2011 Contract Issues: Minnesota Twins

The Twins face a pair of contractual options after the season:

  • Designated hitter Jason Kubel has a $5.25MM club option with a $350K buyout.  If he is able to crank things up and approach his '09 production, I'd expect the Twins to exercise.
  • Infielder Nick Punto has a $5MM club option with a $500K buyout.  Punto may eventually justify the $4.5MM net price in some statistical or technical sense, but this feels well beyond what he could get as a free agent.

The Twins have plenty of free agents coming off the books, including Carl Pavano, Orlando Hudson, Matt Guerrier, Jesse Crain, and Jim Thome.  The potential losses of Guerrier and Crain, the Twins' current relief innings leaders, will hopefully be offset by the return of Joe Nathan.  Assuming Punto leaves and Kubel stays, the Twins will free up $23.55MM in departing free agents.  Of course, they may elect to re-sign some of them.  Another $100K comes off with Mike Lamb's buyout being paid.

Increases to players under contract will eat up $19.35MM of the free cash.  Joe Mauer leads with a $10.5MM increase, while Michael Cuddyer, Nick Blackburn, and Scott Baker also get decent bumps.  Then there are the arbitration cases.  Kevin Slowey and Alexi Casilla would go for the first time, Delmon Young, Francisco Liriano, and Pat Neshek a second, Clay Condrey a third, and J.J. Hardy a fourth.

Even if they let all departing free agents leave aside from Kubel, the Twins will need to raise payroll past $100MM just to retain under-contract and arbitration-eligible players.


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36 Comments on "2011 Contract Issues: Minnesota Twins"


TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Players I do not expect back whatsoever: Young, Crain, Pavano.
Players I wouldn’t be surprised to see return: Hudson, Thome (on a similar deal to this year).
Players I believe the team will certainly bring back: Guerrier, Punto, Kubel.

Drew
5 years 3 months ago

Agreed with all but Young. I think we’re committed to him, and will make an effort to bring him back. I’d trot out the classic reasons like “he’s still so young!” and “he’s finally listening to his hitting coach!” but you already know them…

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Agreed – but they still have an OF glut next year, and for all his youth and coachability and weight loss, he’s still unimpressive (765 OPS). If they’re looking to dodge an arb increase, they could move him.

I also noticed Perkins isn’t on the list – isn’t he arb eligible as well? He falls into the Delmon category.

Drew
5 years 3 months ago

I think it’s much more likely that this year is Thome’s swansong (at least with the Twins) and we go back to our standard OF/DH setup. With Kubel in that full time DH spot, and our standard Young/Span/Cuddyer OF.

jakeSLF
4 years 10 months ago

We don’t need punto, guerrier, crain, pavano, or hudson
Sign David Eckstein, Ted Lilly, and Chad Durbin

jakeSLF
4 years 10 months ago

We don’t need punto, guerrier, crain, pavano, or hudson
Sign David Eckstein, Ted Lilly, and Chad Durbin

soulpatrol
5 years 3 months ago

Isn’t Rauch’s contract up at the end of this year as well? He seems to be someone worth mentioning here, both because he’s been the closer and he’s making several million dollars.

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Correct. Rausch had a 2-yr $3.3m deal that expires at the end of this season. I believe he’s making $2.4 or something thereabouts this year.

5 years 3 months ago

Jon Rauch, the current closer, is also a free agent.

5 years 3 months ago

I am not sure why you would bring Punto back, you would hope that Valencia could take over at 3B and you could have Tolbert as your ultility IF. I think Young will be back, but Crain is gone and although early Pavano has been very good so far and he is in line for a new deal.

Drew
5 years 3 months ago

I could see the Twins declining Punto’s option, but letting him play the market. When he inevitably doesn’t get an offer over $2MM I think he’ll hustle back to the twins to talk, at which point (knowing the Twins) we’ll sign his grittiness for $3MM.

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this what happened last time, too?

5 years 3 months ago

Just about, if I recall.

If grittiness is worth a million dollars, I should be rich.

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Aye. I did some homework, and it does look like he did indeed reach free agency in 2008 before signing his current deal to come back.

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Punto will be brought back because of Gardy’s bromance with him.

He’d probably shift over to 2nd in Hudson’s absence, or perhaps fulfill his rightful role as utility man.

optionn
5 years 3 months ago

The budget is not the same with Mauer clogging up 23 million a year. The Twins wont be able to compete now.

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

That statement is asinine.

1. It’s entirely dependent on the Twins payroll. If they stay around $100m for the next several years, even with $23m to Mauer they have more to play with than the past several years.

2. Several teams compete with a payroll of much less. Minnesota is the posterboy of low-budget-high-performance. As long as they stay true to those roots, they’ll be plenty competitive.

Triteon
5 years 3 months ago

I would place the Marlins and Rays above the Twins in the “posterboy” category, but your other points are correct. These “won’t be able to compete” statements based on one or two players’ salaries are ludicrous.

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Fair enough – Twins are on the “short list” of posterboys 😉

The legit problem with a monster contract like this is it gives the Twins less margin-for-error. Boston can give a monster contract, have the guy be a bust, and still do fine. The Twins? Much less so. When mid-market clubs give the bank-breaking deals, they need to make sure they get it right. If they don’t, they’ll have trouble competing. But assuming they do get it right, there’s no logical reason (or example) of why they cannot.

