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Twins' Payroll Analysis: Three Pitchers, $70M

It is rare that the offseason machinations of a billion-dollar team can be distilled down to a Twitter hashtag, but the headline says it all: #3Pitchers70Million. The Twins have a nearly empty starting rotation and, even by their modest standards, a lot of money to spend. This essay could end right now, and you would know enough to follow developments this offseason.
But let’s give a little more. For a complete breakdown, make sure to grab a copy of the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook which you can pre-order today. There you’ll find names, amounts, contracts and details on the decisions that the Twins will likely make. Plus, you get a handy worksheet where you can figure out how you’re going to fit your dream rotation into the Twins starting staff. Honestly, just dreaming through that is worth the price of admission. But here’s a high level breakdown.

The Lineup - $50-55M committed
Essentially, the only decisions are whether to offer arbitration to C.J. Cron and whether to entice Jason Castro or another catcher back to the Twins. The rest of the decisions are no-brainers. Even without Cron and Castro, all of the positions are covered, provided you’re not trading anyone away for some pitching (and then maybe even if you are). The total cost of all those players will be about $50-55M.

The Rotation - $5M committed
Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda and Martin Perez are all either free agents or likely to be, though there are some decisions the Twins need to make. Jose Berrios sticks around, gets a raise due to arbitration, and one spot at least is probably saved for a competition between Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe. That leaves three spots to fill and $55-60M spent.

The Bullpen - $10M committed
The youth that filled up the Twins bullpen will likely fill it up, but they’ll need to decide whether to try and retain (and pay) Sergio Romo who will be a free agent. If you think they do, or need to add another big arm to the bullpen, you need to add to the committed payroll, but without that they are only spending $65-$70M and can fill all the slots on the 25-man roster.

Payroll Space - $60M - $75M available
Two years ago, the Twins had about $130M payroll for their Opening Day roster. Last year it shrunk down to $120M, reflecting decreased interest in ticket sales due to a disappointing 2018. This year, the opposite is true; anything less than $135M should be considered gross negligence.

That leaves about $70M to spend on three pitchers. Maybe that means signing a free agent, like Gerrit Cole, whose price tag will be $30-35M/year. Maybe that means trading for a veteran whose salary has become an albatross. (Could the Nationals be in teardown mode yet?) Or maybe that means acquiring a high-end pitcher by trading some top prospects (or even everyday players) and backfilling them with free agents.

The story of the offseason will be how the Twins attack their top three problems: pitching, pitching and pitching. They have a lot of work, but all the resources they should need to get the job done. It sounds crazy to say this as a Twins fan (and it probably is) but payroll really should not be a limitation.
 We’ll follow their progress (or lack therof) every day here at Twins Daily. If you would like to get a head start, preorder the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook.

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78 Comments

 

Nothing needs to be done with Cruz.Has another year, and will probably gladly take another similar deal at the end of it if offered at his age.It's value may go down.

I'll be interested to see what they do in pitching.I'd dangle Rosario, but he alone probably won't fetch much more than a Gibson.Would adding Rooker move the needle?

Gerrit Cole would be awesome, but it will probably take closer to 40mil to get him to spend his summers in MN.

I would not trade Rosario, I think he is special, he could help Twins win a World Series in the future. I would trade Buxton first. Buxton has the talent, unfortunately he has not contributed much on and off the field. He may not want to play in Minnesota. Lewis could be our future center fielder.

    • RGR71 likes this
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howieramone2
Oct 09 2019 10:08 AM

 

Yes, this strategy has worked well with Lance Lynn, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Corriea, Hector Santiago, Bartolo Colon, Anibal Sanchez, Martin Perez and more! 

 

The 20-game winner can start two games in the ALDS and three in the ALCS/WS. That's why its needed in my opinion. Having a bunch of middling starters and hoping for career years has not worked out for this organization, especially when it comes to winning in the playoffs. 

The past is not a perfect predictor of the future. To me it's a foregone conclusion the new regime will have another solid off-season.

    • DocBauer and wabene like this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 09 2019 10:12 AM

They need to lock in Cruz for a few years too. But they can/should spend the most on pitching and be able to re-sign Buxton, Sano, Kepler, Garver and Rosario.


Cruz turns 40 next year. How many MORE years after 2020 are you suggesting he be locked in for?
    • Tomj14 likes this
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howieramone2
Oct 09 2019 10:14 AM

 

The goal should be to beat the Yankees. To beat them....you should probably act like them.

 

What do they usually do?? They never get rid of people [don't know exactly why....guess because they always make good decisions]. They develop and groom and make people fit in. Then they add expensive free agents to make all those marginal types look good.

