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MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins made their first offseason move to address their significant need in the starting rotation by agreeing to a one-year, $4 million deal with veteran right-hander Dylan Bundy on Wednesday evening with an $11 million club option for the 2023 season.
The deal also includes a $1 million buyout of the club option, meaning the 29-year-old will be guaranteed $5 million over the course of the contract.
Bundy is expected to slot immediately into the Twins’ starting rotation plans for 2022. Though he pitched to a 6.06 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 34 walks in 90 2/3 innings for the Angels last season, Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey indicated that the club hopes to get Bundy healthy from the shoulder injury that ended his ’21 season and recover the performance that led to his garnering down-ballot Cy Young Award votes in ’20.
“He’s a guy who we liked — a number of years ago tried to acquire via trade — and even back in his Baltimore days,” Falvey said. “We feel like, with a full offseason and a good plan going into Spring Training, this is a guy we think has real bounceback ability and a guy we’ve always liked.”
Bundy carries a career 4.72 ERA across parts of seven seasons with the Orioles and Angels, but Falvey noted that the Twins like the characteristics and some untapped potential in Bundy’s high-spin four-seam fastball and slider. The latter carried a 50 percent whiff rate in 2020 that he unlocked to some extent that year, when he posted a 3.29 ERA in 11 starts as part of the shortened season.
Bundy alone doesn’t come close to fully addressing the Twins’ rotation needs, as he now enters a mix that involves Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe. Free-agent starting pitchers have quickly come off the market amid the recent signing frenzy, including Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman, Alex Cobb, Jon Gray, Alex Wood, James Paxton, Steven Matz and Marcus Stroman.
As the free-agent market has quickly shifted around the Twins, Falvey noted that the club has been more focused on laying the groundwork for future trades to acquire pitching, especially considering its relatively strong farm system and redundancy around the Major League roster.
“At this point, nothing to report on that front,” Falvey said. “But I do think there’s been a lot of work put into that. Obviously, the pitching market and really, the starting pitching market as much as anything has been the most aggressive market here in the early going of the offseason. That’s something we’re still keeping an eye on.”
Falvey didn’t set a specific number as to how many pitchers the Twins were looking to add ahead of Spring Training, but he did again emphasize a focus on depth in the group via both Major League and non-roster additions to endure the needs of a full season.
He also noted that part of the eventual solution will be in the development of their top internal pitching prospects. Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Cole Sands, Drew Strotman, Chris Vallimont and Josh Winder are all on the 40-man roster, while top-10 organizational prospects Matt Canterino and Simeon Woods Richardson also likely to enter the conversation soon.
“We need to remain focused on free-agent acquisitions, trade, and then really a lot of focus on internal development, too,” Falvey said. “Once you get to that Double-A, Triple-A level, we’re hopeful those guys become part of the equation here next year soon.”