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Buxton: "Pissed" at Twins for No Call-Up Decision...

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Article: Twins Trying to Sustain Excellence

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If you’re feeling a bit underwhelmed at the close of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, I’m sure you’re not the only Minnesota Twins fan i...
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Article: Official Rule 5 Draft Day Thread

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The Winter Meetings in Las Vegas have been fairly quiet against in 2018. Certainly there are meetings, but there haven't been a lot of si...
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Non-Twins Off-season news, tidbits and transactions

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We had a thread for items around the baseball world that were worth sharing but not worth a thread of their own. Now that the 2018 season...
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Derek Falvey Interview on 1500 ESPN

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 12:41 AM
Falvey discusses Sano, payroll, etc. http://www.1500espn....an-mackey-judd/
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Diving Into The Offseason: Rosario And Kepler Extensions?

Brian Dozier. Byron Buxton. Miguel Sano. Jose Berrios.

Now that we’ve offered up suggested long-term contracts for those four players - at about a combined quarter of a billion dollars - today I’ll add two more players who could be in line for long-term extensions this offseason. While their deals won’t cost as much as the four above, they are also young players who have a chance to become really good and become spendy in a hurry.

Today, I want to consider potential contract extensions for outfielders Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler.
Image courtesy of Troy Taormina, USA Today
Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario are being lumped together today since they are both left-handed hitting outfielders. They both will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after the 2018 season.

While they have different styles on the field, they have put up similar numbers. Rosario has 50 home runs in less than three years. Kepler has 36 home runs in less than two years. Rosario had his breakout season in 2017, but Kepler is one year younger.

Eddie Rosario has 2.120 years of service time which left him just three days short of being a Super-2 arbitration guy this offseason. Max Kepler has 1.152 years of service time. Assuming he spends all of 2018 in the big leagues, he’s certain to be a Super-2 arbitration guy after the 2018 season. That also means that he will have four arbitration seasons.

So where do we start with this discussion? Hey, I think that the ultimate comparable deal for these guys happens to be an infielder. A year ago, Jose Ramirez signed a long-term contract that will guarantee he’s in Cleveland from 2017 through 2021, and includes options for 2022 and 2023. The deal is five years and $25.5 million.

In his All-Star 2017 season, he made $571,400. He’ll make $2.48 million in 2018, in what would have been his first arbitration season. That will be followed by salaries of $3.75 million and $6.25 million. The deal then will buy out his first free agent season for just $9.0 million. Cleveland will also have options for two more years, one at $11.0 million and the other at $13.0 million. Based on his 2017 season, that will prove to be a tremendous contract for Cleveland. What would he have made in arbitration coming off that year? $5 million? Maybe more? And, what would a long-term contract have cost Cleveland if they had waited until now? Probably $25-30 million just in his arbitration years, and then at least $18-20 million a year for a couple of free agent seasons. In fact, at that point, is there any true value for Cleveland not to just go year-by-year, other than keeping his rights into his free agent years?

Here are some outfielders who have signed extensions in the last half-dozen years or so.

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Aside from Maybin, the others waited another year, until they had reached arbitration, to reach a long-term agreements. But the numbers still give some range for a potential deal for Rosario or Kepler.

Here is a group of players who went year-to-year in arbitration. Nelson Cruz signed a one-year deal in his first arbitration deal. Then he signed a two-year deal after that.

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Finally, here is a group of outfielders who went through the arbitration process for the first time in 2017. This might give a good idea of what Rosario and Kepler could command or receive in arbitration next offseason.

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That’s quite a bit of information for you to consume as you consider what the Twins should offer Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario in terms of long-term security. Below is a chart with two offers that I would start with, feeling that it is equitable for both the team and the player, understanding the risk/reward for each side. Again, it is important to note the distinction between the two players in terms of arbitration, as Kepler will have a fourth arbitration season before becoming a free agent.

