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  • Minnesota Twins Extension Candidate: Joe Ryan


    Cody Christie

    The Twins always seem to be searching for starting pitching. One solution to that problem is to lock up young starting pitching, and Joe Ryan is an intriguing extension candidate.

    Image courtesy of Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

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    2022 Recap: Ryan joined the Twins at the 2021 trade deadline and made five starts at the season's end with 30 strikeouts in 26 2/3 innings. It was an impressive start to his big-league career, raising expectations for his 2022 campaign. All three national prospect rankings had him on their top-100 lists entering the season. During spring training, Rocco Baldelli named Ryan the Opening Day starter, which added pressure to the start of his rookie campaign. 

    Ryan ended up leading the Twins starters in innings pitched, K/9, and WHIP. Only Dylan Bundy started more games than Ryan, and only two pitchers (Jhoan Duran and Sonny Gray) ranked higher than him in WAR. Still, his rookie campaign was impressive, with a 109 ERA+. His Hard Hit%, xERA/xwOBA, xBA, and K% all ranked in the 63rd percentile or higher. He surpassed his career high in innings by nearly 25, and his strikeout rate jumped from 7.9 to 10.7 K/9 in the second half. 

    Ryan's lack of secondary pitch usage was one of the most significant issues in his minor league numbers. He was able to dominate hitters with a fastball up in the zone which resulted in some high strikeout totals. Last year, he used his four-seam fastball around 60% of the time, but his slider's development helped keep hitters off balance. Batters hit .245 against his slider but slugged nearly .500 against it. However, the xSLG versus his slider was 143 points lower, so that might point to luck from batters against that pitch. If Ryan wants to be a top-tier starter, he will need to continue refining his secondary offerings. 

    Current Contract: Ryan is in an interesting spot because he didn't debut until age 25. The Twins currently have team control of Ryan through the 2027 season when he'd be 32 years old. In fact, he won't be arbitration eligible until the 2025 season. A lot can happen with a pitcher over the next half of a decade before he reaches free agency. Injuries and poor performance can impact even the best young pitchers, but Ryan and the Twins are at an interesting point in his career. 

    Contract Proposal: Ryan has yet to make life-changing money in his career. As a seventh-round pick, his signing bonus was $147,500, and he will make close to the league minimum ($700,000) until he reaches arbitration. Last season, Braves rookie pitcher Spencer Strider signed a six-year, $75 million deal that includes option years. He will make $1 million in each of the next two seasons and $4 million in 2025. His salary will jump to $20 million in 2026 and then move to $22 million for the final two guaranteed years. Atlanta also holds a $22 million option with a $5 million buyout for 2029. 

    Atlanta has been aggressive with signing their young players, and it is undoubtedly a strategy the Twins could explore. However, Strider had a historic rookie season, while Ryan didn't pitch to that level. A more reasonable option for Ryan could be six years, $31 million with the following
    structure. 
    2023: $1m (1.033) - Age 27
    2024: $2m (2.033) - Age 28
    2025: $3m (3.033 - 1st Arb) - Age 29
    2026: $5m (4.033 - 2nd Arb) - Age 30
    2027: $7.5m (5.033 - 3rd Arb) - Age 31
    2028: $10m (6.033 - FA) - Age 32
    2029: $18m option (with $2.5m buyout) - 2nd FA - Age 33

    This deal adds two extra years of team control and guarantees Ryan a lot of money at an early juncture in his career. Would the Twins consider this kind of offer for a young pitcher? Would Ryan accept this kind of deal? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 

    OTHER EXTENSION CANDIDATES
    - Sonny Gray
    - Luis Arraez

     

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    I agree with most on this post that we do not need to be in a hurry with him.  I doubt he'd take that anyway when pitchers of his caliber in FA are making like 20MM AAV and with salaries going up, he may be vastly underpaid the last few years of his contract.  That said, I also could see it going the other way given his age when FA hits.  Tough call on his end.

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    If he'd sign that deal I'd do it in a heartbeat (and I don't think he's a star, but more so a really solid #3 type with #2 peaks here and there). I don't think Ryan would sign it, though. 30+ starts in 2023 with numbers similar to what he put up in 27 starts in 2022 makes him significantly more money than that. He's currently set to hit free agency going into his age 32 season so I'd think he'd want significantly more than 12.5 million guaranteed for his first 2 free agency years when he'd be likely to make double that in 1 year on the market in 2028 by simply maintaining his current performance. I don't see the motivation for Ryan to accept that deal.

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    39 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

    I'd think he'd want significantly more than 12.5 million guaranteed for his first 2 free agency years

    They also have the option of giving him a qualifying offer after he is done with arbitration. Most #2/#3 starters are worth a 1 year qualifying offer.

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    2 hours ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

    That is the good thing about bringing somebody up at age 25, there is no reason to extend him. You ride him until there is a 1 1/2 left and trade him. That is the reason to have a pitching pipleline always replacing a guy with a younger cheaper guy.

    And that's part of why Strider isn't a great comparison. He's more than two years younger than Ryan. With extension, Atlanta can keep Strider through age 30. Twins already control Ryan past that point. 

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    I like Ryan, but there is absolutely no reason to give him an extension at this early stage of hopefully, a long and fruitful career. This topic *might* be something to consider after next year, when we will all know a lot more about the young man's trajectory.

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    1 hour ago, Steve71 said:

    I like Ryan, but there is absolutely no reason to give him an extension at this early stage of hopefully, a long and fruitful career. This topic *might* be something to consider after next year, when we will all know a lot more about the young man's trajectory.

    Conversely he and his agent will know a lot more about his market value.  If you still want him a year from now it could cost millions more.

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    I hope Ryan is a stud.  But the Twins can't sign every young pitcher to an extension or they will end up with a roster of Dobnak's.

    If waiting a year or two costs the Twins money, it means Ryan is worth it.  Happy to have him well compensated if he proves he is worth it.  The Twins certainly need young SP's.

    Too soon.

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    Twins will take the "one-more-year" gamble. But Ryan, if nothing else, could develop into a great shutdown bullpen arm. ALways felt he would be best suited for the role of a closer. But as long as he can put up decent starts, I will run him out every fifth day and, hopefully, get four more years out of the guy in a Twins uniform.

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    "Batters hit .245 against his slider but slugged nearly .500 against it. However, the xSLG versus his slider was 143 points lower, so that might point to luck from batters against that pitch."

    Not quite sure what you are saying here....... @Cody Christie

    I can't see either party wanting an extension yet at this point - one year of the show in the books. 

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    On 11/29/2022 at 10:52 AM, Fire Dan Gladden said:

    Your contract offer seems reasonable.  But if I am Joe Ryan, I am not sure I take that offer this year.  If next year is similar to last year, (not unreasonable), that offer could rise dramatically.

    How much does he want to bet on himself?

    How much does he want to bet on himself at age 32 and older. That is the question. 

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    3 hours ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

    How much does he want to bet on himself at age 32 and older. That is the question. 

    I am not saying that he holds off signing an extension until the complete end of arbitration.  But signing an extension now would be considerably lower than it would be if he repeats last year and looks to extend next offseason.

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    3 hours ago, Fire Dan Gladden said:

    I am not saying that he holds off signing an extension until the complete end of arbitration.  But signing an extension now would be considerably lower than it would be if he repeats last year and looks to extend next offseason.

    Good point. I agree. 

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