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Minnesota Twins Extension Candidate: Luis Arraez


Cody Christie
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Luis Arraez is coming off a season where he won the AL Batting Title and a Silver Slugger. Do the Twins want Arraez to be part of the team's long-term core?

Image courtesy of Jay Biggerstaff, USA TODAY Sports

Minnesota has multiple items on its offseason checklist, including finding a shortstop, upgrading the offense, and adding to the bullpen. It's also the time of year when teams can approach players about long-term extensions. The Twins have kept their payroll clean for multiple years into the future, and now is the time to capitalize on the organization's flexibility.  


2022 Recap: Minnesota originally signed Luis Arraez back in 2013, so the 2022 season marked his ninth season in the Twins organization. As a prospect, Arraez showed signs of the type of hitter he'd become at the big-league level. In nearly 370 minor league games, he batted over .330 and got on base over 38.5% of the time. His limited power and lack of defense skills dropped him on prospect rankings, but his hit tool has followed him throughout the organization.  

During the 2022 season, he played in over 125 games for the first time in his career, which helped him to qualify for many of the accolades he received at the season's conclusion. His first half was tremendous as he hit .338/.411/.445 (.856) on the way to his first All-Star Game selection. There were second-half struggles as he fought through injuries. In 60 games, his batting average dropped to .289 with a .715 OPS. Clearly, he wanted to stay on the field to fight for the batting title and kept Aaron Judge from achieving the Triple Crown. 

Besides his All-Star Game appearance, Arraez has been honored with multiple awards since the season concluded. He became the inaugural winner of the Silver Slugger for utility players as he beat out Shohei Ohtani for the honor. At Twins Daily, Arraez beat out Carlos Correa for the team MVP honor. He was also the only Twins player to receive votes for the AL MVP as he finished 13th overall. 

Current Contract: Arraez was arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2022 as he accumulated enough service time to be designated a Super-Two player. He earned $2.125 million last season, and the Twins have team control over him through the 2025 season. MLB Trade Rumors projects Arraez to make $5 million through the arbitration process this season. He's starting to get expensive, and this might be the best time for the Twins to lock him up long-term. 

Contract Proposal: The Twins control Arraez through his age-27 season, so the front office needs to decide what value he provides the team in his late-20s and early-30s. The 25-year-old already doesn't have a defensive home while fighting multiple injuries in his career. The Twins will have younger and cheaper options with a similar skill set when Arraez is no longer under team control. That being said, his hit tool should age well, and the Twins may want him as a veteran leader in the future. 

Over the last two seasons, FanGraphs says Arraez provided the Twins $38 million in value. It seems unlikely for the club to offer him an extension that pays him near the value he has provided, but the team can be creative. Minnesota bought out free agent years from Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco by providing both players with guaranteed money. Both deals look like very team-friendly deals in retrospect, and it will be interesting to see if the Twins can do something similar with Arraez. 

Kepler and Polanco can provide a blueprint for a deal that might work for Arraez and the Twins. Polanco was guaranteed $25.75 million with options that could make it worth $47.25 million. Kepler's contract was worth $35 million with an option that takes the total value to $44 million. Would Arraez sign a contract that pays him $50-55 million for five years? This type of contract gives the Twins some cost certainty while also allowing Arraez to get life-changing money. 

Do the Twins want Arraez past his age-28 season? What kind of deal can keep him in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 


OTHER EXTENSION CANDIDATES
- Sonny Gray

 


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He has the eye and the type of swing that, assuming no career threatening injuries, could last until age 38, much less 28.  If the team doctors think he is going to be alright overall, and we play him safely, lock him up now for 4 years with an option.  When he is in his early thirties both sides can reassess where he wants to be and if we want him for his career.  But for now, give him a fair contract and make it known he is valued.  I am betting the fans would love to see it as well.  He may not be the defensive wizard everyone would like to see, but he can play multiple positions and DH when he needs a break.  He should be a part of the core going forward.  

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2 hours ago, Doctor Gast said:

I imagine they'll extend him but there's no rush.

The Twins will lose leverage every season after this one. It's a lot easier to say "no" to an extension when you have $7M in your pocket than when you only have $2M.

