Jose Berrios, the talented but not quite elite pitcher for the Minnesota Twins, appears set to have his salary demands go before an arbitrator, according to various reports.
— Jose O. Berrios (@JOLaMaKina) December 18, 2019
There’s still time for the Twins and Berrios to work out a deal — both sides have until February — but the recent sequence of salary-related news has been odd, and one wonders if the ultimate trade chip is not someone like outfielder, Eddie Rosario, or a top prospect in the Twins’ minor league system, but Berrios himself.
Coming off a 2018 season in which Berrios struck out a career high 202 batters, he declined a contract extension from the Twins and was paid $620,000 for the 2019 season. That news was somewhat troubling because he pitched well and yet he or his representatives felt that whatever was offered fell short.
Berrios then went out and won 14 games, tying his career high in wins, pitched 200 innings for the first time in his career and lowered his ERA to 3.68. He also made 21 quality starts — six innings with three or fewer earned runs in a start — for a quality start percentage of 66 percent. A pitcher who will go out and give you a quality start almost 70 percent of the time seems like a player worth keeping.
So what explains the following? Phil Miller of the Strib reports that Berrios is seeking $4.4 million in 2020, yet the Twins countered with $4.025 million, a difference of $375,000. Are Falvey & Co. really going to quibble over that amount, especially when there’s talk of the Twins offering third baseman Josh Donaldson $100 million? Or perhaps that’s just it. Maybe the team has to hold the line somewhere to get Donaldson.
But don’t hold it against, Jose, Minnesota. He’s a good pitcher who still has a bright future with the team. But if you can’t come up with the money — and that might put the Berrios/Twins relationship at risk to the point he demands a trade — the arbitrator will.
-In other contract news, Miguel Sano, Rosario, Byron Buxton, Tyler Duffey, Taylor Rogers and Trevor May are all under contract for 2020. In Sano’s case, he has reportedly agreed to a three-year extension worth $30 million
Sources: Baseball-Reference.com, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, MLB.com.