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A combination of geography and a rebounding free agency market seem to be conspiring against Minnesota’s chances of acquiring a top-of-th...
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Front Page: Twins Offseason Trade Target: Kyle Seager

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Let's Make A Deal, Part II: Payroll

As the Twins navigate a rough stretch while privately considering how to upgrade the team in advance of the trade deadline, we fans continue to publically look at all the options. Bullpen help? Give me a couple. Upgrade in the rotation? We’ll take that too.
Image courtesy of David Berding-USA TODAY Sports
On 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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53 Comments

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Jeremy Nygaard
Jul 19 2019 02:11 PM

 

Jorge's deal breaks down as follows:

 

2020: $3.8M

2021: $4.3M

2022: $5.5M

2023: $7.5M

2024: $10.5M

2025: $12M

 

 

The '24 and '25 option have increased by $500k too because of his All-Star appearance. Can go up another $500k with another one too.

 

But I agree: Non-issue.

 

What kind of a contract are you willing to give a guy that could be a couple more wall collisions from his career being over?

 

I would offer him a contract on par with Acuna's to start. I don't know if Buxton would take it. The risk of injury is always going to be there but I don't think the Twins should try to low-ball him with that being their excuse.

 

How about 6 years, $100M. $10M per year of arbitration remaining, then $20M for the 4 years after. The Twins should be getting the absolute best and most productive years of Buxton's career at that point, and he would hit the market again as a 31-year-old in position to cash in at least one more time.

Jorge's deal breaks down as follows:

2020: $3.8M
2021: $4.3M
2022: $5.5M
2023: $7.5M
2024: $10.5M
2025: $12M

That's certainly not a bad contract for someone with just over 1000 PA who hit had a slash line of .272/.329/.420 slash line and had some pretty questionable defense at SS thus far in his career. Like JW stated, he also had the 80 game suspension last year and another screw up and he's gone for a year. Yes, the Twins had leverage, but they also took on risk he would improve as a player. So far this season it looked like they took a good risk, but the extension doesn't kick in until next season. This is literally a non-issue.

Ok... I think I may have figured or why we're disagreeing.

The final $22 million of that contract isn't guaranteed. Almost half of it. Year 6 is a vesting option that almost certainly benefits the team. Year 7 is a team option, which again, is only picked up if it benefits the team. His AAV the team is on the hook for is just over $5mil/yr for 5 years. And it's back loaded sho he doesn't even get the benefit of present value (imagine the Twins investing his remaining contract vs Polanco investing from day 1).

For the record, I wasn't saying it wasn't a fair deal at the time. I'm questioning whether we'll still consider it a fair deal going forward and for how long.

 

Kyle Gibson has been worth .8 WAR this season in 19 starts (105.1 innings). My opinion is that Thorpe could be that good (average?), yes.

For pitchers with more than 60 innings in the American League
Per FanGraphs

25th in innings pitched
23rd in K/9
25th in BB/9
24th in HR/9
37th in BABIP
25th in ERA
22nd in FIP
10th in xFip
18th in WAR

Which puts him at the very bottom of a number two starter and the top of the number 3 starters.
You are expecting Thorpe to put up these numbers next year, and can't do it in AAA this year?
If Thorpe was expected to do this next year in the majors every since person that does a prospect list would have him in the top 50 prospects in all of baseball and probably 3rd in the Twins?
On top of it took Berrios close to three years to do it?

As much as Gibson drives me nuts quite a bit of the time, in 2019 he is a pretty good starting pitcher and way undervalued by Twins fans (including me)

    • USAFChief, nicksaviking, SwainZag and 1 other like this
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Major League Ready
Jul 19 2019 02:26 PM

 

Kyle Gibson has been worth .8 WAR this season in 19 starts (105.1 innings). My opinion is that Thorpe could be that good (average?), yes.

 

Depends on if you are looking at bWAR or fWAR. Fangraphs has Gibson at 2.1 / Odorizzi at 2.2 and Berrios at 2.9 WAR. Regardless, Thorpe has not been nearly as dominant as Smeltzer in terms of MiLB performance. Why would you favor him over Smeltzer? 

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TouchEmAllGuy
Jul 19 2019 02:33 PM

The Pohlad's won't increase payroll just because revenue is up. It is a business to them. IMO

    • BattleYourTailOff likes this

 


Also I personally did not realize Rosario only has 2.5 years left with us, he is someone we need to lock up. He finds a way to impress me year after year.

 

Tough decisions coming for the FO, with Rosario the most important of the position players. If they think that Kiriloff will be ready by mid-season 2020, Rosario will likely be the one moved while there's still trade value. Hard to imagine, but they probably can't afford to extend Rosario and replace/re-up all of the departing/extended Starting Pitchers.

