• Why the Twins Will Spend This Offseason

    Will the Minnesota Twins increase payroll?There is a widespread assumption among Twins fans that the team will maintain its conservative approach this offseason and avoid making any big financial splashes. One could hardly be blamed for holding such a belief; that expectation has been engrained throughout the history of a franchise that has fostered a well deserved reputation for being extremely risk-averse.

    But when you take a look at the landscape of the organization and the circumstances being faced this coming winter, it's pretty tough to make a case that the Twins will not take at least one or two significant plunges, unless you have completely lost faith in the desire of this front office to compete.

    The key question is this: What makes this coming offseason different from the last one, in which the Twins took a very Twins-like approach, signing cheap low-upside veterans to plug gaping holes in the rotation while relying on internal reinforcements in a number of other areas?

    The answer is, well, a lot of things.

    For one, there is going to be much more money available. It's well established at this point that Terry Ryan came in far below that budget that was made available to him last offseason, perhaps by as much as $10-20 million. This year, the spending limit set by ownership would figure to rise, considering that that Ryan left plenty of money unspent this season and -- although the Twins probably won't see any rise in their own revenues with attendance dropping again -- they will be receiving a cash windfall as part of the league's new cable deal.

    Plus, with Justin Morneau's $14 million, Nick Blackburn's $5.5 million and Mike Pelfrey's $4 million coming off the books, the Twins have very few notable payroll commitments going forward. In 2014, they will owe a combined $46 million to Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham, Kevin Correia, Glen Perkins, Ryan Doumit and Jared Burton. Beyond that, it's all league-minimum salaries and modest arbitration raises, none of which are likely to exceed one or two million tops.

    That gives the club immense room to add payroll, even if they are just aiming to get back to this year's $82 million mark. Since their needs are relatively focused -- the bullpen is fairly set and the offense is already beginning to receive help from a robust pipeline of minor-league talent -- the Twins can fully direct any funds toward improving their shoddy rotation.

    Of course, many of us were saying the same thing a year ago, when the starting pitching corps was in similarly dire straits with ample financial flexibility available. It is possible that Ryan and Co. will follow the same path, further frustrating those of us who have grown skeptical of the organization's willingness to do what's necessary to dig out of this deep hole. But I don't think so.

    Three straight years of steady losing creates more urgency than two straight years. The fan base is growing more and more apathetic and season ticket sales are declining as the new-stadium grace period wears off. As I mentioned last week, the Twins don't have much of anything to tout from a pitching standpoint, given that essentially every guy they've trotted out this season has failed. Granted, the free agent market is far from a surefire method of drastically improving the rotation, even if you're willing to open the wallet, but as Parker pointed out last week there will be some intriguing names out there that could shake up the composition of this absurdly contact-heavy staff. Spending on a high-profile name would at least create some buzz and reassure fans that an earnest effort is being made.

    The All-Star Game is coming to Minneapolis next year, leading some to believe that the Twins will keep their foot off the pedal, relying on this national attraction -- rather than improvement on the field -- to drive ticket sales and interest. I tend to think the opposite is true. This is an opportunity, and the club will seek to take advantage.

    Don't forget that leading up to Target Field's inaugural season, the Twins could have stayed the course, having reached the playoffs in their final year at the Metrodome. Instead, they attacked the offseason as aggressively as ever before. In addition to signing Mauer to his historic contract extension, they paid to keep Carl Pavano, traded for J.J. Hardy, and signed Orlando Hudson and Jim Thome.

    Obviously, it's a different situation when you're adding the final pieces to a proven contender. But if the Twins ever want to return to being a proven contender, they need to start taking some more purposeful steps than we've seen recently. That means acquiring established talent that can actually make an impact.

    With so much money begging to be spent this offseason, they almost have no choice.
    This article was originally published in blog: Why the Twins Will Spend This Offseason started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 173 Comments
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      The Twins will spend, but I have zero confidence that they will spend the right way, instead of overpaying for mediocrity, with Ryan at the helm. He has never done it. Never. ....................

      There are bigger fish to fry than spending: Changing the Front office and the field management is necessary before spending.
      Here here!!!!
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Lots of teams are going to have more money to spend. The Yankees are not going to like missing the playoffs this year. Boston has young talent coming up that will allow them to target some big names, Dodgers are the Dodgers, Pittsburgh is going to have money to spend if Burnett doesn't come back, KC has to keep their "all in" strategy going at this point and every other team is going to have that same new stream of TV money coming.

      I highly doubt Ryan will participate in a bidding war. Past experience has shown us that Ryan puts a value on a certain guy and goes after the guy at that price - no matter what the market does.

