Pablo Lopez, Twins agree to contract extension

Pablo Lopez
(AP Photo/John Minchillo)

The Minnesota Twins didn’t make too many big moves this off-season. The moves they did make, they made sure they mattered. One of the biggest acquisitions this previous off-season is Pablo Lopez, who came over in to the Twins alongside shortstop prospect Jose Salas in exchange for Luis Arraez. The 27-year-old is already locked in on a $5.45M salary for this season, though the deal now buys out the final year of Lopez’s final arbitration season.

Minnesota is reportedly in agreement with the right-hander on a four-year, $73.5MM contract extension. The deal is pending a physical, but with Lopez currently on the Twins that won’t take long. Once completed, the deal will also extend through the first three years of Lopez’ free agency years. As of now, it appears he will remain in Minnesota through his age-31 season.

The assumption is that Lopez would’ve landed a deal worth $10M for the final year of his arbitration. The deal values Lopez at somewhere around $20-21MM per free-agent season. That annual range takes him past the AAVs that mid-rotation arms like Taijuan Walker ($18MM) and Jameson Taillon ($17MM) agreed to this past offseason.

Through his first four starts with the Twins, Lopez has looked like a star. After pitching to a 3.75 ERA in a career-high 32 starts and 180 innings in 2022, he’s surged out to a 1.73 ERA through four starts and 26 innings with the Twins. Lopez’s 95.4 mph average fastball is a career-best mark, and his 33.7% strikeout rate trounces the 23.2% mark he posted in parts of five seasons in Miami. He’s managed to up his velocity and strikeout rate without sacrificing his pinpoint command; this year’s 6.1% walk rate tops the 6.7% mark he posted in his Marlins career.

From a structural standpoint, the deal that Pablo Lopez has agreed to is similar to the one that Logan Webb signed with the San Francisco Giants. That $90MM deal, a record for the three-plus service class, also bought out three free-agent seasons. However, Webb’s deal bought out two arbitration seasons.

Now, that he is locked up. Lopez will join Carlos Correa and Byron Buxton as the focal points of the Twins’ core. Looking to strictly the rotation, both Lopez and Joe Ryan are now under club control through the 2027 season, the rest of the rotation is up for free agency this offseason.

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