How low can it go? Not a whole lot lower.
According to USAToday, the Minnesota Twins dropped their payroll $18.5M from last year ($112M) to this year ($94M). And while the mantra coming out of Target Field is that “payroll isn’t that important” ask youself: where this team would be with another $18.5M worth of starting pitching?
That’s the bad news, but it’s old bad news.
The worse news is that the team is again in last place and attendance is down again. Would that mean further payroll cuts? If it does, there are only so deep they can cut, because barring some trades, a quick-and-dirty analysis shows the Twins are committed to at least a $76M payroll. The back-of-the-napkin details are there on the right.
If the Twins don’t cut payroll at all, that gives them just $18M to put towards acquiring two or three starting pitchers. And if they do? Then you can expect a lot more of what we’ve seen this year: cycling through AAA starting pitchers in the hopes they can find someone who sticks. Because AAA starting pitchers will be all they can afford.
I suspect it also means that any fantasies of hanging onto Francisco Liriano. At the very least, it makes it difficult to imagine the Twins offering him a $12.5M one-year contract to make sure the Twins get draft picks as he walks as a free agent. That much liquid payroll can’t be sucked up by just one player where there are so many gaps in the rotation.
That is, if there is any available. If the Twins cut payroll again, Twins fans could face the very grim reality of watching a starting rotation that is actually worse that this years squad, which ranks 29th in ERA in the majors.
How low can it go? Not a whole lot lower. But low enough.