Arbitration Decisions Looming
Image courtesy of Joe Nicholson, USA TodaySo, by Friday's deadline, the Twins need to either offer these players arbitration or non-tender them in which case they become free agents. Sometimes the two sides will reach an agreement before the deadline on a 2019 contract. That likely involves the Twins reaching out to the player and saying, "Hey, we will offer you $X to sign, otherwise we will non-tender you." Sometimes that can create a situation where the sides reach a deal on a multi-year contract. Sometimes they agree to a one-year deal and make it clear that they are open to a multi-year deal. Trades are also possible.
It is also important to remember that arbitration contracts are not fully guaranteed. The Twins could DFA these guys and depending on when, they will only owe them a portion of the total salary.
Let's take a look at the eligible players.
Jake Odorizzi (5.042) - $9 - 10 million
Odorizzi certainly had his ups and downs in 2018 with the Twins. He often wasn't able to get through six innings, but he ended pretty strong While the 2019 projected salary seems pretty high, the Twins have plenty of payroll, and Odorizzi does take the ball every time. There is value in that. Ideally, he's the Twins fourth starter.
Kyle Gibson (5.039) - $7.5 - 8.5 million
A year ago, many were surprised that the Twins offered Gibson arbitration. But he ended the 2017 season strong (after a couple of minor league stints earlier in the season) and the Twins brought him back. At this point, it's' a no brainer that the Twins want Gibson back for 2019 after a strong 2018 season. If Gibson is open to it, I'm sure the Twins may be interested in a two or three year extension, but Gibson is now one year from free agency and may want to experience that.
CJ Cron (4.097) - $5.0 - $5.5 million
Dude hit 30 home runs. The Rays just let him go for nothing. The Rays will go with Jake Bauers at first base and sign someone for cheap. $5 million for a guy coming off of the season Cron just had is a bargain. Easy choice to tender Cron a contract and get his bat in the lineup often. I mean, unless they go get Paul Goldschmidt.
Eddie Rosario (3.120) - $4.5 - $5.0 million
Rosario has hit well in three of his four big leagues seasons. Even though he tailed off over the final month of 2018, in large part due to injury, Rosario had a great year. He was in the Final Vote for the All-Star Game and really deserved the opportunity. There''s not much to say here. Easy choice for his first arbitration.
Prediction: Tendered (long-term discussions possible)
Robbie Grossman (4.060) - $3.5 - 4 million
Many seem to think that the decision on Grossman will be easy. He isn't a great defensive outfield and isn't versatile, so he's mostly a DH. He doesn't have a ton of power. But, he does get on base, and he does take very professional at-bats. And, $4 million isn't a lot. This decision shouldn't be as easy as many think. But...
Max Kepler (2.152) - $2.8 - $3.2 million
Kepler's primary value to this point has been that he is a tremendous defensive outfielder, and there is a lot of value in that. Overall, there hasn't been as much year-over-year improvement as many would like to see with the bat, though there have been improvements made (vs LHP, plate approach). And, 20 home runs is never something to completely sneeze at.
Prediction: Tendered (and if it was me, I'd work for a long-term deal)
Miguel Sano (3.066) - $2.8 - $3.2 million
2018 was an awful year for Miguel Sano on and off the field. There were a couple of off-field investigations. There were a lot of strikeouts. There was a demotion all the way to Ft. Myers. But arbitration figures factor in more than just one season, and Sano was an All-Star in 2017, so this will be an interesting case. But, it's an easy decision.
Ehire Adrianza (4.131) - $1.5 - $2.0 million
This is another one that is probably a much more easy decision that one might think. Adrianza was a waiver claim by the Twins a couple of seasons ago, and he has been productive in his role has a utility infielder. He's probably been forced into more action than most would have planned and held his own. He can play four infield positions and left field adequately. Less than $2 million for a solid utility infielder is standard, maybe even low.
UPDATE (3:00 pm Thursday)
Taylor Rogers (2.145) - $1.5 - $2.0 million
Rogers was great in the first half of 2017 and struggled in the second half. In 2018, he put it all together and became one of the better left-handed relievers in baseball. Paul Molitor relied on him heavily, especially in the second half, and Rogers came through.
Prediction: Tendered (maybe a two-year deal discussed)
Byron Buxton (2.160) - $1.0 - $1.5 million
Another interesting case. Buxton's 2018 season was derailed by the early-season broken toe that affected him in the field and at the plate. He spent a lot of time on the DL and in Rochester. As you can see from his service time, that cost him an extra season before free agency. But again, in 2017, he received several MVP votes and won a Gold and a Platinum Glove for his elite defense.
Prediction: Tendered (and I would still be very open to a long-term deal)
Trevor May (4.012) - $1.0 - $1.5 million
May racked up a year of service time on the Disabled List, but he came back strong late in the 2018 season. In fact, he looked the part of a closer in September. Regardless of role or innings he may pitch, May is a guy who can be a real factor out of the Twins bullpen (or even as an opener).
Prediction: Tendered (consider a multi-year deal)
So there you have it. I'm predicting that the Twins will offer 2019 contracts to 10 of their 11 arbitration-eligible players. Most are no-brainers, and even the two players that many seem to think could be non-tendered are not easy decisions.
What will the Twins do with each of these players, and what should they do? That's up for debate and discussion. You can do so below.
- nytwinsfan, dbminn, nclahammer and 1 other like this