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Twins Extension Candidate: Alex Kirilloff

In recent years, the Twins have done a good job of locking up multiple parts of their young core. Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, and Miguel Sano will all be in a Twins uniform for at least the next two years with multiple options that can be exercised. With an eye to the future, here is one other player Minnesota can look to extend this winter.
Image courtesy of © Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Kirilloff
2020 Stats (1 game): 1-for-4 in AL Wild Card Series

Current Contract (Arbitration Eligible: 2024, Free Agent 2027)
Kirilloff technically hasn’t accumulated any service time since his long big-league appearance came in Minnesota’s final playoff game last season. The Twins are clearly high on Kirilloff after trusting him to appear in such a high-pressure game. He has at least six more years of team control, so it might seem ridiculous to consider signing him long-term.

Pros of Extending Now
It would offer the team some financial certainty and it would remove any idea of trying to manipulate service time to start 2021. With Eddie Rosario likely a non-tender candidate, Kirilloff is the most obvious choice to take over at a corner outfield spot. However, the Twins could keep him down for multiple months to gain an extra year of team control. By working out an extension now, this wouldn’t be needed, and the team could have their best roster on the field from season’s start.

Cons of Extending Now
While Minnesota is certainly high on him, there is no guarantee he will be able to succeed at baseball’s highest level. He’s already missed an entire professional season due to Tommy John surgery, so there is no rush to get a contract extension on the books. The Twins could likely let him work through his first two seasons at big-league level and then offer him a similar contract extension. He’s on pace to be one of the team’s best players over the next decade, but few teams have followed the path of offering early extensions.

Possible Extension
Other teams have taken this strategy with young players to lock in their costs moving forward. Chicago did this last year with Luis Robert as they signed him to a six-year, $50 million extension with two $20 million team options on the backend which keeps him on the southside through his age-29 season. This seems like the ideal extension for Kirilloff. Would Minnesota consider something similar?

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19 Comments

Is Rosario a "likely" non-tender candidate? I don't know that and I suspect neither do you. Could happen, but I have a feeling the Twins do not plan on doing that. But we will finally find out within the next week.

 

As for Kirilloff, love the kid and his future but believe it is at least a year early to be having this discussion.

    • jjswol, LA VIkes Fan, DocBauer and 2 others like this

This is an interesting call on this one.First, He and Larnach are the same age, different paths to Twins, but same age, give or take a few months.Both 23 at this point.Rooker is 26 and really not a top prospect anymore, due to that age.  

 

By doing an extension buying out all pre-arb and arb seasons it does give you knowledge of cost, but also gives risk of big injury or just does not pan out, this has happened to other teams with similar contracts.The possible new CBA is where I think a contract now might be best.  

 

With not knowing how CBA may change, knowing you got the kid tell he is 30 would be a good move.I personally would wait, but I am not the GM either. 

 

I fully agree Eddie is a non-tender.Not saying he will not sign back, but not at the expect arb number he could ask for. 

    • Doctor Gast likes this

The White Sox have been successful with this strategy in recent years. Robert, as you mentioned in the article, as well as Tim Anderson. And the Braves have their core locked up at under market rates so they can take big swings in free agency to fill the rest of the roster. 

I'm willing to gamble on this strategy if the FO believes Kirilloff is the super star we've been waiting for. 

    • Twins33, Dman, Major League Ready and 2 others like this

Kirilloff was one of the best hitters in the minors when healthy so I think the odds are good his hit tool will translate. The greatest risk for early extension would be injury IMO.Is he someone who is going to be able to stay healthy?He also isn't going to play a premium position like Robert either so could end up at 1st base and or DH depending on what other options the Twins have in the outfield.So how much is just the bat worth as that is all you can really count on at this point.

 

I would say the odds are low that the Twins would extend him this early as they are pretty risk averse.They waited on Kepler, Polonco, and Sano and might not be able to resign Berrios so there is no precedent for an early move.The bat makes him look like he would be a candidate but everything else screams wait.

An extension after one big league game? I don't think so. I think Kirilloff will be a great big league player but know one really knows for sure. Can't believe the FO would take a high risk gamble like that. 

    • LA VIkes Fan and yeahyabetcha like this

Kirilloff is one of those player's that could have "bright lights" in the back of his mind. He can play the game the Twins way for the next 5-6 years and move on. All depends on how he comes of the gate in his first near full season in the majors. If he is a powerhouse, he will write his own ticket, especially if he IS a first baseman who can also play the outfield.

