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Payroll Problems Biting Baseball

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 15 January 2019 · 877 views

minnesota twins cody allen gio gonzalez
With just over a month until the Minnesota Twins embark upon sunny Fort Myers, the projected Opening Day payroll is just under $97 million. To call that a joke is putting it lightly. That number is $30 million under the 2018 mark, and about $45 million under a realistic expectation given market factors. What’s worth noting however, is that spending doesn’t appear to be as cut and dry as it may seem.

To date, it’s fair to call Minnesota’s offseason a mild success. They’ve gotten better from the point in which they ended the 2018 season, and talent with solid upside has been acquired. There’s no denying this club could use another move or two however, and that reality is what holds them back from any sort of commendations yet this winter. It’s in buying more talent that helps Rocco Baldelli be better positioned for a next step in 2019, but the dollar threshold doesn’t look anything close to doable.

Thinking about what the front office could still choose to do, there’s a couple of names that make plenty of sense. Cody Allen screams probability in the bullpen, and a Gio Gonzalez addition would be great for the rotation. That duo likely comes in around $20 million per season though, and still puts the Twins $10 million under where they were previously. Short of signing Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, or Craig Kimbrel the big fish is not still on the market to raise the overall water level. Dallas Keuchel could command enough to make a seismic shift in the payroll structure, but that may be a move that is more based upon name than performance.

What we’re really seeing here is that short of acquiring the top one to three names on the open market, and avenue to a fair payroll expectation looks murky at best. Minnesota has acquired for free agents this offseason. The club would’ve needed to bring in at least three top tier talents, or something like seven mid-range options to account for the opened cash flow. Allocating dollars to more talent is always a sensible ask, but what seems more problematic is that the market correction on valuations of players simply hasn’t taken shape.

At this stage in the game, we shouldn’t be hearing that one or two teams are debating the validity of Machado or Harper being worth $300 million. Guys are on the market in their early 30’s and are finding one-year pacts below and eight-figure sum. The reality is that baseball gets the most out of talent prior to this portion of a career, and by this time, the market isn’t willing to correct that exploitation.

You can certainly expect a piece from this writer chastising the hometown nine if the payroll is in March where it is now. That number is unacceptable, and opportunity has been left on the table. Even if there’s more potential room for growth executed upon however, it’s hard not to see how organizations would be stretching terms to get towards more realistic compensation numbers.

Across baseball, multiple franchises are worth billions of dollars. At the bottom end of the totem pole (according to this Forbes piece) the Tampa Bay Rays are valued at $900 million. No team has a revenue below $200 million, and only two organizations turned a loss in 2018. What that suggests is those off the field are doing just fine with their investment, while the players responsible for the output are severely underpaid.

We aren’t at a point where the CBA can be rectified, but we also aren’t far off. There’s a storm brewing for the owners, and the MLBPA needs to be vastly more prepared the next time around. For now, it’d be great if the Twins would allocate some of the cash that is currently set to be pocketed, but even from the get-go this winter, their realistic additions would’ve left more to be desired in the hands of those who play the game.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz




Betts 20 million,Castellanos almost 10 million. Whatever Odorizzi is getting paid. The tired refrain of players being grossly underpaid before free agency is falling apart. The AAV of contracts seems to be doing OK for the players. It is the length that is not there. 

 

Why are teams reluctant on Harper and Machado despite their age? Jason Heyward would be exhibit A. To some extent Sandoval and Hosmer who were also young would give one pause to say youth alone isn't a surefire thing.

    • brvama likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Jan 15 2019 06:44 PM

Betts 20 million,Castellanos almost 10 million. Whatever Odorizzi is getting paid. The tired refrain of players being grossly underpaid before free agency is falling apart. The AAV of contracts seems to be doing OK for the players. It is the length that is not there. 
 
Why are teams reluctant on Harper and Machado despite their age? Jason Heyward would be exhibit A. To some extent Sandoval and Hosmer who were also young would give one pause to say youth alone isn't a surefire thing.


Mookie Betts, right now today, is worth more than $20MM a year. Harper and Machado are infiinitely more valuable than Heyward has ever been.
    • mplsman and Tomj14 like this

The way I see it, the players are in a bad situation. if they ask for more money the best of the best will get huge contracts, and the owners will continue to offer the rest really short deals hoping their cheap young guys are really good.

