The Minnesota Twins came to an agreement with free agent pitcher Kevin Correia on Monday evening. The right hander will join the Twins’ rotation thanks to a deal that spans two years and pays him $10 million.
Correia, 32, has spent the past two seasons pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates, mostly as a starter. he was a National League all-star in 2011, when he entered the break with an 11-7 record and 4.01 ERA. He fell apart in the second half that season, however, and wound up 12-11.
He duplicated that record in 2012, but he took a different route to do it. Correia was significantly better after the all-star break last season, though the Bucs removed him from the rotation as the season drew to a close. While he was respectable with a 4.34 ERA in the first half, Correia struck out only 35 batters in 91 innings of work, making this the Twinsiest signing in the history of the Twins. Correia’strikeout rate did improve as the season wore on, but he’s fanned only 4.6 batters per nine innings over the past two seasons.
Last season, the Twins were the only team in the league that didn’t strikeout at least 1000 batters on the season. They finished 140 strikeouts behind the next lowest total. Not coincidentally, only one team, Cleveland, had a higher team ERA. The signing of Correia does very little to address either of those issues.
It’s also difficult to chalk this up to an innings-eating veteran pitcher filling out a rotation and mentoring the young staff. Correia hasn’t been especially durable. Correia has only been a starter for the past four seasons and he’s never worked 200 innings in a year, though he did toss 198 innings in 2009. Even with that total included, however, he’s only averaged 167 innings per season in those four years. In that time, he’s pitched to a 4.51 ERA and struck out fewer than six batters per nine innings.
The Twins did well in adding three live arms in trades over the past week, but Correia looks like a step backward, even if he’s considered nothing more than a placeholder. Correia isn’t a bad pitcher to sign at the end of the Winter as a low-cost veteran who may re-discover his form. But giving him a multi-year deal is a big mistake, even for a club as badly in need of pitching as the Twins are.
Minnesota’s brass spoke about needing to find power arms and needing to change their organizational philosophy of finesse hurlers who pitch to contact. Then they went out and signed the poster boy for pitching to contact and gave him a two year contract. Maybe they’ll bring back Carl Pavano as well.