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Twins Payroll Really is Resource Allocation

On Monday Seth did a great job of outlining where the Minnesota Twins were at as of January 14. His 25-man roster projection looks nearly spot on, and there are very few areas of contention. When the dust settled at the end of his article the 2019 payroll projection came in at $96.32 million. That number is a laughable sum, but if we were to reclassify it as an allocation of resources, how much additional hand-wringing would there be?
Image courtesy of © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Let’s start off by clearing the air. There’s roughly a month left until pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers for spring training. As was the case last offseason, free agents have been dealt an unnecessary blow in both offered and assumed contracts. The dollars for those agreed to are not there, and plenty more talent has yet to find new homes. Given that reality, there’s also the very real possibility that the Twins are not done spending (or adding through the trade market). Any additional acquisitions would cause the following discussion to be re-evaluated on a sliding scale, but the principles all still hold true.

Now, when it comes to payroll, it’s less about a dollar figure than it is a percentage of allocated resources. In 2018, per Aaron Gleeman’s numbers, the average MLB payroll was roughly $135 million. At right around $129 million in 2018, Minnesota came very close to being at that mark. Where they are today puts them at a paltry 71% of that average and would be a throwback to the days of the Metrodome.

Looking back to the last four teams standing in 2018, they came in with the 1st, 3rd, 11th, and 26th highest payrolls in baseball. While the Brewers were certainly an anomaly, the Athletics were the only other team to enter the postseason below the average spend. The expansion to a second wild card certainly incentivizes those fringe teams to win on a more frugal scale, but the best tend to separate themselves from the pack.

Bringing this back to the Twins, Tony Wirt responded to me on Twitter as saying, “Money is a resource. Some teams have more, some less, but if you don't use the resources you have to the fullest, you're doing your organization a disservice.” This is exactly the issue when it comes to Minnesota’s payroll. It isn’t about dollars, but rather about sense. What opportunity cost is left on the table by failing to fully allocate all the resources at your disposal?

In this space, as well as my personal blog, and Twitter, I have long defended the notion that the Twins haven’t needed to spend in recent years. Certainly, the opening of Target Field was seen (and pitched) as a new revenue stream. It is, but league- wide the greatest share of revenue still comes from lucrative TV contracts, which the Twins do not have. On top of that, doling out cash, err... resources, when the overall conditions (talent and competition) lack optimal opportunity for winning, is not ideal. That’s not to say I’m in favor of tanking but spending significantly while lagging behind the competition isn’t smart sports business. Right now, however, the contributing factors have changed.

Going into 2019 the Cleveland Indians are the worst they’ve been in recent memory. Rocco Baldelli will field a team (as it sits now) that is substantially better on paper than it was at the end of 2018. Knowing full well that there are additional resources available, fans should be clamoring for them to be used.

There are fringe players in the bullpen, and there are unknowns in the starting rotation. Can the front office improve upon Matt Magill, Tyler Duffey, or Adalberto Mejia? Can depth be improved by signing a player or two who pushes everyone else down a notch? With what’s left on the open market the answers would both seem to be a resounding yes. By failing to execute on that opportunity, the team is doing a disservice to those who are directly responsible for all the revenue streams.

At the end of the day I don’t care if millionaires or billionaires make more money. The players certainly deserve a larger slice of the pie. What I do care about is that, as a fan, the team I’m invested in is operating within its means to utilize every resource available. At a payroll near $100 million, that’s not close to happening. Even at $130 million we have a debate. This isn’t about dollars though, it’s about sense.

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81 Comments

I've read on this site, on multiple occasions, that the Twins ownership/management (one or the other or both) cap expenditures at some percentage of revenue and excess profit is not carried over to next years budget. Correct me I'm wrong, but if true...

 

Setting a target budget based on percentage of revenue is good business. It's the refusal to use the money saved by coming under budget I find infuriating. It's an arbitrary rule that handicaps the team's ability to compete. 

 

Normal people don't budget that way. I have no problem financing an expensive vacation next year by staying home this year, or driving an old vehicle a couple extra years in order get a better ride when I finally replace it. I think the fans would be fine with a couple seasons on the low end of the salary range to finance a Machado signing. That, in my opinion, drives all the anger over the Twins budget. It's a one way ratchet that can come in millions low season after season but will never go 1 dollar higher. 

