The Twins Plan to Scale Back Player Payroll for the Offseason
The Minnesota Twins are preparing to reduce their player payroll for the upcoming offseason, according to president of baseball operations Derek Falvey. Falvey made the announcement during the GM Meetings, stating that the team had reached new heights in terms of payroll in the previous season but expects it to be lower this time around.
Last season, the Twins started with an estimated payroll of $154 million, which was $20 million higher than their previous record. However, Falvey acknowledged that there is a natural ebb and flow to payroll and that they do not anticipate reaching the same level as last year. While Falvey did not provide a specific spending target, reports suggest that the Opening Day payroll could range between $125 million and $140 million.
The decision to scale back payroll comes as no surprise, as Falvey had hinted at a potential spending cut due to uncertainties surrounding the team’s local television rights fees. The ongoing bankruptcy of Diamond Sports Group, the corporation that operates the Bally Sports networks, has left the Twins and 13 other teams without a resolution on their 2024 in-market broadcasts. The Twins’ previous local rights deal expired at the end of the season, adding to the financial uncertainty.
While the news may disappoint fans who were celebrating the team’s AL Central title and the end of an 18-game postseason losing streak, the Twins are looking to make strategic financial decisions. Currently, the team has over $90 million in guaranteed commitments after exercising options on Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco. Additionally, there are projected salaries of around $20 million for arbitration-eligible players and minimum salary players to fill out the roster, bringing the total projection to approximately $120 million.
One potential cost-saving measure for the Twins is exploring trade possibilities for Kyle Farmer, who had a solid first year with the team. Acquired from the Reds last winter, Farmer’s performance as a multi-positional infielder was impressive. However, the Twins also have other options in players like Willi Castro, Edouard Julien, Royce Lewis, and Nick Gordon, which could make Farmer expendable. If a trade partner cannot be found, the Twins will need to decide by November 17 whether to tender Farmer a contract.
There is also the possibility of trading Polanco or Kepler themselves. While both players are valuable contributors to the lineup, the Twins may consider dealing them to create more financial flexibility. Polanco, in particular, is highly regarded and could attract interest from other teams. He is arguably better than any middle infielder in this winter’s free agent class and has an additional season under contract with a $12 million option for 2025.
As it stands, the Twins could fall within the reported $125-140 million range without making any major roster moves. However, this would limit their ability to make outside acquisitions and they will also face the departures of several notable free agents, including Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda, Michael A. Taylor, Emilio Pagán, Tyler Mahle, and Donovan Solano. Losing Taylor could be particularly challenging if the Twins are not confident in Byron Buxton’s ability to regularly man center field next season.
Despite the potential financial constraints, the Twins’ rotation remains in solid shape with Pablo López, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, and Chris Paddack forming a strong front four. Louie Varland also offers upside at the back end. However, the absence of Gray and Maeda would make it difficult for the team to replicate their AL-best production from the previous season. Therefore, the Twins may look to bring in a veteran arm to stabilize the rotation, either through a trade or free agency.