Hey, remember a couple years ago when I went all-in on signing Lance Lynn, and the Twins did? And then Lynn was an utter disappointment, before finding success in Texas? Well, the Twins could have reunited with Lynn, yet instead, it was the rival White Sox sending a couple pitching prospects to the Rangers.
In case you missed the trade, the White Sox are trading Dane Dunning and Avery Weems as the return for Lynn. Dunning is the bigger piece here, at least at this time. The righty debuted in 2020, making seven starts for the pale hose, and posting a 3.97 ERA over 34 innings, with a record of 2-0. According to the stereotypical obnoxious Sox fan, he was going to be the greatest pitcher since Walter Johnson. The 25-year old rookie will likely slot directly into the rotation for the rebuilding Rangers.
Weems is much further from the pros. He’s a left-handed pitcher that the Sox drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 draft. His professional career started with a team that will no-longer be affiliated, and he hasn’t made it past rookie ball (as may be obvious, since there was no 2020 MiLB season.)
Regarding this trade, Brett Ballantini at South Side Sox sums it up thusly: “To be sure, this is a high price to pay.”
You ain’t wrong, Brett. New information tweeted out by Dan Hayes of the Athletic suggests the Twins were asked for a similar package, and balked at the cost.
Balazovic is probably the Twins’ best starting pitcher prospect. At least if you assume Jorge Alcala’s future is in the bullpen. Balazovic is a popular trade ask for this reason. The 22-year old Canadian righty spent most of 2019 at High-A with good success, and is likely to begin the 2021 season with the Double-A squad, and has a chance to debut as soon as this upcoming season, although a slightly longer timetable is likely.
Enlow, at the same level of play as Balazovic, is even younger. He was also very successful in the pitcher-friendly Florida League, although Balazovic’s results in the Low-A Midwest League were slightly better. Both were draft-eligible players, Enlow in 2017 and Balazovic in 2016, which means both have at least another season before they need to be protected from the Rule-5 draft, which keeps a forty-man roster slot clear. In other words, both are very valuable players. Either/or might have been a starting point for Lynn talks, both is crazy.
Lance Lynn has one year left on his contract, and will be making a bit over nine million for 2021. He’s been pretty good the last couple seasons. He generated a handful of Cy Young votes the last couple years. In 2019 he was worth 7.5 bWAR, and in abbreviated 2020, 2.2 bWAR. He’s also 33-years old, on the wrong side of decline, and could fall off the table at any point (or keep pitching well for five more years and make me look bad.)
Corey Kluber, Jake Odorizzi, James Paxton, Masahiro Tanaka, and a bunch of other pitchers remain unsigned. There are plenty of opportunities on the trade market as well. The Twins still need a starting pitcher or two, and have multiple options to get there. At the asking price, Lance Lynn is one option I’m glad they passed on.