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Buxton or Berríos: Who Is More Important to the Twins’ Long-Term Success?


Bryon Buxton and José Berríos are in similar places in their big-league careers with two years remaining before free agency. So, which player is more important to the Twins’ long-term success?Buxton and Berríos were part of a young core of players that were tasked with digging the Twins out of their losing ways. Both were considered among baseball’s best prospects, but now Minnesota might be faced with looking into the future and deciding which player is a better fit for the long-term.

 

Career Value

Many fans have become frustrated with Buxton and what seems to be consistent trips to the injured list. There was so much hype surrounding him from prior to the 2012 Draft through his debut and subsequent big-league career. It would be tough for any player to live up to those expectations, but there have certainly been signs of the five-tool player Buxton was touted to be.

 

So far in his career, Buxton has been worth 11.7 WAR according to Baseball Reference and 9.0 WAR according to FanGraphs. Almost half of his WAR total came during the 2017 season when he won a Platinum Glove and hit .253/.314/.413 with 36 extra-base hits in 140 games. Last year, he played in 39 games and batted .254/.267/.577 with 13 home runs and three doubles. It’s clear that he can be the team’s most valuable player when he is on the field.

 

Frustration has also been part of the story for Berríos, but most of this ire has been directed at his inconsistent performance. He’s been a two-time All-Star and much of that is due to some strong first half performances. Throughout his career, he has posted a 3.64 ERA and held batters to a .226/.285/.385 slash line in the first half. In the second half, his ERA rose to 4.84 and batter’s OPS jumped to .756.

 

According to Baseball Reference, Berríos has been worth a 7.3 WAR, while FanGraphs has him listed at 11.4 WAR. Unlike Buxton, there isn’t a clear best season in his big-league career. Baseball Reference places his 2018 season (3.4 WAR) at the top as he posted a 3.84 ERA with 202 strikeouts in just over 192 innings. FanGraphs ranks his 2019 season (4.3 WAR) as the best when he had a 3.68 ERA with 195 strikeouts in 200 1/3 innings.

 

Future Value

Buxton and Berríos are both off to tremendous starts to the 2021 campaign but is tasked with looking into the future and figuring out which player will provide the most value in the years to come. Berríos is going to be paid like a top-tier starter either by the Twins or through the free agency process. It’s clear that his representation has been set on that as he has gotten closer to hitting the open market. This likely means he will be earning $100 million or more.

 

Minnesota’s previous record for a free agent starting pitcher was Ervin Santana who signed for four-years and $55 million back in 2015. Before Santana, the Twins signed Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal and fans are well aware of how that turned out. Berríos would become the highest paid pitcher in Twins’ history and expectations of him evolving into an “ace” level pitcher would only increase.

 

Buxton’s future value is a little harder to predict, but that also means an extension would be for less money than Berríos. According to Buxton, he feels like he is in the best spot he has been in as a baseball player. His power surge over the last two years is looking more legit and that only helps his potential future earnings. That being said, speed is part of his game and he will lose a step or two as he continues to age.

 

Minnesota has the option to resign both players and there is nothing stopping the team from making this a reality. However, Berríos and his importance to the rotation seem to be more important to the team’s long-term success.

 

Who do you think is more important moving forward? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

 

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The one we sign long term is more important.

 

I am not optimistic we will sign either long term. If i chose, i'd sign Buxton all the way.

 

But well, one less ace level pitcher just means more diving catches for Buxton.

 

Whereas better pitching probably means fewer exciting plays, even if we are more likely to win.

 

Good thing it isn't up to me.

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Berrios. They both are capable of being all-stars and top Cy Young/MVP candidates, but two factors stand out in Berrios’s favor. 1. Injury risk - odd as it is to say, I expect in this case the pitcher to be less of an injury risk. 2. Cost to acquire - the Twins are not going to compete for a #1/Ace starter in free agency at $300MM+ price tag so locking up one you (may) have has to be the priority if you want to compete for a WS.

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I have to go with Buxton.

 

Buxton takes this team to another level - I think everyone is familiar with the winning percentage numbers when he plays vs. doesn’t.

 

I agree with the comment above, the Twins will never be in the running for an “ace” free agent starting pitcher. But, wasn’t why this FO was brought in? The ability to source and develop “ace” starting pitchers from within?

 

Operating under that assumption, a power-hitting, elite defensive center fielder, who could very realistically win the MVP in the near future, would be much harder to replace.

 

I could be way off here, but it looks like Buxton has turned a corner (health is still a question). I’ll need to see more from. Berrios in the coming weeks to be convinced he can sustain the high-end performance. We’ve seen him dominate for stretches before.

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Maybe it depends on the development of Celestino and Sabato. If Celestino becomes almost the defender and a more contact oriented bat while Sabato becomes a better, more reliable, well rounded bat at first than Sano, well you've effectively replaced Buxton (unless, of course, Buxton keeps inching towards Trout like performance). Pitchers on the other hand, you need five of those every year just to get started. Meanwhile Berrios has uncommon drive, work ethic and durability. The only worries with him are inconsistency and a smaller frame which may or may not hold up. Baldelli's handling of the staff lessens that worry. I would make it a priority to sign them both, but make sure I get one no matter the cost, then I would trade the other if I couldn't get both.

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Like everyone I like both right now but if forced to choose it would be Buxton.  He is an elite defender at an important position and cannot fully be replaced.  If his hitting HR's is for real then that moves him into a stratosphere we won't be able to compete with financially.  If he becomes an elite defender and power hitter in center he is a unicorn in MLB, that is if he can stay healthy.  There are a lot of "ifs" but if he meets them or comes close he is the most valuable IMO.

