Right-hander Jake Odorizzi may have made the final start of his Twins tenure on Monday. Odorizzi turned in a solid performance against the high-powered Yankees, allowing two runs on five hits (with five strikeouts and no walks) in five innings, but that wasn’t enough to stave off elimination for the Twins. Minnesota fell 5-1 to finish off a three-game ALDS sweep for the Yankees, bringing an early end to an impressive bounce-back season for the Twins.
Now that Minnesota’s offseason has begun, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine must decide whether to aggressively pursue a new deal for Odorizzi. The soon-to-be 30-year-old’s on the brink of free agency, where he’ll be among the top non-Gerrit Cole starters available, though he does seem open to re-signing with the Twins.
Speaking in regards to his time with the Twins and his future Wednesday, Odorizzi told Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com and other reporters: “That’s out of my hands. I really enjoyed my two years here. If I’m back, great. I’ve really taken a liking to here. But if not, I wish nothing but the best. This is a great group of people from top to bottom. It’s tough to end the year, but at least I got to go out with great fans and a great atmosphere.”
Odorizzi, whom the Twins acquired from the Rays entering the 2018 season, is coming off a career year at an opportune moment. The first-time All-Star pitched to a 3.51 ERA/3.36 FIP with 10.08 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 across 159 innings, averaging a personal-best 92.9 mph on his fastball along the way.
Thanks to his strong production this season, Odorizzi will go into free agency as a qualifying offer candidate. Receiving a QO wouldn’t do Odorizzi any favors as he prepares to go to the market, as it would require a team to cough up a draft pick(s) while likely giving him a substantial payday over a couple years. However, it’s possible the Twins will simply let Odorizzi walk instead of risking having to pay an $18MM-plus salary for 2019 should he accept a QO. That said, waving goodbye to Odorizzi would be a tough development for the Twins, who are also at risk of seeing Kyle Gibson and Michael Pineda bolt via free agency. Additionally, they’ll have a decision to make on Martin Perez, who has a $7.5MM club option or a $500K buyout for next year.
Along with No. 1 starter Jose Berrios, each of Odorizzi, Gibson, Pineda and Martin were key components of a Minnesota rotation that saw all of them amass at least 26 starts during a 101-victory, AL Central-winning 2019. The lone member of the quintet who rivaled Berrios in effectiveness was Odorizzi, who may be in another uniform the next time he takes the ball.