Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Re-forecasting the Twins' 2011 payroll

Posted by: Phil Miller under Twins transactions Updated: December 1, 2010 - 11:47 AM

The headline on my Nov. 24 story said, "Twins salary arbitration offers could mean $125 million payroll."

While technically true, a team official reminded me that if Carl Pavano, Orlando Hudson and Jesse Crain all took arbitration, other cuts almost certainly would be made. On Tuesday, those three declined arbitration, but it's hardly a moot point.

How much money do the Twins have to spend? That question hovers over everything else we're discussing this offseason, including Thursday night's non-tender deadline.

*** Let's end the suspense here, folks. I fully expect the Twins to tender a contract to shortstop J.J. Hardy. They might proceed to trade him, and they might not, depending on what they're offered in return. I believe he'll get about $6 million in arbitration, but I predict the team that ends up with Hardy in his free agent walk year will be very pleased with his production.

Some payroll background

Even if all 10 free agents leave (Pavano, Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jim Thome, etc.), raises for the remaining players would push the Twins' projected payroll to about $105 million. If they sign Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka, as expected, they'll add about $5 million to that projection (including a pro-rated portion of the posting fee.)

Twins president Dave St. Peter said the payroll definitely will increase from the $101 million they spent last year. (Note: That was nearly $30 million more than the previous franchise record.) CEO Jim Pohlad said the team will continue spending an average of 50 percent of its revenue on payroll, but the unknown question is how much revenue they're working with at Target Field.

I've heard $250 million, but that hasn't been confirmed. There also is an ongoing shift in MLB's revenue sharing picture. It will take two years to fully play out, but the Twins are going from a revenue sharing recipient at the Metrodome to a potential contributor at Target Field, and the eventual difference could be about $20 million.

The Twins don't give us payroll estimates. I've been told there are limits, but Pohlad continues to green light every investment his baseball people recommend. That included $1.8 million for five weeks of Brian Fuentes.

Throw in the $4 million to $6 million in ballpark enhancements announced last month (for a second HD video board, etc.), and I think this organization's commitment is pretty clear.

Top 10 Opening Day payrolls for 2010

1. Yankees, $206 million
2. Red Sox, $163 million
3. Cubs, $147 million
4. Phillies, $142 million
5. Mets, $133 million
6. Tigers, $123 million
7. White Sox, $108 million
8. Angels, $105 million
9. Mariners, $98 million
10. Giants, $98 million

The Twins started the year just behind the Giants, at $97.6 million and then added Matt Capps, Fuentes, etc.

Last thought: I don't think the Twins will open 2011 with a $125 million payroll, but after seeing how aggressive they've been with in-season moves the past two years, it shouldn't surprise us if it reaches that point by season's end.

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