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  • The Question: To Tender or Not To Tender


    Seth Stohs

    MLB and the Players Association agreed last week to move the deadline for offering 2022 contracts to arbitration-eligible players from Thursday, December 2nd, to Tuesday, November 30th, and 7 pm central time. The Twins have several decisions to make. What should they do? What would you do?

    Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn, USA TODAY Sports

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    The Twins have already made several transactions that have altered their list of arbitration-eligible players. 

    Early in November, the Twins decided to put right-handed pitcher John Gant on waivers. When he cleared, he elected to become a free agent. Gant came to the Twins at the July trade deadline as part of the J.A. Happ trade. He was set to make approximately $3.7 million in his final season of arbitration. 

    Outfielder Rob Refsnyder played like a Legend for a while after the Twins called him up, even playing a lot of center field. However, after a couple of injuries, including a concussion, he wasn’t able to repeat that performance. The minor league veteran was projected to make about $800,000, but the Twins DFAd him this month too. 

    It became a talker, but the Twins signed outfielder Jake Cave to a one-year, $800,000 deal for 2022. Like all arbitration deals, it isn’t completely guaranteed. 

    Finally, just last week, the Twins DFAd the fan-favorite, Williams Astudillo. Set to make a projected 2022 salary around $1.2 million in his first arbitration season. Since he hasn’t hit since his debut season in 2018 and has little defensive value, it was an easy decision to remove him from the roster and after he cleared waivers, they simply released him. 

    And then the Twins claimed right-handed pitcher Jharel Cotton from the Texas Rangers in early November. Let’s take a look at him and the other arbitration-eligible Twins players that the Twins have a decision to make before Tuesday’s deadline. (in alphabetical order, note: age on April 1, 2022)

    LUIS ARRAEZ - UT (24) 
    Service Time: 2 years, 121 days 
    Arbitration Year: 1st of 4
    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $2 million 
    Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1.5 million
     

    Why Tender? Though Arraez struggled late in 2021 and ended out with a batting average below .300 for the first time in his professional career. He can play in left field and second base, and actually had a solid season playing third base in 2021. On the other side of his case, he had several IL trips again due to his knees and legs. 

    Likelihood to be Tendered: 10 

    Summary: Just over the weekend, we learned that MLB had set the “Super 2” line at 2.116 (two years, 116 days) service time. Fortunately, the Twins' brass doesn't need to spend much time thinking about whether or not to tender a 2022 contract to Arraez. It's a given. What is his future with the organization? Could he be traded? If not, what position will he play, or will he continue to play all around the diamond? All to be figured out... after that contract is tendered on Tuesday. 

    BYRON BUXTON - CF (28)
    Service Time: 5 years, 160 days 
    Arbitration Year: 4th of 4
    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $7.3 million 
    Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $8 million  

    Why Tender? Because he’s Byron Buxton. Because his 2022 salary will be minimal relative to the value he will and has provided. Because they can then continue negotiating a potential long-term deal. Because even if they don’t reach a deal, he can easily be traded for a very nice return. 

    Likelihood to be Tendered (1 unlikely to 10 very likely): 10. Easy choice. 

    Summary: This one will require very little thought. What happens beyond tendering hims a 2022 contract has been the topic of debate for the past six months. 

    JHAREL COTTON - RHP (30) 
    Service Time: 3 years, 52 days 
    Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 
    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.2 million 
    Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: N/A

    Why Tender? Because he showed some good stuff out of the Rangers bullpen in his return to the big leagues following Tommy John surgery. Because of what he had shown as a starter in Oakland early in his career. Because he’s got a good fastball, but a great changeup. 

    Likelihood to be Tendered: 5

    Summary: There are reasons to believe that Cotton could be a solid middle-relief pitcher option, and who knows, maybe the Twins think that he could be healthy enough to get back to starting and be an option for a back of the Twins rotation too. However, the Twins may also ask for Cotton to agree to a 1 year, $900,000 or $1 million deal, and if he accepts, great. If not, non-tendered and he becomes a free agent. 

    DANNY COULOMBE - LHP (32) 
    Service Time: 3 years, 8 days 
    Arbitration Year: 1st of 3
    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $800,000 
    Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1 million

    Why Tender? Coulombe isn’t an exciting pitcher, but he’s long been a solid MLB left-handed reliever, and he pitched well for the Twins in the second half. Had quite a bit of MLB success before injury including being used very often for Oakland for a couple of seasons. He is very similar to Caleb Thielbar, so again, is it necessary to have another lefty in a ‘pen that already should include Thielbar and Taylor Rogers, with Jovani Moran in the near-ready position as well? 

