Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crystal Ball

What Does Twins 2012 Payroll Look Like?

I’ve been asked several times in the last few weeks what the Twins payroll situation looks like for 2012, a year into the future. Unfortunately, that speculation is a combination of back-of-the-napkin figuring and crystal ball gazing that could be viewed as irresponsible on a major newspaper site.

Good thing I’m a blogger.

So, let’s assume some things:
  1. Both Franscisco Liriano and Delmon Young continue to perform at a high enough level such that the Twins offer them arbitration.
  2. Justin Morneau doesn’t need to be replaced (and his contract doesn’t need to be paid by insurance).
  3. Alexi Casilla and Tsuyoshi Nishioka play well enough that the Twins want them to be the starting infielders next year.
  4. The Twins don’t add any higher-priced veteran relievers for next year, and find enough arms in their system to stock the bullpen.
  5. Kevin Slowey starts this year and does well enough that he’s offered arbitration again next year.
If all that is true, the (very approximate) salaries of 2012's team is over there on the right.

Which leads to a couple of observations:
  1. My best guess on payroll next year is around $130M. If you want to argue about it, that’s what the comments are for. But the jump this year was from $96M to $113M, and $130M seems about right to me.
  2. If that’s true, the Twins have 3 big roles to fill (RF, DH, Closer) and $33M to fill them. That’s a much better situation than they had this offseason.
  3. If one of the starters is traded and Brian Duensing (or Kyle Gibson) takes his place, that’s even more money available.
  4. You’ll notice I didn’t pen in either Capps or Nathan as a closer. I’m quite sure that if either is successful this year, they’ll cost about $10M. So if you want to put one in there, just do a little adding and subtracting yourself.
  5. Finally, there’s a lot of big “ifs.” For instance, if Casilla ends up being relegated back to utility infielder, then the Twins might save a couple of million dollars on his salary, but now they have four positions to fill on $33M. That’s not nearly so enticing.
If you would like to talk more payroll or other Twins stuff, I’ll be at two different events over the next two nights, so flag me down. Tonight I’ll be at the Diamond Awards, and Friday night I’ll be at the Hot Stove League banquet with (I think) a few other TwinsCentric guys. I got the following note from the organizer of the Hot Stove Banquet yesterday:

“Juan Berenguer has been added to the line-up for Ballpark Tours 3rd Annual Last Hot Stove League Banquet & Charity Auction scheduled for this Friday Jan 28th at Carpenter’s Hall 710 Olive Street in St. Paul.

Senor Smoke will join Jim Kaat at the podium as our keynoters. In addition, local author Pete Schilling will chat about the art of heckling & a couple of media usual suspects (not sure who yet) will take part in our Q & A.

The focus of the event is to raise money for the Dunning Little League baseball program & this anti-dome crowd will be able to bid on an auction item sure to ‘bring down the roof!!!!’ The Ballpark Tours gang has raised over $50,000 for the fields at Dunning over the years.”

This is easily the best week and weekend of the long offseason. If you’re a Twins fan, make sure you make the most of it.


USAFChief said...

I'm confused. Last summer you told us the Twins couldn't consider acquiring a pitcher such as Oswalt because they were maxed out at around $100M in payroll and there was no additional revenue to be had in coming years.

Some of us did some quick math and came to the conclusion that, even if the Twins stuck to the '52% of revenue to payroll model,' there was reason to believe payroll could easily climb into the $120M range. (And there's plenty of reason to believe the '52% model' might no longer be valid).

Now you're telling us payroll can climb to $130M in 2012.

What's changed?

neckrolls said...

3 prospects I'd like to see on the opening day roster for 2012: Joe Benson, Chris Parmelee and Kyle Gibson. I assume they'll all be at Rochester to start 2011. Benson & Parmelee could step right into the Cuddyer & Kubel roles, but they'll each need to have a big year at AAA to earn everybody's confidence. Gibson would force a trade of one of the back-end RHPs, saving another $5M or so.

It would be nice to have a $130M credit limit for 2012. But I doubt they'll need to use it all - at least not right out of the chute.

TT said...

I don't see any source for the Twins increasing revenue by $34 million next year, which is what they need in order to increase spending on major league payroll by half of that. I would not be surprised if the Twins salary stays the same next year.

You listed salary at 26 positions. While I assume there will be injuries, etc. I don't think its likely the Twins will start the season with 14 position players. You have $5 million budgeted for the bench and budgeting for only four players saves $1 million.

I think Valencia is as large a question mark as Casilla and Nishioka. Drawing firm conclusions about a young player from half a season is always a mistake.

I don't understand why Repko and Tolbert aren't penciled. It seems likely that both will be back at the major league minimum.

I think either Kubel or Cuddyer will be gone, but not both. Revere is likely ready to take the open outfield slot at the major league minimum. But I don't think they are going to gamble on a second rookie as the backup option.

I think the Twins will move one of their young starters at some point. Its likely Duensing or Gibson will take a spot in the rotation at the major league minimum.

