In an offseason where a majority of teams pinched budgets and sat out free agency, the Minnesota Twins sat patiently waiting for the free agent pitcher market to play itself out. Now they've landed a major upgrade for their rotation, with a reported agreement on a one-year, $12 million deal with free agent starter Lance Lynn.
Lynn certainly anticipated more from a contract when he entered the offseason, but the 31-year-old registered a 4.82 FIP, 4.75 xFIP and 4.85 Skills Independent ERA across 33 starts for the St. Louis Cardinals. Yet even through his struggles, Lynn once again proved himself to be a consistent innings eater who could help on a playoff-caliber team and deliver for the team when called upon.
While the American League isn't viewed as especially friendly for starting pitchers, the A.L. Central is a solid landing spot. While the Cleveland Indians lineup will present problems, the Detroit Tigers and Chicago White Sox are two of the worst teams in baseball and the Kansas City Royals will be a below average team even with the return of Mike Moustakas.
Fantasy owners can count on Lynn for 150-plus innings as the Twins fourth starter behind Jose Berrios, Ervin Santana (when healthy) and Jake Odorizzi. The veteran demonstrated he could still miss bats at a decent rate in 27 with a nine percent swinging-strike rate, but his strikeout percentage fell below 20 percent for the first time in his career and dropped 2.5 percent from his K% last season.
In terms of ERA, Lynn will likely land in the 4.2-4.5 range this coming season. His 3.43 ERA is largely the result of uncharacteristic poor success by opposing batters with a .244 BABIP and .219 batting average allowed compared to his career .297 BABIP and .240 BAA to opposing hitters. Minnesota should provide Lynn with plenty of run support and help him finish with 10 or 11 wins, a 4.25 ERA and 140-plus strikeouts.