FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins will open the 2020 season with a record payroll. And if certain players have big seasons, incentives could be triggered that would push that payroll significantly higher.
The latest salary to land on the books is that of righthander Kenta Maeda, who finally was officially acquired from the Dodgers on Monday. Maeda’s base salary is just $3 million, but includes layers upon layers of incentives.
The Twins have to pay him right off the bat because he is due a $1 million assignment bonus for being traded and a $125,000 signing bonus.
They are getting $10 million from Los Angeles in the deal. Righthander Brusdar Graterol, Class AAA outfielder Luke Raley and the 67th pick in the 2020 MLB draft are going to the Dodgers in exchange for Maeda, the money and 20-year-old Class A catcher Jair Camargo.
The addition of Maeda pushes the Twins payroll to slightly less than $127 million, according to the salary-tracking website Spotrac. But that doesn’t include Michael Pineda’s contract. The veteran pitcher is due $10 million but will receive only $7.9 million after serving the final 39 games — during which he’s not paid — of his suspension for testing positive for a banned diuretic.
That puts the Twins at $134.9 million.
They still have seven players with zero to three years of service time to sign, a group that includes Luis Arraez, Jake Cave and Mitch Garver. Spotrac estimates it will take $4 million to sign the group, pushing the payroll to right around $140 million, well above the previous Twins record of $128 million in 2018.
Performance bonuses can push the payroll even higher. Maeda, third baseman Josh Donaldson and righthander Homer Bailey each have performance bonuses — All-Star selections, major awards, etc. — that are common among veteran contracts. Donaldson would receive $250,000 for being named AL MVP, for instance. Donaldson actually receives some sort of bonus for finishing first through sixth in the voting.
Other incentive clauses could push the Twins payroll over $150 million.
Bailey, who signed a one-year $7 million deal, has innings pitched bonuses worth $333,333 at 150, 165 and 185 innings.
Lefthander Rich Hill signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Twins, but as he is returning from elbow surgery — if he comes back in mid-June he has an outside chance to reach 15 starts — has several bonuses tied to starts or innings pitched: $1 million for reaching five starts or 25 innings, another $1 million at seven starts or 35 innings, and again at nine starts or 45 innings. In total, he has $9.5 million in incentives.
And Maeda has up to $10 million in incentives in each year of his contract, which runs through 2023.
Collectively, Maeda, Hill and Bailey have the potential to earn $20.5 million in incentives. But if they have average-to-good seasons, the Twins will be on the hook for several million dollars in bonus payments. If Donaldson has another season with 37 home runs and 94 RBI, which he produced last year with Atlanta, he could pick up some bonus money too.
So it makes sense the Twins asked for $10 million as part of the package for Maeda, a 31-year-old entering his fifth major league season.
The draft pick the Twins gave up falls in Competitive Balance Round B between the second and third rounds of the MLB draft. The competitive balance picks go to a limited number teams because of a formula that considers revenue and low winning percentage. The teams remain the same from 2017 to 2021 and alternate between Round A (which falls after the first round) and Round B.
The Twins had the final competitive balance pick in 2020. Those picks can be traded only once; most MLB draft picks can’t be traded at all.
Raley, 25, was acquired from the Dodgers in July 2018. The Twins sent Brian Dozier to Los Angeles for fellow second baseman Logan Forsythe and prospects Raley and Devin Smeltzer, who pitched in 11 games for the Twins in 2019.
Because of an ankle injury, Raley played only 33 games at Class AAA Rochester last season, hitting .302 with seven homers. The Twins let him play in the Arizona Fall League, where he had three homers and hit .244 in 23 games.
Camargo, a native of Colombia who turns 21 on July 1, spent all of last season at Class A Great Lakes, a Midwest League team located in Springfield, Ill. Reportedly possessing raw power and a good arm, he hit .236 with four home runs and 41 RBI in 79 games.