Friday, November 15, 2019

Retaining Odorizzi

Jake Odorizzi on Thursday accepted the Twins qualifying offer and took himself off the free agent market this winter. He gets a one-year contract for $17.8 million.

Few players have accepted a QO, but presumably Odorizzi and his agency shared my reading of the market -- and/or my sense of risk adversion. They took the bird in hand and will go after the one in the bush next winter.

These are key factors informing Odorizzi's decision:

  • Odorizzi, while coming off the best season of his career, was not close to the best starter on the market. That would be Garrett Cole, with Stephen Strasburg right behind. Odorizzi was perhaps the fourth-best free-agent starter.
  • The draft-pick penalty for signing a QO-tagged free agent is stiff enough that a lot of teams simply rule it out. In each of the last two winters, a couple such pitchers have gotten burned, finding no significant interest in a multi-year deal. Think Lance Lynn two winters back; he landed with the Twins late in spring training and had a miserable 2018 season.
  • The Twins cannot make another qualifying offer to Ordorizzi after the 2020 season, and the crop of free-agent starters will be considerably more shallow next winter.

The worst case scenario for Odorizzi is that something happens this year that wrecks his future value. He elbow pops in September, say. In which case, hey, he got $17.8 million, and that's not a bad consolation prize.

The best case scenario is that he has at least as good a 2020 season as he did a 2019. In which case he's better positioned for a big multi-year contract than he was this year.

I don't know that the Twins brain trust is celebrating Odorizzi's return. They may have preferred that he depart; that way, if they sign a qualifying-offer free agent, they get a draft pick back, which partially makes up for the pick they lose. But they too have the bird in hand. My guess is that Odorizzi's return makes the pursuit of Cole or Strasburg less likely, not that landing either was anything resembling a certainty.

So two pieces of the Twins projected 2020 rotation are known, Jose Berrios and Odorizzi. Pencil in lightly a rookie-to-be-determined at the tail end of the rotation. That leaves two slots -- the ones occupied in 2019 by Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda -- to fill.


  1. The Twins could still sign Ordorizzi to a multi year contract for an average annual salary less than 17.8.

    I am not sure the Twins are sorry that he accepted the arbitration offer . If he really is the 4th best pitcher in this free agent class, he probably would of received an offer pretty close to 3 years and $45million, even with a draft pick attached.

    I expect that lesser pitchers than Ordorizzi will get close to that if they don't have QO. So I expect that the Twins aren't unhappy that Ordorizzi accepted the QO. They should have plenty of money to work with this year at least.

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