The Minnesota Twins have agreed to two long term extensions with two of their core players. Outfielder Max Kepler and Shortstop Jorge Polanco have agreed to contracts to start the spring.
The contract for Kepler is $35 million over five seasons with a sixth season option worth $10 million. This contract will buy out his remaining arbitration years and take him into a few years of free agent eligibility. Max Kepler is currently 26 years old so this contract will take him into his age 31 season.
Max Kepler has been the starting right fielder over the last three seasons averaging a slash line of .234/.313/.419 and hitting 20 home runs last season. He was a 2.8 WAR player last season (1.7 offside 0.8 defense). He saved 10 runs above average last season and was the most consistent player, playing in 156 games.
Some people have though Kepler is not deserving of a contract worth $35 million but he has shown signs of improving. His hard hit% has risen in the last season and is above MLB average.
Hit BABIP rose from 2015-2017 but took a major hit in 2018 dropping 40 points. If he can raise that to the .290 to .300 range the he will get a lot better. He would get better from improving this because his strikeout rate dropped by about 5% and his walk rate increased by about 3% in 2018.
Overall I love the idea of keeping Kepler around long term. With Alex Kirilloff on the rise it raises some questions to where he will fit, but that’s for another article.
The Jorge Polanco signing is another great move for the organization. locking up a shortstop who has looked like a borderline all star at times is going to be great. The contract for Polanco is five seasons for $25 million with a vesting year six option and a year seven club option. This contract will take Polanco all the way to his age 32 season and I think it’s a great move for the team.
He is a career .272/.329/.420 hitter who will give you 12-15 home runs in a full season. He was a 1.5 WAR player last season even though he only played half of it so you can project around 3.0 WAR in a full season.
It seems this contract will definitely benefit for the Twins down the road. 25 million over seven seasons for a good player at a premiere position will be great. People who say he doesn’t deserve it because of his issues with PEDs are wrong because he has proven how good he can be without them. I believe the PED incident could have been an accident anyway.
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