 

So, keep everyone [including Gibson], and then sign the best available starter and the best available reliever.....and keep developing the players you have.

 

I think Syndergaard would be a good start...........

 The Mets recently said he won't be traded. Also, MLB.com had him as one of the 20 most overrated players. Looks like another Chris Archer to me.

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yarnivek1972
Oct 09 2019 10:16 AM

I would not trade Rosario, I think he is special, he could help Twins win a World Series in the future. I would trade Buxton first. Buxton has the talent, unfortunately he has not contributed much on and off the field. He may not want to play in Minnesota. Lewis could be our future center fielder.


Neither Buxton or Rosario by themselves is going to fetch a controllable ace caliber pitcher. I think the most probable way for the Twins to pull it off would be to trade an OFer to team A, have team A trade prospects to team B, add in more prospects for team B and get your guy that way from team B. A team trading for Rosario or Buxton isn’t going to trade away a good pitcher at the MLB level.

Get a deal done for Syndergaard (Rosario and the #2 pitching prospect whose name I can never spell). Make a run at Cole. If he balks, Mad Baum is a acceptable alternative.

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howieramone2
Oct 09 2019 10:28 AM

 

Pineda hasn't had a healthy year since many of you were born*

*Exaggeration for effect....

Either the window is open, or not. But Cruz won't be here forever. Sano and Rosario aren't here forever. Garver will probably be less healthy year after year, that's the nature of catching.

If they don't get two good pitchers, why should any fan believe they will ever go in?

Who said they won't get 2 good pitchers? They may even pick up 3. Don't confuse free agent pitchers with good pitchers. Free agency has been the market of last resort for many years, and it's become even more clear the past 2 off-seasons.

    • chpettit19 likes this

 

Neither Buxton or Rosario by themselves is going to fetch a controllable ace caliber pitcher. I think the most probable way for the Twins to pull it off would be to trade an OFer to team A, have team A trade prospects to team B, add in more prospects for team B and get your guy that way from team B. A team trading for Rosario or Buxton isn’t going to trade away a good pitcher at the MLB level.

 

Why wouldn't the Twins just trade prospects?What's the use of trading Buxton AND prospects, when they could just do it with prospects and keep Buxton?

    • Sconnie, DocBauer, howieramone2 and 1 other like this

 

Yes, this strategy has worked well with Lance Lynn, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Corriea, Hector Santiago, Bartolo Colon, Anibal Sanchez, Martin Perez and more! 

 

The 20-game winner can start two games in the ALDS and three in the ALCS/WS. That's why its needed in my opinion. Having a bunch of middling starters and hoping for career years has not worked out for this organization, especially when it comes to winning in the playoffs. 

Lynn and Sanchez would have looked good to me in Twins uniforms this year and you should probably add Odorizzi to the list. Hughes was great for a year also.  

    • chpettit19 and howieramone2 like this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 09 2019 10:43 AM

Why wouldn't the Twins just trade prospects? What's the use of trading Buxton AND prospects, when they could just do it with prospects and keep Buxton?


We’re talking about adding two good starting pitchers. The Twins probably don’t have enough prospects to do that without adding some MLB talent.

I would like to see Kiriloff come up and replace Cron. Resign Odorizzi and Pineda if possible.If Dyson were healthy I would say the bullpen is maybe done but instead we need to replace Dyson equivalent.If we can sign Odorizzi and Pineda then adding one more Odorizzi or Pineda type or better would complete the off season. Cole would be ideal. 

    • howieramone2 and jz7233 like this
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howieramone2
Oct 09 2019 10:53 AM

 

We’re talking about adding two good starting pitchers. The Twins probably don’t have enough prospects to do that without adding some MLB talent.

Our favorite team picked up 2 solid relievers at the trade deadline for little or nothing. They have enough prospects to get what many, including some of the national experts will view as good starters.

    • DocBauer likes this
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Kelly Vance
Oct 09 2019 10:54 AM

I'd QO Jake and try to extend Sano, Buck and Eddie. I would let Cron and Schoop go with a big thank you. I'd bring Castro back and see if Cruz wants an additional year.All those guys fit.

I'd guilt Big Mike into signing at market or a little below. 

 

But I would absolutely overpay for Cole. Absolutely.

 

Cole, Berrios, Odo, Graterol and Dobber (eventually Mike) gives us a chance at a decent rotation 1-162.

 

After Cole, we go with the hot hand in the ALDS and ALCS. Methinks that will Be Jose and Jake as 2 and 3. But short leash with Mike in the background. 

