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Front Page: Every Team Wants Zack Wheeler

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:06 PM
Zack Wheeler is one of the most sought after free agents this off-season and there will be not shortage of teams interested in his servic...
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Cubs interested in Luis Arraez?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 08:04 PM
https://twitter.com/...ovecubbies.com/     Not sure why the Twins would be interested in moving Arraez. He is cheap and can't b...
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Rosenthal: Minnesota Tax Rate 2nd Highest in Baseball

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:59 PM
https://theathletic....bet-more-notes/   In the notes of this Ken Rosenthal article, he writes about the Twins pursuit of pitching....
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David Price? Eovaldi?

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:38 PM
It is the most wonderful time of the year... No not the holidays. Trade and free agent dreams are dancing in everyone's heads and the Bos...
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Front Page: Fears of White Sox Competency Alarm Local Fans

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 07:05 PM
The surprising hot stove activity of the Chicago White Sox--signing Yasmani Grendal, their rumored pursuit of Zach Wheeler--is causing so...
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Astros and Cubs Have Proven Twins Time to Spend is Now

Going into 2020 the Minnesota Twins can spend to levels the franchise has never before seen. I wrote up how even a marginal offseason accomplishes that, and they’ve already entered uncharted territory by handed out a qualified offer for the first time. What’s more important is that the front office understands why it’s imperative they get the spending done.
Image courtesy of © Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s rewind over a half decade and land back in 2013. The Chicago Cubs and Houston Astros both employed top five farm systems but were among the worst teams in baseball. Chicago won just 66 games while Houston joined the American League and punted on the season to the tune of 51 victories. The next year both clubs remained in the top five on the farm but also showed life in the majors to the tune of 73 and 70 wins respectively. Pairing their development success with what was happening at the highest level, it became evident that it was time to go.

In 2015 the Cubs opened with a $106.6 million payroll, 98% increase from the $53.6 million a year prior. Houston was not as drastic, going from $41.6 million to $64.8 million (a 56% increase). Both teams jumped up in wins, most notably Chicago parlaying their 97 into an NLCS appearance (in which they were swept by the Mets). 2016 saw the Cubs fully realize their goal with a World Series victory, the first since 1908. To get there Theo pushed payroll to $161.3 million, another 51% increase, or jump of 200% since 2014.

Attached Image: Capture.PNG
Image Credit: Forbes

To be fair, Minnesota will never operate on the same revenue stream that a national brand like the Cubs benefit from. Houston is a much more feasible example though, and while they likely have a more lucrative TV deal as well, 2019 revenues highlight the gap being relatively insignificant. The Astros also saw an 86-win successful year in 2015, only to take a step backwards (84 wins) in 2016. That is largely reflective of the cycle Minnesota endured popping up for a one-game Wild Card loss.

Payroll growth in Houston has been noteworthy as well. Coming out of the 86-win campaign in 2015 the Astros operated differently than the Twins (who went from $130MM in 2018 to $114MM in 2019) by increasing payroll to $75.4 million, a slight 16% increase. They finished third in the division, but the dam was clearly ready to break. Still with a top farm system, and so much big-league talent, Houston went gangbusters spending $132.5 million in 2017, a 76% increase that culminated in a World Series.

Despite being an uncapped sport teams all have a spending threshold. Chicago suggests they’re near theirs and have begun to scale back. The additional funs provided them a window of five straight winning seasons, 90 wins in all but one of them, and the ultimate goal. Houston is in the midst of a stretch where they’ve won three straight division titles, 100 games in three straight seasons, and have gone to the World Series in two of the past three years.

Infrastructure and development in baseball is about creating a backbone capable of sustaining excellence at the highest level. Whether prospects contribute to maturing on the biggest stage, or being parlayed into veteran talent, the goal is not a constant state of hording. Minnesota’s window is now fully open, paired with ideal opportunity around them, and the financial flexibility to make waves. You could, and I have, made the argument that significant spending would have provided marginal gains in recent seasons. That is no longer on the table, and the blueprint has already been draw up for these Twins.

2020 isn’t about dabbling at $130 million. This franchise now needs to show up at the checkout counter and make use of what it has built these past few years.

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18 Comments

Nice write up Ted.

