We took our first crack at the Twins' 2016 payroll way back in the first week of October. They were days of wonder, of excitement and of optimism. And the promise of a season full of pumpkin pie. Now, with most of Minnesota's off-season now in the books and the final arbitration-eligible player's signature dry on his contract, it's time to take another pass at Minnesota's opening day payroll.
|Byung Ho Park||$5,926,500||2019|
The only change here since October is the addition of Park, raising the total commitments to contracted players by $5.9265 million. That number includes his $2.75 base salary, but also the pro-rated portion of his $12.85 million posting bid which the club is spreading out over four years.
To memory, having eight players under contract at one time is a relatively high number for the Twins. In past years it's usually been around six. With a number of young players coming through at roughly the same time, and with their contracts then due to escalate accordingly, it wouldn't surprise me to see this number float to nine or ten over the next three or four years.
|Arb-Eligible||Status||Salary||Controlled Thru||Estimated Salary||Difference|
|Trevor Plouffe||Arb 3||$7,250,000||2017||$7,700,000||- $450,000|
|Kevin Jepsen||Arb 4||$5,312,500||2016||$6,000,000||- $687,500|
|Tommy Milone||Arb 2||$4,500,000||2018||$4,500,000||-|
|Casey Fien||Arb 2||$2,275,000||2018||$2,200,000||+ $75,000|
|Eduardo Nunez||Arb 2||$1,475,000||2017||$1,500,000||- $25,000|
|Eduardo Escobar||Arb 1||$2,150,000||2018||$1,800,000||+ $350,000|
|Arbitration Total||$22,962,500||$23,700,000||- $737,500|
For the most part the Twins' arbitration salaries came in under projection, saving the club nearly a million dollars between the six players still on the roster. You have to give Matt Schwartz a lot of credit for being so close overall, and it goes to show how accurate his system really is.
The only other thing worth noting here is that Shane Robinson is no longer with the club. He was projected to make $800,000 in his first run through arbitration, but he signed with Cleveland on a minor league deal - possibly with an invitation to spring training. Minnesota's original outpouring for arbitration-eligible players was projected as $24.5 million.
25-man roster sketch
The roster is more fleshed out here than it was in early October, understandably. Considering what the Twins did and didn't do, taking into account players who are out of options and how management seems to prefer the setup of the pitching staff, most of the roster seems relatively locked down.
Indeed, you'll notice that the only two blank spots on the roster are two places in the bullpen. You could pencil in any number of options there - Michael Tonkin, Ryan Pressly, J.R. Graham, Fernando Abad, Mason Melotakis - but all should be on the minimum. In terms of projecting opening day payroll it's inconsequential, even if you're basically seeing my rough take on the 23 players I think are guaranteed to go north at the end of March.
Minnesota still has a lot of depth. On the position player side, guys like Jorge Polanco and Kennys Vargas will be the ones getting first cracks at an opportunity. Max Kepler will be seen to when he shows he's ready. For pitchers there's almost an uncomfortable level of depth, because Alex Meyer, Jose Berrios, and Taylor Rogers are more or less Major League-ready. Nick Burdi, J.T. Chargois, and Jake Reed aren't far behind. And just in the last paragraph we listed five relievers for two available bullpen roles.
It's been a talking point around here for months, and after almost an entire off-season very little has changed on that front. One of the goals coming into 2016 was to exchange some of that depth for legitimate Major League talent, but other than the Aaron Hicks-John Ryan Murphy trade it hasn't happened. How that depth shakes out not just in the bullpen but in the rotation will, for me, make out a very interesting sub-plot once the season gets underway.
Overall, you can see the numbers. An opening day payroll of $107,975,000 would constitute the organization's third-highest mark (after 2011 and 2015, respectively, per Cots), but even so there is likely some flexibility for the Twins to add to that total if the opportunity arrises.