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  • 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. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Ah, so my Puckett memory was not completely off, thanks Seth. Thought I was losing my mind.

      What is "ready", though, that's the question. Ready to be awesome, or ready to come up and be ok/good, and learn here?
      In the case of Sano and Buxton, I feel it's the latter. Personally, I think Sano is going to fly through AAA and hit the majors some time in the second half of the season if he continues to hit like he has thus far.

      Ryan has shown a recent willingness to promote the kids, maybe to a fault. It worked for Arcia. It didn't work for Hicks. If the Twins have a need and the player looks ready in the minors, I think JR will pull the trigger sooner rather than later.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      I don't get why we are worried about what the payroll's bottom line is. We were right to be bothered by it last year but it was because of the quality of the moves made in light of the payroll. This year, they've made numerous quality moves to add payroll.

      Rome wasn't built in a day. Pouring money into it for the sake of it won't change that. The key to this offseason wasn't the quantity of money spent, it was the quality it was spent on. And for that the Twins should get a big thumbs up.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      It doesn't appear that much payroll at all was added. As it stands now it is about the same as last year.
      The major additions were 2 pitchers and bringing Pelfry back. If you like ERA+ or not it is a measure of average pitching. Pelfry 90+, Nolasco 94+ and Hughes 95+. Not exactly top quality.
      For years Carl and Jim Pohlad told us they needed a new park to compete and we were promised that they would spend 52% of revenue to make that happen. Now we mostly hear how spending the money promised isn't the answer at all, it's a shortcut or spending just to be spending. Funny how that worked out isn't it.
      Of course, that left over money can be used to produce more movies!
    1. Dantes929's Avatar
      Dantes929 -
      I suspect that the Twins would be happy to spend $120 million a year to continually field a 2010 quality team. The problem is you can't just throw that money out there and get that quality. Twins aren't the only ones that are inconsistent with their message. Fans complain that we don't spend the big money but constantly criticize the contract of Mauer even though from the metrics I have seen reported on these pages he has produced enough to warrant it.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Winston Smith View Post
      Not exactly top quality.
      The quality was just fine. Certainly vastly better than what they replace. Why can't things be incremental? Why does the payroll have to reach 50% in one year?

      Last year I was on board trashing the effort because it was non-existent. This year was not the same. Spending isn't a shortcut and it is a necessary thing to do. But spending it all at one isn't necessary, and even moreso, it's just not very smart.
    1. PopRiveter's Avatar
      PopRiveter -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      btw, I'm not saying this particual desire of mine is rational......I really am tired of watching a 95 loss team with no real future players on it (or few). I'm ready to watch a 95 loss team with future superstars on it. I get that not everyone feels the same way.
      I totally get this, Mike. I was more satisfied watching Hicks struggle last year than watching Doumit be sort of okay. There is a hope when watching a younger/higher-ceiling athlete take his lumps.
      However, I think they actually are moving guys fast. Gibson sure didn't spend much healthy time developing. Hicks skipped AAA and Arcia barely dipped a toe in AAA before debuting with the Twins.
      Rosario was likely to have a shot at making the club this spring if not for his suspension. Sano still may. Buxton is moving fast.
      I think they're doing just what you're asking. But not every player will be a Puckett or a Hrbek. Some will be Bobby Kieltys or JT Bruetts.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      popriveter....nice post. We disagree on Gibson, but otherwise everything else I agree with. And let's hope we have more Pucketts than Kieltys......
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      T
      Last year I was on board trashing the effort because it was non-existent. This year was not the same. Spending isn't a shortcut and it is a necessary thing to do. But spending it all at one isn't necessary, and even moreso, it's just not very smart.
      This is the main point I was driving at. Well stated.

