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Article: Can Minnesota Follow Houston's Blueprint?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:38 PM
There were some dark days for the Houston Astros. From 2009-2014, the Astros didn’t have a season with an over .500 record and this inclu...
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Go get Verlander

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:34 PM
http://www.espn.com/...astros-audition   Best possible combination of help in 2017 and help in the next couple years, right where th...
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Article: Catching Up With RHP Tom Hackimer

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 08:31 PM
Before spring training, Twins Daily caught up with right-handed reliever Tom Hackimer for a Get to Know Him Q&A. He was preparing for...
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Article: Diving Into The Offseason: A Berrios Extension?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:10 PM
First we dove into what an extension for Brian Dozier. He’s had his first long-term contract, and now he’s one year from free agency. Las...
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Cubs Pitching Coach fired. Buddy of Molitor.

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:47 PM
Guess who was a Molitor teammate on the Brewers? Chris Bosio. He was just let go by the Cubs and Molitor looked at getting him on his sta...
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Knock. Knock. Silence.

Opportunity almost always chooses to knock when you’re stuck on the phone talking to tech support. She does not accommodate your schedule. You play on hers, or you don’t play. This offseason, the Twins will face that reality, because they have a small window to accomplish something they’ve been waiting to do for years.

This offseason is the single best – and maybe only – chance to lock up three of the Twins most important players to long-term deals that keep them in Minnesota beyond their initial free agent years. Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario are all in the sweet spot to negotiate a long-term deal.
Image courtesy of © Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
I understand this is not terribly convenient, which brings us back to Opportunity. You may feel like it’s too early. You may not trust Sano’s health. You may not trust Rosario’s plate discipline. You may not trust Buxton’s batting average. You may want to focus on a lot of other issues, like how to fix the pitching staff or who is going to fill the spots on the coaching staff. I mean, do we really need to decide this right now?

Opportunity recognizes this is hard. She also does not care. She must leave after this offseason and here is why.

All three of these players have over two years and under three years of major league service time. Which means this is the last year they’ll be making between $550,000 and $600,000. That’s a lot of money, but it isn’t “lifetime security” money. So if something happens – a concussion, a blown-up knee or suddenly they just can’t hit – they are left to their own devices for the rest of their careers.

If the Twins want to wait until next year, the players and their agents might still be willing to listen, but at this time next year they’ll each be in line for a guaranteed salary of $3M-$5M. That is at least close to “lifetime security” money. And they get it whether they negotiate a long-term deal or not. So if you want to lock them up – either because you want to save money or because you want to guarantee they stick around for some free agent years – now is the best time.

At a high level, that means making a sizable commitment. Each deal will likely require five guaranteed years and at least $28M, something like $1M/$3M/$5.5M/$8M/$10.5M. That’s the starting point. In this year’s TwinsCentric Offseason Handbook (it’s coming SOON), we’ll give you a chance to craft a more precise and fair offer for each of them, and also give you a handful of comparable recent deals to help you out. In the meantime, here are some questions to ask yourself and debate in the comments below, provided you have registered:
  • Are you comfortable signing each player to a long-term deal?
  • Which players are your priority if you can only sign one or two?
  • How many years of team options do you want after the guaranteed money? It might be easier to tack three years onto the end for Buxton (who would still only be 31 years old when he finishes the deal) than Rosario (who would be 33 years old, and might want to hit the free agency a little sooner).
Or are you uncomfortable with the whole idea? If so, Opportunity understands, but will you excuse her? She has other stops to make. Best of luck….

  • Cory Engelhardt, Oldgoat_MN, ToddlerHarmon and 1 other like this

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77 Comments

Buxton for sure. For as many years as he'll agree to.

Sano is a tougher call, but I probably make an offer. I am leery about what security might do to motivation.

Rosario, I just let it ride at least another year.

Sign Berrios too.
    • glunn, Dantes929, tarheeltwinsfan and 5 others like this

Buxton and Sano both got multi-million dollar signing bonuses. They are in a position to bet on themselves. There's just no way they sign a deal now. 

