• A Snapshot of Twins Payroll

    After reaching agreement on one-year deals with their three arbitration-eligible players late last week, the Twins now have a clearer idea of where their spending commitments for the coming season currently stand.

    As Jeremy Nygaard's invaluable Roster & Payroll page shows, the club's estimated 2014 payroll now sits at $83.4 million with the updated arbitration figures factored in.

    To some, that number may feel unsatisfactory, given that it's not a sizable increase from last year's mark and isn't likely to rise much. But it's a step in the right direction, and right now that's important.

    What was bothersome about the approach last offseason, from my perspective, was not the final payroll figure, which settled around $75 million -- but that it was a decrease of nearly $40 million from two years prior.

    In that case, the lack of spending hinted at a lack of belief in the product. And while you can argue that was well warranted based on the outcome of the season, it still stung to see the team address a blatantly horrendous rotation by signing two of the cheapest free agents and adding a mid-rotation NL starter through trade.

    Even though they were shedding big chunks of payroll and still enjoying the fresh revenue streams of Target Field, the Twins weren't making significant investments in improving the roster. That cannot be said this time around.

    The Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes contracts were definitively aggressive moves. They rank as the two largest free agent contracts in franchise history and they remain two of the most lucrative handed out in baseball this offseason, with the high-end pitching market dragging along.

    Add in the Pelfrey deal, and you've got three contracts signed this winter that are larger than any from last offseason. While that hasn't resulted in a major payroll spike overall, it reverses a three-year trend of declining spending, and most importantly the club maintains considerable flexibility going forward despite entering several multi-year pacts.

    I know there are some people who are disappointed to see the Twins' payroll still sitting below $85 million despite an infusion of new revenues entering the mix this year, but they've already spent significantly on overhauling the rotation. And while the lineup currently looks far from stellar on paper, I can see the logic in holding off on signing more players to supplement that unit; simply put, almost every position on the field is either occupied by a promising young talent or will be soon enough. Spending big money on stopgaps might make sense for a contender, but not for a team coming off a third straight 90-loss campaign.

    And because they're still at least $20 million below what should be considered their true spending cap, the Twins will have the ability to add salary -- either through in-season trades or offseason acquisitions -- pretty much at will to supplement their emerging core.

    That is a very favorable position, and one that all fans should be celebrating rather than lamenting.
    This article was originally published in blog: A Snapshot of Twins Payroll started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 138 Comments
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      While starting pitching was addressed, it was addressed by not adding a single top tier pitcher. The 2014 season is built on hopes and dreams, which is about what the last two seasons comprised of. Watching the Twins fade dramatically to end both seasons, it solidifies that hopes and dreams have a hard time making it all the way to the end of the 6 month season.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      I really admire the way the Twins are going about the very difficult task of rebuilding their talent pool. Almost no reasonably sane amount of spending on FA would have catapulted this team into contention during the previous two years. Money was better spent elsewhere. You can argue that you were entitled to more, but the Twins improved their prospect pipeline from middle-of -the -road (many here wrongfully believe it was one of the worst) to one of the elite. They spent to improve their international presence, which is a huge part of the improvement.

      The results, as measured by the W-L record for the big club, will probably not be evident for yet another year. The reason I can wait it out is because I think most fans are significantly underestimating how prodigiously talented this farm system is, in both high-end talent and depth. Much of this talent is on the doorstep. So, while I can understand the frustration that more spending on FA hasn't taken place, I agree with Nick's premise here. I love the fact that there is room for further spending when better opportunities arise, better ones than Stephen Drew for sure.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      Gagne was 20 years old when he was in AA, Santana was 23.

      If you look at fielding percentage, Santana was at .943 last year. Florimon was at .973 in the majors and Stephen Drew was at .984.

      I am guessing .943 lands you about last in the MLB, this list only goes to 20. Some may find it unfair to compare a 23 year old to major leaguers, but I am guessing the balls come at the SS a lot faster in the big leagues.

      http://espn.go.com/mlb/stats/fieldin.../ss/order/true
      Fielding percentages and errors are largely dismissed as secondary evaluation tools today. I agree that one would think there should still be some correlation between errors and fielding ability, but from all accounts, Santana is a pretty slick fielder.

      Alexei Rameriz and Ian Desmond are considered among the better defenders in the league yet were 1st and 3rd in the league in errors last year at the position. Heck, Andrelton Simmons only ranked 9th out of 21 qualified SS in fielding percentage and at the moment he looks like a once-in-a-generation defender.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Don't Feed the Greed Guy View Post
      Great article.

      Some basic rules: Build from within. Draft well. Trade up when you are in contention: with the classic example being the Bobby Kielty for Shannon Stewart trade.

