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  1. Yes, Berrios wants a hefty payday, and no, he isn’t one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball. The three players he’s most closely tied to in this contract situation are Luis Severino, Aaron Nola, and Lance McCullers. The former two got paid prior to the 2019 season. McCullers just got his payday. They are all 27 years old, save for Nola who just recently had a birthday. None of that trio would qualify as top 10 pitchers in the game either. Nola and Severino took four-year deals at $45M and $40M, respectively. McCullers agreed to a five-year deal that starts in 2022 and is for $85M. Jose reportedly wanted something close to what the Phillies and Yankees did for their starters; that isn’t happening now. He’s going to get something closer to what the Astros paid out, and that’s more than a fair valuation. I don’t think Berrios would find a $17M AAV on the open market, but I’d be shocked if he couldn’t get something in the $12-15M range. Really though, this conversation is less about dollars and more about sense. Over the winter Minnesota paid J.A. Happ $8M and Matt Shoemaker $2M both on one-year deals. That $10M has immediately become a sunk cost as both have been downright terrible, and the stability intended for the back of the rotation has been non-existent. I’d have preferred to see the Twins aim higher when rounding out the group, but we’ve seen that troubles there as guys like James Paxton haven’t even thrown a pitch for their new team. I think the point with Berrios is this, you already have a commodity that you know, he should be entering his prime, and there’s never been a question of his durability. Sure, he’s faltered in August and September, but it hasn’t ever been injury related. He’s not an ace, and he may be a borderline number two at times, but it’s fair to say he’s a top-half of the rotation arm that flashes even more when he’s on. The alternative is one of unknown, or one I think we can bet against. Touching again on the unknown, you’re dealing with bargain bin arms hoping that a middle-of-the-road veteran is enough for the sake of stability. Maybe they’re injured, ineffective, or both. The option we can probably bet against is a big ticket purchase. Trevor Bauer made a good deal of sense from a roster construction standpoint, but he was never going to be interested in Minnesota, and the Twins were never going to drop that kind of coin. Nothing precludes the Twins from spending, but top free agents don’t see this as a destination either. Looking ahead to the upcoming offseason, there’s more than a few veteran arms that should hit the market. Plenty of them will be paid handsomely, and some of them may even be interested in talking with the Twins. Giving Jose Berrios something like $80M over the next five years isn’t going to stop any opportunity to engage those arms either. If development continues to happen, you’d hope this rotation has a desire to include Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran as soon as next season. Maybe one of them turns out to be an ace, and maybe neither do. Either way, pitching being a focus, moving on from Berrios solely to pay someone in hopes of replicating his production seems silly. Finding an ace is among the most difficult things to do in baseball. There’s maybe 10 of those guys in the game, most are developed internally, and if they do ever hit the open market Minnesota isn’t the first choice they’ve got on their list. Building a rotation with guys that all have the ability to pitch like an ace on any given night is a much more attainable goal, and both Kenta Maeda and Berrios fit that bill. Beyond there the Twins don’t have answers. Michael Pineda has been a steadying presence, and maybe they bring him back again this winter, but Berrios should be inked into that future as much as anyone. It's easy to spend someone else’s money, and the Pohlad’s have plenty of it, but the thought process runs deeper than that. Plenty of money comes off the books again this winter, and while 2021 has been a disaster, a new opportunity to reload will be in front of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Including someone like Berrios as part of that makes more sense than it does finding the next guy discarded from another organization to replace him. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. The Minnesota Twins are coming to a crossroads on a few of their cornerstones. When considering what’s next for Jose Berrios, the only answer should be to hand him a blank check. Yes, Berrios wants a hefty payday, and no, he isn’t one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball. The three players he’s most closely tied to in this contract situation are Luis Severino, Aaron Nola, and Lance McCullers. The former two got paid prior to the 2019 season. McCullers just got his payday. They are all 27 years old, save for Nola who just recently had a birthday. None of that trio would qualify as top 10 pitchers in the game either. Nola and Severino took four-year deals at $45M and $40M, respectively. McCullers agreed to a five-year deal that starts in 