There is a simple recipe for a successful offseason: spend. The Tigers and White Sox have. The Twins haven’t.
This unsatisfying offseason for Twins fans shouldn’t be a huge surprise for everyone who reads this blog. For chrissakes, I started warning you back in July. Twice. I warned you again immediately after the season ended. And during the World Series, in the offseason blueprint, you may have read this:
"[The Twins] will wave goodbye to Orlando Hudson, JJ Hardy, Brian Fuentes, Jesse Crain and (sigh) Jim Thome. They will also wave goodbye to a considerable amount of good will that was generated by the first year in Target Field."
The Twins are pretty close to where I thought they were. Right now, without signing Pavano or a bench bat, they have a payroll around $107 million. It looks like their limit is around $115 million, so I expect that they will sign either Pavano or Thome, but not both, unless they are willing to trade away a starting pitcher like Kevin Slowey.
The White Sox and Tigers, on the other hand, have been far more aggressive than I thought they would be. The White Sox, who had toed the line at $100 million in payroll for the last several years, have gone on a spending spree. Some back-of-the-napkin figures show that their payroll is now close to $120 million.
That extra $20 million allowed them to bring back most of their team, swapping Bobby Jenks for Jesse Crain, and to add a big-time slugger in Adam Dunn. GM Kenny Williams looks like a genius, but his offseason was nearly derailed by questionable contracts to Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Edwin Jackson, Mark Teahan and Mark Buehrle. He was bailed out by owner Jerry Reinsdorf’s wallet.
The Tigers also added a big bat (catcher Viktor Martinez) and a top-flight reliever (Joaquim Benoit). They were able to do so because they lost almost $60 million in guaranteed contracts this year. That allowed them to spend almost $40 million – and still have a payroll of only $108 million or so.
I’m quite sure this is where I field questions about why the Twins aren’t spending more. Didn’t they just move into a big new ballpark? But if the Twins payroll does reach the $115M level, it will represent a $20 million increase over last year, and $50 million over the last two years. Payroll will almost have doubled since the last year at the Metrodome.
The problem is that there are a lot of guys getting a lot of raises, which happens when people have strong years. Cuddyer gets a couple million dollar raise. Span gets a raise. Capps gets a big raise, and so does Delmon Young. Almost every member of the rotation is making a couple million more this year than they did last. And of course the contract that we were all begging for at this time last year – Mauer’s extension – is going pay him $10.5M MORE than he made last year. It’s not too hard to figure out where all the money went – before the Twins even looked at the free agent market.
I don’t know if that makes things any easier for Twins fans yearning for the big move this offseason that is likely not going to come. But it’s certainly hard to claim that we shouldn’t have seen this before now.
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