Twins reach 1-year deals with 8 players to avoid arbitration
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Right-hander Kyle Gibson and left fielder Eddie Rosario were among eight Minnesota Twins players who avoided salary arbitration by agreeing to one-year contracts Friday.
Gibson and Rosario received hefty raises: Gibson will earn $8,125,000, an increase from his 2018 salary of $4.2 million, while Rosario got $4.19 million for an increase from $602,500 last year.
Also agreeing on contracts were right-hander Jake Odorizzi for $9.5 million up, from $6.3 million; center fielder Byron Buxton for $1.75 million; third baseman Miguel Sano for $2,650,000, up from $602,500; right fielder Max Kepler for $3,125,000, up from $587,500; left-hander Taylor Rogers for $1,525,000; and right-hander Trevor May for $900,000.
Gibson finally had the breakout year in 2018 the Twins had been looking for since they drafted him in the first round in 2009. The lanky pitcher posted a 3.62 ERA with 179 strikeouts in 196 2/3 innings over 32 starts — all career bests — and his 3.9 wins above replacement was the highest mark on the team. Gibson lost his arbitration hearing before last season, when the Twins offered $4.2 million and he asked for $350,000 more.
Rosario was the team’s best everyday player for most of last season, until a strained quadriceps ruined his final month. He led the team with 24 homers, 87 runs and 77 RBIs in 136 games. This marked Rosario’s first time being eligible for arbitration.
Odorizzi, who made $6.3 million last year after arriving in a trade with Tampa Bay, was one of three pitchers for the Twins to make 32 starts in 2018. His 4.49 ERA, though, was the highest for a full season in his major league career.
Kepler, eligible for arbitration for the first time, won the team’s defensive player of the year award after his third straight season as the regular right fielder. He never found a rhythm at the plate, batting a career-low .224, but he did set his big league high with 20 home runs.
Sano’s 2018 season went so far off track that the slugging third baseman was sent to the minors for reconditioning. He appeared in only 71 games for the Twins and batted just .199 with 115 strikeouts. He would earn a $50,000 performance bonus this year for making 502 plate appearances.
Rogers, a first-time arbitration candidate, had a breakout year in the bullpen in 2018 with a team-low 2.63 ERA. He finished the season on a consecutive scoreless streak of 26 innings from July 30 on, with 29 strikeouts and just 10 hits and three walks allowed during that span.
May made an encouraging return to the bullpen last year from Tommy John surgery that kept him out the entire 2017 season, with a 3.20 ERA and 36 strikeouts in 25 1/3 innings.
Buxton, the second pick in the 2012 draft, has yet to make it through any of his four major league seasons without going on the disabled list or being sent to the minors. Last year was the speedy center fielder’s worst yet, when he broke a toe fouling a ball off his foot during a rehab assignment in April. Buxton appeared in only 28 games for the Twins and batted just .156 with 28 strikeouts and three walks. Though he finally got healthy over the summer, he was angered when he wasn’t included among the September call-ups.