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Article: Winter Meetings: Reliever Roulette

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:17 AM
The free agent relief market is finally beginning to take shape at the Winter Meetings. The Minnesota Twins, for now, are biding their ti...
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Article: Twins Sign RHP Michael Pineda

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:33 AM
The Twins announced this morning that they have signed right-handed pitcher Michael Pineda to a two-year, $10 million deal. The former Ma...
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Article: Johan Santana's Cooperstown Case: The Missin...

Minnesota Twins Talk Yesterday, 11:31 PM
In the spring of 2004, Johan Santana left his native Venezuela as one of baseball’s brightest stars. He would return to a hero’s welcome...
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Marte signing with Rays

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 12:33 AM
  Rays only have 440k to spend so they are probably trading for money, per Sanchez  
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Article: Twins Acquire Two Prospects For International Bo...

Twins Minor League Talk Yesterday, 10:06 PM
Minnesota missed out on the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes but there might be some good news on the horizon. There are multiple teams still in...
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Offseason Blueprint: Chasing Opportunities

One of the best parts of getting the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook is building your own Twins offseason blueprint. John Bonnes provides his below. You can do the same; just order the Handbook.

The Twins were a good team in 2017, but they weren’t great. To truly contend, they need to make a couple of large leaps, and those leaps aren’t going to come from tightening up the bullpen, adding a middle-of-the-rotation starter or extending a veteran. They need to think bigger and they need to think beyond 2018.
So with future greatness as the goal and a couple of unique opportunities available right now, here are the major moves I would like to see the Twins make this offseason.

1. Sign Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario to long-term deals with team options on the back-end.
The first opportunity comes along only once in every player’s career – the offseason when a player has between two and three years of service time. For each one of these players, they’re guaranteed only around $550,000 next year, which isn’t “lifetime security” money. If the club waits even one more year, the player has millions guaranteed, and the Twins have far less leverage, costing them the chance to secure free agent years.

For instance, the Twins can propose a $32.5 million, five-year deal for Buxton, with team options in years six and seven. The Twins get seven years of Buxton (instead of four), and Buxton gets paid, plus he is still a free agent while he’s only 31 years old. Similar deals could be made for Sano and Rosario. This is a rare chance to sign three offensive cornerstones and extend the Twins championship window several extra years.

2. Shop Brian Dozier
I’m not saying “trade Dozier.” I’m saying the time to shop a player is when you don’t need to shop them. Also, when they are about to get old. Also, when they’re about to get expensive. And finally, the best time is just before they become a free agent. Our attachment to Dozier might blind us from these objective truths, but now is the time to explore trading him.

Dozier is very good, but he’s not irreplaceable. He’s also 30 years. He’s going to be expensive, probably costing whoever signs him in free agency upwards of $15M/year. It would be a mistake to extend him, especially because there are other options.

Jorge Polanco can move to second base, which upgrades the Twins defensively at both shortstop and at second base. Ehire Adrianza can play shortstop for the year, with Nick Gordon waiting in the wings.

And unlike last year, the Twins don’t need to receive soon-to-the-majors, high-upside pitching prospects in a trade. This year, they can trade him for prospects or high-upside relievers or international money. The return could be significant. And if it isn’t, then hang on to him.

3. Sign Masahiro Tanaka to six-year, $136 million contract with a 3-year opt out.
This was the original plan, but Tanaka decided on Friday NOT to opt out of his deal with the Yankees, which is a damn shame. So I’ll leave the original plan here and replace #3 with #3B below, since I now have a lot of money to spend….

Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are at the top of the free agency class and are both 31 years old. However, there is another ace-caliber pitcher who is only 28: Mashiro Tanaka, who appears likely to opt-out of a guaranteed 3-year deal with the Yankees for $67M. Tanaka has had health issues and may not be considered an “ace” yet, though his career ERA at this point last year was 3.12. His 4.74 ERA in 2018 might depress some interest in him, but he still struck out 9.8 batters per nine and walked only 2.1. His problem has been that he’s given up too many home runs.