    • Jerr and the blade like this
Bonnes, I wouldn't do a deal with any of them right now. Buxton needs to play a season without getting hurt, same with Sano. Maybe I'd be down to lock up Rosario, but I doubt he'll cost a ton after next season. Too many unknowns right now to pull the trigger. These guys haven't done what Joe Mauer did when he came up.
    • Jerr likes this

I would lock up Buxton and Sano,Rosario maybe also.Rosario more because if I chose to trade him later, those cheaper option years could be worth a lot to a small market club.  

I would expect I would want to lock them up for 7 - 8 years(Sano and Buxton), price if somewhere close to reasonable.Might well put some weight clauses into a Sano contract, but just worry that if we do not sign him longterm, he could be the next David Ortiz.Plus after next year we will have plenty of salary room.

    • caninatl04 likes this
I would go Buxton and Berrios. Buxton as long as it he'll go and Berrios snatched up with mulitple options.

There is no rush on Rosario, another year doesn't change the equation much. He's a nice player but not going to be elite. He can sign next year too.

Locking up Sano would really, really make me nervous. I would want to see a full season of health and minimal weight gain. I have a suspicion the Twins never lock him up.
    • USAFChief, Jerr, Dman and 3 others like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 11 2017 05:16 AM

I'd probably lock them all up, but I don't see how taking advantage of the opportunity will somehow make it harder to get pitching.

I'd probably lock them all up, but I don't see how taking advantage of the opportunity will somehow make it harder to get pitching.


Establishing cost certainty on the main guys would probably make it easier to get pitching.
    • USAFChief, Jerr, nicksaviking and 5 others like this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2017 06:23 AM
Yes, they all have 2 years plus of service time. But none of them has shown they can put it together over a full season. You have about a half season of performance to base their value over the next 5 years. Better to wait until next offseason IMO. Better gauge of what they can do by then.
    • Jerr likes this

 

Buxton for sure. For as many years as he'll agree to.

Sano is a tougher call, but I probably make an offer. I am leery about what security might do to motivation.

Rosario, I just let it ride at least another year.

Sign Berrios too.

I'd sign Buxton & Rosario ASAP but only for a reasonable price. I'd wait on Sano. I'd sign Berrios after 2018.

    • gocgo likes this

 

Establishing cost certainty on the main guys would probably make it easier to get pitching.

agreed, but it might take you all offseason to get these three deals done. As important as they are, multitasking would be ill-advised. It would certainly make it easier to acquire pitching at the 2018 trade deadline and next offseason.

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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 11 2017 06:37 AM

Buxton I would absolutely. I would bring it up with Kepler as well. Rosario is a probable, but it would depend on the years and dollars. Sano, I think, I would put him in the absolutely yes crowd if I see how he looks in spring training after he has (or has not) had the surgery.

Berrios too, maybe right?

    • kellyvance likes this

I'm scared off by the injuries to Buxton and Sano, which is probably the impetus for them to deal as well. So I'd lock them both up with the hopes that they would

A -  stay healthy

B -  have an impetus to negotiate

 

Rosario I'd definitely lock up - if the selectivity at the plate is real, he's a middle of the order bat and a good fielder with a track record of staying healthy. If it's not real, he's still good player with the opportunity to continue to refine that skill.

 

Berrios I would not lock up, injuries are too large of a concern. Need to churn and burn pitching.

You have to take a chance and lock up young players early before they get out of hand expensive. That's exactly why Cleveland has incredible values with Ramirez, Kluber, Kipnis, etc.

Lock up Buxton for as long as they can. Get an established salary set for Berrios and include multiple option years to buy out some FA seasons.

I'm still a big believer in Sano and think he should be locked up long term as well.
    • USAFChief, beckmt, Monkeypaws and 2 others like this

Well, I don't think you can be too scared off by the injury risk of Buxton or the bust risk of Rosario.Those will go into consideration for negotiating a cheaper contract. 

 

My concern with Rosario is that I don't know how many years he can stay in the outfield.Probably only through his arbitration years anyways.I'd leave him alone.  