 

Curious to see how Busdar adjusts back to starter

 

Dobber/Gibson (if healthy)become long relief/ swing men out of the pen. 

 

AND CRUZ IS SPECIAL

 

"The 39-year-old Cruz reached the 40-homer mark for the fourth time in the last six seasons, and he's hit at least 37 homers in all of those years. Cruz became just the fourth player in Major League history to post a 40-homer season in his age-38 season or older, joining Barry Bonds (2003-04), Darrell Evans (1985) and Hank Aaron (1973).

Cruz finished the 2019 season with a .311/.392/.639 slash line and a 1.031 OPS that was second in the AL behind Mike Trout."

 

 

 

Yes, make it two more years for Nelson

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • jz7233 likes this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 09 2019 10:57 AM

Our favorite team picked up 2 solid relievers at the trade deadline for little or nothing. They have enough prospects to get what many, including some of the national experts will view as good starters.


Sure, they got two months of one and like 2 outings from the other.

We’re talking about starters for (ideally) multiple seasons. I’m not particularly interested in acquiring a one year rental.
    • Mike Sixel and Tomj14 like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Oct 09 2019 11:00 AM

I'd definitely go hard after a top end starter (Cole, Strassburg if he's an option).Wheeler scares me a bit. I'd probably try and get Jake to a 3/40 type deal or QO him if he won't. Given Graterol won't go a full season, I could see signing Pineda to a 1/5-7 type deal and letting Graterol start while he's suspended and switch to the pen or long relief once Pineda is ready. 

    • Kelly Vance, KidBro, wabene and 2 others like this

Honestly this is what I am looking at. 

 

Cole      30 mil (7 years 210 million)

Odorizzo 15 mil (3 year 45 million )

Pineda  10 mil(2 year 22 million- 10 mil 2020 12 mil 2021)

Romo     3 mil (1 year with 1 year option total potentional 6 million)

 

For Reliever get one more solid arm at 6-8 million. 

 

That is 66 million.That brings total payroll to around $120. That allows 15 to 20 million to figure out 1st base and any other extensions. 

    • DocBauer and jz7233 like this

 

I would like to see Kiriloff come up and replace Cron. Resign Odorizzi and Pineda if possible.If Dyson were healthy I would say the bullpen is maybe done but instead we need to replace Dyson equivalent.If we can sign Odorizzi and Pineda then adding one more Odorizzi or Pineda type or better would complete the off season. Cole would be ideal. 

 

If you want someone in the system replacing Cron, Rooker probably is the more likely option.He put up a .933 OPS in AAA last year.Kiriloff's OPS against AA pitching was lower than what Cron did at the major league level.

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Kelly Vance
Oct 09 2019 11:11 AM

Yeah, I agree with the Graterol/Big Mike idea. If Busdar is ready to start the season as a MLB starter. Time to find out.

 

If Cole doesn't want to come here, (even if we offer $5 million more than anyone else) we go next man up. I think Cole will listen to the Angels or Padres or Dodgers the most, being a SoCal guy.

 

Mad Bum isn't ideal but he has been there and his leadership would be welcome.

 

I think stud FA pitchers would be more open to coming to Minnesota after this year. We have a fun bunch with great team chemistry

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Battle ur tail off
Oct 09 2019 12:01 PM

If it were me, I would do my best to get Cole in here, then also turn around and trade Lewis +for whoever you feel the best trade candidate pitcher is available.

 

Polanco, Aaraez, Kepler, Buxton, Sano, Garver. There are enough bats/position players on this team that are young and will be here for a bit yet. If you can trade a top prospect for a young pitcher you feel can be a 1 or 2, DO IT. Quit hanging on to all these guys as if they will all pan out to be Babe Ruth. 

 

Lewis could just as easily turn into Aaron Hicks and he can turn into a starting SS. Either way, I'd trade that type of guys for great pitching either way. What is the hold up, really?

 

To me you go into this offseason with the thought of getting one of the top 3 FA starters and using the humongous high end depth in your minor league system to bring in the absolute best arm you can. If you tank after a year or two, go ahead and trade some of that high end pitching and get more prospect back. Take a chance for once!

 

Cole/Wheeler/Baum

Berrios

Trade for stud(don't ask for names that is what we pay the wonderboys to know)

Ordorizi

Pineda/Graterol/whoever the hell you want from your system...

 

 

 

 

 

    • Kelly Vance likes this

Who said they won't get 2 good pitchers? They may even pick up 3. Don't confuse free agent pitchers with good pitchers. Free agency has been the market of last resort for many years, and it's become even more clear the past 2 off-seasons.


