Though the Twins are getting some notable reinforcements back from the injured list in the coming days, the 26-39 club has a big hill to climb to even approach the postseason race. With this in mind, speculation has swirled around the Twins as a trade deadline seller, and Jose Berrios stands out as a major potential trade chip depending on how big of a reload Minnesota wishes to make.
Berrios has one final year of arbitration eligibility remaining before hitting free agency in the 2022-23 offseason. As to whether or not his time in Minnesota could continue beyond the 2022 season, SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson reports (Twitter link) that the Twins haven’t “initiated any talks in recent weeks” with Berrios’ representatives at Wasserman about a potential contract extension. Of course, this might not be that surprising a detail considering that most players prefer to not discuss contractual matters in-season.
If such extension talks did place, it would seem that the Twins would be making such overtures as something of a last-ditch effort to lock up Berrios, and if a deal couldn’t be reached, the club would be more open to moving him prior to the July 30 trade deadline. The issue with that scenario, however, is that Minnesota isn’t under any immediate pressure to make a decision on Berrios’ future, since he is still under contract through 2022. The Twins could wait until the offseason to shop Berrios to a wider market of interested teams, or they could take the time to revisit extension talks heading into their final year of control over Berrios.
Even if neither a trade or an extension is worked out, it wouldn’t be out of the question that the Twins would just keep Berrios in the fold for 2022. Despite this season’s struggles, it would seem like Minnesota is still planning to regroup and make another run at contention next year, so Berrios has plenty of value in the Twins’ own rotation going forward.
The 27-year-old Berrios is having another solid season, with a 3.49 ERA/3.61 SIERA and an above-average strikeout rate (26%) and walk rate (6.4%) over 77 1/3 innings. The overall Statcast metrics aren’t quite as positive, as Berrios’ xwOBA and hard-hit ball numbers have been subpar for the second consecutive season, but the righty has continued to be a durable and effective arm in the front end of Minnesota’s rotation.
Back in March 2019, Berrios said the Twins had made him an extension offer that he declined, though he was open to more negotiations. “We’re waiting for the best for both sides. If it doesn’t happen this year, maybe next year,” Berrios said. Rather than a contract extension, the two sides went to a hearing the next spring to determine Berrios’ salary for his first arb-eligibility, with the Twins winning the hearing and paying Berrios $4.025MM rather than his desired $4.4MM figure. This past winter, the two sides reached a deal to avoid arbitration, with Berrios receiving a $6.1MM salary for the 2021 season.
Even with another raise in his final arb year, Berrios is still a very affordable option for any team looking for rotation help, which only elevates his trade value. The Twins could be hard-pressed to decline if another club makes a truly spectacular trade offer for Berrios, despite his importance to the 2022 team. Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, and Matt Shoemaker are all scheduled to be free agents this winter, so moving Berrios would create another hole for the Twins to address in their starting staff.