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Twins Roster Moves - 2021

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Dobnak Extension Brings Long-term Stability to Twins Rotation

We've learned that this Minnesota Twins front office highly values both flexibility and stability in its team-building strategy.

With Randy Dobnak's newly-minted contract extension, the Twins maintain flexibility in their rotation plans while also securing some much-needed, low-risk stability for the long term.
At first blush, Dobnak's new contract seems absurdly team-friendly. The Twins are locking up a proven young pitcher, with a 3.12 ERA through 75 MLB innings, to a five-year deal guaranteeing him less money than Michael Pineda or J.A. Happ will earn this year alone.



With three club option years on the back end, this deal gives Minnesota plenty of flexibility down the line. The ability to buy Dobnak's would-be free agent seasons at bargain prices will be useful if he merely stays the course as a groundball-inducing fourth starter, and extremely valuable if he takes a step forward to No. 2/3 status. (Say, if this much-ballyhooed new slider proves legit.)





The value upside in Dobnak's contract is monumental. If the Twins activate all three options they'll control him for the next eight years for around $30 million, which is less than the Astros are paying Justin Verlander NOT to pitch in 2021 ($33 million).

And if Dobnak's amazing ascent, from undrafted indy-ball pitcher and Uber driver to certified MLB starter, ultimately ends up being a flash in the pan? There's simply no risk.

If the Twins need to cut bait at any point, the $9 million they'll pay Dobnak is trivial for them, life-changing for him.

That last part helps explain why a deal like this can even come to fruition. It's certainly not the first time we've seen teams use their leverage over a young pitcher with limited service time to secure this sort of affordable long-term stability. In fact, Cleveland's front office was quite savvy in this regard while Derek Falvey was assistant GM.

In 2015, Cleveland signed Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco – both a long way from free agency – to lengthy extensions with multiple team options. One year earlier, Chris Archer signed a five-year contract with Rocco Baldelli's Rays, despite having made just 27 career major-league starts. Archer's deal, like Kluber's and Carrasco's, included club options on two free agent years.

Compared to those contracts, Dobnak's includes significantly less money, both in terms of guarantees and max payout. It also gives Minnesota a longer window of control than any of the other examples, with options extending through Dobnak's age-33 season in 2028.


That makes sense. Dobnak lacks the big-league bona fides of Kluber and Carrasco when they signed, or the top-prospect luster of Archer when he did. The implications of Dobnak's background in this decision are apparent from the outside – given where he was at a few short years ago, it's gotta be hard to pass up $9 million in guaranteed money, especially when the "worst case scenario" means you pitch really well and earn $30+ million while staying in the same place for the next eight years.

The Twins, for their part, will happily take the stability in exchange for a modest financial commitment. Prior to extending Dobnak, Minnesota had no starters (sans prospects and fringe rotation options like Lewis Thorpe and Devin Smeltzer) under control beyond 2023. The graphic below show just how much his extension changes that picture.

Attached Image: twinsspcontrol.png


The Twins will have plenty of flexibility in building their rotation going forward. Dobnak is now firmly entrenched as a sturdy building block to serve as their bedrock.

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30 Comments

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tony&rodney
Mar 28 2021 08:18 PM

Agree wholeheartedly. The projections are far away, so not really meant to spend too much time ruminating on right now, but such a solid move.

If the bottom three slide away, Dobnak, Thorpe, and a Duran/Balazovic plus $20 million to spend fill in neatly. This is a good deal for Dobnak and the Twins, both now and going forward.

    • DocBauer, MN_ExPat, rdehring and 2 others like this

With his new ability to strike guys out this could be an extremely good deal for the Twins.Hard to say if Randy can stay healthy and productive for that long but if he does the Twins will be getting him at a bargainprice.I have been a Dobnak doubter for too long.Every time I doubt this guy I get burned.Here's hoping it turns out to be a good deal for both sides.

    • LewFordLives, mikelink45, DocBauer and 6 others like this
Is it likely to see Maeda and Berrios in a Twins uniform thru 2025ish? I doubt Pineda will be here but there will be plenty of veteran rentals to fill in on a yearly basis until the young guns show up.

Nice deal for both sides. Given Dobsie's origin story (so similar to Wolverines), these millions give a good man a solid nest egg. Meanwhile, the Twins get a bargain basement version of Kenta Maeda, at the very start of a career that looks good now, but could get even better. 

