Monday, January 23, 2012

What's left to spend?

This past week the Twins made several notable moves that affected their payroll – signing free agent reliever Joel Zumaya and coming to terms with several arbitration-eligible players including Glen Perkins and Francisco Liriano.

The Twins signed Zumaya to an incentive-laden deal that can be as little of a commitment as $400,000 if he fails to break camp with the team all the way up to $1.75 million if he reaches certain performance bonuses.

Shortly thereafter, the team agreed to deal with Perkins ($1.55 million) and Liriano ($5.5 million) while continuing to work on an agreement with their last arb-eligible player, second baseman Alexi Casilla. Casilla’s camp submitted a figure of $1.75 million while the Twins countered with a deal offered $1.065. Considering this organization does not enter arbitration with players regularly, it is assumed that the team and Casilla will eventually split the difference on a one-year contract.

Given those recent transactions, here is the current 2012 projected payroll based on the existing knowledge found at Cot’s Contracts and the Star Tribune’s Joe Christensen’s prior assumptions:

As of right now, the Twins are anticipated to spend around $98.5 million on the 2012 team. That is significantly under the $115 million that the 2011 team was paid out, however, given the ownership’s desire to lower than figure, the drop-off should not be surprising. A few months after La Velle Neal’s interview with Jim Pohlad, the team fired general manager Bill Smith and replaced him with Terry Ryan. During Ryan’s reintroduction press conference in November, he gave a few more details regarding the payroll number:
“I think it's going to somewhere around 100 (million)." Ryan added, "There's nobody up here that wants to hide anything. If it's 95, if it's 100, if it's 90, we're going to make due (sp) with what Jim (Pohlad) and the family and (team president) Dave (St. Peter) give us.
At the $98.5 million mark, the payroll is right in that sweet spot of where Ryan was describing. Because of that, it isn’t necessarily a given that the team will seek to spend that $1.5 million remaining from the assumed $100 million payroll. If Ryan opts to close up shop right now and move forward with the present lot, no one could blame him.

Then again, that wouldn’t be in the best interest of the on-field product, especially considering the state of the bullpen.

Even though Zumaya could be a very capable arm, based on his injury history, there is no guarantee he can sustain the duration of the season (in fact, I would easily bet against him making the maximum of his contract). Outside of Zumaya, the Twins have a bevy of intriguing yet unproven right-handed arms. The most prudent thing would be to use that money towards signing someone like Todd Coffey or Dan Wheeler.

As I outlined recently, Coffey could be a valuable but inexpensive addition to the bullpen to stave off right-handed foes. Making just $1.35 million with the Nationals last year, Coffey figures to have his potential earnings diluted in the current plethora of relievers on the market and could easily be signed for $1.5 million or less. Meanwhile Wheeler, who is even more of a threat against right-handed hitters than Coffey, made a pretty penny in Boston a year ago ($3 million) but a shoulder injury at the end of the season combined with the deep market could also push him into that $1.5 million range as well. Either option would be a solid addition to deepen a fairly shallow bullpen.

For the Twins, who are down to their final few schillings, choosing to spend that $1.5 million to land a bargain bin-priced reliever would undoubtedly strengthen the pitching staff. 


Anonymous said...

Last year, this Organization sold well over three million tickets at big Market prices. It's truly pathetic if the Twins are not willing to spend a few more dollars. Last year the fans did their part and they deserve better.

ScottyB said...

You've left Anthony Swarzak off your list. I think he's more likely than Oliveros to be solidly on the staff as a long reliever and spot starter. Oliveros would be left off if they sign someone like Coffey.

Twins Fan c.1981 said...

@Anonymous -- I'm not going to argue with you on whether or not the Twins should spent more. Right or wrong, it's their business to operate.

@ScottyB -- Personally, I like Oliveros better as a relief arm (better swing and miss stuff than Swarzak, but I mostly put him in there as a placeholder. If the Twins land Coffey or Wheeler, it is likely that Oliveros would be off the list and someone who has long relief capabilities - like Swarzak - would take the final spot.

J Marthaler said...

Are the Twins down to their final few units of money (shillings), or their final few units of loudmouthed pitchers who were pretty good in a couple of World Series (schillings)?


Twins Fan c.1981 said...

@Marthaler Common mistake among baseball writers...

Anonymous said...

Personally, they still needed to do something like A #1 starting pitcher like Oswalt. could have saved money by not resigning Capps and not signing Marquies. Then at deadline if we were doing bad we could flip him for some future pieces.

Anonymous said...

It's not about the amount of money so much as it is the way it was spent. When Ryan left it all went to SH**. So much for if you build it we will put a competitve team out there.

Anonymous said...

We are back to the old ways again. Resign the old pitchers who really aren't that good any more such as Capps and saved the money for a #1 starter which they haven't had since Santana left.