Berrios and Buxton Want to Cash In. Will the Mid-Market Twins Pay Up?

Photo: Hannah Foslien – Getty Images

It’s Monday, July 19 and with the deadline just 11 days away, MLB trade season is officially upon us. After fumbling through one of the most disappointing first halves in franchise history, the (39-53) Minnesota Twins were swept by the (43-51) Detroit Tigers this weekend to kick off the second half of the season.

Now that the All-Star break is behind us, it’s more clear than ever that the Twins will be sellers. But how big will the sell-off be? Most importantly, with just 1.5 seasons remaining of team control and big pay days just over the horizon, will the mid-market Minnesota Twins owner expose themselves by trading away Byron Buxton and/or Jose Berrios in the next two weeks, to avoid paying them?

Probably not. At least, not yet. In all likelihood, both Buxton and Berrios will still be in Minnesota Twins uniforms when the trade deadline dust settles. But don’t get comfortable. Spring Training 2022 opens next February. We’ll see what uniform they’re wearing then.

Buxton’s ‘best and final’ offer?

Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton will become unrestricted free agents after next season. Minnesota’s front office has been trying to extend them at a bargain price for years, to no avail. Both guys want to cash in and, after the 2022 season, that’s their right. They deserve it.

Falvine and the Pohlad’s reportedly offered Buxton a ‘best and final’ contract extension last week, worth somewhere in the ballpark of $70 million ($10M/YR), plus escalators he’d surely hit with good health (Ken Rosenthal – The Athletic). Will he sign it? Probably not.

But with some negotiations, could it get done? The Twins threatening to trade him doesn’t seem like a good-faith negotiating tactic. But the numbers, given Buxton’s injury history, could make sense. Aaron Gleeman (The Athletic) seemed to pin that magic dollar amount at $15 million per season, in an article he released this morning. That price actually seems attainable for a front office willing to pay Miguel Sano and Josh Donaldson $11 million and $21 million per year, respectively.

I would trade both of those players for nothing if it meant keeping Byron Buxton.

What about Jose Berrios?

If the Twins find a way to sign Byron Buxton to a long-term extension, it’ll only be made possible because of his injury history discount. That won’t be the case for Jose Berrios, who’s been one of the more reliable players at staying on-roster for most of his career.

How expensive are we talking? On his “The Scoop” podcast Sunday (around the 09:00 mark), Darren Wolfson (KSTP and SKOR North) put Berrios’ asking price at over $20 million per year. He put La Machina’s next deal closer to that of Zach Wheeler’s 5YR/$118M with the Phillies than Lance McCuller’s 5YR/$85M from the Astros. Phil Miller interviewed Berrios for today’s Star Tribune and made it clear the 27-year-old stud isn’t giving the Twins any sort of discount.

Would the Twins outbid the field? They will need to, he hinted.

“I like Minnesota. My family likes it too. This is the organization that gave me an opportunity to be a professional and a big-leaguer,” Berrios said. “But it’s a business, too. They understand that I have to do what’s best for me and my family. We’ll see what they think. Someday.”

That day could be soon. If the Twins aren’t interested in paying market rates, they could trade him before the July 30 deadline, in order to receive the maximum return in new players or prospects. There have been no talks this season, he said, but “maybe they’ll come to us before the trade deadline. I don’t know yet.”

Phil Miller – Star Tribune

The real test

Berrios is having one of the best seasons of his career, even as the team around him has collapsed. That’s not going to help his “affordability”. Jose’s 3.48 ERA, 1.7 WAR and 1.095 WHIP through half of 2021 are all much better than his career averages 4.09/1.8/1.243. For good reason, Jose Berrios is going to demand at least $20 million per season in free agency, a price the Minnesota Twins have historically balked at.

No matter how desperate this franchise is for bona fide front-line starting pitchers, I’d be shocked if they make Berrios a $20M offer he can’t refuse. This is a dude who’s obviously excited to hit free agency. And once he does, the Twins aren’t going to win an auction-style bidding war to retain his services.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan