Twins Offseason Status Update: One Month To Go
Current payroll commitment checks in around $118 million, putting the Twins almost exactly on par with 2019 ($119.6 million, per Baseball Prospectus).
TWINS AND BERRIOS HEADED FOR HEARING?
Arguably the most important player up for arbitration this year happens to be the only one Minnesota was unable to reach agreement with. Unless they can work something out within the next month or so, the Twins and Jose Berrios will go before an arbitration panel to decide his 2020 salary.
The two sides are currently about a half-million apart, with the Twins submitting an offer of $4.025 million and the pitcher's camp requesting $4.4 million. For what it's worth, Twins Daily's Offseason Handbook projected a $4.5 million salary for Berrios, while MLB Trade Rumors projected considerably higher at $5.4 million. By either of those estimates, the number put forth by Berrios and his agent seems quite fair, although I'm sure the Twins front office arrived at its own figure through a mathematical calculation based on precedent.
Nonetheless, the optics here aren't great, especially when considering historical context. Last offseason, the Twins approached Berrios and his agent about a pre-arb extension, but talks fizzled as the offer wasn't deemed up to snuff. Then, in July when Minnesota traded reliever Mike Morin to the Phillies for cash, Berrios posted (and deleted) a tweet that said, "They just want to get money … I wish you the best my man!"
It's probably a reach to suggest there's a schism between player and team, but the lack of alignment here is a bit disappointing. Going through the arbitration hearing process can be contentious, so it's hard to imagine that scenario having any sort of positive impact on the relationship.
Worth noting: Aaron Nola, whose extension with Philadelphia is often pointed toward as the best precedent for a Berrios contract framework, was at odds with the Phillies on his first arbitration number a year ago; the gap was much wider in that case, as he submitted $6.75 million while the club countered with $4.5 million.
One month later, his long-term deal was announced at four years and $45 million. It's hard to imagine why either side would flinch at similar terms in the case of Berrios. For now, the payroll projection above assumes he wins an arbitration hearing and remains year-to-year.
While the Twins haven't been able to lock up Berrios, they did get a deal done with another core piece: Miguel Sano signed a three-year, $30 million extension, which includes a $14 million option (and $3 million buyout) for 2023 – his age-30 season.
It's yet another very favorable deal for the Twins, who gain cost-efficient control of an elite slugging talent in his prime. I ranked Sano as the organization's 11th-most valuable asset in last week's series, but this contract – doubling his team control from two to four years at friendly rates – would move him up a couple of slots (I'm thinking to No. 9, after Jordan Balazovic and ahead of Alex Kirilloff).
I still haven't seen detailed specifics on Sano's annual breakdown. FanGraphs has these numbers listed as a guesstimate in their payroll resource:
- 2020: $10M
- 2021: $9M
- 2022: $8M
- 2023: $14M option ($3M buyout)
I went with the $10 million figure for 2020 in the projection, just to estimate on the high end, but I'm guessing we'll ultimately see a more traditionally progressive build-up (something like 7-9-11).
An encouraging tidbit from Dan Hayes's writeup on the move at The Athletic:
General manager Thad Levine said earlier this week that Sanó has continued with his offseason conditioning and that the slugger’s agent has inundated the front office with videos of Sanó working to improve his fitness.
DONALDSON DRAMA DRAGS ON
Josh Donaldson still hasn't signed anywhere, and that is fairly stunning given what we (think we) know.
For some time, the free agent's market has been portrayed as a three-horse race between Atlanta, Washington, and Minnesota, with a return to the Braves being Donaldon's inherent preference.
Well, the Nationals seem to be out of the running, since they've signed multiple infielders to guaranteed deals in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Phil Miller wrote an article for the Star Tribune indicating the Twins were "pessimistic" and "likely out of the running" for Donaldson.
So the question is: what's the hold-up? Why hasn't the slugger signed in Atlanta yet? The only explanation I can see (barring at least one "mystery team" in the fray, which is very possible) is that he's still not entirely satisfied with their offer, and continues to try leveraging Minnesota and others. This would explain why the Twins have channeled the narrative publicly that they're moving on, and turning to the trade market.
They'll probably need to go that route if they want any kind of legitimate upgrade at the hot corner short of Donaldson. On Sunday, Todd Frazier signed with the Rangers. He's one of the only other free agent infielders I've seen the Twins remotely connected to (not that I'd have considered him much of an impact addition).
For what it's worth, Darren Wolfson of KSTP reports that the Twins continue to have "darn near daily dialogues" with Donaldson's reps.
COACHING STAFF FINALIZED
When we last checked in with an update post, the Twins still had two vacancies remaining on their coaching staff: bench coach and second pitching coach (previous occupants Derek Shelton and Jeremy Hefner moved on). Now, those spots have been filled.
Mike Bell is the new bench coach, coming over from Arizona where he was vice president of player development. He's highly regarded, coming from "one of baseball's first families," and is viewed as a manager in waiting. By all accounts he looks like a great add as Rocco Baldelli's new right-hand man. More recently, the Twins rounded out their staff with the addition of Bob McClure as bullpen coach. Formerly a pitching coach for the Phillies, Red Sox, and Royals, the 67-year-old brings ample experience to a unit that is largely young and unseasoned.
With former assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez getting the "assistant" removed from his title, here's how the Twins' 2020 coaching staff figures to shake out:
Manager: Rocco Baldelli
Hitting Coach: Edgar Varela
Hitting Coach: Rudy Hernandez
Pitching Coach: Wes Johnson
Bullpen Coach: Bob McClure
Bench Coach: Mike Bell
MLB Coach: Bill Evers
How are you feeling at this stage of the offseason? What moves do the Twins need to make for you to consider the winter a success? What's your level of confidence for a turnaround on Donaldson or a big trade? Sound off in the comments.
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