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It’s no secret this year hasn’t gone as planned for the Minnesota Twins.
It’s also no secret that the Twins — who look drastically different than they did even a week ago — will see significant turnover this offseason on the roster.
Not only were traded players Eduardo Escobar, Brian Dozier, Lance Lynn and Zach Duke slated to become free agents in the offseason, but so too are Joe Mauer and possibly also Ervin Santana. The upshot here is that the Twins, who had a franchise-high $128.7 million payroll to start the season according to Cot’s Contracts, have just $31.7 million hard committed to next year’s team.
Here’s the breakdown of those commitments:
- $8.375 million to Addison Reed
- $8 million to Michael Pineda and Jason Castro
- $1.25 million in possible buyouts to Fernando Rodney and Logan Morrison
- $5.95 million in dead money owed to Phil Hughes
Now that number will obviously jump with guys like Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Ehire Adrianza, Robbie Grossman and Trevor May eligible for arbitration again as well as first-timers Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Byron Buxton, and there’ll be guys making the MLB minimum that’ll factor in as well, but the overarching theme is that the Twins are going to have some money to work with.
It’s also coming at a truly great time; this is going to be one of the best free-agent markets in recent memory. Superstars available include Manny Machado and Bryce Harper but there are also players across a number of other spectrums that will improve whichever team they sign with.
Clayton Kershaw and David Price can opt out of their deals — though both have had their issues in recent years — and Josh Donaldson also still carries some name value. All three could be big targets for most of the league if they hit the open market. Charlie Morton, Nelson Cruz and Jed Lowrie are having great seasons in their mid-30s, and could make for good bridge guys for teams waiting on prospects.
Marwin Gonzalez is a Swiss Army Knife who can hit a bit, Elvis Andrus can opt out of his deal and there are lots of players who’ll be looking for short deals to bounce back, like Andrew McCutchen, A.J. Pollock, Daniel Murphy, Jonathan Lucroy, Neil Walker and even Lynn, Morrison and Dozier as well.
Nobody would argue that it would be terrific to see the Twins land Harper or Machado. But at the cost of $30 million plus per year on what’ll likely be a deal with an opt-out in a few years — extremely player friendly, a la Jason Heyward — the odds just aren’t in favor of this happening.
That’s before considering if that player would come to Minnesota — even if the Twins were the highest bidder.
It’s also worth noting that both players would chew up a large part of the financial flexibility the team would likely wish to have as some of its youngsters move into their more expensive seasons. Not only that, but it’s not like the Twins really have an outfield spot or a lack of depth at shortstop in the years to come.
Don’t mistake that for someone saying “CAN’T SIGN MACHADO BECAUSE ROYCE LEWIS IS A-COMIN’” or anything to that effect, but it certainly is a consideration.
But that’s why I’m coming out and endorsing the following like a politician endorsing a colleague:
The Minnesota Twins should make Dodgers catcher Yasmani Grandal their No. 1 free agency target — with a bullet — this offseason.