    • denarded, Dman, DocBauer and 4 others like this
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tarheeltwinsfan
Mar 29 2021 06:10 AM

Win-win.Now let's win.

    • ScrapTheNickname and GNess like this
Just need Berrios and Bux to agree to 3-5 year extensions and the nucleus is here for awhile.
    • tarheeltwinsfan, Doctor Gast and GNess like this
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sampleSizeOfOne
Mar 29 2021 06:28 AM

One of the comments on Dobnak i believe from the coaches over recent years that stuck with me is that he doesn't try to play outside of himself. I think this contract is more of the same pragmatism. I really hope he hits all the escalators.

 

I also think the relative size/structure of the signing makes it reasonably safe from the uncertainty of the next collective bargaining agreement. I don't expect many other long term deals until the new CBA is in place.

    • Dman and MN_ExPat like this

Great signing of a guy with a wonderful story. Good for the Twins. Good for Dobnak. Gotta make his family happy knowing they are set for life.

 

Saw that there are some bonuses included in the deal for innings pitched. Are they for the extension years only? Or also included in the initial five years? Could be very important for Dobber.

 

Am beginning to have a feeling that we won't see an extension for Berrios this year or next. Is the FO beginning to plan for a staff without Jose?

 

Expectations are so high, yet hasn't been able to do it consistently. With that said, they will probably announce his extension tomorrow.

    • Dman and tarheeltwinsfan like this

 

One of the comments on Dobnak i believe from the coaches over recent years that stuck with me is that he doesn't try to play outside of himself. I think this contract is more of the same pragmatism. I really hope he hits all the escalators.

 

I also think the relative size/structure of the signing makes it reasonably safe from the uncertainty of the next collective bargaining agreement. I don't expect many other long term deals until the new CBA is in place.

Reminds me of Randy Bush.He made the same comment, that he could've gone for more money, but by staying on the lower end of his value, he extended his career by never being a "salary dump".Makes you wonder why more players don't think this way.

He was already under under team control for all those years. So I wouldn't say it brings stability to the rotation. It just brings cost certainty. Which is good for them, in case he becomes a star. And good for him, if he flames out. Signing him now is just a gamble this price will become a bargain later. Which would be great. But the alternative was arbitration, not losing him.
    • h2oface, Dman and jkcarew like this

Love this deal.As a young man who has actually worked for a living,Dobnak undertands that $9.25 million dollars is enough to live on for the rest of his life.The Twins can't lose on this deal and it's refreshing to see the lack of greed in pro sports.By the end of this contract Dobnak could be worth 15 times what he's being paid in this market. To me, even at his current contract, he is a very rich man.

    • rdehring likes this
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Major League Ready
Mar 29 2021 07:51 AM

I hope at the end of this deal he has collected the max. That would mean he performed well for the team for the next 8 years. 

    • Twins33, Dman, DocBauer and 4 others like this

Really happy for a fine young man and the Twins made a great deal. But I'm really curious about the escalators. Hopefully there is a way for him to make a fair salary if he develops into something solid ,,

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Doctor Gast
Mar 29 2021 08:20 AM
At 1st I saw the low price, then I saw the incentives and thought not to bad, he could easily reach most of them. But then I thought it could be to appease him and be an another excuse not to give him the opportunity to rise. Really hope that's not the case. Dobnak has a nice story but that's not the reason I cheer for him. It's because he can help the Twins to win, his avenue to success is the Twins. Hope they can see that and take full advantage of it. To me Dobnak is as steady as they come. Go Twins.
    • DocBauer, tarheeltwinsfan, rdehring and 1 other like this

Given that this is a Cleveland model - if he does well he will be traded in two or three years - think Clevinger, Bauer, Carrasco, Plutko...

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nicksaviking
Mar 29 2021 09:26 AM

 

Given that this is a Cleveland model - if he does well he will be traded in two or three years - think Clevinger, Bauer, Carrasco, Plutko...

 

Could be and it might be a good idea if they can manufacture pitchers with ease like Cleveland does.  

 

But this front office wasn't involved with the Cleveland organization when they started trading those guys. Cleveland also appears to be trying to shed payroll in the last few years while the Twins have been fairly consistent and don't seem to be headed for a rebuild. 

