Free agent right-hander Kyle Gibson is drawing solid early interest, reports Jon Heyman of MLB Network (via Twitter). As many as ten teams have inquired on Gibson in the early stages of free agency, per the report, though it remains to be seen if that’s a reflection of bargain hunting or a budding bidding war.
It’s hardly surprising to hear that multiple teams are intrigued by the former Twins hurler. Over the past two seasons, Gibson emerged as a mid-rotation starter, logging 356.1 innings with a 4.16 ERA with solid strikeout (22.8%) and walk (8.8%) rates. The sinkerballer Gibson has long posted strong ground ball rates as well, and that’s continued even as he’s increased his strikeouts the past two years. As Heyman notes, Gibson’s 2019 season was shaping up as a solid platform effort before a bout with ulcerative colitis coincided with a significant downturn in production in August and September.
Entering the offseason, MLBTR predicted Gibson would land a two year, $18MM deal with the Cubs. Chicago makes sense as a destination, although virtually every team in baseball could look to add staring pitching in some manner this offseason so the market is wide open. Already 32 years old, Gibson certainly won’t approach the earning power of the market’s top options. That said, he’s a reliable source of innings who would fit into numerous teams’ rotations.
It remains to be seen how a complicated rotation market will sort itself out. It’s generally promising that Gibson has received his share of early contact, but clubs are no doubt looking at quite a few options and hoping to maximize their dollars. There are quite a few starers bunched up in the middle of the market on MLBTR’s list of the top 50 free agents.
Some organizations would surely prefer Gibson’s durability and consistency to younger but higher-risk options on the market, like Michael Wacha and Alex Wood. It’s arguable that Gibson has much of the floor of and more ceiling than the steady Rick Porcello, for example. Perhaps some teams will even see some real upside in Gibson, particularly if they believe he can manage his stomach troubles and thrive. If so, he could be one of the arms to break out with some early bidding pressure, though we’ve yet to see any indication whether that’ll be the case.