It is quite shocking that Jake Odorizzi is still out on the market. He came into this past offseason as one of the best free agent starters. While not quite as talented as Trevor Bauer or James Paxton, Odorizzi would bring great stability to any team he signs with. He brings more certainty than many other starters who signed this offseason. This includes guys like Taijuan Walker, Corey Kluber, or Charlie Morton whose biggest question marks include injuries or age. Despite not being an ace, he can be a solid number three, or even a number two starter. Odorizzi has posted a career 3.92 ERA, 4.12 FIP, and 105 ERA+ while playing for three teams over his big league career.
His breakout season came in 2019, in which he there 159.1 innings to the tune of a 3.51 ERA, 3.36 FIP, 10.1 K/9, 0.9 HR/9, and a 129 ERA+. It was by far the best season of his career and it was the result of changes that made him a more effective starter. He dropped his slider from his pitch mix while increasing his cutter and four-seam fastball usage. Not to mention, his fastball velocity increased from 91.1 mph to 92.9 mph. He was set to become a free agent following the 2019 season but instead accepted the qualifying offer, choosing to bet on himself for the 2020 season. With hindsight, this turned out to be a bad decision because of all that occurred in 2020. Regardless, Odorizzi is still looking for a multiyear deal. With that said, let’s look at the six teams who present the best fit for Jake Odorizzi.
What better fit is there than the team Jake Odorizzi spent three years with and helped him become the best pitcher he can be? The Minnesota Twins have become one of the best pitching organizations in recent years. Pitching coach Wes Johnson is highly regarded around the league and has spearheaded some of the major improvements in the team’s pitching. Odorizzi is reportedly seeking a multiyear deal at around $12-15 million AAV, which might be too steep for Minnesota.
However, maybe Odorizzi can take a discount for a team with which he is very familiar. He is someone the Twins could definitely use in their rotation. Jose Berrios did not pitch that well in 2020. Additionally, it is not clear if Kenta Maeda live up to his 2020 season in which he posted a 2.70 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, and 161 ERA+. J.A. Happ is 38 years old, Randy Dobnak is still inexperienced, and Michael Pineda is average at best. There is a lot to like yet many improvements that could still be made to this rotation. Signing Odorizzi would go a long way to improve the depth and ceiling of the Twins rotation.
Los Angels Angels
Pitching has always been the kryptonite for the Los Angeles Angels. They have long struggled to find any consistency from their pitching staff. The Angels should have had interest in many of the free agents or trade targets this winter, yet were only able to make marginal improvements to the pitching staff. They signed Jose Quintana and traded for Alex Cobb as well as Raisel Iglesias. While adding these pitchers is better than nothing, it does not do much to improve the staff.
Although they already have enough starters for a six-man rotation, Odorizzi presents a clear upgrade over any other starter. Having a stable rotation helps both the offense and bullpen as it puts less pressure on those aspects of the team to perform. With Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, and Shohei Ohtani highlighting the team, the offense should not be a problem in 2021. The Angels present one of the best fits for Jake Odorizzi because they possess the need and financial capacity to sign him.
Toronto Blue Jays
Behind Hyun Jin Ryu, the Toronto Blue Jays starting rotation could certainly use a lot of help. Nate Pearson comes with a lot of promise as well as plenty of question marks. Tanner Roark, Robbie Ray, and Steven Matz have all been mediocre pitchers in recent years. Odorizzi was with the Tampa Bay Rays from 2013 through 2017 and has vast experience pitching in the AL East.
Furthermore, Toronto has made quite a few moves in recent years to show they are ready to compete and take that next step. They were reportedly interested in Trevor Bauer and have been looking for pitching upgrades all offseason. Looking at who is left on the market, Odorizzi is the biggest upgrade they can still make. Not to mention, the Blue Jays have the financial ability to offer the two- or three-year deal that Odorizzi wants.
The Philadelphia Phillies bullpen was terrible in 2020. While they made some upgrades to the pen, it still looks like their biggest weakness. However, the rotation falls off significantly after Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler. Odorizzi would slot in very nicely behind those two pitchers.
At the same time, a veteran like Jake Odorizzi can only help in the further development of their younger pitchers such as Spencer Howard or Zach Eflin. He would help create a more solid rotation that could, in turn, help the bullpen perform better. Similar to the Angels, the Phillies led by Bryce Harper and J.T. Realmuto, have an offense that is really good and will do some damage in 2021. Right now, the Phillies are the fourth-best team in the NL East. Odorizzi is someone who can help propel that pitching staff and the team as a whole.
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants posted a .789 OPS and 115 OPS+ in 2020 that ranked sixth in baseball. They finished the year 29-31 and just barely missed out on a playoff spot. Who would have thought it would be the pitching that let the Giants down? Regardless, the pitching outlook does not look nearly as good as the offensive outlook.
Along with Johnny Cueto and Kevin Gausman, the Giants have a surplus of starting pitching options. However, none of them are as much of a sure thing as Odorizzi. The Giants play in a big ballpark that should boost Odorizzi’s performance because he is a pitcher who relies on contact. San Francisco is very clearly the third-best team in the National League West, but looks like a team on the rise who could use what Odorizzi brings to the table.
Final Thoughts on Jake Odorizzi
All in all, these five teams present the best fit for Jake Odorizzi’s services. If there was one more team that would be a good fit, it would be the Milwaukee Brewers. However, they would not seem to be as likely a destination because of their finances. Odorizzi’s 2019 breakout reflects a pitcher who could provide a big boost to any team in baseball. Whether it is improving the team’s ceiling or depth, he is a good two or three starter who could be a bargain relative to his price. It remains to be seen how the rest of his market will play out as the regular season draws near, but these five teams stand out above the rest.
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Players Mentioned: Jake Odorizzi, Trevor Bauer, James Paxton, Taijuan Walker, Corey Kluber, Charlie Morton, Jose Berrios, Kenta Maeda, J.A. Happ, Randy Dobnak, Michael Pineda, Jose Quintana, Alex Cobb, Raisel Iglesias, Mike Trout, Anthony Rendon, Shohei Ohtani, Nate Pearson, Tanner Roark, Robbie Ray, Steven Matz, Aaron Nola, Zack Wheeler, Spencer Howard, Zach Eflin, Bryce Harper, J.T. Realmuto, Johnny Cueto, Kevin Gausman.