Well, yeah. He pitches at Yankee Stadium. Try Target Field on for size, Masahiro.

If you dream of a Twins postseason team with an ace (in his prime) atop the rotation, this is your best chance of that for the next five years. Signing Tanaka raises payroll to $120 million and I didn’t do anything with the bullpen. Those incremental improvements will need to wait. Instead, I’m focusing on the opportunities that are here today. We can work out the smaller stuff next year.

#3B. Sign relievers Juan Nicasio($21M/3 years) and Mike Minor($28M/4 years)
Without Tanaka available, I don’t see a golden opportunity among the free agent pitchers, so instead I focus on either trying to fill a spot in the bullpen by signing CC Sabathia or stabilizing the bullpen. I like Sabathia because I liked the veteran presence that Bartolo Colon brought and Sabathia seems like he could play a similar role. But I chose the idea of bolstering the bullpen with a 1-2 punch from the left (Minor) and right (Nicasio).

That move give manager Paul Molitor a core he can trust and allows the rest of the bullpen to settle in with internal arms that are developing. Maybe Hildenberger continues his breakout season. Maybe some guys get healthy, like Tyler Jay or JT Chargois. Maybe the new pitching coach helps Ryan Pressly or Tyler Duffey take their next steps. Minor and Nicasio provide a little buffer while the rest gets sorted out.

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28 Comments

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ashburyjohn
Nov 05 2017 07:32 PM

The uncertainty of steps 2 and 3 (turning into 3B) shows that any blueprint lasts only a few days. It's more of a decision tree;

  • if step 2 doesn't pan out then you pivot back to a situation with duplicate talent for 2B - what then?
  • if step 2 returns MLB-ready starting pitching then what's the ripple effect?
  • if step 2 returns relief pitching then does step 3B still stand?
  • now that step 3 has turned into 3B, what's the blueprint for improving starting pitching?

I struggle with putting down a single blueprint that I know will be out of date almost before I press Post. To me, a real front office's situation is much more dynamic and requires nimbleness, combined with a coherent initial plan or approach of course. That's just me, though, and it doesn't stop me from asking the above questions of someone else's blueprint. :)

    • glunn, Thrylos, Vanimal46 and 2 others like this

Like the idea, but 2 is a house build on sand.Buxton is essential and I feel you need to make every effort to sign him long term.Sano is also essential, but I feel signing him is at best 50 - 50, so you have to have plan B (I have posted mine in another thread).  

Like most of the rest of it.

That extension offer for Buxton (and Sano) is deeply unserious.
Has any team signed three big extensions in one year?
    • DelusionalTwinsFan likes this
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Cory Engelhardt
Nov 06 2017 08:09 AM

I like this concept no doubt. I think acquiring a 100+ million dollar starting pitcher may be difficult (with all of the other teams out there also needing pitching) but adding a solid reliever or two is smart. I wouldn't mind the Twins trying to go unconventional in their starting pitching acquisitions and find someone who isn't an ace yet, but can be. I don't know if that makes sense.

 

Has any team signed three big extensions in one year?

 

Did a quick look at Cleveland. They signed three in 2014 and two in two of the next three years:

2014 - Brantley (4 yr/$24M); Kipnis (6/$52M); Gomes (6/$23M + 2 opt/$20M)

2015 - Kluber (5/$37.5M + 2 option yrs/$30.5M); Carrasco (4/$22M + 2 opt/$18.5M)

2017 - Perez (4/$9M + 2 opt/$12.5M); Ramirez (4/$26M + 2 opt/$24M)

Data from Spotrac.com

Lindor, Salazar and Cody Allen are year-to-year.

    • John Bonnes, glunn and nicksaviking like this

1. Generally agree. I think you are $10M light on the Buxton deal. He's the top priority. Sano is lower priority this year but I could see signing any of the core six this offseason if the money is right.

2. Dozier's production will not replaced by Adrianza. There is no guarantee Gordon will come close to Dozier's performance in the next two years. Trading Dozier without getting a MLB-ready pitcher is a step back for 2018 and probably 2019.

3. Minor would be a good get for the bullpen. Nicasio would be okay but not my preference.

IMO, your three moves taken together don't move the dial on wins next year.

    • glunn and DelusionalTwinsFan like this

 

Did a quick look at Cleveland. They signed three in 2014 and two in two of the next three years:

2014 - Brantley (4 yr/$24M); Kipnis (6/$52M); Gomes (6/$23M + 2 opt/$20M)

2015 - Kluber (5/$37.5M + 2 option yrs/$30.5M); Carrasco (4/$22M + 2 opt/$18.5M)

2017 - Perez (4/$9M + 2 opt/$12.5M); Ramirez (4/$26M + 2 opt/$24M)

Data from Spotrac.com

Lindor, Salazar and Cody Allen are year-to-year.

 

Twins could theoretically (and defensibly) sign 7 extensions this offseason. I think they do 3 - Dozier, Buxton, Berrios.

 

Next year they take care of whoever out of Polanco, Kepler and Rosario earn it.

    • glunn and dbminn like this
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John Bonnes
Nov 06 2017 09:38 AM

GREAT comments, per usual from the TD community. I'll start quoting and replying as I have some time....

 

 

 

    • glunn likes this
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John Bonnes
Nov 06 2017 09:41 AM

 

The uncertainty of steps 2 and 3 (turning into 3B) shows that any blueprint lasts only a few days. It's more of a decision tree;

  • if step 2 doesn't pan out then you pivot back to a situation with duplicate talent for 2B - what then?
  • if step 2 returns MLB-ready starting pitching then what's the ripple effect?
  • if step 2 returns relief pitching then does step 3B still stand?
  • now that step 3 has turned into 3B, what's the blueprint for improving starting pitching?

I struggle with putting down a single blueprint that I know will be out of date almost before I press Post. To me, a real front office's situation is much more dynamic and requires nimbleness, combined with a coherent initial plan or approach of course. That's just me, though, and it doesn't stop me from asking the above questions of someone else's blueprint. :)

 

I fought with the same "nimble" issue on mine, which is why I tried to make it about priorities. My top priority, my biggest splash, are the long-term deals.

 

As far as what happens with Step 2, I think I kind of laid it out:

1. If I get back SP, that fits in well.

2. If I get back RP, then switch to chasing a veteran fill-in, like Sabathia, for Step 3.

3. If I get an offer back for a different fit, like a prospect I think can be a difference-maker in the future, then stay the course.

 

Thanks for commenting. Keep 'em comimg. 

 

 

    • glunn likes this
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John Bonnes
Nov 06 2017 09:45 AM

 

Like the idea, but 2 is a house build on sand.Buxton is essential and I feel you need to make every effort to sign him long term.Sano is also essential, but I feel signing him is at best 50 - 50, so you have to have plan B (I have posted mine in another thread).  

Like most of the rest of it.

 

I'll respond to the Dozier comment in another comment. 

 

Yes, signing those three (and I should've included Kepler, who will be a Super 2) requires two sides to agree. But it's common that happens. I'd say the chances for each of them is 75/25. It's just plan hard to turn down a $20-30M guaranteed contract. 

 

But mostly what I'm saying is that trying to do so should be a huge priority this offseason. #1, really. 

 

 

    • glunn likes this
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John Bonnes
Nov 06 2017 09:49 AM

 

That extension offer for Buxton (and Sano) is deeply unserious.

 

Are you saying it isn't enough money? I'll lay it out:

 

Provided Byron Buxton continues to progress, here is a rough estimate of what he (and Twins fans) can expect over the next five years:
• 2018 as a 24-year-old, $550,000
• 2019 as a 25-year-old, $4 million
• 2020 as a 26-year-old, $8 million
• 2021 as a 27-year-old, $12 million
• 2022 as a 28-year-old, signs for a gazillion dollars as a free agent with the Yankees.

