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Analyzing the José Berríos Extension from Minnesota’s Perspective


José Berríos is staying in Toronto for the long term as he is signing a seven-year extension that will pay him a reported $131 million. With Berríos locked up, Twins fans may be wondering why a similar contract wasn’t worked out in Minnesota.

The Toronto Blue Jays are a team on the rise in one of baseball’s toughest divisions. On Tuesday, they committed to keeping José Berríos in their starting rotation for most of the next decade. For the 2022 season, his $18.71 million average salary would rank 13th in baseball among all starting pitchers currently under contract. He was due to make around $11 million in arbitration this winter, so this is essentially a 6-year, $120 million extension. 

Since 2017, Berríos has been one of the American League’s best and most durable pitchers. He ranks fourth in fWAR over the last five seasons as he trails only Gerrit Cole, Chris Sale, and Justin Verlander. He’s started 12 more games than any other AL pitcher during that time and pitched nearly 100 more innings. That kind of reliability is valuable to teams as starting pitcher usage continues to evolve. 

At July’s trade deadline, the Twins had a choice to make when it came to Berríos as he had a year and a half left of team control. Minnesota had the option to hang on to him for 2022 hoping that the team rebounded from a poor 2021. Instead, the Twins were overwhelmed with an offer by the Blue Jays that included top prospects Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson

Minnesota is in an interesting position looking back on the type of deal Berríos was able to secure from Toronto. Berríos wanted to be paid like a front-line starter, and the Twins disagreed on his value. Much of the narrative in Minnesota was that Berríos and his representatives wanted him to be able to reach the open market. Toronto paid him market value without other teams competing for his services. 

Because of the Berríos trade, the Twins are in the market for multiple starting pitchers this winter. Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober are the two names penciled into next year’s rotation, but fans may need to temper their expectations when it comes to these young pitchers. If Minnesota is going to sign any of the top-tier free agents, it will likely take more money per year than Berríos received from Toronto. 

For the Twins, they will hope that they were right regarding their evaluation of Martin and Woods Richardson, but it may be years before they know that answer. In the end, maybe the Twins weren’t willing to go to seven years, or they possibly didn’t want to pay Berríos as much as he thought he was worth.

 


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Contgrats to Berrios for working hard, staying focused, and betting on himself. He is easy to root for and I will continue to do so for years to come (unless pitching against the Twins of course :)

Our FO underestimates or cannot palate the cost of reliable pitching.

The free agent pitcher list is already dwindling and we have 0 established MLB starting pitchers.... Maybe we have 2 Liriano type breakouts coming from our MiLB, but alas, pipe dreams are not a plans.

I'm starting to follow the plight of our 2022 starting rotation more with morbid curiosity than breathless anticipation.

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If you won't sign younger pitches to long deals.... That leaves older pitchers, and pitchers that aren't as good as your targets. So, you might not get the end of a long deal, but you might be left with only signing old pitchers to short deals, but never having received the younger years..... Or, just signing lesser pitchers.....

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Berrios is indeed 4th in the league in fWAR over the past 5 years--if the league in question is the AL.  Expand it to MLB, and he drops to 14th.

Berrios' durability also potentially works against him here--as fWAR is a counting stat, staying healthy can skew this number (much like RBI numbers can be skewed by batting cleanup for 150 games).  Indeed, if you look at FIP- for the last 5 years, Berrios drops to 33rd in the league; by xFIP- it's 51st (not for nothing, his mark of 93 is identical to Joey Lucchesi, Micahel Pineda, and Kyle Gibson).

Now durability is obviously an asset--you can argue it is better to have a starter who makes 30 starts with a 3 ERA than a starter who makes 10 starts with a 2 ERA.  Jose Berrios is indeed durable--until he's not.  Perhaps Berrios pitches 10 more years without a single major injury.  Perhaps Berrios blows his arm out in his very first start of 2022.  The Blue Jays are gambling $20M+ a year that a clear 2nd starter by quality can become a 1st starter through quantity.  I'm not saying Berrios won't, but this is a gamble on Toronto's side.

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"But let's now see what they do with the financial flexibility."-Wolfson

JA Happ anyone?  