They need three pitchers. They aren't going to gut the system to trade for three. That would be stupid. I never said they wouldn't, I said if they don't, then they aren't serious. Nothing more or less was said in that post.

 

I've seen both here and elsewhere suggesting Odorizzi signing a 3 year contract. I don't see it happening, this is his one real chance to sign a relatively long, lucrative contract. I'm betting he gets a 5 year contract, though a 4 year one with an option at the end also seems quite possible.

Edit: And if for some reason it is a 3 year contract it's going to be more like $20 million a year not this 15 I see suggested as well.

I have be believe smart teams will not pay Odorizzi 15 million plus for more than 3 years. Once in his 6 year career has he average more than 5 2/3 of an inning. And his two with the Twin he has average less than 5 1/3. How can you justify spending that much when on average he is only going to pitch about half the game. It seems like a better idea to go out and get 3 relief pitchers at 5 - 6 million a piece and for about the same price you get more innings and pitchers that pitch more than once every 5 days.

I have be believe smart teams will not pay Odorizzi 15 million plus for more than 3 years. Once in his 6 year career has he average more than 5 2/3 of an inning. And his two with the Twin he has average less than 5 1/3. How can you justify spending that much when on average he is only going to pitch about half the game. It seems like a better idea to go out and get 3 relief pitchers at 5 - 6 million a piece and for about the same price you get more innings and pitchers that pitch more than once every 5 days.


Because gone are the days of starters going six innings most days. Go look at the list of starters on leader boards.... There aren't many you want more than Odo, and even less that will be available.... It's all about the QO. If there is none, he'll get fifteen a year, imo

 

I've seen both here and elsewhere suggesting Odorizzi signing a 3 year contract. I don't see it happening, this is his one real chance to sign a relatively long, lucrative contract. I'm betting he gets a 5 year contract, though a 4 year one with an option at the end also seems quite possible.

Edit: And if for some reason it is a 3 year contract it's going to be more like $20 million a year not this 15 I see suggested as well.

 

I'd love to see some evidence on this one. yes, he may want a 5 year deal, but there's little in recent market trends to suggest that he's going to get it, especially after having a bit of a fade in the middle of the year and showing that he's not a guy who can pitch deep into games. I like the guy and support re-signing him, but going into his Age 30 Season he's never thrown 200 innings, and cleared 175 IP exactly once. He's due for a very nice raise this offseason, but $20M per? 5 years? It seems unlikely that's coming for the guy who was just dealt for Jermaine palacios. I'd be stunned if the AAV went over $17M

 

 

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yarnivek1972
Oct 09 2019 01:34 PM

I have be believe smart teams will not pay Odorizzi 15 million plus for more than 3 years. Once in his 6 year career has he average more than 5 2/3 of an inning. And his two with the Twin he has average less than 5 1/3. How can you justify spending that much when on average he is only going to pitch about half the game. It seems like a better idea to go out and get 3 relief pitchers at 5 - 6 million a piece and for about the same price you get more innings and pitchers that pitch more than once every 5 days.



What three relief pitchers that have had good seasons in EACH of the last two seasons are free agents?

I’ll hang up and wait for your answer.

 

I don't think the National are going to tear it down (already offered a 7 year contract to Rendon) but it will be interesting to see what the Cubs, A's, and Rockies do.

The A's are not tearing it down. They have an affordable, playoff-level roster, to whom they are adding Luzard, Puk, and Manaea, virtually free. They are like the Twins but with three low-cost ace pitchers already in the fold. They made the playoffs the last two years with a rotation of castoffs.Next year they are going to be monsters, without even straining their budget.

 

But most other teams would happily lower payroll if given young prospects in return. We are extremely well positioned to pick up a costly veteran in a salary dump. We could throw in a high-upside minor league pitcher like Duran or Alcala who they could sell to their fans as a better long-term investment in their rotation, which would probably be true, and we could get an ace. And we probably should, since our offense is ready now. Let's just hope it's not Archer redux.

 

The truth is we could afford Cole as a free agent, and two more good veterans.That 70M in unspent budget still would leave payroll well below 50% of revenue.They could afford to spend well more than that while making record profits.They socked away quite a lot during the losing years, claiming they were waiting for the competitive window to open to spend.Well it's open.Time to spend.

 

Adding a reliever or two might be wise too. Graterol should be in the minors developing as a starter.To compete sustainably they'll need a few pitching prospects to turn into underpaid aces.Hopefully he and Balazovic pan out, so when our lineup gets pricey and we start losing hitters, the rotation will provide enough cheap innings to stay competitive.And guys like Lewis, Larnach, Kiriloff, Rooker, and Javier can replace the hitters who hit free agency.