 

Sano, unfortunately I don't think we can afford, by Sano's standards.Sano always wants the best.I think he knows he's no Mike Trout (his buyout was $24M/year), but I think Sano would still ask for something in the $15M-$20M/year range, which I just don't think we can afford.If he plays great the next few years, we'll have gotten some great years out of him fairly cheaply, and he'll price himself out of Minnesota.If he starts to regress after a few years, then maybe we can afford to keep him.Ok option either way.

 

Buxton, on the other hand, I would jump at any opportunity to sign a long-term contract.Now is likely the 'cheapest' he's ever going to be.He also seems to be a confidence-driven guy, and a long-term contract would give him a mega boost of confidence and security, hopefully improving his performance.Lastly, he seems to practice for and play the game the right way, which I think should be rewarded and kept on this team long-term.I don't see Buxton as a big-city team type of player (ala Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs), so I'd say his motivations to turn down a long-term contract are likely low, unless he has a desire to play closer to his home state of Georgia.If they can get Buxton for your suggested starting point of $1M/$3M/$5.5M/$8M/$10.5M, that would be a steal.I'd expect and be ok with something closer to $2M/$5M/$8M/$12M/$15M.Buxton is also 23 (soon to be 24), so I'd expect a 6-7 year contract instead of a 5-year. With the injury risk, I'd make the last year an option w/buyout.Although we'd be buying out some arbitration years, keep in mind that 1 WAR nowadays is valued somewhere about $5M.Buxton was 4 WAR this year, with potential for 6-8 WAR if he hits better.That's HUGE Bux (hehe) on the open market.

    • Oldgoat_MN and PDX Twin like this

I've said this before--the three mentioned in the OP plus Berrios, Kepler and Polanco. All are candidates for long term deals at some point in the next 2-3 years. I'd love it if they were all locked in, but it's easy for me to say what Mr. Pohlad should do with his money.

As expensive as Mauer was, the organization would have been worse off not paying him the money. And I think the team got very good value from Dozier's mid-length deal. Same with Ervin. But there's always risk as we found out with Phil Hughes, and that's why it's a gamble. These six players all show signs of being valuable players, and for that reason it's probably in the best long-term interest of the team to pay long-term money. And don't forget that teams usually insure contracts to give the team relief in case of player injury.

    • USAFChief, NapoleonComplex, DocBauer and 1 other like this

I've said this before--the three mentioned in the OP plus Berrios, Kepler and Polanco. All are candidates for long term deals at some point in the next 2-3 years. I'd love it if they were all locked in, but it's easy for me to say what Mr. Pohlad should do with his money.
As expensive as Mauer was, the organization would have been worse off not paying him the money. And I think the team got very good value from Dozier's mid-length deal. Same with Ervin. But there's always risk as we found out with Phil Hughes, and that's why it's a gamble. These six players all show signs of being valuable players, and for that reason it's probably in the best long-term interest of the team to pay long-term money. And don't forget that teams usually insure contracts to give the team relief in case of player injury.


THIS.

Sano and Buxton are probably the first two. Followed by Rosario (who I love and will only get better but an OF is easier to replace than other spots) and Berrios, who has less service time. And then you make it a clean sweep following those guys.
    • NapoleonComplex likes this

I think it would be nice to see a little more from Kepler and Polanco before you consider an extension. I'm not even sure how you would figure out the expected performance and what the risk tradeoffs would be.

    • Oldgoat_MN and wsnydes like this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2017 08:15 AM
IMO none of them are substantially more expensive after next year, year by year. That is, their first arb year isn’t going to be substantially more after next year than the Twins might be able to sign them for now. And if the Twins wait one more year and still sign them for 5 years, it’s an extra year under control while they are still in their 20s. And even at that point, they would be hitting free agency coming off their prime years.

I am not at all convinced that Sano is a generational type talent. According to some, that’s the kind of payday he’s looking for. He has a LONG way to go in terms of plate discipline to get there. Look at his K rate and BB rates over his career. Not much difference year to year. Same really with HR rate and extra base hit rate. Sure, he’s already a great hitter, an all star level talent if he plays third base. I’m not sure that’s true if he plays first or DH’s from here on. Not every year anyway. Lots of first baseman post an OPS better than .860 every year. He needs to get a lot better for me to be willing to commit long term. Rosario and Buxton need to prove that they can do what they did in the second half for a full season. If they can, they deserve the money.
Ideally, they'd lock up all of Berrios, Buxton, Sano, Kepler, and Rosario. Realistically, I think the majority are going to want to test the market. I think the most appealing balance between cost and upside is Buxton. He's had enough struggles so far to give the FO some leverage, though he has performed well enough to certainly justify at least talking about an extension. I don't know, maybe that second fact is enough for him to want to reach free agency as quickly as possible.

