March 17, 2019

It was nice knowing you, Jose Berrios

Baseball is all fun and games until you have to talk business.

The first crack in a relationship between budding star and team emerged this week after starting pitcher, Jose Berrios, declined a contract extension from the Twins in favor of a one-year deal worth around $600,000. He obviously didn’t like their offer and now has another season to remind the Twins about his value before he becomes arbitration-eligible in 2020.

If he has another season like he did in 2018, the Twins had best be prepared to write a large check. If not, expect the crack in the relationship to widen to compound fracture from hairline. Berrios will be a free agent in 2023.

Berrios, in a short career so far, had his best season yet in 2018 in terms of earned run average (3.84), innings pitched (192.1) and strikeouts (202). That only translated into 12 wins, despite making 17 quality starts (six innings with three or fewer earned runs), likely due to a lack of run support. That’s about to change.

After a flurry of deals in the offseason, including a deal for slugger Nelson Cruz, the Twins are bound to improve on the 166 home runs they hit last season, which placed them 12th out of 15 teams in the American League. And if spring training is any indication, the Twins are right on track.

They lead the majors this spring with 40 home runs, including a six-homer game against the Baltimore Orioles on Friday. That kind of run-scoring power just might allow Berrios to pitch deeper into games, strike out more batters and win more games. MLB Trade Rumors also wrote about the Berrios decision and it generated an interesting comment from a reader:

I think Berrios wants to play for a team committed to winning. His work ethic is touted as fantastic. If he’s putting in this much effort to win and be better, I’d speculate he’d want the same from his team. The Twins have done little to impress.

I disagree with that last sentence: I think the Twins have done a lot to impress. But if Berrios is working that hard to get better that might be another reason to wait for an even bigger pay day.

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.