With qualifying offers news coming out and options being declined, the free agent player pool is becoming much more clear.
In an offseason where the Minnesota Twins should be very active, these recent qualifying offer and option decisions have created some buzz. There are a number of players that are either a level more sign-able as they will not have draft pick compensation attached to them or have newly become available.
Here are four players who either didn't have a qualifying offer extended to them, or had an option declined, that could interest the Minnesota Twins.
Cole Hamels LHP
Free agent not extended qualifying offer
Cole Hamels will turn 36 before the 2020 season begins. While that number isn’t trending in the right direction, Hamels has continued to produce even as his age advances. Spending 2019 with the Chicago Cubs, Hamels tossed 141.2 innings with a 3.81 ERA and 9.1 K/9.
While Hamels' velocity has dipped by one or two mph since his last All-Star season in 2016, he has remained effective. Hamels in 2019 still held a swinging strike rate of 12.2% and continues to limit the hard contact, allowing hits of that sort only 36.4% of the time last season.
Hamels may not be able to carry a rotation on his back anymore, but next to Jose Berrios and maybe Jake Odorizzi he would easily challenge for the number two or three spot in the rotation depending on who else is added.
Julio Teheran RHP
$12 million option declined
Julio Teheran is not the top-end starter the Twins need to get this offseason. What Teheran is, is very consistent. He can be relied on to take the ball for his turn in the rotation. Because of that he continues to pop up in some pretty decent positions on pitching leaderboards.
Among pitchers qualified for the ERA title in 2019, Teheran was 35th in strikeouts (162), 41st in innings pitched (174.2), 24th in earned runs allowed (74), 25th in ERA (3.81), and 25th in ERA+ (119). Again, not ace level but still respectable.
Teheran does seem to have a knack for blowing up and allowing some long balls. With the Twins needing to fill four rotation spots currently, the veteran right-hander could be an interesting option. He will have a ugly game regularly throughout the season but will come back to hold teams to two runs or fewer for stretches as well.
Edwin Encarnacion 1B/DH
$20 million option declined
Edwin Encarnacion, Nelson Cruz, and Miguel Sano. Can you imagine how opposing pitchers would feel if they needed to run into that trio? Encarnacion is also one of those players it'd be nice for the Twins to simply not have to face, as he seems to always come up with a big hit against them.
Encarnacion only managed to play in 109 games in 2019 but still hit 34 home runs. While another 30+ home run bat would be fun in the Twins lineup, the struggle would be finding him a spot. Could Edwin and Cruz exist on the same roster?
While this situation could be video game type fun it may not be a likely option. Still, an intriguing name as the hot stove heats up this winter.
Kyle Barraclough RHP
Elected free agency after DFA
Kyle Barraclough looked to be headed towards closer greatness as a member of the Miami Marlins. That is why the Washington Nationals traded for Barraclough last offseason. Something has happened to the once dominant relief arm which has led to him being designated for assignment twice in the past calendar year.
Before being DFA’d by Washington, Barraclough tossed 25.2 innings, held a 6.66 ERA, but still managed a 10.5 K/9. After working his way back to the majors after joining San Francisco, he rebounded with a decent eight innings on the surface with a 2.25 ERA and a 11.3 K/9. His FIP though came in at a much higher 5.71.
With Barraclough's past success he looks to be worth a chance after a down year.