Baseball MGMT is no different from the the rest of the world and they realize the most important assets are really good young people before they start making a ton of money.

The difference is Baseball teams make a boat load of money even if they have a crappy team. The just sell of the fans on hope that someday it will work out.

Look at this site for example, look how many people are hoping for a future with the prospects over winning the current year. Guess what that will likely be the narrative next year as well, and then when the next wave of prospects are down on the farm.

 

Mookie Betts, right now today, is worth more than $20MM a year. Harper and Machado are infiinitely more valuable than Heyward has ever been.

If Betts thought he could get more then he should have went to arbitration. He set his value by agreeing to the contract

Except for one year Harper has been in the 4 range for WAR except for the one year. People remember the one year and forget the rest. Before Heyward signed the contract he had been a 5 WAR player. Heyward at the same age was a consistently better overall player. The point on Heyward that you missed completely is that he got the money then tanked. Sandoval got the money and tanked.They both were still in their under 30 years old prime age.

    • SomeGuy likes this

I for one am getting sick of all the sniveling on this site about how owners need to pony up even more money to a bunch of guys that are bringing in millions already, and claiming they are "underpaid".

People that can't get over their jealousy that the owners have ridiculous wealth need to get off their butt ends and go out and earn some themselves. This country is being taken over by a tsunami of complainers that think eeverybody should be "entitled". I've got news for you. All of those people that think they should be "entitled" are the ones at the bottom of the economic scale because they spend all their time setting around feeling sorry for themselves. Get a life. Go out and kill something and drag it home.

While I certainly think that every player is entitled to whatever he is capable of taking home, I don't think he is entitled to more simply because his employer is on a higher economic scale. The owner is entitled to keep all the market will bear as well. It is called "Capitalism". It is what this country was founded on, has always survived on, and will continue to survive on until the jeolousy overtakes all sanity. Then we will be Russia. Seems like a lot of people in DC think that isn't a good idea.

 

All of that being said, back to the budget. Just because there are a few dollars available in this year's budget does not mean we can run out and sign a bunch of long term contracts for a bunch of expensive players. All that accomplishes is tying up your budget for future years, when a lot of our current young players will be getting more and more expensive.

As players like Berrios, Rosario, Kepler, Gibson, May, Buxton, Polanco, Sano, Garver, and the list goes on, get more expensive, the budget will get more than tight in coming years.

 

You, of course, are suggesting only short term contracts here which are fine, but for every one of these short term deals that are signed, a player with longer term control for the club is forced from the 40 man roster. That may come back to haunt the team in the end. Players like John Curtiss have the potential to be important cogs down the road. I'm sure all those things are being balanced by the front office as they make these decisions.

    • SomeGuy likes this

One more mid to upper level reliever and we had a heck of an off season.People get so caught up in payroll, I am reasonably certain that Twins fans would rather have a 5th place 150M payroll than a 1st place 115M payroll.

 

I like how the Twins are going to let some of the many question marks we have be worked out before diving headfirst into the "competitive window."

 

Since we received a competitive balance pick, we know that we are in the bottom 10 for revenue.So when we have the 9th lowest payroll (where we are as of today)I don't think its fair to say that our payroll is a joke.

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Ted Schwerzler
Jan 17 2019 09:38 AM

 

One more mid to upper level reliever and we had a heck of an off season.People get so caught up in payroll, I am reasonably certain that Twins fans would rather have a 5th place 150M payroll than a 1st place 115M payroll.

 

I like how the Twins are going to let some of the many question marks we have be worked out before diving headfirst into the "competitive window."

 

Since we received a competitive balance pick, we know that we are in the bottom 10 for revenue.So when we have the 9th lowest payroll (where we are as of today)I don't think its fair to say that our payroll is a joke.

A sub-$100MM mark would absolutely be a joke. Being $30MM below 2018, which was already hovering around league average is a problem. Certainly being hung up on the dollar amount isn't worthwhile, but dollars equate to added talent right? If there's $50MM in payroll flexibility which could be attributed to new talent, and instead is handed out to a spot occupied by a Tyer Duffey or Matt Magill, what are you doing?

If you think the Twins are spending another $50 million you better pack up and become a Yankees fan. I see they overpaid for ottavino today.