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  1. Right before the Vikings game on Sunday, Ken Rosenthal announced that the Twins and Byron Buxton were finalizing an extension. Minutes later, he tweeted that the deal was for seven years and $100 million. This is huge news for Twins fans everywhere as Buxton is an electrifying player with MVP talent. As you all know, Buxton’s main downfall is concerns about his health. Since 2018, Buxton has only played in 48% of Twins games. It is hard to justify giving a lot of money to someone who has not been on the field for half of the games. However, when Buxton is on the field, the Twins are a completely different team. Since the beginning of 2019, the Twins have played at a 98 win pace when Buxton is on the field and an 81 win pace when he is not. When a player has an impact this profound on the success of his team, you want to keep him around with hopes that he can stay healthy. Over a month ago, I wrote an article about what a potential Buxton extension would look like. I predicted it to be 7 years for $133 million, so signing him for $100 million is a steal for us. If Buxton performs like an MVP for his contract, he could make much more. Below are the full details of his contract. Included in the contract is a full no-trade clause. This means that if the Twins want to trade Buxton during his contract, he would have to agree to it. This was reportedly the final piece of the deal to be completed. This no-trade clause shows me that Buxton really loves Minnesota and wants to be here for his whole career. Buxton could have held off and waited until free agency in 2022 and probably got more money from a different team, but given his injury issues he wanted guaranteed money and he got it. In 2021, Buxton was worth over 4 wins above replacement in only 61 games. If he would’ve kept that pace up for even 120 games, he would have led all of Major League Baseball in WAR. Buxton is a generational talent that excels in every phase of the game. Now that the Twins have extended their superstar, look for them to be aggressive in free agency. After including Buxton’s $9 million in the 2022 payroll, the Twins are up to $77 million in payroll. They now have roughly $50 million to spend on 3 starting pitchers, a shortstop, and a reliever or two. I look for them to sign a middle to top-tier starting pitcher (Stroman, Rodon, Ray) and two more mid-tier pitchers, like Jon Gray, Yusei Kikuchi, or Michael Pineda. This will probably cost us about $40 million, so we will have to sign a stop-gap shortstop like Jonathan Villar or Freddy Galvis until Royce Lewis or Austin Martin is ready to take the reins. Byron Buxton is the most exciting player I have ever seen play for the Twins, and I am looking forward to seven more years of this. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  2. Everyone can relax. The Twins have extended their most talented player in the last decade for seven more years. Right before the Vikings game on Sunday, Ken Rosenthal announced that the Twins and Byron Buxton were finalizing an extension. Minutes later, he tweeted that the deal was for seven years and $100 million. This is huge news for Twins fans everywhere as Buxton is an electrifying player with MVP talent. As you all know, Buxton’s main downfall is concerns about his health. Since 2018, Buxton has only played in 48% of Twins games. It is hard to justify giving a lot of money to someone who has not been on the field for half of the games. However, when Buxton is on the field, the Twins are a completely different team. Since the beginning of 2019, the Twins have played at a 98 win pace when Buxton is on the field and an 81 win pace when he is not. When a player has an impact this profound on the success of his team, you want to keep him around with hopes that he can stay healthy. Over a month ago, I wrote an article about what a potential Buxton extension would look like. I predicted it to be 7 years for $133 million, so signing him for $100 million is a steal for us. If Buxton performs like an MVP for his contract, he could make much more. Below are the full details of his contract. Included in the contract is a full no-trade clause. This means that if the Twins want to trade Buxton during his contract, he would have to agree to it. This was reportedly the final piece of the deal to be completed. This no-trade clause shows me that Buxton really loves Minnesota and wants to be here for his whole career. Buxton could have held off and waited until free agency in 2022 and probably got more money from a different team, but given his injury issues he wanted guaranteed money and he got it. In 2021, Buxton was worth over 4 wins above replacement in only 61 games. If he would’ve kept that pace up for even 120 games, he would have led all of Major League Baseball in WAR. Buxton is a generational talent that excels in every phase of the game. Now that the Twins have extended their superstar, look for them to be aggressive in free agency. After including Buxton’s $9 million in the 2022 payroll, the Twins are up to $77 million in payroll. They now have roughly $50 million to spend on 3 starting pitchers, a shortstop, and a reliever or two. I look for them to sign a middle to top-tier starting pitcher (Stroman, Rodon, Ray) and two more mid-tier pitchers, like Jon Gray, Yusei Kikuchi, or Michael Pineda. This will probably cost us about $40 million, so we will have to sign a stop-gap shortstop like Jonathan Villar or Freddy Galvis until Royce Lewis or Austin Martin is ready to take the reins. Byron Buxton is the most exciting player I have ever seen play for the Twins, and I am looking forward to seven more years of this. Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! View full article
