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Article: Dollars Make Sense For 2018 Twins

minnesota twins addison reed derek falvey thad levine joe mauer
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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 08:30 PM

It’s been the long discussed topic for many a frustrated Twins fan. In between railing against the contract Joe Mauer earned while playing as one of the greatest catchers of all time, Minnesotans have chided the Pohlad’s about being cheap and failing to spend money on their beloved baseball team. Although there may have been points where the criticisms were valid, the arguments generally missed the boat. In 2018 and beyond however, the Minnesota Twins are fighting back, and sensibly so.Following a 2017 season in which Paul Molitor’s club made a somewhat unexpected postseason berth, it’s apparent that 2016 was no more than growing pains for a core that is still coming into their own. After bursting onto the scene in 2015, regression and development plagued many of the Twins future stars during the 2016 downturn. Now as more established big league players, the focus should be on capitalizing upon the opportunity that the AL Central has laid out for the hometown nine.

Derek Falvey’s former organization, the Cleveland Indians, is really the only competition within the division, and that appears to be the case for the immediate future. As the window of competitiveness opens for the Twins, a division title or deep playoff run could again be within their sights. The new front office seems to view this reality in a favorable fashion as well.

Going into the offseason, the most desirable add was once again going to come on the mound. After finishing 29th in team ERA during the 2016 season, Minnesota jumped back into competitiveness by posting the 19th best mark in the big leagues. That still leaves plenty to be desired, but as divisional foes not named Cleveland came in behind them, Molitor’s group was able to capitalize.

In order to run down Terry Francona’s squad, overtake them, and make any real waves in the fall, Falvey and Thad Levine needed to bring in reinforcements this winter. The bullpen has been overhauled with nice veteran pieces on one-year deals (Zach Duke and Fernando Rodney), as well as a big get in the former of Addison Reed (2 years, $16.75m). Given the depth and emergence of young arms in relief, it stands to reason Minnesota is done there out of the pen, but the main focus of a starting arm remains.

That leads us to taking a look at the total bill. Prior to the acquisition of Reed, Minnesota was on track for a payroll near $98 million. Factoring in the roughly $4 million Kyle Gibson will be given, as well as the $8+ million that Reed gets this season, the Twins are looking at a mark of something like $110 million. Over the course of their history, the 2011 payroll of $112.7 million is a club record, and they’ve been below the $100 million plateau in four of the past six years. While you can dissect that how you will, it makes a good deal of sense.

Outside of 2016, there was never a point at which the Twins should’ve viewed themselves as a contender from 2011 onwards. Yes, Target Field is a nice stadium and it helps to generate revenue, but it’s TV contracts that trump all when it comes to payroll. Minnesota spends in the bracket it does because the deal with Fox Sports North is hardly lucrative compared across the landscape of the big league. With that being said, a down season should not also be an expensive one.

In 2012-2014, the Twins made loses 90+ games a yearly ritual. To think that spending an exorbitant amount of money in the offseason was going to reverse course would’ve been a fool’s errand. In 2015, the club was seeing a top MLB farm system begin to bear fruit. Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Eddie Rosario all got their first licks at the highest level, despite still being young kids. The 83 wins were a nice result, but volatility in youth is a real thing, and that fact couldn’t have been truer in the year ahead.

Now in 2017, the fruit from that farm system overflow has become an established set of big league regulars. Buxton, Sano, Rosario, Jose Berrios, and Max Kepler are all here to stay. They can be counted upon on a nightly basis when in the lineup, and while they’ll still be developing, are no longer wide-eyed ballplayers just taking it in. The development of that internal core presents the first half of the argument for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to build and supplement.

The other part of the equation comes in the form of outsiders and financial flexibility. Glen Perkins has announced his retirement, Joe Mauer is in line for free agency, and the combination of Phil Hughes and Ervin Santana isn’t far behind. With something like $30 million committed to the 2019 roster at this point, Minnesota has more than ample ability to spend. Combining that with the decline of the division, the Twins have found a perfect storm.

