Monday, January 21, 2008

The Arbitration Agreements

First, let’s start with kudos to the Strib. I’ve been meaning to praise them for quite a while now for their thorough Twins coverage this offseason, but I keep phoning it in, so I hasn’t happened yet. Fortunately, they continue to set a high bar, and give me another opportunity.

It wasn’t too long ago that the arbitration agreements and filings that happened in the last week wouldn’t have gained more than a couple of inches or space. Now it generates a story on Friday (Kubel), another story on Saturday (Morneau & Rincon), along with a nice little graphic showing just how things are going with each player.

And for the record, the Twins have done very well. Almost every agreement has come in under the estimates made just last week. And wrapping them up presuably gives the Twins more time to work this whole Santana thing out. Particulary astute was getting some of these agreements in place before official numbers were filed, which limits the win/lose mentality that agents can fall into once both sides numbers are published.

The only thing we haven’t seen from the Strib is just how all the pieces of this fit together, and frankly, I’m baffled by this. Where the hell are the stories about payroll falling $10 to $20 million in the same year that major league baseball revenue increase 10% AND the team breaks ground on a new stadium? How is nobody noticing this? Are Magatu and I taking crazy pills?

For the record, given the recent signings, and the awards so far, here’s where things sit:

The final total up there is a little over $63 million. That's $10 million less than the Twins started the season with last year, and if they lose Santana, the payroll drops to $50 million. That is conservatively $30 million less than the payroll should be this year. Which would certainly have been enough to sign someone like Andruw Jones to patrol center field for the next couple of years. Which sounds a hell of a lot better than plugging Michael Cuddyer there.

The good news is that this should give the Twins some additional flexibility for trading han Santana. There are teams out there that are worried about taking on Santana's salary, but now the Twins might be able to take on some serious salary in return. If the Mariners can't afford Santana this year, would they change their mind if the Twins took back Richie Sexson as part of the deal?

It's not something that has been publicly discussed, but I wonder if it might not make some sense. And I presume the Twins are having some creative discussions along those lines. Or at least I hope they are, because they certainly can afford to.


neckrolls said...

Well, I've noticed that they're not spending as much as they said they would. I'm very concerned about a fan backlash if they trade Santana because "they can't afford him" in light of the current payroll situation and the new stadium. Hopefully Mr. Smith can find a way to give us a happy ending before Spring Training.

Anonymous said...

John, the NBA style salary trade idea is intriguing however the general question has to center not on "What" the payroll number is but "Why". As this seems to be a continuation of your "Betrayal" article I am not that concerned about the specific dollar amount spent on the team.

I can't tell you why, gut feeling I suppose, but I kinda like the new sheriff (Check with me after the Honeymoon). I for one didn't see the Delmon deal coming, if anything I would have thought that we'd have targeted Johnny Gomes, and that is what gives me a sense of optimism this off-season.

I feel that the Twins made a compelling offer to Johan, perhaps I took the bait, but it was an offer that the Team could live with and dollar wise seems to be about right with what most sources are saying.

My point is that in the past the brain trusts of this team have made some horridly predictable moves Sierra, Reuben et. al. As well as things seemingly from left field Pierzynski, Anthony = All Star Closer and Starter. Until I get a feel for what they are thinking and their motives I am willing to sit back and wait.

Thanks for your efforts,

P.S. As irrational as it may seem, I do dream of watching The Franchise & Johan together for at least one more shot.

John said...

Actually, I agree with you. I like Smith's moves so far. But either:

1)Smith has left $10-$30 million dollars on the table that could have been used to improve this team or

2)Some dictate came down to cut payroll.

I suspect it's #1. And that's no small flaw.

Anonymous said...

First, given the contracts that are gone (Hunter, Silva, Ford, White), I don't see anyone there that I would argue should have been retained, so the salaries "cut" so far were reasonable decisions.

As for whether money has been left on the table or not, I argue it's still too early to tell. I think the Santana situation being unresolved makes it difficult for BS to really know exactly how much money he has to work with.

If he had spent that $10 million, he would have effectively ruled out a new Santana contract and I don't think he wanted to totally close that door.

I still think it's premature to say what the payroll will be on Opening Day.

Will Santana still be a Twin? If so, will he be getting $13.25mm or $20mm+?

Will Morneau, Kubel and Cuddyer be getting the amounts they sign for (or are awarded)... or will they be getting something more than that as a part of an extension?

Who's the CF going to be and what will he be getting paid? Will they sign a FA (there certainly are still a lot of them out there)?

Not saying you're wrong, John... just that I'm going to wait until closer to April to judge.

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmmm..... The payroll should be at 80 million this year and is only at 63 million. Did Carl have any major unexpected expenditures this year that came in around 17 million dollars? Oh yeah, the land for the stadium. It is obvious that Carl told Smith that the land cost overrun was coming directly from the 2008 operating budget and Billy Smith has adjusted.

Anonymous said...

I hope the missing 10-20 million will be used either to retain Johan, pay for a big salary in trade (Cabrera, Ellsbury??,), sign Morneau, Cuddyer, Nathan to long-term deals.

However, I think that it wont be. That is unfortunate, because if the team keeps the payroll around 65 million and doesnt have an ace pitcher or star OF (replacing Torii) I can see Morneau, Cuddyer and Nathan all walking before the stadium is complete.

Anonymous said...

Let's say for sake of arguement that Santana is gone before pitchers & catchers report and Feb 15th the payroll is at $50Mil, then what? While I haven't checked recently I don't recall any free agents that I would be excited to pay $20ish Mil for just to extend the payroll.

I do wonder if we were interested in making a move for Josh Hamilton while the Reds had him. I have felt for the last 18 months or so that Jonny Gomes would make a nice right handed DH and would love to see him in a Twins uniform.

These are all trade pieces and I would rather see the ebb and flow of the payroll to keep the players that we have instead of overpaying for the production that someone did in their prime for a previous team. While Pohlad's business history and accumen have made him a easy target in the past I don't feel that he's obligated to spend the full 52% budgeted if the situation doesn't warrant it.

It's like when a school dumps money on something just to spend their entire budget this year in the fear that if they don't then their budget will be cut in the future. I can't buy into that rationale and while I would like to see us lock up Morneau and any others that Bill see's fit I am not going to get upset if the payroll is around $50Mil this year.

My $.02,