We've bantered about this for a few weeks, so let's actually run the numbers.
Depending on who you talk to, the 2010 Minnesota Twins have a payroll somewhere between $97 million and $106 million. Either way, they're right around the triple digit mark. Going into 2011, we can assume some payroll growth, but expecting anything more than $115 million constitutes living in a dream world.
For '11, the Twins have seven players under contract. Here they are.
Jason Kubel: $5.25 MM club option or $350 K buyout
Nick Punto: $5 MM club option or $500 K buyout
At that price, it's guaranteed that the Twins pick up Kubel's option. I'd also be shocked if the Twins picked up Punto's option, simply because the value versus cost balancing act starts to get out of hand.
Adding Kubel's option and Punto's buyout, 2011 total: $73.5 MM
This is where costs start adding up quickly. Matt Tolbert, Alexi Casilla and Kevin Slowey are arbitration-eligible for the first time. Glen Perkins, Pat Neshek, Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano are aribtration-eligible for the second time. Clay Condrey and J.J. Hardy will be arbitration-eligible for the third time.
We'll take a look at arbitration salaries, impending free agents and an estimated 2011 payroll and roster after the jump.
|Player||Status||'10 Salary||'11 Estimate|
|J.J. Hardy||Arb 3||$5,100,000||$7,000,000|
|Clay Condrey||Arb 3||$900,000||Non-Tender|
|Francisco Liriano||Arb 2||$1,600,000||$4,000,000|
|Delmon Young||Arb 2||$2,600,000||$6,000,000|
|Pat Neshek||Arb 2||$625,000||$1,000,000|
|Glen Perkins||Arb 2||$450,000||$700,000|
|Kevin Slowey||Arb 1||$470,000||$1,500,000|
|Alexi Casilla||Arb 1||$437,500||$900,000|
|Matt Tolbert||Arb 1||$430,000||$800,000|
I've tried to be pretty reasonable with arbitration estimates, but it's no secret that last winter I drastically underestimated the totals initially. So even in this case, which could be somewhat conservative, arbitration salaries bring our 2011 estimate to $94.5 million.
This includes a non-tender for Condrey, who will probably never pitch for the Twins. Casilla, depending on his performance, may or may not make it to 2011 with Minnesota. You could also make non-tender cases for guys like Tolbert and Perkins, depending on performance, but in the grand scheme of things these guys won't be breaking the bank either way.
Assuming the Twins offer contracts to the eight players listed above, the Twins roster breakdown looks like this:
Infield: Morneau, Hardy, Casilla, Tolbert
Outfield: Cuddyer, Span, Kubel, Young
Starters: Baker, Blackburn, Liriano, Slowey, Perkins
Relievers: Nathan, Neshek
That's 16 players. Round out the roster with nine more players at about $400,000 per and that's another $3.6 million, taking us to a $98.1 million minimum opening day salary for 2011.
Impending Free Agents
That doesn't sound too bad, until you remember that the Twins would be losing Carl Pavano, Orlando Hudson, Jon Rauch, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain and Jim Thome. That's a lot of quality out the door.
Basically, with a payroll somewhere around $100 million for next year from the word go, the Twins will have somewhere between $5 and $15 million to spend on free agents depending on revenue. If you want to spend a couple million on Guerrier or another veteran relief pitcher, or a couple million on a bargain-bin second baseman, or if you want to spend a few million on a number three starter to shore up the rotation, there's money to do one or two of those things.
But if the Twins trade for Roy Oswalt, that's pretty much it. There is no more money to spend. The infield is weak on offense, the outfield defense is still suspect, the back end of the rotation is suspect and the bullpen could be an absolute mess depending on health of guys like Nathan and Neshek (and depending on the effectiveness of loads of inexperienced pitchers).
This roster doesn't look too bad up front, but there are some serious holes, especially if anybody gets hurt or doesn't play well. It also assumes that, in a trade for Oswalt, none of these players are involved.
CF, Denard Span
C, Joe Mauer
1B, Justin Morneau
LF, Delmon Young
DH, Jason Kubel
RF, Michael Cuddyer
SS, J.J. Hardy
3B, Danny Valencia
2B, Alexi Casilla
Backup C: Jose Morales
Backup IF: Matt Tolbert
Backup IF: Trevor Plouffe
Backup OF: Rene Tosoni
SP: Roy Oswalt
SP: Francisco Liriano
SP: Scott Baker
SP: Kevin Slowey
SP: Nick Blackburn
Closer: Joe Nathan
Set-Up: Jose Mijares
Set-Up: Anthony Slama
Mid Relief: Pat Neshek
Mid Relief: Kyle Waldrop
Mid Relief: Alex Burnett
Long Relief: Brian Duensing
For my money, I'd rather spread the money around to deepen the squad. Pavano will be out of our price range in this philosophy, but Hudson might be affordable if he's realistic. Otherwise, there are options. Jorge Cantu, Juan Uribe or Felipe Lopez in the infield, bring back Guerrier for the bullpen and focus on an affordable starting pitcher...there will be plenty out there. Getting them all on one-year deals also guarantees that there will be masses of millions coming off the books going into 2012.
The real question, ultimately, is where the Twins can get the most value for the $5 to $15 million that's available to them. Also, with Oswalt demanding that his eventual destination guarantee his 2012 option, it isn't realistc that he's the answer.
2010 isn't a problem. Minnesota could afford him financially this year if they were willing to deal Houston the prospects they asked for. But the organization would still need to find a way to pay him in '11 and '12. If that's not responsible, then it shouldn't happen.