The Payroll Question to Answer for the 2021 Twins
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY SportsIt’s completely tone deaf to suggest that owning a major league sports franchise is a losing business venture, the reality is that revenues won’t be at their traditional levels in 2020. With no fans in the stands organizations have lost out on lucrative ticket sales, concessions, and other traditional operating dollars. Because of this, the assumption is that payrolls across the league will take a step backwards in 2021. What we don’t know if where the ripple effect will end.
Free agency and talent acquisition still take place on a competitive market. There are 30 suitors for any one position (as long as the designated hitter remains universal), and varying levels of need and risk factors that come into play. Attempting to land a non-committed player will likely never be as straightforward as a one-way exchange of figures. However, was does reduced cash flow throughout the sport look like, and how does a potential lockout in 2022 impact things further?
While doing our Offseason Live show focused on the Twins 2021 payroll, the general assumption is some level of decrease. Without knowing the percentage, we are operating in a world of hypotheticals. It is fair to suggest that a non-tender of Eddie Rosario is probably the most logical cost cutting move to make. The next biggest swing comes in the form of a reunion with designated hitter Nelson Cruz. Likely representative of the Twins big splash for 2021, his price tag won’t be cheap. Where things get interesting is when the market starts to bear fruit.
In a normal scenario a guy like Cruz, coming off the season he had, might be looking at something like $14-16 million per year. He wants a two-year deal, and though that’s a fair ask, he’s still going to be 41 years old. Dealing with a new set of parameters, does the market value for all players take a percentage step backwards in relation to that of the payroll? Say a 20% decrease in year over year spend, does that make Cruz’s new best get something like $11-12 million?
To me, it’s in that question that we see just how aggressive Minnesota can be in filling their needs. Coming into 2020 with a $140 million commitment, there should be no reason they don’t continue to dole out cash as they supplement a window of opportunity. That can still take place even if it’s in a different form. Maybe they jump from 17th overall in payroll to the top 15. Maybe instead of a 20% cut they only step backwards 10%. Whatever happens, the Twins will need to be ready to pivot and pounce.
Right now, the goal should be to start making assessments on what virtually every player will make and be worth. Once the first couple of deals have been made, assess and compare. From there you should have a good idea as to how to approach potential fits and keeping in mind a need for aggressiveness should be at the forefront.
Today we can make determinations on what needs are there, and even predict some of the departures. Understanding how to put the puzzle together when we don’t know how many pieces it is will prove tricky.
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