Twins payroll could resemble Metrodome days, unless they go on shopping spree

REUTERS/Eric Miller
The Twins' spending rose to $98 million in 2010 as they moved into Target Field and then increased again to a franchise-record $113 million in 2011.

During their final season at the Metrodome in 2009, the Twins had a payroll of $65 million. Their spending rose to $98 million in 2010 as they moved into Target Field and then increased again to a franchise-record $113 million in 2011. But the payroll declined to $100 million in 2012 and fell even further to $82 million this year.

And now, unless the Twins do some unexpected free-agent shopping this winter, their 2014 payroll could resemble those final Metrodome days. Heading into the offseason, the Twins have just six players with locked-in contracts for 2014:

Joe Mauer $23.0 million

Josh Willingham $7.0 million

Kevin Correia $5.5 million

Glen Perkins $4.0 million

Ryan Doumit $3.5 million

Jared Burton $3.3 million

TOTAL $46.3 million

In addition to the six players with locked-in salaries totaling $46.3 million, there are also four players eligible for more than the minimum salary via arbitration, with the following rough estimates:

Brian Duensing $2.0 million

Trevor Plouffe $1.5 million

Anthony Swarzak $1.2 million

Vance Worley $1.0 million

TOTAL $5.7 million

None of the four arbitration-eligible players are in any danger of costing big money for 2014, but the Twins could non-tender them to avoid handing out modest raises (which they already did with Josh Roenicke). If all four are tendered 2014 contracts, the Twins’ total payroll commitment would be around $52 million. Toss in the required $500,000 minimum salary for the remaining spots and the baseline for a 25-man roster would be approximately $60 million.

Since spending $113 million in 2011, the Twins sliced $13 million off their payroll for 2012 and another $18 million off their payroll for 2013. And this offseason they’ll need to add at least $22 million in new contracts just to avoid lowering the payroll again. To get back to their 2011 payroll, they’d have to add $53 million this winter, which … well, sadly that notion actually seems sort of absurd at this point. (Also absurd: Grousing about Joe Mauer‘s salary limiting them.)

Revenue is skyrocketing across MLB, with huge lump sums going to every team before a game is played, thanks to national television and Internet contracts, and the Twins enter the offseason with plenty of money to spend and plenty of roster flexibility.

And coming off three consecutive 95-loss seasons, there’s no shortage of obvious weaknesses to address. Will they actually spend significant money? Early indications from Terry Ryan suggest they won’t, which isn’t surprising.

Josh Willingham‘s three-year, $21 million deal is the largest free-agent contract in Twins history. To put that in some context, last offseason alone 17 free agents signed deals for more than $21 million.

There’s no doubt that Ryan would prefer improving via trades rather than free agency, and perhaps he has plans to add salary that way. But in the meantime, the Twins have gradually gone back to Metrodome-style spending while the rest of baseball goes the opposite way.

Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 10/11/2013 - 10:05 am.

    It’s the gift of a new stadium…

    …that permits the Twins to capitalize on poor quality baseball. This last season was a financial success.

    Of course, they’ll look for bargains, but really, from the financial point of view, why should they change anything ?

  2. Submitted by Bill Schletzer on 10/11/2013 - 11:25 am.

    pay disparity

    The thing that sticks out in the pay charts above is the huge difference between Mauer’s pay and everyone elses. Teams don’t usually do well witrh such disparity. See the Astros back when they were overpaying A-Rod. Or the Timberwolves with Garnett. No player in a team sport is worth that much more than the rest of the team.

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