Twins GM Thad Levine, conversely, had to contend with 80 percent of his rotation hitting free agency. Jake Odorizzi accepted the qualifying offer, and Michael Pineda has since (though he’ll miss the start of the season due to suspension). The Twins might have more confidence in Devin Smeltzer and/or Randy Dobnak than anyone else, but it stands to reason they’d like to bump Lewis Thorpe from their projected rotation.
Still, the Angels might have to come off Marsh if they’re serious about making a big-time upgrade. Eppler has already been tied to Detroit Tigers southpaw Matthew Boyd, and has presumably also asked about Michael Fulmer (though he has his own durability woes).
As for the Twins, they’re not limited by their farm system so much as their budget. Minnesota is currently projected to have an Opening Day payroll of 7 million, or about million below last year’s figure, according to Cot’s Contracts. If they were to take on all of Price’s salary ( million annually), they would set a new franchise-high payroll.
What might upgrading entail for either club? Let’s consider the possibilities:
Free agent options
In other words, the Angels and Twins are probably not going to find their desired help on the free-agent market — not unless they’re willing to accept Hill, Wood, Nova and their warts. Presuming the Twins (or their owners, anyway) aren’t willing to do that, then they’ll be examining downmarket alternatives — including, likely, many of the names above. The Twins showed an aptitude for getting more from their pitchers last season, so they could even expand their sights to downtrodden or otherwise underachieving pitchers. Think Chris Archer.
There are some wild cards to consider, too. Maybe the Colorado Rockies would pair a starter with one of their bad contracts; or the Kansas City Royals would come off Danny Duffy; or the Miami Marlins could be convinced to part with Jordan Yamamoto or Caleb Smith; or the financially strapped Chicago Cubs could dump the salary of Jose Quintana; or so on and so forth until the cows come home and launch their own startups.
Whatever the case, both the Angels and Twins should be able to land someone between now and spring — even if they may not be as good as Ryu.
Trade options for the Angels
Outside of Boyd and Fulmer, the most obvious candidate for the Angels is David Price, who the Boston Red Sox are . It’s unclear what the Red Sox would ask in return. But the Angels would presumably leverage Price’s salary in a way that would minimize the prospect outlay.
Angels GM Billy Eppler opened his offseason by Baltimore Orioles right-hander Dylan Bundy. He’s since Julio Teheran, formerly of the Atlanta Braves. The Angels figure to trot out a six-man rotation as an accommodation for Shohei Ohtani, so adding another vet and bumping Patrick Sandoval to the minors would be a sensible idea.
Hill is clearly the best of the three. There is a catch, however, as he underwent elbow surgery earlier this offseason that’s likely to cost him most (if not all) of the first half. Wood was limited to seven appearances last season due to an operation of his own, making him a durability risk as well. That leaves Nova as the “safe” choice, though here’s what we wrote in his top-50 capsule: Nova doesn’t miss many bats or evade many barrels, but there’s something to be said about being a reliable innings eater — even in this day and age of souped-up bullpens and the times-through penalty. He’s thrown at least 160 innings in four consecutive seasons, all the while posting a 99 ERA+ and a 3.33 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Those are fair marks, albeit from a profile that doesn’t feel like it should work so well. Some intrepid team might try getting him to throw more curveballs, as that’s always been his best bat-missing pitch.
We’re breaking this down by team because of the varying farm system and payroll dynamics.
Trade options for the Twins
On Sunday, the Toronto Blue Jays signed left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu to a four-year deal worth million, according to reports. Because Ryu was the last big free-agent starter remaining, his removal from the market means the Los Angeles Angels and Minnesota Twins — two American League hopefuls — will need to pivot in order to upgrade their rotations between now and spring.
As noted in the introduction, Ryu’s signing leaves few noteworthy starters on the free-agent market. In fact, there are only three left who entered the winter ranked in our top 50: left-handers Rich Hill and Alex Wood, and righty Ivan Nova. Both the Angels and Twins have already made moves this winter to fortify their rotations, but each could use another steady hand.
League sources told CBS Sports that Eppler shopped Will Wilson in starting pitcher talks before sending him to the San Francisco Giants to dump Zack Cozart’s contract. More recently, the Angels have dangled Jeremiah Jackson. It’s highly unlikely that the Angels would trade Jo Adell, and they’d probably prefer to keep Brandon Marsh, too, given the rest of their farm system.