I've long rolled my eyes at the people who bellyache every year about the Twins not spending enough because it's the Twins and that's what they do, but this is the first off season in a long time where a lack of big time spending would be downright criminal. Think how differently this past season would have gone with just one frontline starter. Imagine instead of Dobnak (who I actually like and am interested to see develop) starting a playoff game, it was Cole or Strausberg or someone of that ilk. And it's not even like they need to break the bank -- if they just spend into being in the top half of payroll in MLB, they could put together a real juggernaut.

    • birdwatcher, Sconnie, Hosken Bombo Disco and 3 others like this
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Major League Ready
Nov 08 2019 10:42 AM

I fully believe they are willing to spend $140-150M. However, it’s not a simple as they get the player if they offer the most. Players use other teams to drive the price up. Ultimately, they take the best offer(s) to the team they want to go to and say match it. These teams are not so naive as to agree to match without a commitment that they will accept their offer. I have heard former GMs discuss this on the radio and I had a former GM (NBA GM) tell me the same thing on the golf course.

 

I believe they can resign Odo and Pineada. They need to convince just one of the top guys to come here. Two would be great. I liked the idea of front loading a deal with Wheeler or Bumgarner. I really don’t like the opt out but would go there if it was the difference in getting one of these guys.

    • birdwatcher, Vanimal46 and Wizard11 like this

 

I fully believe they are willing to spend $140-150M. However, it’s not a simple as they get the player if they offer the most. Players use other teams to drive the price up. Ultimately, they take the best offer(s) to the team they want to go to and say match it. These teams are not so naive as to agree to match without a commitment that they will accept their offer. I have heard former GMs discuss this on the radio and I had a former GM (NBA GM) tell me the same thing on the golf course.

 

I believe they can resign Odo and Pineada. They need to convince just one of the top guys to come here. Two would be great. I liked the idea of front loading a deal with Wheeler or Bumgarner. I really don’t like the opt out but would go there if it was the difference in getting one of these guys.

 

You're one of Sid Hartman's close, personal friends?!! Also, Sid Hartman can still golf at 99 years old? 

 

In all seriousness, I am in agreement with you this offseason, which is a refreshing change! $140-150 is a good target to achieve for a payroll. It wouldn't bother me if they started the season below that threshold, and save $5-10 million for in-season acquisitions. 

    • spycake, Major League Ready and Wizard11 like this

 

I fully believe they are willing to spend $140-150M. However, it’s not a simple as they get the player if they offer the most. Players use other teams to drive the price up. Ultimately, they take the best offer(s) to the team they want to go to and say match it. These teams are not so naive as to agree to match without a commitment that they will accept their offer. I have heard former GMs discuss this on the radio and I had a former GM (NBA GM) tell me the same thing on the golf course.

I am sure there are some situations where teams get a chance to match, but I suspect a lot of these bids are solicited "blind" so to speak -- players don't want teams to simply hold back so they can pay X + 1 to beat another offer (they want even higher offers than that), and teams don't want to be sucked into an ever-escalating bidding war -- especially in a league without a cap on individual player salaries. We see a similar effect in trades negotiations too -- generally teams don't get a chance to match an offer.

 

So the Twins could take some control of the situation with aggressive offers, particularly early ones. But it's still no guarantee, and the premium needed to land, say, Strasburg, might be a worse allocation of funds than waiting to land Wheeler plus Bumgarner plus Odorizzi or whatever. (But missing out, or only getting Odorizzi, might be the worst outcome of all, so they should be prepared to make some premium offers too, for the guys they really want.)

    • Wizard11 likes this

What one team proves anther shows the opposite. The Phillies spent around 50 million more. Dombrowski spent, now Boston is looking like a wreck. Speaking of wrecks, there is the rise and fall of the Tigers. One and done are the Cubs. Like Boston they got to the top with spending and a core of young players. It lasted for a moment and now that moment is gone. (Sort of like dust in the wind) Year in and year out the Dodgers are at the top of the list. Did they win a WS this century? When it works like in Houston you are a genius.When it works once in a town that has not won, you are a genius. Elsewhere, pitchforks.

