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  • The Minnesota Twins Should Give Taylor Rogers a Contract Extension


    Matthew Taylor

    Taylor Rogers is having one of the best seasons of his career. While that makes him a great trade candidate for the Minnesota Twins, they might be better off exploring an extension with the southpaw.

    Image courtesy of © Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

    In what has been a nightmare season for the Minnesota Twins’ bullpen, Taylor Rogers has been one of the few bright spots. Through 29 appearances thus far, Rogers owns a sparkling 2.67 ERA with a career high K/9 of 12.5. Rogers has been used in every type of situation as well, playing the role of left-handed specialist, fireman and closer, proving time and time again to be Rocco Baldelli’s most trusted arm in the bullpen. After a 2020 season in which Rogers was extremely unlucky, regression has tilted back in his favor in 2021, and the results are proving again that he is an exceptionally talented pitcher.

    As a talented pitcher on a struggling baseball team, the reaction from some may be that Taylor Rogers is a prime trade candidate. Playoff teams can always use another reliever, and with 1.5 years remaining on his deal, a Taylor Rogers trade could net the Twins a solid return. While the logic behind that thinking is sound, there is another alternative that could benefit the Twins even more, a contract extension.

    There are several reasons why a contract extension for Taylor Rogers would make a lot of sense for the Minnesota Twins. The first of which is extremely basic, Taylor Rogers is a really good pitcher. Since the start of 2018, Rogers ranks in the top-20 among all relievers in innings pitched, ERA, WHIP and K/BB ratio. Simply put, Rogers is one of the best bullpen arms in all of baseball.

    Secondly, the Minnesota Twins bullpen is one of the worst bullpens in baseball with not many names to count on going forward. Outside of Taylor Rogers, the only semi-reliable names that the Twins have for the future are Tyler Duffey, who is having his worst season since 2018, and Jorge Alcala, who has shown promise but is nowhere near a sure thing. Taking a bad bullpen, and removing its best piece would be risky and leave a huge question mark for that unit for a Minnesota Twins team who will be hoping to compete again in 2022 or 2023.

    Additionally, by extending Taylor Rogers this offseason, the Minnesota Twins would be able to save annual money by committing longevity to Rogers. After earning $6M in his second year of arbitration prior to 2021, Rogers will likely be looking at a 3rd year arbitration contract of $7.5M heading into 2022. If the Twins want to save money on Rogers’ third year of arbitration, as well as avoid Rogers becoming an unrestricted free agent, they could offer Rogers a 3 year contract at $20M. This contract would net Rogers an AAV of $6.67M, saving the Twins money in 2022, as well as ensuring that they maintain some consistency in their bullpen by bringing back their best reliever at a reasonable contract. 

    Signing a reliever to a contract extension is always going to be a risky proposition, especially for someone like Rogers who will turn 31 this offseason. The lefty, however, has just 300 big league innings on his arm and has shown no signs of slowing down, increasing his velocity and whiff % to career highs in 2021. As a great clubhouse guy, Rogers brings more than just talent to the Minnesota Twins and would be the perfect bridge player to not only lead the bullpen over the next couple of years, but usher in the bullpen arms of the future.

    The Twins should extend Taylor Rogers.

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    I agree with you but are both sides willing to get a deal done?  If Rogers is going to wait it out then the best move is to trade him because this team isn't likely to pay 9 to 16 M per year to keep him.  Given what you just said I don't see why he couldn't make that much or more.

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    2 hours ago, Dman said:

    I agree with you but are both sides willing to get a deal done?  If Rogers is going to wait it out then the best move is to trade him because this team isn't likely to pay 9 to 16 M per year to keep him.  Given what you just said I don't see why he couldn't make that much or more.

    They won't pay that to keep him. That said, I think they'd be happy at 3/$20 million... and I don't know what Rogers might think. $20 million guaranteed is nice. Teams aren't spending on relievers like they used to. Trevor may was really good and he only got like 2/$15. Rogers isn't getting a Liam Hendriks' contract. But, maybe he can get as much as $10 million next year in arbitration. I think he'd have to strongly consider it.

