With Spring Training just over one month away, Friday marks one of the more significant remaining dates on Major League Baseball’s offseason calendar -- particularly for the Twins. It’s the deadline for clubs and their arbitration-eligible players to exchange salary proposals for the 2020 season, and the Twins have a bevy of players who fall into this category.
Here’s a primer on what’s at stake:
What is salary arbitration?
Players with three or more years of MLB service time but fewer than six (when they qualify for free agency) can negotiate their salaries for the upcoming season, which are primarily based on comparable players who have signed contracts in recent seasons. The player and the club will each present a salary figure, which will be exchanged no later than Friday at noon CT.
If the player and club cannot agree to terms, then a hearing is scheduled in February, where a panel of arbitrators, who, after hearing arguments from both sides, selects either the salary figure of the player or the club.
Players and clubs can continue to negotiate salaries between Friday and a potential hearing on a one- or multiyear deal, which is typically how these negotiations settle.
Which Twins are eligible for arbitration?
Infielder Ehire Adrianza ($1.6 million) and right-hander Matt Wisler ($725,000) have already reached arbitration-avoiding agreements for 2020 contracts, but a throng of prominent Twins will exchange figures by Friday.
Here is a breakdown of that bunch, with what arbitration year each is entering and their projected 2020 salaries, according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts.
• RHP José Berríos (first year; $4.75 million)
Berríos is slated for a sizable raise after his second straight All-Star season, in which he made 32 starts for the second year in a row, posted a sub-4.00 ERA for the third year in a row and eclipsed 200 innings for the first time, as one of just 15 pitchers to reach that mark in 2019. Berríos reportedly declined a long-term offer from the Twins last offseason and earned $620,000 in '19.
• CF Byron Buxton (second year; $4 million)
Buxton has also been believed to be open to a long-term deal, which could potentially still manifest before he hits free agency after the 2022 season. A significant injury once again curtailed his contributions in '19 -- he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in September and played in just 87 games -- which will likely impact his ’20 salary. Buxton is expected to be “pretty much full-go” when the Twins report to Spring Training in five weeks.
• RHP Tyler Duffey (first year; $850,000)
Following a breakout year in which he thrived in a high-leverage role, Duffey is due for a pay bump from the $542,500 he earned last season, when he posted career bests in ERA (2.50), WHIP (1.01) and strikeouts per nine innings (12.8).
• RHP Trevor May (third and final year; $1.75 million)
Like Duffey, May is also coming off his best season, having pitched in a career-high 65 games and compiled a personal-best 2.94 ERA while striking out 79 in 64 1/3 innings and overcoming walk issues in the first half. This will be May’s final run through arbitration, which means he will become a free agent at season’s end.
• LHP Taylor Rogers (second year; $4 million)
Rogers is also due for a sizable salary increase from the $1.525 million he earned last year after a very successful run in his first full season as Minnesota’s closer. The hard-hurling lefty’s 30 saves were tied for fourth in the American League, and he walked just 11 of the 278 batters he faced for a 4 percent rate that was tied for fifth best among 158 qualified relievers.
• LF Eddie Rosario (second year; $8 million)
Rosario, who has been one of the Twins’ best players in recent years, regressed some but remained an effective offensive player while clubbing a career-high 32 homers with an .800 OPS. This will be his second turn through arbitration, leaving him with just one year of club control after 2020.
• 3B Miguel Sanó (second year; $6.25 million)
Sanó bounced back from a wildly disappointing 2018 that included a Minor League demotion, reclaiming his role as one of the AL Central’s top sluggers. The burly third baseman posted career bests in homers (34), RBIs (79) and OPS (.923) despite a slow start upon returning in mid May. Like Rosario, Sanó is also due for a sizable pay raise and will have just one year of club control remaining after this season.
How often do cases reach arbitration?
For the Twins, not often. Minnesota is not a file-and-trial club, meaning it doesn’t stand firm by its proposed offer and halt negotiations before a hearing. The only cases in which the club presented in front of arbitrators were Kyle Gibson in 2018 and Kyle Lohse in ’05 and ’06.
How will arbitration negotiations affect the rest of the Twins’ offseason?
In short, it shouldn’t. Including the arbitration projections from Cot’s, the Twins have roughly $116 million committed for their 26-man roster for 2020, with room to add.
Also, star free agent Josh Donaldson remains unsigned, and the Twins have reportedly been in the market for the third baseman, with MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reporting that Minnesota has made a four-year offer in the neighborhood of $100 million.