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  • Locking up Louie: Should the Twins Extend Luis Arraez?


    Nash Walker

    Luis Arraez has captured the hearts of Twins Territory. Should the team make an effort to lock him up past his current contract?

    Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker, USA TODAY Sports

    With four seasons of arbitration before he reaches free agency, Arraez will earn built-in raises, starting with an estimated $2 million in 2022. With relevant comps and projections, let’s examine the case for an extension beyond those four years. 

    The Case FOR Extension
    Arraez is a joy to watch. It’s not just his elite propensity to spit on or foul off the most challenging pitches or his uncanny ability to spray line drives all over the field. Arraez, 24, plays the game with pure giddiness and buzz. He’s someone you want on your team and in your lineup. In a league with more and more swing and miss, Arraez is a welcomed change of pace. 

    In 245 games, Arraez has hit .313 with a sterling .374 On-Base Percentage. The man coined as “La Regadera” (The Sprinkler) finished 2021 in the 100th percentile in whiff rate and the 99th percentile in strikeout rate. 

    Since making his debut in 2019, Arraez ranks first on the Twins in average (.313), second in hits (271), and fifth in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (4.7). Any reasonable expectation you had for Arraez, who ranked as the Twins’ 17th best prospect in 2019, has been exceeded. 

    Arraez saved five runs at third base in 2021 with a positive Outs Above Average score. He’s far from a butcher at the hot corner. While he was poor defensively at second base in 2019, Arraez has bounced back with two positive DRS seasons and graded favorably in left field. The defensive concerns have been somewhat overblown. 

    As it stands, Arraez is a Twin through his age-28 season (2024). The built-in raises will likely push his contract value to $22-25 million. It’s already a very affordable deal for the Twins, but an extension could create even more weight if he adds some pop and improves defensively. 

    EXTENSION COMP: David Fletcher, Los Angeles Angels
    Angels' second baseman Fletcher is an excellent comp when considering extension numbers. Fletcher, 27, is older than Arraez but almost identical as a player. Fletcher hit .292/.346/.386 in 283 games before a horrific 2021. 

    He’s a high-contact second baseman with solid offensive numbers. Arraez is a better hitter, but Fletcher is one of baseball's best defensive second baseman. Fletcher inked a five-year, $26 million deal with two option years, potentially taking him through his age-33 season. Fletcher, like Arraez, was set to be a free agent following the 2024 season. 

    449636096_ScreenShot2022-01-17at10_05_42PM.png.de6890ba8440f1a9080b974fc5f063e0.png

    The Case AGAINST Extension
    Like any player and even our favorites, Arraez has apparent flaws. While his defense grades out nicely, he’s visibly stretched at second base and lacks the arm strength to make plays consistently at third. His experiment in left field wasn’t impressive, and he has no home with Jorge Polanco entrenched at second and myriad outfielders coming, plus José Miranda

    Arraez has a history of knee problems, with stints on the injured list a common occurrence. Extending him beyond four years and into his 30s seems like more of a risk than it would be for other 24-year-olds. 

    One of the pulls with Arraez is that he seems like a constant. The sluggers will streak, but Arraez is a consistent sparkplug. That wasn’t quite the case in 2021. Arraez was incredibly streaky, which is even more damaging for a hitter with zero power. When Arraez isn’t slashing the ball or walking, he adds virtually nothing to the lineup. The positive streaks are also less valuable when you aren’t punishing home runs. 

    468209217_ScreenShot2022-01-17at10_06_27PM.png.cf9d6a3f00d963c6c5b742b8b533f355.png

    The Twins boast a glut at Arraez’s central positions. Polanco is a Twin through at least 2025, and Miranda is knocking. Josh Donaldson is still on the team, and Alex Kirilloff looks like the future at first base. Add Trevor Larnach in left field, and things get murkier. 

    The best call might be to trade Arraez before his knees become a more significant issue. Or maybe the Twins bounce him around, including at DH, and re-assess in four seasons. There’s no urgency here. 

    The Bottom Line
    The Twins are at a pivotal point. They must address the starting rotation and build a winner. While it’s true that Arraez would likely bring back an excellent return, this is a fanbase that needs any positive vibes it can get. Arraez is beloved and can help fans stay engaged and return to the ballpark. 