 

 

If they do nothing, the Twins hang on to him for four years and pay him $24.5 million. Alternately, the Twins could offer a guaranteed contract that looks like this:
• 2018 as a 24-year-old, $1 million
• 2019 as a 25-year-old, $3 million
• 2020 as a 26-year-old, $6.5 million
• 2021 as a 27-year-old, $10 million
• 2022 as a 28-year-old, $12 million
• 2023 as a 29-year-old, team option of $15 million with a $2 million buyout
• 2024 as a 30-year-old, team option of $17 million
• 2025 as a 31-year-old, signs for a gazillion dollars as a free agent with the Yankees.

 

This way, the Twins get seven years of Buxton, the last two of which is under their prerogative. Buxton gets $32.5 million guaranteed, plus he still is a free agent while he’s only 31 years old.

 

    • glunn and DelusionalTwinsFan like this
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John Bonnes
Nov 06 2017 09:55 AM

 

1. Generally agree. I think you are $10M light on the Buxton deal. He's the top priority. Sano is lower priority this year but I could see signing any of the core six this offseason if the money is right.

2. Dozier's production will not replaced by Adrianza. There is no guarantee Gordon will come close to Dozier's performance in the next two years. Trading Dozier without getting a MLB-ready pitcher is a step back for 2018 and probably 2019.

3. Minor would be a good get for the bullpen. Nicasio would be okay but not my preference.

IMO, your three moves taken together don't move the dial on wins next year.

 

First, on moving the dial: I'm not trying to move the dial for 2018. I'm hoping the continued development of the young players in the lineup plus that in the rotation (Berrios, Mejia, Gonsalves, Romero) provides they take an incremental step forward this year. I'm trying to prepare them for a big leap in the future. I was hoping that leap would come from placing Tanaka atop the rotation, but if that is not to be, then I'll settle for keeping my powder dry.

 

BTW, if you're interested in learning about the possibilities and challenges of signing a big name starting pitcher, I highly recommend this week's Gleeman and the Geek podcast

 

 

    • glunn and dbminn like this
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John Bonnes
Nov 06 2017 09:58 AM

Finally, regarding Dozier, I'll publish a longer version of my blueprint for that section below. (It's also not a bad reminder that a writer, when revisiting a first draft, can ax quite a bit out of it and still get the point across. Just compare it to the first section.)

 

Thanks again for the comments. Keep 'em coming. I'll check in later with more replies.
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2. Shop Brian Dozier

 

The verb is “shop” not “trade.” But he’s far from untouchable and unless he is willing to take a very team-friendly contract (without a no-trade clause) the Twins should definitely not extend him.

 

Dozier is very good, but he’s not irreplaceable. He’s also 30 years old and his next contract will likely last until he’s 35 years old. He’s also going to be expensive, probably costing whoever signs him in free agency upwards of $15M/year. And for the Twins, there are other options on the roster.

 

Moving him allows the Twins to move Jorge Polanco to second base, which could upgrade the Twins defensively at both shortstop and at second base, where Dozier has been slightly below average for the last couple of years. Ehire Adrianza could play shortstop for the year, with Nick Gordon waiting in the wings. I won’t deny it hurts the team a little for 2018, but the defensive upgrade helps, and I’m looking at impacts beyond 2018.

 

Plus, he could command quite a bit in return. Despite conventional wisdom, Dozier is not worth less this year than he was last offseason. The return the Twins can demand is dependent on how many teams want him, not how many years those teams can squeeze out of him before free agency. Last year, they had one team interested, and therefore he wasn’t worth anything more than a questionable prospect.

 

There is one more advantage this year: the Twins don’t solely need to be interested in soon-to-the-majors, high-upside pitching prospects. They already have those: Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero. That was one of the problems with last year’s trade market; the Twins were only interested in getting pitching in return. This year, they can trade him for prospects or high-upside relievers or international money or whatever.

 

Again, I’m not saying “trade Dozier.” I’m saying don’t be afraid to trade Dozier. The time to shop a player is when you don’t need to shop them. Also, when they are about to get old. Also, when they’re about to get expensive. And finally, the best time is just before they become a free agent. Our attachment to Dozier might blind us from these objective truths, but now is the time to explore trading him.

