Thanks for some fantastic coversation on Tuesday! Milt on Tilt, Eric In Madison, Seth Speaks, clutterheart, Fetch9, ajmargarine and everyone else who contributed made for a great discussion, helped clarify some things while running some good back-and-forth over dollars and stats.
We'll start where we left off, which was discussing how internal options would help flesh out the depth chart. All players who aren't either under contract or arbitration-eligible (serfs) will be in italics. Serfs, simply because of how much they're being paid, their options and their experience, are the easiest players to theoretically replace with free agents. Some players will be listed on the depth chart at more than one position, but we should see pretty quickly which positions have talent and depth, and which positions have flexibility but not necessarily reliability.
Catcher: Joe Mauer, Jose Morales
First Base: Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer
Second Base: Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, Alexi Casilla, Matt Tolbert, Steven Tolleson
Third Base: Brian Buscher, Brendan Harris, Matt Tolbert, Nick Punto, Daniel Valencia, Luke Hughes
Shortstop: Nick Punto, Brendan Harris, Matt Tolbert, Trevor Plouffe
Left Field: Denard Span, Delmon Young, Jason Kubel
Center Field: Carlos Gomez, Denard Span
Right Field: Michael Cuddyer, Denard Span, Jason Kubel
Designated Hitter: Jason Kubel
Starting Pitcher: Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, Brian Duensing, Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins, Anthony Swarzak, Boof Bonser
Relief Pitcher: Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Jose Mijares, Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain, Pat Neshek, Brian Duensing, Glen Perkins, Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano
You can make an argument for another player or two being on this list somewhere, but realistically if the Twins went into next season without picking up a single free agent, this would be the essential core of players. From this group you'd need to choose 25 players.
Before we get our estimated payroll figure for those 25, we have to update our estimates for what our nine arbitration-eligible players could be worth next year. 117 comments from Tuesday's post, and using a healthy cross-section of responses as guidelines we'll alter our estimates to the following.
|Player||Original Estimate||Updated Estimate|
We've added $3.3 million dollars in arbitration raises. Add this new total to the committed $62,267,000 and your contractual and arbitration players are making an estimated $75,017,000. Add another eight players at the major league minimum plus a little change, and right now I have to believe that without adding a single free agent the Twins will go to Opening Day with a minimum of $78.5 million dollars. We'll call it an even $80, just in case I've been too conservative in any estimates.
That would constitute a $15 million dollar bump from Opening Day 2009, and it's far and away a franchise record. But what will the front office's limit be for spending this off-season? Will they be allowed to add another $5 million? $10 million? Some on this site have speculated the organization could go so far as to raise payroll to $100,000, even before the team has played a game in its new stadium. I tend to this that's pretty high. I also think this team will be hesitant to reach to $90 million, if only because it's so far removed from any ceiling this club has ever seen.
For now, today, until we hear something different we'll just throw out the number of $87,000,000. Some will think that's too high and a lot will think it's too low, but it's a fair number.
One look at the above depth chart and it's pretty easy to point a finger, run it across a few names and say Okay, So This Is Where We Should Start. Those places, in no particular order, should be starting pitching, shortstop, third base and second base. Check here for a current list of potential free agents, but here's a list of players who could potentially cost $7 million or less per season.
I purposely left a few names off this list, but this is still fairly exhaustive. Which one of these guys, if any, would constitute enough value for the Twins to shell out millions of dollars with the hope that their additional wins would be worth the value over in-house, cheaper, more familiar options? If you only have $7 million to spend, are you willing to blow it all on one veteran starter? Or maybe the gambling type, and would bring in Prior on a one-year, incentive laden deal? Hell, he'll only be 28.
See anyone you like here? Crede likes it in Minneapolis, would he take another incentive-laden deal based on plate appearances or games played? Or does your gamber's mentality take you to Glaus?
Carroll is having a good season for a bad ballclub. Belliard is awful. Do you like DeRosa's versatility enough to pay your entire $7 million stipend? Because he'll come at a cost. Polanco's got a big head, so that's fun.
The reality is that no matter where you look in these four positional categories, a vast majority of what you see are either retreads trying to make a comeback, older guys hanging on, younger(ish) players who really aren't very good or other warts-ridden profiles. Keep in mind that this is a list of guys who could make $7 million or less per season, but even those who could make more than that aren't all that great. The few diamonds in the rough will be snatched up, quickly, and will likely be overpaid due to simple economics. So long, Jamey Carroll.
It's not a good free agent class, but in some ways this organization doesn't have a choice going into next season. Not signing a free agent will seem, to the masses (ignorant or not), like just another "stingy" move by a "stingy" front office, although there's been nothing stingy about this organization for years. It's a new stadium being filled with a handful of star players, and the public will expect the Twins to make a splash. Right or wrong.
How would you handle it? It's a complicated decision, and for a team that has more than its share of needs there won't be endless millions to throw around. Unless, of course, you want to make trades or cuts...but that's another story for another day.
I'll leave you to ponder for the time being, on the final off-day for the Twins as we head into the season's final trio of series. Let's enjoy some fall baseball tonight, cheer on the Indians, and I'll see you tomorrow.