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    Great article. I think it will come down to how much Taylor wants to stay with the Twins. I am guessing that it they offer the 3/20 miliion that he will take if he wants to stay here. A fair contract for both sides.

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    Part of the answer to this problem is the club's near- to mid-term strategy: rebuild or reload for the 2022 season? Rogers will be 33 at the end of a three-year contract. If he's a piece of a smarter, faster, harder and stronger lineup for next year the answer is, "yes." In a rebuild, is he the right guy to form the core of a maturing stable of arms by 2025? Probably.

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    For me it all depends on what is offered back in a trade.  This team needs to developing pitching if we are ever going to seriously contend.  That's not happening by the start of next season.  2022 is a long shot even with good free agent signings.  Buxton has to play the way he has this year and stay healthy.  Donaldson has to play better and stay healthy.  They need to do something at SS.  Replace 3 SPs and rebuild the BP.  Sano needs to get his act together and I can't see them bringing back Cruz.  That money would have to be allocated to pitching.  That's not a situation that is likely to produce a contender.

    The good news is they could be back in 2023 and beyond.  This is an excellent chance to rebuild in a short period of time.  Going for it next year could have a significant long-term cost.  They have the trade capital in players that won't be here after 2022 to return the type of prospects that can make a difference.  They did well in the 2018 deadline but this year they have considerably better assets to trade.  It could be a huge boost.

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    To me, I think of Berrios, Buxton, and Rogers in the same way. They are all top notch players, and I would love to keep them long-term if they were willing to sign a deal. Although if we can't extend them, then we should trade them now. I don't want any of them to leave for nothing in a year and a half.

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    13 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

    They won't pay that to keep him. That said, I think they'd be happy at 3/$20 million... and I don't know what Rogers might think. $20 million guaranteed is nice. Teams aren't spending on relievers like they used to. Trevor may was really good and he only got like 2/$15. Rogers isn't getting a Liam Hendriks' contract. But, maybe he can get as much as $10 million next year in arbitration. I think he'd have to strongly consider it.

    I think Rogers likely is thinking more 3/30 to sign early.  I think May money is his floor personally.  He is a lefty which is much, much harder to find.  As someone mentioned in another post good lefties have lot's of trade value at the deadline and the open market.  He might back down from 3/30 but not by much maybe 3/27 to stay with his home team.  I think 10M for an elite lefty is probably the starting point but I guess we will see.

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    6 hours ago, VivaBomboRivera! said:

    Part of the answer to this problem is the club's near- to mid-term strategy: rebuild or reload for the 2022 season? Rogers will be 33 at the end of a three-year contract. If he's a piece of a smarter, faster, harder and stronger lineup for next year the answer is, "yes." In a rebuild, is he the right guy to form the core of a maturing stable of arms by 2025? Probably.

    IMO there's no reason they can't compete for a play-off spot in 2022. Especially since I expect the play-offs to be expanded (which I'm against.)

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    23 minutes ago, howeda7 said:

    IMO there's no reason they can't compete for a play-off spot in 2022. Especially since I expect the play-offs to be expanded (which I'm against.)

    I'll give you 10 good reasons the Twins might not compete for a playoff spot in 2022.  Starting pitchers 3-5 and bullpen pitchers 2-8.

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    I really think Taylor Rogers is close to a premier relief pitcher. Even with the three batter rule, he's very valuable and his ability to extend beyond one inning is also a huge asset. In my memoryTaylor has missed zero time due to arm injuries and that too is rare. Pay him what he's worth and get him some more help in the 'pen.

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    32 minutes ago, Dman said:

    I think Rogers likely is thinking more 3/30 to sign early.  I think May money is his floor personally.  He is a lefty which is much, much harder to find.  As someone mentioned in another post good lefties have lot's of trade value at the deadline and the open market.  He might back down from 3/30 but not by much maybe 3/27 to stay with his home team.  I think 10M for an elite lefty is probably the starting point but I guess we will see.

