thin." I decided to come up with 3 measures of the thinness or thickness of a market:
      1. How many $20+ M contracts are signed - these are rare and clearly a sign that a team is investing in a significant pitcher. Over the last 6 years, here is how many have signed those deals: 3, 2, 2, 3, 1, 9.
      2. How many $10+M contracts are signed - these are either solid guys or very good guys that are getting a one-year deal. Over the last 6 years, here is how many have signed those deals (beyond the $20+ M) : 4, 3, 4, 2, 1, 6.
      3. How many get at least a major league deal. I don't have the exact numbers for these handy, but most years it has been 12-18.

      By those 3 measurements, this year's free agent market is going to be better than any of the last five classes in all three categories. I think if you go through the class, that becomes apparent.

      So when you say you think the market is "thin" I would be interested in your definition. I'll admit - I struggled to find mine. It might not be right.

      My definition of a non-thin market is one that has several number 1 pitchers in a championship team as free agents. This market has a guy who is maybe a number 2 (Greinke) and the rest are lower. Again, I am talking about a championship team, not the Royals of this world. Hamels' extension hurt the market. I just do not see any number ones out there in this market.

      Now, as far as $ goes, teams spend. They will spend and they will overspend. If Greinke gets a number 1 type of contract this does not mean that he is an ace...
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by striker_86 View Post
      What about Peavy? Sox arent picking up his option....any chance we go after him?
      Are you sure that Peavy is that much better than Baker in the AL?

      Career AL numbers:

      Peavy: 3.93 ERA, 1.182 WHIP, 7.9 K/9, 3.51 K/BB
      Baker: 4.15 ERA, 1.264 WHIP, 7.2 K/9, 3.44 K/BB

      And Peavy's numbers were all prime career numbers where Baker's include some early career numbers, which make them look worse than Peavy's. Pretty much the same numbers in the AL in their prime years
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