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  • Where Should the Minnesota Twins Payroll Be in 2023?


    Ted Schwerzler

    In mid-November the Minnesota Twins packed the Mall of America rotunda to introduce a couple of new things. One was known at the time, and the other one would be revealed later. New jerseys and a new head of ownership. Both of those things may help to highlight the offseason thus far, but fans want to know this group will spend before spending their own money.

     

    Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

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    For years there have been remarks made towards the Pohlad family regarding their hesitancy to spend on the Minnesota Twins. For as much as any owner wants to claim they are fans of the team, the overarching reality is that their ownership is still an asset and they are running a business. At some juncture, revenues and expenses have to correlate.

    During the uniform unveiling a new face was on stage. Joe Pohlad was talking next to Twins President Dave St. Peter, not his uncle Jim. There was no announcement that day, but it seemed odd that Jim, who has been known as the visible owner for at least the past decade, was not present. Not long after it was reported that Joe would be assuming that position, and a change was being made.

    Obviously that leaves fans to question what may happen with the dollars being spent on the team. While Jim remains plenty involved, and Joe has his own personality that seemingly will be more public facing, the family still retains the asset that is the Twins. On that day, when the Twins rebranded and rolled out jerseys asking fans to spend over $300 on each, they have also yet to commit on bringing in talent alongside their superstar Byron Buxton.

    Last season the Opening Day payroll checked in just shy of $137 million. $35.1 million of that was handed to Carlos Correa on a three-year deal, although everyone knew he would opt out after year one. In talking with a front office source when Trevor Story or others were in play, the comment was made that a $150 million payroll never was going to seem feasible. That’s where Minnesota should begin to lose the trust of fans.

    While it isn’t fair to suggest that the team won’t spend money after pushing franchise records in that regard over the past few years, having an arbitrary stopping point that falls only in line or below league average isn’t workable. Certainly there are teams such as the Tampa Bay Rays and Cleveland Guardians that can do more with less. They have exceptional development, analytical, and scouting processes that help to squeeze additional value from lesser costs. While the Twins have taken significant strides in those regards, they simply aren’t there yet.

    Going into 2022 the Twins landed on a $15 million annual salary for Buxton. That’s peanuts for a player of his caliber, even with the health issues, and the lack of availability is the only reason they could get that done. Unfortunately, if there isn’t going to be substantial work to supplement his abilities, the entirety of that deal will go to waste. It’s not so much that there is a magic number to spend, but the representative talent that can be acquire with an additional $20 million or so is significant for a mid-market team like Minnesota.

    Getting to $160 million in 2023 would be a leap for the front office. Doing so would be a year over year boost of just under 17%. Alongside the likes of minimum salary players like Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda, and eventually Royce Lewis, that should be a no-brainer. Being able to provide your pipelined talent with Major League help is the way this should work, and books being as clean as they are going forward makes now as good of a time as any.

    Despite what Rob Manfred tried to sell fans during the lockout, owning a baseball team is an incredibly profitable venture. Revenues are only increasing throughout the sport, but on a team-by-team basis, Minnesota jumping their own is only going to happen with winning. For a team that saw the worst home attendance since the days of the Metrodome, trying to save cents while costing dollars isn’t a workable route any longer.

    Maybe it doesn’t have to be exactly $160 million when the Twins open their 2023 season, but the payroll can’t be close to $140 million either.

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    I love the timing of this article, with Jim stepping down and Joe stepping in.  What do we really know about how much Jim is going to be involved and how much actual authority Joe has?  Until we see more of that dynamic it is speculation at best, and total unknown at worst.  But for now, let's go with the speculation.

    As much as revenue is increasing, how much do the Twins see?  With virtually little to no revenue in '20, more, but not enough revenue in '21, and the lowest attendance in this recent era in '22, how are the Twins really doing?  My gut tells me that Jim is going to give Joe some more to work with to get his feet wet, and see how the attendance does and revenue increases flow into the business.  I can see 140 - 150 mil this season, with much of the increase in the pitching department, and using young (cheap) talent to supplement a handful of proven (and higher paid) position guys.  If the attendance comes back to better levels and the team performs fairly well, I can see 150 - 160 in '24 and, again, see how it goes.  If it goes south, I can see a retrenching and maybe even a change in FO and dugout management and letting Joe put his mark on the franchise.  But I do not see a vast increase in payroll ever from this team, meaning somewhere in the 160 - 180 range by todays dollars.  The Pohlad family is a business oriented family, and will continue to be, so this team will never be a billionaire's toy.  I just hope they spend enough to give the fans a clear message that they want us for the long haul.  