 

What kind of numbers would you be thinking to lock him up for the next, say, seven years as a Twin? If you wait at least two more seasons, then you have a better idea of what his arbitration numbers might be, and if he is super special those first two seasons, then you lock him up for 6-7 more with an option.

 

What kind of numbers would you be thinking to lock him up for the next, say, seven years as a Twin?

The comps may not match up, but we can look at some recent examples of players who signed early extensions. 

Eloy Jimenez - Signed before his service clock began. 6/$43 million with 2 option years for $16.5 and $18.5 to buy out his first 2 years of free agency. 

Luis Robert - Signed before his service clock began. 6/$50 million with 2 option years at $20 MM a piece. 

Ronald Acuna - Signed after 165 days of service time. 8/$100 million with 2 option years at $17 MM a piece. 

Evan White - Signed before his service clock began. 6/$24 million with 3 option years at $10, 11, and 12.5 MM that could make the total contract 9/$55.

Scott Kingery - Signed before his service clock began. 6/$24 million with 3 option years at $13, 14, and 15 MM that could make the total contract 9/$66.

Tim Anderson - Signed after 99 career games less than 1 year service time - 6/$25 million with 2 option years at $12.5 and $14 MM. 

 

 

Is Rosario a "likely" non-tender candidate? I don't know that and I suspect neither do you. Could happen, but I have a feeling the Twins do not plan on doing that. But we will finally find out within the next week.

 

As for Kirilloff, love the kid and his future but believe it is at least a year early to be having this discussion.

I agree 100% I don’t understand those that think such a talented and accomplished player is a non-tender candidate. 

    • rdehring and Doctor Gast like this
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tony&rodney
Nov 23 2020 07:27 PM

The Twins will not be signing Kirilloff this winter to a long term contract. The budget is pinched and any extra money will be directed toward pitchers and filling in current needs for next season. An extension now would need to include two years of minimum salary for Kirilloff, because of choices needed elsewhere on the roster, and it would be unprecedented to accept a long term deal that keeps a player at the minimum for a couple of years. By this time next year, a conversation could happen.

    • DocBauer and IndianaTwin like this
If anyone in the system is worthy of an early extension, it would certainly be Kirilloff. It's a risk/reward for both sides, of course, but one worth considering. Especially in the strange socio-economic climate we find ourselves ins right now. I find speculation about service time to be irelivant. Especially considering AK's debut and the unknown departure of Rosario. If he looks ready next ST...then he looks ready. If he doesn't look great, then he goes down for a few weeks and someone else takes the spot to begin the season. I don't believe the Twins are really looking at service time right now but rather the best team they can put on the field for 2021. Doesn't mean they couldn't consider an extension for Kirilloff. I just think they have a few more priorities to address at the moment.
    • rdehring likes this
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Doctor Gast
Nov 24 2020 04:57 AM

I agree that it`s way too early to get into an extension. But on the other hand if Kiriloff proves that we need him out of the gates, hang the service time. Twins like too much to play w/ service time

 

The comps may not match up, but we can look at some recent examples of players who signed early extensions. 

Eloy Jimenez - Signed before his service clock began. 6/$43 million with 2 option years for $16.5 and $18.5 to buy out his first 2 years of free agency. 

Luis Robert - Signed before his service clock began. 6/$50 million with 2 option years at $20 MM a piece. 

Ronald Acuna - Signed after 165 days of service time. 8/$100 million with 2 option years at $17 MM a piece. 

Evan White - Signed before his service clock began. 6/$24 million with 3 option years at $10, 11, and 12.5 MM that could make the total contract 9/$55.

Scott Kingery - Signed before his service clock began. 6/$24 million with 3 option years at $13, 14, and 15 MM that could make the total contract 9/$66.

Tim Anderson - Signed after 99 career games less than 1 year service time - 6/$25 million with 2 option years at $12.5 and $14 MM. 

 

He's already gonna be a Twin for six of those seven years.Extending him now would just be throwing away the moneythat so many have seemed so concerned about paying Rosario.

I'd at least like to see him get a big league hit before pulling the trigger.

 

 

He's already gonna be a Twin for six of those seven years.Extending him now would just be throwing away the moneythat so many have seemed so concerned about paying Rosario.

I'd at least like to see him get a big league hit before pulling the trigger.

 

Technically he has a big league hit in the playoffs! And extending him now isn't throwing away money, it's locking in known salary amounts to budget over time. Let's say for example they lock in his first 6 years at $43 million like Chicago did with Jimenez. If you think Kirilloff is going to be a star, his arbitration rates could sky rocket to the $20 million range like Donaldson, Harper, Bryant, etc. That's a huge cost savings by locking him in early.

