As such, we noted this recent post from MLB Trade Rumors, which examines the Twins' 2012 payroll obligations.
And, well, if you look at who is under contract -- and who isn't -- for next year, it's not exactly pretty. The Twins are on the hook for $65.7 million for these seven guys in 2012: Joe Mauer ($23M), Justin Morneau ($15M), Carl Pavano ($8.5M), Scott Baker ($6.5M), Nick Blackburn ($4.7M) Tsuyoshi Nishioka ($3M) and Denard Span ($3M), along with Joe Nathan's $2 million buyout.
MLBTR guesses the Twins will have another $17 million in payouts to arbitration-eligible players out of this group of nine:
* First time: Jose Mijares, Matt Tolbert, Phil Dumatrait
* Second time: Kevin Slowey, Alexi Casilla, Glen Perkins
* Third time: Francisco Liriano, Jason Repko
* Fourth time: Delmon Young
We'd hate to hazard a guess so early in this season on those nine, since they are such a mismatched bunch. But let's say Young, Liriano, Perkins and Mijares make up that $17 million.
At that point, you're $83 million deep in payroll and you only have 11 players. You haven't re-signed Jason Kubel, Matt Capps, Michael Cuddyer or Jim Thome, any of whom will cost you one way or the other. If you don't re-sign Capps and let Nathan walk after his buyout, you're rebuilding your closer spot from scratch (not a bad thing, necessarily, but still). If Kubel and Cuddyer walk, are you going with an OF of Span, Ben Revere and Young? If Thome hits 600 this year and retires, you need muscle off the bench and at DH. But if you sign any of Kubel, Cuddyer or Capps, you're suddenly past $90 million and you have half a roster. Even with MLB minimum players filling out the rest of the spots, you're still nearing $100 million again with, arguably, a roster weaker than it is this year -- and hoping for a turnaround that hasn't happened so far in 2011 and/or some shrewd moves from the front-office on some low-rent guys.
In short, a rough ending in these 110 games left this season might not be easily fixed in 2012. Your thoughts -- hopefully expressing some optimism we've overlooked -- in the comments, please.