In 2015, the Twins' opening day payroll was $108,262,500. It was the second-highest mark in franchise history, trailing only the $113,237,000 mark from 2011, and it gives us a good starting point when trying to determine how much money the club may have to play with when it comes to building a roster for 2016.
With seven of a potential 25-man roster already under contract for roughly two-thirds of 2015's opening day payroll. That's not a bad start.
|Arb-Eligible||Status||Estimated Salary||Controlled Thru|
|Trevor Plouffe||Arb 3||$7,700,000||2017|
|Kevin Jepsen||Arb 4||$6,000,000||2016|
|Tommy Milone||Arb 2||$4,500,000||2018|
|Casey Fien||Arb 2||$2,200,000||2018|
|Eduardo Nunez||Arb 2||$1,500,000||2017|
|Shane Robinson||Arb 2||$800,000||2018|
|Eduardo Escobar||Arb 1||$1,800,000||2018|
MLB Trade Rumors released their estimated arbitration figures yesterday,which is where those figures are sourced from. It's $1.2 million higher than my back-of-the-napkin estimates that I had sitting in my 2016 payroll spreadsheet, but between you and me, my advice is to roll with MLBTR's numbers.
With seven arbitration-eligible players, the Twins see their payroll escalating pretty quickly. I understand that some of these players may be non-tender candidates, but let's pocket that idea for now in the name of finding our baseline. We're up to 14 players, with an estimated $97,500,000 committed in salaries.
Also, I find it interesting that in a group of seven arbitration-eligible players, only two - Nunez and Escobar - haven't been a Super 2.
25-man roster sketch
If you're looking at that and thinking to yourself "I could pencil in most of these spots off the top of my head," then we're on the same page. The problem is that you inevitably run into an issue where you have more players available than roster spots. Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, and Max Kepler are all available for the outfield, for example. Miguel Sano, Kennys Vargas, Danny Santana, and Jorge Polanco will be fighting for that designated hitter and/or infield bench spot before we even think about a second catcher.
Michael Tonkin, Ryan Pressly, J.R. Graham, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey Jose Berrios, Alex Meyer, Ryan O'Rourke, and most importantly Kyle Gibson are nowhere to be seen on a list that includes five open spots on the pitching staff. And we haven't even begun to talk about Lester Oliveros, Nick Burdi, Jake Reed, J.T. Chargois, Zack Jones, or Taylor Rogers and whether or not they're ready to have a shot at the Major League bullpen.
What's important in our context of a payroll conversation is that 11 roster spots will be filled, at a minimum, by players making the least amount of money allowed for a salary in Major League Baseball. For our purposes we'll say that's $550,000, which brings our total for filling out the 25-man roster to another $6,050,000.
Without doing anything, the Twins' opening day payroll for 2016 will be roughly $103,550,000.
The Twins actually have a lot of things to balance this winter. Not only do they need to get better in preparation for a run at the playoffs in 2016, but there are too many players who are either Major League ready or near Major League ready. Moves will need to be made, not just in terms of trimming roster fat but in terms of non-tenders and trades as well.
As the off-season progresses we'll continue to update our payroll forecast.