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The deal above for Eddie Rosario equates to five years and $28.5 million. The first option year has a $1 million buyout, so it could be a six year, $41 million, and with a second option (also a $1 million option) could make it work seven years and $54 million.

For Kepler, the contract is worth $48 million over seven years with an option that could make it work $61 million over eight years.

In both cases, the player would likely prefer the deal be for two years less so that they could be free agents at age 30, but again, that is the risk for the player in a long-term deal and obtaining ten lifetime’s worth of guaranteed money.

The Twins would have to make an assumption that Rosario will continue to improve his strike zone judgment and continue to become more consistent. For a Kepler deal at this time, the Twins would need to make an assumption that he will improve his performance against southpaws and continue to add more power.

So, what do you think? Should the Twins have conversations with Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, or both? What are the risk factors in your mind? What would you do as the Twins GM?


That's what the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook is all about. If you haven't pre-ordered your copy yet, you can click the link below. You can even set your own price.

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40 Comments

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Brock Beauchamp
Oct 25 2017 07:57 PM

My preference goes in this order:

 

1. Buxton (duh)

2. Berrios (duh)

3. Rosario (the old fogey of the group, still could be had relatively cheaply)

4. Sano (duh)

5. Kepler (I guess, don't see a real rush here)

6. Dozier (no)

    • beckmt, 70charger and Vanimal46 like this
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Winston Smith
Oct 25 2017 08:11 PM

I think they can both wait and see what they do next year.

    • mikelink45 likes this

The Twins, if they can, sign these guys for a reasonable amount to still make them trade worthy, a la Denard Span. The flip side is that they may not get better.

 

Buxton, right now, has the msot value patrolling centerfield. Unless Krilloff is a sure fire centerfielder, your best bet is Granite, who is mreo of a backup or corner guy.

 

You hope Kepler matures and puts up similar numbers like Rosario did this season. You wonder if Rosario can manage to stay the same, or even get better.

 

If that is true, for the above, the Twins have a longterm outfield for 5-6 years and if you can reasonably sign these guys past their arbitration seasons with an option, I would say go for it.

 

The only other factor is Rooker. Is he an outfielder> Will he be able to handle first? Or is he jsut a bat. And will he be a major league bat.

 

It's interesting,dangling salaries out to a whole host of guys (jncluding Sano) plus factoring in what to do with Mauer and Dozier...one to three more years for both - Idoubt you would give either a one-year qualifying offer, although that would not be beyond (as with Santana) if the funds for that aprticular season is there.

 

The Twins only have 2-3 obvious salary needs. It would be nice to add a right-handed bat who can also play a position, possibly a backup infielder guy, too. The Twins could spend big on a core starter. They could also spend on a solid relief pitcher, and sign a few AAAA guys to fill out the system. I think the Twins MAY finally have some strength in the bullpen if Bard and Curtiss and Rosario and Moya and Cahrgois and Melotakis and Reed can join the likes of May and o'Rourke to keep us from using Tonkin, Boshers, and others. We also have to put Enns into the mix. So the Twins have an abundance of relief pitching probables. Just how to use them, and who is ALSO the next, say, Hildenberger or Busenitz.

 

I think they can both wait and see what they do next year.

 

I think if they wait on Rosario, and he has the same season in 2018 that he just had in 2017, a long-term deal would cost them 40-50% more. 

 

I think if they wait another year on Kepler and he has the same season in 2018 that he had in 2017, it would be pretty similar. If Kepler were to show any improvement versus LHP and go from 19 to 25 HR, it would cost them 60-80% more next year at this time. 

 

 

    • Oldgoat_MN, Deduno Abides, tvagle and 1 other like this

Somewhere there has to be a breaking point with extensions...or does there??

 

Using information gleamed from Forbes Baseball Team Values 2017 (linked below) I could see where the Core group can be Twins for 6 years of fun at Target Field along with your favorite $25M/year starter

 

The Twins, with Revenue of $249M from 2016 and an opening day payroll of $104.8M, spent 42.09% of Revenue on Salaries (even if you use the end of season payroll of $108M it's still just 43.37%)

 

This is a long way from the often mentioned 50-52% of Revenue spent on salaries we've heard mentioned

 

So where should the 2018 Opening Day Payroll be?

