Jake Odorizzi enjoyed the best season of his Major League career in 2019, and it came just in time to help him get paid this off-season. The A.L. all-star will be a hot commodity this winter, what will he command in free-agency and where may he end up?
The Gerrit Cole Situation:
Make no mistake, Gerrit Cole will be the most pursued pitcher following the World Series. However, it is unclear whether he will be the first domino to fall. Teams may pursue other options like Odorizzi as they are priced out of the Cole sweepstakes. The 2019 Twin can provide teams with a very solid secondary option that won’t cost in excess of $30 million per year.
The Intrigue of Odorizzi:
In addition to his 15 wins, 3.51 ERA and 10.08 K/9, Odorizzi boasts an impressive swinging-strike rate. An increase in velocity – largely credited to pitching coach Wes Anderson and the Texas Baseball Ranch – and an incredible spin rate on his fastball led to Odorizzi inducing more whiffs from batters. Among starting pitchers that threw 500 or more four-seam fastballs, Odorizzi owns the second-highest swing-and-miss rate, behind only Cole. Beyond that, he owns the best swing-and-miss rate of all starters who threw at least 200 sinkers or two-seam fastballs. He often attacked with the high-fastball, a pitch nearly irresistible in today’s home run-crazed league. Every team needs effective starting pitching, and a man of Odorizzi’s talents will be highly sought after.
The Minnesota Twins are looking to fill at least three open spots in their rotation and have a ton of money to spend. They could definitely look to retain Jake Odorizzi and will likely extend a qualifying offer. Teams at the forefront of analytics will also take a hard look at him. His uptick in swing-and-miss rates is very attractive, and teams with larger parks could easily be willing to accept his high fly-ball rate (career 44.5%). Another factor teams will like about Odorizzi is his mentality. He wanted the ball in Game 1 of the American League Divisional Series against the Yankees. Despite being overlooked, he started Game 3 and pitched well. Old-school baseball scouts love that kind of fire in a player.
What It May Cost:
As noted previously, Odorizzi will cost less than Gerrit Cole. He still delivered a career-best 27.1% strikeout rate. Odorizzi also was all but immune to the home run-heavy season, allowing (another career-low) 0.91 HR/9. He checks all the boxes for analytically driven teams and old-school scouts. Per Fangraphs, his 4.3 WAR would make him worth the $18 million he would command with the acceptance of a qualifying offer. Outside of that, a four-year deal in the $18-20 million per year will likely be his price tag for interested teams.
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