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Exploring Five Twins Extension Candidates

Last off-season, there were plenty of moves that helped the club to a record-breaking season, but the two most important deals might have been signing Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco to long-term extensions. Both players had career years, and each is under team control through a minimum of 2024.

Are there other members of the core that could be signed to extensions this winter?
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
5. Eddie Rosario
2019 Season (137 Games): .800 OPS, 106 OPS+, 1.6 WAR
So far this off-season, there has been talk of trading Rosario to upgrade the pitching staff. Unfortunately, Twins fans might value Rosario more than he is actually worth. As a 28-year old, he might fit the definition of a replacement level player and Minnesota has other young outfielders working their way to Target Field. He is under team control for the next two seasons so an extension beyond those years seems improbable.

4. Taylor Rogers
2019 Season (60 Games): 176 ERA+, 2.85 FIP, 2.5 WAR
Rogers was one of the team’s most valuable pitchers last season, especially while other parts of the bullpen were struggling. He will be arbitration eligible this winter and he can’t become a free agent until the 2023 off-season at which point he would be 31-years old. Would Minnesota be willing to buy out his remaining arbitration years so they could add some years of team control? It seems more likely for the Twins to explore an extension after the 2020 campaign to see if Rogers can continue his bullpen dominance.

3. Byron Buxton
2019 Season (87 Games): .827 OPS, 114 OPS+, 3.1 WAR
There has only been one big-league season where Buxton has logged more than 92 games played. In fact, the last two seasons he has been limited to 115 total games and he might have been denied a September call-up. Minnesota could look to avoid a Kris Bryant situation with Buxton by offering him an extension now. Buxton’s value could be hard to put a number on at this point because he showed some offensive improvement when he was on the field last year. He can reach free agency in 2023.

2. Miguel Sano
2019 Season (105 Games): .923 OPS, 138 OPS+, 3.1 WAR
Like Rosario, Sano is closer to free agency than the others on this list. He started last season recovering from a freak off-season injury before settling in nicely to a career-high OPS. There are some obvious flaws on the defensive side of the ball, but he could get more time at first base and designated hitter in the years ahead. Nelson Cruz’s mentorship helped Sano and that duo will be able to collaborate again in 2020. It’s scary to think what that could mean if Sano can play more than 105 games.

1. Jose Berrios
2019 Season (32 Games): 124 ERA+, 3.85 FIP, 3.3 WAR
Berrios seems the most likely candidate to receive an extension, especially after his 2019 season. Minnesota’s front office already approached Berrios last off-season and he turned down the contract offer. Betting on himself might have been the right choice. “Every player wants to sign a multiyear deal, but we know it’s a business,” Berrios told the Star Tribune last spring. “I have to manage my business, too. … We’re waiting for the best for both sides. If it doesn’t happen this year, maybe next year.” Berrios has built quite the resume and the Twins are going to want to keep him long-term.

Will any of these players sign extensions this winter? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.


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38 Comments

What about Garver ? Too risky because he is a catcher?

    • Minnesotabro likes this

I wouldn't mind seeing extensions for any of those layers with exception of Rosario.Granted I love Rosario passion but the lack of discipline and the fact we have some young guys ready for that spot it seems like it would be a mistake to extend him at this point.

 

I hope the Twins can find a way to get a couple more extensions done this year.Berrios would be key as hanging onto pitching is always important.

 

If Sano has finally put things together I would love to have him an extra a year or two.Same with Buxton.

    • SF Twins Fan and MN_ExPat like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 07 2019 06:36 AM

In what world is Rosario a replacement player? He's not a star, but he has had a pretty good career thus far. I'd likely go year to year with him. I've defended him in other places, but there's a decent chance a replacement may be available at some point this or next year.

 

I doubt Buxton, Berrios, or Sano sign one. 

 

Rodgers makes good sense. I could see extending Garver, but given his age, it's likely simply to lock in his arb values and give the team an option year or two. Tyler Duffey's emergence in the pen might make him a candidate as well. 

