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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

Of the Big Four, you sign whoever is most likely to flash the cash around their teammates. It totally blows to not have money when your peers do, so the other three fall like dominoes. Boom. Group discount.

 

You're welcome.

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, 70charger and 4 others like this

 

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

True. Given Buxton's struggles, there probably wasn't an extension to be had a year ago.  I'm not really blaming the FO with this line of thought, just saying if there is a chance to get him locked up long-term on a team-friendly deal, it would be now, not later.

    • Mike Sixel and beckmt like this

 

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.

Yeah, TR waited way too long to lock up Mauer.  He was almost destined to be a Twin for life, we should have been able to get something done.  In 2005 after he returned from the knee injury at the latest.  As it was, we didn't sign him until after he won the 2006 batting title and was eligible for arbitration.

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yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2017 01:32 PM

Of the Big Four, you sign whoever is most likely to flash the cash around their teammates. It totally blows to not have money when your peers do, so the other three fall like dominoes. Boom. Group discount.

You're welcome.


That would be fine if they weren’t already making half a million per. They already HAVE money.

As for the extensions themselves, I simply disagree with extending them at this time. If I’m going to potentially commit an 8 figure salary for 2 years at the tail end of the contract, I better be pretty sure these are players that are going to be productive at that point. In the cases of Rosario and Sano, we’re talking about players who have never posted an fWAR over 2.5. IMO, that’s not worth 8 figures, particularly when we are talking about a corner OFer and (by that time most likely) a first baseman. If your farm system can’t crank out 2 corners to produce better than that in the next 4 years, your organization is in pretty bad shape IMO.

Sure, maybe they get better. Maybe they don’t. Cristian Guzman never did. He posted an fWAR of 3.9 as a 23 year old and posted above 1.8 exactly one more time in his career.

 

True. Given Buxton's struggles, there probably wasn't an extension to be had a year ago.  I'm not really blaming the FO with this line of thought, just saying if there is a chance to get him locked up long-term on a team-friendly deal, it would be now, not later.

 

I agree with this. They have to move on Buxton this offseason or it likely does not happen at all.

 

I don't think Sano is an option this offseason and looking like he won't be during his time here, unless he really wants to be a Twin. Once the free agents sign next offseason it's game over.

 

The others can wait without that much of a difference. Extension is fine, another year probably doesn't matter a whole lot on their ability to keep them.

    • Vanimal46 likes this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2017 02:15 PM
Let’s step into the shoes of Derek Falvey for a minute. Are you really prepared to bank the rest of your career on 2 guys that have never posted fWARs above 2.5 and another who posted a 3.5 and never before above 1.7?

It’s real easy to say “extend them all” when it isn’t your job on the line if they don’t pan out.

 

Let’s step into the shoes of Derek Falvey for a minute. Are you really prepared to bank the rest of your career on 2 guys that have never posted fWARs above 2.5 and another who posted a 3.5 and never before above 1.7?

It’s real easy to say “extend them all” when it isn’t your job on the line if they don’t pan out.

 

I would bank my career on Buxton, and to a lesser extent Berrios. I would be comfortable punting on Rosario/Kepler/Polanco for a season, and I don't think I would go huge on Sano this offseason.

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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 11 2017 02:21 PM

 

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.

 

which for Buxton is not a small risk in my opinion.Same with Sano. Both have had their fair share of injuries both in the majors and minors.

 

Let’s step into the shoes of Derek Falvey for a minute. Are you really prepared to bank the rest of your career on 2 guys that have never posted fWARs above 2.5 and another who posted a 3.5 and never before above 1.7?

It’s real easy to say “extend them all” when it isn’t your job on the line if they don’t pan out.

 

On the other side of the coin, are they prepared to lose Buxton after 6 years if he develops into a star? Because if Buxton reaches the potential we think he can be (5-8 WAR player) then he will be out of Minnesota's budget. 

    • USAFChief and beckmt like this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2017 02:43 PM

On the other side of the coin, are they prepared to lose Buxton after 6 years if he develops into a star? Because if Buxton reaches the potential we think he can be (5-8 WAR player) then he will be out of Minnesota's budget.


Why? Puckett wasn’t. He posted 3 seasons of fWAR of 4.7 or higher in his first 6. They made him MLB’s first $3 mil per year player. Sure, salaries are higher now. So is revenue. Tom Kelly’s last year as manager was 2001. Twins revenue was $75 mil that year. It was $249 mil in 2016. Who knows where revenue will be in 6 years. $300 mil? Not unrealistic IMO. Will the Twins still need to make wise secisions? Yep. Will they need to choose between Buxton and maybe Sano or Rosario? Probably. Can they make Buxton one of the highest paid players in MLB and still field a championship level team? I think so.
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Bill Brown69
Oct 11 2017 02:44 PM

I want at least 4 of this core to be Twins for 10 years. That is why the FO gets paid. Make the right calls on the right players and get it done. 

 

All have concerns, yes it is a risk, but less of a risk IMHO than losing the fans by letting them all walk. 

 

But yes, I said 10 years. So we are talking 8 year contracts for at least a couple. Get 1-2 done this offseason and at least 1 per year for the next 2.

    • howieramone2 likes this

 

Why? Puckett wasn’t. He posted 3 seasons of fWAR of 4.7 or higher in his first 6. They made him MLB’s first $3 mil per year player. Sure, salaries are higher now. So is revenue. Tom Kelly’s last year as manager was 2001. Twins revenue was $75 mil that year. It was $249 mil in 2016. Who knows where revenue will be in 6 years. $300 mil? Not unrealistic IMO. Will the Twins still need to make wise secisions? Yep. Will they need to choose between Buxton and maybe Sano or Rosario? Probably. Can they make Buxton one of the highest paid players in MLB and still field a championship level team? I think so.