 

Minor attendance bump (88,000 over last year) aside, let's assume Revenue stayed the same in 2017

 

$249M x 52% = $129.5M Opening Day Payroll for 2018

 

Using my favorite Japanese Connection Model of the Twins Payroll Tool and a little reverse Algebra here's what the future payroll could look like with Revenue needed to support it as well what 3% Inflation over prior year revenue would be

 

--------Payroll-----------------------------------Needed Revenue----3% Inflation

2018 - $133.6M ($17.9M Dead Pool Money) ----- $256.9M--------$256.5M

2019 - $132.3M ($16M Dead Pool Money)-------- $254.4M--------$264.2M

2020 - $128.3M ($0.5M Dead Pool Money)------- $246.7M--------$272.1M

2021 - $148.7M ------------------------------------- $286.0M--------$280.3M

2022 - $165.4M ------------------------------------- $318.1M--------$288.7M

2023 - $173.4M ---New TV Deal this year??------ $333.5M--------$297.3M

 

Factor in added revenue from a couple home playoff games along the way and there you have the same lovable team for the next 6 years

 

Twins Payroll Tool 6 years

 

Source of Revenue Numbers and Opening Day Payroll - Forbes

    • Cory Engelhardt and Oldgoat_MN like this

I would extend all of the players that you have previewed. My rationale is that some of them will work in the teams favor, some in the players favor, but doing all of them would balance the risk. Extending this core of players two years could give the Twins a chance at a World Series if they continue to improve.I like this core group but the pitching needs more time to develop. We are not going to be able to buy enough pitching. We could use the extra two years to acquire enough pitching. I think we need it.  

 

My preference goes in this order:

 

1. Buxton (duh)

2. Berrios (duh)

3. Rosario (the old fogey of the group, still could be had relatively cheaply)

4. Sano (duh)

5. Kepler (I guess, don't see a real rush here)

6. Dozier (no)

The rush is locking in the FA years with cheap options for Rosario and Kepler. If they are just average players then those contracts will be huge steals. It could be done next year but I could see the numbers going up a fair amount if they have good years.

I will submit an additional contract extension since I agree on Dozier. Eduardo Escobar. I would let Dozier go FA after next season but extend Escobar for something like 3/21 since he gives you a lot of stability throughout the infield in case prospects struggle or Sano has to move off of 3B. And EE is a pretty good player tbh.

 

If I had to guess Sano will be the hardest one to get done. Partly due to agent and partly due to HR's being big money in these things. I think there is a belief that Sano is on the cusp of being an elite middle of the order force and I think he and his agent will expect to get paid as such. Or simply not buy out FA years. And remember that there is a reason that everyone is saying 'duh' on an extension even though he hasn't completely proven that he is a force.

    • 70charger likes this

These extension projections are a really interesting exercise. One question that has been nagging me: Is there any point to front-loading at least some of these extension contracts. It seems the Twins have salary space now and for another couple of years, with a lot of players projected to become more expensive later on. I'm not convinced the market is right to go out and spend big on a star FA pitcher.

 

If they do sign some front-loaded extensions, the Twins give themselves salary flexibility down the line. Moreover, after a few years players with front-loaded contracts may have added value on their remaining years, giving them additional trade appeal. Players who didn't work out as well as hoped could be let go after a few years with less of an impact on the year-to-year salary target. Again, that gives the front office some flexibility down the line. I could see a front-loaded extension increasing the risk of potential problems with player makeup/motivation. But teams face a similar risk with any regular extension.

 

Do front-loaded (or even just salary balanced) extensions happen much? And are there other reasons it might work or not work?

    • Oldgoat_MN, 70charger and tvagle like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 26 2017 05:57 AM

You don't see a lot of front loaded contracts. I'm sure a signing bonus could be worked out in exchange for a slower rise on the back end, but you just don't see much of those. From what I understand, the union isn't a fan... but I don't know.

