Righty Jake Odorizzi discussed his decision to accept the Twins’ qualifying offer with reporters including MLB.com’s Do-Hyoung Park (Twitter thread) and Phil Miller of the Star Tribune (Twitter link). The chat provided some insight into Odorizzi’s thought process and future intentions.
Broadly, Odorizzi made clear he was pleased to return to Minnesota. “On a one-year deal, this was the place I wanted to be,” he said. The righty indicated that he’s comfortable in all respects with the organization — and would in fact be open to a longer arrangement.
Odorizzi is “always open” to talks on a long-term pact, he says. But he suggested he’ll leave it to the front office whether to kick-start such an effort, saying “the ball’s in their court now.”
It seems possible the Twins could explore a multi-year scenario with Odorizzi in the coming spring, but that’s a low-likelihood proposition. For a front office that plainly values long-term payroll flexibility, going beyond the existing $17.8MM commitment may not hold particular appeal. There’s always a price at which it might make sense, but Odorizzi won’t be able to generate open-market pressure again until after the 2020 season.
The muddied starting pitching market seems to have been a deciding factor in Odorizzi’s decision to accept the single-season payout. He indicated that he was in touch with plenty of clubs but was ultimately unable to gain sufficient clarity regarding his contract outlook to take the risk of hitting the market with draft compensation attached. “I didn’t want to be sitting on my couch in February,” Odorizzi explained.
Compare his situation to that of Will Smith, the left-handed reliever who secured a three-year, $40MM deal with the Braves and declined his QO from the Giants. Though MLBTR assessed Smith’s market value beneath that of Odorizzi, the former stood out greatly in a market that lacked for premium late-inning arms. That scarcity surely made it much easier for his reps to ramp up his market in a short time frame and arrive upon a deal.
Odorizzi’s gambit could certainly pay off in the long run, though he’ll need to turn in another high-quality season for that to be the case. He says he hopes to land “at the top of the class” on the market next winter, when the Twins won’t be able to saddle him with another QO. Odorizzi is certainly young enough to take this path, though it’s always tough to pass on a chance to lock up a long-term commitment on the heels of a strong season. Of course, it’s always worth remembering that these decisions are personal to the player.
On the Twins’ side, it’s hard to see this as anything but a win. Odorizzi might have cost just as much annually on a multi-year pact on the open market. Instead, the club gets a much-needed rotation piece at a palatable single-season rate without having to commit into the future. In theory, this could make it more likely that the Minnesota org strikes big in other areas of the market — including, perhaps, some of the players that spurned qualifying offers yesterday.