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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. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      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.
      I would agree if the extra money was banked for the future, but a team whos owners are in banking, find it to confusing to stash money away for the future.
      So if it comes down to spend it or give to ownership ...I say spend it, buy a couple of good free agents, then trade them come july to add to your minor leaque system,that way Ownership gets to keep half the money and we get some good young players,for the future
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      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 ....
      They switched out contracts of players with no future on the team and who weren't helping them for players who can. Would you have slept better at night if they handed Blackburn 20M for next year just so you could say the payroll increased?

      find it to confusing to stash money away for the future.
      It's foolish to judge the success or failure of an offseason by some subjective threshold of total payroll. The idea you can pluck up multiple players and trade them requires there to be several factors go perfectly. There are two spots the Twins could upgrade in FA and there are a myriad of factors beyond their pricetag that would be a reasonable basis for the Twins to avoid that route.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      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.
      Wasn't EVERY season, before free agency, a 'built from within' type of setup?

      Where scouting and signing ballplayers was pretty much it.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post
      Wasn't EVERY season, before free agency, a 'built from within' type of setup?

      Where scouting and signing ballplayers was pretty much it.
      there has always been free agents, and there has always been trades.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      [QUOTE=TheLeviathan;192163]They switched out contracts of players with no future on the team and who weren't helping them for players who can. Would you have slept better at night if they handed Blackburn 20M for next year just so you could say the payroll increased?

      I was talking about 2012 ,but if you want to talk about 2013 ,fine lets talk about the 3 starters we added....Nolasco a # 4 type starter on a good team , he was the safest free agent avalible , in this off season , next we signed Hope(hughes)
      we Hope he can maintain his splits away from Yankee stadium, but what if it isnt the stadium , but home field? then what? Next we sign a Pitcher with a very hitable 97mph fastball who has a career ERA of what? 4.48, now several here say oooh wow 2 big contracts what a change in way we are doing business....
      wrong answer, all we did was trade out a couple hitters salaries and Blackburns for 1 decent pitchers and some HOPE, but ,as we sit now we are almost the same dollar amount as last year when we finishged with 96 losses.

      now I know your gonna say look at the Rays and the A s , but guess what our leadership aint as good, and never will be , We dont draft and develope as good ,We dont manage as good,we dont trade as good.So our only chance is to sign quality ...not quanity
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      I was talking about 2012
      Why would you do that in a thread about right now? Anyone defending the FO last year had no ground to stand on, but this year was different.

      All FAs have warts. The Twins didn't sign world beaters but they were aggressive (very early signings) to address needs. (pitching) There also isn't anything close to a world beater left. Save some of those bullets for the next go at things.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Why would you do that in a thread about right now? Anyone defending the FO last year had no ground to stand on, but this year was different.

      All FAs have warts. The Twins didn't sign world beaters but they were aggressive (very early signings) to address needs. (pitching) There also isn't anything close to a world beater left. Save some of those bullets for the next go at things.
      To me you keep shooting till your empty, then reload....we started out great
      Nolasco signed , and you can read what I had to say (good signing Terry)
      then Hughes, and it was( ok this guy has had a couple of pretty darn good years and his splits are good)...next it was Pelfrey and ,correct me if I am wrong , most here just were not happy about this 1...then Terry stopped, we had reached our payroll of last year and its time to put away the checkbook and wait and see.

      to me you keep spending, maybe you dont keep all your free agents for the entire year, you use them to make some trades come june and july, for young arms and prospect to fill the holes we have in our system. Or you sign a Garza to say a 3 year 51 million dollar contract and front load it 20, 20 and 11 million
      now in the 2nd season we can trade him during the season or in that winter when he is owed only 11 million , there are ways to use the money thats avalible and not block prospects but actually add to your system,and still have bullets for the future
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      To me you keep shooting till your empty, then reload...
      What happens if you run out of bullets? What happens if the Twins need a left fielder and shortstop in 2015 but only have $14m to spend? You're not going to fill all those holes, particularly if the holes are unexpected (say, if Arcia gets injured or falls on his face in 2014).

