Prior to the 2014 season, the Minnesota Twins invested good money in free agents Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco, and many baseball analysts rolled their eyes in what seemed to be wasteful spending for a perennial loser with a bad pitching staff.
Hughes signed a reasonable three-year, $24 million deal and responded with the best season of his career. He won 16 games, had a staller 3.52 ERA and set a Major League record with an 11.63 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio (186 K’s to 18 walks). The performance earned him a three-year, $42 million contract extension through 2019.
Nolasco, on the other hand, signed a $49 million deal and repaid the front office with a 5.38 ERA and the Twins as a whole allowed more runs than any team in Major League baseball and finished dead last with an ERA of 5.06 among starters.
The usually very dependable Ervin Santana (who has seven seasons of 30 starts or more in nine years in the big leagues) is the new free agent on staff. He signed a $55 million deal in the offseason, but was slapped with an 80-game suspension Friday.
Kyle Gibson and Tommy Milone are back and were expected to take the fourth and fifth spots, respectively before Santana’s suspension. Mike Pelfrey had a great spring (1.15 ERA in 15.2 innings) and should now begin the season in the rotation. Prospects Trevor May and Jose Berrios could factor in as well.
Next: 29. Arizona Diamondbacks