Monday, January 6, 2020

Spend Some Dollars, Extend Jose

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?