    • SQUIRREL, brvama, Monkeypaws and 3 others like this
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yarnivek1972
Nov 07 2019 07:05 AM

What about Garver ? Too risky because he is a catcher?


Because he isn’t a FA until after 2023. He will turn 33 before the start of the 2024 season. Maybe you lock up salary for his arb years. But I sure wouldn’t extend him beyond 2023. And, of course, right now he is at peak value so the Twins have little to lose by waiting.
    • Twins33 and mikelink45 like this
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yarnivek1972
Nov 07 2019 07:08 AM

In what world is Rosario a replacement player? He's not a star, but he has had a pretty good career thus far. I'd likely go year to year with him. I've defended him in other places, but there's a decent chance a replacement may be available at some point this or next year.

I doubt Buxton, Berrios, or Sano sign one.

Rodgers makes good sense. I could see extending Garver, but given his age, it's likely simply to lock in his arb values and give the team an option year or two. Tyler Duffey's emergence in the pen might make him a candidate as well.


In the world where he just posted a 1.2 fWAR.

It takes two to tango:Berrios and Rosario were offered and rejected extensions the last two offseasons...

    • USAFChief, D.C Twins and jkcarew like this

Sano and Berrios are the two I would do.I do not trust RPs to have long productive careers so Rogers is under control long enough to satisfy me.Garver had the misfortune to be a late bloomer and his age at the end of the controllable years is too iffy at this point, give it another year.

 

Rosario is not as underrated as I continually see in these columns - 

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Why the Eddie Rosario hate?
Last Update Oct 24 2019 08:27 AM

but that does not mean I would do an extension at this point.

 

And Buxton?What a question mark he is.His fragility is a real problem and the question will be, if he turns a corner and stays healthy, can he retain the speed and agility that has made him such an exciting player.Without speed his fielding goes down, his base running goes down, and so does his BA.I am not ready to extend him. 

    • D.C Twins likes this

The problem with Rosario is his defense just doesn't look like it's going to be very good going forward (two of the last three years his defensive runs saved/total zone rating metrics have put his dWAR into the tank) and with his plate discipline collapsing again he's become a decent player, not a cornerstone. If he could add one more BB per week and get his defense back to par, sure he's a plus starter. But the odds of his defense improving with his speed declining aren't great and he's had more years where he's a pure hacker at the plate than not. He's not a replacement level player, but he was a below average starter and there's legitimate reason to be concerned he's trending in the wrong direction.

 

Much as I think relievers can be pretty fungible from year to year, Taylor Rogers is right in his prime. He looks like a perfect candidate to one of those old school "buy out the arbitration years for cost certainty" deals and maybe tack on one extra year. Rogers gets security and doesn't have to go through arbitration, the Twins get cost certainty and don't have to go through arbitration (and maybe another year of team control) and everyone is happy.

 

I'd try for an extension with Sano; even if he can't stick at 3B long term, there's no question that he can play there for at least the next couple of seasons; 1B could be open by then, DH will almost certainly be open after Cruz's contract ends and his power absolutely plays. Yes, there are going to be big K stretches, but come one: the power plays. Sano isn't a juiced ball guy, he hits moonshots. He will get the walks, there's plenty of value there and the injury at the start of the season was a fluky thing. Yes, I want him extended; he might hit 50 dingers next year.

 

Buxton...oh, Byron Buxton. Tough one. I love the guy, his D is amazing and it looked like he was figuring some things out at the plate. The health is a HUGE concern. I suspect he won't go for an extension because he'd be buying low on himself and I don't think his representation would advise it or he would accept it. It's worth exploring, but I don't see him accepting a deal that's based on his actual performance and with his health concerns and lack of MLB track record as a hitter, so I don't see an agreement.

 

Berrios: absolutely extend him. He's a #1 starter in my mind (are there 20 starters out there you'd take over Jose Berrios?) and is a terrific anchor for the rotation. He makes his starts, he eats up innings, he gets Ks and is a tough pitcher. I want him in the rotation for the next 5 years minimum. Hopefully they can get it done, but he seems awfully willing to bet on himself.

