Twins Acquire Odorizzi As Rays Tear Down
The Twins were a team in need of starting pitching as spring training opened. They found a willing trade partner in the dismantling Rays.
The Twins acquired righthander Jake Odorizzi from the Rays on Saturday night. In exchange Tampa Bay received shortstop prospect Jermaine Palacios.
Odorizzi shores up a Twins staff that ranked 10th in the American League in starter’s ERA last year (4.73) and will be without Ervin Santana (finger surgery) until at least May.
The Rays, meanwhile, traded Odorizzi shortly after designating outfielder Corey Dickerson — the team’s leading returning hitter as measured by OPS — for assignment. The moves follow the trade of franchise icon Evan Longoria to the Giants in December.
Jermaine Palacios, SS
Palacios hit .296 with 21 doubles, 10 triples, 13 home runs and 20 stolen bases between low Class A Cedar Rapids and high class A Fort Myers in 2017. Originally signed for $70,000 out of Venezuela in 2013, Palacios is an aggressive hitter with advanced barrel awareness and saw his power spike last year, hitting 13 longballs after never hitting more than three in a season. Palacios shows an all-fields approach and handles velocity fine, but rarely walks and has had to put in extra work to improve his pitch recognition. Most of his homers come on mistake breaking balls. Defensively Palacios has above-average arm strength and moves better to his right, which gives him a chance to stay at shortstop as he climbs the ladder. An average runner at best, he lacks base-stealing instincts was successful on just 57 percent of his attempts last year. Palacios will begin his Rays career at either high Class A Port Charlotte or Double-A Montgomery in 2018. He projects as a potential utility infielder only if he continues to make contact.
Jake Odorizzi, RHP
A more solid pitcher than his reputation as a potential front-liner suggests, Odorizzi posted a career worst 4.14 ERA last year as his walk rate spiked to 3.8-per-nine, also a career-high. He also gave up a career-high 30 home runs. Still, Odorizzi can be tough to square up (.220 opponent average in 2017), and slots in nicely behind Santana and Jose Berrios as a No. 3 starter once the Twins get everyone healthy. Odorizzi will make $6.3 million this year and won’t be a free agent until 2020.