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Berríos or Buxton: Who is Worth a $100 Million Deal?


Both Byron Buxton and José Berríos are both heading to free agency at the end of next season. Neither player is in a spot to accept a team-friendly deal, so who would be a better investment with a contract near $100 million?

The José Berríos Argument

Minnesota has struggled to develop pitching for decades and Berríos is one of the lone bright spots in recent memory. He’s a two-time All-Star and he might be heading for his third selection this season. For his career, he has a 105 ERA+ as his debut season was his only year with an ERA+ below 100. Twins fans have wanted him to develop into an “ace” and while that may not have happened, he has been an above average MLB pitcher throughout his career.

Some players of similar ages have gotten anywhere from $40-$85 million. Would Berríos accept a deal for 5-years and $100 million? That would put him ahead of all these other players in his age group and it might be enough to keep him from hitting the open market.

According to FanGraphs value calculations, Berríos has been worth $99.6 million during his big-league career. In ever full season since 2017, he has been worth north of $21.5 million. Another thing to consider is the fact that he is just entering his prime as a pitcher. The Twins know him well and he can be an anchor at the top of their rotation for years to come.

The Byron Buxton Argument

Many Twins fans might think Berrios is an easy choice when it comes to handing out $100 million. However, Buxton is a game changing player that is the true definition of a five-tool player. Injuries and bad luck have been part of his big-league career, but that takes nothing away from what he has been able to accomplish. When he is on the field, he is a difference maker on both sides of the ball and the results speak for themselves. Over the last three seasons, the Twins are 100-52 when Buxton plays, and they are below .500 without him.

Even with his injury history, FanGraphs value calculations have Buxton worth $90.9 million throughout his career. He’s been worth over $20 million in three different seasons, including this year where he has been limited to 27 games. He was playing at a level of a player worth $35 million or more per season. Buxton is also the type of player that fans may regret seeing in another uniform because of the value he can provide to a team. George Springer signed a $150 million deal last winter and Buxton can be an even better player than Springer when he is on the field.

It seems unlikely for the Twins to spend $100 million on both these players so the front office may need to decide who is going to provide the most value in the years ahead.

Who do you think is a better investment? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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I would rather keep them both but if we have to pick one I'd extend Buxton and trade Berrios. Give me the MVP candidate and I'll roll the dice on health. Berrios should fetch a HAUL at the trade deadline otherwise they can hang onto him for another year.

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No one is worth that amount of money, but it is not real money to me and I am not paying it so I do not care.   I just want both of them to continue with the team and in particular Berrios.  I think Buxton might have reason to sign a good but shorter term contract to establish that he can stay healthy and get the really big contract.   Of course there is the Mike Trout case where he "earned" the excessive monster contract and had stayed healthy all these years only to go IL when he got the big one.

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I think Berrios will command a bit over $100M. Buxton is hard to put my finger on due to obvious reasons, but I don't think he gets $100M+. He may be hitting like an MVP when he's playing, but it's a pretty small sample size, and his defense is not going to improve with age.

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Berrios COULD GET $100 million if traded to the right team. What team, that is the crapshoot.

 

I think the Twins would jump at five years and $85 million. But part of Target Field was that the Twins would be able to pay to keep their free agents. And I always thought that part of a good hometeam free agent contact was that you were rewarding the player also for past play and making a name for themselves with the home team. Never could totally figure out overpaying a guy who will probably not produce similar numbers going forth.

 

But both Buxton and Berrios are young. A five year contract may not be their last. Might be another 3-4 year deal when those run out.

 

Do the Twins offer a 3 year deal and an option. Do they let them declare free agency halfway thru a contract? If push came to shove , would you offer the qualifying offer of the day to either and hope they accept?

 

Buxton needs to play. Getting hit on the hand cost him, probably, $10 million in pay. A team gambling $100 million on him would be gambling, yet someone might, just might. Remember, he can always become a corner outfielder, and if his plate discipline increases, he will get a payday.

