1:37pm: Rosario is one of the players who turned down an offer, Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN tweets.
9:30am: The Twins were long rumored to be chatting with center fielder Byron Buxton about a new contract this spring. But it seems he was not the only target for an organization that was evidently hoping to enhance the value of some existing player control rights.
Per Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, via Twitter, the club pursued long-term arrangements with four other young players as well. Two of those targets are identified in the report: righty Jose Berrios and outfielder Max Kepler.
The remaining pair is not known, though perhaps it’s not unreasonable to surmise that one of them was shortstop Jorge Polanco, who had a solid 2017 campaign but ended up being suspended for half of the 2018 season. Outfielder Eddie Rosario seems to be another likely candidate, as the front office has made clear they see him “as part of the core.” Star third bagger Miguel Sano would also be a hypothetical target, no doubt, though perhaps he was not likely to be approached during an offseason in which he was under league investigation for an alleged assault.
Obviously, none of those discussions led to agreements. Perhaps, though, they could still set the stage for eventual deals.
Buxton, who is entering his final season before beginning the arbitration process, was the most obvious target from the get-go. He turned in a breakout second half at the plate and was an outstanding defender and baserunner all season long. But those previously reported talks seemingly fizzled, leaving the team to renew the 24-year-old’s contract late this spring.
It’s hardly surprising to hear of interest in Berrios, either, as he also overcame some initial MLB struggles to turn in an impressive 2017 effort. He’s a year further from the arb process (and free agency) than Buxton, but that also surely left the team intrigued at the potential value it might achieve. Berrios said a month ago that he had not been approached, so it appears that the chatter took place in the interim.
Then, there’s Kepler, who’s in an in-between position from the other two players in terms of service time. He’s on track to reach Super Two status next winter but, like Berrios, can’t accrue more than six years of MLB time until the end of the 2022 season. The 25-year-old has, to date, been a solid performer, turning in two seasons as a roughly average hitter, solid defender, and good baserunner at a corner outfield spot. Kepler’s profile is not quite as exciting as those of his aforementioned teammates, but at the right price he could also certainly make sense for a long-term deal, particularly if the club believes there’s still some developmental upside remaining to be tapped into.
In any event, none of those players have inked contracts prior to the start of the current campaign. While something could, in theory, come together at any time, Passan does say that all of the players in question turned down the offers they were presented at the time.