    Likelihood to Tender: 6 

    Summary: Coulombe has been better than most Twins fans probably think. He’s just solid with limited upside. For $800,000, little reason not to tender him. That said, they may do what they did with Thielbar a year ago and lock him up to a deal below projection. 

    TYLER DUFFEY - RHP (31) 
    Service Time: 5 years, 74 days 
    Arbitration Year: 3rd of 3
    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.7 million 
    Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3.5 million
      

    Why Tender? Duffey’s velocity may have been down a little bit in 2021, but he still put up solid numbers. He ranked right up there with the top relievers in baseball over the past three seasons. Hasn’t received many Save opportunities, which certainly keeps his arbitration salary down, but he’s been used in high-leverage situations. Can they reach an agreement on a one-year deal before an arbitration hearing? Could they look to lock up Duffey for two or three seasons? (maybe a two-year, $7 million deal, or even a three-year, $12 million deal). 

    Likelihood to Tender: 9

    Summary: Another easy decision because even if things go poorly, he should have some trade value so non-tendering makes no sense. With so many question marks in the Twins bullpen, losing Duffey would make things even more difficult. 

    MITCH GARVER - C (31)
    Service Time: 4 years, 45 days 
    Arbitration Year: 2nd of 3
    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.1 million 
    Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $3.5 million  

    Why Tender? Remember his 2019 season? Well, after a poor April, Garver returned to that high-level, 2019 form for much of the rest of the season. The lone concern is an injury history that really hurt him in 2020, but also a couple of times during the 2021 season. Garver’s name shows up in some trade rumors this offseason, and teams would likely line up if the Twins made it known he was available. 

    Likelihood to Tender: 10 

    Summary; An easy decision to tender him a contract. Likely a much more intense conversation has likely occurred regarding the future of the Twins catcher position. While the idea of a Garver/Ryan Jeffers even split of playing time makes a ton of sense in theory, would it work in reality? Or, could the fact that they have both of them, along with Ben Rortvedt in Triple-A and clearly the best defensive catcher of the three, maybe one could be dealt in the offseason for some pitching. None of that alters how easy the decision will be to tender Garver. 

    JUAN MINAYA - RHP (31) 
    Service Time: 2 years, 140 days 
    Arbitration Year: 1st of 3 
    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.1 million 
    Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1 million  

    Why Tender? Minaya came up to the Twins in the season’s second half and really performed well. He showed good life on his pitches and was put into some big situations. The interesting thing is that he pitched much better for the Twins than he did in his time with the Saints. He had some good years with the White Sox. He has had some control issues in his career, but he’s also very capable of racking up strikeouts. 

    Likelihood to Tender: 6

    Summary: Minaya was certainly a nice surprise for the Twins in the second half of the season, but was that enough to tender a seven-digit deal? Like Cotton and Coulombe, it might be another case where the Twins offer him $900,000 to $1 million for 2022, and if he takes it, great. If not, he can be non-tendered. 

    TAYLOR ROGERS - LHP (31) 
    Service Time: 5 years, 145 days 
    Arbitration Year: 4th of 4
    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $6.7 million 
    Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $7 million  

    Why Tender? I think we would start with the fact that he has been one of the best relievers in baseball over the past four or five seasons. Aside from some struggles in the shortened-2020 season, he’s been very good. He also has been very healthy until his late-July finder injury that cost him the final two months of the 2022 season. The lone question regarding Rogers will be how he recovers and returns from the finger injury since he did not have surgery. 

    Likelihood to Tender: 9

    Summary: Another easy choice. Reports indicated that teams were still interested in trading for Rogers, even after he got hurt. They certainly can trade him in the offseason or in July should they choose to do so. I personally think there should also be extension thoughts with Rogers. He’s become a leader on the team, and has earned it based on production. Of course, Aaron Loup getting two years and $17 million might tell us that Rogers should get quite a bit more than that. However, I would offer him a three-year, $24 million deal with an option at $9 million for a fourth year. 

    CALEB THIELBAR - LHP (35) 
    Service Time: 3 years, 131 days 
    Arbitration Year: 2nd of 4
    MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.2 million 
    Twins Daily Offseason Handbook Prediction: $1.5 million 

    Why Tender? By the end of the 2021 season, the Minnesota native was Rocco Baldelli and Wes Johnson’s most relied upon, if not reliable, bullpen arm. He really increased his ability to miss bats. His fastball sat between 91 and 95 mph, and that slow, 68 mph curveball is a good pitch to go with a strong slider. 

