Improving the Minnesota Twins bullpen will likely be the top priority this offseason for General Manager Terry Ryan, and hard-throwing lefty Tony Sipp would be a tremendous pull for the organization.
Minnesota had the only bullpen in 2015 to average below seven strikeouts per nine innings while lefties Brian Duensing and Neal Cotts are both set to hit the open market this winter. This means Sipp will be able to fit the team’s two biggest bullpen needs in one package as a left-handed arm who has fanned over ten batters per nine innings in each of the last three seasons.
Sipp wouldn’t just replace Duensing or Cotts; he’d be a clear-cut upgrade. The 32-year-old flame-thrower features a four-seam fastball in the upper-90’s, a slider commonly used as his strikeout pitch and a two-seam fastball to compliment everything. Sipp also throws an occasional change-up to right-handed hitters.
He’s coming off a dominating season with the Houston Astros and was a force in a very underrated bullpen. Sipp posted a 1.99 ERA over 60 appearances and had a career-best 4.13 strikeout-to-walk ratio. The former 45th–round pick out of Clemson also brings a talent for holding runners on base, having just two bases stolen with him on the mound in 2015 and he’s only committed two balks over his entire seven-year career, none in the last two seasons.
Sipp is not going to come cheap for a middle relief option and plenty of teams looking to upgrade their bullpens will surely be interested in talking with him this winter. Working on a one-year, $2.4-million deal with the Astros in 2015, Sipp outdid himself and came up with by far the best season of his career. This should earn him a nice little pay raise for the 2016 season and could also include a second or third year on the contract.
But the cost of Sipp shouldn’t scare Minnesota away. Duensing, who’s been the team’s top left-handed option outside of closer Glen Perkins for the past three seasons, tops out at 94 MPH and struck out under five batters per nine innings last season. Sipp would mean so much to the Twins and instantly make them look like a better team.