    The reaction to an Arraez extension would be overwhelmingly positive. That shouldn’t dictate whether the Twins decide to pursue it, but it should be a consideration, as it was with Byron Buxton

    An Arraez extension wouldn’t touch the $100 million the Twins guaranteed to their star centerfielder for the reasons mentioned above. You mitigate risk by adding in a couple million on top of what Arraez would earn, plus a few more guaranteed years. 

    This is not a Buxton-type extension. It’s not feasible to expect Arraez to significantly outplay a contract, which is a reason against such a deal. What he could do, though, is cement himself as another central face for the next 5-10 years at a reasonable cost to the team. 

    Comment your thoughts below! 

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    I wouldn’t mind the Twins extending Arraez and gaining a predictable salary schedule.  However, lets be honest here.  Arraez’s health\knee’s are the elephant in the room here.  Polanco already has him beat defensively and I would say Gordon is the better defender as well.  Even Spencer Steer who is coming up is going to be better defensively at 2nd and third.  I think even Miranda isn’t really a step down from Arraez but likely close to the same with an even better arm. And finally there is Martin who could be an Arraez clone who also you guessed it has better speed and possibly better power.  So looking at all that who looks like the odd man out here?

    I don’t think the Twins need to be in a hurry to trade Arraez especially this year until some of the younger players at MiLB prove themselves closer to ready but with OPS being king I don’t see him being around at the end of his contract or controllable years.  I think if you look at the players above they all look like players likely to have higher OPS’s than Arraez and play better defensively with maybe the exception being Gordon’s bat hard to say there, but Gordon is faster with a better arm.  I think it is going to be harder and harder to build a case for Arraez in the future. Trading him looks inevitable barring lot's of injuries and ineffectiveness of several other players.

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    I think you outlined the pros and cons of an extension very well, Nash.  I like watching this kid play, so it is hard for me to be objective.  But, if I were the front office I would see how this year goes, and if he is playing consistently again and his knees are holding up, I would consider an extension or trading him if Martin is ready.  Martin would bring the same skills with more power and better defense.  The Twins do need players who can get on base regularly, so he does have value to this team as it is presently constituted.  It is hard not to pull for this kid--he has so much energy and a great personality.

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    Awful lot of ink about Arraez these past couple weeks.  Should we trade him?  Or, not trade him?  And now, should we extend him.  I luv the type of player he is, so all this talk just makes me smile.

    As for the answer to your question, yes, extend him.  That doesn't change anything about whether or not he gets traded.  Matter of fact, a reasonable four or five year extension may increase his value.

    Only question I have is related to his knees.  Should the injuries be behind him?  Or are they of a nature that he is going to have to live with it permanently?  Can you plan on having him on the field 150 games a year?  Or is 120 likely the max?

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    28 minutes ago, miracleb said:

    Due to the knee problems, Arraez would jump at a much cheaper long term contract than what you have listed.  Due to the knee problems (and suitable replacements behind him,) a much cheaper long term contract is the only way this gets done. 

    I like Luis... I think he's so much fun to watch, and in a game that has so much swing-and-miss, it's fun to watch him own an at bat.  That said, I think the knees are really a concern, and I would rather just go year-to-year. I don't think it's a whole lot more, even if he keeps hitting .300 every year by just going year-to-year. And frankly, an extension in two years with him may not look a lot different than this even if he keeps hitting for average. 

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    I think Seth is right.  That seems too much for a high average low power hitter with 4 years of team control.  If Luis puts up 2 good injury free seasons I might think about giving out that contract.

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    Do not extend a player before you give him an everyday position. Who gives an extension to a bench player? I hope they give him a full time position, or trade him if we can get a good return. With our current lineup, I'd like to see him start the season leading off and at DH. Great eye, Great contact. I wish Rocco would settle on a more consistent lineup this year, beginning with Arraez leading off 140 games.

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    1 hour ago, roger said:

    Awful lot of ink about Arraez these past couple weeks.  Should we trade him?  Or, not trade him?  And now, should we extend him.  I luv the type of player he is, so all this talk just makes me smile.

    As for the answer to your question, yes, extend him.  That doesn't change anything about whether or not he gets traded.  Matter of fact, a reasonable four or five year extension may increase his value.

    Only question I have is related to his knees.  Should the injuries be behind him?  Or are they of a nature that he is going to have to live with it permanently?  Can you plan on having him on the field 150 games a year?  Or is 120 likely the max?