      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      to me you keep spending, maybe you dont keep all your free agents for the entire year, you use them to make some trades come june and july, for young arms and prospect to fill the holes we have in our system. Or you sign a Garza to say a 3 year 51 million dollar contract and front load it 20, 20 and 11 million now in the 2nd season we can trade him during the season or in that winter when he is owed only 11 million , there are ways to use the money thats avalible and not block prospects but actually add to your system,and still have bullets for the future
      Which is a fine strategy on paper... Except that trades don't happen on paper. For a myriad of reasons, it's very difficult to trade a large free agent contract just one year into the player's multi-year deal. Maybe the player gets injured. Maybe his performance is flat and teams aren't willing to take on the money. Maybe the teams that need him don't have the prospects to make the deal happen. Maybe a GM balks at a team trading a good free agent for apparently no reason and won't offer anything of value. Maybe your team gets a reputation for flipping free agents and after a season or two, every free agent you try to sign demands a no-trade clause or they sign with another team.

      Can you trade a free agent after a year in theory? Sure you can. But can you guarantee that you'll be able to move that player after a season? Absolutely not. It's an incredibly risky strategy and one that could burn a team badly if it fails.

      There's a reason why no team uses this strategy consistently. Not one.

      You sign the players you want on your team for the length of years you want them. Don't try to get cute with complex machinations based on multiple variables.
    1. Don't Feed the Greed Guy's Avatar
      Don't Feed the Greed Guy -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      there has always been free agents, and there has always been trades.
      Until 1975, the rights of a player remained with the team, even after his contract expired. Marvin Miller worked with the Major League Players Association to challenge what is known as "the reserve clause." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reserve_clause

      So, to say that "there have (sic) always have been free agents..." is only partially true. The "freedom" of a free agent was retained by the parent club until 1975. The collusion of the owners depressed the market for free agents. The rise of player agents in the late 70's and 80's further strengthened the bargaining power of labor--the players.

      Indeed, the "build from within" model was much more in force before 1975. I would suspect that there were some teams that were built entirely from within--especially before 1975, but I have neither the energy nor desire to do that research.

      (Postscript, Chief: In post #30, above, you contend that I want the Twins to build entirely from within, and then sign free agents and trade for players. I never said that. Your quote: "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. " Your analysis lacks precision. I agreed, earlier in the same post, that the Twins made the right strategic decision by aggressively signing two free agent pitchers in the earliest phases of this past offseason. It was a good move, a regrettably necessary move, only because the Twins have failed to develop and retain quality starting pitchers, from within the organization.)
    1. OldTwinky's Avatar
      OldTwinky -
      My big beef with this off season is Pelfrey. Why bring him back? Could just as well get a 95 MPH pitching machine to put on the mound every 5th game.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by Don't Feed the Greed Guy View Post
      Until 1975, the rights of a player remained with the team, even after his contract expired. Marvin Miller worked with the Major League Players Association to challenge what is known as "the reserve clause." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reserve_clause

      So, to say that "there have (sic) always have been free agents..." is only partially true. The "freedom" of a free agent was retained by the parent club until 1975. The collusion of the owners depressed the market for free agents. The rise of player agents in the late 70's and 80's further strengthened the bargaining power of labor--the players.
      Before "free agency", trading players for cash and a bag of balls was extremely common... Which is simply another form of free agency, the only difference is that the players didn't have a say in where they went. At the end of the day, players were moving around in exchange for straight-up cash money.
    1. johnnydakota's Avatar
      johnnydakota -
      Florida Marlins , Prince fielder...Yes you are correct about maybe a player gets hurt, or maybe he doesnt play as well as you hoped, but if you sit at home with your tinfoil hat on, afraid to make a mistake, you will miss out on many oppertunities. last seaon we got 3 pretty darn good starters( not my words) and a pair of magic beans(my words) where are our magic beans this year?there are 5 avenues to getting players , national and internation draft, rule 5 draft, trading ,signing quality free agents and of course dumpster diving. to me if your not using all avenues conssistantly you are not doing your job... but hey maybe thats just me


      As far as spending we have extra income , that if not used will be lost , it will disappear into a blackhole never to be seen again, so use it, even if you dont spend it all at least use most of it, as we sit now we have used about 33% of the 50-52% we are allowed to spend.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by PopRiveter View Post
      Hrbek debuted at age 21, Puckett at age 24.
      Sano and Buxton are each 20. BB just turned 20 last month and has played 173 games of professional baseball. Seems a bit premature to complain that Terry Ryan is promoting too slowly.
      Amen. And for any of us to suggest that Ryan "or any other GM" is too slow to promote Sano and Buxton is to suggest that we know what we're talking about and those GM's don't. How laughable is that?
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      The rush is I don't want to watch crappy ball players anymore. The rush is they are both "in AA" and could be up here. I get it. I should just wait for the future. The rush is that WS team was built by getting guys up here, and playing int he majors for a couple of years before peaking. This staff seems to want them to be peak the day they come up. It doesn't usually work that way.