 

But I doubt it will be with the Twins. Somehow, not getting the $100 million feeling. The question is: how long does the front office hold out. This trading deadline, the off-season, or spring training/next year.

The message is also bad that it sends to any other potential stars. Play out your Minnesota contract and go elsewhere. And if the team starts getting noticed for playing with service time, goodbye signing some picks.

 

Was Joe Mauer worth $175 million? Well, was he worth $22 million for his first six years of production?

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Bud Grant was always a big proponent of valuing durability as a key factor in the players that you have. Berrios has durability and unfortunately, Buxton does not. If Berrios will take a 5 year, 100 million dollar deal then I say do it. Buxton will go down in Twins history as perhaps the greatest, " might have been". 

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You can't give Buxton a straight $100 with his injury history, but he likely won't agree to a contract that's too incentive-laden.

Berrios is worth 5/100 if you're contending.

Either way, the team will probably need to trade at least 1 of them in July or over the winter, because they won't pay both and next year's team may not be on track to win 90+ games even with them anyway.

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Buxton is easily my favorite player on this team, but I can't see giving him a contract of that size.  Yes, he's a game changer that this team has not seen since Puckett.  He's got to stay on the field though.  As much as I want him around, I just don't see this team doling out that kind of coin for the guy.  If they did, I'd probably be ecstatic and then rather concerned in the long run.

So, I think the safest and best choice would be to sign Berrios.  As mentioned in the article, this team has been trying to develop pitching forever and I'd hate to see their best success story leave because they wouldn't pony up the cash.  He's not the ace that we'd like him to be, but he is pretty reliable and he's remained healthy.  My only concern is that he has yet to put together a full, consistent season.  The late season fades are always a concern.  Nonetheless, I still think that Berrios is the safer and best option for the club.

There is a touch of poor timing here too though.  As this season unfolds, it'll be interesting to see how the FO handles a 90+ loss season that was full of expectations heading into it.  How much does that change the conversation?

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I still think Lewis is destined to be a CF'er so if I HAD to choose between Buxton & Berrios I would choose Berrios.

Berrios is durable.  As bad as our pitching is, we don't get better by giving up on Jose.  Subtract Berrios from this staff and how much worse would we be ??  Finally, Target Field was built to KEEP our best players.  Come on Pohlad's !  5-years and $100 million for Berrios.  Should have been done last winter.

Now Buxton.  As it has been mentioned by others, Target Field was built with the promise we keep our best players.  Buxton is our BEST player.  Even if I feel Lewis is destined for CF, Lewis could play RF just as easily.  Byron's latest injury is, to say the least...frustrating.  But if you're looking for a silver lining, maybe it makes him "somewhat" more affordable.

I might gauge what the haul could be for Buxton in a trade, but ultimately, I want to sign him as well.  Everyone has stunk---Pitchers, hitters, the manager, coaches, the front office.  Indeed...total system failure.  The White Sox and Indians were gearing up over the winter to put some pressure on the Twins and the best our FO could do was Happ, Shoemaker, Colome and Simmons.  We could have signed Liam Hendricks, but we let the White Sox have him.  Target Field was built so that the Twins could STOP with these crappy "half-measures" in building a consistent winner.  We brought in a new FO to effect this stated plan.  Most of what Falvey and Levine have done are still those crappy half-measures.  Get Serious !  Players like Donaldson and Sano should be dealt.  Cruz as well despite the fact he's our best hitter.  It's time to spend some money for a real SS and a couple SP's as well  and an anchor for our BP.  And yes, sign BOTH Berrios and Buxton.  You've developed them.  They are good major league players.  We're better WITH them.  So keep them.

 

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Berrios is a very good #2 on just about any staff.  Worth $100mm?  No.  Especially if you don't have a real #1.  The Twins haven't had a real #1 for a long time.  Buxton has not proven he can stay on the field.  I don't agree in giving him a huge contract for 70-80 games a year.  Time to get what we can for anyone on this roster.  If this club continues to want to build from within and not spend money, do it now while they have some value.