 

 

As to the premise. The only guy that I'm waffling on an extension would be Kepler. I'd definitely extend Rosario this offseason. He had a break out season and was one of the best offensive players in baseball. I know defensive metrics don't like him, but I don't buy them. He's a CF, so he has extended range in the corners. Yeah, he makes the occasional boneheaded play, but I hope maturity solves a lot of those issues...

 

My hesitation on Kepler is that he has the most question marks of all of these guys. While he has a higher ceiling than Eddie, he's got a big flaw in his ability to hit lefties. That type of flaw is not a given to be righted. Yes, he showed during his breakout minor league campaign that he can do it, but it's far from a given that this will be the case in the majors. I would probably still lock him up (I might negotiate a bit harder), though there's more risk there, and super 2, while making him more expensive, also gives us an extra year of control. But if there's a guy in the core that I'm not locking up this offseason, it's Kepler. I'd like to see a bit more progress in hitting lefties before I made a commitment.

    • Oldgoat_MN, 70charger and Dman like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Oct 26 2017 07:23 AM

 

The rush is locking in the FA years with cheap options for Rosario and Kepler. If they are just average players then those contracts will be huge steals. It could be done next year but I could see the numbers going up a fair amount if they have good years.

I will submit an additional contract extension since I agree on Dozier. Eduardo Escobar. I would let Dozier go FA after next season but extend Escobar for something like 3/21 since he gives you a lot of stability throughout the infield in case prospects struggle or Sano has to move off of 3B. And EE is a pretty good player tbh.

 

If I had to guess Sano will be the hardest one to get done. Partly due to agent and partly due to HR's being big money in these things. I think there is a belief that Sano is on the cusp of being an elite middle of the order force and I think he and his agent will expect to get paid as such. Or simply not buy out FA years. And remember that there is a reason that everyone is saying 'duh' on an extension even though he hasn't completely proven that he is a force.

Completely agreed on Sano, which is part of the reason he's a bit down the list. I suspect he'll expect to get paid in a big way and, to be frank, his performance over the course of a full season has not yet lived up to that expectation. He's good, but far from great.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this
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Brock Beauchamp
Oct 26 2017 07:25 AM

 

Do front-loaded (or even just salary balanced) extensions happen much? And are there other reasons it might work or not work?

They pretty much never happen and, for the life of me, I do not understand why. It's a win for everybody. The player gets their money early and can grow that money, the team gets some financial flexibility going later in the contract (but takes a small inflation hit but not enough to really worry about).

 

I think if they wait on Rosario, and he has the same season in 2018 that he just had in 2017, a long-term deal would cost them 40-50% more. 

 

I think if they wait another year on Kepler and he has the same season in 2018 that he had in 2017, it would be pretty similar. If Kepler were to show any improvement versus LHP and go from 19 to 25 HR, it would cost them 60-80% more next year at this time. 

 

 

Agree on Rosario, presumably his defense won't look as bad next year if he just throws to the cutoff more often.He does things that cost money in arbitration (hitting quite a few home runs).

 

Kepler hasn't posted an above average OPS to date.If he improves his on-base average with a bit more power, then yes, he'll cost quite a bit more, but if he has a similar season to the last two he's not really gonna be that much more expensive.I think your contract projection already includes some projected improvement.If he doesn't improve in his third full season expectations will be shifted down somewhat.

These two are really tough calls.The psychological reason would be that all of the players get the same treatment and we have a happy clubhouse.From a performance level I do not think Kepler has gotten there.I know Seth says that if Rosario has the same kind of year it will cost us more, but what is the cost if he regresses?It is a gamble either way.

 

The one that seems so logical is Sano, but his issue is his health.He has given promise and then gone to the DL.Can his body hold up?Is he mature enough to cut down on the Ks?Yes big money goes to big boppers, but we are seeing some transition in this logic recently.  