  3. I’ve always been a fan of extensions. Well, baseball extensions anyway. My wife came home with hair extensions once because they were a “good deal” and I wasn’t a big fan of that. But that’s besides the point. As far as baseball extensions go, even “good deals” sometimes aren’t good deals. And sometimes bad-looking deals turn into great deals (but usually not). The reality is that’s impossible to tell until later. Sometimes a little later. Sometimes a lot later. The best part - for me anyway - is that once an extension is signed it’s thrown into a group of contracts that can be examined in a number of different ways - from years of free agency bought out to team options to buyouts to looking specifically at the details of those with similar service time and position.According to MLBTR’s Extension Tracker, the Twins have signed 13 players to 15 extensions since the beginning of the 2008 calendar year. Eight of those have been signed during the month of March, including the extension of Brian Dozier in 2015 and Glen Perkins in 2014. Will there be another one in 2016? Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to examine ten players and how a potential extension would be structured and why. Please note: I’M NOT SUGGESTING SIGNING ALL OF THESE PLAYERS TO EXTENSIONS. In fact, there are a couple that would be downright ridiculous. But ten is a nice, round number to examine over this multi-part series. These are listed in order of a combination of likelihood and personal preference, starting with least-likely/preferred ones. 10) Kurt Suzuki, catcher Wait, this can’t be serious. Can it!? Well, it was serious when the Twins signed Suzuki to a two-year extension 18 months ago when many fans were hoping they would trade him. Suzuki, of course, finished 2014 .288/.345/.383 after signing the extension on trade deadline day (and hitting .306/.369/.391 at the time). He backed that up with a 2015 that saw his production drop even more, to the tune of .240/.296/.314. Yikes! So why extend him? There’s not a great reason to “extend” him as much as there is to “modify”. Currently Suzuki is in line to earn $6 million in 2016 and $6 million in 2017, but only if he makes 485 plate appearance in 2016. He’s almost assured to not reach that number in 2016; he fell short of it in 2015. So the likelihood is that he’ll hit the open market and be looking at, what, the possibility of signing a minor league deal? Even the best case scenario is he’s not coming close to the $6 million he will make this year. The addition of John Ryan Murphy and having both Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver knocking on the door might render Suzuki useless as we look towards 2017, but what if we replace the vesting option with a team option at a much lower price that includes a guaranteed buyout. We’ll toss some plate appearance bonuses in to insure Suzuki makes money if he would have otherwise triggered what would have vested the option. Would I extend Suzuki? No way. I’d make sure his option doesn’t vest and he’s off the books, but would the team and Suzuki consider the following deal: Eliminate the vesting option. Add a mutual option for $2 million for 2017 with a $100,000 buyout (if the term declines). Add $250,000 plate appearances bonuses at 450, 485, 520 and 555 and add a $1 million bonus at 615. The Twins will be on the hook for an extra $100,000 but Suzuki could earn an extra $2 million if he makes 615 plate appearances. He wouldn’t recoup the $6 million that he could have earned, but if he puts up a season that includes 615 plate appearances, he’ll probably do ok for himself in free agency. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s not so much an “extension” as it is a “modification”. I’ve also said it’s something I wouldn’t do. But is it something that both parties would consider beneficial to themselves? It might be, especially considering how much the parties involved seem to like each other. 9) Brian Dozier, second baseman You Can’t Be Serious, Part 2, right? Sort of. As much as I was against the Suzuki extension when it was signed, I was against the Dozier extension for a completely different reason: It didn’t give the Twins any additional years of control. The only benefit - and it’s a benefit that might prove to be even bigger as the years progress - is that it provided cost-certainty. But you can also make the argument that having to pay additional dollars going year-by-year is a better alternative than locking in at a cost for a handful of years. Now’s not the place to argue that (well, you can down below if you’d like). I’m just not going to touch it here. If you don’t remember, the Twins signed Dozier to a four-year/$20 million deal last spring. They tore up the $540,000 deal they had given him for 