Under the fair assumption that the Twins are still targeting a top of the rotation starter, they are looking at a 2018 payroll near $130 million (should it be Darvish) or $120 million (should it be Lynn, Cobb, or Arrieta). That number will pop off the page as a franchise record, and a significant leap from previously expected norms. While it’s fair to look at the figure in that context, it’s also not surprising in the least. Inflation has been avoided as the payroll has reflected a true talent level, and an era of competitive baseball has now finally fostered an environment in which spending becomes sensible.

For as far back as I can remember the idea that Minnesota is cheap has been a lazy way to circumvent the factual narratives jumping off the page. For those staring at the bottom line without context, 2018 should be a nice shove-it moment in which the money spent falls in line with fans' desires. Should Minnesota’s payroll come in at the marks noted above, they’d find themselves right in the middle of big league spending, around the Houston Astros and Cleveland Indians. That’s hardly a bad place to be.

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#2 KirbyDome89

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 09:30 PM

1. I certainly think the Twins have missed the opportunity to spend in the past, and at the same time I think they've spent when they should've been slashing. That said, I don't believe much of the criticism surrounding the Twin's frugality is lazy or particularly off base. 

 

2. No, the Twins don't have a fat TV contract, but they've seen a MASSIVE increase in revenue since Target Field opened. A $130 million dollar payroll next to their name will look eye popping, but in reality it bumps them to about middle of the pack in terms of spending, which is where they should be. They've operated well below that almost since TF opened, and I'm in agreement with you, they weren't good enough to justify that payroll in 2011, but they need to spend now. 

 

3. This is a quibble, but I wish the Twins would've been more proactive in adding long term pitching help starting in 16' and maybe even earlier. This team was built to sink or swim with the young core now in place. If the Pohlads were indeed willing to spend, it would've been nice to see the team start adding pieces to complement the arrival of the young position players, rather than wait until they've begun to establish themselves to get some help. I'm sure there would still be grumbling about a 5-6 year deal for a SP but at least the FA/extension years of Buxton, Sano, ect, couldn't be used as an excuse not to sign pitching help. 

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#3 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 10:59 PM

If you add before your core substantiates itself at the big league level, what are you truly accomplishing? Those guys should be regulars, all stars, etc but before they are, they’re simply prospects.

You can waste a lot of money by banking on what you hope to happen. I have zero problem with Minnesota waiting to see a certain level of results before beginning to supplement.
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#4 Rosterman

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 11:26 PM

You funnel guys in and out. Hopefully the prospect pipeline is stable and you have a better idea of who is coming forth.

 

The Twins have the money. 2017 was a great year. They were cutting their own budget and tightening their belts and made revenue because of increased interest in their product. Less season tickets but more fullprice seat control.

 

The whole "how much can they spend" is bull. 55% of $200 million doesn't mean they spend 55% of $250 million. The other areas don't increase of the same level as payroll. If they have $100+ million on $200 million of revenue, they should have $150+ million on $250 million. 

 

Some of the new guys will demand monies. But some are also replaceable. You can maybe sign some to contracts like they did Span, which makes them worthwhile trade commodities. What was surprising was the lack of interest in Dozier during 2016 as well as that offseason. Now he's in a wait-and-see position and even if he does GREAT again, his return will be limited unless the inquiring team could sign him longterm.

 

Mauer is the question. He always brought you value as a catcher, and has some clubhouse value, but his on-field and batting order value to the Twins is not worth what he should probably be paid. Sad to see him move to another team, although he might just retire. He is not a parttime player...yet.

 

Still curious to see how the search for a starter does bear out. Not in favor of $100+ million multi-year deal. But is there an alternative. And would the guy be a solid anchor for 3-4 years in reality, that is the question. If not, pass. Wish all these pitching prospects (rotation and bullpen) panned out or weren't delayed. We seem to forget that Meyer and May were supposed to be foundation blocks and a bullpen of Reed, Melotakis, Chargois, Burdi, Jones, Bard closer to arbitration rather than rookie seasons.