It was a bad trade then, and it looks even worse now. People keep harping about how the Twins walked away with a haul, but this team needs pitching. Woods-Richardson is a project. Martin might be closer to a sure thing, but his value added to this organization does not make up for the loss of Berrios.

This is a frustrating day to be a Twins fan.

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11 minutes ago, Cap'n Piranha said:

Berrios is indeed 4th in the league in fWAR over the past 5 years--if the league in question is the AL.  Expand it to MLB, and he drops to 14th.

Berrios' durability also potentially works against him here--as fWAR is a counting stat, staying healthy can skew this number (much like RBI numbers can be skewed by batting cleanup for 150 games).  Indeed, if you look at FIP- for the last 5 years, Berrios drops to 33rd in the league; by xFIP- it's 51st (not for nothing, his mark of 93 is identical to Joey Lucchesi, Micahel Pineda, and Kyle Gibson).

Now durability is obviously an asset--you can argue it is better to have a starter who makes 30 starts with a 3 ERA than a starter who makes 10 starts with a 2 ERA.  Jose Berrios is indeed durable--until he's not.  Perhaps Berrios pitches 10 more years without a single major injury.  Perhaps Berrios blows his arm out in his very first start of 2022.  The Blue Jays are gambling $20M+ a year that a clear 2nd starter by quality can become a 1st starter through quantity.  I'm not saying Berrios won't, but this is a gamble on Toronto's side.

I'm not sure your point. Every contract is a risk. Or is your point that he's just not a good pitcher, despite the outcomes he's produced? If he's not, who is, and what would a team have to pay them (if they are available)?

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36 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

I'm not sure your point. Every contract is a risk. Or is your point that he's just not a good pitcher, despite the outcomes he's produced? If he's not, who is, and what would a team have to pay them (if they are available)?

My point is his value is based largely on durability, not top-level performance.  The outcomes he has produced are somewhere between very good 2nd starter, and lower tier 2nd starter, borderline 3rd starter.  If the price to secure that in FA is $20M/year, that is not something the Twins are currently capable of doing.  As such, what makes sense is a pivot to offering young pitchers extensions much sooner (for example, assuming Ober and Ryan repeat/improve on their 2021 performance, giving them both an extension for 6-7 years and $50M-$60M).

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If the contract is basically 6 years 120 or 20 per year, he is the 9th highest right now in total contract cost and about tied for 15th per year with his teammate Ryu.  This all depending on what some other guys get.  The value per year is most likely in Twins offer, but the years not so much.  7 years for any pitcher is a long time.  He is young entering his prime, but pitchers are volatile and may drop off in production out of no where, or he may get the TJ surgery and miss at least 1 full year and then some.  

We will not know for about 3 years if the contract was good or bad for Toronto.  For this length though I am not upset with not signing him.  We would have needed him to be the ace for next 7 years, and he has never put up ace numbers over a full year.  He has always teased being one, but never really was one. Maybe entering his prime he will be.  I am glad we got some good prospects back for him at the very least. 

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Well, it sure looks like the kind of deal that the Twins that should have been willing and able to make either last year or this off-season. Add into that the fact that Thor has signed a one-year deal with the Angels for $21 million and I think we know the price of pitching this off-season. Any thoughts of Stroman or Ray signing for less than $22 – 25 million a season over at least three or four years, and probably more like five, are gone. Even guys like Jon Gray are going to cost more like $17 million a year, not $14 or 15 million a year. 

It is a tough day to be a Twins fan. It is becoming more and more clear that the current regime is either badly underestimating the market cost for starting pitching of various types or ownership is unwilling to commit to the market price for pitching. We can all rail about how these guys are "overpaid" or "not worth the money" but frankly that's all irrelevant noise. The market is what the market is. We can either pay the market price and in the case of the Twins, probably a small premium over that due to the weather, last year's bad results, and the lack of ancillary financial opportunities, or we simply won't get anyone. Given that the Twins don't even seem to have been in on what appear to be not overly generous contracts to Rodriguez and Thor, and were not really in on what now appears to be a reasonable price to Berrios before trading him, it is very hard to imagine that the team will belong to pay the necessary freight to sign even a second tier free-agent starting pitcher.

