ORLANDO, Fla. – Everyone’s looking for pitching, they say. But perhaps no one is looking for pitching with as much interest or enthusiasm as the Twins, who are targeting the very top pitchers on the rotation market and on the bullpen market — and hoping to add depth, as well.
The Twins are looking at the two unquestionable top-of-the-rotation starters – Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta – as FanRag first reported – as well as next-tier starters Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, plus others, and are looking at the top relievers, as well.
Darvish and Arrieta are in a class by themselves on the free-agent market, and while the Twins like both pitchers, there are hints Darvish is No. 1 on their list and Arrieta perhaps No. 1A. Their GM, Thad Levine, was a big part of the contingent that brought Darvish to MLB with the Texas Rangers when Levine was the top assistant GM there, though they just may have a slightly higher evaluation of Darvish.
The Twins, who improved to 85 wins from 59 in the first year of the new regime, have the benefit of an excellent young core and the confidence of the bosses — including club-owning Jim Pohlad — after such a stark improvement.
Darvish’s talent is seen as supreme, but both pitchers have a case to be the best. Arrieta has a Cy Young and he actually had the slightly better season in 2017, despite a slow start, finishing with a 3.53 ERA and 14-10 record to Darvish’s 3.86 and 10-12 (Darvish did have more strikeouts, 209 to 163, though Arrieta missed some time late with a hamstring injury).
The Twins are also investigating bullpen stars Wade Davis, Greg Holland and others. Matt Belisle, who did a nice job closing for them last year, is a free agent, as is Brandon Kintzler, who was very good in the first half for them, as well. The bullpen market is pretty strong, with Addison Reed, Brandon Morrow and others also out there.
Darvish seems to be getting the higher contract projections among the top two starters, including here, but a case could be made for Arrieta, who has been better in the postseason, going 5-3 with a 3.08 ERA and 1.08 WHIP in his career, including the Cubs’ one win over the Dodgers. He is also 2-0 with a 2.38 ERA in the World Series, which is where Darvish fell last October following a nice couple starts in the earlier rounds.
Both pitchers are 31, and while Arrieta has thrown more innings in the majors, Darvish has more when you include his early professional seasons in the Japanese League. Both pitchers are 31, though Arrieta is a few months older. Beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, but for the Twins, Darvish may be the first call.
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