    • Major League Ready likes this

 

Depends on if you are looking at bWAR or fWAR. Fangraphs has Gibson at 2.1 / Odorizzi at 2.2 and Berrios at 2.9 WAR. Regardless, Thorpe has not been nearly as dominant as Smeltzer in terms of MiLB performance. Why would you favor him over Smeltzer? 

 

I think Thorpe's velocity gives him an advantage over Smeltzer in regards to staying in a MLB rotation. He is also still on the comeback trail from TJ, and I am assuming he will continue to improve from what we saw from his one outing. Again, just my opinion here.

 

As to Tomj14's point, I agree Gibson is undervalued. However, with his contract coming up at the end of this year, I think the Twins can replace his spot in the rotation and get similar results for a fraction of the price.

 

Ok... I think I may have figured or why we're disagreeing.

The final $22 million of that contract isn't guaranteed. Almost half of it. Year 6 is a vesting option that almost certainly benefits the team. Year 7 is a team option, which again, is only picked up if it benefits the team. His AAV the team is on the hook for is just over $5mil/yr for 5 years. And it's back loaded sho he doesn't even get the benefit of present value (imagine the Twins investing his remaining contract vs Polanco investing from day 1).

For the record, I wasn't saying it wasn't a fair deal at the time. I'm questioning whether we'll still consider it a fair deal going forward and for how long.

 

AH it was a 7 year extension, I should have noticed that.They didn't go to ARB this year.So they bought out all 4 years of his arbitration and gave him a 3 year extension onto that with 2 being team options.The contract will work out for both of them.If he doesn't play well, he probably won't vest that option and be able to hit FA after 2023.If he is good, he will earn the 10M and 12M, and hit FAafter 2024.

 

 

 

 

 

As to Tomj14's point, I agree Gibson is undervalued. However, with his contract coming up at the end of this year, I think the Twins can replace his spot in the rotation and get similar results for a fraction of the price.

Last comment(s) because I have to go for the day, have a good weekend.

 

The Twins tried buying that last year with Ordo and Lynn and didn't get it, and may other teams did as well (the Cubs for example)

the Twins have tried that they last two years with Rookies and haven't gotten it either, so I don't think it is that simple to just pick up a top end #3 starter.

But I am hoping and praying Thorpe turn out close to as good as Gibson for his and the Twins (fans) sake next year and in the future.

    • SwainZag and JW24 like this

 

Last comment(s) because I have to go for the day, have a good weekend.

 

The Twins tried buying that last year with Ordo and Lynn and didn't get it, and may other teams did as well (the Cubs for example)

the Twins have tried that they last two years with Rookies and haven't gotten it either, so I don't think it is that simple to just pick up a top end #3 starter.

But I am hoping and praying Thorpe turn out close to as good as Gibson for his and the Twins (fans) sake next year and in the future.

 

I agree that finding a solid #3 is not easy, and I don't take Gibson for granted (despite how my opinions may sound). 

 

Nice to chat with you, have a good weekend as well!

    • Tomj14 likes this

 

Wait, you are expecting Thorpe next year to pitch as well as Gibson this year? If other front offices believe that they Twins could trade him straight up for just about any pitcher outside of Thor today.

It seems very unrealistic that guy that has pitched in 1 major league game could do that next year. (I really, really hope he does and it is on the Twins, but in no way am I expecting anything near that from him next year, maybe not even pitching in the majors next year)

 

To me this is pie in the sky expectation, very similar to the talk about May becoming a starter for the Twins this year.

 

I have to agree, and sticking to that theme we should also feel similarly about guys like Larnach and Kiriloff to be honest. "Larnach should fill in for Rosario" is assuming a LOT.

 

Don't get me wrong, this was a great post from the OP and I love getting into the details here. But I do think it's wise to remind everyone that minor league talent is no good to the professional team unless they can play at the MLB level. We simply don't know that yet.

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operation mindcrime
Jul 19 2019 04:22 PM
Don't forget that Addison Reed's $8.5 million will come off the books! :)

They are still paying Addison Reed $8.5M not to pitch.That cash can go long way towards covering a set up guys' salary in 2020.

 

I would offer him a contract on par with Acuna's to start. I don't know if Buxton would take it. The risk of injury is always going to be there but I don't think the Twins should try to low-ball him with that being their excuse.

 

How about 6 years, $100M. $10M per year of arbitration remaining, then $20M for the 4 years after. The Twins should be getting the absolute best and most productive years of Buxton's career at that point, and he would hit the market again as a 31-year-old in position to cash in at least one more time.

Wow. Hard pass on that. I'm not paying $20 million per year for a guy who will likely never play more then 120 games.

 

And his offense makes it unlikely he'll get $10 million/year in arbitration. I'd be willing to go something like 4/$44 starting at $8 million/year and escalating $2 million per year. Buying out two FA years for $26 million.

 

You didn't mention Matt Boyd, but that's probably a top name for a rotation piece next year.

