Yes you read that correctly, but you may be interpreting it differently than it is meant. This morning, Jesse Lund wrote a great piece over at Twinkie Town explaining the concept of payroll, bumping the expectations, and what it all means for the Twins. In short, the question you may need to ask is when do the Twins ink a guy like Johnny Cueto or David Price? The answer may be as soon as 2016.
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For as bad as the Twins have been over the past few seasons, and by no doubt it’s been ugly, a turnaround is on the very near horizon. As the offseason has progressed, the Twins have not found themselves to be over-the-top, but they have been plenty active. Extending Phil Hughes, signing Ervin Santana, and bringing back Torii Hunter should all help to make the Twins competitive this year.
That being said, let’s address the issue of this topic. The Twins have room to make a splash, and they likely will, and it should happen as soon as next year.
With Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton both likely making their debuts at some point in 2015, the Twins will have ushered in the next generation of competition. If you feel like you have seen this storyline play out before, it’s because you have. During 2014, the Cubs were at or around the same position the Twins will find themselves in this year. The talent from the farm will start to trickle in, and the level of excitement will rise.
In case you need a reminder, the Cubs acquired Jason Hammel, Miguel Montero, Joe Maddon, and oh yeah, Jon Lester, this offseason. Theo Epstein realized that baseball is a sport where you spend to supplement the young talent you have, and he executed it flawlessly. It’s now Terry Ryan’s turn.
Getting into the fun part, the Twins are on the hook for just $70 million in 2016, $68.2 in 2017, and $51.4 million in 2018. Star minor leaguers will fill the roster with salaries in the $500k range. Guess what that means, the Twins have plenty of money to burn. Now, let’s take a look at the commodities to be had.
As pitching is always a factor, that may be the best place to start. In 2016 alone, Johnny Cueto ($7.2 million average annual value), David Price (arbitration eligible), and Jordan Zimmerman ($12 million AAV) all hit the market. Each of those guys would be an immediate boost to the Twins rotation, and would leave them with roughly $15 million to still play with should they want to stay near a $100 million payroll.
Looking at a rotation that included Cueto, Price, or Zimmerman, and knowing that you already have solid pieces in Hughes and Santana, the Twins would transform themselves overnight. The expectation would be that guys like Alex Meyer and Trevor May would be reliable cogs by that time as well; pair that with Jose Berrios, Kohl Stewart, and potentially Lewis Thorpe knocking down the door as well and the Twins are in a great spot.
Really, this all adds up to a few key points that point towards one conclusion. The Twins are going to be better in 2015, each top prospect making a debut this season is a key step, and the end result is a Twins turnaround that everyone around Twins Territory so badly desires.
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