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This is easy...if they can sign Buxton, they should. Buxton is a game changer (when on the field). A player is "injury prone" until he isn't.

If you can get Berrios under contract, great, but the priority should be Buxton. Buxton is an elite player, Berrios isn't. Pay for elite before you pay for pretty good.

I'd wager a lot of money Buxton is worth more going forward than Berrios.

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Berrios yes.  Buxton only if he would sign an incentive laden deal as karbo stated but I see today's athlete all about guaranteed money vs incentive.  Agents being agents aren't going to go that route = Show me the money they preach

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Every time I see this discussion it's "Buxton is a generational talent with the potential to be one of Baseball's true greats," and "Berrios is a pretty solid number two pitcher," so if it's possible to keep one of these guys, I guess I'm on team Buxton, injuries and all.

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11 minutes ago, USAFChief said:

This is easy...if they can sign Buxton, they should. Buxton is a game changer (when on the field). A player is "injury prone" until he isn't.

If you can get Berrios under contract, great, but the priority should be Buxton. Buxton is an elite player, Berrios isn't. Pay for elite before you pay for pretty good.

I'd wager a lot of money Buxton is worth more going forward than Berrios.

If Buxton stays on the field, I agree completely.  Unfortunately, that's the wild card.

Absent injuries, you're right, this is easy.

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10 minutes ago, USAFChief said:

This is easy...if they can sign Buxton, they should. Buxton is a game changer (when on the field). A player is "injury prone" until he isn't.

If you can get Berrios under contract, great, but the priority should be Buxton. Buxton is an elite player, Berrios isn't. Pay for elite before you pay for pretty good.

I'd wager a lot of money Buxton is worth more going forward than Berrios.

I agree completely with this entire take, especially the bold portion.

Another thing to consider is which player is most likely to outperform the contract they sign, and there is not a scenario I see where Berrios at $20M+ per year ever looks like a massive bargain to the Twins.

That being said, the Twins have the money to sign both, and I hope they do it. Jose on the bump and Byron in center is always a fun game to watch.

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Obviously I'd want to keep both but if I'm forced to pick one then I'd have to say Berrios. Buxton can't stay healthy and with his skill set he probably Deserves the money more but if I'm investing 100 million or so, you gotta be on the field. Berrios has been durable and that gives him the edge to me. That and you know, Pitching wins Championships

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I don't have the numbers in front of me to compare, but I put Berrios and Wheeler in the same category. Wheeler got 5 years and $118m and the Twins were in it to the end(supposedly). With Berrios having been a healthy SP and many believe he has more in the tank, I would be willing to say that is a good and more than fair offer. 

As for Bux, no team is going to give a guy $20+m when he has proven he can't stay on the field. He is just one of those players that seems snake bitten. Maybe something along the lines of 5 years $70m with a lot of games played bonuses. If Bux plays 150 games, he is easily worth $25m per, if not $30+m. I just don't see the Twins being the team to take that big risk, although they did with with Donaldson.

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Berrios has been durable. Buxton has not. The conversation ends there. Buxton is a glass cannon, Berrios is a thoroughbred. 

Buxton being worth over $20MIL while playing only 27 games this season is laughable. That's the absolute worst contract in baseball if you think about it like that. I absolutely love watching Buxton play, he's awesome. But that's the problem, we haven't got to watch him. Parts of 7 seasons now, 4 of them where he's been on the MLB roster throughout, and he's played in like 60% of the games in those 4 seasons.

If you're making the decision between the two, it's Berrios by miles for me.

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I would go 6/100 on Berrios. Put him on a good team, and he’s a #3. I don’t think he would take 5/100 anyway. He’s looking for 5/150. Buxton will never get $100M from the Twins. Just not durable enough, and the sting of the Mauer contract is still to recent. I’m afraid the best move is to trade both at some point with predictable consequences. The Twins cycle. 

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If 5/100 gets either of them signed they should do it. If they both will agree to 5/100 they should sign both. I find it hard to believe either would agree to it 1 year from free agency, though.

