The Minnesota Twins are in agreement with right-hander Randy Dobnak on a five-year, $9.25MM extension, per Jeff Passan of ESPN (via Twitter). The deal includes three club option years with escalators that can bring the total amount up to $29.75MM. The deal is pending a physical.
This definitely rates as somewhat of a surprise, given that Dobnak, 26, will begin the year in the bullpen after spending all of last season in the rotation. While starting the year in a piggyback role might seem like a demotion, the Twins clearly feel compelled enough by Dobnak’s performance to guarantee his role in the organization for years to come.
Further, with just 1.036 days of service time, Dobnak wasn’t likely to become arbitration-eligible until 2023. Assuming the deal begins in 2021, the guaranteed portion would cover Dobnak’s five years of traditional team control. For a 26-year-old who signed with the Twins in July, 2017 out of independent ball, this new deal represents life-changing money. The Twins, meanwhile, get three additional seasons of optional team control at what are likely to be reasonable rates. Both sides can benefit from the financial certainty.
On the hill, suffice it so say that Dobnak has repeatedly overcome his underdog status to provide valuable innings for Minnesota. He was a genuine revelation in making his debut during the 2019 season, posting a 1.59 ERA/3.92 SIERA in five starts and four relief appearances covering 28 1/3 innings. Dobnak’s sophomore season had more ups-and-downs, but he still managed a 4.05 ERA/4.56 SIERA in 10 starts covering 46 2/3 innings. In 75 total career innings, Dobnak has achieved an excellent 58.8 percent groundball rate with a similarly-encouraging 5.7 percent walk rate and less-than-thrilling 15.7 percent strikeout rate.
Dobnak certainly doesn’t fit the mold of today’s hurler. His fastball velocity lands in the 31st percentile and the 5th percentile for spin rate. He is in the 13th percentile for whiff rate and fourth percentile by strikeout rate. Nevertheless, he has been better than average at avoiding barrels and coaxing below-average exit velocity while burning worms and avoiding free passes. The recipe has worked for Dobnak thus far and earned him a long-term home in Minnesota.