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Front Page: Twins' Payroll Analysis: Three Pitchers, $70M


It is rare that the offseason machinations of a billion-dollar team can be distilled down to a Twitter hashtag, but the headline says it all: #3Pitchers70Million. The Twins have a nearly empty starting rotation and, even by their modest standards, a lot of money to spend. This essay could end right now, and you would know enough to follow developments this offseason.But let’s give a little more. For a complete breakdown, make sure to grab a copy of the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook which you can pre-order today. There you’ll find names, amounts, contracts and details on the decisions that the Twins will likely make. Plus, you get a handy worksheet where you can figure out how you’re going to fit your dream rotation into the Twins starting staff. Honestly, just dreaming through that is worth the price of admission. But here’s a high level breakdown.

 

The Lineup - $50-55M committed

Essentially, the only decisions are whether to offer arbitration to C.J. Cron and whether to entice Jason Castro or another catcher back to the Twins. The rest of the decisions are no-brainers. Even without Cron and Castro, all of the positions are covered, provided you’re not trading anyone away for some pitching (and then maybe even if you are). The total cost of all those players will be about $50-55M.

 

The Rotation - $5M committed

Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Michael Pineda and Martin Perez are all either free agents or likely to be, though there are some decisions the Twins need to make. Jose Berrios sticks around, gets a raise due to arbitration, and one spot at least is probably saved for a competition between Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe. That leaves three spots to fill and $55-60M spent.

 

The Bullpen - $10M committed

The youth that filled up the Twins bullpen will likely fill it up, but they’ll need to decide whether to try and retain (and pay) Sergio Romo who will be a free agent. If you think they do, or need to add another big arm to the bullpen, you need to add to the committed payroll, but without that they are only spending $65-$70M and can fill all the slots on the 25-man roster.

 

Payroll Space - $60M - $75M available

Two years ago, the Twins had about $130M payroll for their Opening Day roster. Last year it shrunk down to $120M, reflecting decreased interest in ticket sales due to a disappointing 2018. This year, the opposite is true; anything less than $135M should be considered gross negligence.

 

That leaves about $70M to spend on three pitchers. Maybe that means signing a free agent, like Gerrit Cole, whose price tag will be $30-35M/year. Maybe that means trading for a veteran whose salary has become an albatross. (Could the Nationals be in teardown mode yet?) Or maybe that means acquiring a high-end pitcher by trading some top prospects (or even everyday players) and backfilling them with free agents.

 

The story of the offseason will be how the Twins attack their top three problems: pitching, pitching and pitching. They have a lot of work, but all the resources they should need to get the job done. It sounds crazy to say this as a Twins fan (and it probably is) but payroll really should not be a limitation.

 We’ll follow their progress (or lack therof) every day here at Twins Daily. If you would like to get a head start, preorder the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook.

 

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They need to lock in Cruz for a few years too.  But they can/should spend the most on pitching and be able to re-sign Buxton, Sano, Kepler, Garver and Rosario.  

Kepler received a 5 yr/$35M extension with club option in 2024...Loving that contract, along with Polanco's after this year. 

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I expect there will be a few extensions to the lineup, John.  Maybe add $10mm or so by locking up two of Buxton, Sano, or Rosario.  

 

But it sure should be interesting to see how they end up spending money for the rotation.  I am hopeful that they bring in a very good left handed reliever.

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Nothing needs to be done with Cruz.  Has another year, and will probably gladly take another similar deal at the end of it if offered at his age.  It's value may go down.

I'll be interested to see what they do in pitching.  I'd dangle Rosario, but he alone probably won't fetch much more than a Gibson.  Would adding Rooker move the needle?

Gerrit Cole would be awesome, but it will probably take closer to 40mil to get him to spend his summers in MN.

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If the Twins really need pitching, then signing Cole would be a mistake as he would gobble up most of what we have to spend. I'd rather have 3, 15 game winners than one 18 game winner and 2, 8-10 game winners.They need to re-sign Odorizzi and Gibson and look at some mid-priced starters and relievers. The scouting is where we need to make the best decisions on which starters will work at Target field and win 15 games with the lineup we should have. I don't know if there is anyone in our minor league system that will help here and am not sold on a guy like Dobnick. Don't expect 300 homers again but maybe 240 or so and get fewer strikeouts though I think we reduced those this year.

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If the Twins really need pitching, then signing Cole would be a mistake as he would gobble up most of what we have to spend. I'd rather have 3, 15 game winners than one 18 game winner and 2, 8-10 game winners.They need to re-sign Odorizzi and Gibson and look at some mid-priced starters and relievers. The scouting is where we need to make the best decisions on which starters will work at Target field and win 15 games with the lineup we should have. I don't know if there is anyone in our minor league system that will help here and am not sold on a guy like Dobnick. Don't expect 300 homers again but maybe 240 or so and get fewer strikeouts though I think we reduced those this year.

Yes, this strategy has worked well with Lance Lynn, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Corriea, Hector Santiago, Bartolo Colon, Anibal Sanchez, Martin Perez and more! 

 

The 20-game winner can start two games in the ALDS and three in the ALCS/WS. That's why its needed in my opinion. Having a bunch of middling starters and hoping for career years has not worked out for this organization, especially when it comes to winning in the playoffs. 

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They need to lock in Cruz for a few years too.  But they can/should spend the most on pitching and be able to re-sign Buxton, Sano, Kepler, Garver and Rosario.  

 

They don't have to do anything with Garver for quite awhile. He's not even arbitration eligible until 2021. I love Nelson Cruz, but the fact is that he's going to be 40 next year. I think the year-to-year contracts are best with him. And they signed Kepler to a long extension last offseason.

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If the Twins really need pitching, then signing Cole would be a mistake as he would gobble up most of what we have to spend. I'd rather have 3, 15 game winners than one 18 game winner and 2, 8-10 game winners.They need to re-sign Odorizzi and Gibson and look at some mid-priced starters and relievers. The scouting is where we need to make the best decisions on which starters will work at Target field and win 15 games with the lineup we should have. I don't know if there is anyone in our minor league system that will help here and am not sold on a guy like Dobnick. Don't expect 300 homers again but maybe 240 or so and get fewer strikeouts though I think we reduced those this year.

I strongly disagree with this. I do not want Kyle Gibson anywhere near this rotation next year. If you want to beat the Yankees and the Astros in a playoff series, you are going to have to sign a guy like Cole and maybe even another top-end pitcher.

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The goal should be to beat the Yankees. To beat them....you should probably act like them.

 

What do they usually do?? They never get rid of people [don't know exactly why....guess because they always make good decisions]. They develop and groom and make people fit in. Then they add expensive free agents to make all those marginal types look good.

 

So, keep everyone [including Gibson], and then sign the best available starter and the best available reliever.....and keep developing the players you have.

 

I think Syndergaard would be a good start...........

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My plan would be to sign one high level starter and a strong RP, trade an OF for a starter, and re-sign Romo and Odorizzi.

 

That leaves the 5th starter spot open, and the OF spot that can be filled in-house.

 

You could talk me into signing two RP, too. You wouldn't have to try hard, either.

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See the issue I think is the Twins front office offers what the pitcher is worth. Look no further than Darvish, Yu. They offered him what he was worth, maybe more now that there is two seasons under the belt of that contract.

 

With doing that and then getting mocked for "being in on" seemingly every big named free agent.  Then coming up short is the Twins will need to overpay to get big names to come. For whatever reasons, payroll "restrictions" (which I don't think are much of a thing as they used to be), past culture (2016 and beyond excluded), weather, etc, is not landing the Twins the big fish.

 

I hope this can change in this off season

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What is the return in a trading Eddie scenario? Do we get a 3 or 4 spot in the rotation? If yes, I would be temped because we have OF prospects near ready and flexible position players already on the roster for corner OF depth. 

I do not think Eddie alone lands a #3-4. Pair him a top 5 prospect and a throw in, maybe.

 

I'm not so sure trading Eddie would be a answer either. When healthy, (big when) a outfield of Rosario-Buxton-Kepler is as good as any outfield in the league.

 

Having said all that, you gotta trade from depth to get a decent return. Gotta spend money to make money kind of thinking.

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Yes, the Twins can EASILY spend $135 million. EVen long-terming some players on contracts still means those players could be tradable as other assets arrive from the world of prospect land (i.e. Rosario, maybe Buxton, possibly Polanco).

 

In reality, with the lower payrolls of a couple of seasons and decent attendance, the Twins could puish closer to $150 million if not even $160 million. WInning games puts fans in the stands. Lastseason would've been dynamite if they had better weather at the beginning of the year.

 

There really isn't a lot of piching out there. Odorizzi will land a job somewhere on a multi-year contract. Pineda would be a good solid low-end pickup for 3/4s of a season. Gibson will basically be in a tryout stage no matter where he signs. All three could come back to the Twins, although what is the cap you would spend on Jake...3 years $45 million do it?

 

Needing just a back-up catcher. Maybe another bat> That's it for offense.

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What is the return in a trading Eddie scenario? Do we get a 3 or 4 spot in the rotation? If yes, I would be temped because we have OF prospects near ready and flexible position players already on the roster for corner OF depth. 

The only reason the Twins would trade Rosario is so they don't have to pay him what he's worth. 

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What is the return in a trading Eddie scenario? Do we get a 3 or 4 spot in the rotation? If yes, I would be temped because we have OF prospects near ready and flexible position players already on the roster for corner OF depth.

The return is a minor league player. No non contender trades for a corner OF with two years if control left, and what contender trades starting pitching for an asset they can sign for a free million in free agency.

 

They have sixty million to spend. They can afford anyone they want to afford.

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They need to lock in Cruz for a few years too.  But they can/should spend the most on pitching and be able to re-sign Buxton, Sano, Kepler, Garver and Rosario.  

 

No no no no no no no.

