The Twins had one of the worst pitching staffs in the majors this season, finishing with a combined 4.77 ERA that ranked 28th out of baseball’s 30 teams.
It was a given that they’d try to do some patchwork this winter, but could a big splash be on the way?
According to Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, the Twins have already made “inquiries” about a possible trade for Rays right-hander James Shields. Nothing is close, but it stands to reason that Tampa Bay will be open to making a deal involving Shields this offseason given their solid organizational rotation depth and cost-conscious methods.
Shields is owed $9 million in 2013 and carries a $12 million club option for the 2014 season. And unless something changes drastically, the Rays won’t have the money to lock him up long term.
Minnesota’s Chris Parmelee could be attractive, packaged with either Denard Span or Ben Revere.
Shields, 30, registered a sparkling 3.52 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 223/58 K/BB ratio across 227 2/3 innings (33 starts) this summer for the Rays. Cafardo suspects that the Dodgers will also make a run at him.
MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports that the Orioles have interest in free agent right-hander Alex Cobb, who rejected his one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Rays earlier this week. Cobb was most recently linked to the Cubs, who reportedly reached out to his agent during the GM Meetings and garnered mutual interest from the righty, but nothing appears to be set in stone yet.
Cobb, 30, completed his sixth season with the Rays in 2017. He went 12-10 in 29 starts and turned in a respectable 3.66 ERA, 6.4 SO/9 and career-best 2.2 BB/9 in 179 1/3 innings. Despite losing a couple of weeks to turf toe, he remained healthy for most of the year and showed no signs of the elbow issues that robbed him of the majority of his 2015-2016 campaigns.
It’s still fairly early for any deals to come to fruition, but Morosi notes that the Orioles seem to be focused on bulking up their rotation during the first few months of the offseason. It’ll take more than a healthy Alex Cobb to right that ship, however: Orioles’ starters earned a collective 5.70 ERA and 5.5 fWAR in 2017, good for worst and fourth-worst marks in the league, respectively. Behind Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy (and perhaps Gabriel Ynoa/Miguel Castro), they still need three viable starters to compete in 2018. Whether or not they can afford to spring for a single starter with Cobb’s price tag (four years, $48 million, per MLB Trade Rumors) remains to be seen.