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.

Twins payroll tracker: Willingham brings it close to $96 million

Posted by: Phil Miller under Twins management, Twins offense, Twins pitching Updated: December 14, 2011 - 9:36 AM

OK, you knew this was coming. With the Twins very close to a three-year, $21 million deal with Josh Willingham, let’s insert his estimated $7 million salary into our 2012 payroll tracker.

By my calculations, this pushes the Twins projected 25-man Opening Day payroll to $95,720,000. The Twins opened the 2011 season at $113 million, and GM Terry Ryan has said he wants to trim that number to $100 million.

Internally, Twins officials speak as if they are determined to toe that line, but I still wouldn’t be shocked if they wind up closer to $110 million, when all is said and done.

There have been several changes since we last did this exercise. Kevin Slowey, Jose Mijares and Jim Hoey are gone. Matt Capps is back, and I’ve added Rule 5 pick Terry Doyle to the bullpen because I think he’s going to stick on the Opening Day roster, as a long reliever, at least.

You’ll see some obvious concerns below. The pitching staff needs multiple upgrades, and if the Twins decide to go cheap, these will be coming from the scrap heap, with everyone’s fingers crossed. I also think the Twins will look to add a lefthanded hitter off the bench, and without Michael Cuddyer, this person probably needs to play some first base, as Morneau insurance.

Again, nothing has been finalized with Willingham. I still haven’t received an official word that the Cuddyer talks are dead, but with the information we have now, this seems to be where things stand.

Notes: Salaries with an asterisk by them are arbitration estimates. All players who aren’t under contract or arbitration eligible are estimated to make $520,000 (the MLB minimum is $480,000). The $95,720,00 projection does not include Joe Nathan’s $2 million buyout.

STARTING LINEUP
1. CF -- Denard Span: $3,000,000
2. SS -- Jamey Carroll: $2,750,000
3. C -- Joe Mauer: $23,000,000
4. 1B -- Justin Morneau: $15,000,000
5. RF -- Josh Willingham: $7,000,000
6. DH -- Ryan Doumit: $3,000,000
7. 3B -- Danny Valencia: $520,000
8. 2B -- Alexi Casilla: *$1,500,000
9. LF -- Ben Revere: $520,000
----------------------------------
Total (9 starters): $56,290,000

ROTATION
1. RH -- Carl Pavano: $8,500,000
2. RH -- Scott Baker: $6,500,000
3. LH -- Francisco Liriano: *$5,800,000
4. RH -- Nick Blackburn: $4,750,000
5. RH -- Anthony Swarzak: $520,000
---------------------------------------
Total (5 starters): $26,070,000

BULLPEN
RH -- Matt Capps: $4,500,000
LH -- Glen Perkins: *$1,700,000
LH -- Brian Duensing: $520,000
RH -- Alex Burnett: $520,000
RH -- Lester Oliveros: $520,000
RH -- Esmerling Vasquez: $520,000
RH -- Terry Doyle: $520,000
------------------------------------
Total (7 relievers): $8,800,000

BENCH
SS -- Tsuyoshi Nishioka: $3,000,000
OF Trevor Plouffe: $520,000/OF Rene Tosoni $520,000
INF -- Luke Hughes: $520,000
C -- Drew Butera: $520,000
---------------------------------------
Total (4 bench players): $4,560,000

25-MAN PROJECTION: $95,720,000

NOTABLE DEPTH
(each would make about $520,000)
* -- Non-roster invitee
1B -- Chris Parmelee
OF -- Joe Benson
INF -- Brian Dozier
*INF -- Pedro Florimon
*C -- Chris Herrmann
LHP Scott Diamond
RHP Liam Hendriks
LHP Matt Maloney
RHP Kyle Waldrop
RHP Jeff Manship
RHP Carlos Gutierrez
*RHP Jason Bulger
*LHP Phil Dumatrait

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