Extension Candidate: Casey Fien

Ed Zurga

In some ways, Fien out-performed the 2012 version of Jared Burton. Could he be rewarded?

Do the Twins have any extension candidates? MLB Trade Rumors ran an article yesterday wherein Tim Dierkes went team-by-team in an effort to identify extension candidates. By Dierkes' reckoning, the Twins don't have a single extension-worthy candidate. Even lowly-rated teams like the Astros, Mariners, and White Sox have one player on the list, but Minnesota is the lone organization that comes up shooting blanks.

The one position player who might be considered an extension candidate in the next year or so, provided he breaks out this season in the way of which he's capable, would be Oswaldo Arcia. He's a .314/.376/.540 career hitter in the minor leagues, which is exceptional, and that includes a triple slash of .313/.426/.594 in 155 Triple-A plate appearances. Arcia is 22. But Dierkes is looking at current possibilities, and I think there's one player he missed.

It's possible that the Twins could offer an extension to set-up man Casey Fien. Minnesota signed Jared Burton to a two-year deal after he threw 62 impressive relief innings in 2012, and Fien's 62 innings in 2013 were just as impressive (albeit in different ways). Burton had just completed his age-31 season while Fien has just finished his age-29 season, so you wouldn't think that would be a factor.

Player IP WHIP K% BB% FIP BABIP
Jared Burton, 2012 62.0 0.92 22.5 6.5 3.38 .220
Casey Fien, 2013 62.0 1.02 29.9 4.9 3.16 .280


There's an impression that Burton wasn't as effective in 2013, which could be a reason for hesitation in offering Fiend an extension, but the peripherals don't entirely bare that out. Burton's 2013 was't that different from his 2012, except where batting average on balls in play is considered.

Jared Burton LD% GB% FB% BABIP
2012 16.8 48.5 34.7 .220
2013 19.7 41.5 38.8 .294


Batters were hitting Burton harder in '13 compared to '12, but in terms of career numbers it was the 2012 campaign that was more of an outlier than 2013. By comparison, Fien's 2013 peripherals on batted balls were in line with his career numbers. When looking at his body of work, his great season looks largely the result of extra strikeouts and fewer walks.

Conclusions

  • Burton and Fien had potential career-making seasons relatively late in their careers
  • Burton and Fien's success in those seasons came from differing sets of numbers out-pacing their career norms
  • If the Twins aren't interested in an extension for Fien, it's because they have no interest in doing so - either because the recent Burton extension has given them pause, or because they just don't see Fien's performance as dependable as they believed Burton's would be or, more likely, it's just not a priority considering he's not arbitration-eligible until after 2014
If he were arbitration-eligible, an extension would seem more likely. Yes, it makes sense to sign players to extensions before they become arbitration-eligible, but I don't think that applies to 30-year old relievers with a relatively short track record.

Have a good Saturday, everyone. Stay warm.
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