5 years, $50M could be enough to get him to sign. His arbitration awards could go $5M/$10M/$15M - that's 3/$20M so you would be tacking on 2 years $30M. [Edit, That's actually 3 years $30M, 2 more years at $20M seems light] His lack of power and bad knees are going to keep him from getting paid silly money as a free agent.

The Twins were able to get Polanco and Kepler to sign for a lot less than I expected.

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Great topic and great young player.  I say, yes, get it done.

Must disagree with one of your comments, however, I believe he does have a defensive position and that is first base.  For not having played it, he did a heck of a good job.  Also got a good smile from your comment that FanGraphs had his value at $38M.  As Rodney Dangerfield once said, they should probably be renamed to FantasyGraphics.

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One of the few professional bats on the roster! I have loved his game since the minors.  If a positionless gutlike Schwarber can make nearly $20m per in free agency, Luis isn't far off.  While ge will never hit 20 HRs, I really don't care. 

A 5 year deal around $55m should be a good starting point. I know we have a lot of young guys coming up, but we need to keep some of our established players 

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I love Arraez. He's my favorite Twin to watch hit, and has been since he got here. But I wouldn't extend him. He's got bad knees and those don't tend to get better as you age. He's a 1 tool player (his glove is alright, but he's got no range and an inaccurate arm) and even that tool sees a decline as the season goes on and his body wears down. He spent time with Nelson Cruz last offseason working on his body to strengthen his lower half and be able to hold up more during the season. It hasn't worked yet, but maybe a few offseasons with a new routine will help. I'm not betting on it, though. 

As much as it pains me to say Arraez wouldn't get an extension from me. The emotional attachment side of me wants to see him locked up for 10 years and have him hit leadoff for the next 8, but it's just not a smart move for a guy who's already terribly slow with bad knees. I go year to year with him and make him prove his knees will hold up. To this point I'm not sold on that happening.

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29 minutes ago, Linus said:

Nope. I love Luis but he needs to be traded for the best pitcher they can get. They have a ton of options at first second and third. Use the expendable asset to get a good pitcher. 

Sorry but I must say Noooooooooooooo to this. Luis is a fan favorite, and the Twins fans need him to stay in Minnesota. 

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12 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

I love Arraez. He's my favorite Twin to watch hit, and has been since he got here. But I wouldn't extend him. He's got bad knees and those don't tend to get better as you age. He's a 1 tool player (his glove is alright, but he's got no range and an inaccurate arm) and even that tool sees a decline as the season goes on and his body wears down. He spent time with Nelson Cruz last offseason working on his body to strengthen his lower half and be able to hold up more during the season. It hasn't worked yet, but maybe a few offseasons with a new routine will help. I'm not betting on it, though. 

As much as it pains me to say Arraez wouldn't get an extension from me. The emotional attachment side of me wants to see him locked up for 10 years and have him hit leadoff for the next 8, but it's just not a smart move for a guy who's already terribly slow with bad knees. I go year to year with him and make him prove his knees will hold up. To this point I'm not sold on that happening.

I was thinking something along this same line. If you can lock him up for 3-4 at a very reasonable cost because of his knee concerns then sure but I would be very wary of any contract longer than 3 years. I just do not see him having a long career because of those knees. It is sad because he is such a fun hitter/player to root for.

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I was trying to figure out a comp for Arraez. There are so few players like Arraez but John Kruk feels like a good comparable. Kruk had high batting averages, modest power, bad knees and was a short first baseman. He managed to play to age 34. I don't see a lot of risk locking up Arraez until age 30.

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I think the Twins should be able to sign him for 5/65m.  Also, as long as he performs, he should always be a valuable trade chip, with a team friendly contract.  I'm not advocating to trade him, but we do have several young studs that seem ready to contribute, possibly even more than Luis,  coming up in the next few years.  If they push Luis into being a trade candidate, great!  If they don't come through,  no need to trade him.  It's like having insurance for your insurance.

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Arraez is quickly becoming one of the most dependable bats in the majors.  A throwback, similar to a few other former 1B: John Olerud and Mark Grace.  He has the potential to stay a solid hitter for many years.

As with most things, there is a caveat:  Will he be able to stay healthy.  If the Twins were smart, they would tell Arraez they are not going to move him around, keep him at 1B, and let him physically prepare accordingly.  Knowing how his body will be used every day can significantly help him prepare.

