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.
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.
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.
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