1. SPREAD IT AROUND
This is the most likely option. The Twins have averaged $127 million in payroll since 2018, per FanGraphs. They currently have a projected $91 million committed to the 2022 roster. That means there’s roughly $35 million to spend to return to a respectable level.
At first glance, that seems like a lot, but of course, it depends on how you spend it. Signing Zack Greinke ($12M), Michael Pineda ($8M), Andrelton Simmons ($6M), and a couple of relievers for a combined $10 million gets you to that sweet spot.
Would those signings instill any confidence that 2022 will be different? Probably not. This plan would likely accompany the idea that the Twins have many starting pitching prospects coming and want to give them a look early. Keeping Greinke and Pineda on one-year deals doesn’t retain any commitment if prospects upend them. Again, something like this feels likely.
2. INVEST IN WINNING
Route one is an example of spending $35 million as boring as possible. Here’s a way to make it much more appealing. Start by getting serious about Carlos Rodón, the best remaining starter on the market and a high-risk, high-reward option. Let’s say he costs $16 million per season for however many years it takes to secure him.
Then follow that with a trade for Oakland Athletics starter Frankie Montas, one of the most electric young pitchers in the game. Montas will earn a projected $5.2 million in 2022, his second year of arbitration. In another blockbuster, acquire Sonny Gray from the Cincinnati Reds. Gray is under contract for $10.7 million in 2022 with a club option for 2023.
After acquiring three legit frontline starters, a stopgap shortstop like José Iglesias makes sense on a one-year, $4 million deal. Finally, find a right-handed reliever with upside for $2-3 million.
Now you’re looking at a rotation fronted by Rodón, Montas, Gray and rounded out with Dylan Bundy, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan. The final payroll in this scenario would remain under $140 million. Of course, the Twins would lose prospect capital but would undoubtedly be an absolute threat in 2022 and 2023.
3. BARE BONES
There’s a chance the Twins are heading for a complete cost-saving slice in 2022. That would probably include trading Josh Donaldson, perhaps followed by Miguel Sanó. Third base would likely be taken over primarily by José Miranda, while Alex Kirilloff spends most of his time at first base with Trevor Larnach in the outfield.
The rotation would front someone like Zach Davies on a one-year, $6.5 million deal. Looking for more bargains, the Twins could add former Cardinal Carlos Martínez for cheap and bring back Pineda as a steady presence. Shortstop would be handled for a year by Simmons, Iglesias, or Nick Ahmed in a trade.
Needing relief help, the Twins may turn to Hansel Robles-like additions to fill out the bullpen. Payroll would probably reach the $105-110 range, depending on how much Donaldson’s (and Sanó’s) contracts remain. The Twins would be young, inexperienced, and likely poor. However, if this means payroll reaches $145-150 million when the Twins expect to be competitive again, is it worth playing the kids prematurely?
What do you think is the most likely path? Which path would you like to see them take? Which direction will make them the most entertaining in 2022? Comment below!