    If Levine extended him and traded him in the same offseason, Levine would lose all credibility and struggle to sign or extend players the rest of his front office career. No way that happens.

    If a trade is not in the works, I too, would extend Arraez for all the reasons listed in the OP. 

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    I would not extend him because I simply don't trust that he'll be able to be a viable player much into the future beyond his controllable years.  (knees) He's a mediocre defender who can play  multiple positions, and above average hitter with bad knees.  I know people like him, but in the long term interest of the team I highly suggest selling high on him now while he can play in the field and not be only a DH due to his mobility limitations that will likely come into play if we were to extend him.

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    I am a fan and I say trade him.  I made a statement that someone disagreed with on another thread - he is our Tony Oliva - not that he hits like Tony, but he has the bat control of Tony and the bad knees of Tony.  We saw what happened to Oliva as his knees gave out and he went to DH.  Luis does not have enough power for DH.  I see him as a trade chip, but don't other teams know the same things we do?  His value is not going to be high.  As for Gordon, I do not see him as a Twin in three years.  The prospects will knock him out.  

    Then there is the question of who wants these players?  The Orioles need everything and the once again bargain basement A's will need players too and they seem to know how to get more out of ex-Twins.  Pittsburgh needs lots of help and the Reds are all about going cheap.  Maybe there is a market, but then those teams are bad because they lack what we want back in a trade. 

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    Does anybody know what his knee problems actually are? That'd be a vital piece of information to me if I'm running the Twins. Does he have a chronic, degenerative situation or has he just been pushing through an injury that could be completely healed and he'd be good moving forward with no more risk than the average player? I feel like I heard it was a degenerative thing, but can't remember for sure.

    If it's a chronic, degenerative thing I have my medical people tell me how many good years he likely has and extend him if they're relatively sure he can play out that next 4 or 5 years without a real plummet. Then am open to trades if that makes sense down the road. Arraez won't demand a huge salary. There's very little relative risk to extending him beyond his knee problems. Even if you're not buying out many FA years you can extend him for 4 or 5 years even and just lock in expenses. It's helpful to know where your payroll is without worrying about arbitration. Then you can move him later if it makes sense.

    The talk of depth and him not having a spot on the field/in the lineup is premature to me. If all the guys we're hoping on reach their potential then move guys at that point. Don't be afraid of extending a proven ML player because you might have some prospects ready in the future. Hoard all the talent you can and move guys once you have too many proven guys for ABs. Especially the way the Twins rotate guys. It's not a "starting 9 and 4 bench guys" situation in MN anymore. It's more like a starting 5 and 8 rotation guys now. 

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    The "knee problems" seem to be so speculative - maybe even a red herring?  Arraez has produced at a fairly high level, fairly consistently for a few seasons. He also plays with great competitive intensity. How many current Twins can we say those things about? 

    Arraez has value to the Twins and would have value too many MLB teams. Extending him on a fair, cost-controlled contract would add value for the Twins or in a trade scenario.

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    I think a team friendly extension makes sense.  but I see no reason not to go year to year.  we have moving pieces and a mostly redundant Austin Martin in the wings.  If Arreaz can net us a great return.  I would be ok with that.  Though I am enjoying his play here and would prefer him to be here.  I think a viable extension should be more like the Polanco and Kepler extensions and be more front loaded.  If Killeroff, Ober, Ryan, Larnarch, Jeffers, Alcala are all reaching higher salaries in Arbitration in years 3,4, and 5 of the extension, might as well gain some flexibility with a front-loaded lower cost extension here.  let's see what that could look like.

    5 year 22.5 million

    year 1.  3 million

    year 2.  4 million

    year 3.  4.5 million

    year 4.  5 million

    year 5.  6million

    this contract gives a discount and is front loaded to help balance the discount and to allow us more to spend when others are eligible for arbitration or free agency.  

    also we probably want 2 options years or something like that.

    year 6 option for 11 million or 2 million buyout

    year 7 option for 13 million or 1 million buyout 

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    32 minutes ago, SGL said:

    No.  Trade him for pitching.  We have plenty if middle infielders.