    Likelihood to Tender: 8

    Summary: Another easy choice. Just offer it to him, work on a good deal and call it good. Because of his age and that he’s got a few more seasons before free agency, there is no reason to do anything but go year-to-year with him. How long will the Twins be able to keep Thielbar away from a college coaching career? 

     

    Your turn. If you’re in charge, would you tender contracts to all of these players? What kind of deals would you like to see? Discuss.

     

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    Very interesting that your list includes six bullpen arms.  Considering the Twins bullpen will likely have eight, bringing all of these back leaves only two spots.  Go out and sign one good late inning guy could be all that is needed, or will get done this winter.  Well, that and getting Rogers and Duff extended a bit.

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    2 hours ago, roger said:

    Very interesting that your list includes six bullpen arms.  Considering the Twins bullpen will likely have eight, bringing all of these back leaves only two spots.  Go out and sign one good late inning guy could be all that is needed, or will get done this winter.  Well, that and getting Rogers and Duff extended a bit.

    From the outside, I don't extend Coulombe and probably Cotton, precisely because it would put too many meh relievers on the 40-man roster. I really like what I saw of Minaya in the second half of the season last year, so I would advocate for the Twins to extend him.

    Non-tendering either or both of Cotton and Coulombe and then signing them to minor league contracts might make sense and they likely would be added at some point in 2022. 

    With the Rule V draft coming up and several free agents on the board available to fill holes for the Twins, I think reducing the number on the 40-man roster is necessary and getting a couple of marginal relievers off the list makes sense. 

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    I think where the bullpen is concerned,  the Twins need a lot of guys with options left.  This is especially true if their rotation is going to include young pitchers with innings limitations or scrap-heap guys who won't go deep into games.  The bullpen will be forced to eat a lot of innings.  The Twins will need a lot of bullpen guys on the shuttle back and forth from St. Paul.

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    1 minute ago, Twins_Fan_For_Life said:

    I think where the bullpen is concerned,  the Twins need a lot of guys with options left.  This is especially true if their rotation is going to include young pitchers with innings limitations or scrap-heap guys who won't go deep into games.  The bullpen will be forced to eat a lot of innings.  The Twins will need a lot of bullpen guys on the shuttle back and forth from St. Paul.

    Agreed. 

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    1 hour ago, Twins_Fan_For_Life said:

    I think where the bullpen is concerned,  the Twins need a lot of guys with options left.  This is especially true if their rotation is going to include young pitchers with innings limitations or scrap-heap guys who won't go deep into games.  The bullpen will be forced to eat a lot of innings.  The Twins will need a lot of bullpen guys on the shuttle back and forth from St. Paul.

    I agree also that we need BP arms to eat innings from the rotation to cover any deficiency. The focus should be on long relief because a lot of short innings BP will add to any problem in the Rule V like Stringer has mention. Early trade would be beneficial but doubt will happen. Focus on Buxton should not be to tendered but to be extended. To tender Buxton shows that they're not serious to extend, which is a poor sign of good faith.

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    This team roster has hardening of the arteries.  Corner bats vying for too few spots.  Relievers who are out of minor league options.

    Acquiring such players is the path of least resistance*, because surprise surprise they are the ones found on the waiver wire and are too tempting not to snap up.  And now here we are. with arbitration decisions to make, and with players a little too good to cut ties with but lacking roster flexibility for a long season.  It's not the arbitration decisions per se that are hard - you have to pick a roster you think can compete, and the salary decisions make themselves.


    Just say goodbye to two or more of the relievers in this arbitration list.  Other than Rogers and Duffey, I don't really care who among Cotton/Coulombe/Minaya/Thielbar - all can have their moments in the regular season against so-so competition, none would be more than fodder in a postseason run, which is a longshot so actually I really don't care which.  (Edit: I took a look at Minaya's game log for 2021, and for some reason all his earned runs were against Det/Cle/KC/Bal, all of whom were below average offenses.  That means his impressive ERA was built on outings against some good-hitting teams like the White Sox and Jays.  Maybe he's the keeper in this bunch.)

    Whoever you non-tender will catch on with someone else, and will have their moments in 2022, at which point we'll say "look who we let slip away!" but that's the nature of the roster crunch this FO has backed themselves into.

    * Okay, one of several paths of least resistance.  You can also trade pitching for hitting, any day of the week - for instance Gil for Cave.  I'm sure the list of n00b roster pitfalls is lengthy.