      What a mess.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      Somewhat agree, but you also have to fill seats. Lincecum may have a qualifying offer, Johnson is a risk. All pitchers are risks, may you take a chance on Halliday for a 2-3 year offer. Would like Johnson, but that is a big risk, but has local ties and maybe could be had on a one or two year deal. 1/7 or 2/14. Would prefer 1 with options. Pelfrey wants to return and may only be about 5-6 million a year. Would be decent as a third signing. Want the minor league pitchers to earn there spots, not be given them.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Tanaka and Garza are not going to be signed by the Twins
      Linecum won't come to Minnesota
      Burnett isn't leaving Pittsburgh

      Plenty of remaining options are either old (Kuroda, Arroyo) or bad (Pelfrey) or injury-prone (Johnson).

      Ervin Santana and Phil Hughes should be on the table.
    1. NoCal's Avatar
      NoCal -
      Spending on free agents is, by definition, the riskiest and most expensive way to acquire players. The most over-valued assets in baseball today (IMO) are prospects. Nobody wants to give up their controlled, high upside prospects. So if you are willing to do so, (see Oakland A's), you may be able to acquire a real haul of good players, to fill many holes, and accelerate your path to contention. The A's got a lot for Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, etc - which of the Twins blue chippers would you be willing to trade to upgrade the starting rotation? Would you travel the road blazed by the Royals?
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by NoCal View Post
      Spending on free agents is, by definition, the riskiest and most expensive way to acquire players. The most over-valued assets in baseball today (IMO) are prospects. Nobody wants to give up their controlled, high upside prospects. So if you are willing to do so, (see Oakland A's), you may be able to acquire a real haul of good players, to fill many holes, and accelerate your path to contention. The A's got a lot for Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, etc - which of the Twins blue chippers would you be willing to trade to upgrade the starting rotation? Would you travel the road blazed by the Royals?
      I think in the long run you are probably right. At this point in time we do not have an excess of blue chippers. What I can see happening is packaging a major league relief pitcher with a lower level, A+ or AA bat, to get a starting pitching prospect our scouts recommend. I think you're right but at least a year early. Good post.
    1. freshinthehouse's Avatar
      freshinthehouse -
      Spend to get Tanaka and Abreu. Please.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      Quote Originally Posted by NoCal View Post
      Spending on free agents is, by definition, the riskiest and most expensive way to acquire players. The most over-valued assets in baseball today (IMO) are prospects. Nobody wants to give up their controlled, high upside prospects. So if you are willing to do so, (see Oakland A's), you may be able to acquire a real haul of good players, to fill many holes, and accelerate your path to contention. The A's got a lot for Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, etc - which of the Twins blue chippers would you be willing to trade to upgrade the starting rotation? Would you travel the road blazed by the Royals?
      Neither Cahill or Gonzalez were prospects when they were traded by Oakland. Both had already pitched multiple years, been All-Stars, and had low 3 ERA's. Nothing about those trades were similar to the situation the Twins currently find themselves in.
    1. Oxtung's Avatar
      Oxtung -
      I'm would love for the Twins to go in on Tanaka. Sign Johnson, sure! I think Dan Haren would be a great second or third signing.

      I think the Twins will stay away from anybody attached to draft pick compensation, and I'm not sure they're wrong. If they do however decide it is worth a draft pick to sign one player, then they better go all in and sign another 1 or 2 players with compensation as well (assuming they are the best pitchers available, which seems likely). Giving up a 3rd or 4th round pick would be worthwhile for Ervin Santana, for instance.
    1. Jack Torse's Avatar
      Jack Torse -
      Get back to me when for the first time they sign a single meaningful player where they had to outbid other teams. Like a meaningful player before Xmas. Delusional.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      I appreciate the effort by Nick, but there were similar arguments to be made last year too. Until we actually do it, skepticism is really the only justifiable position.

      Frankly, this is more about Ryan's principles than it is about circumstances.
    1. Joe A. Preusser's Avatar
      Joe A. Preusser -
      Don't lose sight of the goal here: A return to relevance.
      The Twins can compete in 2015 and beyond by only adding 2 quality arms. They don't even have to be true number 1s, they can both be 2s. Our in house options for SP will fill out 3-5 just fine. By FA or trade we MUST add those two quality SP over the next two offseasons. The rest will fall into place easily. Ryan (hell, even I could) can put an offense together around Sano, Arcia, Buxton, et al very easily. The BP is set. Those two great starting pitchers are the key, and a GM as savvy as Ryan knows it.
    1. MichiganTwins's Avatar
      MichiganTwins -
      I agree that are situation is much better than last year. I also think that the Twins are going to spend. I just dont want to have to see PJ Walters pitching in the majors for the Twins. I dont think signing Pelfrey does all that much for us. I think Phil Hughes would be good, and then I think we should take a risk on Kazmir or Ubaldo or Johnson.

