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Article: Knock. Knock. Silence.

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#1 John Bonnes

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 09:37 PM

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.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….

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#2 USAFChief

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 10:07 PM

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.
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#3 dgwills

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 10:32 PM

Buxton and Sano both got multi-million dollar signing bonuses. They are in a position to bet on themselves. There's just no way they sign a deal now. 

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#4 Badsmerf

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Posted 10 October 2017 - 11:00 PM

Bonnes, I wouldn't do a deal with any of them right now. Buxton needs to play a season without getting hurt, same with Sano. Maybe I'd be down to lock up Rosario, but I doubt he'll cost a ton after next season. Too many unknowns right now to pull the trigger. These guys haven't done what Joe Mauer did when he came up.
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#5 beckmt

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 04:58 AM

I would lock up Buxton and Sano,Rosario maybe also.Rosario more because if I chose to trade him later, those cheaper option years could be worth a lot to a small market club.  

I would expect I would want to lock them up for 7 - 8 years(Sano and Buxton), price if somewhere close to reasonable.Might well put some weight clauses into a Sano contract, but just worry that if we do not sign him longterm, he could be the next David Ortiz.Plus after next year we will have plenty of salary room.

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#6 drjim

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 05:12 AM

I would go Buxton and Berrios. Buxton as long as it he'll go and Berrios snatched up with mulitple options.

There is no rush on Rosario, another year doesn't change the equation much. He's a nice player but not going to be elite. He can sign next year too.

Locking up Sano would really, really make me nervous. I would want to see a full season of health and minimal weight gain. I have a suspicion the Twins never lock him up.
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#7 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 05:16 AM

I'd probably lock them all up, but I don't see how taking advantage of the opportunity will somehow make it harder to get pitching.


#8 drjim

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:10 AM

I'd probably lock them all up, but I don't see how taking advantage of the opportunity will somehow make it harder to get pitching.


Establishing cost certainty on the main guys would probably make it easier to get pitching.
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#9 yarnivek1972

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:23 AM

Yes, they all have 2 years plus of service time. But none of them has shown they can put it together over a full season. You have about a half season of performance to base their value over the next 5 years. Better to wait until next offseason IMO. Better gauge of what they can do by then.
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#10 LFRGary

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:35 AM

 

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.

I'd sign Buxton & Rosario ASAP but only for a reasonable price. I'd wait on Sano. I'd sign Berrios after 2018.

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#11 Sconnie

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:37 AM

 

Establishing cost certainty on the main guys would probably make it easier to get pitching.

agreed, but it might take you all offseason to get these three deals done. As important as they are, multitasking would be ill-advised. It would certainly make it easier to acquire pitching at the 2018 trade deadline and next offseason.


#12 Cory Engelhardt

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:37 AM

Buxton I would absolutely. I would bring it up with Kepler as well. Rosario is a probable, but it would depend on the years and dollars. Sano, I think, I would put him in the absolutely yes crowd if I see how he looks in spring training after he has (or has not) had the surgery.

Berrios too, maybe right?

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#13 Sconnie

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 06:43 AM

I'm scared off by the injuries to Buxton and Sano, which is probably the impetus for them to deal as well. So I'd lock them both up with the hopes that they would

A -  stay healthy

B -  have an impetus to negotiate

 

Rosario I'd definitely lock up - if the selectivity at the plate is real, he's a middle of the order bat and a good fielder with a track record of staying healthy. If it's not real, he's still good player with the opportunity to continue to refine that skill.

 

Berrios I would not lock up, injuries are too large of a concern. Need to churn and burn pitching.


#14 Vanimal46

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 07:33 AM

You have to take a chance and lock up young players early before they get out of hand expensive. That's exactly why Cleveland has incredible values with Ramirez, Kluber, Kipnis, etc.

Lock up Buxton for as long as they can. Get an established salary set for Berrios and include multiple option years to buy out some FA seasons.

I'm still a big believer in Sano and think he should be locked up long term as well.
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#15 Respy

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 07:40 AM

Well, I don't think you can be too scared off by the injury risk of Buxton or the bust risk of Rosario.Those will go into consideration for negotiating a cheaper contract. 

 

My concern with Rosario is that I don't know how many years he can stay in the outfield.Probably only through his arbitration years anyways.I'd leave him alone.  

 

Sano, unfortunately I don't think we can afford, by Sano's standards.Sano always wants the best.I think he knows he's no Mike Trout (his buyout was $24M/year), but I think Sano would still ask for something in the $15M-$20M/year range, which I just don't think we can afford.If he plays great the next few years, we'll have gotten some great years out of him fairly cheaply, and he'll price himself out of Minnesota.If he starts to regress after a few years, then maybe we can afford to keep him.Ok option either way.

 

Buxton, on the other hand, I would jump at any opportunity to sign a long-term contract.Now is likely the 'cheapest' he's ever going to be.He also seems to be a confidence-driven guy, and a long-term contract would give him a mega boost of confidence and security, hopefully improving his performance.Lastly, he seems to practice for and play the game the right way, which I think should be rewarded and kept on this team long-term.I don't see Buxton as a big-city team type of player (ala Yankees, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs), so I'd say his motivations to turn down a long-term contract are likely low, unless he has a desire to play closer to his home state of Georgia.If they can get Buxton for your suggested starting point of $1M/$3M/$5.5M/$8M/$10.5M, that would be a steal.I'd expect and be ok with something closer to $2M/$5M/$8M/$12M/$15M.Buxton is also 23 (soon to be 24), so I'd expect a 6-7 year contract instead of a 5-year. With the injury risk, I'd make the last year an option w/buyout.Although we'd be buying out some arbitration years, keep in mind that 1 WAR nowadays is valued somewhere about $5M.Buxton was 4 WAR this year, with potential for 6-8 WAR if he hits better.That's HUGE Bux (hehe) on the open market.

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#16 spinowner

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 07:42 AM

I've said this before--the three mentioned in the OP plus Berrios, Kepler and Polanco. All are candidates for long term deals at some point in the next 2-3 years. I'd love it if they were all locked in, but it's easy for me to say what Mr. Pohlad should do with his money.

As expensive as Mauer was, the organization would have been worse off not paying him the money. And I think the team got very good value from Dozier's mid-length deal. Same with Ervin. But there's always risk as we found out with Phil Hughes, and that's why it's a gamble. These six players all show signs of being valuable players, and for that reason it's probably in the best long-term interest of the team to pay long-term money. And don't forget that teams usually insure contracts to give the team relief in case of player injury.

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#17 DocBauer

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 07:48 AM

I've said this before--the three mentioned in the OP plus Berrios, Kepler and Polanco. All are candidates for long term deals at some point in the next 2-3 years. I'd love it if they were all locked in, but it's easy for me to say what Mr. Pohlad should do with his money.
As expensive as Mauer was, the organization would have been worse off not paying him the money. And I think the team got very good value from Dozier's mid-length deal. Same with Ervin. But there's always risk as we found out with Phil Hughes, and that's why it's a gamble. These six players all show signs of being valuable players, and for that reason it's probably in the best long-term interest of the team to pay long-term money. And don't forget that teams usually insure contracts to give the team relief in case of player injury.


THIS.

Sano and Buxton are probably the first two. Followed by Rosario (who I love and will only get better but an OF is easier to replace than other spots) and Berrios, who has less service time. And then you make it a clean sweep following those guys.
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#18 drjim

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:12 AM

I think it would be nice to see a little more from Kepler and Polanco before you consider an extension. I'm not even sure how you would figure out the expected performance and what the risk tradeoffs would be.

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#19 yarnivek1972

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:15 AM

IMO none of them are substantially more expensive after next year, year by year. That is, their first arb year isn’t going to be substantially more after next year than the Twins might be able to sign them for now. And if the Twins wait one more year and still sign them for 5 years, it’s an extra year under control while they are still in their 20s. And even at that point, they would be hitting free agency coming off their prime years.

I am not at all convinced that Sano is a generational type talent. According to some, that’s the kind of payday he’s looking for. He has a LONG way to go in terms of plate discipline to get there. Look at his K rate and BB rates over his career. Not much difference year to year. Same really with HR rate and extra base hit rate. Sure, he’s already a great hitter, an all star level talent if he plays third base. I’m not sure that’s true if he plays first or DH’s from here on. Not every year anyway. Lots of first baseman post an OPS better than .860 every year. He needs to get a lot better for me to be willing to commit long term. Rosario and Buxton need to prove that they can do what they did in the second half for a full season. If they can, they deserve the money.

#20 prouster

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Posted 11 October 2017 - 08:15 AM

Ideally, they'd lock up all of Berrios, Buxton, Sano, Kepler, and Rosario. Realistically, I think the majority are going to want to test the market. I think the most appealing balance between cost and upside is Buxton. He's had enough struggles so far to give the FO some leverage, though he has performed well enough to certainly justify at least talking about an extension. I don't know, maybe that second fact is enough for him to want to reach free agency as quickly as possible.

In any case, I doubt they'll be able to lock up all of them, given the increasing rarity of pre-arb extensions. If it was my choice, I'd prioritize Buxton.