I think the next couple of weeks before the current CBA expires and all free-agent activity stops will be fascinating for the Twins. The timetable is now accelerated; they have to make a decision as to whether we want to be competitive in 2022/2023, or tear it all down and go into a full rebuild. I really think it's a binary choice. To me, some middle ground where we sign a couple of number three type starters and proclaim that were ready to go is not only a bad choice, it's effectively a rebuild. Maybe I'm wrong and we are close to a trade for Sonny Gray or Castillo from the Reds, or maybe someone from Miami, but it sure looks like we are out of the free agency sweepstakes almost before it even really began.

My prediction (admittedly based upon being irritated by today's news ) - this is the start of the teardown. We won't be able to sign Buxton and he will be traded. Once that happens, we will trade Donaldson rather than pay him $25 million to hit 4th on a sub .500 team. The FO will gush about the "great" prospect return for those two, and move forward with trading either Sano, Garver or Kepler, or perhaps all three, for more prospects. The cycle starts anew. The sad thing is that I could get behind that strategy if the team was honest and said we think we need to tear down and rebuild. What makes this hard to stomach is the public statements about how were going to reload and be competitive in 2022, followed by news that shows we aren't really even making an effort to reload. The good news is I live in Southern California so if Thor works out, maybe the Angels will be fun to watch this year for change.

 

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22 minutes ago, Trov said:

If the contract is basically 6 years 120 or 20 per year, he is the 9th highest right now in total contract cost and about tied for 15th per year with his teammate Ryu.  This all depending on what some other guys get.  The value per year is most likely in Twins offer, but the years not so much.  7 years for any pitcher is a long time.  He is young entering his prime, but pitchers are volatile and may drop off in production out of no where, or he may get the TJ surgery and miss at least 1 full year and then some.  

We will not know for about 3 years if the contract was good or bad for Toronto.  For this length though I am not upset with not signing him.  We would have needed him to be the ace for next 7 years, and he has never put up ace numbers over a full year.  He has always teased being one, but never really was one. Maybe entering his prime he will be.  I am glad we got some good prospects back for him at the very least. 

I hear your point about a 7 year deal, but I disagree that to justify the contract Berrios has to pitch like an ace.  $20 a year is not the price for an "ace" starter – that is closer to $25 million-$30 million a year. For $20 million a year in today's MLB, you get a solid to strong #2 starter. Not an ace, not even an average#1 starter, you get a good #2 starter. Toronto now has two good #2 starters in Ryu and Berrios, each at $20 million a year, but they don't have that ace unless Robbie Ray comes back and is the same guy he was last year (unlikely on both counts). I actually think that's a very viable strategy and applaud the Blue Jays for their moves. 

As for the Twins, looks like the strategy is to try to buy time for a year or two with a couple guys like Pineda and hope that the pitching fills out through guys that are presently in the minors or acquired through trades. The problem is the lineup will be gone/aged out by the time the pitching is ready to contend. That's why I think the likely move is to start dropping contracts and players from the lineup for prospects. I'm afraid we are becoming another Cleveland without the pitching pipeline. The 2022 Twins – Get To Know 'Em!

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If Berrios and his durability aren't worth a long term deal, then clearly no pitchers are.

As a Twins fan, this is disappointing. We aren't winning a WS without a bunch of top end arm talent and now we know the only way that's happening is if they somehow develop a bunch of their own all at once, even though they've only developed one in the last 20 years.

As a baseball fan, it's BS. I don't like Scott Boras, but this would be a good time for him to call out the Twins for depriving players a chance at a fair deal. Berrios is lucky, he's still only 27. Nearly all the arms this team is counting on in the pipeline are going to be pushing 30 before they can break loose from the Twins. 

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13 minutes ago, LA VIkes Fan said:

The good news is I live in Southern California so if Thor works out, maybe the Angels will be fun to watch this year for change.

This is so true. A subscription to mlb.com that is used is fair entertainment value. There are some fun teams and players to follow. Ohtani and Trout are amazing to watch. 

The Twins have been my team since they moved here in 1961 and my attention to their games will continue no matter the outcome of this offseason. However, I did have season tickets once upon a time and have attended a ton of games in the past. The expenditures of going to a game in person is not something I consider when the team is substandard. I just enjoy the game situations via radio and follow players on mlb.com. The Twins still have time for abundant moves this winter.