​The playoffs have given me my favorite player - Altuve.I love the get dirty, do whatever it requires kind of player that he is.I would love to see some of that spark in Sano. 

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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 26 2017 07:55 AM

 

The rush is locking in the FA years with cheap options for Rosario and Kepler. If they are just average players then those contracts will be huge steals. It could be done next year but I could see the numbers going up a fair amount if they have good years.

I will submit an additional contract extension since I agree on Dozier. Eduardo Escobar. I would let Dozier go FA after next season but extend Escobar for something like 3/21 since he gives you a lot of stability throughout the infield in case prospects struggle or Sano has to move off of 3B. And EE is a pretty good player tbh.

 

If I had to guess Sano will be the hardest one to get done. Partly due to agent and partly due to HR's being big money in these things. I think there is a belief that Sano is on the cusp of being an elite middle of the order force and I think he and his agent will expect to get paid as such. Or simply not buy out FA years. And remember that there is a reason that everyone is saying 'duh' on an extension even though he hasn't completely proven that he is a force.

 

BTW... agree on Escobar. I'm not sure Esco would sign an extension to be a super utility guy, but if he would, I'd lock him up. The problem is that Esco likely thinks he can start somewhere (and to be fair, he played quite well in 2015 and 2017 as a starter).

 

They pretty much never happen and, for the life of me, I do not understand why. It's a win for everybody. The player gets their money early and can grow that money, the team gets some financial flexibility going later in the contract (but takes a small inflation hit but not enough to really worry about).

 

Because people don't like to spend more money early....because they want to pass the costs to later years. Because players bitch and moan that they are underpaid in the latter years, ignoring they got more money early. Because of years of "it's cheaper to pay in the future than the near term" due to high inflation and interest rates. Lots and lots and lots of reasons.

As much as I love Kepler, I don't sign him. Even in the era of the live ball, he shows limited power. I'd try on Rosario, but he is a high beta player for sure, and people vastly over estimate his running and defense, imo. I like the idea of the Escobar deal, they need 3B/Sano insurance.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

Because people don't like to spend more money early....because they want to pass the costs to later years. Because players bitch and moan that they are underpaid in the latter years, ignoring they got more money early. Because of years of "it's cheaper to pay in the future than the near term" due to high inflation and interest rates. Lots and lots and lots of reasons.

 

And, of course, the Twins can keep the extra early-year money in the bank to be able to afford the later years. With an on-going, long-term organization, there is no reason why paying salaries that are 50-52% of revenues has to happen *every* year ... just on average. We are below this year (and probably have been for the last few) and should expect to be above that percentage as our currently-cheap prospects become expensive.

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Brock Beauchamp
Oct 26 2017 08:18 AM

 

Because people don't like to spend more money early....because they want to pass the costs to later years. Because players bitch and moan that they are underpaid in the latter years, ignoring they got more money early. Because of years of "it's cheaper to pay in the future than the near term" due to high inflation and interest rates. Lots and lots and lots of reasons.

I get the team financial side of the argument but it doesn't hold much weight with me. Teams often throw $5m at a utility player in hopes he will provide 200 not-terrible plate appearances in a season. Dishing $500,000 extra to a player to add literally tens of millions of payroll flexibility (and competitiveness, therefore additional revenue) in a front-loaded contract should offset that concern and then some and then some more. Just fielding one more postseason game or extending a division race by a week will deliver the team so much more revenue than inflation costs, not only in immediate revenue from the game(s) but also through increased tickets sales early the following season.

 

The player thing is just stupid. That's what agents are for, to explain what it's stupid. I'm not saying you're wrong about the players' attitudes regarding pay, I'm just saying it's really stupid (and you know why it's stupid).

 

I'm not saying this is something teams should do all the time. No one cares about a front-loaded Escobar contract. But front-loading Sano and Buxton could mean the Twins are competitive in 2023 versus selling off and riding out the remainder of bad contracts.