I would extend him, but I wouldn't break the bank.  Both sides need to recognize the risk involved.  5y/$50m sounds about right.  Throw in some achievable bonuses if necessary ($500k for each batting title, etc.).  

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1 hour ago, chpettit19 said:

I love Arraez. He's my favorite Twin to watch hit, and has been since he got here. But I wouldn't extend him. He's got bad knees and those don't tend to get better as you age. He's a 1 tool player (his glove is alright, but he's got no range and an inaccurate arm) and even that tool sees a decline as the season goes on and his body wears down. He spent time with Nelson Cruz last offseason working on his body to strengthen his lower half and be able to hold up more during the season. It hasn't worked yet, but maybe a few offseasons with a new routine will help. I'm not betting on it, though. 

As much as it pains me to say Arraez wouldn't get an extension from me. The emotional attachment side of me wants to see him locked up for 10 years and have him hit leadoff for the next 8, but it's just not a smart move for a guy who's already terribly slow with bad knees. I go year to year with him and make him prove his knees will hold up. To this point I'm not sold on that happening.

No disrespect, but a question:  how did you feel about the long term extension with Buxton?  We knew about his injury history and with his chronic knee issues no one knows how long he will play center field with the same ability, but we gave him 100 mil to keep him for his career even though we had no way of knowing how long that career will last with his injury history and total body fragility.  And as much as I like his power, I would take Arraez overall with the bat.  Would an incentive loaded deal work for Arraez, ala the one we gave to Buck?  (would he even consider it?)  Just wondering what you think along those lines.  

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I like Arraez, but I think it would be a bad move to tie up the DH position long term for a guy who couldn't even put up an .800 OPS in a career year. It tends to only take one down year for the welcome to wear thin for slap-hitters. Three more years sounds about right, unless they get a good offer for him. 

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1 minute ago, nicksaviking said:

Three more years sounds about right, unless they get a good offer for him. 

He's already controlled for 3 more years through arbitration. The reason to do an extension is to buy out a free agent year or two. That would mean a 4 or 5 year contract and/or some sort of team options.

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8 minutes ago, DJL44 said:

He's already controlled for 3 more years through arbitration. The reason to do an extension is to buy out a free agent year or two. That would mean a 4 or 5 year contract and/or some sort of team options.

Right, I don't really care to buy out free agent years. His natural arbitration schedule works for me, and with his lack of power, it will probably be pretty affordable so an extension seems unnecessary. 

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1 hour ago, Mark G said:

No disrespect, but a question:  how did you feel about the long term extension with Buxton?  We knew about his injury history and with his chronic knee issues no one knows how long he will play center field with the same ability, but we gave him 100 mil to keep him for his career even though we had no way of knowing how long that career will last with his injury history and total body fragility.  And as much as I like his power, I would take Arraez overall with the bat.  Would an incentive loaded deal work for Arraez, ala the one we gave to Buck?  (would he even consider it?)  Just wondering what you think along those lines.  

The difference for me is that peak Buxton is in the argument for best player (not named Ohtani) on the planet. I don't expect to ever get a full season out of Buxton, but he'll be worth 15 a year playing 80 games a year. He'll cover the total cost of that deal in the first 3 years. Arraez just doesn't bring enough to the table outside his bat, and his bat is BA driven only. He needs to hit .330 to be valuable. .300 would still be nice, but a .300 hitting, no power, no speed 1B with bad knees isn't worth the $10m a year people are talking about here. 

I'd take an incentive laden deal for any player, but very few players need to take such deals. Buxton is unique in that. At this point I don't know why Arraez would see himself as needing to take an incentive laden deal. Most players at his age with the accolades he's got are willing to bet on themselves. And Arraez should. But from the Twins perspective I don't see why they should bet $10M a year on a guy who's unplayable if he's hitting under .300. I really wish I trusted his knees more. I love him and what he brings to the game as a whole, let alone just the Twins. I want more of him in the league. But I don't think he's worth an extension at this point, unfortunately. 

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1 hour ago, Fire Dan Gladden said:

Arraez is quickly becoming one of the most dependable bats in the majors.  A throwback, similar to a few other former 1B: John Olerud and Mark Grace.  He has the potential to stay a solid hitter for many years.

