The Twins and two of their young players reportedly agreed to win-win long-term contract extensions Thursday — deals that give the Twins a measure of cost-certainty while giving the young players financial security.
The two who received deals — shortstop Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler — aren’t terribly surprising.
After a torrid finish to 2017, Polanco had a disappointing drug suspension in the first half of 2018. But he returned for a productive second half and should be a middle infield mainstay with power and reasonable defense.
Kepler’s progress seems to have hit a frustrating stall point, but if his floor is as a 2+ WAR corner outfielder with speed, pop and fielding ability, a five-year deal for $35 million total hardly seems outlandish.
Both deals could end up being great value for the Twins if the players take another step forward. And in both cases, neither the contracts themselves nor the fear of regression should give anyone too much concern.
All-Star pitcher Jose Berrios, outfielder Eddie Rosario and reliever Taylor Rogers are also in line for longer contracts.
All three are, indeed, excellent candidates for similar deals. They might even be the three most deserving with all things considered.
What’s striking — though not surprising — in all this, though, is the absence of two names: Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano.
It’s striking because those are the highest-upside guys off the bunch — the potential superstars whose every movement we have been tracking for years.
It’s not surprising because if you were the Twins, would you be ready to commit long-term money to either one — even if there was a chance there could be a massive payoff if they turn a corner and become more consistent?
The answer after a disastrous 2018 season for both players is no.
There’s still time, of course. Both players are arbitration-eligible starting in 2020. If things take an upward turn this season, you could still envision long-term deals that buy out the arbitration years and a slice of free agency.
But right now? Unfortunately for both the Twins and both players, there’s still far too much to prove.