    • glunn likes this

 

Are you saying it isn't enough money? I'll lay it out:

 

Provided Byron Buxton continues to progress, here is a rough estimate of what he (and Twins fans) can expect over the next five years:
• 2018 as a 24-year-old, $550,000
• 2019 as a 25-year-old, $4 million
• 2020 as a 26-year-old, $8 million
• 2021 as a 27-year-old, $12 million
• 2022 as a 28-year-old, signs for a gazillion dollars as a free agent with the Yankees.

 

 

If they do nothing, the Twins hang on to him for four years and pay him $24.5 million. Alternately, the Twins could offer a guaranteed contract that looks like this:
• 2018 as a 24-year-old, $1 million
• 2019 as a 25-year-old, $3 million
• 2020 as a 26-year-old, $6.5 million
• 2021 as a 27-year-old, $10 million
• 2022 as a 28-year-old, $12 million
• 2023 as a 29-year-old, team option of $15 million with a $2 million buyout
• 2024 as a 30-year-old, team option of $17 million
• 2025 as a 31-year-old, signs for a gazillion dollars as a free agent with the Yankees.

 

This way, the Twins get seven years of Buxton, the last two of which is under their prerogative. Buxton gets $32.5 million guaranteed, plus he still is a free agent while he’s only 31 years old.

 

Way too little money. No reason for Buxton to take that little money on its own, AND give two option years to boot. He knows he's an emerging superduperstar and he's already banked $6mil through his draft bonus, and will get $5(ish)mil next offseason through arb if he has an even relatively mediocre season.

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John Bonnes
Nov 06 2017 10:41 AM

 

Way too little money. No reason for Buxton to take that little money on its own, AND give two option years to boot. He knows he's an emerging superduperstar and he's already banked $6mil through his draft bonus, and will get $5(ish)mil next offseason through arb if he has an even relatively mediocre season.

 

That's one million more than I projected for next year; I don't know which is more accurate. But if it is, what do you think would be more fair? Like this?

 

• 2018 as a 24-year-old, $1 million
• 2019 as a 25-year-old, $4 million
• 2020 as a 26-year-old, $8 million

• 2021 as a 27-year-old, $11 million
• 2022 as a 28-year-old, $14 million
• 2023 as a 29-year-old, team option of $16 million

 

That's $38M guaranteed and the Twins keep him for two years of free agency. That seems a little heavy to me, but I'd be happy enough with something in between the two proposals. (I'd trade away the higher salaries for the second team option year.)

    • glunn likes this

The numbers may seem a little heavy in 2017 value. In 2022 and 2023? Who knows. That could be the going rate for a platoon player for example. 

 

This would be the off-season to get extensions done with these guys. Next off-season with several star players hitting FA is going to break the salary scale as we know it. 

1) Float the following in trade talks: Dozier, Escobar, Granite, Grossman, Vargas, Park.
2) Use as sweeteners: Duffey, Hildenberger, Pressley, Turley, Tonkin.
3) Sign free agents to MLB contracts: Yasmeiro Petit, Brandon Kintzler, and Albert Suarez (unsure if he is available this way)
4) Sign free agents to minor league contracts: Dillon Gee, Deitrich Enns, Neftali Feliz, Fernando Abad, David Aardsma.
5) Have an offseason todo list for EVERY player to heighten performance, improve physical flexibility, muscle tone, strengthen leg muscles.
6) Have new pitching coach focus on: generating Ks, fewer waste pitches, every starter making it through 6 innings, adapting pitch patterns to umpiring crew, developing new pitches.
7) Engage base running/stealing expert(s)to serve in ST and beyond to improve individual ability in this area.
8) Take the hardest thrower available in the Rule 5 Draft; if that means creatively moving around with dollars/players so be it.
9) Engage the Cardinals in trading for Ervin Santana targeting young pitching and outfielders. Throw in Pressley.
10)Engage the SF Giants to see if they would discuss Mad Bum if we dangled Sano. It would hinge on Mad Bum signing an extension or new contract.
    • ashburyjohn likes this

I enjoy seeing you put this in print since I listen to your podcast and enjoy the give and take - I wish you had both put this down with your normal arguments, but that would be at least the length of a major magazine article so not likely here. 

