After winning the franchise's first playoff game since George W. Bush's first term in office, the Minnesota Twins enter the offseason with sky-high expectations.
The Twins won their first playoff series since 2002, and in doing so lifted the weight of a miserable losing streak off their back. It was cathartic to see the team finally have October success, but it has created the expectation that this postseason was the start of something new.
That's what makes the latest twist in the team's offseason even more frustrating. Minnesota is in a position to add to an already talented roster, but remain a few pieces away from truly being World Series contenders. It made this offseason even more important than it already was shaping up to be, but the front office's job got a lot harder with the latest update on what the team's payroll will look like next season.
Twins get bad news about 2024 payroll ahead of crucial offseason
Fans went into the offseason thinking about some of the big names Minnesota might be able to add, but expectations will need to be drastically altered.
According to Dan Hayes over at The Athletic, the Twins payroll is expected to significantly decrease this winter, dropping by almost $20 million.
"Though no numbers are official, team sources suggested Tuesday the Twins could reduce payroll from last year’s record high down to the $125 million to $140 million range. The Twins spent $154 million on payroll in 2023, according to Cot’s Contracts," Hayes reported.
This is going to force the Twins front office to get even more creative in finding ways to improve the roster. One move that has already been rumored is using Jorge Polanco and the year of team control left on his contract as a trade chip this winter. Max Kepler's affordable $10M option was also picked up and he's another primed trade candidate as the Twins look for ways to shed salary and free up payroll to make moves elswhere on the roster.
It's still possible for the Twins to make valuable additions to the roster despite the payroll restraints, but it feels less likely that they'll land a big fish. Budget shopping might be the route the team goes yet again, as fans who might be thinking about Blake Snell or Marcus Stroman should pivot expectations to guys like James Paxton or Hyun Jin Ryu.
Minnesota can still spend big, but the team historically has shied away from that sort of approach and a shrinking payroll isn't going to inspire anyone to take many gambles.