      The Twins shouldn't feel compelled to spend up to some certain threshold just because they had more salary coming off the books this year, but they SHOULD have felt compelled to SPEND on this rotten rotation, just as they should have last year.
    1. halfchest's Avatar
      halfchest -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      popriveter....nice post. We disagree on Gibson, but otherwise everything else I agree with. And let's hope we have more Pucketts than Kieltys......
      Let's also hope the Twins can identify the Kielty's and trade them for the Shannon Stewarts when the time is right.
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by PopRiveter View Post
      I totally get this, Mike. I was more satisfied watching Hicks struggle last year than watching Doumit be sort of okay. There is a hope when watching a younger/higher-ceiling athlete take his lumps.
      However, I think they actually are moving guys fast. Gibson sure didn't spend much healthy time developing. Hicks skipped AAA and Arcia barely dipped a toe in AAA before debuting with the Twins.
      Rosario was likely to have a shot at making the club this spring if not for his suspension. Sano still may. Buxton is moving fast.
      I think they're doing just what you're asking. But not every player will be a Puckett or a Hrbek. Some will be Bobby Kieltys or JT Bruetts.
      We don't want to rush people, as we did with Hicks and Arcia last year. But if they're ready, bring them up. I can see both Sano and Meyer up here by mid-year. And Buxton won't be far behind. We just need the infantry to hold the fort until the cavalry comes.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by cmathewson View Post
      We don't want to rush people, as we did with Hicks and Arcia last year. But if they're ready, bring them up. I can see both Sano and Meyer up here by mid-year. And Buxton won't be far behind. We just need the infantry to hold the fort until the cavalry comes.
      This sounds so 20/20 hindsight driven. Teams never know if a guy is ready until he has proven himself at the major league level for years. Success at AAA? Hasn't proven that a guy belongs in the majors--and certainly not with the Twins. There have been a host of failures for the Twins that were big successes at Rochester. Hicks had 4 1/2 years of minor league experience (sort of like a guy attending a 4-year college for baseball players), compare to athletes in other sports who regularly have to prove themselves at age 22/23. I'm not advocating giving-up on Hicks but rather, there is no formula for proper progression to the majors that guarantees success. Blaming his (Hicks') failure with the Twins due to lack of time at Rochester is a lame excuse especially in light of those guys who had substantial success (and time!) in Rochester yet flopped with the Twins.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      How was Arcia rushed? He was mostly good up here, this is a perfect example, imo, of waiting for perfection before calling a player up (if they had waited). I don't get that at all.

      As for Hicks, I read here all the time, and hear the Twins say, I shouldn't worry about AAA time, players can go from AA to the majors. IMO, Hicks' issue is that he is a slow adjuster, and should not be switch hitting. He might have been rushed, he might have learned just fine staying up in MN and adjusting here. We really don't know. Just because he wasn't ready to be here and be good, does not mean he should not be here and learning, especially in a lost season......
    1. cmathewson's Avatar
      cmathewson -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      How was Arcia rushed? He was mostly good up here, this is a perfect example, imo, of waiting for perfection before calling a player up (if they had waited). I don't get that at all.

      As for Hicks, I read here all the time, and hear the Twins say, I shouldn't worry about AAA time, players can go from AA to the majors. IMO, Hicks' issue is that he is a slow adjuster, and should not be switch hitting. He might have been rushed, he might have learned just fine staying up in MN and adjusting here. We really don't know. Just because he wasn't ready to be here and be good, does not mean he should not be here and learning, especially in a lost season......
      I don't think you can apply one model for all players. I agree that they need to learn up here. But not to the point of permanently damaging their confidence or stunting their growth. This is one area where I defer to the coaches and scouts to know better than I do. There are obvious cases, like Bartlett, who had two consecutive years with an OBP over .400 at AAA before even getting a chance. But most of the time, they let the player decide by dominating a level before moving up.