2015 and bumped his salary to $2 million. The club then bought out his arbitration years at $3, $6 and $9 million. But no more years. And no team options. The contract signed by Dee Gordon is a great comparison for what Dozier should have gotten/could still get. You could view the $1.46 million bump Dozier got as a signing bonus. Gordon got a signing bonus of $1.5 million. Both players will make $3 million in their 3+ year of service. Gordon will make $1.5 million more than Dozier in each of his 4+ and 5+ seasons. The big difference is that Gordon will remain under the Marlins control for $13 million and $13.5 million with an additional vesting option whereas Dozier will become a free agent. Is it time for the Twins to right that wrong? Not many would have batted an eye if the Twins bought out a year or two of Dozier’s free agency last March, so would they now? An additional two years at $30.5 million. It would break down like this: $3 million signing bonus (the difference in arbitration-year salaries), $13 million in 2019, $13.5 million in 2020 and a $1 million buyout on a $14 million team option for 2021. Essentially the exact same deal that Dee Gordon signed. This would lock up Dozier through his age-33 season and he would enter free agency the same time as Gordon, who is one year younger. Personally, I would have been more likely to give Dozier this deal last March. Now that he’s locked in, I’d let it play out (at least until this time next year). But it wouldn’t be the first time the club extended a player one year into a contract. *cough*Phil Hughes*cough* Which might be just enough to make the club a little gun shy this time around. So what do you think about Suzuki (are you kidding me?!) and Dozier (well, now that you put it that way)? We’ll be checking in on eight more players over the next few days or weeks. Feel free to chime in below. Click here to view the article
  4. According to MLBTR’s Extension Tracker, the Twins have signed 13 players to 15 extensions since the beginning of the 2008 calendar year. Eight of those have been signed during the month of March, including the extension of Brian Dozier in 2015 and Glen Perkins in 2014. Will there be another one in 2016? Over the next couple of weeks, we’re going to examine ten players and how a potential extension would be structured and why. Please note: I’M NOT SUGGESTING SIGNING ALL OF THESE PLAYERS TO EXTENSIONS. In fact, there are a couple that would be downright ridiculous. But ten is a nice, round number to examine over this multi-part series. These are listed in order of a combination of likelihood and personal preference, starting with least-likely/preferred ones. 10) Kurt Suzuki, catcher Wait, this can’t be serious. Can it!? Well, it was serious when the Twins signed Suzuki to a two-year extension 18 months ago when many fans were hoping they would trade him. Suzuki, of course, finished 2014 .288/.345/.383 after signing the extension on trade deadline day (and hitting .306/.369/.391 at the time). He backed that up with a 2015 that saw his production drop even more, to the tune of .240/.296/.314. Yikes! So why extend him? There’s not a great reason to “extend” him as much as there is to “modify”. Currently Suzuki is in line to earn $6 million in 2016 and $6 million in 2017, but only if he makes 485 plate appearance in 2016. He’s almost assured to not reach that number in 2016; he fell short of it in 2015. So the likelihood is that he’ll hit the open market and be looking at, what, the possibility of signing a minor league deal? Even the best case scenario is he’s not coming close to the $6 million he will make this year. The addition of John Ryan Murphy and having both Stuart Turner and Mitch Garver knocking on the door might render Suzuki useless as we look towards 2017, but what if we replace the vesting option with a team option at a much lower price that includes a guaranteed buyout. We’ll toss some plate appearance bonuses in to insure Suzuki makes money if he would have otherwise triggered what would have vested the option. Would I extend Suzuki? No way. I’d make sure his option doesn’t vest and he’s off the books, but would the team and Suzuki consider the following deal: Eliminate the vesting option. Add a mutual option for $2 million for 2017 with a $100,000 buyout (if the term declines). Add $250,000 plate appearances bonuses at 450, 485, 520 and 555 and add a $1 million bonus at 615. The Twins will be on the hook for an extra $100,000 but Suzuki could earn an extra $2 million if he makes 615 plate appearances. He wouldn’t recoup the $6 million that he could have earned, but if he puts up a season that includes 615 plate appearances, he’ll probably do ok for himself in free agency. Like I mentioned earlier, it’s not so much an “extension” as it is a “modification”. I’ve also said it’s something I wouldn’t do. But is it something that both parties would consider beneficial to themselves? It might be, especially considering how much the parties involved seem to like each other. 