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Front Page: Twins Offseason Status Update: One Month To Go

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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 07:12 PM

It's been more than a month since we last took stock of the Minnesota Twins' offseason, and while the big splash still hasn't materialized, there's been plenty of activity. Scroll down for an update on the 2020 roster, payroll, coaching staff, and path forward.

Pitchers and catchers report to Ft. Myers in one month.With Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Homer Bailey, and Rich Hill now in the mix, here's a projection of the 2020 roster and payroll as of today. (Arbitration-eligible players now mostly have salaries locked in, but there a couple of assumptions highlighted in blue, which I'll discuss shortly.)

Download attachment: roster112.png

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.

SANO EXTENDED

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)
That would be a very unusual structure for a deal like this, but it'd certainly make a lot of sense for the Twins given their situation, enabling them to take advantage of their extra spending room this year (while incentivizing Sano by nearly doubling his 2020 salary) and providing extra flexibility in '21 and '22.

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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#2 mikelink45

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 07:20 PM

That is quite a summary.I never have judgments about coaching because I have no means of really judging them.Coming in low on Berrios when he is our staff now and in the future seems foolish.For a team that has underspent its resources I cannot see the logic in this.

 

Sano's extension was a good move.I am getting bored with Donaldson.

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#3 Mike Amundsen

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 07:43 PM

With Hill and Pineda our until June I worry about our starting pitching staff. I hope we add one guy who will be with us all year. Donaldson... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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#4 IndianaTwin

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 07:52 PM

 

With Hill and Pineda our until June I worry about our starting pitching staff. I hope we add one guy who will be with us all year. Donaldson... ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

 

I believe it’s May 11 on Pineda. 


#5 oregontwin

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:28 PM

 

I believe it’s May 11 on Pineda. 

I counted it to the 10th barring postponements. Probably neither will turn out to be right.

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#6 tarheeltwinsfan

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 08:37 PM

Find out what Berrios wants to extend and give it to him.I have a lot of confidence in his ability to keep improving and to stay healthy, even though he is a pitcher.

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#7 insagt1

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Posted 12 January 2020 - 09:27 PM

here in Rochester we welcome Toby Gardenhire as our 45th manager of the Red Wings. Toby played here several years ago and even coached under Mike Quade for half a season. Glad to have him aboard. He will be a welcome replacement for cardboard cutout Joel Skinner, who left no footprint on the team or the city.

The entire coaching staff has been replaced and honestly, I don't recognize a single name. But I embrace the changes.

Toby is 37...and will bring lots of energy to the Wings. (While we all hold out hope that someday Tommy Watkins manages us...we are happy for him in Minnesota...he was, and is wildly popular in Rochester)

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#8 Penthang

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 06:05 AM

I am hoping the Twins arb offer you Berrios is just to leverage their pushing for an extension that will happen before the hearing????
Also, while they have enough players to field a competitive team right now they really have to make at least one more move to not loose a LOT of support for the front office and I am really hoping for two…there is still plenty of time for that to happpen.
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#9 Dome Dogg

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 07:29 AM

Can anyone give me a good reason, even from the Pohlad's perspective, why you don't just give Berrios the money he is asking for? Precedent?

 

I really can't figure out the Twins' angle here except keeping the pocket change. 

"Kid, don't you think there's a problem when you get that excited over a seeing-eye single?"


#10 wabene

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 07:35 AM

Can anyone give me a good reason, even from the Pohlad's perspective, why you don't just give Berrios the money he is asking for? Precedent?
 
I really can't figure out the Twins' angle here except keeping the pocket change.

They may just do that. It could be they are trying for a long term deal and if that falls apart then just give him his number. We just don't know.
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#11 Tommygun921

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 08:23 AM

Twins still need 2 more starters and a 1b or 3rd baseman. Can't believe the Twins not just giving Berrios his $4.4 million and make him happy. Then work towards an extension. Seems silly to make a big deal over $350k for someone you're trying to get an extension done with. I would say there's no chance Donaldson comes to MN. He's just using the Twins to drive up the cost. Like more higher end free agents do.
Nice write up! 👍
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#12 rdehring

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 08:42 AM

I don't understand all the teeth mashing over what the Twins offerred Berrios.Is it not true that both their offer and the player's request are done without knowing the other sides number?If true, the fact that the Twins $4.025mm and Berrios $4.4mm are so close means that both sides were looking at the situation thru similar glasses.There is a process and both are following it.Seeing they are so very close there is almost no likliehood they will actually go to arbitration.Everyone just needs to chill untill they play out the process of exploring a long-term extension and/or settle on a number for next year that is somewhere between the two numbers we see today.

 

As for the 2020 opening day payroll, it will be higher.Someone will be added for the infield at a salary higher than Wade's $0.6mm.Also, the article I read in the Strib that talked about Sano's contract being front loaded with a signing bonus also stated it contained significant incentives (significant is my word as I don't remember the exact words used, however, that's the feeling I got from reading it).

