Madison Bumgarner, Zack Wheeler, and Hyun-Jin Ryu were named as three potential offseason targets for the Twins in MLBTR’s recent “Offseason Outlook” series, and that trio was also speculatively connected to the team in a piece from LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (link). Specifically, Neal takes a look at Minnesota’s extremely fluid rotation picture, which in 2019 featured four hurlers–Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Kyle Gibson, and Martin Perez–who project to enter free agency (assuming the club declines their option on Perez, as expected). The departures of those pitchers could create something of a vacuum in Minnesota, but payroll flexibility and a talented farm should position them well to address any openings, suggests Neal.
By the writer’s calculations, the club could have upwards of $50MM in payroll room this offseason, while youngsters like Brusdar Graterol and Randy Dobnak could step into the rotation for portions of time. That financial leeway could certainly put them in position for pitchers like Bumgarner or the rest of the post-Cole free agent pitching class, to say nothing of possible trade acquisitions.
More notes from around the baseball world…
- After making a pair of option decisions on Saturday, the Cubs are expected to exercise first baseman Anthony Rizzo’s option imminently, reports Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times (link). 2019 saw Rizzo log his sixth consecutive season with a wRC+ north of 126 (his cumulative figure over that span is a whopping 141 wRC+), making him one of the easier club option decisions of the offseason. Rizzo carries a $14.5MM club option for 2020, with a soon-to-be-irrelevant $2MM buyout attached. Next offseason, Chicago holds an identical 2021 option over Rizzo, lining the slugger up for his first realistic shot at free agency in advance of the 2022 season. Rizzo will be 32 on Opening Day of that campaign.
- MLB experimented with an electronic strike zone in the Arizona Fall League this season, and it proved rather unpopular with pitchers and hitters alike, writes Josh Norris of Baseball America. While players effused praise for the system’s proficiency on the corners, calls at the top and bottom of the zone were less well-received. Additionally, the delay between the system’s tracking the pitch and relaying of that decision to the home-plate umpire caused some awkward exchanges. Of course, growing pains are to be expected, and the electronic zone is at least consistent, Norris adds, so MLB figures to continue to test its viability in lower-stakes games before considering a rollout at the big league level.