The non-tender deadline is tonight, at 11pm CST.
Over the course of the last couple of months, as we realized of just how large the Twins' 2010 payroll could be, we've speculated as to whether Minnesota would non-tender certain arbitration-eligible players in order to skim a few million off the top. Boof Bonser, who actually rejected a one-year offer from the Twins not too long ago, seemed to be the first casualty during the Winter Meetings.
But now, Bill Smith tells Kelsie Smith (no relation, I'm sure), something very interesting:
"There will be limitations, but our ownership has set out what we think are certainly substantial funds to get our club ready for the start of the season."
I'm reading this in two possible ways.
- Ownership has cleared funds "substantial" enough to ensure guys like Jesse Crain, Brendan Harris and Delmon Young aren't non-tendered.
- Growing your payroll nearly $30 million dollars from Opening Day 2009 to Opening Day 2010 constitutes "substantial" funds.
Now if you want to lean toward option one, which is very intriguing and quite news-worthy if actually the case, then my question is this: just exactly how much more is in the piggy bank? As we've discussed before, keeping these guys in the fold on top of what's already in-house means a roughly $90 million dollar payroll. Is it possible there's still room to add to what's already far-and-away a franchise-record payroll?
But if you want to lean toward option two, which actually might be a little more realistic if you read the rest of Kelsie's article, then for some guys (Crain, Harris and Young in particular) the game is still on. The moves the Twins have already made make for a significant increase in payroll, and it's not like [Bill] Smith is coming out and making the meaning of "substantial funds" clear.
And then there's still the issue of Joe Mauer's extension, which I still believe with 100% certainty will be done before spring training begins. If that scenario follows suit with the standard procedure that most extensions follow, then Joe will be playing for more dollars in 2010 than he's currently slated for. So even if "substantial" means that there is still cash in the kitty, is there enough for money for Mauer on top of those arbitration-eligible players?
The good news is that we won't have to wait long to find out. We'll have all of our answers by 11pm CST tonight.