The Twins’ 103-loss season might have been painful in 2016, but there’s a payoff awaiting in June.
The Twins will be allowed to spend almost $13.5 million on their top draft picks this season, according to proposed figures acquired last week by Baseball America, including a suggested $7.4 million on the No. 1 overall pick.
The Twins’ bankroll — technically $13,481,500 for their top 11 picks — is the biggest of any MLB team (though teams can add additional spending space through trades), and the most money the Twins have been allowed to spend in one year since baseball adopted the draft-slotting system in 2012.
Under that system, each pick in the first 10 rounds is assigned a bonus “slot” based upon his draft position, and while teams can distribute their bonus money any way they see fit, they face a large penalty, including loss of future draft picks, for exceeding their total spending limits. (Bonuses after the 10th round don’t count against the team’s total unless they exceed $125,000.)
This season’s proposed bonuses range from $7.4 million to the first overall pick, which will be made by the Twins at the June 12 draft, to $125,000 for the final pick of the 10th round, No. 315 overall, which is held by the World Series champion Chicago Cubs.
Draft order is set in reverse order of MLB standings, so the Twins’ 59-103 record last season, the worst by nine games, delivered the No. 1 pick. The Twins will select first in each round, and they also own an extra pick — No. 35 overall — as a “competitive balance” pick, designed to help small-market teams. If a draft pick does not sign, the team’s spending pool is decreased by the amount of his slot.
Baseball America’s figures are proposed values, the magazine notes, and subject to change; final figures will be announced by MLB in April. But they make it likely that the Twins will set a franchise record for highest bonus ever paid a draftee. The current club record is held by Byron Buxton, who received $6 million from the Twins as the second overall pick in 2012. Joe Mauer, the most recent No. 1 overall pick by the Twins, signed for $5.15 million in 2001.
Still, this year’s $7.4 million limit is significantly lower than the $9.4 million the Phillies were allowed to spend on the overall No. 1 pick in 2016. The sport’s new collective bargaining agreement, approved earlier in January, raised the draft-slot amounts of most picks in the first two rounds but lowered it for the top pick.
Teams are allowed to negotiate lower bonuses, however, in order to use saved money on lower picks. For example, last year’s overall No. 1, outfielder Mickey Moniak, signed for $6 million with the Phillies, saving the team $3 million to use on other draftees.
The consensus top prospects for the draft are two California high school players, shortstop Royce Lewis and righthanded pitcher Hunter Greene; two Vanderbilt players, outfielder Jeren Kendall and righthanded pitcher Kyle Wright; and University of Florida righthanded pitcher Alex Faedo, a second cousin to former Twins infielder Lenny Faedo.
The Twins search for pitching help has them looking at a couple of veteran relievers.
Righthander Joe Blanton and lefthander Boone Logan both are on the Twins radar, according to a baseball source.
Blanton, 36, was 7-2 with a 2.48 ERA in 75 games with the Dodgers last season. He has appeared in 376 games in his career, mostly as a reliever in recent seasons.
Logan, 32, was 2-5 with a 3.69 ERA with Colorado last season. All of his 581 appearances have been as a reliever.
Staff writer La Velle E. Neal III contributed to this report.