 

Given the refusal to carry over money year to year and the taxpayer funding of Target field the Twins, in my opinion, have a moral obligation to spend up to their self-imposed maximum each year. If it costs them an extra $20,000,000 to win an additional home game at least they gave their best shot at entertaining the fans who funded the stadium. And who knows, maybe that extra win puts the team in the playoffs. 

 

The argument that there's no use spending the money because the team is not in position to contend is BS. If the ownership doesn't see it that way they can refund the tax money and set the budget as low as they want. Once you take the citizens cash you have an obligation to put the best team you can afford on the field. Forfeiting the season while you pocket an extra 10 or 20 million is no longer an option. 

 

My point is, fiscal prudence only makes sense in the long term. If saving money this year does nothing to improve next years team it's just ownership screwing the fans, again. 

    • USAFChief, Highabove, Winston Smith and 18 others like this
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Channing1964
Jan 17 2019 08:00 PM
Amen

I don't know I go back and forth on this issue all the time.If they spend the right way I would like them to be in the 130M range. But if you look at the way teams are going about rebuilds no one seems to start running up against the upper end of their budgets until the team has a core in place and is winning or in the playoff hunt. 

 

Houston didn't spend to the max during their rebuild,Cleveland didn't, the Cubs didn't, the White Sox haven't been.They all waited till they had a core in place and then spent money to extend players that were really good and fill in weak areas with free agents or through trades.

 

Who is a part of the Twins core right now?Buxton? Sano? Kepler? Meija? Rosario?The Twins core is totally in flux we really have no consistent performers from last year other than maybe Gibson and Berrios and if you want to squint Rosario and Polanco.Is that a core you invest in early?If it were me I wouldn't but then I am not a huge gambler.

 

That being said would I like to see the team spend as much money as possible or at least to MLB average?Sure I would.As we all say you can never have too much talent and if you do find a trading partner.I would love it if the team I love had a 200M budget to work with year in and year out, but they don't so I can see why they have to be a bit more careful than most clubs.

 

Ultimately I am currently fine with the FO's approach to payroll.Once we have the talent in place though my expectations will change as Houston, Cleveland and the Cubs are all spending more than the league average since their teams have been competing for and in the playoffs.I would expect our ownership to do the same once we get there.

    • Major League Ready, KGB, DocBauer and 6 others like this
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TheLeviathan
Jan 17 2019 09:11 PM

Excellent final paragraph.We the fans are getting soaked by professional sports, but at least the other leagues have salary caps and floors that force certain amounts of efforts towards spending and competition.

    • adorduan, DocBauer and Minny505 like this
Ted, I enjoy all of your various posts and opinions. And this is no exception. Personally, I don't believe the team is done yet. And I don't mean a couple fliers and AAA depth. FA or trade, I'm still expecting a BP addition we all agree is needed. I still look at the overall roster and see only Adrianza, who I actually like, and nobody else. I am half expecting, and half hoping, there is an addition there as well. I am NOT expecting a SP signjng6or trade to take place. I truly believe the team is looking at internal opportunity for their starting staff, as well as movements forward from Sano, Buxton, Kepler, etc, to see that the "core" is truly in place to further augment the team as a whole. That being said, there is NOTHING WRONG with building your team for success and depth, hence my belief/hope that there are a couple more move yet to take place.

But in regard to payroll itself, and let me state I am neither admonishing nor defending ownership, I think perspective is lost at times in regard to said payroll on a year to year basis. There have been a lot of numbers and opinions tossed out as of late, especially in the Cody Allen thread. And I almost posted the following there, but it seems more appropriate here.

In 2010, the Twins had a payroll of $97.5M which ranked 10th in all of MLB. The mean was $84.4M. They won 94 games and appeared hopeful for 2011.

In 2011, the Twins payroll jumped to $112.7M, ranking 9th in all MLB. The mean that season was $87M.

In 2017 the Twins were 23rd in payroll at $94.3M, well below the mean of $131.7M.

In 2018, coming off a competitive season and a WC appearance, the Twins boosted payroll all the way up to $129.6M, good for 16th place, but below the mean of $136.6M.

