All teams have reported to their spring camps and full workouts are underway – the first spring games already are this weekend and you can wager on those here on the MLB odds at Mybookie. However, there are still a few fairly sizable free agents out there, led by former Twins All-Star starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. Where might he sign?
Where Will Jake Odorizzi Sign? | 2021 MLB Expert AnalysisOdorizzi is reportedly looking for a three-year deal worth $45 million but probably will have to take less than that. The Giants, Cardinals, Angels, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Brewers are reportedly interested in Odorizzi. The Giants have already added Anthony DeSclafani and Alex Wood this offseason but would like to continue to supplement their rotation.
Odorizzi had a terrific 2019 season in finishing 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 30 starts. His fastball allowed batters just a .209 batting average, .287 wOBA, and generated a whiff more than 30% of the time. In his five full seasons prior to 2019, his fastball was worth an average of +8 runs above average. In 2019, it was +20.8 because he threw faster. He averaged 91.7 mph prior to 2019. In 2019, his average fastball went 93 mph.
Odorizzi’s 4.3 WAR in 2019, per FanGraphs, would have been the fifth highest among available free-agent starters ahead of the 2020 season behind splashy names like Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Hyun-Jin Ryu and Zack Wheeler. Odorizzi could have cashed in big but decided to take the Twins’ one-year qualifying offer, which now clearly looks like a mistake.
“This was the toughest decision I’ve had in baseball, because there’s what-ifs on both sides,” Odorizzi said at the time of his decision. “There’s just so much that goes into it in a short amount of time. So I decided this was the best avenue, and be prepared for the upcoming season. There’s a peace of mind factor in it.”
Last year, Odorizzi began on 10-day Injured List with a right intercostal strain. He pitched in intrasquad games at the alternate site in St. Paul and was reinstated August 8. Alas, Odorizzi was struck in the chest by a line drive off the bat of Alex Gordon August 21 at Kansas City in the fourth inning and exited early. He was placed on 10-day Injured List with a chest contusion the next day.
Odorizzi was reinstated September 16 and made his fourth final start of the season that day vs. the White Sox. He allowed one run on two hits in 3.2 innings pitched but exited in fourth inning with a right middle finger blister and placed on 10-day Injured List for third time on season. He managed to pitch in just four games and a total of 13.2 innings with a 0-1 record and 6.59 ERA.
At least none of the injuries involved his arm, and Odorizzi had previously made at least 28 starts in every season of his career. ZiPS projects 1.8 WAR in 119.7 IP this year regardless of team. He averaged 165.1 innings per season prior to 2020, so if you give him that projected inning total, he is projected as a 2.5 WAR pitcher by ZiPS.
Odorizzi has something to prove and should cash in on a short-term, prove-it contract like the ones fellow right-handers Chris Archer (one-year, $6.5 million deal with the Rays) and Corey Kluber (one-year, $11 million deal with the Yankees) corralled this offseason given his 2020 campaign.
A return to the Twins, though, is almost surely not happening. After signing five major league free agents to contracts worth roughly $42 million, GM Derek Falvey said last week that “the heavy lifting is done” in restructuring the Twins’ roster for the 2021 season.
“I’m excited about the starting group that we have,” he said of the team’s projected rotation. “I feel like we have some good depth, some young guys coming, guys we’re excited about [who] didn’t get a chance to see as much last year.”
The Mets are probably out after recently adding Taijuan Walker. The Cardinals have four clear starting pitchers, with Jack Flaherty, Miles Mikolas, Adam Wainwright and Kwang-hyun Kim. After that, the Cardinals have Alex Reyes and the organization remains high on him.
We say Odorizzi lands with the Blue Jays.
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