Welcome to another off-season, and yet another winter where we can look forward to the Twins chasing any number of starting pitchers. Terry Ryan has already said on a previous occasion that the search for rotation arms will be the organization's number one priority, but it's being noted again as Rhett Bollinger brings us up to speed on where the team may focus its search for help in 2015. Namely:
- Starting pitcher
We've gone over the complications in adding additional pitchers - namely the difficulty in finding starting spots for Trevor May and Alex Meyer, and then the probability of subtracting one or more pitchers depending on the number of additions - but a few names have already been thrown out as potential targets.
Jason Hammel, RHP
2015 Age: 32
2014 stats (A's/Cubs): 29 GS | 176.1 IP | 3.92 FIP | 39.7 GB% | 22.1 K% | 6.2 B%
Bollinger lists Hammel as one of two starting pitchers the Twins could target, although not necessarily as a specific pitcher as much as an example of the type of guys the team is likely to go after. In his career, Hammel's strikeout rates are pedestrian and his command is good, but he's also never thrown 180 innings in a single season. At his best, his breaking balls are better than his fastball, but he's still just a mid-rotation talent. How many millions and how many years, on this team, should the Twins be willing to spend on arm with just mid-rotation upside?
Over at MLB Trade Rumors, Tim Dierkes has projected where this winter's 50 best free agents will land. He has Minnesota landing two of them, both pitchers, and Hammel's name comes up here, too.
Brandon McCarthy, RHP
2015 Age: 31
2014 stats (Dbacks/Yankees): 32 GS | 200 IP | 3.55 FIP | 52.6 GB% | 20.9 K% | 4.0 BB%
McCarthy is Bollinger's other example of pitcher target types. A year younger than Hammel, McCarthy has a history of good command although his strikeout rates have never been anything special, either. He's a guy who was briefly on Minnesota's radar when he was a free agent after the 2012 season, but McCarthy signed with Arizona on a two-year, $15.5 million dollar deal.
With a history of health issues, 2014 was the first time that McCarthy threw for more than 170 innings in a season. As another mid-rotation starter with red flags and limited upside, you have to ask again: how many millions and how many years do you spend on this kind of a pitcher?
Brett Anderson, LHP
2015 Age: 27
2014 stats (Rockies): 8 GS | 43.1 IP | 2.99 FIP | 61.0 GB% | 16.1 K% | 7.2 BB%
Where Hammel was ranked as the number 22 free agent for the upcoming off-season, Anderson comes in at number 48. The Rockies declined his $12 million dollar option but apparently remain interested in bringing the left-hander back, but clearly Anderson's season-ending back injury in August has played into their decision making. He hasn't pitched more than 85 innings since 2010.
Anderson, depending on how interested (see: desperate) other interested teams will be, could be the proverbial low-risk, high-upside signing. A healthy Anderson has potential to be a strong number three with ground ball tendencies. As far as I'm concerned that means he has the ability to be a better pitcher than either Hammel or McCarthy, but that needs to be weighed up with how confident you can be in his ability to stay on the field. The Twins have shown interest in the past.
Michael Cuddyer, 1B/OF/DH
2015 Age: 36
2014 stats (Rockies): 49 G | .332/.376/.579 | 10 HR | 1.5 fWAR
Bollinger thinks the Twins could reunite with their former franchise cornerstone. They could do a lot worse. Cuddyer's power plays well at Target Field, he'd probably be shoved into duties rotating between left field, designated hitter, and first base, and considering the overwhelming number of players with a lack of experience that will be on the roster in 2015, Cuddyer's ability to lead as a player would be very welcome.