Free agent starter Lance Lynn agreed to sign with the Minnesota Twins on Saturday, adding a workhorse starter to a rotation in need of quality innings, a source familiar with the deal told Yahoo Sports.
The 30-year-old Lynn, ranked 13th in Yahoo Sports’ Ultimate Free Agent Tracker, returned from Tommy John surgery in 2017 after missing the previous season and tied for the National League lead in games started with 33. His history of durability prior to the surgery and his comeback gave the Twins enough comfort to guarantee Lynn $12 million over one year.
The big question surrounding Lynn is whether his peripheral numbers last season foretell a dip in performance or were simply anomalous. Lynn allowed nearly twice as many home runs last year as he did over his previous five major league seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals, and his strikeout rate dipped from 8.7 per nine to 7.4. Lynn’s walk rate climbed to a career high, too, at 3.8 per nine.
At the same time, his track record does buy him a certain amount of leeway. Twice Lynn exceeded 200 innings, and in his other full two seasons, he topped 175. And with Lynn as reliant as he is on the fastball – he threw it 81 percent of the time last season – he runs the risk, should his strikeouts continue to dip, of being particularly vulnerable to bat-to-ball hitters.
The Lynn archetype is still beloved by executives, and the idea of consistent innings in the middle to back of the rotation is alluring. At this juncture, Lynn probably can’t be much more than that, and the new going rate for a non-elite-but-consistent starting pitcher in this unusual offseason is $12 million for one season.
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