As with most things, there is a caveat:  Will he be able to stay healthy.  If the Twins were smart, they would tell Arraez they are not going to move him around, keep him at 1B, and let him physically prepare accordingly.  Knowing how his body will be used every day can significantly help him prepare.

I would extend him, but I wouldn't break the bank.  Both sides need to recognize the risk involved.  5y/$50m sounds about right.  Throw in some achievable bonuses if necessary ($500k for each batting title, etc.).  

Excellent post.

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I honestly think the time to trade him is now. Arraez won hardware, but he was barely an average hitter after the All-Star break. Settling him at either 1B or DH means there won’t easily be room for a bat-first type in the future. 
 

He isn’t going to get faster and it is questionable that he will stay healthy long-term. His walk rate plummeted in the second half and he’s always had pretty dramatic platoon splits. 
 

Arraez brings elite bat-to-ball skills and excellent OBP. Lee and/or Martin may be able to supply those elements as soon as next year. 

Circling back to the OP, the Twins might be wise to extend him, but only (IMHO) if the extension makes him more tradable. 

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Have been a huge Arraez fan since he was in the low minors.  Kid can flat out hit.  Yes, he doesn't have a lot of power, but he will get on base at a very high rate.  And let's give this young man credit for something he does that nearly no other Twins do, work the crap out of pitchers.  I don't know the numbers, but I'll bet there were some games where the opposing starting pitcher threw a quarter of his pitches to Arraez.  In today's game where the most important piece of equipment is the 'pitch tracking gigmo', having 7-8-9-10 pitch at bats is an asset, a huge asset.

I also am uncertain to what the problems are with his knees.  I don't recall seeing a lot written about the real medical problem.  Is it something that is expected to be permanent?  Or has he had a couple years where he developed some problem.  So the knee problem may not (or it may) be a major concern to a longer term contract.

For a kid who was elated when the Twins scout returned and told him they had found what was it, $40,000, I expect a reasonable extension can be worked out.  In my opinion, get it done.

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If he wins another batting title he's going to very expensive by the end of his arbitration seasons.

An extension would likely make him an even more valuable trade chip if it ever came to that. Without an extension he is likely at his peak trade value this offseason. 

I think extending him is the right move. 5@ 9-10 mil AAV I would think gets it done.

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4 minutes ago, weitz41 said:

If he wins another batting title he's going to very expensive by the end of his arbitration seasons.

An extension would likely make him an even more valuable trade chip if it ever came to that. Without an extension he is likely at his peak trade value this offseason. 

I think extending him is the right move. 5@ 9-10 mil AAV I would think gets it done.

Good point. I wouldn't bet against him winning another batting title next year. He is a special player and person. 

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6 minutes ago, roger said:

Have been a huge Arraez fan since he was in the low minors.  Kid can flat out hit.  Yes, he doesn't have a lot of power, but he will get on base at a very high rate.  And let's give this young man for something he does that nearly no other Twins do, work the crap out of pitchers.  I don't know the numbers, but I'll bet there were some games where the opposing starting pitcher threw a quarter of his pitches to Arraez.  In today's game where the most important piece of equipment is the 'pitch tracking gigmo', having 7-8-9-10 pitch at bats is an asset, a huge asset.

Kind of makes you wonder what Arraez, Julien and Martin in the same line up would do to a pitch count. A walk, stolen base, a single and another walk. Looks like 40-50 pitch 1st inning and a 1-0 lead for the Twins to me.

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2 hours ago, Fire Dan Gladden said:

Arraez is quickly becoming one of the most dependable bats in the majors.  A throwback, similar to a few other former 1B: John Olerud and Mark Grace.  He has the potential to stay a solid hitter for many years.

 

Mark Grace and Joh Olerud had career OPS's over .800, Olerud's was well above .800. Not to mention they were two great defensive first basemen. I'm really not trying to 'power shame' Arraez, his ceiling seems closer to Dave Magadan.

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18 minutes ago, weitz41 said:

Kind of makes you wonder what Arraez, Julien and Martin in the same line up would do to a pitch count. A walk, stolen base, a single and another walk. Looks like 40-50 pitch 1st inning and a 1-0 lead for the Twins to me.

I absolutely love that kind of baseball. 

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