The Minnesota Twins made a trade to acquire veteran starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi from the Tampa Bay Rays, sending back middle infield prospect Jermaine Palacios in a somewhat surprising one-for-one swap. Odorizzi, a right handed pitcher, boasts a career 3.83 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 1.22 WHIP, and a 4.23 FIP in 705 innings scattered across six big league seasons. He’s been a fairly consistent starter, averaging 167 innings pitched over the past four seasons. Odorizzi’s name had been linked to Minnesota this offseason as they’ve looked to improve upon their rotation from their upstart 2017 season.
A look at how Jake Odorizzi ranks among American League pitchers with at least 400 innings pitched from 2015-2017:
1.19 WHIP (9th)
3.71 ERA (12th)
500.1 IP (15th)
443 Ks (16th)#MNTwins
— Dustin Morse (@morsecode) February 18, 2018
Odorizzi is coming off a bit of a down year in Tampa, where he struggled with his command and keeping the ball in the yard. He saw his BB/9 and HR/9 jump by 1.24 and 0.49 from his 2016 season, respectively. His struggles with the long ball is the more concerning of the two because he doesn’t keep the ball on the ground. In 2017, he had a 30.6% ground ball rate, compared to a 47.3% fly ball rate. The athletic Minnesota outfield corps should be able to chase down most of his fly balls, but Odorizzi simply has to keep the ball in the park – and switching home venues won’t offer him any help. According to ESPN’s MLB Park Factors, Target Field was the 6th most HR friendly park while Tropicana Field was 22nd. However, as Darren Wolfson points out, pitching analytics guru Josh Kalk is very familiar with Odorizzi from their time together in Tampa Bay and Kalk more than likely identified Odorizzi as a target to prioritize.
New #MNTwins pitching analytics expert Josh Kalk was with Odorizzi for his entire time with the Rays. Good bet Kalk's opinion carried heavy weight in making tonight's trade.
— Darren Wolfson (@DWolfsonKSTP) February 18, 2018
It’s also certainly worth mentioning that he battled through a strained hamstring, food poisoning, a lower back strain, and a line drive off the foot throughout the course of the 2017 season. He’ll look to bounce back to his previous form in 2018.
Minnesota sent back 21 year old SS prospect Jermaine Palacios in the trade. Palacios was signed by the Twins out of Venezuela in 2013. 2017 was a tale of two seasons for Palacios: in Low-A Cedar Rapids, he hit .320/.362/.544 in 276 PAs; in High-A Fort Meyers, he hit .269/.303/.359 in 263 PAs (against competition three years older than him on average). Palacios slotted between #15 and #25 on most Minnesota prospect lists, which is a small price to pay for Odorizzi. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine considered him expendable with Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon, Royce Lewis, and Wander Javier providing plus SS depth at varying levels of the organization.
This is a rather savvy move by the Twins front office in giving up a lower level prospect for a proven middle of the rotation starter. The move couldn’t come at a better time for Twins fans, who have been pleading for added help to the rotation not named Anibal Sanchez. He should slot in nicely as the Twins #3 starter this year, behind Jose Berrios and Ervin Santana and in front of Kyle Gibson and one of Adalberto Mejia, Trevor May, Phil Hughes, Tyler Duffey, etc. Minnesota will await a midseason promotion of either LHP Stephen Gonsalves or RHP Fernando Romero to shore up the final rotation spot as they push for another playoff berth. Odorizzi recently won his arbitration case and is set to make $6.35mm over the 2018 season. He’ll wear #12 for the Twins.
(feature photo via Twitter, @Twins)