An early look at the 2013 Minnesota Twins' Payroll

Well, I think most of us have pretty much given up on the 2012 season. As of the time of this post, the Twins not only sit 9.5 games out of the wild card, but also sit behind every other team in the AL. That's simply too much ground to make up with just 73 games remaining. As we approach the trade deadline, I think it's important to consider our payroll for next season to see what our capabilities are of competing next year. So far these are our payroll commitments for 2013:

The 2012 Twins' payroll is a hair over $100,000,000. Assuming the Twins maintain the same payroll next year (and I think they almost have to to try to bring attendance back up) what do we do? More after the jump.

  1. Start by trading Nick Blackburn for whatever you can get at this point. That $5,500,000 salary commitment for 2013 is a sunk cost at this point, so anything you can save from it is a blessing.
  2. Trade Matt Capps and Carl Pavano for whatever you can get. With Capps, if nothing else, you save the $250,000 buyout. But neither of these effect the 2013 payroll much.
  3. I'd seriously look at trading Josh Willingham while his value is at an all-time high, but I just do not see the Twins doing that, and thus I won't even bother. I could see them trading Span or Revere, but I'd wait until the offseason to trade either one unless you get a great return. As both are under cheap control for multiple seasons beyond 2012, they will be just as valuable this offseason. And it will allow the Twins to further gauge the progress of OF prospects Aaron Hicks, Joe Benson, and Oswaldo Arcia over the coming months to see how close they are to capably replacing them.
  4. Try to extend Francisco Liriano for something like 3 years/$30M. He may not go for it being this close to FA, but if anything's clear from the above, it's that this team really, really needs capable starters in 2013. Liriano is set to be one of the best one in this FA market.
  5. Try to tear up Scott Baker's option of $9M for 2013 and instead negotiate a 1 year incentive-laden deal with team options in the range of $5M for 2013, and escalating in 2014 and 2015 based on incentives. Again, this team desperately needs starters and even though we probably can't count on Baker for much coming back from TJ surgery in 2013, he's a better option than most.
  6. And here's the big one: Assuming Justin Morneau continues to return to form and had a good second half, trade him in the offseason for pitching help. I do not say this lightly. I appreciate Justin Morneau and all he has meant to this franchise, but he is set to be a FA after 2013 that the Twins likely cannot afford, the Twins have Joe Mauer and Chris Parmelee needing plenty of AB's at 1b, and frankly, if the Twins want to compete in 2013 they need the payroll flexibility. Trading Justin Morneau (again, only if his value continues to rise heading into this offseason) could net the Twins a young starting pitcher and provide payroll relief at the same time. Morneau is going to be 32 years old early next season.
  7. Make a play for a new shortstop in free agency. This team's middle infield is still lacking greatly. While Plouffe has provided an answer at 3b, Jamey Carroll and Brian Dozier is not a MI tandem for a serious contender. Adding a solid shortstop would strengthen the defense by sliding Dozier over to 2b, as well as strengthen the bench by moving Carroll down to his more fitting utility role. I'd look at bringing in Marco Scutaro on a 2-year deal for approximately $11M, which is about what he's making now. Yes, he's older at age 37, but he can bridge the gap for a year or two until hopefully Levi Michael steps up or another candidate emerges.
  8. Maintain the current relief corp. It's my belief that this is an area of strength for the Twins going forward. Perkins, Burton, Duensing, Swarzak, Burnett, and Robertson all provide cheap, young relievers with potential. And that corp will be supplemented at some point in 2013 (if not prior) by arms like Oliveros/Waldrop/Gutierrez/Guerra. I would not spend big on relievers. The Twins should perhaps look to take the Jared Burton approach and strike gold again with a couple of minor-league signings of RH power relievers, but nothing else.
  9. This should be coupled with a Morneau trade this offseason, but the Twins will need to replace some of his offense in another way. I'd sign the most versatile solid offensive bat you could find for a 1-2 year deal to help lighten the load and provide insurance for Mauer, Parmelee, and Doumit. Spend no more than $4M or so on this bat.
  10. Sign the best FA starting pitcher that you can afford, and makes sense. We all know the names that could be available this offseason, so I won't belabor the point. But the Twins should make every effort to get a top notch starter this offseason. If they're unwilling or unable to make a huge longterm commitment, they should look to the equivalent of Edwin Jackson this offseason, who signed for a one-year, $11M deal this offseason and has been more than solid for the Nationals. This will help bridge the gap for the Twins to Kyle Gibson, Alex Wimmers, and others. By my math from above, the Twins should have between $13.5M and $19M to use on a starting pitcher for the 2013 season, coupled with the other moves above, and depending on their ability to unload Nick Blackburn and his horrendous contract.

So how does my 2013 mock team end up payroll-wise? Here it is:

  • Offense:
  • C Joe Mauer $23,000,000
  • 1b Chris Parmelee $490,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
  • 2b Brian Dozier $490,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
  • SS Marco Scutaro/FA $5,500,000
  • 3b Trevor Plouffe $500,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
  • RF Ben Revere $500,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
  • CF Denard Span $4,750,000
  • RF Josh Wililngham $7,000,000
  • DH Ryan Doumit $3,500,000
  • Bench:
  • Backup C Drew Butera $1,000,000 (1st yr arbitration estimate)
  • Backup MI Jamey Carroll $3,750,000
  • Backup DH/1b/OF FA $4,000,000
  • Backup CI/OF FA $1,000,000 (whoever wins a camp battle)
  • Other commitments:
  • Tsuyoshi Nishioka $3,000,000
  • Total offense allocation: $58,480,000
  • Pitching staff:
  • SP FA $19,000,000 (upper limit allowance based on budget)
  • SP Francisco Liriano $10,000,000
  • SP Scott Diamond $480,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
  • SP Scott Baker $5,000,000 (Liam Hendriks/Kyle Gibson waiting in the wings)
  • SP Trade aquisition (Morneau) $480,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
  • RP Glen Perkins $2,500,000
  • RP Jared Burton $1,200,000 (3rd yr arbitration estimate)
  • RP Brian Duensing $1,000,000 (1st yr arbitration estimate)
  • RP Alex Burnett $500,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
  • RP Anthony Swarzak $500,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
  • RP Tyler Robertson $480,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
  • RP Kyle Waldrop $480,000 (pre-arbitration estimate)
  • Total pitching allocation: $41,620,000
  • Total 2013 payroll: $100,100,000

I think this team looks pretty good. Not great perhaps, but very competitive, with an improved offense, defense, and pitching staff. And we would have plenty of talent ready to contribute still from the high minors as well such as Benson, Arcia, Gibson, and Wimmers. Those pieces will make guys like Span, Revere and Willingham expendable soon to supplement the roster. With a few moves, this team can be competitive again very soon. What say you?

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