    The Twins would be overjoyed to sign Rogers for 3/$20M.  If that's truly what Rogers wants, he would be signed right now.  That deal is essentially saying (assuming a $7.5M arb salary in 2022) that Rogers doesn't think he'll get a two year, $12.5M deal prior to the 2023 season.  Since 2018, Rogers is 4th in WAR, 19th in ERA, 7th in FIP, 6th in xFIP, and 13th in k%-bb%, all while being 32nd highest in babip (meaning despite relatively bad batted ball luck, Rogers remains elite).  I'm sure he won't get 3/$54M, but if we think Rogers will sign for less than 70% of the AAV of Andrelton Simmons, you're crazy.  Barring injury or a performance decline this year/next year, Rogers is probably looking at 3/$30M at minimum.  To get him to waive testing the open market, you probably have to go 3/$36M right now to get that done.

    Given this, and the Twins relatively low likelihood of competing for a championship next year (who cares if the Twins go 85-77 and get a hypothetical 8 seed, only to get swept by the 101 win Rays), does it make more sense to hope you can be back in contention in 2023 or 2024 (after which Rogers would be a free agent again, with the proposed 3 year deal), or see 2024 as your first year of potential contention, while targeting 2025 as the year to truly contend?  If the latter, trading Rogers now is the only logical move.

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    The Twins should not pay for his decline. Keep him through age 31 if they want but do not extend.

    According to baseball reference the most similar pitcher is Sean Doolittle. He was very good through age 31 and mediocre or injured since. The A’s traded him at 30 and got back a good reliever in Treinen and a good prospect in Luzardo.

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    Extending Rogers needs to be a priority.  It is utter nonsense that Rogers did not start the year as the closer, and heck they're still using him in the middle innings over half the time and letting worse pitchers close out games.

    If I were Rogers, I would hold off on signing a deal until after the season, just to see if the Twins make a change at manager.  If there are no changes, if I were in his shoes I would bolt.  This isn't coming from an anti-Baldelli angle, it's coming from an I'm-Taylor-Rogers angle.  Rogers is better than the typical "We need a lefty here" pitcher.  Using him that way is insane.

    If I were the Twins, I would do everything I can to extend his contract as soon as possible and I would stop treating him as a LTOGY.

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    3/20? No chance. Zero. Why would he do that? He's looking at 7.5MM next year. That means the two years after that he gets around 6MM a year. That isn't what he's aiming for. No way.

    3/26-30 or so? Yes, that would do it.

    It really is all about if they think they can compete next year or not.....which right now? They have 1-2 starting pitchers and maybe 2-3 relief pitchers. That's not good enough.....

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    The chances that we extend him are pretty close to zero. The Twins have very little to sell going into the deadline because of money (Donaldson, Sano) or ineffectiveness (practically everyone) so their tradable options are few. But Rogers will be a VERY hot commodity. The combination of what he would want (at least 3 years/$30 million, probably more) and the consideration the FO would get back makes this virtually a fait accompli. Its a pity, by all accounts he is a great guy and he is a complete bulldog on the hill. His mound presence is admirable. He works quickly, is calm and terrifically effective. But in a year like this and a team like this, guys like Rogers are often collateral damage. It makes me sad to say this but he will go.  I hope he wins a ring somewhere.    

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    On 6/23/2021 at 12:45 PM, Cap'n Piranha said:

    I'll give you 10 good reasons the Twins might not compete for a playoff spot in 2022.  Starting pitchers 3-5 and bullpen pitchers 2-8.

    They have about $50 million to spend to address this. And it's really 1-2 starters and 2 relievers that are needed in FA.

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    On 6/24/2021 at 4:58 PM, howeda7 said:

    They have about $50 million to spend to address this. And it's really 1-2 starters and 2 relievers that are needed in FA.

    John Bonnes ran the numbers on this.  If you assume the Twins bring back everyone they have under team control, AND they keep payroll flat (far from a guarantee given the large losses incurred from low/no attendance last year and this year), they will have $35M to $40M.  Between unproven/undebuted players the Twins control and free agents, the Twins need 3 starters (at minimum), and 4-5 relievers.  If you're not comfortable with Polanco/Gordon/Lewis at short, you need a shortstop.  If you're not comfortable with Sano/Rooker or whichever outfielder isn't starting as your DH, you need one of those too.  That's 7-10 players, and while we can hope Ober, Balazovic, Winder, Duran, Cano, Miranda, and Lewis can fill some of that, to feel good about being a Top 3 team in the league, you'll have to sign 4-5 guys in free agency, minimum.

