October 10, 2011
Last week owner Jim Pohlad and general manager Bill Smith both indicated that the Twins' payroll for 2012 will be close to and perhaps slightly lower than this year's $115 million mark, which got me thinking about how much payroll space they'll have to spend. An official decision still needs to be made regarding the 2012 option for Joe Nathan, but assuming that's declined here's where the Twins' payroll and roster stand heading into the winter:
LINEUP BENCH C: Joe Mauer - $23.0 million C: Drew Butera - $0.425 million 1B: Justin Morneau - $15.0 million IF: Tsuyoshi Nishioka - $3.0 million 2B: Alexi Casilla - $1.5 million IF: Trevor Plouffe - $0.425 million SS: [UNKNOWN] OF: [UNKNOWN] 3B: Danny Valencia - $0.425 million LF: Ben Revere - $0.425 million CF: Denard Span - $3.0 million RF: [UNKNOWN] DH: [UNKNOWN]
Alexi Casilla is arbitration eligible, so his salary is an estimate. I've also assumed that neither Tsuyoshi Nishioka nor Trevor Plouffe will be the Twins' starting shortstop, leaving that spot open while slotting them both into reserve roles. Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel are free agents, so I've left designated hitter and right field empty along with the fourth outfielder job. There are obviously plenty of internal candidates to fill those spots for the $425,000 minimum.
Assuming my projected roles above are correct the Twins would be spending about $47 million on position players while still needing to fill shortstop, right field, designated hitter, and fourth outfielder. Jason Repko, Matt Tolbert, Luke Hughes, Rene Tosoni, Joe Benson, Rene Rivera, Chris Parmelee, and Brian Dinkleman are among the other in-house options currently on the 40-man roster.
ROTATION BULLPEN SP: Carl Pavano - $8.5 million LH: Glen Perkins - $2.0 million SP: Scott Baker - $6.0 million LH: Brian Duensing - $0.425 million SP: Francisco Liriano - $5.5 million LH: Jose Mijares - $0.75 million SP: Nick Blackburn - $4.75 million RH: Anthony Swarzak - $0.425 million SP: Kevin Slowey - $3.0 million RP: Alex Burnett - $0.425 million RP: [UNKNOWN] RP: [UNKNOWN]
Francisco Liriano, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Jose Mijares are arbitration eligible, so their salaries are estimates. I've also assumed Liriano and Slowey will be starters and Brian Duensing and Anthony Swarzak will be relievers, which are far from givens. Scott Diamond, Phil Dumatrait, Liam Hendriks, Jim Hoey, Jeff Manship, Lester Oliveros, Kyle Waldrop, and Esmerling Vasquez are among the other in-house options currently on the 40-man roster.
Assuming my projected roles above are correct the Twins would be spending about $32 million on pitchers, plus another $2 million on Nathan's buyout, while still needing to fill two bullpen spots. Non-tendering or trading arbitration eligibles like Liriano, Slowey, or Mijares would alter the salary commitments and roles considerably, but for now their projected payroll is around $81 million with shortstop, right field, DH, fourth outfielder, and two bullpen spots empty.
Subtracting that from their presumed $110-$115 million budget would leave approximately $30 million to spend. That's certainly more than they've typically had available most offseasons, but they also have many more significant holes to fill than usual. In other words $30 million is a lot, but not when you need three starting position players and some bullpen help while also trying to upgrade the rotation. It'll be a busy offseason, but don't count on big free agent splashes.