      Also, Seth which pitchers do I think deserve a shot? Gibson needs to have a spot for sure. Correia has a spot whether we like it or not, Diamond should compete as well as Deduno (only because he got hurt) I am uncertain if Hendriks should be given a shot to start, Worley needs to earn the shot at having a shot to compete, and I not sold on Albers (he is a mystery of what he can bring to the major league table. Also, Meyer and hopefully May might be in our rotation next year. I think we need to give one of our in house optiuons a shot while we wait for either of those two. So you could still have room for two FA pitchers and maybe throw in a third risky one to compete with the in house options.

      As for positions, I really dont see the necessity to spend money. Cather we are fine. 1b could be a place to upgrade depending on how much Mauer plays and the Parmalee/Colabello situation. 2b is good. 3b can be held my PLouffe in the off-season and even into the season while we wait for the fast approaching Sano. So no need there. SS- I think Florimon has been pretty decent obviously we want him to hit a bit more, but his defense has been good. We can always use an upgrade there. However, the free agent market is not very good at SS and we cant forget the Cuban may not be able to stick at short. OF- Well we have a crap ton of OFers. Buxton is coming up soon so we dont really have the option of a long term deal. We have Arcia and Hicks who should be in the lineup everyday soon. The hammer is hopefully heating up and can DH too or play left. We have a million 4th OFers. So I do not see a huge need there either. Bullpen is fine and we have guys who can be called up too.

      So it has to be SP, and it seems to me that this team could be decently competitive if we sign a couple good SPs, who can at least keep us in the game. The future looks really good, but we need to start winning more games and I think we need to spend in FA now because in the next few years we will be paying a lot for our young stars.
    1. pierre75275's Avatar
      pierre75275 -
      Going after Linsicoum (sp?) wont happen if the Giants give him a quality offer...which they most likely will do. I dont see much of a point in going after oft injured pitchers like johnson and haren and santana hoping they will save the franchise. See rich harden and joel zumya. That enterprise is usually fruitless. Go after Tanka make a run at Abreu mayb sign one of Hughes Johnson or one of the Santanas plus tanka. If we cant land Abreu sign the current Pirates first baseman...I heard he isnt too bad and has ties to MN.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      With regard to qualifying offers and draft picks: The Twins first round pick would be protected. So, if the Twins could get a lower risk higher upside player that could help them now and in a couple of years when they are more competitive, it might be worth looking at. I'm not sure Lincecum is that guy, but I'd definitely keep that option open.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by NoCal View Post
      Spending on free agents is, by definition, the riskiest and most expensive way to acquire players. The most over-valued assets in baseball today (IMO) are prospects. Nobody wants to give up their controlled, high upside prospects. So if you are willing to do so, (see Oakland A's), you may be able to acquire a real haul of good players, to fill many holes, and accelerate your path to contention. The A's got a lot for Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, etc - which of the Twins blue chippers would you be willing to trade to upgrade the starting rotation? Would you travel the road blazed by the Royals?
      The A's won exactly as many world series as the Royals the last 15 years and have been about as competitive. The Royals are spendthrift (overspending for mediocrity) and not really spending. Ryan would fit right in...

      I'd look at the Rangers, Red Sox and Tigers more as models than the As. You look at successful teams not mediocre teams as models if you want to succeed above mediocrity. The Twins have been blessed with a lot of mediocrity the past decade before they moved on to suckage
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      I've made this argument in a few places and this topic was about to be my first blog post. Thank you for sparing everyone, Nick. Nice article.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      The As signed a Cuban for millions and millions, by the way....

      1. DH, they have none, you can sign a Cuban for that, he can also play 1B when mauer is not.
      2. Ellsbury (since Seth asked where else can they spend money)....Hicks can't hit, Arcia can't field, and besides, they have the money and he's a 4-5 WAR player. Put him in LF when Buxton is up, and you have an Elite defense. It's not like having 4 good OFers (or maybe only 3) is a BAD idea.
      3. Tanaka, since they have no other obligations, spending any amount of money is probably worth it to this team, indeed, he's worth more to this team than most other teams.

      Oh, and Nick forgot to add (I think) that they get $25MM more in revenue next year, so even going to last year's number would put them behind last year's number, in effect.

      But ya, until RYAN spends money, I won't believe he'll spend money. It wasn't the dome, because McPhail had no issue spending money in the dome.
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Until we actually do it, skepticism is really the only justifiable position.
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      But ya, until RYAN spends money, I won't believe he'll spend money. It wasn't the dome, because McPhail had no issue spending money in the dome.
      These aren't terribly unreasonable positions to take, but Nick lays out a pretty good case for why that won't be. Is there anything else to support your views outside of 'TR has never done it'?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      The A's won exactly as many world series as the Royals the last 15 years and have been about as competitive.
      Are you really saying that the As and Royals have been about the same competitively over the last 15 years? Or am I misunderstanding what you're saying?
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.