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  1. A late night finish on Tuesday has been followed up with early Wednesday transactions as Dereck Rodriguez has had his contract selected, Jharel Cotton has been DFA'd, and Alex Kirilloff has been placed on the IL with a recurrence of last year's wrist problems. Taking his place is Trevor Larnach. The assumption is that Larnach will presumably become the Twins new regular left fielder. But maybe the Twins need to take a closer look at the recently-released Justin Upton. Upton was DFA'd by the Angels last week and cleared waivers earlier this week. The Angels are on the hook for the remainder of his contract. If Upton wants to play major league baseball, he could potentially do it for the Twins for the pro-rated league minimum ($700k). It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that Upton isn't particularly good in left field, nearly every number being preceded by a minus sign tells that story. Of course, having Byron Buxton helping patrol the outfield next to him should help. The other issue, of course, is that if Upton isn't great in the field, he should at least make up for it with his bat, right? Well, you'd hope, but that hasn't been great either. Since his age-31 season in 2019, Upton has put together three straight sub-.730 OPS seasons. But they aren't even full seasons, they're more like Byron Buxton seasons, playing in a combined 194 games, with last year's 89 being a three-year high. So what could Upton provide? He could be an option as a right-handed bat in an outfield that needs it. Maybe you believe in Kyle Garlick. Or maybe you think Gilberto Celestino should fill a part-time role instead of going to St. Paul to play every day. But maybe you think Upton can be worth a look, knowing that you can move on at any time without it being a huge loss. Justin Upton slashed .219/.265/.531 (.796 OPS) in 64 at-bats in 2020 and .225/.355/.483 (.838 OPS) in 89 at-bats against lefties in 2021. Both of those are well off his career .259/.359/.493 (.852 OPS) line, but if believing that Gary Sanchez can benefit from the change of scenery by getting out of the bright lights of New York, can't we believe the same thing about Upton getting out from the terrible contract and underwhelming performance in Los Angeles? View full article
  2. The assumption is that Larnach will presumably become the Twins new regular left fielder. But maybe the Twins need to take a closer look at the recently-released Justin Upton. Upton was DFA'd by the Angels last week and cleared waivers earlier this week. The Angels are on the hook for the remainder of his contract. If Upton wants to play major league baseball, he could potentially do it for the Twins for the pro-rated league minimum ($700k). It doesn't take a math genius to figure out that Upton isn't particularly good in left field, nearly every number being preceded by a minus sign tells that story. Of course, having Byron Buxton helping patrol the outfield next to him should help. The other issue, of course, is that if Upton isn't great in the field, he should at least make up for it with his bat, right? Well, you'd hope, but that hasn't been great either. Since his age-31 season in 2019, Upton has put together three straight sub-.730 OPS seasons. But they aren't even full seasons, they're more like Byron Buxton seasons, playing in a combined 194 games, with last year's 89 being a three-year high. So what could Upton provide? He could be an option as a right-handed bat in an outfield that needs it. Maybe you believe in Kyle Garlick. Or maybe you think Gilberto Celestino should fill a part-time role instead of going to St. Paul to play every day. But maybe you think Upton can be worth a look, knowing that you can move on at any time without it being a huge loss. Justin Upton slashed .219/.265/.531 (.796 OPS) in 64 at-bats in 2020 and .225/.355/.483 (.838 OPS) in 89 at-bats against lefties in 2021. Both of those are well off his career .259/.359/.493 (.852 OPS) line, but if believing that Gary Sanchez can benefit from the change of scenery by getting out of the bright lights of New York, can't we believe the same thing about Upton getting out from the terrible contract and underwhelming performance in Los Angeles?
  3. As we did in the Dozier article, research was done to consider comparable deals. It can be more difficult to find guys who have signed long-term deals after just over two years of service time, and how many of them put up over four WAR in large part due to his defense? But we tried and we’ll use the information we find to try to project what it might take to sign Buxton to an extension. For this analysis, let’s start out at the top of the spectrum. Mike Trout and Bryce Harper are at the top of the pay scales. One could argue that they are, especially considering their ages and ages at debut, the two more valuable players in the game today. Byron Buxton is at 2.064 years of service. That means, he will be arbitration-eligible following the 2018 season. Mike Trout signed for $1 million in 2014, his final pre-arbitration salary. Following another MVP caliber season, Trout signed a huge six year, $144.5 extension that bought out his three arbitration years and three years of free agency. His three arbitration-year salaries were $5.25 million, $15.25 million and $19.25 million. He then will get $33.25 million each of the next three years (those bought-out free agent years). Bryce Harper was the #1 overall pick in the 2010 draft to a Major League contract. He came up quickly and following the 2014 season, he was already approaching arbitration. Instead, he and the Nationals ripped up the final year of his original deal, and he signed for $2.5 million in 2015 and $5.0 million in 2016. He made $13.625 million this season, and earlier in the year, he signed for $21.65 million in what would have been his fourth arbitration year. *TBD will equal some really, really big numbers Now, Byron Buxton isn’t going to command the same contracts as Trout or Harper if he signs now. Those guys had MVPs and All Star experiences under their belt. Buxton’ hasn’t yet, but his 3.5 bWAR based highly on his defense certainly point in the direction of him being at a level just below those top two guys. So who are some others who signed this type of deal? In the chart below, I’ve listed some players that I think would be pretty comparable to where Buxton is right now, guys who signed long-term extensions. I should note that Christian Yelich signed his deal one year earlier in the process. Justin Upton was the most established at the point of his deal. He was also drafted at the top of his draft. Juan Lugares has won a Gold Glove. Odubel Herrera was an All Star. Christian Yelich was a high-ranking prospect of the Marlins and was part of Team USA this year. I also included Andrelton Simmons. Despite the fact that he’s an infielder, I think he is a good comp for Buxton. Early in Simmons’ career, he really struggled offensively, but his glove was elite. He won several Gold Gloves and was generally considered the best defensive player in baseball for several years. I think Buxton fits into that category, but at the same time, Buxton’s offensive potential is significantly higher. So with that information as the background, he is an estimate of the parameters that might make sense for a Buxton extension. That would equate to a seven year, $76.5 million.Obviously that is a huge investment, but Buxton still has a ton of potential beyond his golden glove and speed. He has power to go with it, and if he can reduce his strikeouts the way he did in 2017 again, he will be a multi-time All Star, and a potential MVP candidate. There is risk for the Twins, but if the Twins choose to go year to year with Buxton, he could cost more per year and could be gone to free agency after the 2021 season. However, the risk for the Twins in not signing him this offseason is that he could take another step forward offensively and end up with 30-50% higher annual salaries if they did a deal in a year. Of course, with Buxton banging into walls with frequency, injury is a potential risk as well. The risk for Buxton is just that. He could potentially make quite a bit more by going year to year and then become a free agent at age 28. At that time, he could look for an eight to ten year deal. So what do you think? Should the Twins consider a multi-year extension for Buxton? At what point would you be less comfortable? How many years of risk would you be willing to take while at the same time being realistic? Discuss. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- COMING SOON! A reminder, Nick Nelson is leading the way in the final steps of creating the Twins Daily Annual Offseason Handbook. More details, and the ability to pre-order, will be made available later this week. As we have in the past, we'll take a look at what options the Twins may have during the upcoming offseason. Trade Targets. Free Agents. Exclusive articles from the Twins Daily owners only available in the electronic book. Definitely something Twins fans will want at their fingertips.
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