Starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi is one of the top free agents this offseason. Moving at a glacial pace, there has been little news about the veteran starter this offseason despite Charlie Morton and Drew Smyly landing contracts.
Behind Trevor Bauer, Odorizzi is among the best free agent starting pitchers. After taking the qualifying offer with the Twins last winter, Odorizzi had a tough 2020 season. It was ultimately a lost year as injuries held him to just over 13 regular season innings. Odorizzi did not prove himself as he would have hoped to when he took the qualifying offer.
Entering free agency, Odorizzi can boast several years with over 30 starts and has never hit the IL with an arm injury. Marcus Stroman and Kevin Gausman accepting their qualifying offers helped him out, too. With Morton snapped up, it’s between Odorizzi and Masahiro Tanaka as the best non-Bauer starter on the market.
It’s an interesting position for Odorizzi. Another one-year deal would seem unlikely, but with so few teams willing to commit significant long-term dollars, could he go for a high, one-year salary and hit the market again as a 31-year-old next winter?
MLB Trade Rumors fancied Odorizzi for a three-year pact last offseason. They have doubled down on that prediction this winter. Given his track record and age, three years in the $40 million range seems reasonable. If Tanaka re-ups with the Yankees, Odorizzi’s market will be plentiful. A bidding war is possible given the lack of reliable other starters in free agency.
It’s not infeasible that the number ends up much higher. Morton got $15 million for one year, and Smyly was handsomely rewarded, too. Odorizzi was an All-Star in 2019. He’s of the calibre that could approach $20 million per season – would any team go as high as three years and $60 million?
This free agent market is difficult to predict for everyone, but the pandemic and his almost non-existent 2020 make it particularly unclear for Odorizzi.
How much he earns will come down to which, and how many, teams make a push. The Twins have seemingly fallen out of contention for Odorizzi with the Giants and Blue Jays leading the way according to recent reports.
San Francisco has Gausman but little else in their rotation. Toronto had Hyun-Jin Ryu atop the rotation and added Robbie Ray this offseason. Nearing contention, though, the Jays could do with the boost of Odorizzi behind Ryu. Toronto is 20th in committed 2021 payroll at just over $70 million – they have the spending power to commit big money to Odorizzi in free agency.
Beyond the two favourites to land Odorizzi, two fellow big-market teams could show interest. The Red Sox, fresh off signing Hunter Renfroe, desperately need pitching. Boston’s rotation is a mess – Odorizzi would slot straight in as their number one.
Then there’s the team who always need pitching: The Angels. Shohei Ohtani‘s future on the mound is unclear, leaving the Angels reliant on Dylan Bundy‘s 2020 being a break through rather than a career year and on Jaime Barria taking that small-sample success and turning it into 150 innings of above-average pitching.
Odorizzi makes sense for plenty of teams beyond this quartet, but they are the most likely landing spots. Others will not want to commit to multiple seasons or are simply refusing to add payroll.