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  • TwinsDaily Video: How Much Pitching Can The Twins Afford?

    TwinsDaily Proudly Presents…
    The 2014 Officially Unauthorized Minnesota Twins Offseason Video Tutorial
    Today’s Lesson: Just How Much Pitching Can The Minnesota Twins Afford?

    Summer is giving way to winter and the baseball season is turning to the baseball offseason, when Major League teams rain money on free agents. The Twins will enter the offseason with a payroll of $59 million dollars, which means they should have as much as $25-$30 million to spend this offseason.

    There is plenty they could buy with that money. , especially when one considers the Twins finished the regular season with the WORST starting pitching rotation in MLB. So what can $25-30M buy on the starting pitching free agent market? Let’s look at last year’s free agents and find out.

    Last year, the market had a clear ace – Cy Young Award winner Zach Greinke. The closest this year’s market has to an ace might be Masahiro Tanaka, an ace from Japan that might be joining the MLB ranks. Greinke was signed by the Dodgers for almost $25 million per year for 6 years, so $25 million gets approximately ONE Ace.

    Five other pitchers signed deals that topped $10 million per year. The number of guaranteed years in those contracts varied in length, basically being inversely proportional to the pitchers age, unless you had Dan Haren’s hip. Only two of those pitchers had excellent years - though they all pitched plenty of innings.
    After that group there was a significant drop to several different groups of pitchers. For instance, there were the end of the rotation innings eaters who made $5-7 million per year. Three guys filled that role, including Kevin Correia who was the only one of the three that had anything resembling a good year and actually performed better than some of the $10 million guys.

    Because pitching was so expensive, many GMs tried to catch lighting in a bottle by signing players with injury concerns. Unfortunately, most of them pitched like – surprise – they were hurt. Five players signed deals between 4 and 8 million dollars, most for just one year, (including the Twins signing Mike Pelfrey). Of the five, only Cubs pickup Scott Feldman was less than terrible.

    General Managers had significantly better luck gambling on healthier guys with upside but question marks. Four such pitchers signed for less than $5 million. Dice-K flamed out, but Carlos Villanueva was serviceable in dual roles. The third, Bartolo Colon, led his Athletics to the postseason. So did the fourth.

    So last year, $25-30 million would have bought an ace, two starting pitchers who were among the best in the market, or nearly a whole rotation of more questionable guys.

    What will it buy this year? Well, for specific names and estimated contracts, you might want to invest in the 2013 Offseason GM Handbook, which is on sale for just $4.95. And of course, check out Twins Daily’s stories and forums for all the Twins offseason analysis.
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. shimrod's Avatar
      shimrod -
      How much pitching can the Twins afford? Short answer is, much more than they're willing to pay for.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Not bothering to buy pitching--repeat 2011,2012, and 2013--rinse, lather, and repeat. The stated figure: "up to ...", seems like there is basis for it. But as far as I'm concerned I fully expect a repeat of last off-season's "free-agent dance", with a resultant similarly sized payroll reduction. A few more wins result because there won't be another September implosion. "Progress" will be claimed, and statements like "we're turning the corner" due to another 4 to 6 wins.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      2013 attendance was down by roughly 300,000. I don’t know the average cost of a ticket or the net effect on parking and concessions but I would guess we are talking a net decrease of roughly $12M. You would think sales of Twins merchandise also takes a hit when the team sucks so I am going to guess revenue dropped to $200-202M. I have never been sure if this number is before or after payroll taxes. I am assuming before.

      That gives us 225-227 in revenue. 227 * 52% = 118 – 59 = $59M
      The catch is, as I understand it, they base the payroll on previous year’s revenue. Therefore, the new TV revenue might not be considered in the budget until next year. Actually, it might be very wise to leave some room for spending in 2015 given we are hopeful several questions will be answered in 2014. Willingham’s contract will be off the books in 2015 but some players are going to get raises that might take-up most of that $7M. It would be nice to have $20M or so to spend in 2015 when it has become more clear which of our young players are for real.

      I expect they will spend in the neighborhood of $35-40M.

      Anyone care to guess what the following FAs will bring in terms of years/dollars.

      Ervin Santana
      Tim Lincecum
      Ubaldo Jimenez
      Phil Hughes
      Scott Kazmir
      Ricky Nolasco
      Scott Feldman
      Josh Johnson

      I did not include Garza because he was trouble in the clubhouse when he was here and he has been trouble everywhere else he has been. I can’t image they would even entertain bringing him back.
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      I like Feldman, Johnson, Tanaka, and think bringing back Pelfrey wouldn't be a mistake either.
    1. freshinthehouse's Avatar
      freshinthehouse -
      As others in this thread have said, for once let's go for quality over quantity.

      I'd love to see the Twins make a significant offer to win the rights to negotiate with Tanaka. Since this could be upwards of of $40 (plus the 8-9 mill Tanaka will probably earn in the first year of his contract), this will be a pretty spendy proposition. If they don't sign any one else to anything more than a one year contract, the Twins should be set to have quite a bit of money left to spend next year as well. That's when I'd like to see them throw a hefty four year deal Homer Bailey's way. That would give the Twins to solid starters for the next several years. If any of Gibson/Meyer/May/Stewart/Berrios become decent, we could be looking at a pretty good rotation as we head into the Sano/Buxton era.
    1. amjgt's Avatar
      amjgt -
      If I told you that the Twins would get Tanaka (Let's say $50M posting and 6yr/70M contract), but not ANYONE else for the rotation, would you be happy with that offseason?
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      $12MM seems high for a net reduction to the Twins. It's the cheap seats that don't get sold. These are the $13-$17 seats mostly. Include a bit more reduction for the $8 seats sold at "demand pricing" for walkups. Concessions--the Twins get a % of the gross as net revenue. $6MM reduction for that 300k attendance loss. The big dollar seats (between the bases from the suites down to the field) get sold.
    1. Major Leauge Ready's Avatar
      Major Leauge Ready -
      Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
      $12MM seems high for a net reduction to the Twins. It's the cheap seats that don't get sold. These are the $13-$17 seats mostly. Include a bit more reduction for the $8 seats sold at "demand pricing" for walkups. Concessions--the Twins get a % of the gross as net revenue. $6MM reduction for that 300k attendance loss. The big dollar seats (between the bases from the suites down to the field) get sold.
      A couple million one way or the other probably won't have any impact in terms of spending this year but you might be right about the $12M being high. I would guess the ratio of cheap vs expensive seats that don't get sold is fairly equal but I base that on nothing but speculation. It would be interesting to see how much merchandise sales fall when they stink. You would think that would take a pretty good hit.
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