    • Dman, DocBauer, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this

I don't remotely trust the dWAR grades for Rosario. In 2017 and in 2019, dWAR graded him at Josh Willingham and Delmon Young levels. In 2018, they graded him average. Fangrapshs defensive valuations were slightly different but followed the same pattern - horrible in 17 and 19, better in 18. What was the big difference in those years? An elite CF was missing in 18. 

 

An article a while back (either on fangraphs or BP?) noted a problem with defensive calculations when a team had three really good defenders. One of the OFers would get negative grades because the other OFers took over. I think this is what is happening to Rosario - in 17 and 19 he made 66 and 63 'out of zone' plays. In 18, in about 100-200 fewer innings, he made 77 OOZ plays. Having Buxton and Kepler in center field has hurt him but he's a solid enough OFer. 

    • diehardtwinsfan, Kelly Vance, mikelink45 and 5 others like this

 

I don't remotely trust the dWAR grades for Rosario. In 2017 and in 2019, dWAR graded him at Josh Willingham and Delmon Young levels. In 2018, they graded him average. Fangrapshs defensive valuations were slightly different but followed the same pattern - horrible in 17 and 19, better in 18. What was the big difference in those years? An elite CF was missing in 18. 

 

An article a while back (either on fangraphs or BP?) noted a problem with defensive calculations when a team had three really good defenders. One of the OFers would get negative grades because the other OFers took over. I think this is what is happening to Rosario - in 17 and 19 he made 66 and 63 'out of zone' plays. In 18, in about 100-200 fewer innings, he made 77 OOZ plays. Having Buxton and Kepler in center field has hurt him but he's a solid enough OFer. 

Alright, i'll use a different statisitic. Outs above Avg, a statistic measuring catch probability, Eddie Rosario ranked dead last.

Here is a link to baseball savants OAA leaderboards with a deeper explanation of the metric.

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SF Twins Fan
Nov 07 2019 09:47 AM

No on Rosario as the Twins have prospects who can replace him that should be ready within two years. 

 

No on Rogers as he's a relief pitcher and has 4 more years of control. Maybe after next season if he's lights out again.

 

Buxton is a ? to me. How do you even get an appropriate value for him with how much time he's missed. I'd probably wait until next offseason as he also has 4 more years of team control.

 

I'd look to get something done for Sano. Can MLB contracts be incentive based? If so I'd want to put in extra incentives that will motivate him.

 

Berrios is a no doubter in my mind. He seems like a great teammate and is very hardworking. I'd look to lock him up as long as possible.

    • beckmt, Kelly Vance, Major League Ready and 4 others like this

 

I don't remotely trust the dWAR grades for Rosario. In 2017 and in 2019, dWAR graded him at Josh Willingham and Delmon Young levels. In 2018, they graded him average. Fangrapshs defensive valuations were slightly different but followed the same pattern - horrible in 17 and 19, better in 18. What was the big difference in those years? An elite CF was missing in 18. 

 

An article a while back (either on fangraphs or BP?) noted a problem with defensive calculations when a team had three really good defenders. One of the OFers would get negative grades because the other OFers took over. I think this is what is happening to Rosario - in 17 and 19 he made 66 and 63 'out of zone' plays. In 18, in about 100-200 fewer innings, he made 77 OOZ plays. Having Buxton and Kepler in center field has hurt him but he's a solid enough OFer. 

 

How about that his offense has gotten worse each of the last two years?

 

He's a corner OFer, that is NOT a star. That's the exact kind of player a mid market team can't afford to pay a lot of money.

    • nicksaviking, Dman, Major League Ready and 2 others like this

 

How about that his offense has gotten worse each of the last two years?

 

He's a corner OFer, that is NOT a star. That's the exact kind of player a mid market team can't afford to pay a lot of money.

Oh, I don't disagree. He shouldn't be extended and we should look to trade him in the right deal. But I don't agree that his defense is as bad as some of the WAR grades suggest. 