2022 and is for $85M. Jose reportedly wanted something close to what the Phillies and Yankees did for their starters; that isn’t happening now. He’s going to get something closer to what the Astros paid out, and that’s more than a fair valuation. I don’t think Berrios would find a $17M AAV on the open market, but I’d be shocked if he couldn’t get something in the $12-15M range. Really though, this conversation is less about dollars and more about sense. Over the winter Minnesota paid J.A. Happ $8M and Matt Shoemaker $2M both on one-year deals. That $10M has immediately become a sunk cost as both have been downright terrible, and the stability intended for the back of the rotation has been non-existent. I’d have preferred to see the Twins aim higher when rounding out the group, but we’ve seen that troubles there as guys like James Paxton haven’t even thrown a pitch for their new team. I think the point with Berrios is this, you already have a commodity that you know, he should be entering his prime, and there’s never been a question of his durability. Sure, he’s faltered in August and September, but it hasn’t ever been injury related. He’s not an ace, and he may be a borderline number two at times, but it’s fair to say he’s a top-half of the rotation arm that flashes even more when he’s on. The alternative is one of unknown, or one I think we can bet against. Touching again on the unknown, you’re dealing with bargain bin arms hoping that a middle-of-the-road veteran is enough for the sake of stability. Maybe they’re injured, ineffective, or both. The option we can probably bet against is a big ticket purchase. Trevor Bauer made a good deal of sense from a roster construction standpoint, but he was never going to be interested in Minnesota, and the Twins were never going to drop that kind of coin. Nothing precludes the Twins from spending, but top free agents don’t see this as a destination either. Looking ahead to the upcoming offseason, there’s more than a few veteran arms that should hit the market. Plenty of them will be paid handsomely, and some of them may even be interested in talking with the Twins. Giving Jose Berrios something like $80M over the next five years isn’t going to stop any opportunity to engage those arms either. If development continues to happen, you’d hope this rotation has a desire to include Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran as soon as next season. Maybe one of them turns out to be an ace, and maybe neither do. Either way, pitching being a focus, moving on from Berrios solely to pay someone in hopes of replicating his production seems silly. Finding an ace is among the most difficult things to do in baseball. There’s maybe 10 of those guys in the game, most are developed internally, and if they do ever hit the open market Minnesota isn’t the first choice they’ve got on their list. Building a rotation with guys that all have the ability to pitch like an ace on any given night is a much more attainable goal, and both Kenta Maeda and Berrios fit that bill. Beyond there the Twins don’t have answers. Michael Pineda has been a steadying presence, and maybe they bring him back again this winter, but Berrios should be inked into that future as much as anyone. It's easy to spend someone else’s money, and the Pohlad’s have plenty of it, but the thought process runs deeper than that. Plenty of money comes off the books again this winter, and while 2021 has been a disaster, a new opportunity to reload will be in front of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Including someone like Berrios as part of that makes more sense than it does finding the next guy discarded from another organization to replace him. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  3. Right now, the Minnesota Twins sit something like $20 million below the point in which they entered the 2018 season in terms of payroll. A $135 million figure should’ve been expected for 2020 and barring a big acquisition they’ll struggle to get there. Utilizing some of the available cash on Jose Berrios seems like a worthwhile investment. Over at Twins Daily recently, Matthew Taylor touched on what could be ahead for the soon-to-be 26-year-old. Berrios was a dark horse Cy Young candidate going into 2019 and harnessing his ability to the next level could put him squarely in the conversation. Once that takes place, the price for his services will go up, and free agency looms large in 2023. Obviously, any negotiation is going to require both sides to find common ground. In talking with Skor North Contributor Darren Wolfson at multiple different points, he notes the two sides have had extensive dialogue. At this point there hasn’t been a number that makes the Puerto Rican jump at the opportunity, but there’s been groundwork laid. If we’re looking for somewhat of a blueprint, Aaron Nola may have provided that last offseason. Both Nola (4/$45MM) and Yankees Luis Severino (4/$40MM) inked extensions last winter and are the same age as Berrios. Both of those arms had previously garnered Cy Young votes and had appeared in All-Star Games. Minnesota’s man made his first All Star Game in 2018 (and a