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MLB teams try to buy wins at $6MM / WAR. MLB teams generally get wins at a cost of $8MM / WAR. Berrios has proven himself as a 4 WAR pitcher at this point so in free agency, I could see Berrios getting up to $24MM per season. Keep in mind, that's not proven "Ace" money. Guys like Scherzer, Verlander, Cole, Kershaw, Greinke have all commanded well over $30MM / season.

Based on how the Twins started negotiations with Berrios at the same time as Kepler and Polanco, I would wager the Twins were never ready to concede the concept of a bargain coming their way. Kepler and Polanco signed deals which were largely viewed as abusively in favor of the Twins. Those extensions were used as examples of how the MLBPA and CBA had failed MLB players right about the time it was revealed the Twins front office had won a trophy for beating down arbitration eligible players the hardest in MLB about the same time. Neither Polanco nor Kepler had the advantage Berrios did, though. Berrios had some track record and he was in a coveted position as a starting pitcher. Polanco was not viewed as a shortstop and Kepler played RF.

Berrios was willing to bet on himself and it paid off. I'm sure the front office is confused at the idea Berrios was already worth more to Toronto after a couple months than he was to the Twins after they grew him in their own farm system.

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47 minutes ago, LA VIkes Fan said:

The cycle starts anew. The sad thing is that I could get behind that strategy if the team was honest and said we think we need to tear down and rebuild. What makes this hard to stomach is the public statements about how were going to reload and be competitive in 2022, followed by news that shows we aren't really even making an effort to reload.

Exactly this. 1000% this. We seem to have been fed a PR line since the trade deadline, and any remaining trust is either broken or near the breaking point.

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Congrats to Jose.

Disappointed that the Twins did not think he was worth this $20M/year for an extension.  7 years is certainly risky, but he has been amazingly durable.  Time will tell.

Thor also gone on a one-year deal for $21M.  Big money, but only one year protects against injury risk.  Again, seems like a deal that would have been affordable for the Twins, although we are not on the West Coast, either.

Agree with poster above:  This is a black day for the Twins, and FA so far has been lousy.  Nowhere to go but up, right?

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1 hour ago, LastOnePicked said:

This point seems inescapable to me: the Twins are not a serious MLB team. They are not serious about keeping top talent, and not serious about winning a WS title. They are muddling through year after year ... and the few fans that remain are mostly okay with it.

How many other teams with below average revenue signed SPs to 7 year deals in the past 25 years?   The answer is 1.  Colorado signed Dan Hampton which was a horrific signing.  Is Colorado the only serious MLB team among those teams with below average revenue?  

Tampa traded Snell last year.  Are they not interested in winning?  Oakland is looking to trade their established SPs.  Does this indicate they are not a serious MLB team.  Was Billy Beane demonstrating he was not interested in winning when he traded Jeff Samardzija for Bassitt and Semien?

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I have little doubt there's more to this than the tired old mantra of "the Twins are cheap", but I'm sure we'll never know all the details/facts.

It may be Berrios, after being traded, simply decided the $ was fair and he wanted the security for his family. Something may have changed within his family. So I'm not going to needlessly speculate or blame the Twins for anything at this point.

To continue, the Twins are paying Donaldson more than $20M per. They lost out on but offered both Darvish and Wheeler more than $20M. So I don't think it's the money that is/was the overriding factor here. I think there's at least a good chance it was the length of the deal. And I can be disappointed without being angry. 6+ years is a very, very long time to guarantee a pitcher $20M+ per season. So I get it.

That being said, Berrios is the best arm produced by the Twins in years. He's actually really good and has upside remaining. He's a tireless worker  who is a bulldog competitor. And at only 27yo, he's the kind of arm young enough to deserve an extension that long.

I don't think the Twins look very good here.

 

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1 hour ago, Major League Ready said:

How many other teams with below average revenue signed SPs to 7 year deals in the past 25 years?   The answer is 1.  Colorado signed Dan Hampton which was a horrific signing.  Is Colorado the only serious MLB team among those teams with below average revenue?  

Tampa traded Snell last year.  Are they not interested in winning?  Oakland is looking to trade their established SPs.  Does this indicate they are not a serious MLB team.  Was Billy Beane demonstrating he was not interested in winning when he traded Jeff Samardzija for Bassitt and Semien?

