Salary Outlook for 2006
John used to do this a number of times per year back at his site, and it was a great way to get a glance at not only who would be filling out the roster positions and how much salary Minnesota was dishing out, it was also useful in determining which positions were in need of a player. Things are going to change in the weeks to come, but after making a couple of safer assumptions here is how things fill out as of today.
People continue to clamor for Romero's exit, finding comfort in the knowledge that you don't need a LOOGy in your bullpen to actually get that pesky left-handed hitter out. More important than having a southpaw in the bullpen is having a pitcher in the bullpen that can retire batters from the left side. Dropping a couple million isn't going to clear a lot of room under the owner-imposed salary cap, but it could be the difference between acquiring a Piazza/Blalock-caliber character and standing pat.
One of our contributors, bjhess, commented on Nathan being the latest trade bait. Looking over the roster he's one of the few players making over a million dollars who many feel could be replaceable. At the Twins page at MLB.com, the latest "Mailbag" asked a question concerning Crain's level of readiness at taking over the closer's role. For at least one more season, I have to agree with the Mailman that moving Nathan to acquire a bat wouldn't be the step forward we need. Nathan has been a premier closer over the past two seasons, has been extremely healthy and realiable, and going into the season without question marks in the ninth inning is a huge positive. Crain is the heir apparent, but $3.75 million isn't a disturbing amount to be paying out for a hard-throwing right hander with an array of pitches, two consecutive All Star appearances, and 87 saves over the past two years.
If you're looking for the player making mega dollars for relatively less in return, the outfielder you're looking for is Shannon Stewart. Many projections have Stewart's numbers continuing to fall, and 2005 has made it abundantly clear that Stewart is no longer the premier leadoff hitter he has been for so many years. The issues in trading Stewart: he's one of few professional hitters in Minnesota's lineup, he could fit into a different role in the batting order, and after losing Jacque Jones (and with Jason Kubel's health still in question), can we really afford to lose a veteran with Stewart's knowledge of the game...and another outfielder?
I'm tired of messing with the formatting for the table above. Come to your own conclusions. I need to eat and I'm too frustrated with my chart.