MLB Sunday Insider: Twins have a hitter-heavy payroll

  • Article by: PHIL MILLER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 27, 2013 - 4:59 PM

Less than a quarter of the Twins’ 2013 payroll goes to pitching, their smallest percentage in some time.

hide

Nick Blackburn is the highest-paid pitcher in the Twins organization this year, making $5.5 million even though the injured righthander has been removed from the 40-man roster.

Photo: File photo by CARLOS GONZALEZ • cgonzalez@startribune.com ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Perhaps no statistic better illustrates the Twins’ half-decade-long dry spell in developing pitching prospects than the one that begins with a dollar sign.

The Twins are spending only 22.5 percent of their $82 million payroll on the pitching staff this season, the lowest figure since the turn of the century at least, and less than half of the major league average. It’s also quite a contrast to a decade ago, when the team devoted more than half of its cash to pitchers.

“It’s not by design. It’s not like we said, ‘Let’s spend less on pitching and go another way,’ ” said assistant GM Rob Antony. “It’s just the nature of having [Joe] Mauer and [Justin] Morneau as your top players, and then having a couple of guys in the rotation who aren’t eligible for arbitration yet.”

The nature of the Twins is also responsible for the decline, because the team generally rewards its own players with long-term contracts, rather than pour cash into large free-agent contracts. Case in point: Nick Blackburn, who despite not even being on the team’s 40-man roster, will be the Twins’ highest-paid pitcher this year, earning $5.5 million as he tries to return from wrist surgery.

The only three Twins pitchers ever to earn salaries above $10 million in a year — Johan Santana, Joe Nathan and Brad Radke — fit that profile as well; all three blossomed once they arrived in Minnesota.

“That’s how we like to do it. When we’ve spent a lot on a contract, more often than not, it’s on players we already have, that we know. We know how they fit in the clubhouse, and we know their health situation,” Antony said. “It makes you a little more comfortable with the investment.”

Trouble is, the Twins have developed few pitchers recently who have earned big paydays. Glen Perkins is in the first year of an affordable three-year deal that pays him $2.5 million this year, and Brian Duensing makes $1.5 million. But that’s it for homegrown pitching at the moment, which is why hitters take such a huge chunk of the current payroll.

The Twins have by far the lowest percentage of this season’s payroll devoted to pitching in the AL Central. Kansas City has 53.6 of its payroll in pitching, the White Sox 47.4 percent, Cleveland 45.9 percent and Detroit 38.8 percent.

The Twins aren’t entirely unwilling to spend on pitching, Antony said. They paid Carl Pavano almost $24 million over the past three years, and “we were out there [last winter] with offers to some pitchers with some higher numbers.” Outbid in those cases, however, they signed Kevin Correia to a two-year deal worth $10 million and Mike Pelfrey to a $4 million, one-year deal.

Still, it’s a notable change. In 2002, the four biggest salaries on the Twins belonged to pitchers (Radke, Rick Reed, Eric Milton and LaTroy Hawkins), plus seven of the top nine. Now only three of the top eight are pitchers, and that’s if you include Blackburn.

Some of those investments go bad, usually because of injuries. Blackburn, Pavano, Scott Baker, Matt Capps, Francisco Liriano, Joe Mays and even Nathan have all collected checks in years they were unable to pitch. “It’s frustrating, but every team faces that,” Antony said. “It’s the nature of this business, and you try to compensate for it as much as possible.”

 
Penny pitching

Percentage of payroll spent on pitching:
Year Twins MLB Diff. Highest-paid Twins pitcher
2013 22.5% 49.8% - 27.3 Nick Blackburn ($5.5M)
2012 31.8% 58.3% - 26.5 Carl Pavano ($8.5)
2011 38.7% 57.1% - 18.4 Joe Nathan ($11.3)
2010 23.2% 57.9% - 34.7 Joe Nathan ($11.3)
2009 28.8% 58.5% - 29.7 Joe Nathan ($11.3)
2008 40.0% 56.5% - 16.5 Joe Nathan ($11.3)
2007 44.0% 56.3% - 12.3 Johan Santana ($13.0)
2006 43.7% 57.7% - 14.0 Brad Radke ($9.0)
2005 52.9% 52.0% +0.9 Brad Radke ($9.0)
2004 32.8% 50.6% - 17.8 Brad Radke ($10.8)
2003 58.7% 50.1% +8.6 Brad Radke ($8.8)
2002 61.9% 51.7% +10.2 Brad Radke ($8.8)
2001 66.7% 52.3% +14.4 Brad Radke ($7.8)
2000 64.0% 54.1% +9.9 Brad Radke ($3.5)
Source: Baseball Prospectus
 
CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE
 


You can’t blame Jose Valverde for trying to rewrite history. Upon his triumphant return to the Tigers — a 1-2-3 save against Kansas City — after going unsigned as a free agent last winter, the flamboyant closer told reporters “a lot of teams wanted to sign me, like the Yankees and Mets. A lot of teams.” Both New York teams quickly denied ever making an offer.
• • •
Jason Giambi interviewed for the Rockies’ managerial job last winter and was offered coaching jobs by a handful of teams, he said. But the 42-year-old former MVP said he wants to enjoy what is probably his final season as a player.
He’s played only five games as the Indians’ DH but has two homers.
• • •
White Sox first baseman Paul Konerko was asked last week about his retirement plans, but he made it clear he won’t make up his mind until after the season.
The 37-year-old is eligible to be a free agent but said his decision will hinge upon how healthy he feels and whether Chicago or another team “that would have to be a good fit,” he said, is interested.
• • •
While James Shields gets most of the notice, Wade Davis, who came to Kansas City from Tampa Bay with Shields, has quietly posted a 3.20 ERA in four starts.
The Royals are concerned that he’s allowed 26 hits in 19⅔ innings, but they believe he’s still getting comfortable being in the rotation after spending last year in the Rays’ bullpen.
 

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Atlanta 6 FINAL
Detroit 4
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
Houston 6
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Miami 1
Baltimore 3 FINAL
Tampa Bay 2
NY Yankees 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Chicago Cubs 6 Top 8th Inning
San Francisco 3
Los Angeles 6 Bottom 9th Inning
Chicago WSox 0
San Diego 3 Top 7th Inning
Seattle 5
Cleveland 5 Top 6th Inning
Cincinnati 1
Milwaukee 1 Top 7th Inning
LA Angels 3
Oakland 2 Bottom 8th Inning
Chicago Cubs 2
Texas 4 Top 8th Inning
Kansas City 2
Colorado 2 Bottom 8th Inning
Arizona 4
NY Mets 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
Washington 0
Boston 6:05 PM
Minnesota
Toronto 6:05 PM
Baltimore
Oklahoma City 7:00 PM
Chicago
Dallas 9:30 PM
Portland
Calgary 6:00 PM
Boston
St. Louis 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Washington
Toronto 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Dallas 6:30 PM
Florida
NY Islanders 7:00 PM
Nashville
Vancouver 8:00 PM
Arizona
Montreal 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Morgan State 39 2nd Half 16:45
MD-Eastern Shore 53
Niagara 18 1st Half 3:26
Siena 29
Holy Cross 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Western Ky 6:00 PM
Charlotte
Navy 6:00 PM
Colgate
Temple 6:00 PM
East Carolina
UAB 6:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
Boston Univ 6:00 PM
Lafayette
American Univ 6:00 PM
Lehigh
Wisconsin 6:00 PM
Minnesota
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Saint Peters
Arkansas 6:00 PM
South Carolina
Morehead State 6:00 PM
UT Martin
USC Upstate 6:00 PM
Fla Gulf Coast
Lipscomb 6:00 PM
North Florida
Southern Ill 6:05 PM
Missouri State
Texas State 6:30 PM
Appalachian St
SC State 6:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Delaware State 6:30 PM
Coppin State
Middle Tennessee 6:30 PM
FIU
Texas-Arlington 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
Norfolk State 6:30 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 6:30 PM
NC Central
Savannah State 7:00 PM
Florida A&M
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Georgia State 7:00 PM
ULM
Marshall 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Rice 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ark-Little Rock 7:15 PM
Louisiana
South Alabama 7:30 PM
Arkansas State
Alabama State 7:30 PM
Grambling St
Alabama A&M 7:30 PM
Jackson State
Sam Houston St 7:30 PM
Lamar
Central Arkansas 7:30 PM
