Twins owner Jim Pohlad discussed his team’s surprisingly strong performance and trade deadline approach in a brief but interesting chat with Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. Though he’s obviously not heavily involved in day-to-day baseball operations, Pohlad ultimately holds the purse strings for the organization.
So, will financial considerations limit the Minnesota organization from considering certain players? Not so, says Pohlad:
“I don’t really think, especially in these trade deadline deals, that money is the issue. It’s what you have to give up, really, and it’s not what you have to give up in terms of money, it’s what you have to give up in terms of players.”
Some may question whether the Twins owner will really be as free with the organizational wallet as that quote may indicate. In all likelihood, he doesn’t mean that chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine have free rein to spend. It’s more that, with only a relatively small portion of the season left to play, labor cost takes on a different tone. For one thing, most of a given player’s annual salary has already been paid out by his original team. For another, with a good sense of the competitive situation, teams have much more confidence in their assessment of the financial risk and reward of further payroll investment.
In the Twins’ case, too, there’s good reason to think that the organization has ample cash to work with. Many expected a bit more in the way of offseason outlay than actually took place. The team sat just under $120MM in Opening Day payroll, nearly ten million shy of the club’s high-water mark from 2018. But that’s still not a particularly hefty set of commitments, especially for a team that is in full-blown contention. More important still is the fact that Falvey and Levine have jealously guarded the club’s future payroll space. While they finally tied up a small amount in a pair of extensions (which have looked great to this point) and the signing of Marwin Gonzalez (which is also paying dividends), the books are still largely clear past 2019.
Given that financial picture and a start to the season that Pohlad characterizes as a pleasant surprise, it stands to reason that he has a good bit of confidence in the “Falvine” front office duo. He suggested that he’ll continue to entrust decisionmaking to the personnel he hired for the task, noting that “they certainly don’t ask my opinion on specific players.” Falvey and Levine “are just assembling the right team,” said the owner, running from their baseball ops department to the dugout and onto the MLB roster.
It’s promising for the Minnesota faithful to hear of such organizational harmony, though that’s to be expected when things are going as smoothly as they have thus far in 2019 for the Twins. It remains unclear precisely how the club will attack the deadline, in terms of targets, though it stands to reason that upgrades to the pitching staff will have top priority. As Pohlad says, that’s not really his bailiwick. But his comments do given insight into the organizational approach to structuring deals. It seems there’s some appetite and capacity for absorbing money, along with a clear desire not to part with the team’s best internal talent. That’ll surely impact which rival organizations line up best as trade partners — and, ultimately, which of the major deadline targets end up in Minnesota.