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The Minnesota Twins are coming to a crossroads on a few of their cornerstones. When considering what’s next for Jose Berrios, the only answer should be to hand him a blank check.

Yes, Berrios wants a hefty payday, and no, he isn’t one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball. The three players he’s most closely tied to in this contract situation are Luis Severino, Aaron Nola, and Lance McCullers. The former two got paid prior to the 2019 season. McCullers just got his payday. They are all 27 years old, save for Nola who just recently had a birthday. None of that trio would qualify as top 10 pitchers in the game either.

Nola and Severino took four-year deals at $45M and $40M, respectively. McCullers agreed to a five-year deal that starts in 2022 and is for $85M. Jose reportedly wanted something close to what the Phillies and Yankees did for their starters; that isn’t happening now. He’s going to get something closer to what the Astros paid out, and that’s more than a fair valuation. I don’t think Berrios would find a $17M AAV on the open market, but I’d be shocked if he couldn’t get something in the $12-15M range.

Really though, this conversation is less about dollars and more about sense. Over the winter Minnesota paid J.A. Happ $8M and Matt Shoemaker $2M both on one-year deals. That $10M has immediately become a sunk cost as both have been downright terrible, and the stability intended for the back of the rotation has been non-existent. I’d have preferred to see the Twins aim higher when rounding out the group, but we’ve seen that troubles there as guys like James Paxton haven’t even thrown a pitch for their new team.

I think the point with Berrios is this, you already have a commodity that you know, he should be entering his prime, and there’s never been a question of his durability. Sure, he’s faltered in August and September, but it hasn’t ever been injury related. He’s not an ace, and he may be a borderline number two at times, but it’s fair to say he’s a top-half of the rotation arm that flashes even more when he’s on. The alternative is one of unknown, or one I think we can bet against.

Touching again on the unknown, you’re dealing with bargain bin arms hoping that a middle-of-the-road veteran is enough for the sake of stability. Maybe they’re injured, ineffective, or both. The option we can probably bet against is a big ticket purchase. Trevor Bauer made a good deal of sense from a roster construction standpoint, but he was never going to be interested in Minnesota, and the Twins were never going to drop that kind of coin. Nothing precludes the Twins from spending, but top free agents don’t see this as a destination either.

Looking ahead to the upcoming offseason, there’s more than a few veteran arms that should hit the market. Plenty of them will be paid handsomely, and some of them may even be interested in talking with the Twins. Giving Jose Berrios something like $80M over the next five years isn’t going to stop any opportunity to engage those arms either. If development continues to happen, you’d hope this rotation has a desire to include Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran as soon as next season. Maybe one of them turns out to be an ace, and maybe neither do. Either way, pitching being a focus, moving on from Berrios solely to pay someone in hopes of replicating his production seems silly.

Finding an ace is among the most difficult things to do in baseball. There’s maybe 10 of those guys in the game, most are developed internally, and if they do ever hit the open market Minnesota isn’t the first choice they’ve got on their list. Building a rotation with guys that all have the ability to pitch like an ace on any given night is a much more attainable goal, and both Kenta Maeda and Berrios fit that bill. Beyond there the Twins don’t have answers. Michael Pineda has been a steadying presence, and maybe they bring him back again this winter, but Berrios should be inked into that future as much as anyone.

It's easy to spend someone else’s money, and the Pohlad’s have plenty of it, but the thought process runs deeper than that. Plenty of money comes off the books again this winter, and while 2021 has been a disaster, a new opportunity to reload will be in front of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Including someone like Berrios as part of that makes more sense than it does finding the next guy discarded from another organization to replace him.

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Agree 100%! The 1964 Twins were a big disappointment. Fortunately Calvin didn’t panic and unload his top players- we kept Killebrew, Allison, Olivia, Kaat. In 65 they came back with 102 wins and a World Series appearance. We need to have some faith that our still young stars can produce again and pay them what they are worth. NEVER let good pitching get away. Pay Berrios what he can command on the open market. We can’t assume prospects will produce at the ML level- we’ve had plenty of our future all-star prospects bomb and disappear. A bird in the hand……,,,,

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51 minutes ago, Game7-91 said:

Agree 100%. Question is does Berrios want to stay? Extend him this off season, if he doesnt want it then look to trade him b4 ST. He should be priority 1, Buxton 1A.  

Every player wants to stay for the right money. Find that amount, agree to it.

