Kyle Gibson quintupled his salary Friday, the biggest raise among four Twins arbitration-eligible pitchers who settled on 2017 contracts with the team on Friday.
Gibson, the starting pitcher who earned $587,500 for a 6-11 season in 2016, will make $2.9 million in 2017, a 394 percent pay raise reflecting his veteran status upon reaching arbitration eligibility. And he’s not the only one.
Brandon Kintzler, who made $1.08 million for a season that ended with him assuming the closer’s role, agreed to a contract worth $2.925 million this season, a raise of 171 percent. Reliever Ryan Pressly will be paid $1.175 million, a 126 percent raise over his $520,000 salary last year. And Hector Santiago, the starter acquired in an Aug. 1 trade for Ricky Nolasco, settled on a 60 percent raise for 2017, lifting his $5 million salary a year ago to $8 million.
The agreements, along with the $2.6 million deal that arbitration-eligible infielder Eduardo Escobar agreed to in December, essentially settle all veteran contracts for the 2017 season, and give the Twins a projected payroll of $98 million, a decline of 6.7 percent from the $105.3 million they spent on their Opening Day roster in 2016. But the Twins also are paying the Angels $4 million toward Nolasco’s 2017 salary, bringing their outlay to at least $102 million this season.
Of that payroll, $91.05 million is committed to 12 veteran players, led by Joe Mauer’s $23 million salary for the seventh year of his eight-year contract. If the other 13 Opening Day roster spots are held by players earning the MLB minimum salary — raised to $535,000 for 2017 in the newly negotiated collective bargaining agreement — that’s another $6.955 million the Twins will owe.
Santiago’s salary makes the six-year veteran the fifth-highest-paid Twin for 2017, behind Mauer, Ervin Santana ($13.5 million), Phil Hughes ($13.2 million) and newly signed catcher Jason Castro ($8.5 million). Santiago and Kintzler can become free agents after the season.
It’s the 11th consecutive season that the Twins have avoided any hearings before an arbitrator to determine a player’s salary. Not since pitcher Kyle Lohse won his cases in 2005 and ’06 has the team failed to reach a salary agreement on its own.
Players become eligible for arbitration, which in most cases greatly increases their salary over MLB’s minimum pay, after they reach three seasons of service time in the major leagues. Gibson, for instance, posted a 5.07 ERA in 2016, his worst since his rookie season in 2013, but his veteran status earned him a raise.
Kintzler opened 2016 on a minor league contract, but ended it as the Twins closer after being thrust into the role by an injury to Glen Perkins and the ineffectiveness of Kevin Jepsen. Kintzler finished the season with the first 17 saves (in 20 opportunities) of his career.
Santiago posted a 5.58 ERA in 11 starts after being acquired at the trade deadline, well above his career mark of 3.84. But he won three starts after Sept. 1, posting a 3.75 ERA in that span, putting him in line for an additional $3 million salary in 2017.