I think the Wheeler contract is probably what Berrios is looking for and thinking he can get on the open market (maybe he thinks he can get more?). So I doubt he signs for 5/100 this close to free agency. The Twins likely have to match, or get very close to, what he feels his max market value is to get him to skip the chance to find out what he can get. 

And Buxton seems like an incredibly confident young man who's willing to bet on himself. His value when healthy is 35m+ a year. Maybe he's at the point where he's starting to believe he'll never be healthy and he'd take the 5/100 just to ensure himself 100m, but if he's convinced it's just bad luck and he can stay healthy I can't imagine he's taking that deal. Why wouldn't he play next year on a 1 year deal if he's convinced he can stay healthy? Go out and win an MVP next year and take home 300m from the Red Sox or Yankees instead of 100m from the Twins this year. If I'm Buxton I'm not signing any long term deal coming off an injury. I'll do 1 year deals until I string together a full season or 2. Somebody will pay him 20m on a 1 year deal. If I'm him I'm taking that kind of deal until I establish my health and then taking home 35m a year on a longer deal.

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I'd sign Berrios to a 5 year $100M deal immediately. he gets that on the open market in my mind for sure, unless he blows out his elbow next season, and there's nothing to suggest he will. I just think he's comfortable betting on himself and won't sign it. Feels like he's looking around and thinking "I'm already there, and if I have a good season in 2022, I'm going to see 5/$125M or more." Can't say that he's wrong. He's definitely not taking a home-town discount.

Buxton is the harder call. Kornheiser ain't wrong when he says the greatest ability is availability. Can you offer a $100M deal knowing that he may never play a full season over the life of that deal? He's played 140 games in a season once, and it's the only time he's broken a hundred games, and there's little to no chance of it happening this year either. but as shown, he's capable of putting up tremendous value when he is healthy. How will he age as a player? Will he maintain his skill through the duration of the contract, or will it degrade because of the injuries? It's the hardest call. I love him as a player. he is a joy to watch and I want him part of the team forever. Can we do this deal? man, that's tough.

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Buxton is great, Berrios is very good.  

Regarding which is worth a $100M deal, well, who knows?  There are 100 million ways to slice up a $100M deal.  Are we talking $20M a year for 5 years?  $10M a year for 10?  $33M for 3?

In baseball, for some reason we talk about total contract value, but that could mean almost anything to a team's budget.

In any case....

Brad Radke made $61M and he finished his career 15 years ago.  Berrios and Radke are very good comps.  Is $61M in early 2000s money equal to $100M now?  Probably.  Radke played for 12 years, Berrios for 6.  So is Berrios worth $16.6M per year for the next 6 years? Probably.  Will this seem low to him?  Probably.

There are no comps for Buxton, but someone will pay him.  Buxton knows it.  I don't think the Twins have a chance unless they overpay.  While overpaying was acceptable for Mauer, it's really not acceptable for Buxton.  For Buxton, just enjoy him while we can.

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Berrios is the one to give the contract to between them.  I would say Buxton adds more value when he plays, but he will only play 50% of the games, if that.  So I would offer Buxton shorter term contract to prove he can play a season or two healthy, or give him longer deal but for half the money you would give someone and explain you play 50% of the games so you are only worth 50% of what you could be. 

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2 hours ago, Steve Lein said:

Berrios has been durable. Buxton has not. The conversation ends there. Buxton is a glass cannon, Berrios is a thoroughbred. 

Buxton being worth over $20MIL while playing only 27 games this season is laughable. That's the absolute worst contract in baseball if you think about it like that. I absolutely love watching Buxton play, he's awesome. But that's the problem, we haven't got to watch him. Parts of 7 seasons now, 4 of them where he's been on the MLB roster throughout, and he's played in like 60% of the games in those 4 seasons.

If you're making the decision between the two, it's Berrios by miles for me.

This.  Any other take is like buying a mansion because you're convinced that next lottery ticket is "the one" 

It's fundamental asset mismanagement of the worst kind: ignoring the obvious on fool's hope.

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