 

I'd argue that one or both of Gibson/Odorizzi should be potential QO/extension candidates... Pineda is slowly moving into that group too. 

 

 

I think Jeremy was just listing names that wouldn't tie up any payroll thru arbitration beyond next season.

 

Believe Matthew Boyd has three seasons of arbitration coming up (potentially).

 

Wow. Hard pass on that. I'm not paying $20 million per year for a guy who will likely never play more then 120 games.

 

And his offense makes it unlikely he'll get $10 million/year in arbitration. I'd be willing to go something like 4/$44 starting at $8 million/year and escalating $2 million per year. Buying out two FA years for $26 million.

 

If the Twins offer Buxton that contract, they are telling him they are moving on from him. That would be insultingly low.

 

The idea isn't to pay him his arbitration value in his arbitration years; it is to pay him above arbitration value for those years in order to get some of his free agency years at a discount. 2.5 years from now, $20M per year will be a discount for Byron Buxton, based on both what his performance will be and what the free agent market grows to be.

(not sure of numbers too lazy to verify, but they are close)
Twins with Byron Buxton, 52 wins 23 losses (.693). Twins w/o Byron Buxton 7 wins 14 losses (.333). I know, SSS ... but it sure seems as if what he brings to the team far exceeds what the numbers would seem to say. Very important extension, with the caveat that he has missed 20% of the games ytd.

(not sure of numbers too lazy to verify, but they are close)
Twins with Byron Buxton, 52 wins 23 losses (.693). Twins w/o Byron Buxton 7 wins 14 losses (.333). I know, SSS ... but it sure seems as if what he brings to the team far exceeds what the numbers would seem to say. Very important extension, with the caveat that he has missed 20% of the games ytd.

Look at 2018 and 2017 too. You won't be disappointed. :)

 

If the Twins offer Buxton that contract, they are telling him they are moving on from him. That would be insultingly low.

 

The idea isn't to pay him his arbitration value in his arbitration years; it is to pay him above arbitration value for those years in order to get some of his free agency years at a discount. 2.5 years from now, $20M per year will be a discount for Byron Buxton, based on both what his performance will be and what the free agent market grows to be.

Let him earn it then. I don't see teams lining up to pay him $20 million year for multiple years. 

 

Let him earn it then. I don't see teams lining up to pay him $20 million year for multiple years. 

I agree with the idea of letting him earn the money, but looking at his improvements from last season to this season offensively, the only thing he needs to do to be worth $20M per year is to stay healthy and play about 150 games.

 

Other teams don't have the luxury the Twins do with the 2 years of control after this season, but I would be willing to bet when Buxton is eligible for free agency, he would have 29 other teams willing to pay him $20M per season. Ok, maybe not the Rays.

 

I agree with the idea of letting him earn the money, but looking at his improvements from last season to this season offensively, the only thing he needs to do to be worth $20M per year is to stay healthy and play about 150 games.

 

Other teams don't have the luxury the Twins do with the 2 years of control after this season, but I would be willing to bet when Buxton is eligible for free agency, he would have 29 other teams willing to pay him $20M per season. Ok, maybe not the Rays.

That's like saying Sam Bradford is a $20 million quarterback when healthy. Maybe he is, but it's irrelevant. If he does that a coupletimes between now and FA, then you'll be right. But if he doesn't (which is more likely) then he'll be lucky to find one team willing to do so (who are the Arizona Cardinals of MLB)?

    • Carlos Figueroa likes this

 

That's like saying Sam Bradford is a $20 million quarterback when healthy. Maybe he is, but it's irrelevant. If he does that a coupletimes between now and FA, then you'll be right. But if he doesn't (which is more likely) then he'll be lucky to find one team willing to do so (who are the Arizona Cardinals of MLB)?

I don't know if this comparison really makes sense. There isn't a position in all the rest of sports that compares to the importance of QB.

 

Looking at the contracts players that hit free agency are signing, the market rate per 1 WAR is approximately $7M. In the one season Buxton has played more than 100 game, he was worth 5.1 bWAR (3.5 fWAR). This season he has been worth 2.7 bWAR (2.3 fWAR). This production is worth $20M per year, and if he hits the market as a free agent, someone will pay it.

 

I respect your opinion that his future contract is predicated on Buxton staying healthy. If I am the in the Twins front office, I would pay him assuming he will.

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yarnivek1972
Jul 22 2019 07:34 AM
Nelson Cruz was a 2.9 bWAR player last year.

He’s not making over $20 mil.

 

Nelson Cruz was a 2.9 bWAR player last year.

He’s not making over $20 mil.

 

Contracts are not signed to pay a player for their previous season contributions, they are signed to pay a player their expected value going forward. Nelson Cruz is 39 years old, his market is not the same as a 26 year olds when signing a FA deal


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