The Twins gained additional clarity around a building block of their starting rotation, when they agreed to a three-year contract extension with right-hander Chris Paddack, the club announced on Wednesday.
Paddack is expected to miss the majority of the 2023 season as he continues his recovery from his second Tommy John surgery, which was performed in May after he made five starts for the Twins following his arrival in a trade from San Diego.
The extension will carry a base value of around $12.5 million, a source said, and will buy out Paddack’s two remaining arbitration-eligible years and the first year of what would have been free agency. He is in line to become a free agent following the 2025 season.
Paddack already had agreed to a one-year, $2.4 million deal on Friday to avoid salary arbitration in ’23.
Financially, it’s a low-risk deal for the Twins — and it almost had to be, considering the uncertainty around pitchers’ recovery from multiple Tommy John surgeries. Paddack, a former highly regarded prospect with a career 4.20 ERA across four seasons with the Padres and Twins, could still bring upside to the rotation if his stuff rebounds to close to where it was before the procedure.
If Paddack isn’t his old self, the deal only averages just over $4 million per season, which would be a manageable salary hit.
Either way, the Twins likely won’t have a good sense for how the deal will play out until ’24, as Paddack said at the end of last season that he expects to make only a handful of starts toward the end of the ’23 campaign following his recovery.
This could prove significant for the Twins because they have plenty of starting rotation candidates for this coming season, but the picture thins considerably in subsequent years. Kenta Maeda, Tyler Mahle and Sonny Gray are all slated to become free agents at the conclusion of the ’23 season.
That will leave Bailey Ober and, now, Paddack, as the only starting candidates with meaningful Major League experience under club contractual control beyond this season. Others like Josh Winder, Louie Varland and Simeon Woods Richardson could join that group with steps forward in ’23.
The Twins have had some success with a previous deal similar to this. They signed Michael Pineda to a two-year deal prior to the 2018 season with the knowledge he would miss much of the first year of the contract while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Pineda went on to pitch to a 3.80 ERA in three seasons with the Twins, signing another two-year deal along the way.
Paddack’s case is different in that a recovery from a second Tommy John surgery comes with much less history in the Majors, but Paddack is only 27 and now has an extra year under the Twins’ umbrella to recover and provide value from the mound for a team that could use the rotation help in the coming years.