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#5 KirbyDome89

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Posted 25 January 2018 - 11:44 PM

They put all their eggs into that prospect basket though. If the plan is for all the young talent to move up and open a window of contention (and it has) wouldn't it make sense to have talent to supplement them? Fortunately the prospects have largely worked out but now they've already burned cost controlled time and the Twins are still without enough pitching around that group to win a playoff game. Honestly, if the organization is staking their future to a core of young players, what do they have to lose by bringing in pitching help or other support before their arrival?  

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#6 Darius

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 04:24 AM

Honestly, I think the argument the they're not cheap is lazy.

The argument is: If you're not going to be good, just totally tank it.

OK, I get that. But, then you go on to mention 4 young players that needed the seasoning. There are 10 players on the team involved in the game at any given point.

So, what's the argument behind not filling the other 6 spots with competent baseball players? Don't the fans that helped build the Golden Gooses deserve to watch at least mediocre baseball on a nightly basis, regardless of whether you think you'll win the World Series? How is perpetually losing 100 games, surrounded by terrible washed out journeyman, a more conducive environment to player development?

What exactly does saving that money on other players aside from 4 youngsters accomplish in terms of making the team better?

Nobody is asking them to sign someone to a Giancarlo Stanton like contract. There are many serviceable guys out there on short term deals that don't prevent future spending (which, there is really no limit on other than that arbitrarily set by ownership). Per the 2026-2017 free agent tracker from CBS Sports, 21 of the top 30 free agents signed deals with 3-year terms or less. Among the players on the list on short deals (not limited to top 30): Edwin Encarnacion (3), Mike Napoli (1), Rich Hill (1), Wilson Ramos (2), Ivan Nova (3), Greg Holland (1), Carlos Beltran (1), Neil Walker (1), Luis Valbuena (1), Edison Volquez (1), Mitch Moreland (1), Matt Holiday (1), Brad Ziegler (2), Alex Avila (1), Neftali Feliz (1), Koji Uehara (1), Charlie Morton (1), Fernando Rodney (1).

How does signing a handful of short-term deals with quality players to make your team respectable mortgage teams future in any way? For example, if you sign all of Encarnacion/Moreland, Hill, Volquez, Holland, and Rodney in the hear 2015, the team is most certainly better and all are off the books going into this year but Encarnacion (who is in his final year....and a pretty damn good player). How would that have affected anything besides the Pohlad's net income? All the young guys play, they win more games and maybe stay relevant beyond May in 2016 or make that final push to the playoffs in 2015.

I'm sorry, but they're cheap. The narrative that this somehow beneficial is just false. Since 1992, we've seen the fruits of those spending habits. Even when they good, cheap, homegrown teams in the '00s, the refusal to supplement those in a meaningful way led to early playoff exits.

Meanwhile, since the Twins last championship, the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants, Angels, and Cards have combined for 14 of them. Throw in the Diamondbacks, Marlins, Phillies, White Sox and Cubs in there for 6, who went all out and spent significantly in those years. Even the Astros last year were around $140 at the time they won the World Series, I believe, and are at about $130 going into 2018.

Its chicken and egg, and my opinion is you have it backwards. You need to spend something to win. If you sit around and expect to win in order to spend money, history shows you're going to be sitting around for a while. If you're OK with that, more power to you. But it certainly doesn't make those that think the Twins need to spend to be competitive "lazy." Pot/kettle.
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#7 mikelink45

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 07:27 AM

I must continue my contrarism this year as the dialogue continues to be about spending money on Free Agents.Sure worked out well for Pujols, Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Jacob Ellsbury, James Shields, Ubaldo Jiminez, Edwin Jackson, Jason Bay, Oliver Perez, Josh Hamliton, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Hampton, Barry Zitoand Seattle's signing of our old friend Carlos Silva for four years or even the Mets huge final contract for our new HOF member - Johann Santana.

 

This 2013 Bleacher Report look at the success of $100 million contracts should give you shivers - http://bleacherrepor...ver-100-million  

 

I like a good pitching staff.Seldom do teams buy a staff.The Yankees have tried for years, but Severino got promoted from the minors and now they fill in around him.Pitchers blow out arms, pitchers lose speed, and all players just grow old - I know as I am recovering from my third joint replacement right now - my doctor who knows me says I just wore them out!

