The bad news: it's apparent the Twins have a lot of fixes to make before 2012. The good news: the biggest traditional obstacle for the Twins - budget - isn't all that big an obstacle.
This is a marked difference from last offseason, when I spent most of the season's second half forewarning Twins fans about a brutal and disappointing offseason. It lived up to it's billing. But this year is going to be quite a bit different, thanks to some pretty big numbers coming off the books.
The chart on the right is back-of-the-napkin figuring - it'll be off by a million here or a half-million there, but it's close enough to get a pretty good big picture of where the Twins sit. It assumes that the Twins choose to retain to Alexi Casilla (as a middle infielder), Jason Repko (as a 4th OF), Glen Perkins (as a setup man), Jose Mijares (as a middle reliever) and Phil Dumatrait (also as a middle reliever). You can quibble about a couple of them, but it doesn't matter too much - their salaries aren't too significant, and their replacements would cost about the same.
Much bigger decisions loom:
- Michael Cuddyer - The Twins will likely offer him arbitration, as it looks more and more likely he'll be a Type A free agent. That gives them the inside track to re-sign him, but that 2-year/$16 million offer they floated might be a bad harbinger. Cuddyer is going to get at least 3 years and $27M, and if he keeps hitting like he is someone might pay him $40M over four years. So if you want to pencil him back in right field next year, you better set aside at least $10M for next year.
- Francisco Liriano - He'll make around $7.5M in arbitration next year if the Twins offer it. If they don't they'll likely trade him, because someone will.
- Delmon Young - He'll also likely make around $7.5M in arbitration. Working in his favor is that the Twins will need to decide whether to offer him arbitration BEFORE Cuddy decides who he picks to play for next year. They may offer arbitration to Delmon just so they're sure they have at least one spot covered.
- There is also Joe Nathan, Matt Capps, Jason Kubel and Kevin Slowey to ponder. I'm sure they'll try to bring some of them back, but I'm less sure on the numbers they might get. We'll talk about that in some future entry.