    That works out to $7M-$10M apiece, or in other words, the Twins can afford 4-5 J.A. Happs/Andrelton Simmons.  I don't know about you, but that seems, shall we say, unlikely to achieve the desired result.

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    The only major knock on Rogers is that 57% of the runners he inherits, score.  Granted, as a end of game reliever he comes in many times with runners on, but still, letting over half score from premiere reliever is a negative.

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    1 hour ago, Cap'n Piranha said:

    John Bonnes ran the numbers on this.  If you assume the Twins bring back everyone they have under team control, AND they keep payroll flat (far from a guarantee given the large losses incurred from low/no attendance last year and this year), they will have $35M to $40M.  Between unproven/undebuted players the Twins control and free agents, the Twins need 3 starters (at minimum), and 4-5 relievers.  If you're not comfortable with Polanco/Gordon/Lewis at short, you need a shortstop.  If you're not comfortable with Sano/Rooker or whichever outfielder isn't starting as your DH, you need one of those too.  That's 7-10 players, and while we can hope Ober, Balazovic, Winder, Duran, Cano, Miranda, and Lewis can fill some of that, to feel good about being a Top 3 team in the league, you'll have to sign 4-5 guys in free agency, minimum.

    That works out to $7M-$10M apiece, or in other words, the Twins can afford 4-5 J.A. Happs/Andrelton Simmons.  I don't know about you, but that seems, shall we say, unlikely to achieve the desired result.

    I am hoping/assuming they can find someone to take Sano off their hands either now or in the off-season. Hence, $50 million to spend.

    They can allot $20-25 million to a top-end starter. Another $10-12 to bringing back Pineda or getting someone similar. That leaves $15-20 million for the bullpen and a DH. I don't see a need to break the bank for a DH. Perhaps bringing back someone like Eddie R for $8 million or so and rotating Kepler/Larnach/Garver etc. through the DH spot.

    I am fine with Polanco at SS and Arreaz and 2B. The biggest worry would be the bullpen, IMO.

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    2 minutes ago, howeda7 said:

    I am hoping/assuming they can find someone to take Sano off their hands either now or in the off-season. Hence, $50 million to spend.

    They can allot $20-25 million to a top-end starter. Another $10-12 to bringing back Pineda or getting someone similar. That leaves $15-20 million for the bullpen and a DH. I don't see a need to break the bank for a DH. Perhaps bringing back someone like Eddie R for $8 million or so and rotating Kepler/Larnach/Garver etc. through the DH spot.

    I am fine with Polanco at SS and Arreaz and 2B. The biggest worry would be the bullpen, IMO.

    That roster MIGHT give you a shot at making the playoffs.  However, having bad middle infielders does not help the cause.  A SP that gives you a good shot at matching up with other playoff teams is closer to $30M.  Are you going to be happy when we get swept from the playoffs again if they were fortunate enough to make the playoffs?

    You also have not considered the fact that these meaningful additions are going to get multi-year contracts.  Of course, Berrios / Buxton and Rodgers contracts are going to increase the payroll by an incremental $25M.   Of course, there will be arbitration increases as well.  And BTW you have to get someone to take Sano before you can spend the money and who is going to take him at his current level of production.  Donaldson would have to come off the books and probably Sano too.  So, add needing a 3B to the list and having Polanco at SS is a bad idea.  Arraez is no prize at 2B either.  

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    31 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

    That roster MIGHT give you a shot at making the playoffs.  However, having bad middle infielders does not help the cause.  A SP that gives you a good shot at matching up with other playoff teams is closer to $30M.  Are you going to be happy when we get swept from the playoffs again if they were fortunate enough to make the playoffs?

    You also have not considered the fact that these meaningful additions are going to get multi-year contracts.  Of course, Berrios / Buxton and Rodgers contracts are going to increase the payroll by an incremental $25M.   Of course, there will be arbitration increases as well.  And BTW you have to get someone to take Sano before you can spend the money and who is going to take him at his current level of production.  Donaldson would have to come off the books and probably Sano too.  So, add needing a 3B to the list and having Polanco at SS is a bad idea.  Arraez is no prize at 2B either.  