    • Mike Sixel and Oldgoat_MN like this

 

And, of course, the Twins can keep the extra early-year money in the bank to be able to afford the later years. With an on-going, long-term organization, there is no reason why paying salaries that are 50-52% of revenues has to happen *every* year ... just on average. We are below this year (and probably have been for the last few) and should expect to be above that percentage as our currently-cheap prospects become expensive.

 

Well, they've shown "on average" is not how it works. That's the max, even when they are way below that for a few years. Given the FO's talk, I doubt that changes in any meaningful way.

    • Dantes929 likes this

 

BTW... agree on Escobar. I'm not sure Esco would sign an extension to be a super utility guy, but if he would, I'd lock him up. The problem is that Esco likely thinks he can start somewhere (and to be fair, he played quite well in 2015 and 2017 as a starter).

But where is the line between super utility and starter money though? If the Twins can pay him like the best utility player in the game or a low level starter then does he care about playing 150 games at one position or 120 games at multiple positions?

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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 26 2017 09:56 AM

 

But where is the line between super utility and starter money though? If the Twins can pay him like the best utility player in the game or a low level starter then does he care about playing 150 games at one position or 120 games at multiple positions?

 

I'm not sure. I don't pretend to know what he's thinking. He could be quite happy to go year to year and sign a one year deal betting on himself in hopes of a bigger contract.Then again, he might be siding with you. Who knows.

    • Mike Sixel likes this

 

My preference goes in this order:

 

1. Buxton (duh)

2. Berrios (duh)

3. Rosario (the old fogey of the group, still could be had relatively cheaply)

4. Sano (duh)

5. Kepler (I guess, don't see a real rush here)

6. Dozier (no)

Mostly on board with this but there are options. Back when Sano was the #2 prospect I threw out the idea of trading him for Lindor or Correia who were also top 10 at the time but below Sano.  Now I wonder what kind of package we can get for him in a trade. On another thread people were talking about the high price tag of Chris Archer. Would Sano do it alone or more? Would a guy like Archer plus maybe a reliever be worth the 100+ drop in OPS between Sano and Escobar?

 

Mostly on board with this but there are options. Back when Sano was the #2 prospect I threw out the idea of trading him for Lindor or Correia who were also top 10 at the time but below Sano.  Now I wonder what kind of package we can get for him in a trade. On another thread people were talking about the high price tag of Chris Archer. Would Sano do it alone or more? Would a guy like Archer plus maybe a reliever be worth the 100+ drop in OPS between Sano and Escobar?

 

No way you trade a potential superstar position player for a very good SP. 

 

edit: Oops, I see I read that wrong!

 

so, Archer plus a RP plus Escobar>Sano is the question.......

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Tommygun921
Oct 26 2017 11:07 AM
Yes on Rosario. Wait at least a year on Kepler to see if he can hit lefties. If he can't improve on this you'd be over paying on him to be somewhat of a platoon player. Of all the players you've gone over I have the most confidence in Rosario keeping up his play and possibly improving. Sano is good but really needs to improve his contact. Buxton hasn't proven who he really is offensively. I love Dozier but he has replacements waiting in the wings. And Berrios also needs to show he can at least maintain what he did last season at the big league level. Hopefully improving upon it.

"The player thing is just stupid. That's what agents are for, to explain what it's stupid. I'm not saying you're wrong about the players' attitudes regarding pay, I'm just saying it's really stupid (and you know why it's stupid)."

 

Not quite getting this especially since you said he might not be wrong.It might be stupid but its also real.Agents can explain all they want in the 3rd year of a 6 year contract that the player already received a bunch of money up front but that will be considered ancient history to the player and more likely, from what I know of agents, they would be backing the player on a renegotiation with a one or two year extension.This of course negates the value of the up front money. I do like the idea of front loading because as Mikesixel said I don't think the Twins are looking at the money they have spent under the 52% the last 6 years as money they can now spend in addition to 52% of current revenue.Front loading is a great theory I am just guessing there is more reason for not doing it than time value of money.  


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