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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. twinsfanstl's Avatar
      twinsfanstl -
      dwolfson twitter feed is saying twins are still going after higher value FA. His guess is not E Santana or Ubaldo, but 'one of the bats or Arroyo.'
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfanstl View Post
      dwolfson twitter feed is saying twins are still going after higher value FA. His guess is not E Santana or Ubaldo, but 'one of the bats or Arroyo.'
      Please be a bat. Please be a bat.

      Arroyo is a nice pitcher and all but he's old and the offense badly needs help.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      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.
      It seems a little odd to me that we have neglected the offense. We are basically swapping Suzuki/Pinto for Morneau, then hoping Sano and Buxton can be up here in June, which could easily turn into September. We were 13th in the AL in runs scored, with 614.

      Compare our 614 runs scored last year with the four playoff teams (Boston 853, Detroit 796, Oakland 767, and Tampa Bay 700). We have some work to do on that side of the ball as well.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Thrylos View Post
      Reference, please. Like they are asking for zip codes when they are ringing sales?

      Not to be confused with public stadium financing through bonds backed by real estate tax raised funds, like other cases. Target Field is not financed that way...
      You can search the internet if you want.....but good luck finding a study not funded by a team that says otherwise........
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      It seems a little odd to me that we have neglected the offense. We are basically swapping Suzuki/Pinto for Morneau, then hoping Sano and Buxton can be up here in June, which could easily turn into September. We were 13th in the AL in runs scored, with 614.

      Compare our 614 runs scored last year with the four playoff teams (Boston 853, Detroit 796, Oakland 767, and Tampa Bay 700). We have some work to do on that side of the ball as well.
      I don't think anyone would dispute this. It's too bad this FA class was so shallow in hitting, but that doesn't man the Twins HAVE to sign one of these available guys.

      If they are going to dole out more money, I hope it is for a bat though.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Other than Drew, what is the impact bat left at this point?
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      Other than Drew, what is the impact bat left at this point?
      As far as FAs go, Nelson Cruz, but I hope they stay away.
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      It seems a little odd to me that we have neglected the offense. We are basically swapping Suzuki/Pinto for Morneau, then hoping Sano and Buxton can be up here in June, which could easily turn into September. We were 13th in the AL in runs scored, with 614.

      Compare our 614 runs scored last year with the four playoff teams (Boston 853, Detroit 796, Oakland 767, and Tampa Bay 700). We have some work to do on that side of the ball as well.
      I agree with your conclusion that we need to improve the offense, but I don't think you can just look at runs scored last year to determine that. The Twins were 25th in runs scored last year, but 21st in both wRC+ and wOBA. Factor in significant injury time to the guys that were supposed to be the two biggest producers as well -- Mauer and Willingham.

      Projection models have the current 2014 version of the offense improving across the board in AVG, OBP, SLG, etc compared to last year. For example, FG projects 663 runs for 19th in runs scored (although 14th in the AL). Even if we go off that, we still need to find another 100 runs or so to fit with the contenders you highlighted. Yikes.
    1. tobi0040's Avatar
      tobi0040 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jay View Post
      I agree with your conclusion that we need to improve the offense, but I don't think you can just look at runs scored last year to determine that. The Twins were 25th in runs scored last year, but 21st in both wRC+ and wOBA. Factor in significant injury time to the guys that were supposed to be the two biggest producers as well -- Mauer and Willingham.

      Projection models have the current 2014 version of the offense improving across the board in AVG, OBP, SLG, etc compared to last year. For example, FG projects 663 runs for 19th in runs scored (although 14th in the AL). Even if we go off that, we still need to find another 100 runs or so to fit with the contenders you highlighted. Yikes.
      It was a quick look. I would question the model a bit. Our 614 runs was 13th in the AL last year, yet 663 will be 14th next year. Seems like maybe the model is overly optimistic all around.

      Either way, it was interesting to me that the team that won the WS scored an additional 230 runs. That was the point. Still a few glaring needs on offense.

      I think with Cruz and Drew we could be close to .500 next year, then push for the playoffs is Sano, Buxton, and Meyer come up and play like everyone thinks they will in the next year or two.
    1. jay's Avatar
      jay -
      Quote Originally Posted by tobi0040 View Post
      I would question the model a bit. Our 614 runs was 13th in the AL last year, yet 663 will be 14th next year. Seems like maybe the model is overly optimistic all around.
      Definitely some truth to that. Models won't really predict outliers. Predicted win range is 71-89 while we saw 51-97 in real life just last year. Basically, the model is saying it's really hard to only win 51 games...
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      They might run out of bullets, that's a legitimate concern.

      Conversely, saving your bullets doesn't guarantee there'll be anything to shoot at later. Needing a shortstop and left fielder in 2015 doesn't mean they will be there to sign. You might have saved your money for nothing, and end up without a SS and left fielder in both years.

