Spring training is now well underway, and baseball’s many overqualified free agents are still shuffling their way onto MLB teams on below-value contracts. Lance Lynn, a very fine pitcher with a strong track record of success, found his way onto the Twins Saturday:
Yikes. $12 million isn’t, you know, a lot of money for a 30-year-old rotation-grade starting pitcher, certainly not a workhorse who produced a perfectly respectable 3.43 ERA (good for 7th in the NL) and 3.1 WAR in 186 innings in 2017. For point of reference, last winter 43-year-old Bartolo Colon got $12.5 million for a year with the Braves.* In 2015, 29-year-old Brett Anderson, who’d started more than 30 games once in his eight-year career, got $15.8 million from the Dodgers, after a season in which he produced a 3.69 ERA and 1.5 WAR. Salaries are moving the wrong direction.
Obviously there’s more to these determinations than age and a couple public stats: Lynn had Tommy John surgery that robbed him of his 2016 season; he gave up more than twice as many dingers in 2017 as he did in either of his previous two seasons; his strikeouts per nine innings (7.4) dipped to their lowest rate since his rookie season. Also:
Still: Lance Lynn is a durable beast, and the Twins are getting him at a juicy discount compared to what he’d expect to get in any season where tanking teams aren’t actively driving down the market.