Diving Into The Offseason: A Berrios Extension?
Image courtesy of Kim Klement, USA TodayThe case for Jose Berrios is similar to that of Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. The hope of the last four years has been in Buxton and Sano, but also in Berrios because obviously, pitching wins. As much as we need to continue to see big offense, to get to where they all (and we all) want to get, they’ll need pitching.
Berrios had a rough debut season in 2016, but when he came up in 2017, he pitched very well, at least for the first two months. But he was so much better and we really started to see what he could become.
It’s obviously much more difficult to find long-term contracts for players such as Jose Berrios. He’s two seasons from arbitration and five years from free agency. There just aren’t a lot of examples of this for pitchers.
In fact, of American League pitchers, I found just two such examples, Chris Archer and Martin Perez. Both came up, like Berrios, as top prospects. Archer pretty much immediately became an ace-level pitcher in Tampa. Perez was with the Rangers (with Thad Levine involved) and was exciting, but he was hurt some and struggled some. But he has become pretty good.
They each had two pre-arbitration seasons, three arbitration season and then there were options to cover some free agent seasons.
There are several more players who signed with one season before free agency. That’s obviously more ‘normal.’
Part of the reason for signing players early is for some cost certainty. But also, for teams to provide life-long financial security to the players, the players need to accept the risk that they could be underpaid in arbitration years or free agent years. It’s a trade off.
Here is a group of players who chose to go year-to-year with arbitration.
Because of the risk, these numbers should be the top of the spectrum, and yet they vary a bit. And, of course, we also have to account for the inflation in the game the last several years.
To try to help with that, here is a listing of some pitchers who went through the arbitration cycle for the first time in 2017.
Again, I only went through the American League. This is already a bunch, and frankly, you don’t want to go through a list double this size, but it gives us a good range for what the Twins could expect to have to pay.
So, with all that as background, here is the contract that I would offer to Jose Berrios this offseason, at least as a starting point for discussion.
This works out to a seven year, $46 million contract, and with the option, it would be eight years, $60 million. (I put a $2 million buyout to the option in there.)
Seven years and $46 million sure doesn’t sound like a lot, does it? And yet, $46 million for a guy with just over a year of experience is a lot of money. Consider that four years ago around this time, Chris Archer signed a contract for six years and $25.5 million with two option years. That's $20 million additional dollars four years later. If I were to guess, I think that the Berrios side would want it to be a year or two shorter so that he can become a free agent at 29 or 30.
In that context, does this deal seem to make some sense for the Twins? For Berrios’s camp? What do you think?