This is NOT an argument that ownership does, or does not spend enough, or too little. Merely an attempt to show balance. I don't think any of us truly know the revenue streams of the Twins or any team for that matter. Final numbers right or wrong, always seem to be as guarded as the Colonel's or Coke's secret recipes. The Minnesota market is not near the bottom half, but their have been various reports over the years that actual revenue, (radio and TV deals and the such), place the Twins lower than their market size.

Again, we just don't know all the finite number details. What we HAVE seen, is that in the past several years, even with 2 very different FO in charge, when it has appears the team bad a chance to compete, ownership has been willing to step up payroll to build and augment the roster to do so.

We can argue all day about what they COULD spend, of course. But I think various opinions about ownership not caring, or being cheap, needs to be tempered with what has actually taken place.
    • goulik, KGB and MN_ExPat like this

A few thoughts:

 

1.) $96 million would be way low. There is little reason for that. But, if people listened to one of the first Reusse Unchained podcasts, he leaked out that he was hearing Falvine wanted payroll under $100 million and kind of wanted to go even lower, so this shouldn't be a complete surprise.

 

2.) Not questioning Aaron's charts. They're accurate and show exactly what he wants to show. That said, I don't think it's completely fair to completely ignore revenues. I haven't looked for awhile, and we'll see how it looks after the new TV deals go into effect, but since the TWins have been in Target Field, their typical revenues rank 20th to 25th... Not 13-17 which would be the median number. This is a minor thing, but to ask the Twins to be in the upper half of spending when their revenues are well down in the lower half isn't completely fair either. 

 

3.) If the Twins were still in the Metrodome, they would be in a similar situation as the Rays financially. 

 

4.)) The value of the Twins organization has gone way up... per Forbes, the Twins organization is the 22nd highest valued organization in MLB in 2018. 

 

5.) Per the same chart, the Twins total revenues in 2018 were $261 million. I they were at $129 million in salaries in 2018, that was just shy of 50%, or right in the 48-52% goal that the players association would like to see it. Also shows that the Twins were #20 in revenues in 2018. 

 

6.) I would love for them to spend more too sometimes, but it definitely is more important to me that htey make smart baseball decisions for the short term and long term. 

 

 

    • glunn, goulik, Dman and 5 others like this

Excellent final paragraph.We the fans are getting soaked by professional sports, but at least the other leagues have salary caps and floors that force certain amounts of efforts towards spending and competition.


Agreed 100% on a great last paragraph.

At the end of the day, life is just too complicated and busy for me to know all the various ins and outs of various collective agreements. But even being a different sport, and one with a smaller roster, wouldn't baseball be better off if they could mkre closely resemble the NFL model? MLB, partially due to the union as well, may never have anything resembling a true salary cap, though threshold penalties do provide at least a soft cap, but wouldn't certain minimums help?

Again, I don't even pretend to know how all the mega million numbers work, but wouldn't the sport also be a lot healthier, and help the sport maintain, if not grow, if there was a more equal distribution of revenue amongst the entire league? Like all sports, the NFL is cyclical. But with a more even minimum and maximum floor, smart coaching and player choices/development truly make the difference for teams who flounder, teams who rebound quickly, and teams who have sustained success.
    • Minny505 likes this

Houston didn't spend to the max during their rebuild, Cleveland didn't, the Cubs didn't, the White Sox haven't been.


IIRC, the Cubs did sign Lester after a 72 win season, although I guess they still had room to spend more later.

I do wonder, though, if these teams were able to do this because their "rebuilds" went so well. If Correa turned out like Buxton, maybe Houston signs a big FA to help things along? Same for Bryant turning out like Sano for the Cubs? (And Cleveland fans might argue that their team hasn't yet spent enough to support the talent they've developed...)
    • markos, Dman, Tomj14 and 2 others like this

I've read on this site, on multiple occasions, that the Twins ownership/management (one or the other or both) cap expenditures at some percentage of revenue and excess profit is not carried over to next years budget. Correct me I'm wrong, but if true...
 
Setting a target budget based on percentage of revenue is good business. It's the refusal to use the money saved by coming under budget I find infuriating. It's an arbitrary rule that handicaps the team's ability to compete. 
 
Normal people don't budget that way. I have no problem financing an expensive vacation next year by staying home this year, or driving an old vehicle a couple extra years in order get a better ride when I finally replace it. I think the fans would be fine with a couple seasons on the low end of the salary range to finance a Machado signing. That, in my opinion, drives all the anger over the Twins budget. It's a one way ratchet that can come in millions low season after season but will never go 1 dollar higher. 
 
