With Jackie Bradley Jr. now headed to the Brewers, right-hander Jake Odorizzi is the clear top free agent left on the board. Oftentimes, when a player’s market drags to this extent, there’s continued speculation about a return to his prior team. There’s been some of that with regard to Odorizzi and the Twins, but president of baseball operations Derek Falvey all but ruled out the possibility in an appearance on MLB Now with Brian Kenney yesterday (video link).
“We look at our team as primarily put together here,” Falvey candidly replied when asked about a reunion with Odorizzi. “We know Jake contributed exceptionally well for us over the last few seasons, and certainly we wish him well. For us, our focus is on the players who are internally in camp at this point. We feel really good about the pitching we have already.”
Odorizzi has spent the past three seasons in Minnesota and had previously expressed interest in extending that stay, but he set out into free agency seeking a lucrative multi-year deal this winter at a time when the Twins have been focused on short-term additions. Minnesota has brokered one-year deals with Nelson Cruz ($13MM), Andrelton Simmons ($10.5MM), J.A. Happ ($8MM), Alex Colome ($6.25MM), Matt Shoemaker ($2MM) and Hansel Robles ($2MM) over the course of the winter. That series of moves has pushed the payroll to about $129MM — a number that could further rise by as much as $10MM as Kenta Maeda reaches his annual incentives for games started and innings pitched.
With Odorizzi seemingly out of the picture, the Twins will field a rotation of Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, Happ and Shoemaker. Randy Dobnak is on hand as a sixth starter or possible long man, and other in-house options to start games include lefties Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe. Prospects Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran could both be ready for a look later in the 2021 season, and the Twins have some non-roster arms with big league experience in camp as well (e.g. Andrew Albers, Glenn Sparkman).
As for Odorizzi, the uncertain outlook on his market continues. Earlier this week, MLB Network’s Jon Heyman suggested the right-hander is content to wait for the right offer to arise rather than to substantially drop his asking price. It’s possible that injuries in camp will open some opportunities. The Astros are suddenly facing a very lengthy absence for Framber Valdez, for instance, and other clubs figure to encounter similar setbacks in their rotation as the spring schedule ramps up.