Obligations to some players will be on the books, whether they play for the team or not.
In case you missed it yesterday afternoon, Brandon set up the Twins' off-season in the format of a choose-your-own-adventure book. Those were always fun, although in the interest of full disclosure I made the wrong choice for Batman in the very first book of that kind that I picked up. Instead of having him pull himself above the deadly gas with which the Joke had filled the phone booth (to get some fresh air), I chose to rally Batman's strength for one gigantic kick against the locked glass door of said phone booth.
Bullet-proof glass. I chose wrong. Batman had finally been offed by the Joker, and it was all my doing. Which is why I didn't join in on Brandon's discussion yesterday, because I only could have ruined it for everybody.
But going back to yesterday's talk about this upcoming off-season, one of the base lines for our inevitable discussion on payroll and free agents will be how much money the Twins will be able to spend over the winter. We'll be able to make better guesses as time goes along (I'm betting on an Opening Day payroll of somewhere between $90 million and $105 million), but step one is figuring out how much the team has already committed to next season.
Join us after the jump for the breakdown.
Joe Mauer: $23 MM
Justin Morneau: $14 MM
Josh Willingham: $7 MM
Nick Blackburn: $5.5 MM
Denard Span: $4.75 MM
Jamey Carroll: $3.75 MM
Ryan Doumit: $3.5 MM
Tsuyoshi Nishioka: $3 MM
Glen Perkins: $2.5 MM
Matt Capps: $250 K (buyout)
Scott Baker: $9.25 MM
Matt Capps: $6 MM
By these numbers, the minimum the Twins have committed to next season is $67.25 million dollars. If they choose to pick up both options they're sitting at $82.25 million, but both of these options seem highly unlikely to be exercised. Of course both of these options don't include raises through arbitration.
Without picking up options on Baker and Capps, and before looking at those arb-eligible guys, it's safe to say that the Twins could have at least $25 million to spend this season. That's $25 million to spend on 18 players. Now this number might be stretched to $30 million, assuming ownership doesn't want to cut back too much from this year's Opening Day payroll of just over $100 million, but there's clearly more grey area once we approach those triple digits.
It's worth thinking about fiscal responsibility too, in terms of spending smart money. Simply loading next year's payroll up to its limit simply to spend as much as we can possibly spend "because we're allowed to spend it so we may as well spend it" isn't a good philosophy. If some of those free agents aren't the most appealing and require multi-year deals, then we're spending everything we can this season but there's also the chance that we're signing that somewhat unappealing player to a mult-year deal...which won't help us going into 2014 when we want an extra few million to spend.
Who are the smart free agent options? Whose option would you pick up and why? How many of those 18 open roster spots can be filled with players within the organization, accounting for the Major League minimum salary, and how much are you left to spend after that's been allocated?