The Twins came out ahead in their arbitration hearing with right-hander Kyle Gibson, reports FanRag’s Jon Heyman (via Twitter). Gibson will earn the $4.2MM salary that was submitted by the team, as opposed to the $4.55MM figure that was submitted by his representatives at Rowley Sports Management (as shown in MLBTR’s Arbitration Tracker). Overall, Gibson receives a $1.3MM raise on last season’s $2.9MM salary.
The 29-year-old Gibson limped to a ghastly 6.29 ERA with 5.9 K/9, 4.3 BB/9 and a 51.1 percent ground-ball rate through the season’s first half and was even optioned to Triple-A Rochester last May. However, he rebounded emphatically from that dreadful stretch, logging a 3.57 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 50.2 percent grounder rate in his final dozen starts (a total of 70 2/3 innings). That strong performance quite likely saved Gibson from a non-tender that looked like a distinct possibility earlier in the season.
Now, on the heels of that strong finish, the former first-rounder will head into Spring Training assured a rotation spot alongside young Jose Berrios. The rest of the Twins’ rotation is rather muddied at present, particularly in the wake of finger surgery for Ervin Santana, which could cost him the first month of the season. Young lefty Adalberto Mejia figures to slot in behind Berrios and Gibson, and the Twins have a host of internal options, including top prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero as well as fellow Triple-A righties Felix Jorge and Aaron Slegers.
Veteran Phil Hughes is still with the club and will look to bounce back from multiple seasons that have been ruined by thoracic outlet syndrome, and hard-throwing Trevor May could be an option by early summer as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery.
That said, the Twins have made no secret about their desire to add pitching upgrades this offseason. After a lengthy but failed run of top free agent Yu Darvish, Minnesota now must weigh how aggressively it wants to pursue remaining free agents such as Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and Jaime Garcia. The trade market also presents several options, and the Twins have been heavily connected to the Rays in recent weeks.