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Non-tendering Taylor Rogers Would Be a Huge Mistake


AChase

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I'm seeing a lot of discussion suggesting the Twins may consider non-tendering Taylor Rogers. There's no debate about Rogers's ability or performance, but the concern seems to be whether or not he's worth his projected ~$7MM salary in his final year of arbitration (per MLBTradeRumors).

I believe Rogers is worth it and then some. It's not close. Non-tendering Taylor Rogers would be a huge mistake.

Below are the 22 free agent contracts offered to relief pitchers in the last three offseasons with and average annual value of $7MM or more:

image.png.dc3a2aff86907501729003d23458c608.png

First, note that $7MM is clearly not an exorbitant amount for a quality relief pitcher. On average over these three years, about 7 relievers achieve that AAV or more.

But how does Rogers compare to those elite arms? On a rate basis, Rogers has been worth 2.0 WAR/60IP. As shown above, this is matched by only 2 players: Liam Hendriks at 2.4 and Andrew Miller who ties Rogers at 2.0. It's the same story in FIP (unsurprisingly); Rogers's 2.62 is bested by only Miller's 2.16 and Hendrik's 2.17. By just about any measure, Rogers can be considered a standout among these relievers. In fact, he would be would be one of the very best RPs to enter the FA market in recent years. He's been that good.

There's more to like about Roger's recent performance too. His velocity on both pitches has continued to climb, reaching new highs with his fastball (95.7) and his slider (84). He posted a new career high in K% at 35.5, easily improving his 2020 performance of 26.4 and his previous best of 32.4. Only four RPs in 2021 can claim a better K-BB% than Rogers, and his groundball rate of 50.0% is a return to form.

All of this leads to a career best FIP of 2.13. In fact, only Josh Hader and former teammate Ryan Pressly finished 2021 with a FIP- better than Rogers's 50 (minimum 40 IP). I'd make a case that Taylor Rogers has been easily one of the top 5 left-handed relievers in baseball at any point over the last 4 years. On a counting or rate basis, only Hader has been better by WAR.

Projections like Rogers as well. ZiPS has projected him to be worth 1.1 WAR in 2022, his age 31 season (and 2023). The usual suspects are ahead of him: Edwin Diaz, Hendriks, and Hader as the only other lefty. These projections were prepared prior to the 2021 season, so it remains to be seen what the projection systems think of him after his season. On one hand, he did have his best year as a big leaguer. On the other, he did end his season injured, leaving a cloud over his status for 2022.

If he stacks up well in such elite company, how much is Rogers worth in the free agent market? It's tough to say, especially with his recent injury. I will point out that Hendriks and Miller, the two pitchers in the last three years with an obviously better free agent case than Rogers, combined to receive 6 years and $88.5MM for a $14.75MM AAV. All together, the 22 contracts above average almost exactly 2 years and $20MM, a $10MM AAV. Rogers is also younger than many of the names above at the time of their contracts, and he has a longer track record of elite performance than almost all of them. I think it's reasonable that a healthy Rogers would receive something north of $10MM annually for 3+ years.

Rogers's finger injury really is the only question here. We all know a healthy Rogers is worth more than his arbitration figure, but we don't know how much this injury will impact his game in 2021, if at all. Only the Twins and Rogers can know for sure, and we can only speculate until the day Rogers is offered arbitration, signs a deal, or not. And any team interested in his services for next year should be concerned.

However, it's worth pointing out two things: Rogers has been exceptionally durable through his entire career, and he may be be worth his arbitration amount either way. Look at the list of names above again. There's a lot of serious arm injuries in there. Betances landed a deal with the Mets despite him appearing in just one game the previous season as he recovered from his shoulder impingement and a torn Achilles. Trevor Rosenthal got two of these deals. He received the first after missing more than a season recovering from Tommy John surgery. The second contract came after he recently passed through waivers unclaimed.

Even if you think poorly of his prospects in 2022 due to injury, perhaps it would be a perfect time to work out a multi-year extension based around vesting options. They may not get a ton of value next year, but he would have time to make up for it into the future.

My point is this: Rogers is one of the very best relievers in the game, especially from the left side. For a Twins team desperate for pitching, replacing his production would be very costly in either dollars, prospects, or both, and there's almost no one in the league who could replace him anyway. It's worth mentioning too that he's smart, regarded as a leader, and well liked by teammates, media, and fans alike. Sure, his injury is worrisome. But in a similar way as Buxton, that risk is one of the only ways the Twins may be able to afford real, impact talent for this roster. If the Twins don't take that risk, there will be several teams that will, just as they have shown in the past.

Sign Taylor Rogers. You'll likely come to regret it if you don't.

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If they sign him, they can negotiate long-term once they see how the finger has healed.

 

He would be a trade chip mid-season if need be.

 

If he totally lights-out excels, he could also be a qualifying offer candidate for an additional season.

 

Can you replace him with an equal arm (or two) for the same price.

 

The Twins really won't be over payroll in 2022. They can afford it.

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Rogers is a no-doubter to sign if his finger has recovered, and based on the timeline... it really should be provided he doesn't need surgery after all. Since surgery was an option, but not an absolute requirement, I'm taking a wild guess that Rogers was dealing with a pretty serious Grade III pulley strain issue.

https://theclimbingdoctor.com/pulley-injuries-explained-part-2/#:~:text=6-8 weeks is the,ROM exercises after immobilization phase.

  • Grade III – Complete A2 or A3 rupture (Most common pulley injury – A2)

    • 3 months are recommended for a return to FULL climbing activities due to the biomechanical implications of an A2/A3 pulley rupture. Immobilization for 10-14 days is necessary to protect the pulley and after the immobilization/splinting process, you will use a thermoplastic pulley ring provided by a doctor instead of tape (more on the ring later). Passive ROM exercises following immobilization. Functional exercises will begin at the full 4 week mark, and EASY climbing will commence after a 6-8 week period from injury onset. At 3 months you can begin full climbing activities, and you’ll wear the pulley ring (or tape) for roughly 6 months after climbing begins again.

In the linked website from The Climbing Doctor, it says full climbing can resume in about 3 months with taping... that was a month ago for Taylor Rogers, and full and complete recovery around 6 months. I haven't heard a thing about Rogers throwing recently. Just that he was scheduled to see a specialist in September, which should have been about where he could resume full normal physical activities.

Obviously, pitching is different than climbing, but the stresses on the finger from climbing would be greater than that of a typical pitcher throwing, I'd assume. Why? Because the finger strain seems to be relatively common for climbers and very rare for pitchers. Just a guess though.

If Rogers hasn't recovered from the strain, it's a bad sign he'll need to go the surgical route and now we're starting to get to the point where his 2022 is in clear danger. It's worth noting, articles on the surgery indicate it's not always fully successful in that pain can persist and range of motion can be impacted, requiring potentially another surgery.

If Rogers is going to need surgery, the Twins' situation becomes a lot murkier and I'd pass on signing Rogers.

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Non tendering him seems pretty dumb.   Yes 7 mil for a reliever is a decent chunk in a year they aren't "going for it", but its also doesn't prevent them from signing anyone else and he could be a great trade chip if they don't intend to resign him in FA.

If he needs surgery after an off season of rest sure don't pay him to be hurt, but barring that its an easy tender in my mind.

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I agree.  The Twins can fit $7 million into their payroll for him.  He's head and shoulders out BEST RP.  But the Twins need to make the entire BP "better" by signing or trading for a "closer" to move everyone else down a peg in the BP.  Rogers can close on occasion.  But taking care of the 8th innings seems the best role for him.  And he can always be traded at the deadline.  Teams are ALWAYS looking for bullpen pieces at the deadline.

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I totally agree that we need to keep Rogers for all of the above mentioned reasons.  But who knows what the current "brain trust" will do.  As to worrying about the payroll budget, who knows what that is?  Because these signings fit into our fantasy baseball budget doesn't mean it will with Twins.  People on here talk about a 150 million payroll.  That would be nice.  But how do we know that?  What if the payroll is reduced to 90-100 mil?  Then what?  I have no clue which way twins will go.

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31 minutes ago, Whitey333 said:

...What if the payroll is reduced to 90-100 mil?  Then what?  I have no clue which way twins will go.

I could see the Twins dropping to $100MM this offseason and starting a rebuild because of the mess their roster is in, but not below that if the MLB proposal of a $100MM competitive balance floor goes into place. The $150MM ceiling is about where I think the Twins should be on any given average year, not their true ceiling, but that's just my opinion based on their market size and potential revenues.

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The Twins are the most out of touch, backwards team in MLB. Just the latest example; You need starting pitching, so let's trade Jose Berrios. Instead of adding to Berrios with 2-3 other good quality starters, you trade him and now have none. Now you need 3-4 good quality starters. Just when a pitcher is about to bust onto the scene and finally cash-in, the Twins MO is to trade for would-be prospects that might be ready in 3 to 5 years, and the cycle continues. I have absolutely given up on this team making sound baseball decisions. Pitching, pitching, pitching... and then more pitching. That is the name of the game, just ask the winner of 2 world series, Tom Kelly. The teams that have it are in the playoffs year after year after year. Not this loser organization. Pull your head out of your butts please! You can win with average to slightly below average hitting, but you will never win consistently without above average to good to great pitching...period! Quit paying big bucks for dime a dozen fielders and start paying for top quality pitching, then maybe I'll come back...but for now and into the immediate future, I'll be rooting for the teams that get it and understand this very simple concept! Just ask another local team who has a roster full of "star" players but doesn't seem to understand that you win games in the trenches, O-line and D-line. And it's not just drafting those positions, it's knowing who to draft at those positions. If those position groups are strong, even a mediocre QB-RB-WR group can win ballgames. Man, this town's professional team ownership and management is absolutely pathetic and largely mediocre in their own right.  Figure it out boys, or pack your bags! The fans of Minnesota deserve a hell of a lot better than what these teams and ownership groups provide year in and year out! Two world series wins in 60+ years of men's baseball, football, hockey, and basketball. My God, that's pathetic! Go Lynx!

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On 10/18/2021 at 12:41 PM, Rosterman said:

If they sign him, they can negotiate long-term once they see how the finger has healed.

 

He would be a trade chip mid-season if need be.

 

If he totally lights-out excels, he could also be a qualifying offer candidate for an additional season.

 

Can you replace him with an equal arm (or two) for the same price.

Agree on all of that. I think now could be a good time to sign an extension if you believe his 2022 season could be affected by that injury, that way there's a good chance of the contract paying off in the long run. One year for 2022 is a bit more risky.

And if things don't go well for the Twins as a whole, you're absolutely right about the trade option. He would be affordable, on an expiring contract (if not extended), and would likely be one of, if not the best lefty available. Big trade asset.

Tough to count on the QO, though. New CBA could change it, and relievers very rarely get a QO, and fewer turn it down.

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On 10/18/2021 at 1:13 PM, bean5302 said:

Rogers is a no-doubter to sign if his finger has recovered, and based on the timeline... it really should be provided he doesn't need surgery after all. Since surgery was an option, but not an absolute requirement, I'm taking a wild guess that Rogers was dealing with a pretty serious Grade III pulley strain issue.

https://theclimbingdoctor.com/pulley-injuries-explained-part-2/#:~:text=6-8 weeks is the,ROM exercises after immobilization phase.

  • Grade III – Complete A2 or A3 rupture (Most common pulley injury – A2)

    • 3 months are recommended for a return to FULL climbing activities due to the biomechanical implications of an A2/A3 pulley rupture. Immobilization for 10-14 days is necessary to protect the pulley and after the immobilization/splinting process, you will use a thermoplastic pulley ring provided by a doctor instead of tape (more on the ring later). Passive ROM exercises following immobilization. Functional exercises will begin at the full 4 week mark, and EASY climbing will commence after a 6-8 week period from injury onset. At 3 months you can begin full climbing activities, and you’ll wear the pulley ring (or tape) for roughly 6 months after climbing begins again.

In the linked website from The Climbing Doctor, it says full climbing can resume in about 3 months with taping... that was a month ago for Taylor Rogers, and full and complete recovery around 6 months. I haven't heard a thing about Rogers throwing recently. Just that he was scheduled to see a specialist in September, which should have been about where he could resume full normal physical activities.

Obviously, pitching is different than climbing, but the stresses on the finger from climbing would be greater than that of a typical pitcher throwing, I'd assume. Why? Because the finger strain seems to be relatively common for climbers and very rare for pitchers. Just a guess though.

