Michael Pineda will have to wait a while to make his Twins debut. But the peole in the team’s front office must think it’s worth the wait.
Pineda signed a 2-year, $10 million contract with the Twins on Wednesday, according to the team. Pineda is expected to miss the entire 2018 season following Tommy John surgery. The contract, then, represents a chance to pay Pineda for his rehab in order to get one good season out of him in 2019.
It’s an interesting way to improve the pitching depth in the organization down the road, although it shouldn’t have much of an effect on this year’s team. The deal will pay Pineda $2 million in 2018 and $8 million the year after that. If he’s back to his typical form, that second year will be a bargain rate.
As with any pitcher signing, there’s risk involved — what if Pineda doesn’t get back to full strength or can’t find it in that first season back after major surgery? But most pitchers his age do eventually get back to being effective, so it’s a calculated risk that the Twins must have felt was worth the potential payoff.
Pineda was once considered a future ace when the Mariners traded him to the Yankees after his rookie year, but he hasn’t quite delivered on that promise to this point. In parts of 5 seasons, he’s got a 4.05 ERA in 680 innings.
Before his surgery this summer, Pineda had a 4.39 ERA in 96 innings the Yankees’ rotation. He struck out 22.4% of hitters and walked 5.1%. That’s just about the same strikeout rate as J.O. Berrios had last year, and Pineda was better at limiting the walks.
Since his surgery came in July, perhaps the Twins feel he can be back in action sometime before the postseason this year. Joel Sherman of the New York Post tweeted that Pineda won’t be ready before August, but if he’s back that month — maybe as a reliever? — perhaps he could aid the Twins down the stretch.
Time will tell if the contract pays dividends for the Twins, but it’s an interesting gamble. Another guy rehabbing this year that could look for a contract like this: Former Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.