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Twins notes: Payroll, Hunter, Dozier

Let's catch up on a few bits of news that have trickled out over the last few days.

Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

I wanted to post a video to a Bones of J.R. Jones song, but then I thought: screw that, the third Star Wars Episode VII trailer is coming out tonight. So here's the Battle of Hoth instead. You're welcome.

Minnesota's payroll has "limits" but ownership will "do what it takes"

There's a nice read from La Velle E. Neal III at the Star Tribune, where he recounts a conversation with Twins owner Jim Pohlad. One of the big takeaways (and there are a few, including thoughts on Paul Molitor as well as where he'd fit in during post-game dance parties) was what Pohlad had to say about payroll:

"Everyone brings payroll up because everyone wants to talk about it. But we’re willing to do whatever it takes. I will tell you that I’m not a huge fan of long-term contracts. It’s having to commit for so many years and there’s really only downside to the club. There’s hardly any instances where it has been upside, across baseball."

Pohlad is correct, of course. Obviously it's not working out terribly well for Joe Mauer right now, and it's also something worth noting in conjunction with our ongoing discussion about whether or not the club should dip into free agency for a top-level starting pitcher. If the Twins do choose to go that route, Pohlad's preference probably means that any pitcher who expects a five-plus year deal (basically, all the best pitchers on the list) will be out of the running before the discussion even starts.

The Twins have been active in their spending on starters in recent years. Ricky Nolasco (four years, $49 million) and Phil Hughes (three years, $24 million) prior to 2014; Ervin Santana (four years, $55 million) and Hughes again (five-year extension, $58 million) prior to 2015. The Twins have never gone longer than four years for a pitcher over 30 years old. I think there's plenty to draw from what we know and from Pohlad's quote to tell us just how Minnesota might react to pitchers in free agency.

Torii Hunter's decision

Pohlad also spoke about the Hunter situation, essentially saying that both he and the Twins need to individually decide what they want to do - and then hope that they're on the same page. Hunter has made it known that he doesn't want to be a part-time player, previously scoffing at the idea of playing 81 games, but here's what Jon Heyman had to say in his Inside Baseball column on Friday:

The Twins have decided they would like to bring back Torii Hunter even if he might not be a full-time starter, and they are probably willing to play a premium to make sure they don't lose his leadership. The Twins' starting outfield most likely will be comprised of youngsters Eddie Rosario, Aaron Hicks and Byron Buxton. But there are probably still a fair number of at-bats available for Hunter should he decide to play at age 40 (and 41, which he'll turn in mid-July) next season. For now he isn't leaning one way or the other, and is simply following his sons' football games at Notre Dame and Arkansas State.

He's not the first source to state that the Twins have more or less made their decision about wanting Hunter back, but even so the news isn't a surprise. Heading into 2015 we new that Hunter would be allowed back on a one-year deal if he wanted one, and that's exactly the promise that Minnesota appears to be honoring. Now it's just down to Hunter and whether or not he's willing to be a part-time player.

Brian Dozier's Hip

Good news: Dozier's hip is fine. Or, at the very least, there's no structural damage - which means no procedure or surgery is necessary. Hopefully rest and not having to work his body everyday can allow him to heal up over the next couple of months and he'll be 100% come spring training.

In Brief

  • The Twins have signed Joe Maloney of the Rockland Boulders. It's worth reading BA's article on the subject, as he draws favorable (see: better) comparisons to Chris Colabello.
  • Our old pal Steve Adams put together an Offseason Outlook for the Twins over at MLBTR. Have a read.
  • If you haven't seen The Empire Strikes Back, go to the top of this post and watch the Battle of Hoth, and then - for the love of all that is good and holy - just watch the movie.