Lance Lynn articulated how far the Twins have come this winter.
“When I looked at the offseason I wanted to go somewhere where they had a chance to win no matter what,” the newest Twins pitcher said during his Tuesday news conference, “and this is a place that presented itself as the offseason went on.”
When Lynn was unable to land the multiyear bonanza he hoped for, he contacted the Twins to finalize a one-year, $12 million contract that deepens their rotation, puts him in line for a postseason run and allows him re-enter the market after the season.
Lynn started and pitched three dominant innings against the Orioles on Tuesday following his news conference. He gave up no hits, struck out five and walked one, touching 94 mph.
I don’t think I’m taking a risk at all,” the 30-year-old righthander said before the game. “I wanted to go to a place that had a chance to win, no matter what. It seemed like a perfect fit.”
The acquisition comes as the final piece — probably — of a transaction surge that has raised eyebrows around the league.
Lynn joins Jake Odorizzi, obtained from Tampa Bay in a trade earlier in training camp, in the rotation and also has Logan Morrison, signed as a free agent also during camp, as a slugging teammate. All three weren’t with the club a month ago, but the Twins remained on the lookout for upgrades, particularly for the starting rotation, and were rewarded for their patience.
Now the rotation, when healthy, looks to consist of Odorizzi, Lynn, Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson. It doesn’t have star power at the top end but has depth and can keep a team out of a prolonged losing streak.
“It’s been remarkable, really,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said of the arms build up led by Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine. “Goals that were set at the end of last season. Trying to find ways to supplement pitching. Between Derek and Thad’s efforts and the Pohlad commitment, they made significant changes.
“Certainly, the depth of the rotation was a goal. We have been able to do that with flying colors. Being able to land Jake and now Lance here in the past month it just really stretches out our rotation and makes us even more competitive on a day-to-day basis.
“Everything about Lance that we have heard we are looking forward to see him do in a Minnesota Twins uniform. It certainly makes us stronger from top to bottom as we’re going to open the season with the rotation."
Lynn was clearly ready to pitch.
“I’ve been throwing live [batting practices] and simulated games on my own, trying to give it as much intensity as possible to be ready to when I step in I could go right into games and try to be ready as fast as possible for the season,” Lynn said. “So I feel like I’ve done that and looking forward to today and actually being in a live game with fans in the stands and not at a high school field.”
Lynn has been working out in Jupiter, Fla., at the Cressey Performance Center, along with fellow new Twin Logan Morrison, and has told the Twins his throwing program has him on schedule to be ready for the start of the regular season.
An All-Star in 2012, Lynn has been a double-digit winner with the Cardinals five times, and owns a 3.38 ERA in 183 career games. Lynn missed the 2016 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery to replace a ligament in his right elbow, but he bounced back to start 33 games for St. Louis last year, going 11-8 with a 3.43 ERA.
Lynn declined a $17.4 million qualifying offer from St. Louis in November. Under MLB rules, because Lynn was tendered, and declined, a $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Cardinals in November, the Twins will forfeit their third-round pick, No. 95 overall, in next June’s draft. (The Twins keep picks 20, 60 and 75, however.) They will also lose $500,000 in their international free-agent budget.