      Free Agent signings rarely work. Microwave teams don't go worst to first, with Boston being the exception.

      Don't spend $ just to appease the fan base in the offseason.
      And "build from within" has never worked, in the history of Major League Baseball.

      It hasnt even been tried. Find me an example of a team that has been built entirely from within, much less done so and won.

      Teams have always supplemented their minor league talent on other ways.

      There is room to both wait for the minor leagues to provide the Twins with some of the talent needed to win a World Series and go get some of that talent in other ways.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      And "build from within" has never worked, in the history of Major League Baseball.

      It hasnt even been tried. Find me an example of a team that has been built entirely from within, much less done so and won.

      Teams have always supplemented their minor league talent on other ways.

      There is room to both wait for the minor leagues to provide the Twins with some of the talent needed to win a World Series and go get some of that talent in other ways.
      87 twins, for that matter the 87 Cards, too. Pieces were added by trades, but farm systems were not gutted to do so.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      Gagne was 20 years old when he was in AA, Santana was 23.

      If you look at fielding percentage, Santana was at .943 last year. Florimon was at .973 in the majors and Stephen Drew was at .984.
      Florimon had a .939 fielding % in the minors, worse than Santana's .947, and committed 26 errors as a 24-YO at Double-A in 2011. He's now considered one of the best defensive SS in the league.

      I'm not fully fold on Santana as a stud defender, but I'm certainly not going to let his minor-league error total play into my perception much.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      And "build from within" has never worked, in the history of Major League Baseball.

      It hasnt even been tried. Find me an example of a team that has been built entirely from within, much less done so and won.
      So? What are you saying? Did I say that the Twins should build a team entirely from within?

      That's certainly not my claim. Trade when you are in contention. And, in the Twins' case, sign a free agent or two for big $$ if your starting rotation is in complete shambles (like this offseason) or when you need one or two more position players to break out. For instance, signing Drew would be justifiable if the Twins finished just behind Detroit. But not now. No way.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Why do you care about the twins money so much? Why do you care if they spend too much money on Drew, if it does not stop them from signing anyone next year? They lose thirteen million in payroll after this year, they are way under fifty percent, and no one on this roster is due a raise for years. You might argue giving up a second round pick makes no sense, though you would be wrong, but why do you care about the money at all?
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by Don't Feed the Greed Guy View Post
      So? What are you saying? Did I say that the Twins should build a team entirely from within?

      That's certainly not my claim. Trade when you are in contention. And, in the Twins' case, sign a free agent or two for big $$ if your starting rotation is in complete shambles (like this offseason) or when you need one or two more position players to break out. For instance, signing Drew would be justifiable if the Twins finished just behind Detroit. But not now. No way.
      If you are asking the team to wait until they are in contention before they make a trade, and/or add free agents, then that is precisely what you are saying: build a contender entirely from within, and then​ add to it.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      2013 earnings of 215 million +25 million in new tv revenue+30 million in all star game revenue
      thats if we dont have an increase in ticket sales which I expect will happen to the tune of 300,000 more sold.Even without additional ticket sales we will stand to earn 270 million x 50%
      leaves us at 135 million payroll for 2014...instead we are spending 4 million more then we did in 2009 ,our last year at the Dome, we are currently 53 million under ownerships limit for payroll, and will once again compete for 5th place in the Central...why sugar coat it, if everyone of our players had average years and some of the kids broke out along with 2 or 3 career years we could posibly make it to the middle of the pack...the money is there , but it wont be spent to improve this team ,for proof 1 only has to look at the international market of the 3,908,600 dollars that we were allowed to spend , did we even spend 2.5 million of it?
      It would be a big difference in my attitude if we bankrolled some of the teams profits for the future, but if it is spend it or lose it...I for one say spend it
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      Florimon had a .939 fielding % in the minors, worse than Santana's .947, and committed 26 errors as a 24-YO at Double-A in 2011. He's now considered one of the best defensive SS in the league.

      I'm not fully fold on Santana as a stud defender, but I'm certainly not going to let his minor-league error total play into my perception much.
      Touche. Certainly it is possible for him to turn it around defensively, Florimon improved his fielding percentage from .945 to .975 from 23 to 25. You stated the Twins view Santana as next in line and I wanted to point out he has some work to do. Sano can get awat with it for now because he can hit like crazy, is younger, does not play ss, and can move to dh or flop with Mauer.
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      Unspent money goes away and never comes back. Its not socked away in some rainy day fund. The Twins have repeatedly stated that the estimated revenue for the upcoming season dictates payroll. It's just not about wins and being in contention. The Twins owe it to their Fans to put the best and most entertaining product on the field.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      With all the unspent money since TR came back, they should have around fifty+ million they could give Tanaka in year one......and then what everyone else is bidding in the out years. Anyone think they are buying a player, when one is available? If not, why do you care if they "spend too much" on a player?
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      I fear too much is being read into team payroll. 2011 season exposed that the franchise had been hollowed-out from the inside. The past two seasons simply confirmed that and also that bandaids, duct tape, and bailing wire would not suffice to solve the problems. What has been done to solve the root of the problems? No, Bill Smith himself wasn't what caused the collaspse. Nor was it caused by Mauer's contract. Either the system must change or a whole bunch of lottery tickets have to hit. Actually, hitting the lottery doesn't solve the problems--it only obscures the problems for awhile.

