Fort Myers, Fla. – Jose Berrios has a contract now. Maybe not the one he wants, but it's OK for the moment.
Berrios, like the rest of the Twins' players who have fewer than three years of major league experience, agreed to a one-year contract this week for, as is the Twins' habit, slightly more than MLB's $555,000 minimum salary, according to a source with knowledge of the signings.
Berrios, who has two years and 44 days of service time and will be eligible for salary arbitration next winter, wishes he could sign a deal for much bigger money, such as the $35 million Max Kepler got last month and the $25.8 million agreed to by Jorge Polanco in their five-year extensions.
Well, OK, he'd like more than that.
A pitcher who has pitched in an All-Star Game and become his team's Opening Day starter before his 25th birthday is potentially worth far more. And the Twins and Berrios have not been able to agree on exactly how much.
"Every player wants to sign a multiyear deal, but we know it's a business," Berrios said after pitching 3⅓ innings against the Red Sox on Wednesday. "I have to manage my business, too. … We're waiting for the best for both sides. If it doesn't happen this year, maybe next year."
Luis Severino, a fellow All-Star with Berrios last July who also was not yet eligible for arbitration, signed a four-year deal with the Yankees worth at least $40 million last month. The Phillies signed Aaron Nola, who finished third in Cy Young voting last year and has three years of experience, to a four-year contract worth at least $45 million. Both deals included an option year worth another $15 million or more.
Berrios didn't disclose figures, but said he and his agent declined an offer from the Twins this winter, figuring he'll make more by going year-to-year for now. Doesn't that put pressure on him to keep excelling, and stay healthy?
"Not really. It's fun because I have to keep working hard," Berrios said. "I'm not laying down because I don't have [a big contract] yet. That's good for me. I like it. There's no pressure, but we have nothing yet, so keep doing what [I'm] doing."