There was plenty of speculation entering the offseason about what Derek Falvey and Thad Levine might do when it came to their pursuit of pitching on the free-agent market.
Falvey, the Twins’ chief baseball officer, and Levine, the team’s general manager, took over last offseason and oversaw a process in which the Twins went from 103 losses in 2016 to 85 wins and a wild card berth in 2017.
Nonetheless, there was still plenty of room for improvement with the starting staff and in the bullpen. Closer Brandon Kintzler had been dealt at the trade deadline when it looked as if Minnesota was falling out of the race.
This led to conjecture that the Twins’ brass might pursue a top-level, free-agent closer for 2018. The question was what would be the price for a guy like righthander Wade Davis? We found out on Friday, when the Colorado Rockies and Davis reportedly agreed to a three-year, $52 million contract.
Davis , 32, had 32 saves season last season with the Cubs and was considered the best reliever on the market. His salary, according to Yahoo Sports, is the highest per-year salary ever for his position.
He will make $17.33 million-a-year, and reportedly also received a fourth-year vesting option that could push the total money to $66 million. The Yankees’ Aroldis Chapman had made the most per year for a reliever at $17.2 million on a five-year deal, according to Yahoo.
The Rockies, whose Opening Day payroll was 16th in MLB last season ($130,963,571), have spent huge money on their bullpen this offseason. Lefthander Jake McGee and righthander Bryan Shaw were signed to three-year, $27 million contracts this month. Add in Davis and you’re talking an investment of $106 million for three relievers.
This might have been considered crazy at one time, but given how the use of relievers has evolved, the Rockies’ aggressiveness makes sense.
As for the Twins, so far Falvey and Levine have made a few signings but nothing that’s going to excite the fan base.
The Twins took a flyer on former Yankees starter Michael Pineda, signing the righthander to a two-year, $10 million contract. Pineda is coming off Tommy John surgery in 2017 and might not pitch again until 2018. That’s why he will make only $2 million next season and see that salary rise to $8 million in 2019.
The Twins also added veteran closer Fernando Rodney and lefthanded reliever Zach Duke.
Rodney received a one-year deal, $4.5 million deal that could be worth as much as $6 million. Rodney had 39 saves last season for Arizona at the age of 40. Duke, 34, was signed to a one-year deal over the Christmas Holiday. The one-time starter for Pittsburgh was 1-1 with a 3.93 ERA in 27 relief appearances last season with the Cardinals. He did not pitch until July 21 after having Tommy John surgery in October 2016.
So what’s the Twins’ next move?
It’s likely Falvey and Levine have turned their attention to starters.
Yu Darvish and Alex Cobb remain on the market. The Twins have been among the teams tied to Darvish. Jon Heyman of Fanrag Sports reported Friday that the New York Yankees are interested in both pitchers. Heyman reported that Darvish would be considered at a “reasonable price.”
What’s unclear is if the 31-year-old Darvish would sign for a reasonable price or term.
Darvish and Jake Arrieta are considered by many to be the best free-agent starters on the market. If the Twins do sign Darvish, it would certainly change the perception of many who continue to see this as a franchise that isn’t willing to spend big bucks.
The question the Twins might have to answer is what type of long-term investment do they want to make in a starter who is north of 30?