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Major League Ready
Nov 10 2019 08:58 AM

 

What one team proves anther shows the opposite. The Phillies spent around 50 million more. Dombrowski spent, now Boston is looking like a wreck. Speaking of wrecks, there is the rise and fall of the Tigers. One and done are the Cubs. Like Boston they got to the top with spending and a core of young players. It lasted for a moment and now that moment is gone. (Sort of like dust in the wind) Year in and year out the Dodgers are at the top of the list. Did they win a WS this century? When it works like in Houston you are a genius.When it works once in a town that has not won, you are a genius. Elsewhere, pitchforks.

 

I would not be too down on the the Dodgers They have averaged 96 wins over the past 7 seasons and never less than 92. They went through a period times as did the Yankees where they tried to win with FAs and trades for high profile players. They were mediocre during that period. They changed their practices emphasizing prospects and development. This year’s team had 6 position players with a WAR above 2. Five were either drafted or traded for as prospects. The other (Turner) signed a minor league contract.

 

They had 4 pitchers with a WAR above 2. They drafted Kershaw and Buehler. Of course, they resigned Kershaw. Meada was an international signing for $25M over 8 years. Ryu was a one year 17.9Mcontract. No big free agents and no trades for established players. Interesting they put so much emphasis on prospects when they could outspend the Twins by $100M

    • birdwatcher likes this

Believe it when it happens. I think we're much more likely to go with a bullpen rotation and payroll similar to last year.

Remember a lot of that spending is going to have to be used on their young core also. So really can't go super crazy. Could get a real expensive pitcher but probably can't get like 2 or 3 expensive free agents.
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Major League Ready
Nov 10 2019 10:05 AM

 

Remember a lot of that spending is going to have to be used on their young core also. So really can't go super crazy. Could get a real expensive pitcher but probably can't get like 2 or 3 expensive free agents.

 

The players that will increasing significantly over current levels over the next three years are Buxton / Sano / Rosario / Berrios / Rogers and eventually Garver. $12M for Cruz drops off after 2020. Cron also drops off assuming they keep him this year. $9M for Gonzales comes off in 2021.

 

They will replace Rosario with either Larnach or Kiriloff at some point of the next 2 years so Rosario’s current salary and eventual increase is not an issue. It will actually be a source of payroll $. Cruz / Gonzales / Rosario & Cron coming off will provide payroll capacity of a little over $30M AAV from current levels. That should fund all the arbitration increases.

 

Of course, they need to replace them with prospects. What they really need is for a couple guys to emerge and provide low cost. That makes spending on FA pitching now feasible without creating the same issue other teams have faced recently with running out of payroll capacity. This is why prospects are so crucial, especially to teams with modest revenue.

 

I would not be too down on the the Dodgers They have averaged 96 wins over the past 7 seasons and never less than 92. They went through a period times as did the Yankees where they tried to win with FAs and trades for high profile players. They were mediocre during that period. They changed their practices emphasizing prospects and development. This year’s team had 6 position players with a WAR above 2. Five were either drafted or traded for as prospects. The other (Turner) signed a minor league contract.

 

They had 4 pitchers with a WAR above 2. They drafted Kershaw and Buehler. Of course, they resigned Kershaw. Meada was an international signing for $25M over 8 years. Ryu was a one year 17.9Mcontract. No big free agents and no trades for established players. Interesting they put so much emphasis on prospects when they could outspend the Twins by $100M

Dodger were just below the luxury tax threshold. The cautionary tale there is the 40 million in dead money.A great 7 year run. 1 loss in the WS. The theory of spend and it will vault you to the next level (the subject of the blog) is wishful thinking

    • Major League Ready likes this

 

I've long rolled my eyes at the people who bellyache every year about the Twins not spending enough because it's the Twins and that's what they do, but this is the first off season in a long time where a lack of big time spending would be downright criminal. Think how differently this past season would have gone with just one frontline starter. Imagine instead of Dobnak (who I actually like and am interested to see develop) starting a playoff game, it was Cole or Strausberg or someone of that ilk. And it's not even like they need to break the bank -- if they just spend into being in the top half of payroll in MLB, they could put together a real juggernaut.

I feel you.I honestly do.

 

However, we scored 7 runs in 3 games and that just isn't cutting it.This has happened time and time again against the Yankees.