5 years 3 months ago

$100MM is low budget, now?

I believe they’re ranked 14/30 in budget size.

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Nowhere did I say the Twins are low budget.

I did say that if you consider they’re at $100m, and paying $23m for Mauer, that still leaves more than enough money to compete.

5 years 3 months ago

“2. Several teams compete with a payroll of much less. Minnesota is the posterboy of low-budget-high-performance. As long as they stay true to those roots, they’ll be plenty competitive.”

diblo
5 years 3 months ago

Don’t forget we need to look into extending Morneau and Cuddy next year. My guess is one of the two will be traded next season so create some dollar flexibility, I think Cuddy is gone as he is older and a guy like Ben Revere could step into a roll playing LF and hitting 2nd.

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Morneau signed a 6-yr deal in 2008. No worries about him for several years yet.

CrisE
5 years 3 months ago

You think there’s a glut? Cuddyer and Kubel are signed thru 11 and Span thru 15, but then what? Dustin Martin is the only guy at Roch with a future in the OF and he’s no great shakes and Tosoni and Revere are still getting ready at AA. It’s pretty early to be sending Delmon on his way given the team’s conservative tendencies. I think they buy a little more Young on a year-by-year basis until one of the Rock Cats forces their hand. And when that happens it’d work better if they’d signed Delmon so he could be traded once things are certain rather than just let him walk and leave them without a net if one of the kids fails. Seriously, can you picture them doing it any other way?

EDIT: Oops. This was in response to TwinsVet up above.

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Well, what they should do and what they will do are two very different questions.

However, I think an alternative scenario is that we see Cuddyer get extended to finish his career with the Twins, and Kubel retained up as well. Both players bridge the gap to Span-Hicks-Revere in the middle of the decade.

If Delmon stays, it means either Cuddy or Kubes are gone (as a matter of playing time, not salary). I don’t think the Twins are interested in keeping Delmon over either of those two, and if the money math could at all work, would let Delmon go in a heartbeat to avoid arbitration (if the anticipated difference would mean being able to retain Cuddy/Kubes).

CrisE
5 years 3 months ago

I mostly agree with you. An alternative scenario is Delmon staying and being paid with savings from Pavano and the bullpen. As soon as Slowey gets his deal the rotation will be settled for (relatively) cheap, and the Crain/Rauch/Nathan dollars will clear after 11 (I think they keep Guereuerier) so it might not be an either/or.

One thing I’m gnawing on right now is if they keep Hudson. Depending on the dollars I think they might really be giving it some thought. If you want a hard choice I think it’s more likely to come down to Young vs Hudson than Young vs other OFs.

TwinsVet
5 years 3 months ago

Agreed on Hudson. I think they’d probably like to bring him back, if he maintains his current performance. And they may even be interested in offering him the same deal. My thoughts on Hudson are that he’s going to be desperate for that multi-year package, and unlikely to stick around on a year-to-year status.

pmc765
5 years 3 months ago

The Twins can too compete paying Mauer $23M. More revenue from the new ballpark. A perennial contender. The Cardinals of the AL.

In fact, the Twins are so good they might win one playoff game from the Bankees instead of getting swept.

But until MLB stops letting the team with the most revenue spend it on itself, nothing is going to change. Be thankful at least that the home town superstar stayed home.

RedbirdRuffian
5 years 3 months ago

Until Delmon falls out of the Twins price range, they will keep him around. He should be good for a couple more years and then he’ll start following the money around the league. Kubel is a natural dh and unless he too becomes overly expensive he’ll stick around. Tougher decisions for the Twins will center on Hardy and Hudson in the next few years. Hardy’s arbitration potential could easily price him out ofthe Twin’s range, and as good as Hudson has been, if a competitive team (like the Tigers) offers him 2 years at a higher salary than he has now, he is gone.

CrisE
5 years 3 months ago

I think they like Hardy a lot, and they’ll likely choose to extend him next year once they’re comfortable that he’s over the 2009 malaise and can stay healthy and all that. There’s really no good SS candidate in the minors to replace him, and since he’ll make too much in arb as a starting SS to keep going year-to-year for very long, so if they like him they’ll ink him.

ducky66
5 years 3 months ago

The one guy you are forgetting about in your breakdown is our current closer Rausch. He is a free agent at the end of the year too. Between him and Guerrier I would expect the Twins to resign one and let the other walk for draft picks. Its possible the Twins even resign both with the obvious questions surrounding Nathan.

The Twin’s do have some young bullpen guys in wait though if they decided to let one of them go in Slama, Delany and if push came to shove Gutierrez (although I would think they want to keep him as a starter).

Another thing that might happen is that the Twins trade for someone before the deadline to bolster the pen for a playoff push but making sure that player is controlled for ’11 too.

5 years 1 month ago

What about Liriano? I don’t think the Twins go anywhere unless they lock him up long term (5years $50-60mill).

GoJoeGoJoe
4 years 9 months ago

98eyyf

GoJoeGoJoe
4 years 9 months ago

Punto is a guy that plays the game the right way, however, I don’t think that the Twins are in position to pay $5.0M for a bench player. Let him go and keep a combination of Buscher, Tolbert and/or Casilla as the extra infielder(s). $5.0M could be enough to pull in one of the significant Twin’s free agents. As I recall, Orlando Hudson was only paid that much this year.

5 years 3 months ago

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