    Hope springs eternal.

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    I think the premise here is a little misguided.  It's not necessarily about HOW much they spend, but WHO they spend it on.   Buxton's contract is very team friendly for what he brings to the table.  He will gat paid more by producing more.

    To plug a dollar amount on the team salary and think that means they are going to win is wishful thinking.  There is a correlation between higher salaries and wins, but salary alone does not make MN a premium destination. This is why there is a true internal push to resign Correa.  His name alone will help in recruiting talent here, regardless of the dollars.

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    I don't see payroll increasing much until attendance does. I don't see attendance increasing until wins do, and I don't see that happening with the current management team, from Falvey on down. I hope I'm wrong. I've been a die hard Twins fan since day 1. Management does make a huge difference. Where to fix this is problem? I'm not where where to start.

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    It's not my money so $400 million.

    Since we don't know the finances enough, we change from how much we think they should spend to guessing how much they will spend. I think it will be about the same as last year. Hard to see an increase when attendance was low.

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    If you go looking for Twins 2022 payroll numbers, you are going to get frustrated because virtually every site you look at has a different number. Did they calculate before, during, or after the season? Did they include dead money to the right year? Did they include any dead money? Etc, etc. Believe me, I've looked.  So let's just talk an average based on all numbers. That's almost dead on at $140M. (Ultimately, it sure looks like they spent more TOTAL than that when all was said and done.

    If you allow for even a small, expected, inflationary rise across all of MLB and allow for ONLY 5% you now have a target of $147M. Now, even for a mid-market team with poor TV and radio deals, that states they actually have usually been "exceeding" comfortable percentages of payroll vs income...(one assumes the normal 50-52%)...another couple $M to get to $150 is a drop in the bucket. (And I'm not going to argue books not being open or the Pohlad's are cheap or any of that).

    I'd love $160M! I'm just not sure attendance, shared revenue, and other factors are going to allow for a $20M bump in a 1yr time frame. But if the Twins truly want to be in legitimate contention, the bump to $150M should be more than affordable, even if a little "uncomfortable" to put the best team on the field, a nice collection of young talent and some quality adds.

    $150M!

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    1 hour ago, DocBauer said:

    If you go looking for Twins 2022 payroll numbers, you are going to get frustrated because virtually every site you look at has a different number. Did they calculate before, during, or after the season? Did they include dead money to the right year? Did they include any dead money? Etc, etc. Believe me, I've looked.  So let's just talk an average based on all numbers. That's almost dead on at $140M. (Ultimately, it sure looks like they spent more TOTAL than that when all was said and done.

    If you allow for even a small, expected, inflationary rise across all of MLB and allow for ONLY 5% you now have a target of $147M. Now, even for a mid-market team with poor TV and radio deals, that states they actually have usually been "exceeding" comfortable percentages of payroll vs income...(one assumes the normal 50-52%)...another couple $M to get to $150 is a drop in the bucket. (And I'm not going to argue books not being open or the Pohlad's are cheap or any of that).

    I'd love $160M! I'm just not sure attendance, shared revenue, and other factors are going to allow for a $20M bump in a 1yr time frame. But if the Twins truly want to be in legitimate contention, the bump to $150M should be more than affordable, even if a little "uncomfortable" to put the best team on the field, a nice collection of young talent and some quality adds.

    $150M!

    By far the most influential factor will be revenue increase/decrease.  Inflation is not going to drive revenue up.  It will likely have the opposite effect and it will drive up operating costs.  The good news is they are getting a $30M from the sale of remaining BAM ownership.  They could spend an extra $30M this year with the understanding there would be no money available to replace Gray & Mahle and of course they need to cover arbitration increases.

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    Assumption: what should it be is vague. As FDG said it’s not how much, but who. 
     

    I’ll take 3 years of Verlander over 5 and an option for DeGrom. I like DeGrom, but not at 5 years. 
     

    so $45m for Verlander I like better than $37M for DeGrom.  $8M generally is regarded as 1 WAR

    This is for illustrative purposes so let’s not get lost on DeGrom/Verlander debates. 