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If he will do do it for 5/80 I am on board especially given what they got out of Happ and Shoemaker for 10m this year.  He is young durable and with slight improvement a potential All-Star type player or just under for the next four years.  He takes good care of his body and takes the ball every 5th day.  Why not do what you can to keep him especially with good pitching in short supply.  With Maeda messed up he might be the one decent pitcher we can rely on next year and hopefully once the other guys come up we can fill out that rotation with more home grown guys.  Unless the ask is absolutely unreasonable they should extend him IMO.

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3 hours ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

Nola and Severino took four-year deals at $45M and $40M, respectively. McCullers agreed to a five-year deal that starts in 2022 and is for $85M. Jose reportedly wanted something close to what the Phillies and Yankees did for their starters; that isn’t happening now. He’s going to get something closer to what the Astros paid out, and that’s more than a fair valuation. I don’t think Berrios would find a $17M AAV on the open market, but I’d be shocked if he couldn’t get something in the $12-15M range.

The Nola and Severino deals are no longer relevant to Berrios, due to the service time difference.

McCullers is close -- he signed for 5/85 just 1 year away from FA. Berrios is still a half-season away from that, but he's also ahead of McCullers by some measures -- McCullers's final arb award was $6.5 mil, but Berrios is already at $6.1 mil in his second-to-last year of arb. (Probably because McCullers missed a year-plus due to Tommy John surgery, and has been on the IL most seasons otherwise.)

Also, the McCullers deal takes effect in 2022. So including the 2021 arb award, it's more like 6/91.5.

So I'd guess the McCullers deal is the baseline, but wouldn't be shocked if Berrios wanted 5/100 right now, or something like 6/110 including his likely 2022 arb salary.

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Look, Maeda is NOT himself right now. He may or may not be the pitcher we saw in 2020. But career numbers and his ST performance and injury would tell you he's going to rebound.

Berrios has been a rock, despite some ups and downs. For the 100th time, he's still 27yo plus and is a 2 time All Star. Again, for the 100th time, he and the Twins have changed his work out routine to allow for a full season of endurance and performance. And we haven't seen the results yet after the weird season that 2020 was. He may or may not ever achieve the ACE status that so many wish for. Me included. But despite some very good prospects rising, you can't ignore what you already have. 

If the Twins don't give him a 4 or 5yr deal for something close to $18-20 per they are being stupid.  Someone else will. 

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I am thinking many of you are light 5/110 or 6/140 come to mind as what he will command with another good year (2022) before FA.  If you can't get it done in the next 6 weeks we must trade him (as painful as it might be).  We don't know what the next CBA will be, and it will probably be tweeked or more in the players favor, because of the other issues.  Maybe compensation goes away totally.  Get it done or move on.

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Quote

I think the point with Berrios is this, you already have a commodity that you know, he should be entering his prime, and there’s never been a question of his durability. Sure, he’s faltered in August and September, but it hasn’t ever been injury related. He’s not an ace, and he may be a borderline number two at times, but it’s fair to say he’s a top-half of the rotation arm that flashes even more when he’s on. The alternative is one of unknown, or one I think we can bet against.

This is exactly why the "trade Berrios now" talk makes no sense.  Trade for whom?  And how do you fill the hole he leaves?

Unless the ball club has decided to rebuild from the ground up, or if Berrios and his agent will settle for nothing less than the greatest amount they can obtain on the market, this is the correct approach.  Smart management doesn't deal away personnel without knowing whom they will plug in as a replacement.  Even if he is only ever a number 2 or 3 arm, having Berrios spend his most productive (or even all) years with the Twins is likely to benefit the club.  Everyone they have on the farm is at least a season away from being as good as he is now, and dealing for someone as good or better is always fraught with peril.

Dance with them that brung ya - and pay 'em, too.

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1 hour ago, Vanimal46 said:

I can’t imagine a worse time to try and extend Berrios after what could be a 90+ loss season. He’s given every indication he’s testing free agency, so this article is 1.5 years too early to talk about. 

He's given that indication because they haven't been willing to match his ask. We don't know what that is, but we've seen how FA goes.

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1 hour ago, spycake said:

So I'd guess the McCullers deal is the baseline, but wouldn't be shocked if Berrios wanted 5/100 right now, or something like 6/110 including his likely 2022 arb salary.

And I'm including that assumption still suggesting to pay the man. You aren't going above for someone else, and the likelihood that someone less if worse remains far greater.

