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Twins Sign Lance Lynn; Phillies Let Another SP Option Pass Them By

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We’re not even sure if they’re playing a game of chicken, but if they are, the Phillies seem to be on the verge of losing

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Chicago Cubs Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Well, one of The Last Three starting pitchers has found a new home...and it’s not in Philadelphia.

Word broke Saturday afternoon via FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman and MLB.com’s Jon Morosi that the Minnesota Twins and Lance Lynn (Lance Twynn?? Sorry, no time for jokes) have agreed to - you guessed it - a one-year deal worth somewhere in the $12 million neighborhood.

Because the deal is for (far) less than $50 million, the Cardinals will only receive a compensatory pick in the supplemental round that follows Round 2. That’s neither here nor there, really.

The argument for today comes back to our favorite ball club, and the continuously open question as to whether they’re truly trying to be competitive in 2018 or just want to play the lottery. Lynn is no longer an available option to bolster this starting rotation that, despite an encouraging outing today from Vince Velasquez and decent showings from a couple other starters thus far, still has entirely too many questions for a team trying to position itself as competitive.

But the message is conflicting. John Middleton said the following himself in this piece by Philly.com’s Mike Sielski last December, in reference to baseball operations:

...‘If something comes up, and it breaks the bank relative to the budget, and you don’t pursue it, we’re going to be upset.’ And they know that.

That was said on the day the Phils introduced Carlos Santana in a press conference, and unless that was only meant to apply to signing Santana and Santana alone (Neshek and Hunter’s deals are shorter and for less than half the AAV of Carlos; they could be made in any season), the current staid, sedate approach by the front office is in direct contradiction to Middleton’s December proclamation.

The Phillies are leaving their competitive status to chance. They are hoping that two or three of the pitchers on their 40-man will be good enough to keep them in games for four or five innings, while the offense tries to slug it out. It’s high-risk, and it needn’t be. At least, the club could stand to mitigate some of that risk each time through the rotation.

It’s entirely possible Lance Lynn didn’t want to pitch for the Phillies, just as it could be the Phillies didn’t want to offer multiple years, or more than $12 million for one year. We don’t know, and we might never know. Lynn’s departure from the pool of available upgrades simply announces the clock’s minute hand inching closer to midnight, with the time for making significant changes before July running out quickly. What if Alex Cobb goes to the Brewers and Jake Arrieta goes to the Nationals in the coming days or weeks? Those two teams - one a division rival and the other among the Phillies’ stiffest Wild Card competition both now and in the near term - would put further distance between themselves and the Phils while the Phils hope one of their scratch-offs nets them twenty bucks.

Everyone on or close to the Phillies will tell you they believe in theirteammates/”the guys we’ve got,” and that’s fine. That’s what you want to hear; throwing dudes under the bus is a bad look. Deep down, though, it’d be hard to imagine some of these guys seeing the available upgrades slowly slip through the team’s fingers and not wonder just how serious the organization is about Going For It this season.

It’s been an offseason of wavering anxiety, with feelings vacillating from optimism to acceptance and back again, and the uncertainty behind the Phils’ true plans for this season only stands to occlude their 2018 forecast - and, in effect, their potential 2019 free agent courtships - that much further.