SATURDAY: Extension talks are off for the time being, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman, who tweets that the Twins and Gibson didn’t come close to a deal during their discussions.
FRIDAY: The Twins and right-hander Kyle Gibson are discussing an extension that would keep him in Minnesota beyond the current season, Gibson himself revealed to Phil Miller of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Gibson is set to become a free agent after the 2019 campaign, but Miller notes that agent Randy Rowley has been in Ft. Myers for the past few days and met with the Twins to discuss a deal. Gibson is already earning $8.125MM this season after avoiding arbitration earlier in the winter.
“It’s really just trying to figure out what makes sense for the Twins and if it is something they want to do as well,” Gibson told Miller, adding that Minneapolis is “definitely” somewhere he wants to be beyond the 2019 season.
A first-round pick by the Twins back in 2009, Gibson’s path to the Majors was slowed by Tommy John surgery. He’s been a mainstay in Minnesota’s rotation since 2014, however, and while he struggled in both 2016-17, Gibson enjoyed easily the best season of his career in 2018. Last year, the Mizzou product totaled a career-high 196 2/3 innings while registering a 3.62 ERA with 8.2 K/9, 3.6 BB/9, 1.05 HR/9 and a 49.8 percent ground-ball rate. Gibson upped the use of his slider a bit while throwing his changeup less often and saw his swinging-strike rate increase from its career mark of 9.8 percent to 11.5 percent.
If the two sides can ultimately strike a deal, Gibson would become the third starting pitcher to forgo free agency in favor of a pre-season extension, joining Reds right-hander Sonny Gray (three years, $30.5MM) and Cardinals right-hander Miles Mikolas (four years, $68MM). Gibson’s situation isn’t a direct parallel with either of those righties, however. He’s two years older than Gray but also coming off a demonstrably better season, whereas Mikolas is a year younger and coming off a surprisingly dominant season in his return to the big leagues after a three-year run in Japan.
The Twins likely have some added incentive to try to broker an agreement, as in addition to Gibson, they’ll see right-handers Michael Pineda and Jake Odorizzi become free agents following the 2019 season. Jose Berrios, who rejected an extension overture earlier this spring, is the only established starter that Minnesota controls beyond the 2019 season. Fifth starter Martin Perez has a club option on the one-year contract he signed this winter, though he’ll need to reestablish himself as a viable big league arm in order for that to become a consideration.