The Twins have agreed to a five-year, $35 million extension with outfielder Max Kepler, according to a report from ESPN’s Jeff Passan on Thursday. The contract includes a club option for a sixth year, which will pay him $10 million if it’s picked up or $1 million if it’s declined:
Outfielder Max Kepler and the Minnesota Twins are in agreement on a five-year, $35 million deal with a sixth-year option, a league source tells ESPN. The option is for $10 million and includes a $1 million buyout.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) February 14, 2019
Kepler, the German-born son of professional ballet dancers, will be entering his fifth major-league season in 2019 (though he’s really only played three; he came up for three games in late September 2015). He’s never posted a league-average or above-average OPS+ — he matched his career-high at 96 last season — but he’s shown his ability to hit for solid power in each of his three full seasons, hitting at least 17 each year, including a career-high 20 in 2018. He’s displayed decent plate discipline — his .313 OBP is 80 points higher than his .233 career average — so if he can simply start making more contact, he should end up being a pretty good offensive contributor.
Kepler was also very good in the field last year: He played 390.1 innings in center field, recording three defensive runs saved, and he excelled in right field, his primary spot, collecting seven defensive runs saved in 885.2 innings.
Kepler was the second player to agree to an extension with the Twins on Thursday; they signed shortstop Jorge Polanco to a deal earlier in the day that could keep him under control for as many as seven years.