Last season Lance Lynn was dealt at the end of July and became a valuable addition to the Yankees rotation. Before the trade has was a member of the Minnesota Twins and he wasn’t having a good year. The Yankees were relying more on his previous success throughout his career when they decided to trade for him. His performance slightly increased with the Yankees but they only made it to the divisional series, far below their expectations.
After the season, Lynn signed a three-year thirty-million dollar deal with the Texas Rangers. He is currently 32 years old, meaning that a three-year deal is often questionable to a player this old with a questionable track record. In other words, the Rangers gave a three-year deal to an old pitcher who was not been effective since 2017. However, to this point, the deal is pointing in favor of the Rangers. Lynn has been having an excellent season and is even starting to be considered a Cy Young Contender. You can read about it here and here.
How he is having such a standout season is something I wouldn’t have expected. Take a look below at his Pitch% by season. Make sure to especially take notice of his fastball usage.
Usually when we see a pitcher have a breakout season and evaluate his pitch%, his fastball usage isn’t what we see increase. It’s usually the increased usage of a breaking-ball paired with either a cutter or sinker. However, Lynn does have a good spin rate on his fastball and it ranks in the 87th percentile. This is impressive when you compare it to his fastball velocity which only ranks at the 51st percentile. so, maybe it makes sense for him to use his fastball more often.
When you look at many Statcast metrics evaluating Lynn’s performance, you can see a jump this season based on 2018. You can even see a jump from 2017 to 2018 in many different metrics. These include K%, average pitch velocity, average spin rate, barrel%, and several others. So, I believe that he will be able to continue his success. Not to the extent that he is currently performing at but I believe we could see the performance out of him that he gave the Cardinals early in his career.
It is difficult though to predict how long that success is going to last and for one reason only. That reason is age. You never know when age is going to catch up to a player and he starts to significantly regress. However, Lynn isn’t a pitcher that relies on his velocity which makes me believe he can sustain his success longer than expected. Specifically, he should be able to be effective through the remainder of his current contract.
Now, with Lynn under team control for the rest of this season and the two following seasons, not many teams would consider moving this type of player. However, I believe that it would not only make sense for the Rangers, but it would also make sense for the team that trades for him. Well, that is if the right team trades for him. I do believe that there are many teams out there where it would make sense for them to trade for Lynn.
Before discussing the optimal landing spots for Lynn, I want to elaborate on why I believe the Rangers should trade him. Right now, the Rangers would get the biggest return for him. With so much team control and how well he is performing, you can’t ask for much more. He is literally in contention for the Cy Young award. Lynn is having one of the best seasons of his career and would be a valuable addition to many teams.
There is only one argument that comes to mind that goes against the Rangers trading Lynn. With such extensive team control, he may be of value if the Rangers find themselves in contention in those next two seasons. However, by no means do I see the Rangers being contenders over the next two years. Even if they are out-performing expectations, they’re still not making the playoffs. So, it makes sense for Lynn to be dealt and for the Rangers to optimize their return on investment.
Now, as to which team should trade for him, several teams come to mind. The top suitor for Lynn would be the Phillies. They’re a team in strong need of starting pitching. They are also a team that despite not being in contention this year, expect to be in contention next year and for years after that. As I write this, the Phillies are still very much in the playoff picture but they aren’t a team that is in serious contention for the World Series. They have too many holes in their roster and Lynn can help to fill one of them.
My second suitor for Lynn is the Braves. The Braves are going to be in contention for many years to come but to win a World Series, they do need to improve a few spots on their roster. By adding Lance Lynn to their roster, they get that much closer to a championship.
My third suitor for Lance is the Astros. The Houston Astros now have the reputation of reinventing pitchers but with Lynn, they can get one that has already been reinvented. The addition of Lynn would put the Astros a lot closer to winning another World Series.
There are other teams out there that Lynn may fit well with but these three are my top landing spots for him. In all honesty, I don’t know if Lynn will be traded because I haven’t heard his name thrown around at all in trade rumors. However, I still wouldn’t be surprised if he is traded without warning because it does make sense. It would help both sides of the deal in many different scenarios that I can imagine. I am looking forward to the fast-approaching deadline and to see what the future holds for Lance Lynn.
Sources include Baseball Savant and FanGraphs