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32 minutes ago, terrydactyls said:

If the front office can sign Berrios between now and July 20th - great.  If they can't trade him now for the best offer.  His trade value will only diminish after that.  The same for Buxton.

I promise you, the return for either Buxton or Berrios, no matter what it is, will set this franchise back farther than it propels it forwards.

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2 hours ago, Mike Sixel said:

What if it is 25 per year, six years?

I do believe you hit about the right contract.  What if Berrios is not a chea... err, user of foreign substance like others? 6/200 might not be enough. What if there is a fear that Berrios will get Mike Hampton disease? The next year of the contract they would wish they were less Berrios rather than Happ less.

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1 hour ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

Then he doesn't know what the market will bear?

That would be a current top 10 contract. By the end of the contract maybe a top 30 contract. If he views himself as a top 10 pitcher, what the market will bear for a top flight pitcher is higher than that contract., See Bauer's contract.

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1 hour ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

I promise you, the return for either Buxton or Berrios, no matter what it is, will set this franchise back farther than it propels it forwards.

Did the trades the White Sox made for their starting players a few years ago set the franchise further back? Did trading Knoblauch set the Twins back?

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1 hour ago, beckmt said:

Problem is if you don't sign him and he walks the return could well be zero.  How far will that set the franchise back

See Pierre Mendes-France, "To govern is to choose."  There is no safe road.  After all risks are understood, make a decision, be prepared to accept the consequences and learn from them. If your decision results in success, party down, but don't get cocky.

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I think you’re on point. They have to retain such an important home grown player. If not, the Twins will turn into the old Montreal Expos that kept losing all the great players they developed. 

I actually see some pretty strong signs that Berrios is still moving uphill (based on watching his starts). Check out his current year stats vs. career. I’m thinking this year and possibly many more can see a very good pitcher.

 

 

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2 hours ago, beckmt said:

Problem is if you don't sign him and he walks the return could well be zero.  How far will that set the franchise back

Very far. They’d be looking at a multi-year rebuilding plan and honestly, after this last offseason train wreck, do we trust Falvey t do that rebuilding? They now have a lot to prove.

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The Twins need to make a very good offer this summer. This will not be a team friendly deal.

If he is not willing to deal they need to trade him this summer to maximize the return.

The worst case is thinking this year is an aberration and believing 2022 they cabin truly contend for a World Series thereby keeping Berrios for his last season. They are too many arms away from making that happen. Any attempt will result in the signings of several decline phase veterans in hopes of squeezing out one more year. 

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4 hours ago, Greglw3 said:

Very far. They’d be looking at a multi-year rebuilding plan and honestly, after this last offseason train wreck, do we trust Falvey t do that rebuilding? They now have a lot to prove.

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Incorrect.  The return is the player(s) they spend the money Berrios would have received plus whatever they get in prospects if they trade him this year.  Yes, it's possible the propsects don't pan out.  Let's also keep in mind that Tattis Jr. was the return for James Shields.  Cane and Escobar came back in the Grienke trade.  Moncada and Giolitto in the Chris Sale trade and on and on.  Frankly, if you are going to pay him whatever it takes, why not take the prospects now and sign him later or just wait until he becomes a free agent given we know pitchers are prone to injury or the "Mike Hampton" disease old nurse pointed out.  We could call it the Jordan Zimmerman or Chris Davis disease or even Albert Pujlos disease or any host of other free agents who were never that great after signing a big deal.

I think Mike's question "what if he wants" 6/150 is the underlying reason he has not been signed.  How many times do we hear in the off-season, especially high profile players are looking for X and X ends up being 150% of what they were looking for?  As I recall JD Martinez started at $200M and got $125.  It's quite common.  Players see this process as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and rightfully so.  The author's blank check premise is the answer to what is the last thing Tampa Bay would do or most teams for that matter.  St. Louis let the great Albert Pujlos walk.  Boston with a couple hundred million in incremental revenue as compared to the Twins did not give Betts whatever he wanted and on and on.  

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7 hours ago, Ted Schwerzler said:

Then he doesn't know what the market will bear?

I think his agent has a clue.  At least one team will pay him funny money and that is all it takes.  It could be 6/150 or more, we don't know the ask(Yankees or Mets come to mind).  Good pitching plus wins, I am in favor of paying him (more than Buxton, and that could be a mistake too), but only the FO knows the ask.  If you start getting up near Cole and Bauer money it gets tough.  A good # 2 starter is now 20+ a year, Berrios is that.  If he wants ace money,  that is where it becomes difficult.

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