Given the refusal to carry over money year to year and the taxpayer funding of Target field the Twins, in my opinion, have a moral obligation to spend up to their self-imposed maximum each year. If it costs them an extra $20,000,000 to win an additional home game at least they gave their best shot at entertaining the fans who funded the stadium. And who knows, maybe that extra win puts the team in the playoffs. 
 
The argument that there's no use spending the money because the team is not in position to contend is BS. If the ownership doesn't see it that way they can refund the tax money and set the budget as low as they want. Once you take the citizens cash you have an obligation to put the best team you can afford on the field. Forfeiting the season while you pocket an extra 10 or 20 million is no longer an option. 
 
My point is, fiscal prudence only makes sense in the long term. If saving money this year does nothing to improve next years team it's just ownership screwing the fans, again.


I wanted to condense this down for space saving sake, but couldn't do so. All wonderful and salient points. And while I agree with you and "liked" your post, I have to offer a couple counterpoints, just to be fair.

For the sake or simple argument, and round numbers, let's say your favorite team, the Twins in this case, have a payroll in year X of $100M but could have spent $110M. In theory, that would be a profit/excess of an additional $10M that you would argue could be carried over to the next year. However:

A] That $10M may be spent on improvements for the Ft Myers complex, which they continue to do. Or partially spent on mutually agreed upon improvements at various milb facilities, which they have also done. Or used to further develop facilities throughout Central American academies and other locations, etc, ditto. Or even improvements to Target Field on their own dime, which again, they have done.

B] Said carry over of the proposed $10M to next season seems like a good idea to add another quality player or two via trade or via FA. But then there are normal team controlled raises, and arbitration and escalators for a contract in place. Then we look at extensions for a top young player or two, not to mention someone you really want to keep who is entering his potential FA season.

I am no kind of financial expert. And I don't excuse any company, much less my favorite ballclub, for putting out an inferior product for the sake of cheap profits at my expense. Just saying a "rollover" may not be as easy to define.
    • glunn, KGB and MN_ExPat like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Jan 17 2019 10:25 PM

People on this forum have known me for up to 20 (omg has it really been that long?) years. Seriously, 20 years.

 

And I've largely been a "show restraint because it doesn't hamper long-term plans" guy. My track record over those 20 years shows that extensively and consistently.

 

But if this ****ing team shows up with a $110m payroll, I'm going to be furious. I don't give a rat's ass about your "strategy", I don't care about your "long-term vision", I want you to spend within 30 MILLION DOLLARS OF THE AVERAGE PAYROLL. As a Minneapolis resident, my dumb ass is paying for your (admittedly beautiful) ballpark every ****ing day I step outside my house.

 

If you believe in the team, hand out front-loaded contracts to players under control. If you don't want to do that, hand out free agent contracts. I'm sick and goddamned tired of using the excuse of a flawed-but-good team to ride the middle all the time. Pick a side; you're good or you're not. Act accordingly.

    • Highabove, TheLeviathan, NapoleonComplex and 11 others like this

I don't know I go back and forth on this issue all the time.If they spend the right way I would like them to be in the 130M range. But if you look at the way teams are going about rebuilds no one seems to start running up against the upper end of their budgets until the team has a core in place and is winning or in the playoff hunt. 
 
Houston didn't spend to the max during their rebuild,Cleveland didn't, the Cubs didn't, the White Sox haven't been.They all waited till they had a core in place and then spent money to extend players that were really good and fill in weak areas with free agents or through trades.
 
Who is a part of the Twins core right now?Buxton? Sano? Kepler? Meija? Rosario?The Twins core is totally in flux we really have no consistent performers from last year other than maybe Gibson and Berrios and if you want to squint Rosario and Polanco.Is that a core you invest in early?If it were me I wouldn't but then I am not a huge gambler.
 
That being said would I like to see the team spend as much money as possible or at least to MLB average?Sure I would.As we all say you can never have too much talent and if you do find a trading partner.I would love it if the team I love had a 200M budget to work with year in and year out, but they don't so I can see why they have to be a bit more careful than most clubs.
 
