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Where the Twins’ 2017 payroll currently stands

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How much are the Twins currently guaranteed to pay in 2017, and how much money is probably left? Let’s take a look.

Dollar Banknotes
DOLLAR DOLLAR BILLS Y’ALL!
Photo Illustration by Thomas Trutschel/Photothek via Getty Images

In 2016, the Twins payroll topped out at about $105.33 million, according to Baseball Prospectus, which ranked them 18th among the 30 MLB teams. The Los Angeles Dodgers, of course, were first with a whopping $250 million payroll, while the lowly Brewers brought up the rear at $63.9 million. Hence, the Twins were actually about the middle of the pack in 2016, tending a bit towards the lower side.

So what does this mean for Twins going into 2017?

First of all, the Twins payroll in 2017 probably won’t be too drastically different from 2016—meaning the team will likely end up somewhere between $100 million and $110 million. That might seem like a big variance to us normal folk, but considering the team’s payroll went down $18.4 million between 2012 and 2013, and jumped up $15.4 million between 2014 and 2015, it’s not an unrealistic estimate by any means.

So far the Twins have $80.05 million wrapped up in nine definitive contracts, listed below.

Twins Contracts 2017

Player 2017 Salary Owed
Player 2017 Salary Owed
Joe Mauer $23,000,000
Ervin Santana $13,500,000
Phil Hughes $13,200,000
Jason Castro $8,500,000
Glen Perkins $6,500,000
Brian Dozier $6,000,000
Ricky Nolasco $4,000,000
Byungho Park $2,750,000
Eduardo Escobar $2,600,000
TOTAL $80,050,000

Note that only eight of these nine players will actually be playing for the Twins in 2017, assuming we avoid some freaky scenario where Ricky Nolasco ends up back on the team. Alas, as part of last July’s trade with the Angels, the Twins agreed to pay $4 million of the $12 million Ricky is owed in 2017.

Next, we know a small group of players are likely to get a salary increase next year through the salary arbitration process. Based on MLBTradeRumors.com estimates, the Twins will be paying these guys around $15.4 million total, as shown in the table below.

Twins Estimated Arbitration Salaries 2017

Player 2017 Estimated Salary
Player 2017 Estimated Salary
Hector Santiago $8,600,000
Kyle Gibson $3,500,000
Brandon Kintzler $2,200,000
Ryan Pressly $1,100,000
TOTAL $15,400,000

Don’t think I forgot about newly-signed outfielder J.B. Shuck! He’s also arbitration eligible in 2017, but considering he’s signed to a minor league contract and never made more than the MLB minimum... yeah.

Hence, the Twins currently have about $95.45 million wrapped up in 12 players for 2017. Assuming the rest of the 25-man roster is filled out by young pups making the major league minimum (which is $535,000 for 2017), that puts the total team payroll at around $102.4 million.

Here are the biggest factors that could still change that number going into the actual season:

Signing more free agents

With the payroll at $102.4 million as of January 3rd, the Twins still have time and space for more free agents—but not much more.

The only major rumor I’ve heard lately is that the Twins are interested in starting pitcher Tyson Ross. Ross earned $9.6 million last season, although he only made one start before missing the rest of the season with shoulder problems. He underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgery (a.k.a. Phil Hughes surgery) in October, and was non-tendered by the Padres, who probably couldn’t afford such a risky investment. If the Twins were able to land Ross—especially given the thin starting pitcher market and likely competition from other teams—it would probably take up all the remaining payroll money they have available.

The Twins could still sign some other free agent(s) too. If you’re interested, you can mosey on over to MLB Daily Dish’s Free Agent Tracker and see who’s still available. Anything catch your eye?

A Brian Dozier trade?

Even though Dozier is signed to what most consider a pretty team-friendly contract, trading him means the Twins would free up another $6 million for something else.

From everything I’ve heard so far, if a Dozier deal does happen, the Twins will probably be receiving prospects in return—meaning, players still in the minors or, at most, making the major league minimum. However, it’s possible the Twins could get creative in the deal and agree to take on part of a bad contract, like part of a Brandon McCarthy (owed $11.5 million next season) or Scott Kazmir (owed $17.7 million (!!!) next season). That would definitely affect the Twins’ bottom line, but it’s unclear if that is a route the Twins are even willing to go.

Salary arbitration estimates off

As noted earlier, the salaries for players going through salary arbitration are merely estimates. There’s a chance someone like Hector Santiago—who earned $5 million last year, but took a step backwards in performance—doesn’t actually get $8.6 million. Although these estimates could end up being off, they probably won’t be wildly off, though, so I wouldn’t spend too much time worrying about this aspect.

Injuries

The Twins have at least a couple of high paid players coming into the season with some injury questions—mainly, Phil Hughes and Glen Perkins. Although they’re full salary is still considered part of the official payroll, insurance usually helps cover salary owed to players who miss a significant amount of time due to injury.

Phil Hughes, who had his rib-removing surgery in July, seems like a good bet to start the 2017 season reasonably healthy. Perkins, however, is more of a question. The team seems optimistic that Perkins will be ready to pitch in spring training come March, but pretty much any kind of setback would delay that. Frequently, pitchers who suffer the injury Perkins did (a torn labrum) are never able to make a full comeback.

So although this wouldn’t have a huge affect on the Twins payroll, and we’ll never know by how much if it had any, it’s just something to keep in mind.


Barring a big Brian Dozier trade, it looks like the Twins payroll is basically set for 2017. What do you hope the Twins can get done before the season starts?