The Minnesota Twins were impressive in 2019. Some of their key pieces will be free agents in 2020 and worth consideration for the Kansas City Royals.
2019 was the first season for the Minnesota Twins with new manager Rocco Baldelli and their first season since 2004 without longtime catcher/first baseman Joe Mauer. They would exceed all reasonable expectations by dominating a dismal American League Central, specifically our Kansas City Royals, and finishing with their first 100-win season since 1965.
The 2019 Twins were a very good team, and well-balanced. Not one of their everyday players ended the season with an OPS+ under 100. They set the single-season record for most home runs by a team. And their worst starting pitcher would finish with an ERA+ of 90. With that said, they have seven players who will become free agents for 2020. There are a few worth consideration for the Kansas City Royals.
Sergio Romo will be 37 years old next year. He is not going back to being the closer he once was for the San Francisco Giants. He has had some injury issues and even looked a little gimpy while pitching towards the end of this season, but the man still has value. He threw as many innings as Kevin McCarthy with a similar FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) and far more strikeouts. If we are sure he is healthy, he is worth a look.
Castro is a decent catcher. He is a reasonable 33-year-old backstop and can hit at a league-average level. He played well this season while coming back from an injury and becoming the backup to Mitch Garver. Castro is the catcher you get to start every day if you do not have a starting catcher or the backup catcher you get if you have all of your obvious roster holes filled. That is not the Kansas City Royals. And with Salvador Perez coming back, it would seem that the several million dollars it would take to get Castro could be better spent elsewhere.
The 32-year-old right-hander is in an interesting situation. He has had some injury issues off and on but he has also logged more than 350 innings over the last 2 seasons with a reasonable FIP of 4.2. His strikeouts per 9 have actually risen over those last two years. However, he struggled mightily since coming back from his most recent injury and was even moved to the bullpen. He feels like a right-handed version of Mike Montgomery, a back of the rotation guy that would be best in long relief. And we already have that position filled.
Pineda started 26 games last season after missing all of 2018. He can struggle, at times, to go deep in games. But he has pitched over 160 innings 3 times. His peripherals remain appealing to me. He keeps his FIP at 4 or below. He strikes out more than 8 per 9 innings. He still has his fastball. Still has a top shelf slider. He also missed the end of this season due to a suspension for performance enhancing drugs. But, due to that suspension, it is possible that Pineda could be had cheaply on a short-term make good contract. If so, he is worth considering. He would be a clear upgrade for our rotation.
Odorizzi picked a perfect time to put together his best season. He has started an average of 30 games per season for the last 6 years. While his games pitched has remained steady his peripherals have seen some real fluctuations over recent years. In 2019, however, it seemed as though each of his pitches became more effective. He is coming off a career-high in strikeouts per 9 innings, a career-low in FIP, and a career-high in WAR.
I would like to add Odorizzi to our rotation. He can pitch and if his price is reasonable, we should do it. It is worth considering that as he has entered his prime he has figured something out. But he still can only be counted on for 160 innings, even over 30 starts. And, coming off a career year, my concern would be that his price tag will most likely surpass his actual value.
Perez is a league-average pitcher. He will give you 5 innings per outing. He will strike out a few guys and walk a few guys and give up several hits. If he can avoid those hits being home runs, he may even get you to your bullpen with a chance to win. He can probably be had for a reasonable salary. Perez would fit right into our rotation. But, that is the problem. We already have guys like that. And our rotation is not nearly good enough. We should be looking for upgrades, not more of the same. So, naturally, the Kansas City Royals will definitely sign Perez.
Schoop is a second baseman with some pop. He is the kind of second baseman you have on your team when you set a record for the most homeruns in history. He will hit you 20 homers. He once hit 32 blasts in a season. But he plays a position we do not need, and there are plenty of positions we do need. Whit is a better hitter than Schoop. Nicky Lopez is younger and a better fielder.