Let's Make A Deal, Part II: Payroll
Image courtesy of David Berding-USA TODAY SportsOn Wednesday, a series was introduced that will look at this trade deadline, but from the perspective of next year’s Opening Day. While it wasn’t meant to be a projection - we know that the team is going to make many moves between now and then - it was meant to see how things would look if they didn’t.
Some brief conclusions: The lineup should be great. The bench could use some tweaks. The rotation has an engine, but no cars. The bullpen… well, there’s some work to do there.
While we looked at how the team could look next year, we neglected to consider a very important part: the financial aspect.
From here, we’ll start to narrow in on the deadline that is less than two weeks away: who could go, what teams could sell, what players the Twins could make a move on, and, finally, what I would do if I sat in the GM seat.
In regard to payroll, we’re only going to consider the 25-man roster. The same 25-man roster that was presented on Wednesday will be used. (Yes, that means Magill and Duffey instead of Littell and HIldenberger, even though the latter seems to be a more realistic pair to be difference-makers in next year’s bullpen.) (Edit: Magill was DFA'd Thursday afternoon.)
Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda, Jason Castro and Jonathan Schoop are all free agents, which removes $41,125,000, roughly one third of this season’s payroll.
Here’s what we know right now:
The Twins are likely, barring something unforeseen, to pick up DH Nelson Cruz’s $12m option. SP Martin Perez also has a team option and based on his innings projection, it will be increasing from $7.5m to $8m.
The only players guaranteed a certain amount for next year are UTIL Marwin Gonzalez ($9m), RF Max Kepler ($6.25m) and SS Jorge Polanco ($3.83m).
Going through arbitration will be 10 players. All of these figures are rough estimates. In their final years of arbitration are 1B C.J. Cron ($8.5m), RP Blake Parker ($2.7m), bSS Ehire Adrianza ($1.5m) and RP Trevor May ($1.6m), Entering their second-to-last round of arbitration are LF Eddie Rosario ($8.3m) and 3B Miguel Sano ($5.1m). CF Byron Buxton ($5.2m) and RP Taylor Rogers ($3.7m) all got a Super-2 bump last year but will have three more off-seasons of arbitration. SP Jose Berrios ($3.7m) and RP Tyler Duffey ($900k) will both receive their first arbitration raise.
C Mitch Garver, bOF Jake Cave, RP Ryne Harper and RP Matt Magill all will slot in above the minimum but haven’t reached arbitration yet, so we’ll use $750k as placeholders for them.
Rounding out the roster are players at or near the minimum. Though that figure hasn’t been released yet (it’s based on cost of living increase), we’ll use $570k as a placeholder. This will include 2B Luis Arraez, bC/3B Willians Astudillo, SP Devin Smeltzer, SP Lewis Thorpe, SP Sean Poppen and RP Fernando Romero.
Before you get hung up on any of those figures - they admittedly may be way too high or way too low on any individual - the point of this exercise was to get an idea of what payroll would look like on Opening Day. The math works out to $86,700,000. (EDIT: We'd need to replace Magill's $750K with either Hildenberger or Littell, but the bottom line wouldn't change more than a couple hundred thousand dollars.) Though we don’t know what the team would be comfortable spending, it would not be out of the question to see a payroll approaching $135 million. That would allow the team to spend nearly $50 million between now and next March.
The core of Rosario, Buxton, Rogers and Berrios will be even more expensive the following year, without the relief of over $40 million in expiring contracts. Cruz, Cron, Perez and Gonzalez figure to be the only pending free agents on a multi-million dollar deal.
It’s not a certainty that the Twins wouldn’t be willing to take on players with more than just one year left on their contract, but at this point in time, it’s obvious that the team - would have said publicly that they aren’t interested in rentals - would have payroll both this year and next year to add impact players.
Popular names on the trade market that have one more year of arbitration before free agency - think guys the Twins could easily take on from a payroll perspective without impacting their 2021 payroll - include starting pitchers Blue Jay Marcus Stroman, Diamondback Robbie Ray and Indian Trevor Bauer. Padres Kirby Yates and Robbie Erlin, Blue Jays Ken Giles and Aaron Sanchez, Diamondback Andrew Chafin, Gian Sam Dyson, Royals Ian Kennedy (expensive) and Jake Diekman, Tiger Shane Greene and Alex Colome of the White Sox are all relievers with one more year of control.
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