Looking ahead: what the Twins’ 2012 payroll situation means for 2011

Back in October, while we were still licking our wounds from another depressing playoff defeat, we opened our off-season discussion by making a simple prediction: the Twins would enter 2011 with a roster that, on paper, looks slightly worse than the one that got swept by the Yankees, and yet our payroll would top $115 million.

Right now, that's looking like a pretty decent prediction.

We've spent the past several months dissecting the Twins' difficult payroll situation: with several players due hefty raises, the Mauer contract kicking in, and the Twins on the hook for the final year of several expiring contracts, the 2011 off-season has proven as difficult as we predicted in October. We've traded away a valuable, reasonably-priced middle infielder, let several quality relievers walk away, and, at this point, have done little to address the significant issues we faced in 2010 (namely outfield defense and bench depth).

Of course, the payroll crunch we faced this off-season will be significantly alleviated at the end of the season. The Twins will be able to buy out the Nathan contract for $2 million (assuming he doesn't pitch like a $12 million player in 2011), and will see several hefty contracts come to an end. If - and this is a huge if - Morneau returns back to his normal, productive self, the Twins will enter the 2012 off-season with a pretty nifty core, and pretty decent amount of payroll flexibility to build around it. Let's look at some of the specifics, after the jump:

Player

2012 Salary

C

Mauer

$23.00

1B

Morneau

$15.00

2B

Nishioka

$3.00

SS

Casilla

Arb 2

3B

Valencia

$0.50

LF

Young

Arb 3

CF

Span

$3.00

RF

DH

B

B

B

B

B

TOTAL

$44.50 + Arbs

Player

2012 Salary

SP

Liriano

Arb 3

SP

Baker

$6.50

SP

Blackburn

$4.75

SP

Slowey

Arb 2

SP

Duensing

$0.50

RP

Mijares

Arb 1

RP

Perkins

Arb 3

RP

Neshek

Arb 3

RP

RP

RP

RP

TOTAL

$11.75 + Arbs

Here we have eight players under contract for about $56.25 million, plus seven players that are likely to be part of the 2011 club that are arbitration-eligible in 2012. We also need to account for the $2 million Nathan buyout, as well as the potential signing of Carl Pavano.

Now, let's not get too specific here, as we're dealing with arbitration cases a year away, but let's consider Liriano, Young, and Casilla as shoo-ins for returning in 2012. Bringing those three back, paying Pavano at $8-10 million in 2012, factoring in the Nathan buyout, and I have our core 12-man roster coming in at roughly $80 to $85 million. That would give us somewhere around $30 million in payroll space to fill the gaps in the OF/DH and bullpen, while making decisions on players like Kubel, Cuddyer, Nathan, Slowey, Capps, and others. And remember: our farm system seems likely to produce cheap, in-house options to replace Kubel and/or Cuddyer, and our organization is now stacked with cheap bullpen options that may fill the majority of the gaps listed above.

Okay, I admit, I'm getting ahead of myself. There is way too much speculation here to take any of these numbers seriously, and there is no way to predict how the current roster will play in 2011, much less which prospects will force their way into the 2012 picture with their play this season. But I do think the picture is pretty clear: if Morneau returns and is a productive hitter, we will be very well positioned heading into next off-season.

So why do I bring up this idle speculation and rumination? Because I think it has some very practical implications for the upcoming season. In many ways, the Twins hands have been tied this off-season, for the reasons laid out above. However, given the additional payroll space that will be freed up next year, the Twins will not only have money to spend next off-season, but will also be in a position to be very active in the mid-season trade market. By July, player contracts are essentially cut in half, meaning even the cash-strapped 2011 club could afford to add the right piece. Even better, we'll be in a good position to take advantage of clubs looking to cut future payroll, which could allow us to preemptively address our 2012 holes before free agency even begins.

While the current off-season has frustrated many fans - including me - I think it's important to recognize that we are about to see some significant payroll relief. Even better, it's very possible the front office could use that flexibility to improve the 2011 Minnesota Twins. Just maybe not before opening day.

In This Article

Teams
Players
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Twinkie Town

You must be a member of Twinkie Town to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Twinkie Town. You should read them.

Join Twinkie Town

You must be a member of Twinkie Town to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Twinkie Town. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker