The Minnesota Twins dealt Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays during the 2021 Major League Baseball season. Today he signed a seven year deal worth $140 million to stay in Canada for the bulk of his career. The wound is opened again.
When the Twins flipped Berrios to the Blue Jays, they did a great job acquiring prospect capital. Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson are both top-100 prospects. Despite Martin looking more like a centerfielder than a shortstop, his talent still plays up the middle. Woods-Richardson will get a shot to re-establish himself after competing in the Olympics last season. If Minnesota wasn’t going to sign Berrios, then getting that type of haul was nice.
In seeing the deal get struck with Toronto, it’s very clear that Minnesota’s sticking point was the duration. As Darren Wolfson points out, the front office is not keen on offering seven year pacts to players. That’s a fair stance, even with someone who’s been as durable as Jose, and even though he’s just 27-years-old. What remains to be seen is how they will compete for those top talents otherwise. If you’re taking a hard and fast approach on avoiding length, then you must make a more aggressive push on value.
A $20 million average annual value for Berrios seems like a fair amount. That’s below what Noah Syndergaard will get, albeit on a one year deal, despite pitching just two innings since 2019. Should Minnesota look to mitigate risk by avoiding length, they’ll need to tack on a percentage above market rate to lure free agents into their organization.
We’ll very quickly get an idea how this plays out for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Ultimately, they “saved” the money on Berrios by flipping him for outstanding prospects. Instead of breaking up the $20 million annually across two or three pitchers, they must be willing to spend that type of coin on one arm that fills the void. They’ll be hoping the length of the deal is shorter, but banking that salary flexibility, or trying to patch it together through multiple players is not something that should be met with praise.
As I’ve harper on for months, this offseason is going to be the most important in determining the true ability of the front office, and they should be judged accordingly.