Honestly, ownership of TB and Oakland should be ashamed of themselves. Those teams (sometimes) win DESPITE their payroll behavior, not because of it. The ownership of those clubs is absolutely not committed to winning except on very specific terms.

And if they want to cry poor and STILL demonstrate how they truly want to win, then they need to come out and vocally and publicly demand revenue sharing akin to the other major sports, instead of tying one hand behind their backs and telling their tax payers "We could win it all in ten years if you just give us free stadiums and tax breaks!"

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I haven't seen anywhere whether this is Canadian money or US dollars. If it is Canadian, at the current exchange rate, this is a $104.24 million US dollar contract.  A mantra is a mantra, by definition, because it is repeated over and over ...... and over and over and over. It may be tired in this case, but "the Twins are cheap" rings true one more time. Mantra intact. I really am not liking my team that much these days.....

Now they can sign someone that we can pretend to like, because that is the repeat here, and the other mantra that goes along with it. 

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3 hours ago, Cap'n Piranha said:

Berrios is indeed 4th in the league in fWAR over the past 5 years--if the league in question is the AL.  Expand it to MLB, and he drops to 14th.

Berrios' durability also potentially works against him here--as fWAR is a counting stat, staying healthy can skew this number (much like RBI numbers can be skewed by batting cleanup for 150 games).  Indeed, if you look at FIP- for the last 5 years, Berrios drops to 33rd in the league; by xFIP- it's 51st (not for nothing, his mark of 93 is identical to Joey Lucchesi, Micahel Pineda, and Kyle Gibson).

Now durability is obviously an asset--you can argue it is better to have a starter who makes 30 starts with a 3 ERA than a starter who makes 10 starts with a 2 ERA.  Jose Berrios is indeed durable--until he's not.  Perhaps Berrios pitches 10 more years without a single major injury.  Perhaps Berrios blows his arm out in his very first start of 2022.  The Blue Jays are gambling $20M+ a year that a clear 2nd starter by quality can become a 1st starter through quantity.  I'm not saying Berrios won't, but this is a gamble on Toronto's side.

I'd imagine getting to face a pitcher 2-3 times through the lineup might also skew some counting stats no?

If durability is an asset (it is) why are players that pitched less than half of the innings Berrios did during that 5 year span being tossed out as legitimate comps? Also, doesn't fWAR incorporate FIP? Why isolate xFIP-?

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2 hours ago, LastOnePicked said:

Exactly this. 1000% this. We seem to have been fed a PR line since the trade deadline, and any remaining trust is either broken or near the breaking point.

Broken for me.  Been here done this without even a playoff win in 20 years!

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1 hour ago, Major League Ready said:

Tampa traded Snell last year.  Are they not interested in winning?  Oakland is looking to trade their established SPs.  Does this indicate they are not a serious MLB team.  Was Billy Beane demonstrating he was not interested in winning when he traded Jeff Samardzija for Bassitt and Semien?

When the Twins can demonstrate either the ongoing MiLB developmental successes of the A's or Rays OR those team's competitiveness on the field and consistent postseason runs, then maybe these comparisons will ring a little more fair. 

The Rays are now perennial winners. The As hang in there year after year in surprising ways. The Twins fall short of expectations repeatedly.

 

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22 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

How many other teams with below average revenue signed SPs to 7 year deals in the past 25 years?   The answer is 1.  Colorado signed Dan Hampton which was a horrific signing.  Is Colorado the only serious MLB team among those teams with below average revenue?  

Tampa traded Snell last year.  Are they not interested in winning?  Oakland is looking to trade their established SPs.  Does this indicate they are not a serious MLB team.  Was Billy Beane demonstrating he was not interested in winning when he traded Jeff Samardzija for Bassitt and Semien?

Can you point to operational moves the Twins have made, in the same vein as TB, that have turned out as favorably? Moving Pressly is probably the closest they've come to selling high. Are you thrilled about Alcala after this season? I don't know how many times it needs to be repeated on this site; TB's success isn't predicated on transactions, it's based on their ability to identify and develop the talent involved in them. 

Are you equally as high on the other big trade Oakland made that offseason? They finished in last place each of the next three seasons following those moves, while Donaldson put up more WAR in his first season with the Jays than all of the pieces Oakland received combined during their A's tenure. 

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