    Plenty of middle infielders? Who? At this point we have an All Star 2B and no starting SS. We have Gordon who can play 2B and SS in a pinch. We have Arraez who can play 2B, but not SS. That covers the extent of ML talent for the middle infield. 2 starting caliber 2Bs and a utility guy who can play 2B isn't what I'd consider "plenty" of middle infielders.

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    MI Depth between MLB & MiLB:

    Polanco, Arraez, Gordon, Sano, Lewis, Martin Miranda, Cavaco, plus some lower level prospects that may or may not pan out.

    Arraez is a known commodity and if he can't be traded I think it makes more sense to go year to year in arbitration, much like the team did with Rosario. His knees are bad and his stats are trending the wrong way.

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    21 hours ago, chpettit19 said:

    Plenty of middle infielders? Who? At this point we have an All Star 2B and no starting SS. We have Gordon who can play 2B and SS in a pinch. We have Arraez who can play 2B, but not SS. That covers the extent of ML talent for the middle infield. 2 starting caliber 2Bs and a utility guy who can play 2B isn't what I'd consider "plenty" of middle infielders.

    We are very short at SS but that's not a role Arraez would play.  With Arraez we should be asking what we have in the pipeline for 2B or a utility role.  We have a few good candidates for those roles.  Martin would offer more speed and more pop with equivalent OB skills.  Julien and Steer offer way more power and Julien might have the same type of OB skills.  Steer has more speed and is better better defensively.  He might even be a ok to fill in at SS now and then.  Miranda could also operate in a utility role.  

    There is just no good reason to extend Arraez right now.  Plus, I am not a fan of extending a player and trading them within a year or two.  Those players take these deals because they want to remain with the team and that does not play well when the next extension candidate comes along.

    You make a good point about SS,  We are deep in pitching prospects.  One of the reasons to wait a year to determine what to do with Arraez is to figure out if Martin or Lewis can stick at SS.  Another year should bring more clarity to that question.  If not, perhaps Arraez could be traded for a SS.

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    23 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

    We are very short at SS but that's not a role Arraez would play.  With Arraez we should be asking what we have in the pipeline for 2B or a utility role.  We have a few good candidates for those roles.  Martin would offer more speed and more pop with equivalent OB skills.  Julien and Steer offer way more power and Julien might have the same type of OB skills.  Steer has more speed and is better better defensively.  He might even be a ok to fill in at SS now and then.  Miranda could also operate in a utility role.  

    There is just no good reason to extend Arraez right now.  Plus, I am not a fan of extending a player and trading them within a year or two.  Those players take these deals because they want to remain with the team and that does not play well when the next extension candidate comes along.

    You make a good point about SS,  We are deep in pitching prospects.  One of the reasons to wait a year to determine what to do with Arraez is to figure out of Martin or Lewis can stick at SS.  Another year should bring more clarity to that question.  If not, perhaps Arraez could be traded for a SS.

    I'm not against going year to year with Arraez. I don't know that pre/mid-arbitration extensions that don't really go into much FA years are things I'd be concerned about trading shortly after signing. Arraez is "under contract" for another 3 years with the Twins whether they sign him to anything or not due to the arbitration process. I don't see that there's a great difference in him being in arb or him having a 4 year deal. Unless he's taking what's perceived to be a very team friendly deal. But also don't think its crazy to not want to trade someone shortly after any extension. That's a more than fair stance.

    Overall, I don't see any reason to trade Arraez right now. The Twins have plenty of names for 2B, but only 1 of them is currently better than Arraez and only Polanco and Arraez are proven ML hitters. I'm not a fan of trading established guys, especially with 3 years of control left, because you have prospects you hope can be as good as them. Until Miranda, et al prove they can hit ML pitching the Twins don't have depth at 2B. They have Polanco and Arraez. With injuries and rest days that combination is a minimum need, not surplus. I'm ok trading Arraez, or anyone, for the right return. The idea that we should be shopping Arraez because we have "plenty of middle infielders" doesn't make any sense to me.

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    I don't know if players want to stay with the team so much as wanting the security of a guaranteed period of paydays. It worth noting as well that a team friendly contract can add to the trade value of a player with years left on the contract.

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    I also would want to know the type of knee injury before making a decision. If he DJD in the knees, I don't extend him and move him if he has good value. If we can't get something of value, I keep him until the knees become a real issue 

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    6 hours ago, GNess said:

    The "knee problems" seem to be so speculative - maybe even a red herring?  Arraez has produced at a fairly high level, fairly consistently for a few seasons. He also plays with great competitive intensity. How many current Twins can we say those things about? 