      Sometimes, need drives it. Last year, need definitely drove the center field decision. You can't say Hicks dominated AA. He certainly earned a one-level promotion between seasons. But not two levels. Yet, with the Mastro injury and his spring training play, they rushed him. He learned a lot. And he's resilient, so I don't think it did permanent damage. But it sure put the team in a hole. All this is hindsight. At the time, I was the biggest proponent of giving him a shot and helping him learn up here. It just didn't work out.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      This sounds so 20/20 hindsight driven. Teams never know if a guy is ready until he has proven himself at the major league level for years. Success at AAA? Hasn't proven that a guy belongs in the majors--and certainly not with the Twins. There have been a host of failures for the Twins that were big successes at Rochester. Hicks had 4 1/2 years of minor league experience (sort of like a guy attending a 4-year college for baseball players), compare to athletes in other sports who regularly have to prove themselves at age 22/23. I'm not advocating giving-up on Hicks but rather, there is no formula for proper progression to the majors that guarantees success. Blaming his (Hicks') failure with the Twins due to lack of time at Rochester is a lame excuse especially in light of those guys who had substantial success (and time!) in Rochester yet flopped with the Twins.
      Many people were vocal about Hicks not starting 2013 in Minnesota. I wavered a bit on the situation because the Twins literally had zero other options at the position.

      Given Hicks' struggles through each level before adjusting, it wasn't hard to predict him bombing out of MLB quickly. Given the guy's history, the jump from AA to MLB threw up red flags. No hindsight needed.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Hicks was definitely a scholarship player after the trades and might have been rushed but there were no other options. Hey, you take a chance to see if a guy is ready. Hicks and Arcia should be fine this year. This should also be Gibson's year to move forward. We have Nolasco and some other potential pieces to get to 80 wins I'm thinking.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Jack Morris, Chili Davis, Brian Harper, Carl Willis and Mike Pagliarulo beg to differ
      That's hardly a mircrowave...

      Harper was signed in '88. Pags was a platoon/utility-esque. Willis strengthened the bullpen. Chili Davis & Jack Morris were contributors, but still only contributed 3.3 and 4.3 bWAR respectively out of 50.9 bWAR for the team overall.

      The "Core" (Puckett, HrBek, Mack, Gladden, Gagne, Tapani, Aguilera) was already in place and the recent minor league (Knoblauch, Erickson) additions contributed to the lion's share of that team doing well.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      I don't think we even have to ask for a rush, at least not in the case of Sano. With Plouffe's propensity for finding Gardy's doghouse, I'd say there's a very strong chance Sano gets called up early whether he's ready or not.
    1. OldTimeTwinkie's Avatar
      OldTimeTwinkie -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      I agree, the important thing is we are nowhere near where we could be and we are landing in the same spot. MLB recommends 52% of revenue on payroll. Last year the Twins had $216M in revenue and that should go up with the new TV deal and the all-star game. We are at 39% of revenue, $29M short. Keep in mind that many MLB teams go well above this recommendation.

      http://www.forbes.com/teams/minnesota-twins/
      A publically financed stadium should have monies either spent to MLB recomendations (52%) or use the difference between their payroll and recommended 52% to pay down debt on stadium instead of pocketing it.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      Baseball was a very different game in the early 80s. Outside of monster talent like Trout or Cabrera, guys simply don't make it to MLB before age 21-22 in today's game. Ryan isn't doing anything wrong with Sano and Buxton. He's taking them steadily through the system as they show the org they're ready to move.

      Besides, what's the rush? Every month of "postponement" of seeing Sano/Buxton comes closer to getting an entire extra year of control over them into their mid to late 20s (aka. their peak seasons). Sano is going to see MLB as a 21 year old and Buxton might see MLB as a 20 year old. I think it's a bit odd to grouse about not seeing them in MLB as teenagers.
      So if we get an extra year of team controll does that mean we wont trade them till 2018 or 2019?
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      I don't get why we are worried about what the payroll's bottom line is. We were right to be bothered by it last year but it was because of the quality of the moves made in light of the payroll. This year, they've made numerous quality moves to add payroll.

      Rome wasn't built in a day. Pouring money into it for the sake of it won't change that. The key to this offseason wasn't the quantity of money spent, it was the quality it was spent on. And for that the Twins should get a big thumbs up.
      um as we sit (without Kubel) we are the same as last years opening day? how is that adding payroll?switching out contract to create an illusion of adding payroll is what the front office does best ....
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