Twins Can Spend Themselves Into Uncharted Territory
Image courtesy of © John Hefti-USA TODAY SportsComing into last season Minnesota took a step backward in the payroll department. After being just shy of $130 million in 2017, they began 2018 with a $114 million tab suggesting that the next step was largely reliant on seeing what they then had. We are now in a position, for the first time in nearly a decade, that the Minnesota Twins know exactly what they have. This organization has a forward-thinking front office that has hired an infrastructure designed to push development. They have a manager capable of getting execution at the highest level. They have a prospect stream filled with both quality and quantity. Maybe most important, they are division winners with a clear path to opportunity both immediately and into the future.
It is in that perfect storm that you can adequately gripe about payroll needing to be where revenues suggest it should be.
Now let’s apply this to actual commodities and what the dollars represent. Despite making a silly suggestion that Zack Greinke didn’t win the Astros a World Series, the reality is that the Houston Astros and Washington Nationals played on the biggest stage because they both employed three pitchers that could trump virtually any competition. The Twins hit a boatload of bombas in 2019, and the lineup will continue to play, but the rotation must be filled with arms capable of competing against the upper echelon.
For the first time in franchise history the Twins have handed out a qualifying offer (there was an argument to be made that a second could have been made) insuring Jake Odorizzi will agree to nothing worse than a one-year, $17.8 million deal. That’d be a strong start to free agency for Minnesota, but if he rejects the offer in the next nine days, working out a long-term deal with the help of draft pick compensation warding off other suitors would be a fine result as well.
Different publications have tied Minnesota to a handful of options, but there have been suggestions of arms starting with Bumgarner and Wheeler, and trickling down from there. Although Falvey needs to be a player on the Cole and Strasburg market, they both could very well have more exciting destinations in play. Regardless of how the four rotation spots are accounted for, a final tally of something near $70 million should be enough to create a strong group.
If Minnesota can’t allocate all their funds to the pitching market, then supplementing with an offensive addition is hardly an egregious ask. Holding back some of the discretionary dollars a year ago made some sense but making sure every effort possible is made for 2020 and beyond now should be in all systems go mode. There are more than a few ways for the Twins to tack on significant money while avoiding risk and poor contracts, and this is their opportunity to do it.
$140 million would be a bit north of $10 million into the uncharted waters territory. While $135 million is a nice bump from 2019, the $140MM mark would likely land them just outside of the top 10. At this stage of the cycle Minnesota could comfortably be closer to $150MM than $130MM and things would be just fine. No matter how they get there though, the training wheels need to come off this time around.
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