Ed. note: The Colorado Rockies picked up Cal Quantrill minutes after this story was published.
As the Twins start doing the pre-work for their roster trimming, they should keep an eye on the market as other teams do the same. Sure, these names fall into the all-too-familiar scratch-and-dent aisle, but there can still be great value if teams know where to look.
With the team payroll likely to come down in 2024, some of these recent cuts can help to fill the gaps in production from departing players. Are any of these players going to put up Sonny Gray-like numbers? Probably not, but they can fill in around the margins. And for a modest salary, that could be worth it for the team and player.
The Twins have an exciting team that looks like it will have an open contention window for the foreseeable future. Therefore, Minnesota would be an excellent destination for these two pitchers if they want to get their careers back on track. If all goes well, they could be playing for a career-defining payday with their next contract.
Here are a couple of names to keep an eye on for the Twins:
The former Cleveland Guardians righty met the inevitable fate of so many solid players as they enter their fifth year of service time for a financially-limited team. Cleveland designated him for assignment last week, primarily due to the financial commitment of an arbitration raise more so than his performance. The former top prospect was due to earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $6.6 million for the 2024 season, with another year of club control after that.
It’s hard to say whether that price would be appealing to the Twins as they try to lay out a blueprint for their finances. But if they were making this decision in a vacuum, adding Quantrill is a move they should consider to reinforce the back end of their big league rotation.
Shoulder inflammation marred a brutal 2023 season for the 28-year-old. That injury initially kept him out of action for two months, then limited him upon his return. Ultimately, the former rotation fixture ended the year with a 5.24 ERA and career-worst measures in multiple figures, including WHIP (1.46), walk rate (7.9%), and strikeout rate (13.1%). The raw stuff matched the results, especially for his fastball offerings. Opponents crushed his go-to pitches: His sinker (.307 expected batting average against, .538 expected slugging percentage) and his cutter (.293 xBA, .490 xSLG).
If the Twins could help Quantrill rework at least one of those fastballs to the point where they are at least passable, he could be a solid find for a backend starter job. Anything resembling his run from 2020-2022 would be an incredible addition to the staff. In those three seasons, Quantrill had a 3.08 ERA across 368 innings pitched in 57 starts. With that in mind, there are bound to be a plethora of teams interested in his services.
The Kansas City Royals have sputtered near the bottom of the standings since their World Series championship in 2015. However, they always seem to have a pipeline of intriguing relief arms that burst onto the scene. Staumont is one of KC’s hurlers who has had success in his career, but he’s stumbled mightily in the last two seasons.
The hard-throwing righty finished his 2023 campaign with an unsightly 5.40 ERA, and that came after a dreadful 2022 campaign where he had a sky-high 6.45 ERA. But even in those challenging seasons, he had great strikeout numbers that would be among the leaders in Minnesota’s bullpen (10.3 K/9 in 2022, 10.8 in 2023). Staumont even limited opponents to a .216 batting average against him last year. But his walk rate has completely derailed his success, ballooning to a brutal 6.55 BB/9 across the previous two seasons.
Still, the 29-year-old should get some interest from other clubs thanks to his solid three-season stretch from 2019 to 2021. Staumont had a 2.93 ERA in 110 innings pitched in that run, and he was a reliable set-up option for those Royals clubs. He averaged 97 MPH on his fastball and got by with a usable curveball and rarely-used sinker in his repertoire. But in 2022, he started experimenting with a slider, and that’s where things got hairy. Surprisingly, the slider got great results (.133 batting average against, zero extra-base hits allowed in 2023). However, his fastball results completely imploded.
Similarly to Quantrill, the Twins would need to reshape the fastball to unlock Staumont’s true potential. They would also need to find a way to rework his mechanics for better control and execution to help curb his high-walk tendencies. Those are big hurdles. Still, it might be worth it for Minnesota to reel him in and try to make it work in low-leverage situations. We’ve seen them succeed with pitchers who possess a hard fastball and a good slider in the past. Staumont could be the next Twins bullpen success story as they did with Caleb Thielbar, Matt Wisler, and Brock Stewart.