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#13 Nick Nelson

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 08:52 AM

 

I don't understand all the teeth mashing over what the Twins offerred Berrios.Is it not true that both their offer and the player's request are done without knowing the other sides number?If true, the fact that the Twins $4.025mm and Berrios $4.4mm are so close means that both sides were looking at the situation thru similar glasses.There is a process and both are following it.Seeing they are so very close there is almost no likliehood they will actually go to arbitration.Everyone just needs to chill untill they play out the process of exploring a long-term extension and/or settle on a number for next year that is somewhere between the two numbers we see today.

I don't think people are bothered by the Twins' initial offer so much as the fact that they wouldn't simply accept Berrios's number and call it a day. I get that the front office finds it important to stand their ground in these cases, to keep precedents in place for the future, but this seems like an instance where it makes sense to deviate from that philosophy. Keeping him happy is just too critical. 

Having said that, perhaps this is part of a negotiation tactic for hammering out a long-term deal. Now, the Twins can give the appearance that they're "giving" something by pushing JB's salary to $4.4 or higher in the first year.

I will note though that the likelihood of an arbitration hearing is much higher than you allude. Teams generally follow the "file and trial" approach now, so unless an extension is reached, it's highly probable his case will go before a panel. And that's just far from ideal. 

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#14 Shaitan

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:21 AM

I think it's telling that the Berrios case is about $.5m, yet many people are saying "what's another $10m to Donaldson?" It might feel like play money to us, but it's very real.

 

I also expect it to be resolved, unless the Twins front office wants another arbitration case to set precedent.

 


#15 akmanak

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:47 AM

If you the Twins don't sign Berrios with a long term contract it will be another kick in the nuts to us fans.

#16 rdehring

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 09:54 AM

 

I don't think people are bothered by the Twins' initial offer so much as the fact that they wouldn't simply accept Berrios's number and call it a day. I get that the front office finds it important to stand their ground in these cases, to keep precedents in place for the future, but this seems like an instance where it makes sense to deviate from that philosophy. Keeping him happy is just too critical. 

Having said that, perhaps this is part of a negotiation tactic for hammering out a long-term deal. Now, the Twins can give the appearance that they're "giving" something by pushing JB's salary to $4.4 or higher in the first year.

I will note though that the likelihood of an arbitration hearing is much higher than you allude. Teams generally follow the "file and trial" approach now, so unless an extension is reached, it's highly probable his case will go before a panel. And that's just far from ideal. 

In that I no longer follow all this like I used to, Nick, I don't understand all the concern with the Twins as you say, just accepting Berrios' $4.4mm number and calling it a day.That isn't how it works, is it?

 

I may be wrong, but I suspect there were discussions between both sides for either an extension or a one year deal.That wasn't finalized, so they both put their numbers in to the league sometime Friday afternoon...that's when they would have submitted, right?So the Twins wouldn't have learned what Berrios number was until after their submission, correct?Assuming they have an interest in a long term extension, it doesn't make sense to call his agent later Friday evening to accept the $4.4mm.They have the better part of the month to do that and are able to do so at any time.I guess I don't see the fire everyone seems to be concerned with. I view it more like the pilot light that is always burning.

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#17 Doctor Gast

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 10:00 AM

I know Berrios case will be resolved, hopefully he`ll sign a good extension. But to call this a successful off season, we need to have an improvement this coming year. BP is improved but SP & defense are slightly inferior. We need another pitcher w/ impressive upside & or good glove at 1B or 3B or SS, preferably SS

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#18 Battle ur tail off

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 11:34 AM

I would guess the reason they haven't just given Berrios that 4.4 number is that they want to hold up the process and work towards a long term deal. If they just give him that 4.4 today, it's probably harder to get that long term deal done.

 

If they aren't and this truly is a case of the Twins hanging tough over 350K, it is laughable and extremely cheap. 


#19 Marcusesm

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 11:56 AM

I'm optimistic that they'll make the playoffs again in 2020, but it doesn't seem like they have the "impact pitching" to get past the first round. Gotta hope for a miracle with one of our prospects, if there's gonna be an ace on this staff any time soon.

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#20 Darius

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Posted 13 January 2020 - 12:24 PM

Another great plan by a Twins FO.

We have one shot at a legitimate ace caliber pitcher (Berrios). He’s already clearly not overly high on being here, and clearly has issue with the team’s financial approach (aka, they’re cheap). So, let’s go to arb. with him over $200k and piss him off even more by detailing every reason why he isn’t worth what he thinks.

The Twins’ precedent of low-balling players has been very thoroughly established. Going to battle over this is just an awful strategic decision, and does nothing in terms of a helpful precedent.

Meanwhile, fans and media call others “morons” for describing the Twins as “cheap,“ while swearing up and down that the only reason why players don’t want to spend July in Minnesota is because it’s cold in January. D’ok.
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