Minnesota Twins lose pitchers Kenta Maeda, Sonny Gray to free agency

Sonny Gray #54 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates with teammates in the clubhouse after the Twins defeated the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 2 of the Wild Card Series at Target Field on Wednesday, October 4, 2023 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  ((Photo by Daniel Shirey/MLB Photos via Getty Images))

Free agency has started in Major League Baseball, and the Minnesota Twins have already lost two key pieces from their starting rotation.

Kenta Maeda has agreed to a deal with the Detroit Tigers, and Sonny Gray is headed to the St. Louis Cardinals on a three-year deal. Gray was the Twins’ No. 2 starter behind Pablo Lopez in 2023 and finished 8-8 with a 2.79 earned run average in 32 starts. He had 183 strikeouts and just 55 walks in 184 innings. He also contended for the American League Cy Young Award.

Maeda battled his way back from Tommy John surgery and went 6-8 with a 4.23 ERA. He struck out 117 and walked 17 in 68 innings.

So after winning their third AL Central Division title in five seasons, what will the Twins’ pitching staff look like in 2024? The short answer is we’ll have to wait to find out.

What we do know is Lopez is the ace. The Twins traded batting champion Luis Arraez to the Miami Marlins to get him. Lopez finished 11-8 with a 3.66 ERA in 32 starts, striking out 234 and walking just 48 in 194 innings.

About a month into being in Minnesota, the Twins signed him to a four-year, $73 million extension.

After Lopez, it gets a little murky for the Twins. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober will be back. Chris Paddack returned late in the season from Tommy John surgery, and Louie Varland got 10 starts. But the departure of Maeda and Gray, both of which were expected, leaves 51 starts to replace from last season.