Twins Bolster Rotation
The Minnesota Twins decided to ring in the near year on Tuesday by agreeing to terms with a pair of starting pitchers.
The Twins began the bolstering of their rotation by agreeing to a one-year contract with veteran left-hander Rich Hill. That deal, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, will be worth $3 million with a bunch of possible incentives.
That signing isn’t going to pay immediate dividends for the Twins, as the 39-year-old southpaw is expected to miss the start of the 2020 season after undergoing "primary and revision surgery" on his left elbow in October.
It’s a nice low-risk gamble for the Twins, as whenever Hill has been able to stay on the mound, he has excelled in recent years. Over the last five seasons, he sports a stellar 2.91 ERA, 1.055 WHIP and 553/146 K/BB ratio across 466 ⅓ innings.
Hill has been an afterthought in early NFBC drafts, registering an average draft position of pick 496 overall over the last two weeks. He may creep up a little as we get closer to March, but he’ll ultimately be the same type of boom-or-bust gamble for fantasy owners that he’ll be for the Twins in 2020.
That wasn’t the only shopping that the Twins did on Tuesday though. They also inked right-hander Homer Bailey to a one-year, $7 million contract. The 33-year-old hurler posted a 4.57 ERA and 149/53 K/BB ratio over 163 1/3 innings between the Royals and Athletics this past season.
Bailey has generated even less interest than Hill from the fantasy community, with an average draft position of 525 overall over the last two weeks of NFBC drafts. His only utility comes in the form of being an innings eater, though perhaps a savvy owner could extract interesting numbers out of him if rolling him out only against the bottom-feeding Tigers and Royals that he’ll see plenty of during divisional play.
After trying for -- and missing out on -- the top tier of free agent starting pitchers this offseason, the Twins wound up re-signing Michael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi while adding Hill and Bailey to the mix. Hill won’t be ready for the start of the season while rehabbing from shoulder surgery and Pineda will be serving a suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. That’ll lock in Jose Berrios, Odorizzi and Bailey into the top three spots in the club’s Opening Day rotation -- with Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer the most likely candidates to fill out the rotation pending any further moves.
Reds land Akiyama
For several days there had been rumblings that the Reds were the favorites to land Japanese free agent outfielder Shogo Akiyama.
On Tuesday, Nikkan Sports reported that the two sides had finally reached an agreement on a three-year contract worth more than $13 million. While the official financial details are not yet known, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported that the bidding actually jumped into the $20 million range.
The 31-year-old batted .303/.392/.471 with 20 home runs and 12 steals over 143 games with the Saitama Seibu Lions in 2019. He's expected to start in a corner outfield spot for the Reds. Known for his strong on-base ability, Akiyama is expected to hit atop the Reds’ lineup, which makes him very interesting from a fantasy perspective.
Early NFBC drafters seem to have been waiting to see where he would ultimately wind up -- as his average draft position over the last two weeks has sat at pick 379 overall (with a high of 265). If it’s confirmed that he’s going to hit at the top of the Reds’ lineup, ahead of Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez and Mike Moustakas, expect his draft stock to rise significantly in the coming weeks.
Ultimately, I expect that he’ll settle somewhere around pick 250 overall, which will still leave ample room for profit if he’s able to replicate the level of success that he had last season in Japan.
American League Quick Hits: The White Sox officially announced their three-year, $55.5 million contract with left-hander Dallas Keuchel… The Blue Jays officially announced their one-year, $4 million contract with Travis Shaw… The Jays designated infielder Richard Urena for assignment in a corresponding move… Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News reports that the Rangers have “reached out” to free agent third baseman Todd Frazier… 36-year-old hurler Edwin Jackson stated his desire to continue pitching in 2020 despite his miserable 9.58 ERA and 2.03 WHIP over 67 ⅔ innings between the Tigers and Blue Jays in 2019… Yankees manager Aaron Boone told reporters that he expects Miguel Andujar to be ready for the start of spring training. The 24-year-old was limited to just 12 games at the big league level in 2019 due to a serious shoulder injury that ultimately required a full labrum repair.
National League Quick Hits: The Diamondbacks officially announced their two-year, $16 million contract with outfielder Kole Calhoun… The Reds signed right-hander Tyler Thornburg to a minor league contract which includes an invitation to big league camp… Chad Bettis (hip) was able to throw off of a mound at full distance on Tuesday without issue. He’s recovering from bilateral surgery in late August to repair impingements on both sides of his hip, but he told Jon Morosi on MLB Network Radio that this is the best he's felt since before beating testicular cancer in 2016.