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Possible Contract Extensions for 10 Young Twins

Young players are getting paid, is the Twins core next?

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Times are changing in the baseball world - financially, that is. Amid the upcoming rule changes and start of a new season, talk about baseball’s financial turbulence has gone to the back burner. While I’m not here to write an impassioned statement on the effects of these situations for baseball, I can say that the the downturn of funds going out in free agency and the possibility of an impending strike have also created a new financial phenomenon.

That phenomenon is the contract extension for the young player who hasn’t yet hit arbitration (in most of the cases). Most of these deals are being signed by future or even current stars, effectively buying out their rookie deal and extending them past that deal for less than they would be worth in those season. The appeal is obvious for the owners - get potential or future stars on deals which provide great value to the team without risking a significant sum of cash. The benefit of the players likely weighs more on baseball’s financial issues - get paid more than the rookie salary (and taking care of their family and friends) before a strike potentially hits. The deals also don’t look quite as bad for the players with the plummeting free agent market in the past two seasons.

These contract extensions have come fast and furious this offseason and even into the season, ranging from players who hadn’t recorded a stat in a big league game (Eloy Jimenez) to those who are about to reach free agency (Nolan Arenado). Here’s a look at all the contract extensions for younger players this offseason, to give us an idea of what the Twins might offer to their developing core.

Recent MLB Extensions for Young Players

Player Team / Position Years Value AVG Annual
Player Team / Position Years Value AVG Annual
Whit Merrifield KCR/ 2B 4 16.25 4.1
Aaron Nola PHI / SP 4 45 11.3
Max Kepler MIN / OF 5 35 7.0
Jorge Polanco MIN / SS 5 25.75 5.2
Jose Martinez STL / OF 2 3.25 1.6
Aaron Hicks NYY / OF 7 70 10.0
Nolan Arenado COL / 3B 7 234 33.4
Jose Leclerc TEX / RP 4 14.75 3.7
Brandon Lowe TBR / 2B 6 24 4.0
Alex Bregman HOU / 3B 5 100 20.0
Ryan Pressly HOU / RP 2 17.5 8.8
Eloy Jimenez CHW / OF 6 43 7.2
Blake Snell TBR / SP 5 50 10.0
Kyle Hendricks CHC / SP 4 55 13.8
Jacob deGrom NYM / SP 4 120 30.0
Xander Bogaerts BOS / SS 6 120 20.0
Randal Grichuk TOR / OF 4 47 11.8
German Marquez COL / SP 5 43 8.6
Ronald Acuna ATL / OF 8 100 12.5
David Bote CHC / UTL 5 15 3.0

It’s been public knowledge that the Twins have looked to extend a few of their young potential stars, including Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton. They did get deals done with Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler, both very affordable and low-risk deals for the Twins. Based on the deals that have been done this offseason, here are possible contracts for some of the young Twins.

Jose Berrios, SP

Age: 24

Free Agent Year: 2023

Potential Contract: 6 years / 80 million. Berrios profiles most closely to Aaron Nola of the Phillies or German Marquez of the Rockies on the list above, both of which had deals that extended one year past their free agency. This deal for Berrios would buy out three years of arbitration and three years of free agency, which is why he would cost more money. Though Berrios hasn’t put up the huge seasons Nola or Marquez did last year, he seems to developing into an ace and would be worth the extra money to extend his time in a Twins uniform three years past his rookie contract. If Berrios can stay healthy and continue to trend upward, this deal would be worth the risk.

Byron Buxton, CF

Age: 25

Free Agent Year: 2023

Potential Contract: 5 years / 60 million. Buxton is tricky with his potential being sky high, but his big league production being spotty at best. It seems unlikely that Buxton would want to sign an extension coming off a poor season riddled with injury, especially with his confidence and quality play early in the 2019 season. The Twins would have to come to Buxton with a fairly aggressive offer that leans closer to his potential than his actual stats. With their treatment of his service time situation last fall, this would only increase the likelihood that the Twins would have to offer Buxton an extension that seems spendier than some of his peers. The deal proposed above would buy out Buxton’s first two years of free agency. If Buxton hits .240 or higher with some semblance of power, this deal would be a win for the Twins.

Kyle Gibson, SP

Age: 31

Free Agent Year: 2020

Potential Contract: 3 years / 30 million. The pitching market for mid-tier starters these past couple years has been brutal, making a lucrative extension for Gibson more unlikely. Though the Missouri product had a standout season last year, his track record is that of a 3rd or 4th starter. It seems likely that Gibson would like to try to prove the 2018 wasn’t a fluke before hitting free agency, but he may also want the security of a new deal considering the way the market has been trending in recent seasons. Gibson will be a free agent at the end of the year if he doesn’t ink a new deal with the Twins. If Gibby adds another 3.8 WAR year again in 2019, his price tag will likely be higher than the deal proposed above when he hits free agency.