Even if salary doesn't increase, it appears the Twins can manage to field a contender with the current salary level. As always, it will depend on young players stepping up to fill roles. I doubt the Twins are going to be real players in the free agent market next year beyond signing Thome again.

John said...

Regarding salary, what I said is there is no way the salary increases to $120M-$130M THIS year. I estimated $110M and it ended up right around that with $113M. I'm actually peretty proud of that prediction - mine was the lowest I saw, and I just about nailed it (and still might if Slowey ends up traded.)

I estimated that based on a 10-15% increase, base on what the Twins have done over the last decade or so. I'm doing the same thing for next year. Thus the $130M estimate.

John said...


I agree on Valencia.

IN general, looking this far ahead, I put in numbers for the lesser positions and not names so much. Repko and Tolbert both could still be around, but they might both struggle and necessitate replacements, maybe veteran replacements. As you say, I have about $5M for the bench, and that's about what they're spending this year (less on the in-house guys and more on Thome).

In general, if you want to make different assumptions, I encourage it - that's why I publicize the details. I agree with your conclusion - if they don't spring a lot of leaks where they're counting on some youth, they should be competetive again in 2012.

Matt in SoDak said...

Bottom line is that the team will have some new faces, and it will be a much more interesting off season next winter/spring.

I will be surprised if Cuddyer doesn't come back, only because he is such a "Twins guy". That said, I really hope that he can be that RH power bat everybody wants at DH/bench and gets paid as such.

Cool look ahead. These predictions are always fun!

Anonymous said...

I think Cuddy comes back (along with Thome if he still performs this year) as a RH/LH DH combo with Cuddy getting a few outfield starts from time to time as well. I'm guessing Kubel will be gone. Either Benson or Revere (hopefully Benson) will be a starting outfielder at the league minimum. I'll bet Nathan is back too if he has a decent season this year.

TT said...

I think Benson is a long way away from being a big league player. Home runs are nice, but you can't hit it over the fence unless you can hit it. Benson struggled mightily to do that against AA and even A ball pitching last year. Against major league pitching he would be lucky to hit as well as Butera last year.

neckrolls said...

An .881 OPS is "struggling mightily?" Tough crowd.

Benson's strikeout rate is really high, approaching Jack Cust levels at AA. But, unlike Cust, Benson is an asset in the field and on the bases.

I admit it's a bit of pipe dream to hope that he'll supplant Cuddyer. Matt's right, they'll probably bring Michael back just because they're so attached to him. Benson has to have an awesome year at AAA - including keeping his K-rate under 30% - in order to get the brass to consider letting Cuddy walk. But it's a tantalizing prospect, because Benson has the athleticism to at least match Cuddyer's hitting production while being a huge upgrade defensively.

Oh yeah, and he'll cost about $10M less than Cuddy is making this season.

TT said...

That just demonstrates how limited OPS is for any serious evaluation of a player. Benson hit .251 while striking out at a .272 rate per plate appearance. He "struggled mightily" to hit the ball and was missing it a lot. But when he got all of it, he sent it a long way.

Cust is not a bad comparison, although he still struck out less than Benson. Cust also walked a lot more often (117-39) at AA and had a higher batting average (.293-.251). He did hit fewer home runs (20-23) and that was in the Texas League which is a lot friendlier to hitters.

I agree Benson's defense gives him an edge. If he is really a major league center fielder, he doesn't have to hit all that well. I don't think he really is. But he may be good enough out there to make it as a fourth outfielder.

Anonymous said...

the thing that I like is with the way the roster looks the Twins can actually trade for another major vet or two or sign them if they want to come here.

With the bullpen being killed this offseason I hope we develop a bunch of young arms quickly or that the starters can throw seven plus innings on a regular basis.

Walter Hanson
Minneapolis, MN

Josh said...

I think it's unlikely that Slowey, Baker, & Blackburn all end up in the Twins rotation in 2012. At least one of those three is likely to go either through performance issues or cost and with Gibson waiting in the wings it's probably not going to be a bad thing.

I agree with the idea that either Capps or Nathan will be closing in 2012, and how this season plays out will probably decide which and how much they'll get. If Nathan resumes his role as closer, the Twins will try to bring him back, but I'm not entirely sure how much he'll get. Age and injury may help the team bring him in at a lower level, but he'll still get at least $8M, probably close to $10M.

Cuddyer, oh Cuddyer. The Team will want him back. He'll want to come back. Will they be able to find a contact that works for both? I admit, I'd really like him back at $6-7M, but will he really take a major pay cut (especially if he has a good year)?

I also doubt the payroll gets near $130M. If it tops $120M, I'll be a little surprised. That's about where I see the upper limit on this team (and that's still a really healthy neighborhood to be in). But that's also one of the reasons I see changes in the rotation to save money.

Anonymous said...

I hope the Twins can continue to add players when they see fit.

crystal trophies said...

Twins payroll budget is going way over board. Maybe its time to think things through first before adding a new man on the payroll list.