    • Cap'n Piranha and DocBauer like this

These sorts of extensions are an interesting move in that they're probably a win-win for both sides...but players who meet or exceed their expectations will feel underpaid (and possibly be bitter about it) at the back end, and players who get injured/bust will be vastly overpaid and fans will be bitter about it in smaller markets where the sunk costs hurt you more.

 

But we're talking about guaranteed, life-altering, generational wealth, which is why it's not a bad move for the player. It reduces your ceiling on early career earnings, but it raises the floor substantially and still puts you in a position to be a free agent before you turn 30. (and if you're a star at that point, you'll get another big payday)

 

The team gets cost certainty through the arbitration years and saves some money if the player produces like an all-star. They also don't have to go through the arbitration process and run down one of their core players and risk any hard feelings that way. They don't have to worry about the player being bitter about producing at a high level and getting closer to the league minimum. There's more risk for the team, but there are benefits.

 

The fascinating spot is trying to find that balance point where the team feels certain enough about the player's prospects but the player isn't so certain of their immortality that both sides come together on it. Kirilloff's hit tool is as sure a thing as a prospect as I've seen since Joe Mauer...but if he blows out his knee he could be Jason Kubel part deux. Or worse.

 

I'd explore the conversation with Kirilloff, especially because I am pretty certain that Rosario gets non-tendered. But it's probably the most challenging decision a front office has to make these days, and not a simple one for some players either.

    • DocBauer likes this

I hate how teams have such control at absurdly low rates for young players.So when something like this were to come up, I say pay him.That being said, could you imagine signing Oswaldo Arcia to something like this way back when?He'd still be under contract right now after his options.Now, Kirilloff is NOT Arcia, but Arcia was a stud in the minors.

Here was my idea for an offer... what do you think?

 

How does this look?
2021 - $1.25 million
2022 - $2.25 million
2023 - $3.5 million
2024 - $5.5 million
2025 - $8.5 million
2026 - $10.0 million
2027 - $12.0 million option with $1M buyout
2028 - $15.0 million option with $2M buyout
6 years, $32 million, up to 8 years, $58M

    • DocBauer likes this

 

Here was my idea for an offer... what do you think?

 

How does this look?
2021 - $1.25 million
2022 - $2.25 million
2023 - $3.5 million
2024 - $5.5 million
2025 - $8.5 million
2026 - $10.0 million
2027 - $12.0 million option with $1M buyout
2028 - $15.0 million option with $2M buyout
6 years, $32 million, up to 8 years, $58M

That could be a huge bargain! I love the concept of extending the controllability to 8 years rather than 6 years, when the players are just reaching their peak in time to sign with the Yankees, Red Sox, Angels or Dodgers, 8 years is much better for the franchise if you’re 99% sure.

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tony&rodney
Nov 25 2020 08:31 PM

One consideration - a new CBA may reduce the years of service before free agency and/or have specific salaries tied to performance in those years where a team holds control over a player. Quite a bit could change and, as such, any negotiations would need to increase their offer from past practices. 

The Twins have quite a bit on their plate right now and are unlikely to advance a longterm contract. If they did, I believe we should look at 8/$80 million.

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IndianaTwin
Nov 25 2020 10:36 PM

 

If anyone in the system is worthy of an early extension, it would certainly be Kirilloff. It's a risk/reward for both sides, of course, but one worth considering. Especially in the strange socio-economic climate we find ourselves ins right now. I find speculation about service time to be irelivant. Especially considering AK's debut and the unknown departure of Rosario. If he looks ready next ST...then he looks ready. If he doesn't look great, then he goes down for a few weeks and someone else takes the spot to begin the season. I don't believe the Twins are really looking at service time right now but rather the best team they can put on the field for 2021. Doesn't mean they couldn't consider an extension for Kirilloff. I just think they have a few more priorities to address at the moment.

 

Maybe another column is coming, but I’m not yet convinced Kirilloff is a better extension candidate than Lewis. Kirilloff had success in 94 games at AA as a 21YO In 2019. Lewis had less success in his 33 games at AA in 2019, but was a 20YO and also tore up the AFL in 22 games. Kirilloff apparently looked good enough at St. Paul for the Twins to take a flier when they had an injury need.

 

Do we know how they thought Lewis looked at St. Paul? Would they have given Lewis the same shot if Polanco was hurt? Depending on the answer to that, Lewis may only be a partial season behind Kirilloff, if at all. He’s also a year younger and at a much more premium position defensively. Additionally, the Larnach presence makes Kirilloff closer to being redundant.

 

All that to say, no, I don’t think I make the extension offer. I let another year play out. 


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