Nicholls
Portland State 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Southern U 7:30 PM
Prairie View
Alcorn State 7:30 PM
Texas Southern
Houston Baptist 7:30 PM
TX A&M-CC
SE Louisiana 7:45 PM
New Orleans
California 8:00 PM
Arizona
Eastern Ill 8:00 PM
Belmont
Memphis 8:00 PM
Connecticut
VA Commonwealth 8:00 PM
Davidson
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Marist 8:00 PM
Quinnipiac
Sacramento St 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
Northwestern St 8:00 PM
Stephen F Austin
North Texas 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Colorado 8:00 PM
Washington
Idaho 8:00 PM
Weber State
Abilene Christian 8:00 PM
Incarnate Word
Eastern Wash 8:05 PM
Idaho State
Bradley 8:35 PM
Drake
Cal State Fullerton 9:00 PM
UC Irvine
CS-Northridge 9:00 PM
Long Beach State
UC Riverside 9:00 PM
UC Davis
Stanford 10:00 PM
Arizona State
Utah 10:00 PM
Washington St
Monmouth 68 FINAL
Canisius 56
Wake Forest 85 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 79
Saint Louis 65 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 58
Saint Peters 62 FINAL
Rider 54
UNC-Asheville 51 FINAL
Liberty 59
UNC Greensboro 44 FINAL
(17) Chattanooga 78
Michigan State 69 FINAL
Michigan 49
Arkansas 72 FINAL
Ole Miss 61
Manhattan 51 FINAL
Niagara 57
Massachusetts 63 FINAL
Richmond 67
Virginia 52 FINAL
Miami-Florida 62
Jacksonville St 45 FINAL
Belmont 55
Morgan State 65 FINAL
MD-Eastern Shore 50
Campbell 65 FINAL
Winthrop 52
Furman 65 FINAL
Samford 54
Oregon 64 FINAL
Washington St 66
Indiana 52 FINAL
(23) Rutgers 63
Pepperdine 67 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 68
Auburn 47 FINAL
(18) Texas A&M 57
Morehead St 59 2nd Half 5:00
Tennessee St 64
George Mason 25 2nd Half
Saint Josephs 36
Western Carolina 38 2nd Half 11:20
East Tenn St 40
Arizona 13 1st Half 9:14
UCLA 19
Texas State 28 1st Half 5:49
Appalachian St 23
TX-Arlington 26 1st Half 4:36
Georgia Southern 7
SC State 4:30 PM
Bethune-Cookman
Delaware State 4:30 PM
Coppin State
Portland 4:30 PM
Santa Clara
Norfolk State 4:30 PM
Hampton
NC A&T 4:30 PM
NC Central
Savannah State 5:00 PM
Florida A&M
Virginia Tech 5:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Central Arkansas 5:00 PM
Nicholls
Houston Baptist 5:00 PM
TX A&M-CC
Gardner-Webb 5:00 PM
Radford
Georgia 5:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 5:00 PM
Marshall
Ark-Little Rock 5:00 PM
Louisiana
South Alabama 5:05 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 5:15 PM
ULM
Sam Houston St 5:30 PM
Lamar
SE Louisiana 5:30 PM
New Orleans
Northwestern St 5:30 PM
Stephen F Austin
Alabama A&M 5:30 PM
Jackson State
Alabama State 5:30 PM
Grambling
Southern U 5:30 PM
Prairie View
Alcorn State 5:30 PM
Texas Southern
Ark-Pine Bluff 0 Postponed
Miss Valley St 0
Wofford 5:45 PM
Mercer
Abilene Christian 6:00 PM
Incarnate Word
La Salle 6:00 PM
Rhode Island
Illinois 6:00 PM
Nebraska
TX-San Antonio 6:00 PM
Rice
Valparaiso 6:00 PM
Oakland
Missouri State 6:05 PM
Indiana State
Georgia Tech 7:00 PM
(15) North Carolina
Presbyterian 7:00 PM
High Point
Charlotte 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Florida Atlantic 7:00 PM
UAB
Texas-El Paso 7:00 PM
North Texas
Wichita State 7:00 PM
Evansville
Loyola-Chicago 7:00 PM
Northern Iowa
Bradley 7:05 PM
Drake
Vanderbilt 7:30 PM
(12) Kentucky
Colorado 8:00 PM
USC
San Francisco 8:00 PM
Pacific
FIU 8:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Idaho State 8:00 PM
Eastern Washington
Weber State 8:00 PM
Idaho
Purdue 8:25 PM
Minnesota
Cal-Irvine 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Long Beach St 9:00 PM
CS-Northridge
Hawaii 9:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UC Davis 9:00 PM
UC-Riverside
Northern Ariz 9:00 PM
Portland State
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
Sacramento St
Utah 10:30 PM
Washington
BYU 10:30 PM
St Marys-CA
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close