The Twins signed a new starting pitcher Wednesday in righthander Dylan Bundy. The former first-round pick signed a one-year, $4 million contract for the 2022 season, plus a club option for 2023 at $11 million with a $1 million buyout.
For Derek Falvey, Twins president of baseball operations, this was a long-awaited signing. He watched the Oklahoma native throw between 97 and 100 miles per hour in high school before he became a first-round draft pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2011 and even tried to trade for him while the pitcher played there from 2012-19. He eventually went to the Los Angeles Angels in a trade, pitching there for the past two seasons.
Bundy, 29, went 6-3 with a 3.29 ERA in 11 starts in the pandemic-shortened 2020 campaign, good enough to finish ninth in the AL Cy Young Award voting. But this past season, he was 2-9 with a 6.06 ERA, 34 walks, 84 strikeouts and a .253 opponent batting average in 23 games (19 starts). Falvey attributed some of that drop-off to injuries toward the latter half of the season, including a shoulder strain. Injuries, plus transitioning from East Coast to West Coast ball, sapped some of his velocity earlier in his career, Falvey said.
"You look at that 2020, I know it was a shortened season, but he did anything you could have asked of him," Falvey said. "And I think this year, he again dealt with some of those injuries. Our hope is that we can get him healthy and pitching, and we can see a lot more of the 2020 version of Dylan over the course of a full season."
Bundy's slider and four-seam fastball seem to be his most attractive pitches, but Falvey feels there's "untapped potential" with Bundy that having a more normal offseason and spring training can unlock.
Trades on horizon?
While Bundy was a free-agent signing, Falvey revealed the Twins have been more interested in the trade market as they build the 2022 roster. Part of that might stem from the work stoppage that went into effect at 11 p.m. CST Wednesday while the team owners and players' union negotiate a new CBA. So there was a bit of a time crunch in dealing with anyone on the 40-man roster.
For example, in trades, the players don't usually have to fly to Minnesota to complete a physical. Instead, teams and agents trade medical information back and forth so the new team's trainers and physicians can review it. If a player has no injury history, that can be a pretty quick process. But if there is a longer record of injuries or if the contract is a big-money one, those medical questions can take longer to resolve.
"We've had a lot of discussion about potential trade fits, what those could look like, trying to lay some groundwork for those, really, from the beginning of the offseason until now," Falvey said. "I would say that we've looked at that maybe more so than even some of the free-agent conversations. At this point, nothing to report on that front. But I do think there's been a lot of work put into that."
Falvey added the pitching free agent market has been aggressive early this offseason, and the Twins have been involved in it beyond just Bundy, current starter Michael Pineda and veteran lefthander Rich Hill until Hill landed with Boston.
"Of the guys who have signed, and guys who still have yet to sign, I can't imagine any I could think of that we haven't at least had a conversation with," Falvey said in reference to Pineda. "… Some are waiting it out, trying to understand where the rest of the market is, where they might fit, what it might look like. Some were more eager to have the conversation sooner. All of them are still on the board and part of our vetting process."
Megill to sign
While those on the 40-man roster might be off-limits until a new CBA comes to fruition, the Twins will still be able to work with their minor league players. And Falvey confirmed some minor league signings will come soon, including righthander Trevor Megill, whom the Twins recently claimed off waivers from the Chicago Cubs.
"We had that conversation through the course of this process," Falvey said. "… So we expect him [to sign]."