In any case, I doubt they'll be able to lock up all of them, given the increasing rarity of pre-arb extensions. If it was my choice, I'd prioritize Buxton.
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SF Twins Fan
Oct 11 2017 08:16 AM

Lock up Berrios and Buxton for as long as they can.  It would really depend on how much Sano is going to be looking for.  If he wants superstar money then I'd pass as he has yet to stay healthy for a full season and his motivation/determination doesn't seem as high as those two.  I don't think it would take too much to lock Rosario up, so I'd be willing to do a medium length contract with him.  Kepler could probably be signed to a medium length contract as well.

Kepler seems like he's quite similar to Dozier (at the time they signed him to a medium-term deal) in terms of development and promise. That one worked out quite well, though Dozier was far from an established player at the time he signed.

 

I'd put a reasonable but generous offer on the table for Kepler sometime in the next 18 months and see if they can keep him in Minnesota for another half-decade.

 

Buxton and Sano both got multi-million dollar signing bonuses. They are in a position to bet on themselves. There's just no way they sign a deal now. 

That's what I am thinking too. Even Rosario, assuming he's not a super-2 this winter, is only a year away from arbitration -- even if they get hurt at this point, they are each probably going to get a couple mil next winter.

 

The time for discount extensions seems to be earlier than that -- Span was 2 years away from arbitration when he signed his, for example.  Dozier was only a year away and didn't give much of a discount (at least he didn't sign away any FA years).

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RaymondLuxuryYacht
Oct 11 2017 08:40 AM

I would be uncomfortable signing any long term deal - doesn't mean I wouldn't do it though.

 

If you aren't uncomfortable, you probably haven't thought it through well enough.

Buxton is the one I would try and lock up for sure.If he remains solid at the plate other teams will snap him up as soon as they can.If Rosario is reasonable then I would offer him as well.Wouldn't mind doing Kepler but having the whole outfield locked up seems overkill.

 

I know Sano has the potential to be a game changer but his K rate and injury history worry me.I know he will get better and at the beginning of the year when he was healthy and disciplined at the plate he carried this team.I just get the feeling he won't be giving the Twins a deal and I am not sure he is someone who can stay healthy.Tough call on Sano for me.

 

I agree that this is the year to get deals done if the Twins want any discounts.If we wait until these guys "prove" themselves the price is going to be much higher to get those later years.It is a risk but opportunity only knocks once.

My priorities would be Buxton and Rosario. They are my "best bets" for long and successful careers. I love Berrios but the injury risk for SP is pretty high. 

 

I'd give Buxton guaranteed money over a long-term contract. Load it with incentives for MVP, AS, GG, SS. Say, 6 yrs / $62 million, with a $2M buyout before FA (4 yr / $32 mil guaranteed at that point). I'll take the injury risk and put up with the coulda/woulda/shouldas if he misses a year.  

 

I want to see more consistent defense and base running with Rosario but his upside is extremely high. He's shown the desire to work on his game. I'd ask for the same contract structure as Buxton. Spotrac has Rosario as a 4-year Arb guy, so 7 years takes him through two years as FA: 7 yrs / $48M, $1M buyout before FA (5/$21M guaranteed). It's risky but the Twins need to take a few chances to build a long-term winner.

 

Approach Berrios, Sano, Kepler and Polanco after the 2018 season. Health with Sano and injury risk for Berrios are the issues. There are other 2B/SS moving through the system so Polanco isn't a priority right now. Kepler still has to prove he can be an everyday player.

 

These are difficult calls. IMO, sign them all over the next two years. Odds are good that 4 of 6 will be above-average to elite ballplayers. Better to spread the risk than try to pick the optimal signings. No FA years, less money. No team option, a lot less money.