We already have Cruz under contract for next season (as soon as the option is picked up). Extending a 40-year old player beyond the additional year you have them coming off a big, but injury-impacted year is terrible planning, especially for a position that is limited to DH. You can go year-to-year on Cruz and if someone swoops in after next season (if he has another boomstick year) and overpays him, so be it. But you don't lock down a multi-year deal for a 40+ DH. Twins played that one perfectly last year: 1 year with a team option. Now we pick up the option and smile, and even if he craters next year, the team is fine.

 

I would absolutely throw big money at Cole, because the window is open and he's elite. You pay elite guys.

 

My preference is they go big after a top starter, someone who has ace qualifications and can compete for Cy. Put 50% of the resources available on that one. Bring back odorizzi for another run; If he's your #3 you're in good shape, even knowing that he's rarely going to go 7 and will likely get pulled in the 6th. 3 years @ $15-17M could get it done. I'd toss $8-10M at a back-end guy so you're feeling confident in 4 slots to start the year. I think you can try fill 1 spot in the rotation internally; it's too much risk to go for 2, especially because with injuries and possible ineffectiveness you'll need other starters to come up anyways.

 

The problem is, there aren't very many top-end starters that can be had. Would I offer 6/$220M for Cole? Yes, I would. the window is open, let's go for it. Will he come here for that? Will he come even if it's 6/$240M? We just don't know.

 

Pineda keeps coming up. I would consider him, but I want a little discount and I want either a 2nd year or a team option. The suspension (and how it hamstrung the team this year) is a problem.

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I've seen both here and elsewhere suggesting Odorizzi signing a 3 year contract. I don't see it happening, this is his one real chance to sign a relatively long, lucrative contract. I'm betting he gets a 5 year contract, though a 4 year one with an option at the end also seems quite possible.

Edit: And if for some reason it is a 3 year contract it's going to be more like $20 million a year not this 15 I see suggested as well.

Edited by iastfan112
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Pineda hasn't had a healthy year since many of you were born*

 

*Exaggeration for effect....

 

Either the window is open, or not. But Cruz won't be here forever. Sano and Rosario aren't here forever. Garver will probably be less healthy year after year, that's the nature of catching.

 

If they don't get two good pitchers, why should any fan believe they will ever go in?

Edited by Mike Sixel
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Anything less than acquiring at least one bonafida ACE (think G. Cole) this offseason should be viewed as total failure....As pointed out in the latest podcast, the "sustainable winner model" pretty much translates to being built to win the AL central, but not much more. We need a shut down pitcher we fans can be excited to trust against the Yankees come October. 

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And.....For what its worth, Bleacher Reports list of the top 10 available free agent starters included (with Martin Perez being an honorable mention) 4 Twins starters....Odorizzi, Pineada and Gibson......so lets not target mid level guys here unless we are content with basically just resigning the entire group we already had +Jose Berrios and calling it an offseason. 

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Nothing needs to be done with Cruz.  Has another year, and will probably gladly take another similar deal at the end of it if offered at his age.  It's value may go down.

I'll be interested to see what they do in pitching.  I'd dangle Rosario, but he alone probably won't fetch much more than a Gibson.  Would adding Rooker move the needle?

Gerrit Cole would be awesome, but it will probably take closer to 40mil to get him to spend his summers in MN.

I would not trade Rosario, I think he is special, he could help Twins win a World Series in the future. I would trade Buxton first. Buxton has the talent, unfortunately he has not contributed much on and off the field. He may not want to play in Minnesota. Lewis could be our future center fielder.

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Yes, this strategy has worked well with Lance Lynn, Phil Hughes, Mike Pelfrey, Kevin Corriea, Hector Santiago, Bartolo Colon, Anibal Sanchez, Martin Perez and more! 

 

The 20-game winner can start two games in the ALDS and three in the ALCS/WS. That's why its needed in my opinion. Having a bunch of middling starters and hoping for career years has not worked out for this organization, especially when it comes to winning in the playoffs. 

The past is not a perfect predictor of the future. To me it's a foregone conclusion the new regime will have another solid off-season.

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The goal should be to beat the Yankees. To beat them....you should probably act like them.

 

What do they usually do?? They never get rid of people [don't know exactly why....guess because they always make good decisions]. They develop and groom and make people fit in. Then they add expensive free agents to make all those marginal types look good.

 

So, keep everyone [including Gibson], and then sign the best available starter and the best available reliever.....and keep developing the players you have.

 

I think Syndergaard would be a good start...........

 The Mets recently said he won't be traded. Also, MLB.com had him as one of the 20 most overrated players. Looks like another Chris Archer to me.

Edited by howieramone2
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I would not trade Rosario, I think he is special, he could help Twins win a World Series in the future. I would trade Buxton first. Buxton has the talent, unfortunately he has not contributed much on and off the field. He may not want to play in Minnesota. Lewis could be our future center fielder.

Neither Buxton or Rosario by themselves is going to fetch a controllable ace caliber pitcher. I think the most probable way for the Twins to pull it off would be to trade an OFer to team A, have team A trade prospects to team B, add in more prospects for team B and get your guy that way from team B. A team trading for Rosario or Buxton isn’t going to trade away a good pitcher at the MLB level.

Edited by yarnivek1972
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