The Minnesota Twins officially splurged in the free agent market Wednesday signing former Yankee Michael Pineda to a two-year, $10 million contract. Pineda was in the midst of a solid season in New York when Tommy John surgery ended his 2017 campaign. The deal will pay Pineda $2 million in 2018, and $8 million in 2019. The contract comes with incentives if Pineda is able to reach 150 innings in either season.
Some fans have been quick to criticize Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey for this move citing Pineda’s obvious injury issues, and the fact that his name is not Yu Darvish or Jake Arrieta. It’s a good thing those fans don’t run the Twins because this is a great signing.
The key word with this move is upside. Baseball America ranked Pineda the 16th best prospect in all of baseball prior to his rookie year in 2011, so his talent is unquestionable. Pineda has a great arm, and may have better stuff than anyone on the Twins pitching staff. He features a nasty cut fastball that averages 94 miles per hour, and a wipeout slider that has allowed him to rack up 9.09 K/9 in his career. Had he not gotten injured, Pineda would likely have received a multi-year contract in excess of $100 million. The Twins just paid $10 million for a pitcher as talented as Darvish or Arrieta.
It’s likely the Twins will not be able to use Pineda in 2018, as he recovers from surgery. However, this is not a guarantee. He had surgery July 18th, and it typically takes a pitcher 12-18 months to get back on the mound following the procedure. If Pineda is a quick healer, its possible the Twins could get him back during the second half in August, September, or October. Adding a pitcher of his caliber to either the bullpen or rotation during a stretch run could be huge. Pitchers are coming back from Tommy John surgery quicker each year, and are able to return stronger in some cases. Even if Pineda can’t pitch in 2018 he should be completely healthy by the following season. A fully healthy Pineda would change the complexion of this pitching staff, and there’s no reason to expect he won’t be back to his old self by 2019.
Yu Darvish Update
Twins Manager Paul Molitor reiterated Wednesday that the Twins remain heavily interested Darvish. This echo’s the statements made earlier this offseason by General Manager Thad Levine, so it appears the Twins are serious about their pursuit of Darvish. Free agent catcher Chris Gimenez was Darvish’s personal catcher in Texas, and is answering Darvish’s questions about playing in Minnesota according to Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Gimenez’s future with the Twins is currently unknown, but if he helps the Twins land Darvish it’s safe to say he will be back in 2018. There is no timeline for Darvish to sign, but things could move fast at any moment so stay tuned.
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