    I can see going as high as $160 to $170M. 

    product gets better & attend available will go up 

    new TV contact in 2 years

    get a marketing director with an international focus (steal a guy from Barcelona FC, Man U, Real Madrid, etc…)

    we should be marketing the hell out of Kepler in Germany. 

    marketing in Japan, Korea, Australia. All across Latin America 

    merchandise & TV revenue are excellent revenue streams

    how the heck do you think these premier football clubs in Europe can afford €20-200M transfer fees. Yes Real Madrid offer the higher in to PSG for MBappe 

    so sign C4. Even it is at $40M that brings us to the $120-130M and if we are willing another $30-40M on others 

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    $170M!!  Imagine signing both Trea Turner ànd Carlos Correa.  Turner can play 2B, SS, and CF.  With that athletic ability, I'm sure he could also play 3B or either corner OF positions.  Polanco becomes expendable.  Arraez might not be needed either.  Trade them both for a good catcher and use the remaining budget to go after a pitcher.

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    I don't care what the figure is - what I want is a complete team - we will not have DeGrom and Judge and probably not Verlander and Correa, but that does not mean that we will not have a good team.  California can't win with Trout, Rendon and Ohtani.  Yankees have not won the Series with Cole, Judge and Stanton.  The Dodger have the best season record but did not get to the Series.  The Braves were NL champions for over a decade, but only one a single WS title.  

    It is about getting an all around team and working as a team.  That is not money - Scherzer did not bring the Mets a championship.  Correa did not win a championship for us.

    Stop thinking about writing a big check and think about fielding, hitting, pitching, managing.  Think about the bench and the bullpen, the minor league support system.  It is about an organization!  The Braves might have only won a single series in the decade but they were always there.  St Louis has consistently been a winning team, but other than Nolan they did not spend wildly.  They traded and they stayed with their system. 

    Its not moneyball anymore, its finding the right parts.

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    Three thoughts.  First, the whole payroll situation is a bit of a chicken and an egg situation.  Should the Twins invest more in the product on the field in order to generate more interest, or should they wait for interest to develop and then spend more.  I think the former is the only logical way to go.  Second, nobody knows for sure what the revenue numbers are around the league except for Atlanta.  It is hard to calculate what percentage of total revenue is spent on payroll when we don't know the actual revenue numbers.  Third, as many people have pointed out, just spending money guarantees nothing, but spending money wisely promises a better result.  Thus far, the jury is out on whether this FO spends money wisely.  It looks to be another interesting off season. 

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    Isn’t their Bally contract up?  If so, then whatever their new rights deal is contributes to what the payroll is.  I didn’t care for the comment regarding lower fan interest last year.  I think they should spend just enough to put a good product on the field. If the FO builds it, they will come Ray.

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    To stop thinking of money and concentrating on pitching, fielding, hitting and managing is a weird statement to make.  Those positions cost money.  If you go with the cheap players all the time you get what you pay for:. Cheap performance and terrible results.  The past two years have been very poor and very boring.  I believe we need to invest the payroll and distribute it out better.   Another weird statement?  That Buxton is a superstar.  A superstar puts up superstar stats and plays.  Part time players are not superstars!!  Buxton got a great deal for himself.  Getting 15 mill per year to play to play about 50% of your teams games for 7 of the 8 years, is a very friendly deal.  A Buxton friendly deal.  Good for him.  

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    On 12/3/2022 at 2:31 PM, terrydactyls said:

    $170M!!  Imagine signing both Trea Turner ànd Carlos Correa.  Turner can play 2B, SS, and CF.  With that athletic ability, I'm sure he could also play 3B or either corner OF positions.  Polanco becomes expendable.  Arraez might not be needed either.  Trade them both for a good catcher and use the remaining budget to go after a pitcher.

    I KNOW!!!! Then if you add Judge to that for only $40m/yr, and Rodon for $25m/yr, the Twins would have a chance to compete in the Central!!!!!!!!!

    [Apologies for the sarcasm, I couldn't help myself]

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    What has been spent recently and in the future is controlled by ownership, no matter what the owners say. Management usually falls in line with what ownership wants. Fans may blame management for what is spent, but that simply is not realistic. Otherwise every club would spend $300mil to try and keep up with the Dodgers. Management wants to win, that's how they usually keep their jobs long term, and owners want to make money first and foremost, then win if its in the cards.  For 2023, I think payroll will be 46-48% of revenue + plus $25mil for what I would like.?

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    On 12/3/2022 at 9:18 AM, Mark G said:

    I can see 140 - 150 mil this season, with much of the increase in the pitching department, and using young (cheap) talent to supplement a handful of proven (and higher paid) position guys.

    Who are these “handful” of proven position guys???  Polanco maybe, but I believe he’s in decline. Buxton plus whomever= an average CF. I’m having a really hard time coming up with a second “proven” guy, let alone a handful. 

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    It should be $140-150 million. After they swing and miss on Correa and every other significant FA, it will end up around $100-$110. They will top this off by trading Arreaz for an injured pitcher with promising stuff.

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