    • wabene and jkcarew like this
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Battle ur tail off
Nov 07 2019 11:10 AM

 

 

 

Rodgers makes good sense. I could see extending Garver, but given his age, it's likely simply to lock in his arb values and give the team an option year or two. Tyler Duffey's emergence in the pen might make him a candidate as well. 

 

The only reason IMO it would make sense to extend Rodgers is to try and buy out his abitration years for less money. I would't though. I feel like there is a much better chance he washes out than he is still a dominant reliever by the time he is into his 30s. Just a feeling... If he is still dominant at the end of arbitration, you can use him as a trade chip that season if needed, make a decision about signing him then. 

I'm a fan of Rosario. I think he's probably my favorite player on the team. I hope they extend him. 

 

Of the Twins outfielders, I think Rosario has been the most productive over the last three seasons:

 

Byron Buxton:G- 255R- 125RBI- 101HR- 26BA- .245

Max Kepler: G- 437R- 245RBI- 217HR- 75BA- .239

Eddie Rosario: G- 426R- 257RBI- 264HR- 83BA- .284

 

The fangraphs 2020 projections have Kepler and Rosario nearly identical, with the exception of BA and BB rate. But when you add their hits and walks they both come out around 200.

 

It seems like many commenters are placing a high value on plate discipline and on base percentage, which generally equates to more walks and fewer hits, (evidently the case with Rosario and Kepler). They both hit a comparable amount of extra base hits; the difference is that Rosario hits more singles, and Kepler draws more walks. So which is more valuable, the walk or the single? It depends on the percentage of those singles that come with runners on base or runners in scoring position. If the amount of times that you are on base is comparable, then your opportunity to score is comparable. But if the way you arrived on base is by hit, rather than walk, you have a higher chance of having driven in a run. So, to me, all other things equal, the natural hitter is more valuable than the plate discipline guy. 

 

Obviously a plate discipline guy helps run up the pitch count, and free swinger is prone to a quick out. So that's a point for the plate discipline guy. Frankly, the more I talk about it, the more I think you need both types, and the Twins had a nice balance and maybe that's why they were so good. 

    • brvama likes this

I am in favor of extending the top 3, Berrios, Sano, Buxton.Buxton is the hardest to figure, but could be the least valuable and could be the most.Will depend on what he wants.Berrios will not be cheap, but get it done. After next year may well be too late.Sano I would do, might have to have some weight clauses (if legal) or other ways to keep him in shape. Hopefully Cruz gets him straightened out before he leaves.

    • brvama likes this

I can see scenarios where it would make sense to extend every one of these guys...

Maybe you trade (or plan on trying to trade) multiple outfield prospects; maybe you believe Sano/Buxton have what it takes to solve their lingering challenges, etc., etc. Of course, it won't play out that way. Among other things, it depends on what the player wants to do. And it's always worth remembering that extending any of these guys on anything close to reasonable terms (say, if you're not high on Rosario at this point) doesn't preclude trading them later...it could even help along those lines.

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Major League Ready
Nov 07 2019 01:23 PM

Rosario – Absolutely not. One of the prospects will be better than him by 2021. The dollars will be more productive spent elsewhere.

 

Rodgers – I think he is great but I would not extend a RP, at least not yet.

 

Buxton – Sure but I don’t know the two sides could agree at this point.

 

Sano – A year ago I would have said absolutely not. He proved something showing up in better shape and getting back the plate discipline that made him very good early in his career. My problem would be that his body type just does not hold up.

 

Berrios – Sure, if the amount is reasonable. He might have an exaggerated sense of his market value.I would do it now if the number is reasonable. This can always be revisited at a later date.

    • USAFChief, Sconnie, DocBauer and 2 others like this

Rosario – Absolutely not. One of the prospects will be better than him by 2021. The dollars will be more productive spent elsewhere.

Rodgers – I think he is great but I would not extend a RP, at least not yet.

Buxton – Sure but I don’t know the two sides could agree at this point.

Sano – A year ago I would have said absolutely not. He proved something showing up in better shape and getting back the plate discipline that made him very good early in his career. My problem would be that his body type just does not hold up.

