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.