Ultimately I am currently fine with the FO's approach to payroll.Once we have the talent in place though my expectations will change as Houston, Cleveland and the Cubs are all spending more than the league average since their teams have been competing for and in the playoffs.I would expect our ownership to do the same once we get there.


Also wanted to condense this post, but could not. Too many good points.

Pete Ricketts, CEO/Owner of the Cubs was asked about a general lack of activity with the Cubs this current off season. In general brief, he stated a couple moves the team has made but felt their roster was pretty much set, they had averaged 90+ wins the last few seasons, were already amongst the highest payroll teams in MLB, were looking for better season's from guys who had disappointing season's, and looking at their roster, where would you actually find a better player to bring in?

Now, some of that is hyperbole, of course. You could ALWAYS find someone better for a certain spot, etc. And not only will the Twins probably never be able to equal the payroll of the Cubs, but some of his points could apply to our Twins. Just as you referenced the Cubs, the Astros, etc.

There needs to be a central core to any team, including our beloved Twins. Coming off a fun, competitive 2017 season, ownership produced a record payroll for 2018 that simply didn't work out. As I stated earlier, they were 16th in payroll, about $10M short of the mean, but a huge jump from 2017. We will never be able to compete with certain major markets for a $200M payroll. But could we be in the upper half/third as we have been before? I believe so. But to spend for the sake of spending doesn't always work. We found that out in 2018, despite being heralded as a team that made a lot of moves that seemed smart. FWIW, the team just above us in 2018 payroll was the Indians.

If you made a list of everything that went right for the Twins in 2018, and a list of everything that went wrong, I think you'd find the "wrong" side wins hands down. That doesn't mean be depressed and blow things up. It means what they have done: a new manager and staff, working with the talent on hand and getting them better, making some smart moves for 2019 and letting them play out.

My gut reaction is ownership and the FO are optimistic about what is on hand and want to develop this core and then move forward with a big trade or FA signing. The last thing they want is for Sano, Buxton, Kepler, etc, to wash out and begin again.

That doesn't excuse them from building depth of talent overall. But you also have to play the cards you have in hand. With Rocco in charge, and his new staff, and a new season, they are looking to build that core and know the hand they have. But this kind of game has 25 cards in your hand, and a reserve deck available. You can discard appropriately. Nothing wrong with adding another couple nice aces or face cards to your hand.
    • Dman and MN_ExPat like this

 

Houston didn't spend to the max during their rebuild,Cleveland didn't, the Cubs didn't, the White Sox haven't been.They all waited till they had a core in place and then spent money to extend players that were really good and fill in weak areas with free agents or through trades.

But we aren't even doing a rebuild, we're just wallowing in mediocrity.

    • NapoleonComplex, Sconnie, Minny505 and 2 others like this
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Major League Ready
Jan 18 2019 07:03 AM

 

On Monday Seth did a great job of outlining where the Minnesota Twins were at as of January 14. His 25-man roster projection looks nearly spot on, and there are very few areas of contention. When the dust settled at the end of his article the 2019 payroll projection came in at $96.32 million. That number is a laughable sum, but if we were to reclassify it as an allocation of resources, how much additional hand-wringing would there be?Let’s start off by clearing the air. There’s roughly a month left until pitchers and catchers report to Fort Myers for spring training. As was the case last offseason, free agents have been dealt an unnecessary blow in both offered and assumed contracts. The dollars for those agreed to are not there, and plenty more talent has yet to find new homes. Given that reality, there’s also the very real possibility that the Twins are not done spending (or adding through the trade market). Any additional acquisitions would cause the following discussion to be re-evaluated on a sliding scale, but the principles all still hold true.

Now, when it comes to payroll, it’s less about a dollar figure than it is a percentage of allocated resources. In 2018, per Aaron Gleeman’s numbers, the average MLB payroll was roughly $135 million. At right around $129 million in 2018, Minnesota came very close to being at that mark. Where they are today puts them at a paltry 71% of that average and would be a throwback to the days of the Metrodome.
 

 

Why are you using average payroll as a measure of how much the Twins should be expected to spend? Do you understand why there is a variance in MLB payrolls? I am not being facetious as it would appear you have chosen a random measure.

    • KGB likes this
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killertwinfan
Jan 18 2019 07:14 AM

Correct, but they are screwing the whole state not just the fans.The stadium was built on the promise of higher team salaries and that has rarely happened.  

