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While the White Sox weren’t able to land Zack Wheeler, their pursuit of the former Mets righty wasn’t entirely in vain. Their bidding war with the Philadelphia Phillies pushed Wheeler’s price out of the range of the Minnesota Twins by nearly $20 million, so the Sox weren’t the only ones who had to move on to Plan B.
The White Sox collected themselves and ended up landing Dallas Keuchel and Gio Gonzalez. That wasn’t as direct a blow, because the Twins didn’t seem to have much documented interest in Keuchel at any point over the last two years. They were routinely connected Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu. The former stayed in the NL West, supposedly on a discount, while the latter took a four-year, $80 million offer from the Toronto Blue Jays.
Having missed out on the second tier of starters, the Twins found two pitchers one level down. On Tuesday, old pal Dan Hayes reported that Minnesota had reached agreements with Homer Bailey and Rich Hill. The former will earn $7 million with the potential for $2 million in incentives, while Hill’s contract is loaded the other way ($3 million base, up to $9.5 million in incentives).
Bailey is a good match for Gonzalez in terms of goals for the role, but Hill is a completely different use case than Keuchel. Hill had elbow surgery and isn’t expected to return until June, and even if he does, the 40-year-old won’t be a great bet for a regular workload. He’s as good as any second-tier starter when available, but that’s a hefty caveat for him over the last decade, and so the Twins will treat him like a trade-deadline upgrade for strategic deployment. I suppose that makes Carlos Rodón, not Keuchel, the Hill analogue on the White Sox.
The Twins have the makings of a decent starting rotation …
- Jose Berríos
- Jake Odorizzi
- Michael Pineda
- Homer Bailey
- Rich Hill
… but with Hill out until the summer and Pineda serving the remainder of his PED suspension for the first month of the season, it’s possible this revised vision is never active all at once.
If the Twins can somehow land Josh Donaldson, they should have enough offensive firepower to compensate for parts of a season. However, Hayes says one can read Donaldson’s delay as a discouraging sign.
The Twins have been patiently waiting for Donaldson’s response, the lack of which has left them uneasy about his willingness to come to the Twins Cities. It’s believed that Donaldson’s preferred destination is Atlanta and that he’s waiting to see if the Braves would add a fourth year to their offer.
This is a position the Twins have already found themselves in multiple times this offseason as Wheeler — who reportedly bypassed a $120-million offer from the Chicago White Sox — and Bumgarner both preferred familiarity when making their decisions, staying in the same divisions in which they’ve played their entire careers.