      Both approaches have risks.
      But wouldn't you agree, Chief, that the risk of not being able to find a LF and SS for 2015 is extremely limited. In fact, nonexistent? The question is opportunity cost. Unload your weapon now on Drew, for example, to tack on a couple wins during a .500 season (at best), when 2015 will be the first full season for a half-dozen SS's who were top 100 prospects last year. Why not wait for a better opportunity under the circumstances? Who carews about a couple extra wins in 2014?
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      You can search the internet if you want.....but good luck finding a study not funded by a team that says otherwise........
      The bonding documents are a matter of public record. It's also a matter of widespread understanding that the bonds are being paid down via revenues generated from sales taxes, as thrylos correctly explains.

      The misunderstanding comes from innaccurate statements, intentional and otherwise, like the ones above..

      It's not like the poor taxpayers of Hennepin County got handed a bill we didn't ask for and were forced to cut down on our purchase of baby formula to cover our massive new personal tax levy.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Going beyond 2014 less than half of the roster is still under contract in 2015. I'm sure TR will be active in resigning players, but it does bode well for more significant roster changes, and plenty of cash to do it with (call me an optimist).
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      But wouldn't you agree, Chief, that the risk of not being able to find a LF and SS for 2015 is extremely limited. In fact, nonexistent? The question is opportunity cost. Unload your weapon now on Drew, for example, to tack on a couple wins during a .500 season (at best), when 2015 will be the first full season for a half-dozen SS's who were top 100 prospects last year. Why not wait for a better opportunity under the circumstances? Who carews about a couple extra wins in 2014?
      Which FA outfielders would you have been in favor of signing this year?

      There will likely be outfielders available in most years, I agree. But the chances aren't "nonexistent" you'll not be able to find and sign one you like in any given year.

      For SS's multiply that by a factor of, I don't know...10? SS's who can hit and field are hard to find. Next year's FA SS crop is limited, doesn't look much better if any than Drew, are roughly the same ages or older than Drew, and won't be cheaper.

      And I have no idea what the former top 100 prospects have to do with anything. They won't be free agents for years. If your point is the Twins can trade for one of them, I guess that's possible, but it will be costly, not to mention the Twins don't have a lot of assets to trade away. If your point is these young SS's will be pushing incumbents off the position, same story...the ones worth trading for will be as old as Drew or older, and won't be playing for less money than Drew.

      Finally, for the record, I care about wins in 2014. Quite a bit in fact. Judging by the positive reactions to FA pitching acquisitions, so do most around here, and judging by declining ticket sales, so do most Twins fans.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Which FA outfielders would you have been in favor of signing this year?

      There will likely be outfielders available in most years, I agree. But the chances aren't "nonexistent" you'll not be able to find and sign one you like in any given year.

      For SS's multiply that by a factor of, I don't know...10? SS's who can hit and field are hard to find. Next year's FA SS crop is limited, doesn't look much better if any than Drew, are roughly the same ages or older than Drew, and won't be cheaper.

      And I have no idea what the former top 100 prospects have to do with anything. They won't be free agents for years. If your point is the Twins can trade for one of them, I guess that's possible, but it will be costly, not to mention the Twins don't have a lot of assets to trade away. If your point is these young SS's will be pushing incumbents off the position, same story...the ones worth trading for will be as old as Drew or older, and won't be playing for less money than Drew.

      Finally, for the record, I care about wins in 2014. Quite a bit in fact. Judging by the positive reactions to FA pitching acquisitions, so do most around here, and judging by declining ticket sales, so do most Twins fans.
      Starting with caring about wins: I doubt ticket sales will soar because of those two extra wins that a guy like Drew brings to the table, so I think that's a shallow statement. Most of us are reacting to the new FA pitchers because it represents a positive change, not because we're thrilled with the thought of a 82-win team.

      I don't have a strong opinion about particular players out there, but yes, I was talking about incumbent SS's becoming available in much larger numbers because of guys like Lindor, Baez, Profar, and a few others displacing guys, some younger and/or better possibly than Drew. And LF candidates of the kind the Twins are likely to "like" are a dime a dozen every year, Chief. Ask Kubel.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      And LF candidates of the kind the Twins are likely to "like" are a dime a dozen every year, Chief. Ask Kubel.
      I can't argue with that.

      In fact, that sort of IS my argument.
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      I can't argue with that.

      In fact, that sort of IS my argument.
      Yeah, I know, and I get and would usually not question your argument regarding the SS rarity, but wonder if this next abberational wave (something like 6 of the top 15 prospects?) doesn't factor into a decision to meet the demands of Boras on a player like Drew. I'd like to have Drew here for a couple years, but can fully see why there may be reasons not to shoot that bullet.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by birdwatcher View Post
      Yeah, I know, and I get and would usually not question your argument regarding the SS rarity, but wonder if this next abberational wave (something like 6 of the top 15 prospects?) doesn't factor into a decision to meet the demands of Boras on a player like Drew. I'd like to have Drew here for a couple years, but can fully see why there may be reasons not to shoot that bullet.
      Fair enough. There are legitimate warts with Drew. I fully agree. I guess the difference lies in how ugly we view them as, and in how ugly the warts of the alternative.
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