The Minnesota Twins have added to a potent offense with the signing of Josh Donaldson, so now the focus has to shift toward adding a starting pitcher.
After a mostly unremarkable offseason, the Minnesota Twins have changed that narrative by signing third baseman Josh Donaldson to a four-year, $92 million deal with a club option for a fifth year.
A lineup that set the single-season home run record last year now looks even more formidable, and Donaldson is a huge upgrade defensively at the hot corner over Miguel Sano.
The Twins have added Tyler Clippard to their bullpen, and top young pitcher Brusdar Graterol is set pitch in relief to further fortify that area. They’ve also added Rich Hill and Homer Bailey to the starting rotation, while bringing back Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda.
But Hill is not expected to pitch until June as he rehabs a left arm injury. And Pineda has to finish serving a 60-game performance-enhancing drug suspension, and won’t be able to pitch until May.
So if the season started today the Twins’ starting rotation would be Jose Berrios, Odorizzi and Bailey, likely followed by some combination of Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer. For a team with aspirations to go deep into October, and a window further opened for 2020 with the signing of Donaldson, the starting rotation stands as a question mark.
While adding Donaldson to what was already going to be a good lineup might feel foolish to some, it was good move and logic says Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine have another move on their radar. The most obvious course is to add starting pitching, via a trade or what’s left on the free agent market.
The Twins have bought themselves some time by signing Donaldson, perhaps extending as far as July’s trade deadline, before anyone will be intensely clamoring for them to get a starting pitcher.
Narrowing to between now and Opening Day, here are five starting pitchers the Minnesota Twins should go get.
5. Marco Estrada, Free Agent
Over the 2015 and 2016 seasons, his first two with the Toronto Blue Jays, Estrada posted a 3.30 ERA with matching .203 opponent’s batting averages. He finished 10th in AL Cy Young voting in 2015, and earned an All-Star nod in 2016. But he struggled in 2017 (4.98 ERA) and 2018 (5.64 ERA), then missed most of 2019 (five starts) due to back injury.
Estrada posted K/9 rates over 8.0 in both 2016 and 2017, with acceptable BB/9 rates (3.3 and 3.4). So if he’s healthy, that swing and miss stuff might still be in there. That’s a huge “if” at age 36 (37 in July), but the Twins took on a similar risk that will cost them more by signing Hill. Even if it’s only a minor league deal, a flier on Estrada is a worthy one that may pay off.