Berrios – Sure, if the amount is reasonable. He might have an exaggerated sense of his market value. I would do it now if the number is reasonable. This can always be revisited at a later date.


Concur with all you typed. I'm perfectly fine going year to year with all of these players. There are too many question marks that we don't know yet to assess their value.

 

In what world is Rosario a replacement player?

 

In the world where he just posted a 1.2 fWAR.

 

That is, by definition, better than a replacement player. 

 

It was a down year for him, I wasn't thrilled with it either, but there's little reason to expect him to get even worse next year given his age and history.The projections will be for him to be a shade above a 2 WAR player, which is starter level.

 

There's probably a good portion of the fanbase that views him as better than he ever really was, but there seems to be a massive overreaction in the other direction too.

 

Go year to year with him.I think he could definitely be a non-tender candidate next year, but he's still a reasonable value right now.Even a powerhouse like Houston still has an averagish guy like Marisnick filling out their roster.

    • gunnarthor and wabene like this

Rosario – Absolutely not. One of the prospects will be better than him by 2021. The dollars will be more productive spent elsewhere.

Rodgers – I think he is great but I would not extend a RP, at least not yet.

Buxton – Sure but I don’t know the two sides could agree at this point.

Sano – A year ago I would have said absolutely not. He proved something showing up in better shape and getting back the plate discipline that made him very good early in his career. My problem would be that his body type just does not hold up.

Berrios – Sure, if the amount is reasonable. He might have an exaggerated sense of his market value. I would do it now if the number is reasonable. This can always be revisited at a later date.


Agreed.

Berrios is probably the one where I might feel really motivated to get something done.

 

I tend to think that his career is going to be fairly Radke-esk, but hopefully productive for longer. By which I mean, very good, de facto #1 starter on the team, but never quite getting to that national ace level as one of the best pitchers in the game.But I also tend to forget how young he still is given how many innings he's already pitched with the Twins.If they don't work out an extension, he's going to be just 28 when he does hit the free agent market in a couple of years (younger than anyone this year), in which case he'll be in line for a really big contract.Probably not necessarily the biggest AAV, but some team might easily think about going in on an 8 year deal for him.

 

It'd be nice to be able to lock him up for a few of those years where he's still in the middle of his prime, but it will probably also incentivise his side to drive a hard bargain, so I don't see them getting as incredible deals as they did for Kepler and Polanco.

    • brvama, beckmt, DocBauer and 1 other like this
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nicksaviking
Nov 07 2019 04:19 PM

I like Rosario. I'm not a big defensive guy (not that I think he's as bad as made out to be) and he seems to be really well liked in the clubhouse, so I think he brings more to the table than just a bat.

 

But the corner outfield is where you find all the free agent bargains.

 

And the Twins have about 50 corner bat prospects within two levels of the majors.

    • Mike Sixel, brvama, beckmt and 4 others like this
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Battle ur tail off
Nov 07 2019 04:42 PM

 

I like Rosario. I'm not a big defensive guy (not that I think he's as bad as made out to be) and he seems to be really well liked in the clubhouse, so I think he brings more to the table than just a bat.

 

But the corner outfield is where you find all the free agent bargains.

 

And the Twins have about 50 corner bat prospects within two levels of the majors.

 

And that is also why when someone comes a callin for one of those prospects and is willing to give up something of value for them, you don't clench them with such a tight fist. 

 

I like Rosario and feel he should be kept here until he reaches free agency. That said, he is pretty much Jacque Jones and I kind of feel he should be treated the same way Jacque was. Pay him what he's worth when he's here, but when its time to part way, its time.  

    • Mike Sixel, brvama and wabene like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Nov 07 2019 05:38 PM

 

In the world where he just posted a 1.2 fWAR.

well... 0 fWAR = replacement player... 1.2 is above that.. and yes I know that a replacement player isn't exactly 0.

 

I also know said player is somewhat mythical.  

 

We had no one in our system this year that would have out produced Eddie. 

    • Thrylos, brvama and wabene like this

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