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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