I've read on this site, on multiple occasions, that the Twins ownership/management (one or the other or both) cap expenditures at some percentage of revenue and excess profit is not carried over to next years budget. Correct me I'm wrong, but if true...

 

Setting a target budget based on percentage of revenue is good business. It's the refusal to use the money saved by coming under budget I find infuriating. It's an arbitrary rule that handicaps the team's ability to compete. 

 

Normal people don't budget that way. I have no problem financing an expensive vacation next year by staying home this year, or driving an old vehicle a couple extra years in order get a better ride when I finally replace it. I think the fans would be fine with a couple seasons on the low end of the salary range to finance a Machado signing. That, in my opinion, drives all the anger over the Twins budget. It's a one way ratchet that can come in millions low season after season but will never go 1 dollar higher. 

 

Given the refusal to carry over money year to year and the taxpayer funding of Target field the Twins, in my opinion, have a moral obligation to spend up to their self-imposed maximum each year. If it costs them an extra $20,000,000 to win an additional home game at least they gave their best shot at entertaining the fans who funded the stadium. And who knows, maybe that extra win puts the team in the playoffs. 

 

The argument that there's no use spending the money because the team is not in position to contend is BS. If the ownership doesn't see it that way they can refund the tax money and set the budget as low as they want. Once you take the citizens cash you have an obligation to put the best team you can afford on the field. Forfeiting the season while you pocket an extra 10 or 20 million is no longer an option. 

 

My point is, fiscal prudence only makes sense in the long term. If saving money this year does nothing to improve next years team it's just ownership screwing the fans, again. 

 

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killertwinfan
Jan 18 2019 07:19 AM

I agree that the priority should be to extend our core, if they ever show up.However, we have control on these guys for multiple years. We could easily pick up a couple of players on 2 year deals and not affect that plan.

 

I don't know I go back and forth on this issue all the time.If they spend the right way I would like them to be in the 130M range. But if you look at the way teams are going about rebuilds no one seems to start running up against the upper end of their budgets until the team has a core in place and is winning or in the playoff hunt. 

 

Houston didn't spend to the max during their rebuild,Cleveland didn't, the Cubs didn't, the White Sox haven't been.They all waited till they had a core in place and then spent money to extend players that were really good and fill in weak areas with free agents or through trades.

 

Who is a part of the Twins core right now?Buxton? Sano? Kepler? Meija? Rosario?The Twins core is totally in flux we really have no consistent performers from last year other than maybe Gibson and Berrios and if you want to squint Rosario and Polanco.Is that a core you invest in early?If it were me I wouldn't but then I am not a huge gambler.

 

That being said would I like to see the team spend as much money as possible or at least to MLB average?Sure I would.As we all say you can never have too much talent and if you do find a trading partner.I would love it if the team I love had a 200M budget to work with year in and year out, but they don't so I can see why they have to be a bit more careful than most clubs.

 

Ultimately I am currently fine with the FO's approach to payroll.Once we have the talent in place though my expectations will change as Houston, Cleveland and the Cubs are all spending more than the league average since their teams have been competing for and in the playoffs.I would expect our ownership to do the same once we get there.

 

If spending $ vs winning was the object of an MLB franchise, I would totally agree with this article.However, here are 1000 words to describe a little told fact:

 

Screenshot-2018-08-22-at-3.04.38-PM.png

 

The size of the payroll does not correlate well to winning.(.500 record is 324 on the above graph.)

 

Indeed Payroll is Resource Allocation.The Twins have X dollars to spend every year, just like every corporation.They have been allocating resources in revamping their minor league systems, the player development strategy and infrastructure, they built a new academy in the DR and state of the art facilities at Fort Myers, and added a whole bunch of people in the baseball operations and scouting parts of the game.

 

Those are asset allocations as well, and if I were to bet (need to find a graph), organizational/farm strength correlates better with wins (albeit future wins, as a lead indicator) than MLB payroll.

 

For one, I am not interesting on how much $ the Twins are spending on MLB players, I am interested in them winning.And it has been a while...

    • Dman, Major League Ready, KGB and 4 others like this

2019 is really all about Rosario, Sano, Buxton, Polanco, Berrios, Kepler etc. The Twins need to find out if this wave is actually who they thought they were or if 2018 was what the future holds. If they do become the solid core that management hoped for, they are far enough along that consideration needs to be given to near future arbitration costs and long term contracts. To a lesser degree the same thought applies to Garver, Austin, Cron, and many of the younger bullpen arms.