    Arraez has value to the Twins and would have value too many MLB teams. Extending him on a fair, cost-controlled contract would add value for the Twins or in a trade scenario.

    I spent my life as a wilderness guide and I have degenerative knee issues.  It is not something you cure and it is really debilitating for the kind of quick reactions that a 2B or hitter needs.  The fact that it has already caused so much problems at his young age is a significant issue.  

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    POTENTIALLY, the Twins could have a logjam at reserve infield quite soon. Miranda needs to play, and I believe he will do so, and often, even if he doesn't break camp with the Twins initially in 2022. It's not about service time, but simply room on the roster if everyone is healthy. Gordon has some hit potential, speed, and OK defense across the field. Arraez is a special and different kind of hitter who can fill-in 2/3 spots and be OK defensively and also DH. There's absolutely nothing wrong with your DH being a high average/OB hitter on some days when you have a quality lineup. 

    Steer could be ready by the end of 2022 and would seem prepared for 2023. Julien may not be far behind him. Martin could end up as a super utility player with a great hit tool, OB ability, solid speed and budding power. A younger version of Marwin Gonzalez, if you will. He might also settle in as the LF quite soon with all of that potential and still be able to help cover other positions. But Steer, Julien and Martin aren't ready yet. So I don't feel the redundancy is there YET. And injuries will happen. Depth is important, as is a table setter for the lineup.

    As others have stated, I'm OK to trade Arraez if the return makes sense. But I'm also not necessarily looking to trade him. All that being said, I'm not interested in extending him now because I want to see how his knees hold up in 2022. There is no rush with him under control at this time. Further, even if he's healthy and has a great season, the development of the players previously mentioned could make the infield in 2023 look very different and very crowded indeed. So I'd hold off an extension for now.

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    I do NOT extend Arraez.  Look, I love his "game" and and enjoy watching him.  But you're playing with dynamite if you extend him.  Trade him for pitching (he's an Oakland A's kind of player) and let his NEW team decide if they'd like to extend him.  You're really walking a tightrope if you think you can extend him, and then get MORE value out of trading him.   

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    I could see going either way on an Arraez deal. If you do sign him, it'll almost certainly be on a really team friendly contract and that might come in really handy a year or two down the road when you need to fill another gap in the roster via trade. On the other hand, if he's a guy who could help land a Montas or a Castillo now, then a trade probably makes a lot more sense than an extension at this point.

    I'll just say that the Twins have a nice problem on their hands with Arraez. May the FO keep finding themselves with such problems for a long, long time.

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    I'm sorry Nash I don't see any reason to extend him right now. Why do we extend anyone before his time? Are we afraid of losing Arraez, when his time is up? Why are we desperate on keeping an around average utility player with 0 upside and increasing downside? Where we have better players to occupy those positions. We need to look beyond our sentiments and see reality and look at what's best for the team. Arraez's best value to us is his trade value to obtain much needed upside SP.

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    22 hours ago, Sconnie said:

    If Levine extended him and traded him in the same offseason, Levine would lose all credibility and struggle to sign or extend players the rest of his front office career. No way that happens.

    If a trade is not in the works, I too, would extend Arraez for all the reasons listed in the OP. 

    Agreed.  When I was typing that, was thinking more in the big picture.  Extend him now may enhance his value in a trade at the deadline, next winter or beyond.  But don't get me wrong, I want Luis leading off for the Twins in 2022, 2023 and beyond.

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    I think Arraez gets traded but it could be anytime between this off-season and the 2024 deadline as he is under team control through 2025.   Martin's development and his knees probably play the largest roles in the if and when.  If Martin is not a SS, there is a good chance he plays the same role with better defensive ability, better speed, and probably more power.  If Martin does not move into that role, Spenser Steer is also better suited for a utility role.  Eduardo Julien could also be a better offensive player with similar defensive capability.  If he is the successor we might be out to mid 2023 or 2024.  

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    Interesting thoughts, but I don't really think any of it plays until we find out what is in the new CBA, concerning arbitration and time till free agency.  As parameters change for player movement, I believe Arraezs' value also changes at least to some extent.

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