December 3, 2023

We hardly knew ye, Sonny, Kenta and Emilio

Two starting pitchers and one reliever are moving on from the Twins, the trio agreeing to free agent deals with the St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds.

Sonny Gray made the biggest splash, and no doubt was helped by his runner-up finish in the AL Cy Young award, by landing a 3-year, $75 million deal with the Cards. Is Gray worth $25 million per season? No, he is not, but it’s all about what the market will bear and for the Cardinals, who had a terrible 2023 at 71-91, the price was right to get the franchise back to its winning ways.

Gray rejected a qualifying offer from the Twins, but because his agreement with St. Louis tops $50 million, the Twins will receive a compensatory draft pick after the first round of next year’s draft, according to MLB Trade Rumors.

Not only did Gray finish second in the AL Cy Young race, he also led the majors in two categories: fielding independent pitching, or FIP, which measures a pitchers effectiveness in preventing home runs, base on balls, hit by pitches and causing strikeouts. He also had the lowest percentage of home runs allowed per nine innings at 0.4. His FIP was 2.83, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Also moving on is Kenta Maeda, the former member of the Hiroshima Carp, who wound up in Minnesota via a trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Maeda spent three seasons in the Twin Cities, including the pandemic-shortened 2020, which was his best as a Twin as he went 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA. He, too, led the majors that season in WHIP at 0.750.

Although Maeda is no longer with the Twins, he will get to regularly see them anyway because his 2-year, $24 million agreement was with the Tigers. The Twins were interested in retaining Maeda on a one-year deal, according to MLB Trade Rumors, but Maeda wanted that additional season.

Reliever Emilio Pagan is gone, too, getting a 2-year, $16 million contract from the Reds. Pagan pitched well in 2023, finishing 5-2 with a 2.99 ERA, but I don’t think he ever lived down his 2022 campaign in which his ERA ballooned to 4.43 and he coughed up seven blown saves.

So, are the Twins letting all of their free agents sign elsewhere? Well, the Twins have said this offseason they are trying to cut back on payroll and that the lack of a TV contract for 2024 is a contributing factor, according to Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey, as quoted by MLB Trade Rumors.

Extra innings …

-Ask and you shall receive: A week ago I wondered if Twins radio guy Cory Provus would be interested in replacing Dick Bremer in the TV booth. Well, he apparently is because the Twins named Provus their new TV play-by-play announcer, while back up radio voice Kris Atteberry now has the lead role in the radio booth, according to MLB.com.

Some quotes:

“This is something I just really want to do,” Provus told MLB.com “I’ve always thought of myself as being ambitious and challenging myself, and this, to me, is the ultimate challenge, by far. And the idea of joining this group in this way, now, I think I would regret not at least trying.”

“I’m just ecstatic,” Atteberry told MLB.com. “I’m ecstatic. A lot of people, obviously, that I owe a great depth of gratitude to. First of all, I’m really privileged and honored to work for an organization that cares about radio and cares deeply about radio from our owners to our team president and all the way through.”

Congrats to them both.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone, Twins fan.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.