 

I am one who feels BP is priotity and your choices are excellent.SP would be great, but not the ones that people list like Tillman who we might sign and hope - I am sorry to say that our one starter acquisition - Garcia - makes me fear out FO might consider signing one of the vets who underperformed last year.I hope not.I would rather have us fail with one of our own prospects than fail and spend on someone who is a long shot.

 

The extensions are good but the one I fear the most is Sano - I wonder how the operation goes, how his maturity and reduction of Ks progresses, and if he is going to have longevity or be a DL regulat visitor. 

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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 06 2017 04:28 PM

 

That's one million more than I projected for next year; I don't know which is more accurate. But if it is, what do you think would be more fair? Like this?

 

• 2018 as a 24-year-old, $1 million
• 2019 as a 25-year-old, $4 million
• 2020 as a 26-year-old, $8 million

• 2021 as a 27-year-old, $11 million
• 2022 as a 28-year-old, $14 million
• 2023 as a 29-year-old, team option of $16 million

 

That's $38M guaranteed and the Twins keep him for two years of free agency. That seems a little heavy to me, but I'd be happy enough with something in between the two proposals. (I'd trade away the higher salaries for the second team option year.)

 

these are reasonable. People forget that Buxton has no control over the arb process. He can choose to go year to year (at his risk) in exchange for an early free agency or sign something like this... just depends on what he wants.

 

First, on moving the dial: I'm not trying to move the dial for 2018. I'm hoping the continued development of the young players in the lineup plus that in the rotation (Berrios, Mejia, Gonsalves, Romero) provides they take an incremental step forward this year. I'm trying to prepare them for a big leap in the future. I was hoping that leap would come from placing Tanaka atop the rotation, but if that is not to be, then I'll settle for keeping my powder dry.

 

BTW, if you're interested in learning about the possibilities and challenges of signing a big name starting pitcher, I highly recommend this week's Gleeman and the Geek podcast

 

 

 

CC Sabathia would never pitch for the Twins, he hates the Twins.

John, I completely understand and appreciate your Dozier comments and opinions. And there is absolutely a difference between trading him and shopping him for a "look see".

But at the heart of the argument, I just can't agree. And that is based, IMO, on the following points:

1) I think he's a real leader on this team and I think that's important.
2) He's really good and highly productive with no "expected" or sudden downturn. He's durable, only 30, would be difficult to replace offensively, even though the Polanco-Adrianza idea works defensively for sure.
3) Getting back a couple quality prospects that have real potential but aren't ML ready sounds like a good idea, but the Twins aren't devoid of talent and prospects, and trading such a good player for prospects on a team moving past the rebuild stage seems counter productive to me.

I absolutely love being aggressive in regard to extending the young players. But I'm also of the opinion extending Dozier and Mauer makes sense. (I'm of the opinion now what we've seen from Mauer was not a fluke). The two of them will combine for something like $34-35M in 2018. Unless the numbers/demands are out of whack, Mauer gets 2 years and Dozier 4, maybe 5 or an option. Either way, Dozier gets a raise and Mauer a cut, and even in the worst case scenario I can think of, the combined totals of the two for two years should still save a couple million over 2018 totals.
I am also in the camp of a Dozier extention. A 4 or 5 year extention at 14 -15 million per season seems fine to me. He can also slide over to first at some point.
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nicksaviking
Nov 06 2017 11:22 PM
I'd trade Dozier if another team was offering a young arm with top end upside. I don't mind keeping him though if all that's offered is another De Leon deal.

I wouldn't extend him though. He's going to want a big pay day and frankly his numbers probably warrant one. But if no one is offering up much in trade, he's not going to have many free agent suitors either. It's probably a unique situation, but if the Twins want him back after 2018 he'll probably be cheaper as a free agent then he would be as an extension now.
    • 70charger likes this