After seven years with the Cardinals, Lance Lynn returned to St. Louis this week as a member of the Twins. From the visiting side of the field, he expressed some of his frustration about the state of baseball to St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Benjamin Hochman.
Keep in mind that Lynn never had a losing season with St. Louis, going 18-7 in 2012, winning 15 games twice and coming back with an 11-8 record and 3.43 ERA last year after missing 2016 to recover from Tommy John surgery. Lynn opted for free agency after turning down a one-year qualifying offer from the Cardinals.
Hochman wrote: "On this day, one year ago, Lynn was 4-1 with a 2.04 ERA. Talk radio talked regularly about the $100 million he’d make. Talk about a curveball."
Instead, there were no acceptable offers until the Twins put up $12 million for a one-year contract well into spring training. Lynn has struggled with the Twins so far, with a 1-3 record and 7.28 ERA in his first six starts, which have been marked by wildness (23 walks in 29 2/3 innings) that hasn't been a part of his performance in the past.
Lynn told Hochman: “Maybe I’ll just go on and be a hired gun the rest of my career, I don’t really care. If somebody gives me a chance to pitch, I’m going to go do it, I’m not worried about anything else. It’s kind of been who I’ve been my whole life. I’m going to take the ball and I’m going to try to help the team win. That’s kind of the unfortunate business part of baseball now. I was here for seven years and there’s no loyalty in the game. So as players, you’ve noticed players not having the loyalty anymore either."
But Lynn added this isn't a cry-for-me situation. "We go where we're told and where we get offered to play. We're going to do it and we get paid a lot of money to do it, so you can't be sad for us, because we're going to be all right," he told Hochman.
Lynn is wise to be wary of his future. The Twins have three young pitchers in Jose Berrios, Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves who could be keys to their rotation for years to come. Starters Kyle Gibson and Jake Odorizzi aren't eligible for free agency until after the 2019 season, and the Twins will have several other high-profile free agent situations -- including Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar -- to handle later this year. Ervin Santana has an option for 2019, as well.
If Lynn rights himself this season and goes on to do big things elsewhere, the system will have worked for him, albeit not very comfortably.
The end of Hochman's column provides words for Twins fans to ponder as this season and its related financial situations play out: "Something had to give. And while Lynn sounded somewhat like a jilted lover, it wasn’t just the Cardinals that (were) jilted — it was much of baseball. The value of a veteran no longer is universal.