Today marks one of off-season baseball's quieter deadlines, as the day by which clubs must tender contracts to their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players. Any player not tendered a contract is thus non-tendered. This is usually less of an issue for pre-arb players, as they're not the ones making escalating salaries that have a larger impact on payroll.
Which is why we usually take this time to talk about those arbitration-eligible players. In past years we've speculated about Nick Punto, Delmon Young, Nick Blackburn, Anthony Swarzak, and Brian Duensing being those unlucky players. Swarzak was the only one to attain that designation while in Minnesota, proving us wrong more often than not...although it hasn't stopped us trying.
To jog your memory, here's another look at the six arbitration-eligible players whose futures are up for debate.
|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|
|Eduardo Escobar||Arb 1||$1,800,000||2018|
Shane Robinson was outrighted in October and then elected free agency. These are the remaining six.
At this point I have a hard time seeing the Twins not tendering a contract to anyone. In recent history Minnesota has been quite liberal with tendering players who some of us aren't enamored with, a tactic which has worked for the Twins more often than it hasn't, and I don't see the club breaking with that philosophy this year. I expect all six of these players to be tendered.
- Trevor Plouffe is still Minnesota's starting third baseman. He could be traded, but he's far too good to be non-tendered.
- Kevin Jepsen was one of the club's best relievers down the stretch in 2015 and, as of right now, is set to be Glen Perkins' right-handed set-up man.
- Tommy Milone had a nice year and is still under team control. As an effective left-handed starter he wouldn't be non-tendered by any team in baseball.
- Casey Fien had his worst year in a Twins uniform but it wasn't exactly terrible. He's going to be one of the bullpen's members on Opening Day.
- Eduardo Nunez and his batting helmet are that perfect blend of utility that Minnesota appreciates. Especially with a couple of young middle infielders close to being ready, who will want starter's playing time and don't immediately profile as a bench player, Nunez serves his purpose.
- Eduardo Escobar should be the Twins' starting shortstop.
The Twins are in a somewhat fortuitous position. They have a good deal of established, quality Major League talent throughout the roster. They have young players, who could be potential cornerstones of the franchise over the next half decade at least, either in starting positions or in places where they'll debut in the very near future. And for the first time in quite a few years, there are relatively few positions on the roster which could be upgraded by a moderate talent. And most of those are in the bullpen.
We'll get into it more once we know for certain, but right now - including Byung Ho Park's $2.7 million salary in 2016 - the Twins' Opening Day payroll is sitting just over $105 million. Hopefully they can add to that by finding another reliever or two, and that sets the team up pretty well for the coming season.