The Twins on Friday reached one-year deals with all eight of their arbitration-eligible players, another step toward clearing up their 2019 payroll picture.
Jake Odorizzi will get $9.5 million in 2019 after making $6.3 last season. The righthanded starter, who was 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA in his first year with the Twins in 2018, won arbitration cases with Tampa Bay in each of the past two offseasons.
Fellow righthander Kyle Gibson, who made $4.2 million last season after losing in arbitration, will make $8.125 million this season.
Third baseman Miguel Sano, who made $463,000 in 2018, agreed for $2.65 million. His deal includes a $50,000 bonus for reaching 502 plate appearances.
Right fielder Max Kepler is set at $3.125 million, a raise from $587,000. Left fielder Eddie Rosario, who made $602,500 last season, will make $4.19 million this season after leading the club with 24 home runs and 77 RBI.
Two relievers, Taylor Rogers and Trevor May, also got new deals. Rogers will make $1.525 million after earning $565,000 last season; May will earn $900,000.
On Thursday, the Twins reached agreement with Byron Buxton on a one-year, $1.75 million deal. And the Twins had reached agreements with infielder Ehire Adrianza (for $1.3 million) and first baseman C.J. Cron ($4.8 million) earlier in the offseason.
The Twins lost a player, pitcher Aaron Slegers, on waivers to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Slegers had been designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster for Nelson Cruz.
Slegers, a 6-foot-10 righthander, pitched in eight games (29 innings) for the Twins over the past two seasons. The 26-year-old was 1-2 with a 5.90 ERA.
There’s a chance the Twins will explore multiyear deals with some of the arbitration-eligible players as the season progresses. Gibson went 10-13 with a 3.62 ERA last season and looks to be a candidate for such a deal as he’s in his prime. Odorizzi and Rosario also would be candidates, provided they have strong seasons. Without extensions, Gibson and Odorizzi both will be eligible for free agency after the season.
Following Friday’s spree of deals, the Twins now have 19 players under contract for $86.115 million. They also are on the hook for $5.95 million of Phil Hughes’ $13.2 million salary for 2019. If the rest of the Twins roster is made up of players with zero to three years of service time, they are looking at a payroll of around $95 million this season. That’s a sizable reduction from last season’s club-record $128 million payroll.
But they are expected to add another reliever or two. They are finalizing a deal with righthander Blake Parker, who was 2-1 with a 3.26 ERA and 14 saves for the Angels last season. They remain on the lookout for other free-agent relievers as the offseason enters the stage in which salary demands could be lowered. They have interest in former Indians closer Cody Allen and could look at other veterans like Brad Brach. The clearly have the payroll flexibility to add at least two more relievers.
And the Twins will have even more financial muscle after 2019. As of now, only $300,000 is on the books for 2020 — the buyout for Cruz’s contract. The Twins have financial muscle in present and future. It’s up to them how, and when, they will flex it.