Finding out about these players does not preclude being competitive in 2019, but this year's decisions should all be made in the context of the player development.The process probably does discourage long term commitments to aging veteran FA's.The last thing they should be doing is creating a situation in 2020 or 21 in which the ability to lock down young stars to long term deals is hindered due to prior financial decisions.That concept probably excludes Ottavino at 3/27M.Passing on Allen at 1/9M would be less of a financial decision and more a fit or ability call.

I expect the Twins to make another move or two on one year deals for pitchers (starters or relievers); or possibly 2 yrs at the most. 

I really do not care if they are at 71% or 100% of average payroll in 2019.I am much more concerned about the quality of the team long term. If Sano, Buxton, and others put it all together and they are competitive come June or July they will have the financial flexibility to make some targeted in season moves to improve and compete.

    • glunn, Dman, KGB and 1 other like this

A few thoughts:

1.) $96 million would be way low. There is little reason for that. But, if people listened to one of the first Reusse Unchained podcasts, he leaked out that he was hearing Falvine wanted payroll under $100 million and kind of wanted to go even lower, so this shouldn't be a complete surprise.

2.) Not questioning Aaron's charts. They're accurate and show exactly what he wants to show. That said, I don't think it's completely fair to completely ignore revenues. I haven't looked for awhile, and we'll see how it looks after the new TV deals go into effect, but since the TWins have been in Target Field, their typical revenues rank 20th to 25th... Not 13-17 which would be the median number. This is a minor thing, but to ask the Twins to be in the upper half of spending when their revenues are well down in the lower half isn't completely fair either.

3.) If the Twins were still in the Metrodome, they would be in a similar situation as the Rays financially.

4.)) The value of the Twins organization has gone way up... per Forbes, the Twins organization is the 22nd highest valued organization in MLB in 2018.

5.) Per the same chart, the Twins total revenues in 2018 were $261 million. I they were at $129 million in salaries in 2018, that was just shy of 50%, or right in the 48-52% goal that the players association would like to see it. Also shows that the Twins were #20 in revenues in 2018.

6.) I would love for them to spend more too sometimes, but it definitely is more important to me that htey make smart baseball decisions for the short term and long term.


I didn't know Reusse has a podcast, so the news he leaked that Falvine came into the offseason with the intent to have a payroll of less than $100 million is surprising, to me. And frankly, pretty insulting.

My takeaway from Aaron Gleeman's charts earlier in the off-season is the Twins are spending at the exact same level as they were when they were in the Metrodome. That's not how they pitched it to the fans when they were lobbying to get Minnesotans to pay for Target Field. That is also pretty insulting.

Is a smart baseball decision simply finding people on 'bargain' contracts? That seems to be the only positive things I've been reading this offseason. Schoop, Cron, Parker, etc. were bargain finds.

For me, a smart baseball decision can also mean making a bid for someone like Machado. Especially on a team with players that could be a core, but haven't come all the way together yet. He would be the best player on this team, and still be young enough to be on a core for 3-4 years.
    • glunn, Highabove, adorduan and 1 other like this

 

I didn't know Reusse has a podcast, so the news he leaked that Falvine came into the offseason with the intent to have a payroll of less than $100 million is surprising, to me. And frankly, pretty insulting.

 

Are you sure that what he said was something that came from the Twins' organization vs. his own opinion?

2019 is really all about Rosario, Sano, Buxton, Polanco, Berrios, Kepler etc. The Twins need to find out if this wave is actually who they thought they were or if 2018 was what the future holds. If they do become the solid core that management hoped for, they are far enough along that consideration needs to be given to near future arbitration costs and long term contracts.

These guys aren't prospects anymore, or even first or second year players. We have a ton of data on them already, and the data says that very few of them warrant a long term deal -- perhaps only Berrios, and as a pitcher, that should clock in less than a deal for a similarly situated position player. Even if some of them perform well in 2019, they still won't have a track record to warrant a commitment of significant long-term dollars. How much would you want to bet on one good year from Kepler or Polanco after a string of average ones?

