Before Jordan Lyles signed his two-year, $16MM deal to join the Texas Rangers rotation, there was no shortage of interest in the big righty. Though we don’t know which (if any) of these teams made official offers, we do know that the White Sox, Blue Jays, Brewers and Twins were among the teams with interest, per MLB Network Insider Jon Heyman (via Twitter). Without financial specifics, it’s presumptuous to assume much in regards to the interest level of these four clubs, but the size of the contract inked by Lyles at least hints at a low-scale bidding war for the back-end rotation arm.
The Brewers interest is not surprising, given they acquired Lyles around the deadline in each of the past two seasons and he pitched to a 2.45 ERA (4.42 FIP) to close out 2019. Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out that the Brewers have now lost the bidding on each of their free agent targets thus far (except Justin Grimm!), suggesting either limited payroll flexibility or disciplined judiciousness on the part of GM David Stearns. Of course, Lyles signed for more than most would have guessed, and Yasmani Grandal and Mike Moustakas signed for a combined 8-years, $137MM, a stratum the Brewers were hardly expected to reach. On the plus side, should the Rangers scuffle and Brewers stay in the race, we could see the rare baseball trade turkey, when a team successfully strikes for the same player at the deadline for three consecutive seasons.
The Twins and White Sox are two of the more eager starting pitching hunters this offseason, so their inclusion on this list is no surprise either. Both teams are likely to sign a couple of veteran free agents before the winter is out. As for the Blue Jays, they have less urgency given their timeline, though Lyles certainly fits the mold of the type of free agent they are likely to target.