 

I would like for it to happen. I just don't know what one of the highest paid players in MLB is going to be when he's a FA in 2022. 

I truly believe we're going to be dumbfounded next off-season when Harper, Kershaw and Machado sign $40+ MM a year contracts. It's going to be a game changer. 

    • beckmt likes this

Why? Puckett wasn’t. He posted 3 seasons of fWAR of 4.7 or higher in his first 6. They made him MLB’s first $3 mil per year player. Sure, salaries are higher now. So is revenue. Tom Kelly’s last year as manager was 2001. Twins revenue was $75 mil that year. It was $249 mil in 2016. Who knows where revenue will be in 6 years. $300 mil? Not unrealistic IMO. Will the Twins still need to make wise secisions? Yep. Will they need to choose between Buxton and maybe Sano or Rosario? Probably. Can they make Buxton one of the highest paid players in MLB and still field a championship level team? I think so.

By the same token, though, a Kiermaier type deal paying Buxton $13 mil a year through his prime isn't going to be a millstone around our neck either, even if he washes out.

And you have to admit there would be a benefit to paying Buxton ~$13 mil per season in his prime if he winds up providing ~$26 mil worth of production or whatever. That would be another $13 mil we could allocate elsewhere, like toward an ace.

We're obviously not sure how it will all shake out, but this offseason may be our last chance to get Buxton on this kind of deal. Unless you have a better plan to allocate that cash right now, I think I would prefer making a bet on Buxton with it.
    • USAFChief and Dman like this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2017 03:31 PM

I would like for it to happen. I just don't know what one of the highest paid players in MLB is going to be when he's a FA in 2022.

I truly believe we're going to be dumbfounded next off-season when Harper, Kershaw and Machado sign $40+ MM a year contracts. It's going to be a game changer.


In two of the last four seasons, Bryce Harper has had a bWAR under 2 and in only one season in his career is it higher than 5.1. Buyer beware.

And like I said, nothing stops the Twins from making an offer in June of next year, long before the free agency season.

 

they’ll each be in line for a guaranteed salary of $3M-$5M. That is at least close to “lifetime security” money.

 

Close? I guess you and I have different lifestyles John :)

I would go for it.Berrios can wait until after next year or even the year after, pitcher injuries scare me.I agree waiting until after 2018 is playing with fools money.After next year most very good to great players will wait for FA and know they are getting paid.  

That is why the CBA After 2021 is going to be so important.

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.

Pretty much concur. I would not let the possibility of a Buxton injury impact my decision. And agree, Sano is a tough call. This could be a big year for him. He is either going to work hard and become one of the most feared hitters in baseball,.............................. Or he won't!
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yarnivek1972
Oct 11 2017 05:18 PM

I would go for it. Berrios can wait until after next year or even the year after, pitcher injuries scare me. I agree waiting until after 2018 is playing with fools money. After next year most very good to great players will wait for FA and know they are getting paid.
That is why the CBA After 2021 is going to be so important.


After 2018, Rosario, Buxton and Sano will still be 3 years away from FA. That’s an awful long time to stay healthy. Especially for Buxton and Sano, who both already have rather extended inury history.

 

After 2018, Rosario, Buxton and Sano will still be 3 years away from FA. That’s an awful long time to stay healthy. Especially for Buxton and Sano, who both already have rather extended inury history.

Yes and if they do stay healthly they are only 3 years away, and going to want big average dollars to give up the free agency years

 

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.

It's not just fielding. FA pitchers will want to go to teams that excel at everything but pitching. They get lots of playing time because they are needed and they get lots of support. Locking up a roster with good hitters, good fielders, and good baserunners means that pitchers will want to come here, which means they'll be more likely to sign at a lower salary level here than elsewhere.

    • kellyvance 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?

Based on that, do you think Rosario is the guy to try to lock up now?

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howieramone2
Oct 12 2017 11:00 AM

 

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.

He didn't become a world beater until after the All-Star break. Plenty of time.

Buxton may be the best center fielder is baseball. Of course you try to lock him up. Every team needs a bell cow power hitter at no. 4 in the line up. So you lock up Sano too, with maybe an incentive laden clause about maintaining a certain weight. .  There will be hiccups, but he is a guy that can carry a team for a couple of weeks when hot.  Rosario is a great player, great power and a good OF, but his main attraction is that he is clutch. I think you lock up Berrios too. He will only get better. I'd add locking up Keps and Doze. These guys form a core that is solid as anyone's. I'd take a look at where Gordon is before committing to Polanco, but he has shown that he is a real solid hitter if streaky.

 

Twins have a solid core of position players. They really need pitching. I mean, as in desperately need a #1 guy. Santana and Berrios are really #2 and #3 guys. I hope they sign someone that can be a stopper in the off season. And bring back Brandon as a FA acquisition. 

I would sign all three, and in this order: Buxton, Sano, Rosario.

 

Rosario is mildly expendable because of Wade down in the minors who should be a September call next year. 

 

That said, I would throw hefty money at all of them. 

 

Buxton may be the best center fielder is baseball. Of course you try to lock him up.

 

The best center fielder in baseball is TROUT.Also the best overall player.

 

Buxton was, however,very much the best defensive outfielder this year and yeah, we should lock him up sooner rather than latter.I'd be happy if they waited another season though, to see if the 2nd half hitting sticks and he doesn't destroy himself playing recklessly.

    • Mike Sixel likes this