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Jake Odorizzi bet on himself last offseason and accepted the Twins’ qualifying offer. Even after a disappointing 2020 season, he stands to cash in among the top starting pitchers available on the free-agent market.
The Mets remain engaged with the right-hander’s camp, according to industry sources, with an eye still on Trevor Bauer, the highest-rated starter on the board. With the virtual winter meetings underway this week, it’s possible the Mets will soon have clarity on that needed rotation piece.
Odorizzi, 30, spent most of last season sidelined by injuries, including a batted ball to the chest that forced him to miss a month. In only four appearances for the Twins, spanning 13 ²/₃ innings, he went 0-1 with a 6.59 ERA. Odorizzi also had a back injury to start the season before a blister shortened his lone September start.
“He can take a mulligan for this year because he had some issues right out of the gate, but his first two years with us were real good,” Twins special assistant LaTroy Hawkins, a former Mets reliever, told The Post. “He gave us some innings, and it’s fun to watch him pitch. I like him, but I love watching him pitch because he doesn’t throw 100 mph, but he has good command, and he understands what he does well and what he needs to be successful.”
Odorizzi was an All-Star selection in 2019, finishing the season 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA and 1.208 WHIP. Before pitching for the Twins, he spent five seasons with the Rays.
“He hasn’t pitched in the NL East, but he’s pitched in the AL East, and I think guys who have success in the AL East can pitch anywhere,” Hawkins said. “He will fit fine in the clubhouse — he’s got some funniness to him. He will throw some funny stuff out there from time to time.”
Marcus Stroman’s decision to accept the qualifying offer worth $18.9 million gave the Mets a dependable right arm behind ace Jacob deGrom. The Mets also have David Peterson, Seth Lugo and Steven Matz as rotation options, as Noah Syndergaard spends the first part of 2021 rehabbing from Tommy John surgery.
Odorizzi’s approach to pitching has impressed Hawkins.
“He understands his body, understands mechanics, understands what he needs to do,” Hawkins said. “Just playing catch with him this year a lot because he was hurt, I had a chance to dig into what makes him good. Playing catch with guys, it’s impressive. Highly intelligent, he’s a really smart dude.”
If Odorizzi lands with the Mets, he would be reunited with pitching Jeremy Hefner, who was an assistant on Minnesota’s staff when the right-hander enjoyed his best season. Last week, the Mets signed another former Hefner disciple in reliever Trevor May.
“[May] is a goofball — he’s a different cat,” Hawkins said. “He is going to work hard, and he’s a big man. When you stand next to him, not only is he tall, but he’s wide, and he’s got a big old block head, a wide body. He’s a large human.
“But the Mets are going to like him. He’s got one thing on his mind: Throwing hard up in the zone and getting strikeouts.”