 

Darvish pitching record does not show me great trends.I would be happy with a shorter and cheaper contract with some of the next tier of pitchers after Darvish and Arrieta, but even they do not excite me now.  

 

Santana will regress - if not this year, in the next two at which point the big two will probably regress and the development of our younger arms will be arrested.There will be free agents in a year or two.Then we will have some of our young guys ready and Pineda providing us with at least an interesting story. But not now.

 

The same people who have acted like Mauer's salary came out of their personal savings now want to line up another overpaid vet who will collect paychecks beyond the value of their performance. 

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#8 MN_ExPat

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 08:29 AM

Here's why I'm ok if the Twins sign a Darvish/Arrieta:

 

#1: I love baseball

#2: It's not my money or any of ours for that matter

#3: I want to pretend that the Twins really do want to be competitive (even pros don't like to lose).

#4: I love baseball (even in the bad years)

#5: There are no sure things in life and even more so in baseball

#6: It gives me something to share and pass on to my son, so that he may in turn pass it on to his.

#7: I love talking about baseball (and yes even arguing about it... stupid Yankees)

#8: I'm ok if someone doesn't agree with me or those who want to spend big in FA, I totally understand their arguments/stance.

#9: There is nothing else like baseball on this planet and everyone else here is awesome for their love of it.

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#9 terrydactyls1947

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 08:30 AM

2018 is still a building year. Bring in a couple short-term contract starters for depth and then see what the Gonsalves, Romero, Thorpe, Little, Jorge quintet have to offer. They may be better than any big money, long-term FA that we can sign now. Use the extra cash now to sign the young guys to extensions so the window of opportunity stays open for years.
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#10 Monkeypaws

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 09:11 AM

 

Derek Falvey’s former organization, the Cleveland Indians, is really the only competition within the division, and that appears to be the case for the immediate future

 

How many folks would have expected the Twins to be any kind of competition last year? Hard for me to write off the rest of the division quite yet. 

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#11 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 09:43 AM

 

How many folks would have expected the Twins to be any kind of competition last year? Hard for me to write off the rest of the division quite yet. 

Sure teams can surprise, but the Twins had legitimate talent in 2016 that didn't perform mainly because of youth and inexperience. 2017 should've been viewed as a relatively competitive squad. I pegged them for 81 wins, which would fall into that category.

 

The White Sox have a great farm that's yet to start spilling over, the Tigers are old and bad, and the Royals have no farm while also losing their core.

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#12 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 09:44 AM

 

2018 is still a building year. 

I don't know that there's many who'd get on board with this. You don't just continue to wait for the next wave of prospects. The Twins have talent to win now on the 25 man, and the most ready prospects are guys that can filter in as needed or when they push the envelope.

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#13 Brandon

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:03 AM

Dont forget rosterman the Twins also hired around 40 more staff for analytics and other departments.....their salaries and equipment could run 5 to 10 million depending on all the stuff they get to improve performance.

#14 HitInAPinch

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:18 AM

I believe this team is really on the cusp of year to year contending.I'm not sure now is the time to spend big often.I'd like to see a bit more of the MiLB talent and moving more of the mediocre vets out of the way.Please move Gibson and Hughes.May should get another shot, due to injury. 

It's not my fault !


#15 Tomj14

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:18 AM

 

I don't know that there's many who'd get on board with this. You don't just continue to wait for the next wave of prospects. The Twins have talent to win now on the 25 man, and the most ready prospects are guys that can filter in as needed or when they push the envelope.

100% agree, because if Gonzo ends up just a 4/5, Romero ends up in the pen. Jorge ends up AAAA,

Thorpe isn't quite ready and Little fails, we are stuck waiting for the next round of pitching while our fielders get expensive and people are yelling for us to trade for more prospects.

and the cycle continues.

 

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#16 Jham

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:20 AM

Seriously? You cite a team record payroll from 7 years ago as evidence we're not cheap? You cite a hypothetical payroll which is looking less likely all the time as evidence of not being cheap? You use losing as an excuse for being cheap even though you're saying they're not cheap? You're claiming that by reaching a figure that would shatter the prior team record payroll but only bring us to a league average payroll is evidence of not being cheap?