 

That is not a knock on Berrios who is important as well.  If he has finally found the consistency to pitch well most every game we have the ace level pitcher we have been looking for the last 4 years.  While we have some elite arms coming up odds are they won't be as good as Jose for a while.  It would really be nice to have a couple of more years of prime Berrios but I believe they will have to pay heavily if they want those years.

 

As Wabene said odds are the Twins let both of them go rather than extend because they have Celestino almost ready and while he will never be Buxton he is a really good defender and looks to be coming along with the bat.  They have about 5 different arms to try and replace Berrios with so the odds are better there but arms are fickle things you can never bank on.  Also they are running out of time to extend either player at a reasonable rate and both players are vital for the teams continued success right now so they can't really trade them for value either.  As usual the FO has some tough decisions to make?

 

If they can't extend one try and extend the other if they can't find the common ground to extend either there is plan B which is less expensive but much more risky IMO.

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If the question is who should they try to keep for long term success I would say Berrios.  If the question is who having a break out few years will lead to greater success that is Buxton.

 

Buxton is not likely to age well over his career.  He relies so much on top speed that will eventually go away, not that he will ever be as slow as Cruz or someone like that, but he will start to lose some defense value and base running value.  If he can learn to hit constantly similar to what Hunter did late in his career then I would change my mind, but based on his career I do not expect his 30's to treat him well.

 

However, playing a key defensives position and showing that when he is clicking he can carry the club on offense if he can have career peak years he will be the most important player for our team the next few years. 

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Feels like they are both playing it out, but offer 6/$120 to both. If you have to choose just one, Buxton is the better bet because he can morph into a gold glove corner outfielder with 40 hr pop. He hit for average coming up and seems to be progressing.

We shall see. It's a long season and there isn't likely to be a quick, value signing with either of these two players. They and their agents are aware of the value each player possesses in the current game. 

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But seriously....

 

I think both have already made the decision at this point that they are going to bet on themselves and go all the way to free agency.

 

So..... I think the more important (and uncomfortable) topic is when to trade them for maximum value.

 

To be clear, I would like to extend them, but realistically, the most likely scenario is they get signed my more money than we can pay by one of the evil empires.

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It's nigh-impossible to compared a hitter to a pitcher. Both have considerable injury risk, Berrios just for being a pitcher. If Buxton can hit for power, that cancels some of the loss of speed he'll inevitably suffer.

 

The real question is if Buxton can stay healthy now that he's a bit older. If so, and if forced to choose, I'd say Buxton.

 

Given their track records, Berrios is set up better for a long-term deal at the moment though. Maybe Buxton with a buyout option in the middle?

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In today's market, wouldn't $100+ be about right for Berrios?  He's a sub 4.00 ERA guy who strikes people out.  He's right in that Zack Wheeler range.

 

Buxton?  He knows more than anyone else that he NEEDS to stay healthy to get the payday he wants.  He knows what he can do when healthy.  He just needs to convert.  However, an aging Buxton worries me.  

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But seriously....

 

I think both have already made the decision at this point that they are going to bet on themselves and go all the way to free agency.

 

So..... I think the more important (and uncomfortable) topic is when to trade them for maximum value.

 

To be clear, I would like to extend them, but realistically, the most likely scenario is they get signed my more money than we can pay by one of the evil empires.

 

My question in response is what it takes right now. Will either or both take a 6/$120 million offer?

I think yes.

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Berrios has the higher floor since he has shown he is the more durable of the two players.  Buxton has the higher ceiling.  If Buxton is healthy then he is the more important of the two.  He gets MVP votes in seasons with injuries.  Who replaces them if they leave?  Celestino in CF and we do have several high floor starting pitching prospects..... I think keeping Buxton on a 5 year extension would be great.  He will be 29 so that would take him though his age 34 season.  going seven or even 8 years to 36 or 37 seems like what he will be able to get and that seems a bit long.  Berrios should be able to get 5 years.  I think 5 years and 100 to 110 million seems fair.  Going to much beyond that will get pricey.  I am fine with signing both or whoever is willing to sign at a reasonable fair market price.  I am not fine with overpaying either player because we do have replacements coming up the pipeline and we can sign good but not as good players for a much lower cost and we can realocate money elsewhere.

 

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I would offer that picking two cornerstone players and deciding which one to keep is a false dichotomy. Losing either one would be felt. It's what the other 24 players do that matters when we are talking about team success. Both of these two know how to play, but we can't clone them. Neither of these two players alone can produce a playoff win.

 

The Twins got what they need at the top (run producers and run stoppers) and at the bottom (versatility). If the team wants to win a playoff game, they have to improve in the middle. This means having a closer in the bullpen, consistency from the starters, and players like Polanco, Kepler on the positional side playing to their potentials and not making mistakes.

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Probably Buxton if only because position players are generally more valuable than pitchers. And Buxton has the potential to be one of the best players in baseball and I can’t really say the same about Berrios.

 

In the real world with real injury considerations, it’s harder to say but I’d lean toward Berrios.

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My question in response is what it takes right now. Will either or both take a 6/$120 million offer?

I think yes.

I would say possibly, but then you are right, the Twins could likely only choose 1. If I was promised to get one signed, would probably be Berrios because good starting pitching is so hard to get. Also, if Lewis is headed toward CF....

 

I do think they both will need to be blown away at this point. They both strike me as people that like to bet on themselves..... then again... I have met and talked to them exactly...... ZERO times :)

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