If Rogers hasn't recovered from the strain, it's a bad sign he'll need to go the surgical route and now we're starting to get to the point where his 2022 is in clear danger. It's worth noting, articles on the surgery indicate it's not always fully successful in that pain can persist and range of motion can be impacted, requiring potentially another surgery.

If Rogers is going to need surgery, the Twins' situation becomes a lot murkier and I'd pass on signing Rogers.

This is great info, thanks. Certainly looks like a concerning injury, but not unreasonable that he would recover for next season either. Like I mentioned, we can only speculate, but the Twins and Rogers would have much better info on his recovery, obviously. I bet we'll get an update at some point after the WS.

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15 hours ago, RaoulDuke said:

Non tendering him seems pretty dumb.   Yes 7 mil for a reliever is a decent chunk in a year they aren't "going for it", but its also doesn't prevent them from signing anyone else and he could be a great trade chip if they don't intend to resign him in FA.

If he needs surgery after an off season of rest sure don't pay him to be hurt, but barring that its an easy tender in my mind.

I think I would even pay him some to be hurt as part of a multi-year extension, but not just the one year arbitration contract. If you think he would be the same pitcher after recovery, obviously. Hard to know how his recovery will go.

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5 hours ago, TopGunn#22 said:

I agree.  The Twins can fit $7 million into their payroll for him.  He's head and shoulders out BEST RP.  But the Twins need to make the entire BP "better" by signing or trading for a "closer" to move everyone else down a peg in the BP.  Rogers can close on occasion.  But taking care of the 8th innings seems the best role for him.  And he can always be traded at the deadline.  Teams are ALWAYS looking for bullpen pieces at the deadline.

A few people have mentioned the potential trade value, and I think it's a great point. If he's healthy, he would be the best lefty available by a wide margin. So potentially a good investment even if you think he would be hurt to start the year or if you think the 2022 Twins won't compete.

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4 hours ago, bean5302 said:

I could see the Twins dropping to $100MM this offseason and starting a rebuild because of the mess their roster is in, but not below that if the MLB proposal of a $100MM competitive balance floor goes into place. The $150MM ceiling is about where I think the Twins should be on any given average year, not their true ceiling, but that's just my opinion based on their market size and potential revenues.

I don't think they would drop the payroll much, if at all. I know it's frustrating to be a smaller market team, but to be fair, they have rarely made big cuts to payroll spending, especially during competitive years. Even if they don't want to push for the playoffs, we can reasonably expect payroll to inch higher as it usually does.

Payroll remained a little constant this year due to COVID and the 2020 season, so optimistically, they could make up for it with a little bigger bump this offseason. Maybe not though.

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5 hours ago, bean5302 said:

I could see the Twins dropping to $100MM this offseason and starting a rebuild because of the mess their roster is in, but not below that if the MLB proposal of a $100MM competitive balance floor goes into place. The $150MM ceiling is about where I think the Twins should be on any given average year, not their true ceiling, but that's just my opinion based on their market size and potential revenues.

I dunno, my friend.  My amateur research of the Twins' payroll over the years says the team has never opened a season over 131 mil and change.  They may have added some year to year through trades, etc., but starting the season at 150 mil?  That would be a change of financial mindset that has never happened before, so I don't see it happening.  Especially after 2 back to back pretty heavy losses and a new CBA looming out there.  If JP opens the checkbook in your preferred target area,  I will not only be amazed, I will take that item off of my bucket list forever.  I don't count on it, though, and I have a feeling we are going to see a lot of young (meaning cheap) players next year and hope for a ton of development in a very short period of time, hence your vision of dropping to 100 mil.  Having said that, if we gave multi year contracts to Bux, Rogers, and Duffey for instance, that would change the equation, and maybe nudge an additional investment or two to make it all come together.  Let us hope for the latter, but for now I still have my bucket list made out.  

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If his finger is going to heal then it's a no brainer to retain his services - the CBA assures that anyone under team control is a relative bargain.  If he's never going to be the same due to the finger, then it's a no brainer to release him - $7M can be deployed to some better use.  If his prognosis is 50/50, then you have to flip a coin.

It all comes down to the medical staff's forecasting ability - I have no such insight so I have no independent opinion.

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