 

Go after pitching for sure....but until the culture changes we will continue to lay down like lambs against them.It was a hard thing to come to terms with, but that is what I did after the 2010 season ended.We had possibly one of the best lineups this franchise ever had that season and we STILL tightened up and played like weaklings

 

I think we have lost against them not because we haven't pitched well enough.We have lost to them because we average less than three runs a game against them in the playoffs.Even if we had Strasburg, Cole, Frank Viola and Jack Morris we still probably would not win if we hit like that

    • Twins33 likes this

What one team proves anther shows the opposite. The Phillies spent around 50 million more. Dombrowski spent, now Boston is looking like a wreck. Speaking of wrecks, there is the rise and fall of the Tigers. One and done are the Cubs. Like Boston they got to the top with spending and a core of young players. It lasted for a moment and now that moment is gone. (Sort of like dust in the wind) Year in and year out the Dodgers are at the top of the list. Did they win a WS this century? When it works like in Houston you are a genius. When it works once in a town that has not won, you are a genius. Elsewhere, pitchforks.


Boston won. They have been great for over a decade. The Cubs won, and have been in the playoffs three years in a row until this year. The dodgers have been great. What do you expect? Btw... How are the cheapest teams, other than Tampa, doing? How many cheap teams pass your WS winning test, if that's the criteria?

Dodger were just below the luxury tax threshold. The cautionary tale there is the 40 million in dead money. A great 7 year run. 1 loss in the WS. The theory of spend and it will vault you to the next level (the subject of the blog) is wishful thinking


What's the alternative for this year? Punt?

What's the alternative for this year? Punt?


I think the message was it’s going to take more than throwing money at free agent pitching

By the way, Houston got their pitch through trades and the Cubs big signing (Darvish) has been a disaster. There were people screaming that we should hand him a blank check! Caveat emptor.

Like I said in my last post, the culture has to change if we are ever getting anywhere in the postseason. Getting to the postseason seems to the objective and then hope for the best. As if we are waiting for fairies and angels to grant us luck ...and if they don’t OK we made it to the postseason, so that’s good enough.

That mindset isn’t cutting it. I thought it was dead and buried but it’s not. Rocco confirmed that by telling us he’s just fine not winning a game in the postseason

The sad reality is that the Cubs, Houston, Boston, Dodgers all have revenue streams that produce $100,000,000 or more than the Twins do. You cannot dowhat they do when you do not have the same resources.The Twins could have a 150 million payroll.They have the resources for that. The other teams have 58 million more or more that they can spend. Some spent more, than 208, some less. As these teams that have won a WS have spent near the cap err luxury tax threshold or over they have fallen afterwards.LA has maintained because they have developed talent. Unfortunately, they have not won a WS, or they would be the model. They had the resources to withstand the bad contracts. They still had to give away players to get under the cap tax.

If being aware that you do not have the resources the other teams have and you can't do what they do is punting so be it. Strange use of the word

    • Riverbrian and ewen21 like this

The sad reality is that the Cubs, Houston, Boston, Dodgers all have revenue streams that produce $100,000,000 or more than the Twins do. You cannot do what they do when you do not have the same resources. The Twins could have a 150 million payroll. They have the resources for that. The other teams have 58 million more or more that they can spend. Some spent more, than 208, some less. As these teams that have won a WS have spent near the cap err luxury tax threshold or over they have fallen afterwards.LA has maintained because they have developed talent. Unfortunately, they have not won a WS, or they would be the model. They had the resources to withstand the bad contracts. They still had to give away players to get under the cap tax.
If being aware that you do not have the resources the other teams have and you can't do what they do is punting so be it. Strange use of the word


They are seventy million below the number you posted. You also posted they should not sign expensive free agents. They have one starting pitcher on the roster. What should they do?

 

They are seventy million below the number you posted. You also posted they should not sign expensive free agents. They have one starting pitcher on the roster. What should they do?

I did not explicitly say they should not spend money on big free agents, You can not find those words.The article was about spending like the Cubs and Houston and look what happened to them. The other side of that coin is what happens when you spend. and it does not work out.Any one year contract is great. Two years not so bad, Addison Reed being an exception. 3 years and you might get one good year. Now if the staff in Target Center are as smart as the Nationals at selecting pitcher the team will be fine. They seemed to have signed and extended the right players as well as not signed the right players. The only exception might be Giolito, but to me, a little more time to determine breakout versus fluke year.


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