    I disagree that it's a "bad" middle infield. I feel like we adopted this narrative retroactively to justify signing Simmons.  And he's been good but not great in the field and is awful at the plate. Polanco is adequate at SS. Yes he made a bad error in the play-offs.

    The FA market for starters this year is pretty deep. I doubt all of the top ones are getting $30M. Especially with some teams in a financial squeeze and the uncertain labor situation. As for what happens when we get to the play-offs, who knows. Getting back there is step 1. The White Sox progression may not be linear. Teams sometimes take a step back.

    I am taking into consideration increases for Buxton/Berrios, and others. But after 2022, Sano comes off the books. After 23 Donaldson does. Eventually, someone like Kepler/Polanco may be trade candidates etc. The 2023 payroll could be pushed near/above $150 million. That is high but not really that unreasonable. After Donaldson comes off the books it would be back in the $135-140 range.

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    On 6/23/2021 at 2:27 PM, jorgenswest said:

    The Twins should not pay for his decline. Keep him through age 31 if they want but do not extend.

    According to baseball reference the most similar pitcher is Sean Doolittle. He was very good through age 31 and mediocre or injured since. The A’s traded him at 30 and got back a good reliever in Treinen and a good prospect in Luzardo.

    FWIW, Doolittle had potentially 3.5 years of affordable control when he was traded. (Was also bundled with Ryan Madson who had 1.5 affordable years left.)

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    If John Bonnes is right we have $35-40m to spend next year. Step 1 - trade Donaldson. The return is irrelevant; the payroll savings is what we need. Frees up $21.75m in 2022 and $16m in 2023, with $8m buyout. Trade Kepler, same rationale plus he' s losing the job to Larnach/Kiriloff anyway with de la Trinidad close behind. Corner OFs who hits .235/.318/.440 (.758) career, .200-.220/.293/.394 (.687) this year are not hard to replace or exceed at the plate. Tough to replace his glove but if we keep Buxton not as big a deal and corner OF is a hitting first position, not a fielding first position. Frees up $6.75m in 2022 and $8.5m in 2023. Total available new payroll $$ - $28.5m in 2022, $24m in 2023, more in 2023 if we exercise the buy-out. Now we have $63.5 - 68.5m to spend in 2022 assuming a flat payroll. How to spend it:

    Rogers - 3 years, $27m - $9m AAV ($545.5-59.5m left)

    Berrios - 5 years, $110m - $22m AAV ($32.5-37.5m left) 

    Buxton -  4 years, $80m -  $20m AAV ($12.5-17.5m left)

    Pineda - 3 years $33m - $11m AAV ($1.5-6.5m left) or Cruz - 1 year $12m (maxs out 2022, opens up 2023 with more $$ to spend). Can use remainder on a bullpen arm or send to trading team to offset Donaldson's salary.  

    Arraez or Miranda plays 3B, Polanco and Gordon SS and 2B. Larnach/Arraez/de la Trinidad/ Refsnyder play LF, the latter 2 are 4th and 5th OFs.  IF no Cruz, Sano at DH, Kiriloff at 1B. If Cruz, for one year Kiriloff in RF with Sano/Garver at 1B. The key is losing Donaldson's and Kepler's or an equivalent salary. IF we do that and IF the 4 above players want to re-sign with the Twins (the biggest IF), this is doable. Many other variations of the same concept out there. Substitute Sano ($9.5m in 2022, $14.5m in 2023) for Kepler and the 2022 savings are bigger, Substitute Polanco ($5.5m/7.5m/10.5m in 2022-24) for Kepler and they're smaller.  Sano harder to trade than Kepler because of salary v. performance but bigger potential upside if he "finds it" again, Polanco bigger loss because he's just better than Kepler and the savings are smaller. 

    The money is there if we are willing to make the hard choices. Frankly, trading Donaldson and Kepler are not hard choices for me given their performance. Time to move on so we can keep the guys we really want and need to keep. 

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