second last year) but has yet to climb into the Cy Young consideration. Having pushed another year into team control, Berrios landing a four-year deal would buy out two years of his free agency as opposed to one and make him eligible for the first time as an impending 30-year-old. Projected for a $5.4 million payday through 1st year arbitration eligibility, any extension would represent a substantial pay increase. Looking for something north of a $10 million annual valuation, he’d more than double his earnings in 2020. Continuing down this path, or more hopefully taking another step forward in the year ahead, would have him quickly outpacing any deal in yearly raises. I’m not sure what it would take for the Berrios camp to buy in, but the second year of free agency would come at an obvious premium. Minnesota paying 4/$55MM could make both parties happen, and lock in what has the makings of a future ace. There’s less reason for the team to be interested in a three-year deal, but something like 3/$38MM strikes me as reasonable. Without having a ton of foresight into what the financials would look like, using any leftover cash flow to lock down some of the three unsigned cornerstones (Berrios with Buxton and Sano) seems like good business. Buxton may still be looking to increase his footing from a positioning standpoint, and Sano’s ceiling is arguably the most capped. Jose is the logical target, but will all parties dance? For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  4. That the Twins locked up Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco to long-term extensions doesn’t give us any clue what it might take to lock up other young, core Twins players. We only know that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have made it clear that there have been other conversations with other players. But also in the last week, two young All-Star pitchers signed long-term extensions which will keep them with their current teams through and potentially beyond their arbitration years. AARON NOLA - PHILLIES The Phillies signed 25-year-old RHP Aaron Nola to a four year, $45 million with an option for a fifth season. It buys out three arbitration seasons, a free agent season and possibly a second free agent season. Nola was the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft. He debuted with the Phillies in 2015 and went 6-2 with a 3.59 ERA in 13 starts. In 2016, he went 6-9 with 4.78 ERA in 20 starts. However, he took off in 2017. He went 12-11 with a 3.54 ERA. He finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2018 when he went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP in 212 1/3 innings over 33 starts. Over 380 1/3 innings in the last two seasons he struck out 408 batters (9.7 K/9). LUIS SEVERINO - YANKEES The Yankees signed RHP Luis Severino to a four year, $40 million with an option for a fifth season. It buys out his four arbitration seasons and provides an option for his first free agent season. Severino made his MLB debut in 2015 when he went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA. However, in 2016, he went just 3-8 with a 5.83 ERA over 22 games (11 starts). However, in 2017, he made 31 starts and went 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 193 1/3 innings. He finished third in the American League Cy Young vote that season. In 2018, he was 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 32 starts. Over 384 2/3 innings in the last two seasons, he struck out 450 batters (10.5 K/9). JOSE BERRIOS - TWINS The Twins 2018 All-Star will turn 25 in late May. He made his debut in 2016 and in 14 starts, he went 3-7 with an ERA of 8.02. He came back better in 2017. In 26 games (25 starts), he went 14-8 with a 3.89 ERA. In 2018, he made 32 starts and went 12-11 with a 3.84 ERA. Over these past two seasons, he has thrown a combined 341 strikeouts in 338 innings of work (9.1 K/9). TIMING IS EVERYTHING As you can see from the above, Berrios is essentially one year behind Severino and Nola in terms of service time. 2019 was the first arbitration season for both Nola and Severino. In Severino’s case, it was his first of four arbitration seasons. Berrios will have three arbitration years, starting in 2020. While Berrios has had two straight seasons with sub-4.00 ERAs and an All-Star Game appearance, Severino and Nola each has had a third-place Cy Young finish, better ERAs (in their past two seasons) and a higher strikeout rate. That said, most believe that there is more potential in Berrios’s arm and we all hope to see that in 2019. If that is the case and he puts up a mid-2s ERA instead of a mid-3s ERA, Berrios will be in the same position as Nola and Severino were this year when they signed their extensions. In other words, if we look at the extensions of Nola and Severino on a year-by-year basis, Berrios should be slightly below those numbers, though he should ask for the same type of numbers. What might a potential Jose Berrios extension look like relative to the Nola and Severino deals? In the below chart, we look at the actual year-by-year breakdown of the Nola and Severino contracts. The third column shows how a similarly-built Berrios contract might look. The final column shows how that contract could be front loaded (similar to Max Kepler’s Unique Contract). NOTE: A1 (1st arbitration season), FA (Free Agent), PA (Pre-Arbitration), O$ (Option Year) So what do you think? A five year, $41 million contract for Jose Berrios? If the option was to be picked up, it would be approximately a six year, $53 million contract. Even if Berrios’s option is picked up, he would be a free agent at the age of 30 and able to get another big deal.
