Jake Odorizzi is coming off of an injury riddled season. At only 30 years old, he is prime for a bounceback season. The chance of a bounceback season makes Odorizzi an interesting free agent target.
Jake Odorizzi is a free agent for the first time in his career. A key part of the 2010 trade for Zack Greinke, Odorizzi has had a solid career in his own right. Lorenzo Cain and Jeremy Jeffress made their way back to Milwaukee and became solid contributors, could a reunion between the Brewers and Odorizzi make sense?
After being traded to the Royals, Odorizzi was traded to the Rays in the James Shields and Wade Davis trade. For the past three seasons, Odorizzi has pitched for the Minnesota Twins. After accepting the qualifying offer last offseason, Odorizzi is now a free agent and not hindered by any draft pick compensation.
In 2020, Odorizzi struggled with injuries, only being able to pitch 13.2 innings. In those innings, Odorizzi pitched to a 6.29 ERA (6.12 FIP), with a 20.0% strikeout rate, but a sample size that small is extremely inconclusive.
Odorizzi’s last season with real merit came in 2019. He started 30 games, threw 159 innings, recorded an ERA of 3.51 (3.36 FIP), struck out 10.08 K/9 (178), gave up 0.91 HR/9 (16), and produced 4.3 fWAR.
ZIPS currently projects Odorizzi, entering his age-31 season, to produce 2.6 fWAR, with 9.34 K/9, and an increase in HR/9 up to 1.28.
Where would Odorizzi fit with the Brewers?
Odorizzi would slot in well behind the dynamic duo of Woodruff and Burnes. Adrian Houser, Josh Lindblom, and Freddy Peralta all are expected to factor into those remaining spots. Having Odorizzi in the rotation as well would provide an additional boost and a veteran arm, as the Brewers attempt to make the playoffs for the fourth straight time, a first in franchise history.
While Trevor Bauer is a free agent, and Blake Snell is reportedly available via trade, the Brewers are not going to be in on pitchers of those stature. A bounceback candidate in Odorizzi is a logical match with Milwaukee.
What would it take?
FanGraphs’ Free Agent Tracker projects he will receive a contract worth 3 years/$39 million. An AAV of $13 million would make Odorizzi the third highest paid player on the Brewers behind Cain and Yelich. Given how slow this offseason is expected to be, and the uncertainties that remain regarding 2021, teams may be unwilling to commit to contracts that are longer than 1 year.
In that case, someone like Odorizzi, who is returning from injuries, may take a 1 year deal laced with incentives. This may be a scenario where David Stearns would be willing to take a chance on Odorizzi.
Jake Odorizzi is an interesting free agent option for the Brewers. It would be poetic for three of the four players involved in the Zack Greinke trade to return to Milwaukee and provide a meaningful contribution to the team.
While reunions aren’t always the best idea, Odorizzi can still be a productive player in the big leagues and could help out the Brewers in the middle of the rotation.