Hmmm. I wonder if that's true about Torii Hunter. And while we're at it, let's throw Johan Santana and Joe Nathan in the mix, too. Oh hell, let's take a look at all the Twins and what the payroll situation looks like through 2010, the year the ballpark opens. We'll assume the payroll bumps up $10M over the next three year to coincide with a $100M payroll for 2010. Let's see exactly what Terry Ryan can keep, shall we?
We covered 2008 a couple of days ago, but to review, it looks like this:
The Twins have about $22M to spend next year on a CF, DH/LF, and maybe a 2B (or probably a veteran pitcher, sigh). That leaves plenty of money for re-signing Hunter if they don't look too far ahead.
Let's move onto 2009.
Things are quite a bit tighter in 2009. Ryan will be sitting with $40 million to spend and three big names to re-sign, and the numbers don't add up. Hunter will be $15 million, Santana will be $20 million and Nathan will likely be at least $9 million. And, of course, they still need someone to fill that DH/LF spot and the 3B spot. (BTW, a long term deal for Cuddyer or Morneau will help a little, but not much. Subtracting a million dollars or two will be about the max they'll save based on past deals).
Given the success the Twins have had picking up bullpen help, I suspect Nathan is the odd man out. I further suspect that the Twins won't bite on the length of the deal Santana will demand from other teams. That's probably not news anyone wants to hear, but it would free up about $20 million for some other players. Let's see what happens the next year...
Christ, things are murky at this point. You may have notice that Kubel drops off the chart even though he's not a free agent. I'm hoping by then he's hitting enough to keep, but I haven't seen enough to conclude he'll be around.
Anyway, things have become considerably tighter. There's $43 million, just $3 million more than the year before, except now Cuddyer is a free agent, too. Even if Nathan is gone, that leaves just $8M for Cuddyer, which is likely a couple million less than he deserves. Especially considering they have another half dozen player they're going to need to pay, in some shape or form.
(As I look at the numbers again, I wonder if a couple million couldn't be shaved here or there, a skill that the Twins have never been especially good at, but they have been good at finding backup in their minor leagues.)
But it looks like Reusse is right. Some choices are going to need to be made. I personally doubt whether that necessarily leads to losing Hunter, since Santana could be the most highly anticipated free agent to hit the market since Alex Rodriguez. But the Twins will have some decisions to make. AND they need to have their minor leagues continue to produce some offense if they want to stay competetive.