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The Twins are not “dumping salary”

Minnesota has traded a lot of players in the past few weeks, but money isn’t the reason why.

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The Twins did a very un-Twins-like thing during the trade deadline this season by trading away a whopping six players, including fan favorites Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier. Understandably, fans were upset. Not so understandably, a good number of fans were frothing at the mouth with complaints like these:

This is what the Pohlads do. I wonder how much cash the received for the fire sale.

I thought these stupid moves would stop after Terry Ryan was fired. I wish they would trade for someone who isn’t in the minor leagues

Petition to kick owners out ofour stadium.. They will never change. We deserve better

Sure another 3 prospects and cash. This is what the Pohlads do. Folks don’t expect a playoff team for at least five years with this activity.

Done with the Twins. Escobar and less then 48 hours later Dozier? There is no excuse to throw this season away. Buck up some cash for some pitching and a new manager. Fan since 1962.

Sad another reason not to buy tickets when the owners.Pohlad family fails to spend money to get Quality players.

Pohlad is just in it for the money.

Looks like the Twins are dumping salaries.

The only problem with this is the twins higher-ups don’t read these comments and don’t care

These are all actual comments left on our site and our Facebook page, and only a small sampling of the many others like them. The common gist of these complaints tends to be that the Pohlads just trade away players so that they don’t have to pay them — or, in other words, the Pohlads care more about dumping salary and making money than winning.

There are a number of things wrong with this general complaint, first and foremost being that the Pohlads don’t actually make any of the trades, CBO Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine do.

What I really want to point out to people making these complaints, however, is that the Twins didn’t even get rid of any significant portion of their payroll.

There was no “salary dump” at the trade deadline.

The Numbers

Here, let me show you. Below I have each player the Twins traded at this year’s deadline along with how much the Twins owed each player and how much of each player’s salary the other team is now responsible for (aka, how much salary the Twins “dumped”).

Eduardo Escobar

  • Total 2018 salary: $4.85 million
  • Salary owed by Diamondbacks: $1.69 million
  • Free agent in 2019? Yes

Ryan Pressly

  • Total 2018 salary: $1.6 million
  • Salary owed by Astros: Unknown (less than $600k but let’s say $600k to be generous)
  • Free agent in 2019? No — 2019 is his last year of arbitration.

Zack Duke

  • Total 2018 salary: $2.05 million
  • Salary owed by Mariners: $600 THOUSAND
  • Free agent in 2019? Yes

Lance Lynn

  • Total 2018 salary: $12 million
  • Salary owed by Yankees: $2 million
  • Free agent in 2019? Yes

Brian Dozier

  • Total 2018 salary: $9 million
  • Salary owed by Dodgers: Basically none — the Twins took on Logan Forsythe, who has the same salary as Dozier, so neither team saved any money.
  • Free agent in 2019? Yes

Fernando Rodney

  • Total 2018 salary: $4.25 million
  • Salary owed by Athletics: $1.3 million (plus $250k buyout if 2019 team option not picked up)
  • Free agent in 2019? Maybe — has a $4.25 million team option for 2019.

Salary dump...?

Let’s be as generous as possible and assume the Astros still owe Pressly $600k for 2018 and the Mariners will buyout Rodney’s option for 2019. Assuming those two things, along with the rest of the reported salaries the Twins “dumped” on other teams, the Twins deadline moves saved the team a total of...

$6.44 million.

Now, $6.44 million might seem like a lot to you and me, but let’s put this in perspective. The Twins started the 2018 season with a total payroll of $128.5 million — the highest in team history. So $6.44 million is about...

5% of the payroll.

The Twins traded away about 5% of the payroll. That’s like if I ordered a $100 Silver Butter Knife steak (I know it’s slightly more than that, but let’s pretend I have a coupon) and left a $5 tip. Abomination. We are talking about 5% here, folks.

That is not a salary dump.

Want proof? Earlier this year, the Twins traded starting pitcher Phil Hughes to the San Diego Padres, who took on $7.25 million of what he is owed for 2018, and all of the $13.2 million he is owed for 2019. That’s $20.4 million for just one player the Twins dumped earlier this year, compared to the $6.44 million they “dumped” at the deadline. No one complained about that dump, however, because Phil Hughes wasn’t useful to the Twins, or something.

(SPOILER ALERT: The rest of the players that the Twins traded weren’t useful to the them either. Most of them were going to be free agents at the end of the season and hadn’t helped the team do any better than the losing record they already freaking had!!!!! That’s why they were traded!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

[Edit: Uh, did not realize the Padres were going to DFA Phil Hughes right after this post was published. Still — the point stands.]

I’m not even done yet! Let’s consider this from the perspective of the Pohlads. I couldn’t find the worth of Jim Pohlad or the Pohlad family as a whole for 2018, but Forbes said they were worth $3.8 billion back in 2015. They’re probably worth billions more by now, but even by their 2015 estimation, $6.44 million is 0.17% of the Pohlads’ worth.

The Pohlads do not care about Derek Falvey and Thad Levine saving them $6.44 million on the Twins payroll. That is absolutely, clearly, 100% not the reason the Twins made these trades. Trust me on this one.

So the Twins got nothing?!

Now that I pointed out the Twins didn’t really save any meaningful amount of money, I assume the argument becomes, “The Pohlads are dumping players for nothing?! That’s even worse! WAHHHHH!!!!”

Here’s the thing: The Twins didn’t get “nothing” for these trades. That’s why these moves are called “trades” and not “player gifting”.

I’m about to let you in on a little MLB trade deadline secret: Some teams are called “buyers”, and some teams are called “sellers”. The “buyers” are the teams who are in contention mid-season, the teams that want to beef up their major league squad to make an actual playoff run. The “sellers” are the teams who clearly aren’t going to go anywhere, and want to sell off their useful parts to the “buyers” for prospects that will help them — the “sellers” — become “buyers” in future seasons.*

* Does not apply to the Pirates

One of the complaints I frequently saw among commenters was that the Twins “never make trades for Major Leaguers”. I’m just going to assume these people were just too busy watching the Vikings and crying to realize where Jake Odorizzi came from. Oh, that reminds me of another good point: trade deadline trades and off season trades are very different.

The Twins got 13 minors leaguers, one major leaguer, and one sort-of major leaguer out of the six major leaguers they traded at the deadline this season:

  1. Gilberto Celestino
  2. Jorge Alcala
  3. Ernie De La Trinidad
  4. Gabriel Maciel
  5. Jhoan Duran
  6. Jorge Alcala
  7. Gilberto Celestino
  8. Tyler Austin (sort of MLB)
  9. Luis Rijo
  10. Chase De Jong
  11. Ryan Costello
  12. Logan Forsythe (MLB)
  13. Luke Raley
  14. Devin Smeltzer
  15. Dakota Chalmers

None of these guys are top prospects, but that’s to be expected. Teams aren’t going to give up their top prospects for two months of Eduardo Escobar or two months of Brian Dozier, or, like, two months of Lance Lynn. Most of these prospects will probably never make it to the majors in their careers — but based on the sheer number, at least a couple probably will.

That’s the way the cookie crumbles with all prospects, whether a team acquires them through trades, the draft, or signs them. MLB is not like the NFL or NBA, where teams draft players out of college and they can be playing for the big league team the next season. Baseball is way, way harder. Just ask Michael Jordan.

Here’s another fun fact: Baseball America ranked the Twins farm system 22nd in the beginning of the season, and all of a sudden the Twins launched to 7th best.

Still want to go cancel your season tickets? It will just make my tickets even cheaper.

Go ahead. Do it.