9) Brian Dozier, second baseman You Can’t Be Serious, Part 2, right? Sort of. As much as I was against the Suzuki extension when it was signed, I was against the Dozier extension for a completely different reason: It didn’t give the Twins any additional years of control. The only benefit - and it’s a benefit that might prove to be even bigger as the years progress - is that it provided cost-certainty. But you can also make the argument that having to pay additional dollars going year-by-year is a better alternative than locking in at a cost for a handful of years. Now’s not the place to argue that (well, you can down below if you’d like). I’m just not going to touch it here. If you don’t remember, the Twins signed Dozier to a four-year/$20 million deal last spring. They tore up the $540,000 deal they had given him for 2015 and bumped his salary to $2 million. The club then bought out his arbitration years at $3, $6 and $9 million. But no more years. And no team options. The contract signed by Dee Gordon is a great comparison for what Dozier should have gotten/could still get. You could view the $1.46 million bump Dozier got as a signing bonus. Gordon got a signing bonus of $1.5 million. Both players will make $3 million in their 3+ year of service. Gordon will make $1.5 million more than Dozier in each of his 4+ and 5+ seasons. The big difference is that Gordon will remain under the Marlins control for $13 million and $13.5 million with an additional vesting option whereas Dozier will become a free agent. Is it time for the Twins to right that wrong? Not many would have batted an eye if the Twins bought out a year or two of Dozier’s free agency last March, so would they now? An additional two years at $30.5 million. It would break down like this: $3 million signing bonus (the difference in arbitration-year salaries), $13 million in 2019, $13.5 million in 2020 and a $1 million buyout on a $14 million team option for 2021. Essentially the exact same deal that Dee Gordon signed. This would lock up Dozier through his age-33 season and he would enter free agency the same time as Gordon, who is one year younger. Personally, I would have been more likely to give Dozier this deal last March. Now that he’s locked in, I’d let it play out (at least until this time next year). But it wouldn’t be the first time the club extended a player one year into a contract. *cough*Phil Hughes*cough* Which might be just enough to make the club a little gun shy this time around. So what do you think about Suzuki (are you kidding me?!) and Dozier (well, now that you put it that way)? We’ll be checking in on eight more players over the next few days or weeks. Feel free to chime in below.
  5. Barring injury, Phil Hughes will be the Opening Day starting pitcher for the Twins in 2015. He was the Twins best and most reliable starting pitcher last year by far. Hughes was signed to a three-year $24M contract coming off a 4-14 season with the New York Yankees, a team that won 85 games. Hughes had allowed 24 homers in 145+ innings for the Yanks and the thought was that a new location and less pressure would allow for improvement. Hughes pitched in 2014 as a 28-year old, so he was one of the younger free-agent signees signed in the offseason. It was not just improvement, but a sea change. Hughes started rather slowly in April, not getting his first win until his fourth start and recording a 5.14 ERA for the month. Hughes walked six batter in his first four starts, and walked 10(10!) in his final 28 starts. He was regarded as a pitcher with good control, but nothing like what he put up this season. He kept his team in the game almost every outing. He struck out eight hitters per nine innings while walking .7 per nine, setting a record for the highest K/BB ratio in a single season and leading the league with fewest walks per innings pitched. Hughes 3.52 ERA was good, but his FIP of 2.65 was much better. Hughes this week earned Diamond Award hardware of both pitcher of the year and MVP. His fine season was arguably the best by a free agent signee this year. Now, as we turn the page to 2015, we all wonder if Hughes can sustain his excellent 2014 campaign. He did set a career high for innings and batters faced, and he's coming off a season when he only allowed .7 homers per nine, about half of his mark in New York. Also, Hughes has had strong seasons in even-numbered years, can he break the jinx and put good numbers in consecutive seasons? There are reasons to expect some regression, but also reasons to believe Hughes has "found it". I can't really see another season where he practically walks no one. However, there is hope he will be backed by an improved defensive outfield I also can't see Hughes continuing to suppress home runs as well as he did in 2014. It does make sense that Hughes would perform closer to his FIP and perhaps allow a lower number of hits per inning pitched. Hughes' ability to "pound the strike zone" seems ingrained in his approach and has, no doubt, been effective for him. Hughes was regarded as an extreme fly ball pitcher and indeed he has many balls put in the air. His air out percentage is one of the higher ones in the league, but it has worked for him. With all the failures of pitchers brought in to the Twins, Hughes was both a pleasant surprise and an advertisement that finding the right free agent is possible. Any thought of contending revolves around him backing up last year's success with another strong season.
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