January 21, 2010
Twins Avoid Arbitration With All Eight Eligible Players
Pavano is a special case in that he's actually a free agent who accepted the Twins' arbitration offer last month, guaranteeing a return to Minnesota via a one-year deal at a price to be determined later. At the time my prediction was that he'd get "at least $6 million" and he ended up accepting $7 million, so the only surprising aspect is the contract including zero incentives for the oft-injured starter. Essentially the Twins signed him to a one-year, $7 million deal and can offer Pavano arbitration again next winter.
Hardy gets the second-highest salary at $5 million, which was exactly my guess at the time of the trade with Milwaukee. He'll be arbitration eligible again next season and then becomes a free agent. Guerrier gets $3.15 million in his final year before free agency, which is perhaps $500,000 more than expected. Young gets $2.6 million, which is a ton for a player's first crack at arbitration and suggests that he'll be very expensive in 2011 and 2012 whether his production improves or not.
Liriano getting $1.6 million for his first year of arbitration is also steep, whereas Neshek signed for just $625,000 in his first round of eligibility. Crain made $1.75 million in 2009 as part of a three-year, $3.25 million deal signed before he was even arbitration eligible, and he'll earn $2 million in his final season before free agency. And last but not least is Harris, who unlike the other seven arbitration-eligible guys avoided the process by agreeing to a two-year contract worth $3.2 million plus incentives.
Because this is Harris' first season of arbitration eligibility I'm unclear why the Twins would bother with a two-year deal. He was already under team control through 2012 anyway, so like Crain now that his three-year contract has expired Harris will still be arbitration eligible when the two-year pact is finished. Signing him for two years gives the Twins cost certainty, but Harris is hardly a threat to earn a big raise following a breakout and there's room to question whether they should even want him around in 2011.
He's been disappointing offensively and defensively since being included in the Young-for-Matt Garza swap two offseasons ago, hitting .263/.319/.379 in 943 plate appearances while proving to be a liability at shortstop and second base. He's been productive against left-handed pitching with a .303/.360/.425 line over the past three seasons and has a solid glove at third base, but with awful range up the middle and a .257/.313/.387 mark against righties I'm not sure why they needed to lock Harris in for 2011.
In all the Twins committed about $25 million to their eight arbitration-eligible players, raising the overall payroll commitment for 2010 to approximately $90 million. That represents a huge increase over their $65 million payroll last year, but a) with the new ballpark opening in April that was expected, and b) the payroll was already as high as $72 million in 2007. My hope is that there's still enough room to add an infielder for about $5 million since they're apparently willing to waste that much on Jarrod Washburn.