Now is a good time for a major investment externally because we have an internal group that could be useful but generally doesn't look like stars, and our best internal star potential might be 6+ years away (Lewis, Kirilloff, etc.).

In your opinion, is there ever an appropriate time for the Twins to spend on a significant FA? Seems like that might be the real issue, rather than anything special about guys like Kepler and Polanco.
    • Carole Keller and Tomj14 like this

I think that many people are missing the point about payroll. It's more about investing when the time is right.

 

First, if the Twins get $260 million/year in revenues and plan to spend 50% of that, theoretically they should spend $130 million a year and therefore should spend another $30 million or more on payroll. Thus, people are looking at that single number and wondering why the Twins aren't spending more now, in an apparent belief that the $30 million will disappear into the ether.

 

But that $30 million does not disappear. If the Twins are smart, and I'm going to assume that they are, then they will have that to spend in another year. Thus, if things work out right this coming season, they can spend more on the roster next year and theoretically can spend $160 million in 2020. 

 

The two single biggest questions going into this season are named Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano. If you as a GM are looking at those two players, are you confident they will come back and reach their potential? They are two, massive "ifs." Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler are also question marks. The base of this team is uncertain. 

 

That means spending a lot of money this year on payroll is a risk. I can buy the idea of the Twins holding off on spending IF they spend when the time is right. 

 

What I do NOT want to happen is this: The Twins do start contending and the team holds off on payroll to that 50% standard -- which would keep them at $130 million. A payroll of $130 million for a contending team with a core of players going into their primes is awfully restrictive. 

 

In the 2000s, when the team was in contention year after year, the previous regime did very little to bolster the roster by spending on a player or two to push the team over the top. They did not invest in the stud starting pitcher or the middle-of-the-order bat, either at the trade deadline or in free agency. And a team that at points was talented enough to win a World Series never even got there.

 

So think of revenue not as a resource that disappears after a year but as ammunition that can be put to use when you are in best position to win the battle. If you were at war, you would not use up all of your ammunition if you were not in position to win. You would hold off until you had a good position. That's what the Twins should do.

 

The Pohlads have earned this skepticism by holding down spending for so long and threatening to contract the team. And they have also earned that right by taking public money on a new stadium. 

 

I will reserve judgment until they do start contending. If Buxton and Sano return to form this season and the team starts winning games and the team doesn't make moves to bolster the roster at the deadline and then does nothing but peruse the bargain bin next offseason, then I'll be at Target Field with a pitchfork. 

To a lesser degree the same thought applies to Garver, Austin, Cron, and many of the younger bullpen arms.


No. Mitch Garver is a 28 year old catcher, with 5 years team control. Cron is a 29 year old nontendered 1B. Rogers is a 28 year old middle reliever with 4 years control. May is a 29 year old reliever. In what universe do the Twins need to consider keeping significant payroll flexibility for these guys?
    • Tomj14 and Carlos Figueroa like this

Aren't all payrolls company resource allocation, by definition?

    • Thrylos likes this
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lukeduke1980
Jan 18 2019 08:56 AM

 

Who is a part of the Twins core right now?Buxton? Sano? Kepler? Meija? Rosario?The Twins core is totally in flux we really have no consistent performers from last year other than maybe Gibson and Berrios and if you want to squint Rosario and Polanco.Is that a core you invest in early?If it were me I wouldn't but then I am not a huge gambler.

 

This is really the crux of all issues to me.Though it's also a nice built in excuse.If you bring in talent you'll find at bats for those who deserve them.  

 

The continued inaction on improving the bullpen to me is a lost opportunity.You have a potentially young competitive team that lost so many close games last year, with virtually no contributions from Buxton/Sano.It seems like the WS Royals team's core almost rose to the height of their strong bullpen.Why couldn't that happen here.

    • Dman and Carlos Figueroa like this

Finding out about these players does not preclude being competitive in 2019, but this year's decisions should all be made in the context of the player development. The process probably does discourage long term commitments to aging veteran FA's.


How about short term commitments? How about young FAs like Machado or Harper?

It's easy to argue against "long term commitments to aging veteran FA's" but there is a lot more nuance to the market than that. Take a look at some of the 2 year deals that have already been signed this offseason, and explain to me how adding two of those would have jeopardized the franchise's long term health:

https://www.mlbtrade...ontract_years-3
    • Tomj14 likes this

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