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Article: Do The Twins Need A Proven Closer?

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T-Wolves Regular Season Thread

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Let's get this mother started.    
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Didn't see that coming.
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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….

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77 Comments

 

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).

 

This fangraphs blog may be of interest for you and others....

 

 

Consider: since 2010, there have been 143 extensions of three or more years given to players who’ve recorded less than six years of service time, per MLB Trade Rumors.

 

30+ of those extensions came when the player was in between 2-3 years service time. So I think this is the right time for the organization to get the best deal for their players. 

Though if you consider Buxton, Berrios, Rosario, or Sano stars, then Dave Cameron wrote about how star players are forgoing pre-arbitration extensions so they can reach FA sooner. 

    • Mike Sixel, markos, prouster and 1 other like this

 

This fangraphs blog may be of interest for you and others....

 

 

30+ of those extensions came when the player was in between 2-3 years service time. So I think this is the right time for the organization to get the best deal for their players. 

Though if you consider Buxton, Berrios, Rosario, or Sano stars, then Dave Cameron wrote about how star players are forgoing pre-arbitration extensions so they can reach FA sooner. 

 

I didn't say you couldn't or shouldn't do extensions with such players. But you're not necessarily getting a great deal.  A 3 or even 4 year extension for any of these guys right now wouldn't be particularly valuable.  Like Dozier, it would bring some cost certainty, maybe a mild discount, but that's it.  The really valuable part of these deals is getting FA years at a discount (see Sale, Quintana, and Eaton for the White Sox as great examples, or even Denard Span as a mild example for us).

    • markos, rghrbek and Vanimal46 like this

I think this team is at a point where they should gamble on locking up some of the core players.I'd lock up Buxton and Berrios for sure.I'm a little more hesitant on Sano.I want to see Rosario follow up this season with another strong season before talking deal for him.  

 

Locking up some or all of the core players should help extend the window of opportunity.It very well might backfire in the end, but I think it's worth the risk.

    • Vanimal46 likes this

 

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.

 

I don't know, Dozier had just backed up a 2.5 WAR season with a 4.7 WAR season, so there was some expectation going forward (that he has since lived up to).

 

Kepler is stilla 1 WAR player at a corner OF.

I think John's $28M estimate is way too low - probably half what would be required. As others have already pointed out, Buxton and Sano both already received multi-million dollar signing bonuses, so their league-minimum salaries understate their financial security. Then if you look at other comparable players who recently signed, several (Andrelton Simmons, Christian Yelich, Rougned Odor, Kevin Kiermaier) have signed for at least $50M guaranteed. Francisco Lindor reportedly turned down a $100M deal. Finally, I think that most players (and agents) are expecting the Machado/Harper/Kershaw free agent class to completely reset the salary scale. So I think some of that expected jump will need to be baked into any long-term offer.

 

If I'm advising Buxton/Sano/Rosario, I'm suggestion two options. Either take a cheap deal without giving up any FA years (think something like a 4yr/$20M deal); or, take a massive deal that covers FA years or has team options (think something like 6yr/$80M with $20M option years). Anything in between is giving up too much earning potential.

    • beckmt, Vanimal46 and SF Twins Fan like this

 

I think John's $28M estimate is way too low - probably half what would be required. As others have already pointed out, Buxton and Sano both already received multi-million dollar signing bonuses, so their league-minimum salaries understate their financial security. Then if you look at other comparable players who recently signed, several (Andrelton Simmons, Christian Yelich, Rougned Odor, Kevin Kiermaier) have signed for at least $50M guaranteed. Francisco Lindor reportedly turned down a $100M deal. Finally, I think that most players (and agents) are expecting the Machado/Harper/Kershaw free agent class to completely reset the salary scale. So I think some of that expected jump will need to be baked into any long-term offer.

 

If I'm advising Buxton/Sano/Rosario, I'm suggestion two options. Either take a cheap deal without giving up any FA years (think something like a 4yr/$20M deal); or, take a massive deal that covers FA years or has team options (think something like 6yr/$80M with $20M option years). Anything in between is giving up too much earning potential.

 

Agreed. The average guaranteed dollars from that Fangraphs blog I posted before said $40 million for players in the 2-3 year service time window. If the Twins are buying out FA years, they'll have to step up and pay them $20-25 million each year. 

 

EDIT: Yes, the Machado/Harper/Kershaw FA class next season is going to break everything we know about the salary scale. I can't wait to see the enormous contracts they sign. 

    • Danchat likes this

Buxton would have to be something like 1-5-9-12-22-22-etc at a minimum, and that is probably underselling it by a decent margin.

 

These extensions are much more desirable when the money is comically understated. None of these hitters, not even Rosario, is giving up the first year of free agency for 10.5mil. Berrios might be a slightly different story, being a pitcher and locking him up two years before arb.