Miguel Sano, 3B

Age: 25

Free Agent Year: 2022

Potential Contract: 4 years / 30 million. Sano is in a somewhat similar situation to Buxton with his spotty performance and injury-riddled career. A contract extension seems unlikely for both sides right now -- the Twins may not want to invest in a risky player and Sano likely doesn’t want to sign with his value at an all-time low. However, if Sano wanted the Twins to buy out the rest of the years on his rookie deal and get a bit financial insurance for the coming seasons, there is a chance the Twins might be interested. Do the Twins really want to invest in a batter with a career 36.3% strikeout rate? This deal could certainly be worth gamble if it pays off and Sano returns to his 2017 form in which he posted a 124 wRC+, even with the high strikeout numbers.

Taylor Rogers, RP

Age: 28

Free Agent Year: 2023

Potential Contract: 4 years / 20 million. Rogers is another interesting case, but more so because of his position. There are only two relief pitchers featured in the chart above, Jose Leclerc and Ryan Pressly. A potential deal for Rogers would likely be closer to what Leclerc received based on their similarities in service time. With Rogers’ breakthrough season in 2018, and early promising signs in 2019, he could be a sneaky candidate for an extension. A deal for Rogers might also include team options similar to Leclerc’s deal, who could be a Ranger for up to six years if the team decides to exercise those options. If the Twins believe in the legitimacy of Rogers’ breaking pitches, this deal would also be a bargain. Early signs this year point to future success of his slider and curve, as opponents have a .202 xwOBA on his slider that he has thrown 54% of the time.

Mitch Garver, C

Age: 28

Free Agent Year: 2024

Potential Contract: 5 years / 20 million. Garver still has quite a few years left on his rookie deal and is already 28 years old, so an extension wouldn’t make a lot of sense from the Twins perspective. However, if the Twins believe in Garver as the catcher of the future, there is a chance they could buy out his arbitration years and offer him an extension. It looks like Garver could develop 20+ home run pop with consistent playing time, but his defense raises the biggest questions. It seems likely that the Twins will let this year play out and see how Garver does behind the plate before moving forward with any future catcher plans.

Eddie Rosario, OF

Age: 27

Free Agent Year: 2022

Potential Contract: 5 years / 70 million. There isn’t really a comparable player to Rosario that received an extension this offseason, with Randal Grichuk (4 years, 47 million) probably being the closest comparison. Rosario will be under contract for two more years after 2019, so a five-year deal would lock him up through his age-32 season and likely give the Twins the prime years of his career. Though Rosario can go through extreme hot and cold stretches, his slash lines over the last two years have been nearly the same and exhibit above average offensive production. The Puerto Rican outfielder has posted an .836 and .803 OPS over the past two seasons, and I would be surprised if he wasn’t around those marks again in 2019.

Trevor May, RP

Age: 29

Free Agent Year: 2021

Potential Contract: 3 years / 12 million. May is also comes with an injury-riddled past and is already 29 years old. He has shown the capability and the stuff to become a consistent back-end of the bullpen option, but his lack of a full-season of success would limit his contractual bargaining power. I would look for May to get a shorter deal worth just over 10 million dollars (maybe with a team option for more years) if the Twins decided to extend him.

Adalberto Meija, RP

Age: 26

Free Agent Year: 2024

Potential Contract: 4 years / 12 million. This may be the most unlikely of the deals, but could be possible if the Twins think that Meija is a legitimate left-handed option out of the bullpen or has the potential to move back to the starting rotation. As of now, Meija seems to be the only semi-reliable left-handed bullpen arm besides Taylor Rodgers. However, bullpen arms are usually easier to find than almost any other position.

Willians Astudillo, C/1B/2B/3B/OF/P

Age: 27

Free Agent Year: 2025

Potential Contract: Give La Tortuga a blank contract and let him work out the details.

It’s possible that the Twins complete a contract extension with none of these players in the near future, though the trends in baseball say that a player or two on this list will likely ink a deal with the Twins. If the Twins young core makes them a legitimate contender for years to come, getting started on contract extensions now will be a key for the team’s future success.

What do you think of these potential extensions for the Twins younger players, and which of these deals would you like the best? Let me know what you think in the comments section!