The deadline for the Minnesota Twins to tender contracts to arbitration players was yesterday, so we grade every single move the Twins made.
The Minnesota Twins are now officially into the free agency portion of their season. Free agents are talking with teams, options have been decided on, arbitration is over, and players have been non-tendered.
Several key Twins players hit the open market, including one who already signed. On Wednesday night, two more joined him, while six agreed to deals to avoid arbitration, a process the Twins avoid like the plague.
Now that all these decisions are made, I get to do my favorite thing when it comes to the Twins: hand out grades. I give out a grade based on salary (if they signed), why or why not they weren’t tendered, and if the move makes sense overall. We get started with the ones who will be back in 2021.
Move No.1: The Minnesota Twins and Caleb Thielbar agree to a 1 year, $650k thousand deal
We start this process off with easily the best deal. Caleb Thielbar is pre-arbitration, but is 33 years old and the Twins felt it was worthwhile to give Thielbar a better deal than he may have gotten otherwise. It was a good move.
After a breakout 2020, the Minnesota native deserved a little good faith after a hard-fought battle to make it back to the majors. This is a classy move from the franchise, giving him a little bump in pay and rewarding a player who wants to stay here.
Move No. 2: The Minnesota Twins and Mitch Garver agree to a 1 year, $1.875 million deal to avoid arbitration
It was a foregone conclusion that Mitch Garver would be back in 2021, but this is a good price for the Twins. Neither Garver nor the Twins wanted to go to arbitration, so they made the solid move to get a deal done.
Garver’s arbitration number was $1.8 million, so the Twins went a little over to avoid arbitration, but this is still a very good deal for a catcher who should have a bounce back year in 2021. Not too shabby.
Move No. 3: The Minnesota Twins and Tyler Duffey agree to a 1 year, $2.2 million deal to avoid arbitration
After we watched Trevor May get a whopping $7.75 million AAV deal, getting a Tyler Duffey deal for under $2.5 million is incredible. It’s obviously a very different situation, but it’s nice to think about it that way.
Duffey’s arbitration number of $1.7 million was based off his having a really good season and his low service time, but the Twins knew he was worth more, going a full $500k more to avoid arbitration. Very smart move for the team’s best reliever in 2020.
Move No. 4: The Minnesota Twins and Byron Buxton agree to a 1 year, $5.125 million deal to avoid arbitration
Byron Buxton is edging closer and closer to his potential free agency without a long term deal in place. As we talked about earlier, Buxton is only going to get more and more expensive, so the Twins should try and get a deal done soon.
This was a good first step. Buxton was only scheduled to make around $4.1 million, but the team decided to give him over a million more than that as a show of good faith. Hopefully this brings both sides closer to an extension, which is why I gave this deal an A+.
Move No. 4: The Minnesota Twins and Jose Berrios agree to a 1 year, $6 million dollar deal to avoid arbitration
A lot of what can be said for the Buxton deal applies to Jose Berrios. The only difference is contract negotiations with Berrios and his camp were going nowhere and Berrios dragged the Twins to arbitration last offseason.
This year was different. The Minnesota Twins gave Berrios $1 million more than his expected slot, showing good faith for future expectations. I hope both sides can come together on an extension using this good will as Berrios is probably the best starter the Twins have developed in the last decade. He’s a key piece, even if he isn’t an ace.
Move No. 5: The Minnesota Twins and Taylor Rogers agree to a 1 year, $6 million dollar deal to avoid arbitration
This deal was the most confusing to me in terms of money. Taylor Rogers was expected to make $5.3 million, but the Twins gave him a $700k bump, a big jump in arbitration. Rogers is the most talented member of the team’s bullpen, so he’s definitely worth it, but I think the team could have agreed to a little less.
Move No. 6: The Minnesota Twins elect to non-tender Eddie Rosario, sending him to free agency
This was a move that nearly everyone saw coming, and it’s easy to see why. Eddie Rosario was not as important to the outfield as Max Kepler and Buxton, is a sure bet to be replaced by Alex Kirilloff and/or Brent Rooker, and was set to cost the Twins nearly $10 million.
The Twins had no choice but to help save money here to be spent elsewhere. Twins fans have a lot of fond memories of Eddie, but there was no reason for the Twins to keep him at that price or for him to accept less.
He was also untradeable, as teams knew this was the plan and just had to wait. While an Eddie reunion is still possible, it’s unlikely, and so we may have seen the last of our beloved Eddie Rosario in a Twins uniform. Still an overall good deal.
Move No. 7: The Minnesota Twins elect to non-tender Matt Wisler, sending him to free agency
This move was stunning, and Twins fans all over were furious. Here me out though: it’s definitely understandable. Matt Wisler was a dumpster find last year who succeeds at throwing one pitch. He’s due for regression this year.
The Twins added younger talent in Brandon Waddell, Ian Gibault, and journeyman Derek Law already this offseason to pick up his workload. Wisler was excellent last year, but he was in no way essential.
Most importantly, Wisler wanted to go to arbitration. The Twins want to avoid arbitration at all costs. This led them to make the decision that they would rather try and win him over in free agency, rather than go through the process. He still may be back in Minnesota next year. They just wanted no part of his arbitration process.