In the final days before the start of the 2021 season, the Minnesota Twins pulled the trigger on a controversial trade, sending former All-Star closer Taylor Rogers to the San Diego Padres for starting pitcher Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagan.
Neither pitcher ultimately made a positive impact in 2022, and up until recently, there was a chance that neither pitcher the Twins acquired would pitch for the team in 2023. For Pagan, it was inconsistent performance and a chance he would be traded or even non-tendered. For Paddack, it’s Tommy John surgery. It’s still conceivable that he won’t pitch next year, but the team is targeting an August 2023 return.
And on Friday, it was reported that the Twins had signed Paddack to a three-year extension, keeping the former Padre in Minnesota through at least the 2025 season.
Plus $2.5M incentives. Pending physical. https://t.co/34gweAhPSQ— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 14, 2023
It’s a contract reminiscent of Twins contracts of years past and in some ways a combination of a couple of different methods that the front office has used previously.
Michael Pineda’s initial contract with Minnesota came prior to the 2018 season, which he was set to miss entirely. But it gave the Twins cost certainty in both 2018 and 2019, and immediately gave the Twins a leg-up to re-sign him when he hit free agency again prior to the 2020 campaign.
There’s also the buying-out of Paddack’s final two years of arbitration and the first year of free agency. Rather than going through the arbitration process for 2023 and 2024, the Twins now know Paddack’s exact salary figure. They also buy out 2025, which is the first year that Paddack could have hit the open market. While $7.5 million in two years from now for a pitcher who is currently on the shelf and hasn’t performed consistently since 2019 is certainly a risk, there’s significant upside.
Paddack was quite good back in 2019 with San Diego, and while he struggled in 2020, his peripherals in 2021 weren’t terrible, and he was fighting through injuries during the entire season. He also pitched well in his seven starts with the Twins last year before getting injured.
For Paddack, guaranteeing himself a total of $12.5 million over the next three years, plus another $2.5 million in incentives, is a big win. Unless he comes back and competes for a Cy Young in 2024, being able to lock himself into $7.5 million in 2025 comes with very little downside.
Paddack just turned 27 years old, and his high points have been encouraging. There’s upside remaining in his arm, and the Twins are betting that his floor is as a solid, mid-rotation starter — which seems like a reasonable assumption.
While Paddack won’t be relied upon in 2023, the Twins rotation is in a decent spot and there are a few players who conceivably could move on prior to 2024, including veterans Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda.
It’s a solid move for the Twins and a big win for Paddack. Good work by the front office to get this done, and here’s to an uneventful rehab process for Paddack and a return to full health by late in the 2023 season.