You reference the tv deal but not the subsidized stadium? You neglect the quotes from ownership before and after the stadium funding deals regarding payroll and player contracts?

Come on. There's a hidden cost to waiting. Could have signed pitchers or made trades the last few years and we would have had those guys at Yankee stadium. Or they would have had to come here. Now the last few years are wasted.

Edited by Jham, 26 January 2018 - 10:21 AM.

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#17 Tomj14

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:27 AM

 

I believe this team is really on the cusp of year to year contending.I'm not sure now is the time to spend big often.I'd like to see a bit more of the MiLB talent and moving more of the mediocre vets out of the way.Please move Gibson and Hughes.May should get another shot, due to injury. 

So we don't sign any pitchers, get rid of Gibson and Hughes and we are on the cusp of contending?

 

What is everybody's love affair with May? he is 28 and has a grand total of 25 which weren't good. In 2015 he was decent out of the pen; 2016 was a disaster and Ryan Pressly looks like a star compared to him? I am hoping he comes back from injury and helps the Twins, but IMO that is a BIG if.

 

Gibson is the definition of a number 5, great starts, good starts, bad starts and horrible starts, but always ends up averaging close to 6 innings per start. Do I wish we had 5 better starters than that? absolutely but right now he fits that role well.

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#18 LA VIkes Fan

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:30 AM

This is the way sports have gone - you either have a big payroll for your market because you think you can compete or you tear everything down, bring up the young guys, and don't pay anybody very much. It's happening in all the sports except the NFL. You see it in the NBAin particular. Nobody wants to be in the "mediocre middle" where you have a mid market payroll, a bunch of competent or serviceable players and you finish in the middle of the standings. The ethic now is that you eitherpay to compete for titles or you tank and compete for draft position. The good news for us fans is that the Twins are now moving from the tank mode to compete mode and three teams in the division are going to be in the tank mode for at least the next couple of years.. It's hell while you're in the tank mode and fun when you compete.

 

You can also really see it with respect to the players. The value of an average veteran player has gone way down in all sports, kind of like the way the value of a competent middle manager has gone down in business generally. It's a little sad, but it's hard to blame the Twins for not bringing in competent or serviceable players to improve a 65-70 win team to a 70-75 win team. It doesn't really make you much moneyand I think fans are becoming more and more conditioned to the "compete or tank" mentality in sports so they are less turned off by the bad teams as long as it's a young, potentially up-and-coming bad team. I do think were going to see ownership's true colors and the true abilities of the Front Office now because the team is good enough to compete. We will see if the resources will be devoted to give the team a chance to compete. I think the answer is going to be yes but it does remain to be seen.


#19 Doomtints

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:55 AM

The chance of the Twins having a cash flow problem any time soon: 0%. 

 

Average number of MLB teams that have cash flow problems in any given year: 1.2 (4%).

 

Is cash flow ever a significant problem in the modern MLB: No.

 

Should the Twins do what the Rangers did in the 90s and offer a player a long term contract that is ten to twenty times the average market value of a contract? No. 

 

Would they? No.

 

Could they? Yes.

 

Number of times we heard that the Dome was the problem, not the media contract:2,837.

 

Why we go down this rabbit hole all the time? No idea.

 

Current net worth of the Twins according to Forbes:$1.025B.

Net worth of the Twins according to Forbes in 2009:0.365B.

Twins debt-to-value ratio: 20%.(For reference, IBM = 130%.GE = 440%).

 

Conclusion: The Minnesota Twins Baseball Club is one of the most financially healthy institutions in the country. They have almost no debt. They have more money than they can spend, and their growth is in the top 1%.

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#20 Mike Sixel

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Posted 26 January 2018 - 10:58 AM

If you add before your core substantiates itself at the big league level, what are you truly accomplishing? Those guys should be regulars, all stars, etc but before they are, they’re simply prospects.

You can waste a lot of money by banking on what you hope to happen. I have zero problem with Minnesota waiting to see a certain level of results before beginning to supplement.


The Cubs added before their core was all there... How did that work?
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