Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
The Twins have three arbitration-eligible players. We look at what the arbitration process might look like this time around, for all three.
Minnesota doesn't like arbitration. They haven't actually had a hearing since back in 2006, when they lost to Kyle Lohse for the second straight year, and if you'd lost two years in a row to Kyle "Batman" Lohse, you'd quit too. Every year, though, one or two players accept arbitration, and the Twins and the player end up more or less splitting the difference before the hearing can actually take place.
This year, though, the team has three players eligible - Jared Burton, Brian Duensing, and Drew Butera - and you never know, a hearing could be imminent. Here's our look - semi-serious, semi-tongue-in-cheek - at the arbitration process for each player.
What he made last year: $480,000.
What he'll ask for this year: A contract.
What the Twins will offer: "Okay, we'll keep you around, but you're sweeping out the clubhouse every night as part of your deal. We also get to house temporary callups on your couch, and you have to wash Terry Steinbach's car once a week, by hand."
How a potential hearing would go: "AHAHAHAHAHAHA!" (/arbitrator dies laughing)
What will probably end up happening: Neither side will even really bother filing, except as a formality, and the two sides will settle on a contract worth somewhere around $650,000.
Chance of an actual hearing: 1%. Nobody wants the team to have to stand up in the room and say, "Judge, I'm sorry, but Drew here is the worst hitter in the league, and we only keep him around because Gardy welched on a bet with Drew's dad in 1987 and he feels guilty."
What he made last year: $750,000.
What he'll ask for this year: Burton finally had a good season, so we're predicting he asks for a good $3 million.
What the Twins will offer: Around the $2 million mark.
How a potential hearing would go: Burton presents his numbers from 2012, while his agent tries to cover his career stats prior to 2012 with his hand. Meanwhile, the Twins present a bunch of shoulder X-rays while trying not to let Burton see what they're doing.
What will probably end up happening: Splitsville. If the numbers are $2 million and $3 million, the sides will end up settling on $2.55 million, or something like that.
Chance of an actual hearing: 5%. (This assumes that Burton is not argumentative and crazy, which is never a given with a relief pitcher.)
What he made last year: $515,000.
What he'll ask for this year: $2 million, and the right to never have to pitch to a right-handed batter again.
What the Twins will offer: $1.25 million, though with the first de-escalation clause in baseball history, wherein the team pays Duensing less for every game he starts.
How a potential hearing would go: Let's go to the transcript:
DUENSING: I'm an excellent relief pitcher! Judge, look at these numbers - I'm very effective out of the bullpen.
TWINS: Judge, Mr. Duensing here also started 39 games over the last two seasons.
DUENSING: Objection! Move to strike!
JUDGE: Mr. Duensing, you can't object. This is an arbitration hearing. Besides, it's pretty clear that you did start 39 games the last two seasons, and you barely out-pitched the batting-practice machine.
DUENSING: NO, YOU'RE OUT OF ORDER! THE WHOLE SYSTEM'S OUT OF ORDER!
JUDGE: I find for the Twins in this hearing.
What will probably end up happening: The Twins bring Duensing back as a left-handed reliever for $1.5 million, but make him promise that if somebody forgets and lets him pitch to a right-handed batter, he will sit down on the back of the mound and refuse to throw.
Chance of an actual hearing: 20%. Duensing has a case to make about being a decent reliever, but he's also a candidate for a lowball contract offer from the team. If the team and pitcher come in far enough apart - plausible - then it might make it all the way to a hearing.