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    2 hours ago, ashbury said:

    This team roster has hardening of the arteries.  Corner bats vying for too few spots.  Relievers who are out of minor league options.

    Acquiring such players is the path of least resistance*, because surprise surprise they are the ones found on the waiver wire and are too tempting not to snap up.  And now here we are. with arbitration decisions to make, and with players a little too good to cut ties with but lacking roster flexibility for a long season.  It's not the arbitration decisions per se that are hard - you have to pick a roster you think can compete, and the salary decisions make themselves.


    Just say goodbye to two or more of the relievers in this arbitration list.  Other than Rogers and Duffey, I don't really care who among Cotton/Coulombe/Minaya/Thielbar - all can have their moments in the regular season against so-so competition, none would be more than fodder in a postseason run, which is a longshot so actually I really don't care which.  (Edit: I took a look at Minaya's game log for 2021, and for some reason all his earned runs were against Det/Cle/KC/Bal, all of whom were below average offenses.  That means his impressive ERA was built on outings against some good-hitting teams like the White Sox and Jays.  Maybe he's the keeper in this bunch.)

    Whoever you non-tender will catch on with someone else, and will have their moments in 2022, at which point we'll say "look who we let slip away!" but that's the nature of the roster crunch this FO has backed themselves into.

    * Okay, one of several paths of least resistance.  You can also trade pitching for hitting, any day of the week - for instance Gil for Cave.  I'm sure the list of n00b roster pitfalls is lengthy.

    Very good points! If nothing changes, nothing changes…

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    5 hours ago, ashbury said:

    This team roster has hardening of the arteries.  Corner bats vying for too few spots.  Relievers who are out of minor league options.

    Acquiring such players is the path of least resistance*, because surprise surprise they are the ones found on the waiver wire and are too tempting not to snap up.  And now here we are. with arbitration decisions to make, and with players a little too good to cut ties with but lacking roster flexibility for a long season.  It's not the arbitration decisions per se that are hard - you have to pick a roster you think can compete, and the salary decisions make themselves.


    Just say goodbye to two or more of the relievers in this arbitration list.  Other than Rogers and Duffey, I don't really care who among Cotton/Coulombe/Minaya/Thielbar - all can have their moments in the regular season against so-so competition, none would be more than fodder in a postseason run, which is a longshot so actually I really don't care which.  (Edit: I took a look at Minaya's game log for 2021, and for some reason all his earned runs were against Det/Cle/KC/Bal, all of whom were below average offenses.  That means his impressive ERA was built on outings against some good-hitting teams like the White Sox and Jays.  Maybe he's the keeper in this bunch.)

    Whoever you non-tender will catch on with someone else, and will have their moments in 2022, at which point we'll say "look who we let slip away!" but that's the nature of the roster crunch this FO has backed themselves into.

    * Okay, one of several paths of least resistance.  You can also trade pitching for hitting, any day of the week - for instance Gil for Cave.  I'm sure the list of n00b roster pitfalls is lengthy.

    We don't always agree, but when we do, we DO!

    100% on this post.

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    I would tender all of them.  The most questionable decision is a low cost decision that I hope the FO isn't too worried about.  Coloumbe is the biggest question and at 800k or 1 million is not too much for a pen arm.  Rogers probably depends on progress from surgery.  But I don't see nontendering him.  

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    Assuming they tender Cotton after going after him as a reclamation project.  Minaya and Coulombe are both marginal players at the fringe of the roster.  Ok to tender them, but, if, say, they could sign Matthew Boyd for $6mm (after the Tigers non-tender him) I’d prefer taking a flyer on him over either of them on the 40-man, I think.

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    The thing is with a lot of these bullpen arms, they're looking at getting around $1M in arbitration, which isn't far off the league minimum. That's pretty fungible if they need a roster spot (trade/cut/DFA) so while they might not make your socks roll up and down, they're also pretty low risk. The riskier one is Taylor Rogers, if he's not healthy (finger injuries can be weird). If he's healthy, he's worth the tender and will be tradable if the Twins season goes south and likely important in the bullpen if they're contending.

    I'm also not someone who thinks spending big FA $$ on the bullpen is usually worth it, so all I'm looking for there is a couple of righty arms who can compete to add in there. I like a lot of our options in putting together a successful bullpen, despite how much of a mess it was at the start of the season in 2021 (it finished doing just fine).

    I would bet that we tender either Minaya or Coloumbe but not both, but that's really just a guess.

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