    • markos and Vanimal46 like this
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howieramone2
Oct 11 2017 10:23 AM

I would lock up Sano and Buxton, as long as possible, hopefully this off season, but no later than next. Berrios I would wait on because all pitchers have injury concerns. It doesn't have to be done anytime soon, but feel you will need to choose between Rosario and Kepler at some point in time. I look at Polanco as the odd man out, because it certainly appears we have an abundance of middle infielders in the pipeline. 

 

If we keep the right 4, we should be able to extend the window. Masterful job of accumulating talent by Terry Ryan.

In regards to my posts upthread (about Sano, Buxton, and Rosario being just 1 year away from arbitration), it should be noted that Berrios is still 2 years away.  Coupled with pitcher injury volatility, there would be seem to be the best potential to work out a team-friendly extension for him right now.

    • markos likes this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2017 10:52 AM
Re: Andrelton Simmons, Christian Yelich, Rougned Odor, Kevin Kiermaier.

Simmons, Yellich and Kiermaier all posted seasons with at least an fWAR OF 4.5 before cashing in. Buxton’s best is 3.5. Rosario’s best is 2.2. Sano’s best is 2.3. That’s a rather substantial gap IMO especially since much of Buxton’s WAR value is still tied to his defense. Odor’s struggles since cashing in would seem to be exactly the reason why you DON’T give the money to a young guy that hasn’t posted a 4.5 fWAR.

Point being if those are the names people are using to say the Twins should lock Buxton, Rosario and Sano up NOW, I am even more confident in my position in waiting until next year.

 

Re: Andrelton Simmons, Christian Yelich, Rougned Odor, Kevin Kiermaier.

Simmons, Yellich and Kiermaier all posted seasons with at least an fWAR OF 4.5 before cashing in. Buxton’s best is 3.5. Rosario’s best is 2.2. Sano’s best is 2.3. That’s a rather substantial gap IMO especially since much of Buxton’s WAR value is still tied to his defense. Odor’s struggles since cashing in would seem to be exactly the reason why you DON’T give the money to a young guy that hasn’t posted a 4.5 fWAR.

Point being if those are the names people are using to say the Twins should lock Buxton, Rosario and Sano up NOW, I am even more confident in my position in waiting until next year.

 

Would it make you feel better that Buxton has 5.1 bWAR? 

It's not like this is an urgent matter to sign any of these guys before they leave. Just know that the dollar signs are going to rise dramatically each year that passes.

Frankly, it's probably not smart for the Twins in their situation to wait when salary ranges break because of the mega 2018 FA class.
    • beckmt likes this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2017 11:22 AM

Would it make you feel better that Buxton has 5.1 bWAR?



Kiermaier posted a 7.3, and Simmons a 7.0 bWAR before cashing in. So, no. The numbers say “not yet” IMO. Odor and Yelich’s pre-contract bWARs weren’t as good as Buxton’s this year. But given their inconsistency since, it seems to reinforce the strategy of waiting. The Twins might be able to afford being wrong about one of them. They certainly can’t afford to be wrong about all 3. By that I mean if the Twins extend all 3 for the next 5 years and none of them live up to it, the franchise is destroyed for the next ten years.

As I said, those 3 simply haven’t been good enough to earn a long term commitment yet IMO.

 

In regards to my posts upthread (about Sano, Buxton, and Rosario being just 1 year away from arbitration), it should be noted that Berrios is still 2 years away.  Coupled with pitcher injury volatility, there would be seem to be the best potential to work out a team-friendly extension for him right now.

 

I would endorse an extension for Berrios, but wouldn't be especially offended if they decided to wait 2-3 years. Good (enough) extensions for non elite pitchers can be had throughout the pre-arb and arb years.

 

That said, he seems like a decent guy to invest in, unless you are nervous about his height and if that leads to more injury concerns.

 

Kiermaier posted a 7.3, and Simmons a 7.0 bWAR before cashing in. So, no. The numbers say “not yet” IMO. Odor and Yelich’s pre-contract bWARs weren’t as good as Buxton’s this year. But given their inconsistency since, it seems to reinforce the strategy of waiting. The Twins might be able to afford being wrong about one of them. They certainly can’t afford to be wrong about all 3. By that I mean if the Twins extend all 3 for the next 5 years and none of them live up to it, the franchise is destroyed for the next ten years.

As I said, those 3 simply haven’t been good enough to earn a long term commitment yet IMO.

Odor was a poor defender and barely average overall bat when the Rangers extended him.  Peak of 2.4 bWAR at the time.  That should hardly be a cautionary tale for Buxton.

 

Kiermaier and Simmons would be far better comps for Buxton, given their defensive prowess.  Yelich too, albeit from a corner OF spot.  All 3 have been solid since they signed their deals, averaging 4+ WAR per season.

 

Obviously there is risk, but I suspect if you wait to see anything more from Buxton, this type of deal will be off the table.

    • USAFChief, beckmt and Dman like this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2017 11:55 AM

Odor was a poor defender and barely average overall bat when the Rangers extended him. Peak of 2.4 bWAR at the time. That should hardly be a cautionary tale for Buxton.

Kiermaier and Simmons would be far better comps for Buxton, given their defensive prowess. Yelich too, albeit from a corner OF spot. All 3 have been solid since they signed their deals, averaging 4+ WAR per season.

