Thursday, January 28, 2010

Checking the Piggy Bank

I'm sure all of us can remember some stories from our childhoods in which we emptied our piggy banks with something special in mind. I remember being about ten years old, with my nine-year-old brother and a group of kids around our ages, playing backyard baseball every single summer day. We used tennis balls, and eventually, we realized we needed a lot more. Even though our parents certainly would have purchased more tennis balls for us if we asked, there was something refreshing to us about earning the money ourselves. We decided to sell lemonade in an attempt to make enough money to buy the balls we needed. After a pretty slow day, we probably had made about $10 total, there was a kid that couldn't have been older than eighteen who pulled up in a very nice, shiny BMW. He asked us to come to the window, and he gave all six or seven of us $10 each from a wad of bills. Was he a drug dealer? Probably. But we were 10-year-old kids with more money than we ever imagined. We spent most of the money on tennis balls, and saved the rest in case we needed money later. Needless to say, we didn't need tennis balls for a long, long time after that.

With the off-season winding down for the Twins, I figured now is a great time to check their piggy bank. It seems very clear that the Twins seem willing to go into the season with a payroll above $90MM, so this is more so to find out just how much money they have left to play with. I could take up your time, going through every salary obligation, or I could simply send you to Cot's Baseball Contracts to look for yourself. If you're too lazy to check, the Twins have just over $88MM committed to eighteen players, with the remaining seven players making the league minimum or close to it. That means, as of now, the Twins payroll is set at about $91MM if they don't make another move.

Considering prior to signing Jim Thome that they were willing to give Jarrod Washburn $5MM for one year, I think it's safe to say the team is fine if their payroll gets near $95MM. If the Twins can turn the money that Jarrod Washburn turned down into Jim Thome and Orlando Hudson, it would be a major upgrade. I would personally send Jarrod Washburn a thank you note if that's what ends up happening.

Regardless, the Twins appear willing to spend, and this may be their last chance to be any sort of players in the free agent market. With so many players due for raises, along with a long-term extension for Joe Mauer, the Twins may be realizing this is their best chance to find some bargains and win this season. Orlando Hudson at $4MM or $5MM would be an absolute steal, and would be an even bigger acquisition than Jim Thome was.