Fan concerns should matter. At some point, if they don't, all that fancy new budget room is going to disappear and that long-term plan will hit some major snags.
The Twins need to show themselves to be aggressive. They can do that without sinking the ship. And, as a bonus, they'll show the fans the same level of investment that they're asking for in return.
Negotiations for Garza will demonstrate just how serious the Twins are with respect to spending for starting pitching. Garza has many of the really desirable traits the Twins seek in pitching--especially health, age, and skills. No, Garza isn't a Cy Young caliber pitcher--but he is good enough to lead this bunch. If he demands five years--give it!--this is one of the cases where a five year contract (or longer) works to the Twins advantage. Garza is a pitcher whose function isn't to just ad wins in 2014, but to be a mainstay in the rotation providing quality and stability for years to come. Second best in negotiations--might just as well be last, winner takes all.
Go for it. Just do not think it will happen.
The only problem with getting Garza is that he's probably getting Anibal money and then some. Anibal was younger and had slightly better numbers but Garza has been successful in Tampa.
I'm okay with throwing a big pile of money at Garza, Tanaka or Ubaldo even though the Twins won't. And there is still plenty of money to sign another pitcher next season if there's one available.
It actually make sense in terms of the Twins modus operandi. Wouldn't cost them a draft pick, and it wouldn't be spending huge free agent money on a stranger. Garza was traded away for (although it pains me to say) the top prospect in baseball. Getting him back in the organization when he becomes a free agent seems very plausible.
Plus, he is the best arm available this winter! Would love to see it. (With JJohnson or Hughes as the second piece...)
As far as a Garza signing limiting us from going after someone in 2015, I actually think it would. To make the math easy, let's assume Garza would require 5yrs, $85M. $17M along with Mauer's $23M. That's already $40M a year for the next five years on two players. Imagine adding another player around $20M a year. That's $60M a year committed to 3 players over the next 4 years. That doesn't sound like a successful plan to me. I wouldn't mind two big commitments, but three is too much for a mid market team.
Like I said, I wouldn't mind a Garza signing but I just feel this FA class has good value in the middle tier. While next year has some front line pitchers and I'd rather go after one of those guys if I am giving out a long term deal.
Having said that, I don't think Garza will get that much. And if he does I don't think it would be from the Twins.
I can't think of an offseason where the Twins have been rumored nationally to be anywhere near this aggressive, especially with bigger names. Ryan isn't afraid to be aggressive early in the free agent period for pieces he thinks he needs - overpaying Jamey Carroll before 2012 comes to mind - but never with players of this caliber and price tag.
Literally just a week ago, I would've said that the chances that the Twins sign any pitcher for more than $10M/year were less than 5%. Now I feel its probable. There are just too many rumors and discussions with some of the better names on this market. I don't know why the change in direction and philosophy, but whatever the reason, I'll take it.
It's important, and I think this forum is emblematic of this, that the team show their fans that they do understand that their approach to the offseason has to change. People are clamoring for it and watching closely. The Twin's investment in their own product has to match the one the community has given and is giving. If it doesn't they're going to start shrinking the paying fanbase. And, as a die-hard fan who is excited about the potential of the future, I don't want to see the shrinking that will hurt our future payroll.
So good news that they showing impressive aggression early on.
I've hoped for and advocated for Kazmir and Johnson or Hughes for balance and improvement while still being somewhat financially responsible vs. older age and too many years, etc. Goodness knows 2 FA of almost any of the players tied to our interest would provide depth and improvement! But Garza, if serious and not simply using agent speak, would be a guy who would definitely be worth the years and the dollars. 4 at $15 with a possible 5th year or option with buyout would be excellent! ( along with a quality second signing)
If there is real interest on his part, the Twins should jump. His age, stuff and durability would give us the best top of the rotation arm in years. It would also show the fan base something to be excited about.
As Mr. Bonnes rightfully points out, the Twins have never spoken so loudly about flexing payroll or been tied to so many names before. I sense genuine interest in improvement. This would also be a signal to other players and agents as well as the fans.
in the hole:
If that doesn't get you excited what will?
The people in Hennepin county paid a price to help put the Twins in a positions where we can see them do something that is extremely rare or actually never in team history after all of the Calvin Griffiths years of selling off players and even the Pohlads only retaining players or signing Minnesota players at the end of their careers. There is a level of excitement about that fact that the Twins are able to and I am going to put this in parenthesis as its not totally "irrationally" spend and acquire a huge talent instead of letting it go will be a huge boost to morale in Minneapolis as this is something the Twins have never done period ... since 1961 when have the Twins signed a top talent that is not from here for multiple years for top dollars???? VS how many times have we seen that top talent go? I really think that Minnesota needs this type of signing for their Psyche more than anything else.
Counting roster spots isn't a good way of looking at it. We know the Twins won't be spending anything on their backup position players and middle relievers (and quite possibly not even on late inning relievers). Then there are the inexpensive young players in starting roles. After that, and the 3 expensive contracts you stipulate, not many spots are left. But $30-40MM still is available in that scenario.
Try actually putting together a projected roster where payroll becomes a problem. It isn't easy.
I have no problems tying up 40-50 mill in payroll on 3 players just not for 5 years. Thats why a Garza, Arroyo offseason would be perfect. Garza for 5 years & Arroyo for 3 would be perfect staggering of salaries.
Don't forget there is a decent amount of payroll tied up in the bullpen that has many young pitchers ready to take over as well.
In a completely non-shocking turn of events fans are willing to show up more often to teams that are competitive.
Stats courtesy of :http://www.baseball-almanac.com/teams/minnatte.shtml