      You know with certainty Sano will be up this coming year? I don't know that.
      Now, come on, mike. Did Hunter peak when he first came up? Arcia? Hicks? Cuddyer? Viola?To say that the Twins want players to peak when they first come up (and who doesn't, actually) is such utter nonsense. Yes, you should just accept the very clear fact that you have to (by definition) wait for the future. And it's a bit revisionist to claim that Hrbek and Puckett proved to be subjected to some sort of OJT program when they first came up. Like the other players, they peaked later but performed admirably if not imperfectly right away.

      I have a nasty hunch, mike, that the dozens of staffers evaluating Sano and Buxton will have a terrific grasp on whether these players are ready for the bigs. You and I have absolutely zero clue.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      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.
      Everybody DOES feel the same way, actually. We just know that the Twins are going to do their very best to promote only when it is in the player's best interest as in aligned with a certain level of readiness. No sense whining about things, especially when so much of what's happening is extremely positive.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Amen. And for any of us to suggest that Ryan "or any other GM" is too slow to promote Sano and Buxton is to suggest that we know what we're talking about and those GM's don't. How laughable is that?
      I'm good with your other posts, but this one sounds like an appeal to authority, basically saying don't bother commenting here. but maybe I am reading that wrong.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Just because someone is not employed by a major league baseball team, does not mean they don't know what they are talking about. There are plenty of knowledgeable, thoughtful and intelligent posters here. I think a lot of them know a great deal of what they are talking about.

      I also don't think most of them believe the Twins FO doesn't know what they are talking about. I think some rightfully question certain decisions, is that inherently wrong?
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      Florida Marlins , Prince fielder...
      Prince Fielder is your example? What, exactly, did he get the Tigers? No WS title and a player who looks like he's aging fast, just owed less money.

      Your one example is dubious at best. And the Marlins? Is there an organization more universally despised? No one is going to want anything to do with them. Their titles were a lifetime ago.

      Typically, if I'm going to go around banging the drum of "here is what works" - I have better than two crummy examples to base that on.

      to me if your not using all avenues conssistantly
      They did use all of them this year. Last year that criticism was very valid. This year? I think it requires a tinfoil hat to suggest they didn't.

      As far as spending we have extra income , that if not used will be lost
      So you only want to commit money this year? Are you suggesting one year deals? If you're not, the salary commitments you make now impact future years. Given that this team is still a few years off, I'd rather incrementally address the needs. That's a better strategy to maximize your money rather than spending just to spend.

      If you want to argue it should've been Garza and not Pelfey, fine. But that's not what you're doing.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      Or you sign a Garza to say a 3 year 51 million dollar contract and front load it 20, 20 and 11 million
      now in the 2nd season we can trade him during the season or in that winter when he is owed only 11 million , there are ways to use the money thats avalible and not block prospects but actually add to your system,and still have bullets for the future
      I'm sorry, but after reading this post I get the distinct feeling you are playing video game baseball general manager. Not reality baseball general manager. None of those things actually happen in real life.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota View Post
      Florida Marlins , Prince fielder...Yes you are correct about maybe a player gets hurt, or maybe he doesnt play as well as you hoped, but if you sit at home with your tinfoil hat on, afraid to make a mistake, you will miss out on many oppertunities.
      It's not about being afraid to make a mistake, it's about taking on unnecessary risks that involve too many variables to predict an outcome with any kind of accuracy.

      The Florida Marlins don't intentionally sign FAs to trade them, they have one of the worst owners in sports who liquidates his team whenever he fears his profits might dip below an acceptable level. Big difference there. The Marlins don't use FA trades to build their team, they fire sale players.

      As for Fielder, that was a rare move that involved a ton of moving pieces. Like I said:

      There's a reason why no team uses this strategy consistently. There's a big difference between "this never happens" versus "no one uses this strategy on a regular basis".
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