Obviously there is risk, but I suspect if you wait to see anything more from Buxton, this type of deal will be off the table.


I would agree that of the 3 Buxton is probably the lowest risk, simply because his defense is always going to be a huge part of his contribution.

That said, his peak is/was still substantially lower than Simmons and Kiermaier. If I only attempted one, he would definitely be the one I would try to do. Nothing prevents negotiating a deal mid-season next year either. That policy was an artificial excuse of the previous regime.

I still say wait and at least see how they start next season. Right now, a much higher risk of an extension falls on the Twins side IMO. It will even out after next year, or at least by midseason of next year.

 

I would agree that of the 3 Buxton is probably the lowest risk, simply because his defense is always going to be a huge part of his contribution.

That said, his peak is/was still substantially lower than Simmons and Kiermaier. If I only attempted one, he would definitely be the one I would try to do. Nothing prevents negotiating a deal mid-season next year either. That policy was an artificial excuse of the previous regime.

I still say wait and at least see how they start next season. Right now, a much higher risk of an extension falls on the Twins side IMO. It will even out after next year, or at least by midseason of next year.

Again, I don't know if you can wait, even just until midseason.  Simmons and Yelich were both 2 years away from arbitration when they signed; Kiermaier was 1-2 years away depending on the super-2 cutoff.  Buxton might not be likely to sign a similar deal now just 1 year away; he almost certainly will not when he is only ~3 months away.

 

If you are content with eventually signing a Dozier type arb buyout deal (a little arb discount, no FA/option years), sure, go ahead and wait.  If you want the chance to get a special player on a special deal, I think you have to act now (assuming it is still even possible).

    • USAFChief, beckmt, 70charger and 1 other like this

Again, I don't know if you can wait, even just until midseason. Simmons and Yelich were both 2 years away from arbitration when they signed; Kiermaier was 1-2 years away depending on the super-2 cutoff. Buxton might not be likely to sign a similar deal now just 1 year away; he almost certainly will not when he is only ~3 months away.

If you are content with eventually signing a Dozier type arb buyout deal (a little arb discount, no FA/option years), sure, go ahead and wait. If you want the chance to get a special player on a special deal, I think you have to act now (assuming it is still even possible).

I fear it might already be too late to get a decent discount. The incentives for Buxton to sign such a deal are melting away. His chances of not having an MLB career at this point are down to injury risk.
    • Mike Sixel, beckmt and spinowner like this

 

I fear it might already be too late to get a decent discount.

Yeah, that's my fear too.  A normal player 1 year away would be fairly unlikely.  My hope is that Buxton's slow start might neutralize that a bit?

 

Then again, thanks to his signing bonus, Buxton has already pocketed about $6 mil more than Kiermaier at the same point last year...

 

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.

 

Mauer signed one year later than where these guys are right now, and he signed a4 year, $33 million contract that bought out (I believe) one year of free agency. Then came the big deal. The Twins - under Ryan - signed a lot of guys to these types of deals, buying out 1-2 years of arbitration. They did it with Morneau, Cuddyer, Hunter, Johan and a few others. 

Yeah, that's my fear too. A normal player 1 year away would be fairly unlikely. My hope is that Buxton's slow start might neutralize that a bit?

Then again, thanks to his signing bonus, Buxton has already pocketed about $6 mil more than Kiermaier at the same point last year...


If it's too late for Buxton then they never really had a chance.
    • Vanimal46, howieramone2 and spinowner like this

Mauer signed one year later than where these guys are right now, and he signed a 4 year, $33 million contract that bought out (I believe) one year of free agency. Then came the big deal. The Twins - under Ryan - signed a lot of guys to these types of deals, buying out 1-2 years of arbitration. They did it with Morneau, Cuddyer, Hunter, Johan and a few others.


Morneau and Cuddyer were signed by Bill Smith, Nathan the same year. (Though in fairness, it was also when Hunter walked and after Target Field was approved).

The first Mauer contract was a big mistake by Ryan, way too short. Set the stage for the albatross to follow. He did well with Johan and Hunter though.

 

If it's too late for Buxton then they never really had a chance.

 

Concur. This is the first season he's had sustained production for more than a month. It's possible they don't have a chance and he wants to explore FA as soon as he can like Harper, Machado, Arenado, etc.

Lock them all up at reasonable salaries with bonus $ for # of at bats.That way, they have incentive to stay healthy and the odds are if they are all healthy, the Twins have success.Look, Buxton is great, but Rosario has incredibly quick hands at the plate and a great arm to go with good speed.Rosario was good this year, but he has a chance to be elite.If we can lock up the outfield for many years, the pitching gets easier to come by.No pitcher wants to play with bad defense behind him and every pitcher wants to pitch with good defense behind him.Lock them up and then work on pitching.

    • spinowner likes this

Did you read the blogs vanimal supplied from Fangraphs, and their analysis of these deals and why they either aren't happening, or need to be MUCH LARGER to happen?