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Updated: November 21st, 2013 6:44pm
With recent signings, Twins getting a good look at the price of poker

With recent signings, Twins getting a good look at the price of poker

by Phil Mackey
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The Minnesota Twins are getting a good look at the price of poker as it pertains to free agent starting pitchers.

Over the past week, three free agent pitchers have signed contracts of various weights.

Tim Hudson, 38, signed a two-year, $23 million deal ($11.5 million per year) with the San Francisco Giants. Jason Vargas, 31, signed a four-year, $32 million deal ($8 million per) with the Kansas City Royals. Josh Johnson, 30, signed a one-year, $8 million deal with the San Diego Padres.

The Twins have reportedly expressed interest in Bronson Arroyo, Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco, Matt Garza and others.

Hudson and Arroyo are similar in age, with Arroyo just a year younger. Hudson has been a better pitcher over the years, but Arroyo has been more durable over the past two seasons. It's likely Hudson's contract ($11.5 million per year) sets a bar for Arroyo and his representatives.

Johnson, with his one-year, $8 million deal, is in value-building mode. The same could be said for Hughes.

Vargas is the first of the age-29-to-32 free agent starters to sign a multi-year deal, and his contract reinforces the same theme we saw last winter -- the bidding starts at $8 million per year for any starting pitcher with an arm attached to a body. Kevin Correia (two years, $10 million) was one of the only exceptions.

Garza and Nolasco will likely now ask for Vargas years (at least four) and money that exceeds the average annual value of what Hudson received ($11.5 million). And they'll probably get it. Some projections have each getting $15 million per year. 

And while $12-16 million per year sounds like a lot for a mid-rotation guys like Nolasco and Garza, that's where the price of poker is headed -- especially when agents see pitching-hungry teams like the Twins sitting on a pile of cash to spend

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Phil Hughes