      So, to me, signing some free-agent pitchers (who at best raise the rotation to average) isn't enough--it is only a start. We can all hope that the "prospects all pan out as stars", but that requires too much suspension of disbelief. Besides, better players can still be acquired and we can still keep our hope/dreams of prospects becoming future stars--while watching a better team.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Don't Feed the Greed Guy View Post

      Free Agent signings rarely work. Microwave teams don't go worst to first, with Boston being the exception..
      Jack Morris, Chili Davis, Brian Harper, Carl Willis and Mike Pagliarulo beg to differ
    1. OldManWinter's Avatar
      OldManWinter -
      I do not see any problems with a team being fiscally smart and not pouring their money on the ground.. Teams spending too much don't do themselves favors either. Maybe Yankees and LA teams can absorb out of control spending. Others, not so much.
    1. troyhobbs's Avatar
      troyhobbs -
      Quote Originally Posted by Don't Feed the Greed Guy View Post
      So? What are you saying? Did I say that the Twins should build a team entirely from within?

      That's certainly not my claim. Trade when you are in contention. And, in the Twins' case, sign a free agent or two for sog $$ if your starting rotation is in complete shambles (like this offseason) or when you need one or two more position players to break out. For instance, signing Drew would be justifiable if the Twins finished just behind Detroit. But not now. No way.
      I'd like to see them sign Drew and another pitcher. When I buy a ticket to an MLB game I want to see something more than a bunch of AAAA players. The Pohlads have plenty of money so not sure why so many fans care about spending smart and building from within, just put the best product possible out there every year like you're trying to win instead of just trying to be profitable.
    1. brvama's Avatar
      brvama -
      Good article Nick! I do have a problem though. I am starting to get fatigued with the same money arguments from both sides. So maybe we should move on.

      From my observations, depending on your position, it is plainly obvious that the Twins have either done a credible job in improving this year or have dribbled down their leg pathetically like the last 3 years. A great deal of passion on both ends.

      Some say the Twins have the money and haven't increased the payroll from the last 3 years, so spend it. While others see the Twins dishing out, uncommonly, large free agent paydays and are spending wisely.

      Some see free agents as the one way out of this mess, and feel their performance will match or exceed their past. Others question whether the upgrade will be worth it and view the potential of the up-and-coming players will be worth the wait. While those favoring free agents, do not see much hope that the youth movement will provide enough improvement.

      And then, throw in the occasional statement of fact about such-and-such or so-and-so that has no way of being absolute and is subject to the future. These discussions have hashed, rehashed, hashed and rehashed the same positions.

      Passion is admired and there is not one on this site that is not a fan. However, I believe that it is time to recognize that there is no swaying of the other, before we are all drunk at the bar.

      So, maybe, we should turn our attention to something like: who will be the first player injured in spring training. Something we can't prove until it happens also.

      OMG, spring training will be here in a month. Halleluja!!!!
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      And "build from within" has never worked, in the history of Major League Baseball.

      It hasnt even been tried. Find me an example of a team that has been built entirely from within, much less done so and won.

      Teams have always supplemented their minor league talent on other ways.

      There is room to both wait for the minor leagues to provide the Twins with some of the talent needed to win a World Series and go get some of that talent in other ways.
      It used to be more common before free agency. Now, it can't be your exclusive strategy. But you can focus most of your efforts on building from within and supplement that with external players. I think that's the spirit of the poster's point.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Why do you care about the twins money so much? Why do you care if they spend too much money on Drew, if it does not stop them from signing anyone next year? They lose thirteen million in payroll after this year, they are way under fifty percent, and no one on this roster is due a raise for years. You might argue giving up a second round pick makes no sense, though you would be wrong, but why do you care about the money at all?
      Let's turn the tables: why do you think the Twins organization should not care about money at all? Or about second round draft choices? And why do you think their judgment about whether Drews is a good acquisition is inferior to your own judgment, which comes so easily in part because you have nothing on the line financially or otherwise?
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