    • mikelink45, tarheeltwinsfan, wsnydes and 2 others like this

 

Could be and it might be a good idea if they can manufacture pitchers with ease like Cleveland does.  

 

But this front office wasn't involved with the Cleveland organization when they started trading those guys. Cleveland also appears to be trying to shed payroll in the last few years while the Twins have been fairly consistent and don't seem to be headed for a rebuild. 

Actually Cleveland manages its money, but does not dump and rebuilds.They have a system unlike anyone else and they stay competitive. 

 

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Major League Ready
Mar 29 2021 09:49 AM

 

Given that this is a Cleveland model - if he does well he will be traded in two or three years - think Clevinger, Bauer, Carrasco, Plutko...

 

Clevinger, Bauer, and Carrasco were traded while they had enough control to get a return. The Twins have 3 option years after the 5 year guarantee. They could keep him for 5-6 years and still get a return so I really doubt they would trade him after only 2-3 years. If the new slider has the impact we hope, the only way he gets traded is if we have enough young talent that letting him go is not an issue. That would be great situation!

    • Dman and rdehring like this
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Nick Nelson
Mar 29 2021 10:33 AM

 

He was already under under team control for all those years. So I wouldn't say it brings stability to the rotation. It just brings cost certainty. Which is good for them, in case he becomes a star. And good for him, if he flames out. Signing him now is just a gamble this price will become a bargain later. Which would be great. But the alternative was arbitration, not losing him.

They now have (optional) control over 3 years of his free agency, so this isn't quite accurate. I also think guaranteeing him salaries for the next 5 years makes him a much firmer part of their plans. 

    • ashbury, Twins33, DocBauer and 2 others like this

Regardless of the price, I am not impressed that the "sturdy building block to serve as their bedrock" to supposedly get excited about for the long term...... is Dobnak. Steady as they come, eh? Except for the most recent month or so when he was totally figured out, bombed consistently, taken off the active roster and not even taken to the postseason.

    • wsnydes likes this

 

Regardless of the price, I am not impressed that the "sturdy building block to serve as their bedrock" to supposedly get excited about for the long term...... is Dobnak. Steady as they come, eh? Except for the most recent month or so when he was totally figured out, bombed consistently, taken off the active roster and not even taken to the postseason.

I tend to agree with this sentiment. I'm happy for the guy, and he's a great story. The deal is relatively low risk with plenty of potential upside, but if this is the "bedrock" of their future rotation, that doesn't instill much confidence.

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nicksaviking
Mar 29 2021 11:07 AM

If I'm honest, I'm just not a huge Dobnak fan. He always seemed like a nice story but without the velocity, spin rate or stats to really support being more than a flash in the pan. I figured he'd end up slotting somewhere between Scott Diamond and Les Straker in Twins lore.

 

However, the team also seems to value velocity, spin rates and advanced stats so this extension seems kind of puzzling to me. I'm wondering if this new slider is going to turn out to be a beast and the team is fairly confident that it will be a game changer for him.

    • Twins33, DocBauer, wsnydes and 1 other like this
Can you please let us know what the incentives are when they're made available?
    • rdehring likes this

 

Regardless of the price, I am not impressed that the "sturdy building block to serve as their bedrock" to supposedly get excited about for the long term...... is Dobnak. Steady as they come, eh? Except for the most recent month or so when he was totally figured out, bombed consistently, taken off the active roster and not even taken to the postseason.

I disagree with the last part of your statement..."except for the most recent month or so when he was totally figured out"

 

I don't think anyone figured anything out. If memory serves, Dobnak's pitches move a lot. What I saw beginning about the 3rd inning of that debacle in St. Louis where several weak ground balls against the shift put him in a hole. As he tried to pitch out of the jam, his ball began moving much more. And much of that movement took it so far out of the zone no one was swinging and he was constantly in a hitters count. To me, seemed something was happening, either mental or mechanical, that he couldn't get past. Expect that is now behind him and we will see the Dobber we knew prior to that game.

The Dobnak deal may look like a steal for the Twins, and hopefully it will long term, but Randy knows how quickly he could get cut and be back to having a different career.Sure, if he becomes a good starter, not even great, he will have cost him some money long term, but he is one TJ surgery from having to prove he can make a MLB roster at league min as well. 

    • ashbury and SwainZag like this

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