  5. The Twins locked up outfielder Max Kepler and shortstop Jorge Polanco to long-term contract extensions this past week. The logical question is: Will there be other more young core players extended before the season starts? Specifically, will they be able to sign All-Star pitcher Jose Berrios to an extension? If so, what might it look like? For that, we may have been given a couple of clues this week of what range a Berrios contract could approach.That the Twins locked up Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco to long-term extensions doesn’t give us any clue what it might take to lock up other young, core Twins players. We only know that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have made it clear that there have been other conversations with other players. But also in the last week, two young All-Star pitchers signed long-term extensions which will keep them with their current teams through and potentially beyond their arbitration years. AARON NOLA - PHILLIES The Phillies signed 25-year-old RHP Aaron Nola to a four year, $45 million with an option for a fifth season. It buys out three arbitration seasons, a free agent season and possibly a second free agent season. Nola was the seventh overall pick in the 2014 draft. He debuted with the Phillies in 2015 and went 6-2 with a 3.59 ERA in 13 starts. In 2016, he went 6-9 with 4.78 ERA in 20 starts. However, he took off in 2017. He went 12-11 with a 3.54 ERA. He finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2018 when he went 17-6 with a 2.37 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP in 212 1/3 innings over 33 starts. Over 380 1/3 innings in the last two seasons he struck out 408 batters (9.7 K/9). LUIS SEVERINO - YANKEES The Yankees signed RHP Luis Severino to a four year, $40 million with an option for a fifth season. It buys out his four arbitration seasons and provides an option for his first free agent season. Severino made his MLB debut in 2015 when he went 5-3 with a 2.89 ERA. However, in 2016, he went just 3-8 with a 5.83 ERA over 22 games (11 starts). However, in 2017, he made 31 starts and went 14-6 with a 2.98 ERA in 193 1/3 innings. He finished third in the American League Cy Young vote that season. In 2018, he was 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 32 starts. Over 384 2/3 innings in the last two seasons, he struck out 450 batters (10.5 K/9). JOSE BERRIOS - TWINS The Twins 2018 All-Star will turn 25 in late May. He made his debut in 2016 and in 14 starts, he went 3-7 with an ERA of 8.02. He came back better in 2017. In 26 games (25 starts), he went 14-8 with a 3.89 ERA. In 2018, he made 32 starts and went 12-11 with a 3.84 ERA. Over these past two seasons, he has thrown a combined 341 strikeouts in 338 innings of work (9.1 K/9). TIMING IS EVERYTHING As you can see from the above, Berrios is essentially one year behind Severino and Nola in terms of service time. 2019 was the first arbitration season for both Nola and Severino. In Severino’s case, it was his first of four arbitration seasons. Berrios will have three arbitration years, starting in 2020. While Berrios has had two straight seasons with sub-4.00 ERAs and an All-Star Game appearance, Severino and Nola each has had a third-place Cy Young finish, better ERAs (in their past two seasons) and a higher strikeout rate. That said, most believe that there is more potential in Berrios’s arm and we all hope to see that in 2019. If that is the case and he puts up a mid-2s ERA instead of a mid-3s ERA, Berrios will be in the same position as Nola and Severino were this year when they signed their extensions. In other words, if we look at the extensions of Nola and Severino on a year-by-year basis, Berrios should be slightly below those numbers, though he should ask for the same type of numbers. What might a potential Jose Berrios extension look like relative to the Nola and Severino deals? In the below chart, we look at the actual year-by-year breakdown of the Nola and Severino contracts. The third column shows how a similarly-built Berrios contract might look. The final column shows how that contract could be front loaded (similar to Max Kepler’s Unique Contract). NOTE: A1 (1st arbitration season), FA (Free Agent), PA (Pre-Arbitration), O$ (Option Year) So what do you think? A five year, $41 million contract for Jose Berrios? If the option was to be picked up, it would be approximately a six year, $53 million contract. Even if Berrios’s option is picked up, he would be a free agent at the age of 30 and able to get another big deal. Click here to view the article
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