If you’re a rebuilding team like the Detroit Tigers, what’s the point of signing Yu Darvish?
That fundamental question is one of the primary reasons, in my opinion, we’re seeing a slow-moving free agent market. A lot of front offices now seem to hold the belief that if you’re not in a position to make the postseason or to win the World Series, spending big bucks on the big-name free agents goes beyond a pointless exercise – it can be detrimental. The tanking strategy worked for Theo Epstein and the Chicago Cubs, it’s worked for Jeff Luhnow and the Houston Astros, and now all the bad teams in baseball are emboldened to play the long game, rather than spend money every winter to try to keep pace.
So here we sit in mid-January with plenty of good players out there, including the next target of the Minnesota Twins: starting pitchers. Yu Darvish is the best one, but he comes at a cost. Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn are regarded as the next-best available starters. Each would make Minnesota’s rotation better, and each of them would cost a draft pick, except for Darvish.
In a column published for ESPN, writer Travis Sawchik pegged the Twins as one of four teams with the greatest need for starting pitching. A great starting pitcher can do wonders for a fringe-postseason team like Minnesota.
Sawchik pegged the Twins as a good spot for free agent starter Lance Lynn. That’s because Lynn is one of the consensus four best starters available, and based on the money ESPN anticipates the Twins have available to spend, Lynn is the affordable option. Here’s an excerpt from the column:
According to Craig Edwards’ payroll-space analysis, the Twins have about $20 million in spending power this offseason. Although the Twins have been connected to the top starting pitcher in free agency in Yu Darvish, he could exceed the budget their front office has been given. Let’s consider an alternative: Lance Lynn. Although Lynn doesn’t have ace upside, he is more affordable.
It should be noted, though, that the Twins have not publicly put a limitation on what they could spend on payroll this winter. Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said this weekend at TwinsFest that he feels he has the support of ownership to spend money.
“If we bring a good baseball decision to Jim Pohlad, I’m certain we’ll have support for it. … Any player we want to add through the course of this conversation, it won’t be a budget limitation,” Falvey said.
Falvey also said this weekend that the Twins will “stay engaged” in a group of names at the top end of the starting pitching market, as well as “guys that we think as value-adds that can help us.”