Last week Mike Berardino reported that the Twins have checked in on the availability of the Pirates’ Gerrit Cole and the Rays’ Jake Odorizzi. Both players are right-handed starting pitchers with modest salaries and two more years of team control. That seems to check off a lot of boxes for the Twins, but would trading for them be worth it?
Let’s look at Cole first. Cole, 27, is known as a power pitcher with a two-seam and four-seam fastball who regularly throws 94 to 98 mph, and has reached as fast as 102 mph. He has a career 3.50 ERA and 3.27 FIP over five seasons, which sounds pretty good except for the troubling fact that 2017 was the worst year of his career — he posted just a 4.26 ERA and 4.08 FIP over 203.0 innings. However, he still maintained an 8.7 SO/9 rate (that’s good), and still would have been the third best starter on the 2017 Twins behind Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios. Perhaps the slight down year could bring Cole’s price down in terms of the prospects the Twins would have to give up; the question is whether the Twins think they could reverse Cole’s downward trend. If they are inquiring about him, I would suspect they think they could.
Odorizzi, also 27, is much more of a Twins-type pitcher — a.k.a., a lot of flyballs. He has a four-seam fastball that reaches the lower 90s, but his other pitches (a cutter, slider, splitter, and curveball) are generally in the low 80s. He owns a career 3.83 ERA and 4.23 FIP over six major league seasons. Though the 4.14 ERA he put up last year isn’t too bad, his 5.43 FIP is troubling. On the other hand, after spending some time on the DL with a back sprain, Odorizzi came back and put up a 1.03 ERA in 26.1 innings in September.
If I had to pick from these two, I’d probably rather have Gerrit Cole, despite the fact he spells his first name “Gerrit”. Sorry, but another flyball pitcher doesn’t exactly tickle my willies, even though Odorizzi could possibly benefit from pitching at Target Field combined with the Twins’ spectacular outfield defense. In any case, whether I’d want the Twins to get either of these guys depends on what the Twins would have to give up to get them, and that isn’t clear.
Who would you rather the Twins get?
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